Israel is the focal point of God’s plan for the Last Days, and I believe the Bible is clear about Israel’s future role. It is simply incredible to visit Israel and realize that the nation and Land that God promised to Abraham, and of which the prophets spoke, exists today. Modern Israel is a signpost of God’s faithfulness and a reminder that the Word of God is true—and that His coming is near!
But how close are we? According to the Hebrew prophet Zechariah, there are a number of puzzle pieces that need to be in place before the Lord’s second coming. God’s chosen people must be back in the Land, Jerusalem must be in Jewish hands, and her enemies must surround her. (Zechariah 12:9-10 ff)
These pieces are in place today in ways that have never been true before. We live at a unique moment in human history, as the table is set for the return of Messiah!
If we are closer to this glorious day than most people think (which I wholeheartedly believe), then how should our lives be different? We cannot live while ignoring the signs of His soon appearing. As Jesus said,
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (Matt. 24:42)
Of course, we should not set dates for His return; the Lord Himself warns us against doing this (Matthew 24:36). Throughout the ages there have been many attempts to predict the day and hour of His coming, and the results have often been disastrous and harmful for the proclamation of the Gospel. Because of these negative experiences, many say we should not allow ourselves to become fixated on the Second Coming.
I could not disagree more!
Sometimes I think we have internalized the idea that talking about the world as we know it coming to an end makes us naïve fanatics. But if Jesus is coming soon—and I am sure He is—then we should certainly live today in light of His coming, and encourage others to do the same. We need an army of “fanatics” who believe this and preach it
The entire Bible—particularly the prophets—warns non-believers of the judgment to come and comforts the hearts of believers with this great hope! Jesus does not want us to try to set dates, yet He does tell us to be prepared, because the hour is coming.
Understanding that we have little time left motivates me to preach the Good News with a greater sense of urgency! I do not want to sound critical, but it seems that many Christians believe in the second coming… yet the belief does not make a real difference in the way we LIVE and WITNESS.
There are a growing number of believers and churches who do not think that Israel has any role at all in the last days… and often it is these same churches that downplay the second coming. Practically and theologically speaking, there are fewer things to think about if the promises of God to the Jewish people about a future kingdom are simply fulfilled spiritually in the Church.
However, for my brothers and sisters who take this vantage point on the second coming, the return of Jesus is cloaked with vagaries and veiled in ambiguity. After all, how might a wolf lie down with a lamb at a Sunday morning service? Must we believe that the words of the prophets should be regarded as mere symbols of a future reality that has little connection to the words of Scripture?
What about the realignment of national loyalties predicted in Isaiah 19—how would this be spiritually fulfilled in today’s church? Passages like these simply beg for literal fulfillment, and if you do not have some sort of restored physical kingdom with Israel at the center, then how can these prophecies possibly make sense?
The urgency of Jewish evangelism in light of Jesus’ return is easily lost when the Old Testament is not taken literally and Israel becomes just one nation amongst all the others. In fact, reducing the more literal language of Scripture about the future of Israel and spiritualizing the inspired text ultimately causes Jewish evangelism to be downplayed. It requires the words of Paul commanding the church to bring the Gospel to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) to be viewed as having been completed in the first century, without any further prophetic purpose! There is a connection between believing in Israel’s importance in the End Times and believing in the importance of Jewish evangelism today.
The link between the second coming of Christ and the salvation of the Jewish people is unavoidable. Paul writes,
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written… (Rom. 11:25-26)
In the meantime, we will continue to pull out the stops in reaching Jewish people for Jesus, as the state of Israel and alignment of nations in the Middle East are indicators that we are getting closer to His coming. Reaching Jewish people for Jesus takes on a new and prophetic urgency in light of this day and hour.
Keep looking up!