• 1 John 4:8 and 16 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love… God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God…” | Photo: PXHere.com

The Love for Israel – Part 1

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 1 September 2020

During the years as chairman of Christians for Israel (Holland), and today as President of Christians for Israel International (website: www.c4israel.org ), I often speak, preach, and teach from the Bible about Israel. People sometimes ask me, “Why are you so involved with Israel and the Jewish people? Is it a kind of hobby for you, like collecting stamps or playing golf? Why Israel? What’s so special about Israel?”

My answer is, “Well, I hope that what I feel about Israel is what God feels about Israel. God loves Israel. Jesus loves Israel. The Bible says so. And because I love God and I love Jesus, I cannot help loving the people and the land that He loves.”

“Because I love God and I love Jesus, I love Israel”

Do we love Israel because Jews are such nice people? Well, some are and some are not. Just as with us. Some Christians are nice people and some are not. The source of my love for Israel is God. God loves Israel. God is love. 1 John 4:8 and 16 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love… God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God…” So, let us look at the Jewish people and Israel from God’s perspective. And looking from God’s perspective means looking from the perspective of the Bible, the Word of God.

He says by mouth of the prophet Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son…” Israel is His firstborn son while Jesus is God’s only begotten Son: “… the only begotten of the Father…No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him…” John 1:14 and 18.

When the children of Israel were oppressed slaves in Egypt and Pharaoh refused to let them go while systematically increasing their hardship in order to reduce their numbers, Moses and his brother Aaron sent Pharaoh this message: “This is what the Lord says: “…Israel is My firstborn son, and I told you, “Let My son go, so he may worship Me. But you refused to let him go; so, I will kill your first-born son…” Exodus 4:22b-23. And that was what happened in the tenth plague that struck Egypt (Exodus 12:29). Refusing to let God’s firstborn son go, did indeed cost them their firstborn.

God loves the Jewish people as a father loves his firstborn child. The prophet Hosea records God’s emotions in the lament that begins: “…When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son…” God speaks as a father about His often disobedient son, with all the conflicting emotions, from tender love to great anger, that a father can feel. Anyone with children of their own will understand these emotions. You love your children and will do anything for them, but their behaviour can sometimes make your blood boil! And then you’ll speak harsh or sharp words, or words of warning, because you see that ultimately things will go terribly wrong if they continue to behave in that way. Out of concern and out of love, you speak words of correction, and possibly even take disciplinary action. As an old Dutch proverb says: If they won’t hear, they must feel!

One can hear the frustrated anger of the Father when He says, “…But the more I called Israel, the further they went from Me. They sacrificed to the Baals [idols] and they burned incense to images…” (Hosea 11:2). “I did everything possible for My son,” God says. “…It was I who taught Ephraim [a term of endearment for Israel] to walk [just as a father teaches his children their first baby-steps] taking them by the arms [as a father takes toddlers who have fallen into his arms to comfort them]; but they did not realize [or recognize] it was I who healed them…” (Hosea 11:3).

In other words, God says, “I put plasters on their scratches and bruises, as an earthly father would do. But were they grateful? Absolutely not!”
“…I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love…” (Hosea 11:4a). Just like earthly parents, God used every means to express love to bring His people back to Himself. “…I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them…” (Hosea 11:4b). Like harnessed oxen pulling a plough, the people had sighed under the slavery of Egypt. But the Lord broke the yoke that harnessed them and freed His people from the slave drivers. He guided them across the Red Sea and into the desert (Exodus 13–14), and there He provided for their needs with manna from Heaven and water from the rock. He led them from resting place to resting place, from oasis to oasis. Yes, He even provided meat in the form of quails (Exodus 16–17:7). “I bent down to feed them” (Hosea 11:4b).

Then we hear the anger in His voice. “…Will they not return to Egypt [back to slavery! That’s what they deserve, with their ingratitude!] and will not Assyria rule over them?…” (Hosea 11:5a). What Assyria did to its prisoners of war is too cruel to describe on paper, although it is chiseled in the rocks where the Assyrian kings immortalized their horrendous deeds. And it is to Assyria that the ten tribes of Israel were finally led into captivity (2 Kings 17:23) “…because they refuse to repent. Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their plans…” (Hosea 11:5b-6). In other words, God says, “They can only blame themselves and their own behaviour for these terrible consequences.” “…My people are determined to turn from Me…” (Hosea 11:7a).

“Man is sometimes more vengeful than God!”

Hosea, the prophet, adds his personal opinion: “…Even if they call to the Most High, He will by no means exalt them…” (Hosea 11:7b). Man is sometimes more vengeful than God!

But then, once again, the love in the heart of the Father breaks out. You can’t look on with dry eyes, can you? No matter what your child, your son, has done, isn’t he still your son? Your daughter? Your child? Of course, he and she is. Therefore, God says, “…How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim?…” (Hosea 11:8a). Admah and Zeboiim were cities in the rift of the Dead Sea that were destroyed by fire from Heaven along with Sodom and Gomorrah, because of God’s wrath (Deuteronomy 29:23). “Can I do this to My own firstborn son?” God asks. Discipline him, yes! But reject him? Never! He is your son, your firstborn, your own child! “…My heart is changed within Me; all My compassion is aroused. I will not carry out My fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God and not man—the Holy One among you…” (Hosea 11:8b-9).

People can act with great cruelty, and the actions of the nations who came against God’s firstborn son, Israel, were just that—cruel. God says by the mouth of the prophet Zechariah, “I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity” (Zech. 1:15). God says, “I know how to find these nations! I will judge those nations!” The great judgment of God on the nations will eventually come, in accordance with what they have done to Israel, because Israel is the apple of God’s eye.

Your eye is the most sensitive part of your body. Merely flicking a finger near your eye is enough to make you recoil. When directors of horror movies really want to shock their audiences, they know what to do—they mutilate eyes, sometimes even slicing them with razors. If Israel is the apple of God’s eye, do you think that God will ignore any assault on Israel? Will He ignore the Holocaust, six million murdered Jews, one and a half million of whom were children? No, there will undoubtedly be judgment upon the nations. When one of the leading German, “God-is-dead” theologians, Dorothee Sölle, once said, “Since Auschwitz I cannot believe in God anymore,” a rabbi responded, “Since Auschwitz I can only still believe in God, not in man anymore.” One day judgment will come.

“…Whoever touches you [Israel] touches the apple of His eye—I will surely raise My hand against you….”

As Zechariah 2:8-9 warns the nations that had plundered Israel, “…Whoever touches you [Israel] touches the apple of His eye—I will surely raise My hand against you….”

Moses says in Deuteronomy 32:9-12: “…For the Lord’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted inheritance. In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him…”

Chastise Israel? Yes! Destroy Israel forever? Never! “…I will not come in wrath. They will follow the Lord; He will roar like a lion. When He roars, His children will come trembling from the west…” (Hosea 11:9b-10). “Out of the west,” Hosea the prophet says. This cannot refer to the Babylonian Captivity or the Assyrian Captivity, between 600-500 B.C. For these countries, looking from the land of Israel on the map of the world, are to the east and the north from Israel. In this case they return from all over the world. From what is sometimes called the ‘Roman Captivity’ that lasted for almost 2000 years.

“…They will come trembling like birds from Egypt [to the south, but also the land of slavery, which can be anywhere in the world], like doves from Assyria [thus out of the east]. I will settle them in their homes, declares the Lord…” (Hosea 11:11). Over the past hundred years, we have seen this happening before our very eyes.

God loves Israel as His firstborn son.
Should not we do the same?

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