THE RAPTURE SERIES 5: ISRAEL’S ROLE
Israel is God’s chosen nation but will not be raptured.
Our Blessed Hope
The Rapture is an orthodox doctrine which cannot be denied. The purpose of this part of our series is to encourage the Church to believe in the words of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also ” (John 14:1-3) Therefore, we joyfully await the Lord! The apostle Paul warns believers to be “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Therefore, based on the Scripture, we believe in the immanency of the Rapture!
The Necessity Of Faith
Some claim that since you cannot humanly explain something, it does not exist. Such conclusions are faulty because the Bible says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2nd Corinthians 4:18).
The Bible is a book of faith, and only to the extent that we are willing to subject our intellect to the authority of the Holy Scriptures are we able to understand its message. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse speaks in scientific and legal terms: Faith is “substance” and “evidence.”
For this very reason, it is futile to argue the doctrine of the Rapture with those who deny the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in the simplest of terms and listed only one condition when he described the coming Rapture, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” (1st Thessalonians 4:14). Therefore, if we do not believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we cannot be born again. As a result, we will not be raptured.
Israel: The End time Sign
When we talk about the Rapture, we must realize that this is not an isolated event concerning only the Church of Jesus Christ, nor is it a doctrine established only in the New Testament. That is far from the truth. We notice from many passages, Romans 11 in particular, that the Church of Jesus Christ mainly consists of Gentiles and is actually part of Israel; we are organically one. The Bible clearly supports the position of the Gentiles with the following words, “… wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (verse 24). Verse 17 gives further clarification, “…thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them par-takest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”
Since the olive tree represents Israel, the Gentiles who believe in Jesus have been joined with Israel, making us one. When the Rapture takes place, it will undoubtedly affect Israel, as we will see later on.
This organic unity is also emphasized in Ephesians 2:12, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” And of course, we must not forget to mention Ephesians 3:6, “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” Therefore, if part of the promise was addressed to the Church from among the Gentiles, we can conclude that Israel must be the greatest end-time sign for the Church and that the Rapture is close at hand. With that in mind, let us take a closer look at Israel.
Israel To Be Separate
Very few seem to realize that the union of the Jews and Gentiles clearly violates God’s order. According to Deuteronomy 14:2, Israel cannot be integrated into the nations of the world, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” God set the Jews apart, “above all other nations.” They are chosen for God’s purpose. If Satan, the prince of this world, who is also called the god of this world, is successful in mixing the Jews with the Gentiles, then he can eradicate the Jews, dissolving them in the ocean of Gentiles, ruining God’s promises. We know from the Bible that in the end, Satan will not succeed. The Lord will see to it that Israel will be saved out of this terrible coming day, the Great Tribulation.
Israel Failed To Separate
From reading the Old Testament, we know that Israel failed to completely fulfill this commandment of God. For as long as Joshua lived, the people followed the Lord’s instruction to destroy their enemies. However, after Joshua died, we read over and over in the book of Judges that the tribes of Israel did not completely drive out the enemies from within their allotted territory. We arrive at this conclusion based on the following examples:
• Judah and Simeon “… could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley…” (Judges 1:19).
• “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem…” Judges 1:21)
• “Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean…” (Judges 1:27).
• “… when Israel was strong… they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out” (Judges 1:28).
Israel failed to execute God’s commandment. This has carried over to the present problem in the Middle East and is nothing other than the result of Israel’s disobedience, even thousands of years ago! Israel deliberately refused to separate herself from the nations and has continuously allowed some degree of integration.
Israel Failed To Receive The Kingdom Of God
In the fullness of time, Jesus, Son of God and Messiah came and proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. Finally, Israel had the opportunity to be a unique nation above all others as a visible testimony to the heathen.
John the Baptist, the herald of the coming Messiah, proclaimed,
“…Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). John did not come out with this statement of his own initiative, but quoted the prophetic Scripture, “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3). When Jesus was baptized by John, we hear the heavenly Father’s confirmation, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
It is fascinating to notice that all of these events took place in accordance with the prophetic Word, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet…” (Matthew 1:22). Even the religious people who in reality did not wait for the coming of the Messiah had to confess, “…for thus it is written by the prophet” (Matthew 2:5). In verse 15 we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet….” And in verse 17, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet…”When His parents had settled in Nazareth, we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Verse 23). Jesus came to fulfill the perfect will of God the Father. The New Testament repeatedly testifies of His works as being the fulfillment of prophecy.
The scribes, the Pharisees, and the other religious authorities should have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, but they did not. Why not? Because prophecy had to be fulfilled. Matthew 13:14-15 bears witness that, “…in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” The Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, was in their midst! However, Israel stumbled, and the Jews fell deeply into unbelief because they had wanted the kingdom and the king on their own terms!
Israel Isolated Through Judgment
After the children of Israel refused to obey God and keep His commandments, which would have separated them from the heathen nations around them, God used the nations as a tool of judgment to separate the Jews from their land and scatter them across the entire world!
Since the destruction of the Temple by the Roman forces in A.D. 70, the Jews have been severely persecuted throughout the world.
Volumes have been written about the horrible suffering of the Jewish people during the course of the last 2,000 years.
God ordained them to be distinctly identified, isolated, and separated: not for the purpose of uniqueness in a positive sense, but often for discrimination, oppression and even death.
Israel’s Miraculous Birth
Through Hitler’s Nazi killing machine, more than six million Jews perished, not because of any crime or wrongdoing on their part, but simply because they were Jews. They were different!
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand why God permitted such horrifying judgment upon His chosen people. Many have asked the question without receiving a definite answer. All we know is that Israel arose immediately after the Holocaust and became a nation. The horrible injustices suffered by the Jewish people contributed to the United Nations’ decision to grant them the right to establish a homeland in the territory named by the British-Palestine.
At the beginning the Jews and Arabs lived together in relative harmony in the Holy Land. However, with the founding of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, and the wars that followed as a result, Israel became divided from her Arab neighbors. The division of these two groups caused the world to pressure Israel into compromise regarding the coexistence between them and the Arab-Palestinians.
Even today, Israel still desires peaceful coexistence with all the Arabs, and undoubtedly, this division will be dealt with in a democratic fashion so that one day Israel will live in peace with all of her Arab neighbors. It must be stressed, however, that this peace will only be temporary because it is a false peace.
We deliberately emphasize Israel’s position in relation to the Church and the Gentile nations so that we may understand why it is necessary in these end times to expect a supernatural intervention. God must fulfill His Word; “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). How can God make Israel a special, chosen people above all the nations of the world if they are expected to become one with the world?
Now that we are witnessing the integration of the Jews with the nations of the world, we are forced to ask, “How much longer will it be until God must supernaturally interfere in order to maintain the national identity of His chosen people?”
Israel: The Origin Of The Church
Many readers might be asking, “Does Israel have a direct relationship with the Church and the Rapture?” The answer is “yes” because Israel has been given to us as an example. Therefore, we must also analyze the Church in regard to her chosen position as a separate identity, using Israel as our pattern! This will be done in part 6 of our series.
(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)