Stepping onto the Promise Land
When I first went to Israel in 1994, it felt surreal. As a boy, I had only learned of Israel through books and movies. As a born-again disciple of Jesus later on, I learned some more about Israel through Biblical teachings. Finally, I found myself in the Land of Promise at 43 years of age. I was so elated that I got to visit Israel!
I went to see the different biblical sights. I wept when I, together with my tour group, climbed the Mount of Beatitudes where it is believed that Jesus preached His “Sermon on the Mount.” The Spirit of God came over me, and I felt God’s Presence in my spirit. This was where my Savior and Lord had actually lived, walked, and ministered in love and in power.
The church of the Beatitudes sat on top of the hill. With me was another Filipino pastor who was part of our tour group. We worshipped and wept when we reached the top of the hill that overlooked the calm and blue waters of the Sea of Galilee. I felt the Lord’s presence as I stood there. What an uplifting moment that was! I felt very much connected spiritually. I was at home in this land as a part of God’s family.
God’s Promise to Israel
God promised the land of Israel to Abraham. God also promised Abraham that He would make Abraham into a great nation. This great nation would be a blessing to all the nations and that those who curse it would be cursed, and those who bless it would be blessed.
Israel has always been a crucial place for God’s plans. God sent His prophets to speak His truths and to perfom His miracles in Israel. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, was born in Israel; and He demonstrated and proclaimed God’s truth in divine love and power while in Israel. Israel was also the stage where God fulfilled His promise of salvation through Jesus’ death on the Cross; it was also in Israel where Jesus had risen at the resurrection.
In Israel, God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, and this marked the early beginnings of the Church. The Gospel has subsequently been spreading to all the nations on earth.
The Importance of Israel
Because of these, Israel has held importance to us as disciples of Jesus. The roots of our faith come from this land and its people. Our Savior and Lord was born a Jew. The Bible was written by Jews. The first disciples were Jews, and the first church was Jewish. Moreoever, Jesus’ promise of His return will be happening in Israel. He promised to establish the New Heaven and the New Earth as He reigns in Israel as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The importance of Israel to God and to all the world is exemplified in all of these. Israel is God’s place of divine witness and is the ultimate fulfillment of His love and salvation for alll mankind.
God told us in His Word to pray for Israel, for the peace of Jerusalem, and for the salvation of the Jews. He commanded us to support and help the Jews because our salvation has come from them. The spirit of anti-semitism may run rampantly around the globe, but God beckons us to comfort and love the Jews. While they have been blessed by God, they are oppressed mostly by the world at large.
In the past, many Christians taught and thought that God was finished with the Jews. As a result of the temple’s destruction in 70 A.D., the Jews were dispersed to many nations across the globe. Early Christians taught that we, Gentile Christians, replaced the Jews as the New Israel. Replacement theology began to grow, becoming popular and planting the seed of anti-semitism even among Christians. At the very least, Christians disregard Israel as the nation for whom God still has an existing plan of salvation.
The State of Israel
After the Holocaust, the Jews began to return to the land of Israel from all parts of the world. Against all impossible odds, they were established as the nation of Israel in 1948 after the UN voting in 1947. After 2,000 years of exile, Israel was miraculously brought back to their promised land. The nation of Israel reconquered Jerusalem as its capital once more, after they fought and won in the impossible battles against the Arabs.
Amazingly, Israel became a military power in a span of 73 years. They became an industrialized nation. From what was once a desert wilderness, they became an agricultural miracle. Despite the hostility from surrounding nations that had vowed to extinguish them from off the earth, Israel managed to become a technological giant.
Up to Speed
God has been raising up the Christians around the world in this generation with an awareness of His fulfillment of biblical prophecies for Israel; that His plans are being accomplished for Israel and that our Jewish roots, connectivity, and ministry to Israel are all part of God’s calling for us. He has called His spiritual Israel to pray for natural Israel; to support them and to be witnesses to them of God’s love and salvation.
Thousands among the Jews have come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. God has a plan of salvation for the Jews using us, the Gentiles. God is bringing back thousands of Jews from different parts of the world to go back to Israel, and Gentile Christians are helping. The new generation of Christians worldwide are waking up to their Jewish roots to connect and minister to the Jews. Our Christian lives become fuller and stronger in growth and ministry when we connect ourselves to our Jewish spiritual roots in Israel.
The army of Israel is made up of 18 yr old male and female soldiers required to serve for 3 years. Afterward, they are required to be on reserve status until they reach 40 years old. God is raising up a parallel army of young adult Christian intercessors who are strong in their youthfulness to love, pray for, and to minister to the Jews, whom God has promised to bless as they bless Israel.
There are several organizations like International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which God has raised to help Christians connect and minister to the Jews in prayer and to support ministries like the creation of bomb shelters, the purchase of firetrucks, the giving of educational sponsorships and supplies. Added to this list are the Aliyah ministry, volunteer work, and joining the yearly Feast of Tabernacles as a great witness of love for the Jews because of Jesus our Lord. Connectivity and ministry to Israel is part of God’s plan for us as Christians.
Steve A. Mirpuri
Steve A. Mirpuri is the National Director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), Philippines Branch. He is also the Philippine National Coordinator for Ayude' for a New Day.