• "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11) | Photo: PXhere

The King of Israel

21 December 2021

Mary’s Joy over Israel (1-4)

As Christians, we celebrate Christmas this month. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, a city in the Judean hills. In these weeks, we often read the wonderful biblical passages about Mary meeting the angel Gabriel and the priest Zacharias meeting the angel in the temple. After meeting the angel, Mary got pregnant and visited her cousin Elizabeth, who cried out: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ (Luke 1:42). And then Mary started speaking what has been called in Church history ‘The Song of Mary’ or in Latin ‘Magnificat’. Mary praises the Lord: ‘My soul exalts the Lord’. You might expect that a song of a woman who gets pregnant in a miraculous way is filled with gratitude for what has happened to herself.

“Mary doesn’t only speak about herself, she speaks about what God is doing to Israel, her people”

But, surprisingly, she starts speaking about God, who ‘has brought down rulers from their thrones’ (Luke 1:52). Why? It sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? When we continue reading, it is becoming more clear. Mary doesn’t only speak about herself, she speaks about what God is doing to Israel, her people: ‘He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever’ (Luke 1:54-55). She knows God’s promises to Israel that, some time in the future, He will deliver Israel from its enemies and from all who hate Israel and want to destroy it.

In Mary’s days, Israel was being brutally oppressed by the Romans. The Jewish people were intensely looking forward to the deliverance of the enemy and the coming of the Kingdom of Peace on earth under the leadership of the Messiah. That’s what Mary was so excited about since she was pregnant with this promised Messiah. And we know that God will fulfil all His promises to Israel. During Mary’s lifetime, these promises were not yet fulfilled. Jesus dedicated Himself to His death and resurrection in order to bring us salvation and eternal life. In the End of Times, He will fulfil all His promises and deliver Israel from its enemies.

Mary also spoke about God, who ‘has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave’ (Luke 1:48). But later, she spoke about God, who has also ‘exalted those who were humble’ (Luke 1:52). By using the word ‘humble’, she doesn’t just focus on herself, but she focuses on Israel and the Jewish people as a whole. As a humble young woman, Mary represents her people Israel in its humble state as being oppressed and persecuted over the centuries. God will in future restore Israel and bring real peace over the world when the Kingdom of the Messiah will come.

So when we celebrate Christmas, let’s not forget Israel, and praise God for His faithfulness to both Israel and His Church.

Rev Cornelis Kant
Executive Director | Christians for Israel International


Jerusalem: the Heart of the Kingdom (2-4)

“In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s Temple [the Temple Mount, Mount Zion, Mount Moriah] will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.” (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3)

The Proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom
Jesus once said: “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation [its date cannot be calculated], nor will people say ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
‘Within you’ can also be translated as ‘among you’. Both translations are correct, for both meanings are true: wherever Jesus is, the Kingdom is, and the signs of the Kingdom will be present. Look at all the miracles that occurred during His lifetime: the Kingdom was really present because the King Himself was there in person.
The verse also means that when Jesus is in you by His Holy Spirit, the Kingdom is also present in you. That is why He says that signs and miracles will also accompany believers to such an extent that they will do even greater things than He has done!

“The Kingdom of Peace will only come when Christ returns to Jerusalem”

Kingdom for Israel
But the Kingdom of Peace will only come when Christ returns to Jerusalem.

After the Lord Jesus had completed His work on the cross and given His precious blood for the sins (plural) of the world; after He had broken the power of sin (singular), defeating the devil and his powers of darkness; after His triumphant resurrection, and immediately before His ascension, His disciples excitedly asked: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”

The Lord Jesus did not answer: “What a dumb question!” No. All He said was: “It is not for you to know the times or the dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:3-8).

After the enveloping cloud of God’s (Shekinah) Glory took Jesus away, the angels told the disciples: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11). Then His feet will stand again on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.
Jesus will come back to Jerusalem.

That happy event will be preceded by God’s worldwide trials and judgements, which the great visionary John describes in the book of Revelation. When the demonic powers seem to have almost full control and seem to rule the whole world, He will come and make all things new. He will bring to fulfilment all the promises made to His people Israel and all the promises He made to His church.

The return of the Jews to Jerusalem in our days tells us that Jesus is coming soon.

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer President | Christians for Israel International


The Kingdom of Heaven – on Earth (3-4)

In Matthew 4:17, we read: “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” Paul, the apostle, wrote to the believers in Philippi: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). The Letter to the Hebrews says: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).

What is the location of the kingdom that we are expecting? Is it in heaven or earth?

The word heaven has received connotations that are not necessarily biblical. We tend to understand heaven as opposed to earth. Yet, they belong together in one cosmos, as God created in the beginning of both heaven and earth.
Many Christians tend to understand the heavenly reality as something that is opposed to the physical reality of the earth. Classical Christian theology was strongly influenced by Greek thinkers who tended to see physicality as inferior to spirituality. They thought from the Platonic concepts of the eternal ideas, i.e. the eternal, divine principles of which everything existing is a reflection. They would say that the body is a dungeon in which the soul is incarcerated and from which the soul has to be freed to return to his spiritual origins.

This is not biblical. The Bible tells us that God created man in His image as body, soul and spirit. The spirit has not to be freed from the body. Rather, after the fall, body, soul and spirit have to be freed from decay. That is what Paul is arguing in 1 Corinthians 15 with regard to the resurrection of the dead. “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

God’s kingdom in the Bible is always that God reigns over heaven and earth and that His kingship must be accepted by all nations. Ultimately, the establishment of God’s kingdom is implied in the restoration of Jerusalem as His dwelling place and Israel as His nation (Zechariah 14:9).

In other words, the kingdom is the kingdom of heaven that is gradually realised on earth (and extended to all creation). It has a heavenly origin and an earthly impact.

That is also implied in the words of Paul to the Philippians: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). The Saviour will descend from heaven to transform our bodies into conformity with the body of His glory (Philippians 3:21).

Yes, the earthly reality will be transformed, but it will still be earth – a renewed earth under a renewed heaven. Both together will be a unity in the kingdom of God. Our bodies will be transformed, but they will still be physical bodies, though with heavenly qualities. In our present state of humility, we look forward to the day that Christ will appear in glory and subject all things to Himself.

Kees de Vreugd
Theologian | Christians for Israel International & Editor | Israel & the Church


God is King (4-4)

God is king! For the Old Testament and the Jews, this statement is obvious. God will not become king, He is already. When you look at the world, however, you will not see the rule of God in many places. There is so much that contradicts God! There is godlessness among the nations. God’s rule seems to be hidden.

But while God’s rule is not obvious, it is real.

The Gift of the Torah
After the fall, God wanted to establish His rule everywhere. He began with Israel. God chose Israel out of all nations (Deuteronomy 7:6-8) so that the nations could see how one lives with God. In this way, Israel was called to become a light to the nations (Isaiah 60:1-3). For this purpose, God gave Israel the Torah, His teachings and His regulations.

Unfortunately, Israel all too often broke the covenant and despised the Torah. God sent His judgment to move Israel to repentance. More and more, Israel realised: “We need someone who can help us. A redeemer. A man who will guide us deep into the Torah, who will restore us as a nation and make us a light to the nations!” This man was the Messiah: the great anointed one, who will come in the end of days. Scripture already speaks of Him. So the Jews waited for the Messiah (Luke 2:21-39) – and many pious Jews still do so today.

“God raised Jesus from the dead. And then something decisive happened, in two stages”

The Messiah and the Holy Spirit
And the Messiah did come! Jesus of Nazareth is this Messiah. As the Anointed One, Jesus performed His ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. He healed, and He freed, He taught and explained the Bible, God was establishing His rule in Israel. Many believed in Him, yet also many did not. Finally, the Messiah succumbed to the opposition in Israel and was crucified. Was it all over now? No! God raised Jesus from the dead. And then something decisive happened, in two stages (Acts 2: 32-36):

1. God received Jesus to Himself in heaven. Jesus was placed at God’s right hand. God handed the rule over to Him and made Him king, Lord, Messiah (the three titles mean the same thing).

2. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit upon the earth. Jesus, who received the Holy Spirit in fullness, gives it to man. That is tremendous. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is establishing His rule on the earth – in His church, but through her also in the world.

A new era came. On behalf of Israel, Messiah Jesus calls the nations and brings them to God – and millions follow Him. This was seen as such an important event that the church even started to count the years anew.

But the best is still to come: the visible, all-encompassing, eternal kingdom of God that will change the whole world. The kingdom, for which the Jews have been waiting for thousands of years, and that Jesus, too, has preached. The kingdom of peace on earth (Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 2:14).

When the kingdom comes, God will assert His claims as king. He will visibly accept the reign and enforce it in the whole world. This will happen for all eyes, and nobody will be able to resist Him.

Tobias Krämer
Theologian | Christians for Israel Germany