Commentary: God still has plans for the people of Israel


What is going to happen to Israel and where does Israel fit into God's plans?

That question was asked in a recent Bible study as the war between Hamas and Israel continues to rage in Gaza while a rising tide of anti-Israelism has spread throughout much of the United States, Israel’s primary ally. My wife Joanna asks, “Has goodness been compromised to the point that evil values and behaviors are going to finally win?

She reflects on how Israel has a history of being created and loved by God, referring to Gen. 12:1-3: “The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’” This ancient summons was fulfilled in ways no one could or would have dreamed possible, reaching a climax in the coming of Yeshua HaMessiach, Jesus the Messiah as Savior of the world, Jews and Gentiles. Tragically the people of Israel, like all of us, often failed to trust and obey God; therefore, Israel became a divided and destroyed nation, suffering exile and persecution. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, its temple and the nation following two rebellions (66-70 A.D. and 132-135 A.D.) the ancient homeland of the Israelites became known as Palestine, a province under Roman rule. The people of Israel became scattered throughout much of the world. This scattering became known as the Diaspora, leaving the Jews as a people without a land to call their own.

Many if not most Jews were subjected to anti-Semitism as strangers in foreign lands. Some Christian leaders even labeled them “Christ-killers,” blaming them for the crucifixion of Christ and saying they were no longer the “People of God.” The persecution of Jews reached the depths of depravity when Nazis tortured and murdered six million as well as Christians and others who dared to stand up against the evils of Nazism. Eventually good triumphed over evil with the defeat of Nazism. Then, in 1948 the United Nations voted to rebirth a Jewish state where ancient Israel had once existed.

Charles Krauthammer, the brilliant Jewish commentator who described himself as not “exactly religious,” wrote how the rebirth of Israel was “a miraculous story of redemption and return after … 2,000 years.He added that its ability to defeat invading neighbors (who outnumbered Israelis 40 million to 650,000) was “another miracle.” In spite of these miracles, Israel continues to be threatened and attacked; sometimes caught by surprise, such as in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the recent Oct. 7, 2023 terrorist slaughter. Also, the nation has fewer friends standing up for it worldwide. What is going to happen to Israel? Does Israel still have a place in God’s plans?

The apostle Paul answers our question in the New Testament book of Romans. In Romans 10:21, Paul quotes God: “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and defiant people.” Paul goes on to ask and answer in Romans 11:1: “Has God rejected his people? Absolutely not! … God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” He explains how those “who do not remain in unbelief will be grafted in (to the Church/Kingdom of God) because God has the power to graft them in again (11:23), and that while “a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in … all Israel will be saved as it is written (in Isaiah 59:20-21). Until these last final days, Paul reminds us there will be a remnant of faithful Jews that will always exist even during the worst of times (cf. Elijah). Somehow the people of Israel have survived countless persecutions, and still have a role to play in God’s plans.

We look forward into the future with faith and hope, awaiting the prophecy of Ezekiel’s fulfillment. Speaking of prophecy, let’s close with the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 21:24: “Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” As one scholar wrote in 1993: “The city of Jerusalem has once again come under Jewish control, no longer ‘trampled down by the Gentiles,’ as a result of the reestablishment of the modern state of Israel. This suggests that the Gentile age may be drawing to a close, as Jesus predicted. If so, I am inclined to believe Israel (a miraculously reborn nation) will survive, though I take to heart my wife’s cautionary words: “Israel, the country, is taking a blow. We do not know the end of this story. We wait for God’s grace and mercy to be revealed. It’s His plan and timing. We do know that Israel, God’s people, are forever in His plan.” Amen.


Paul R. Baxter is the mission strategist for Georgia's Pine Mountain Baptist Association.