Celebrating God’s Promise: Israel at 70


The return of the Jews to the land of Israel after centuries of being scattered in other countries, is an event which the Bible prophesied thousands of years ago.


Just after the resurrection of Christ and his subsequent ascension to heaven, the Jewish people were taken from their land by the Romans and scattered among all nations as a punishment by God for their sins. This had been prophesied by Jeremiah many years before the event:

“Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice… therefore, thus saith the LORD… I will scatter them among the heathen” (Jeremiah 9:13-16)


This however, was not intended to be a permanent arrangement as Jeremiah went on to say:

“Fear thou not, my servant Jacob, saith the LORD, neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar and thy seed from the land of their captivity” (Jeremiah 30:10)

Whilst this prophecy awaits its fulfilment in the return of ALL the Jews to their own land, we are privileged to witness in our own day a partial return of the Jews to the land promised to their fathers. This is an essential part of God’s purpose in bringing about the settlement of the WHOLE nation in the land of Israel, as can be seen from Ezekiel 38:3-12. Here, the coming invasion of the land by Russia (see #7 in this series, Russia in Bible Prophecy) demands a strong settlement of Jews in the land, which has been the case since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. It will be interesting to trace the events which contributed to this development.


In the latter part of the 19th century, the intensification of anti-semitism in Europe prompted Theodore Herzl, a Hungarian Jewish journalist, to found the Zionist movement to provide a place of refuge for persecuted Jews. At that time there were very few Jews in the land of Israel (or Palestine as it was then known), and the land itself was suffering from years of neglect.


The Zionist movement gained momentum, though the Jews returning to the land were still very few. It was not until 1917 that any great change was seen. In that year the British government issued the following declaration (known as the Balfour Declaration after Henry Balfour, then British Foreign Secretary):

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national homeland for the Jews…”

At first, the return of the Jews to their homeland was only a trickle, but this slowly increased until (following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948) it became a flood, so that today (2001) there are around five million Jews in the land.


These events herald the return of Christ to the earth. Although the Bible foretold this partial return of the Jews, their complete restoration to their land will not take place until Christ is reigning from Jerusalem.

As could be seen in Jeremiah’s prophecy, the Jews were scattered because they disobeyed the law of God. In spite of this, God has promised to restore them to their land to keep the oath which he swore to the fathers of the Jewish nation for their faithfulness, and for His holy name’s sake (see Deuteronomy 7:6-8 and Ezekiel 20:21,22). So, when all the Jews are gathered from all over the world, it will be only those who turn to God who will be allowed to dwell in the land in the kingdom of God, and those who will not accept Jesus as their king will be purged out (see Ezekiel 20:33-38). Then God will put His law in the hearts of the Jewish people and they will serve Him, as Jeremiah again wrote:

“I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33)

As a result of the favourable position with their God to which the Jews will be brought, they will discover that they will no longer be the hated people of the earth and the scapegoat for all that goes wrong, but instead they will be sought out by the people of other nations (see Zechariah 8:23).


Those nations who recognise the Jews as God’s people and submit to the rule of Christ, the king of the Jews, will themselves experience the blessings and prosperity flowing from their obedience to Gods law.

Those individual men and women who now choose to obey God’s commands will experience more than prosperity. The apostle Paul, when writing of the position of the Jews relative to the Gentiles (or non-Jews) said:

“If the casting away of them (the Jews) be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving (or regathering) of them be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15)

Yes. Resurrection from the dead and eternal life in God’s kingdom on the earth is the hope of the faithful! Positions of rulership with Christ over the nations of the earth are also held out to those who follow Christ now (see Revelation 5:9-10).

What Should a Christian’s Attitude Be Towards the Laws of Our Country?

A Christian should always obey and respect national laws because “the authorities are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1-5).

A Christian should be a good, law-abiding citizen, honestly paying his taxes. (Titus 3:1Romans 13:6-7Luke 20:25).

Nevertheless, in the very rare case that a government passes a law that goes against God’s laws (for example, if we are ordered to worship idols, or to join the army) then we must “obey God rather than men”. (See Acts 5:29).

A Christian should not take his brother to law. (1 Corinthians 6:18).


Does the Bible promise faithful Christians will go to heaven?

No. the Bible promises that faithful followers of Jesus will live for ever on earth.

The Bible also says that nobody has gone to heaven, except Jesus. (See Psalm 115:16Acts2:34John 3:13).

A few Bible passages are sometimes thought to teach that Christians are promised eternal life in heaven. But they can all be shown to agree with the teaching of the rest of the Bible. For example, “my Father’s house”, of John 14:2 is not in heaven. God’s house is the temple, as John 2:16 shows. The greatest of all temples is a spiritual temple, and the believers are living stones in that great house that is still being built (See 1 Peter 2:5). God’s house is therefore on earth, and because of this the Lord Jesus says (in the next verse John 14:3), “I will come again and receive you unto myself”.

 ”Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11


Let’s Talk About Jesus, the Son of God

Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. He had no human father, but was conceived when the power of God, called the Holy Spirit, worked a miracle on his mother, who was a virgin. (See Luke 1:3235Matthew 1:20-25Matthew 3:17John 1:49John 10:36).

He was, nevertheless, a human being who grew up, hungered, thirsted, wept, suffered and died like other human beings. (See Hebrews 2:11Luke 2:52Isaiah 53:3John 11:35John 19:33).

What was the work of Jesus, the Son of God?

  1. To reveal his Father, Almighty God, to the world in a way that men could understand. (See John 1:18John 12:45John 14:9John 17:626).
  2. To show the glorious qualities of his Father — holiness, righteousness and love. (See John 1:14-41Romans 3:24-26).
  3. To show to men the full meaning of Christian service and obedience. (See Luke 22:42John 5:308:29).
  4. To preach the gospel. (See Luke 4:189:6; and 20:1).
  5. To die for us. (See John 10:1115Acts 2:23).
  6. To bring us back to God. (See Ephesians 2:16Romans 5:10John 14:6).


The Bible — Inspired by God

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Why is the Bible a Special Book?

It is the only book that gives us true knowledge about God, the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation. (See Hebrews 1:1-2Psalm 138:22 Timothy 3:16Psalm 119:160).

It has been written by men who were guided by the Holy Spirit of God. (See 2 Peter 1:211 Peter 1:11Hebrews 1:1-2).

It promises eternal life to all who believe and obey its teaching. (See John 17:3Romans 2:7; 2 Peter 1:11).

How can we best understand the Bible’s message?

To understand and believe its message, we need to read the Bible regularly and with a prayer for God’s blessing. (See 1 Timothy 4:13; Psalm 119:103-105Jeremiah 15:16Jeremiah 9:24).

The Bible itself is its best interpreter. Some parts of the Bible help us to understand other parts. (See Luke 24:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:13).

Let’s Talk About Christmas

Nimageow is the time of year we are being told how many shopping days there are left until Christmas.

The shops are again full of decorations, gift suggestions and piped Christmas music. Our colleagues and neighbours are making their annual plans for over-indulgence. And churches are once more beginning arrangements for carol services to mark the birth of Christ, because for most Christians Christmas is a highlight, if not the highlight, of the religious calendar.

Lack of Bible Attention

It may be surprising to us, but in His wisdom God has given us little information about Christ’s birth and His word places little emphasis on it. It is bypassed completely by Mark and John. Luke gives us the fullest account. Matthew mentions it in passing while dealing with the events before and after it. This is very different from other events in Christ’s life which are described in detail in all four Gospels, such as the feeding of the five thousand. It is insignificant compared with the events leading up to and relating to Christ’s death and resurrection which occupy large parts of each Gospel.

“No Such Commandment”

Nowhere in the scriptures do we find commands to mark Christ’s birth, nor do we read of such celebrations being kept. Indeed, only two birthday celebrations are mentioned in the scriptures at all – those of Pharaoh and Herod. This is in complete contrast to remembering the death of Christ, which God’s word commands us to do and which records the early believers as doing.

Not kept by the early churches

We know that the death of Christ was celebrated from the beginning and that this evolved into the three days of Easter. But there is no mention of celebrating Christ’s birth in the many post-Apostolic writings which have survived. In AD 245 the theologian Origen described the Roman practice of celebrating birthdays as pagan, which strongly suggests that Christ’s birthday was not being marked at that time.

When was Christ born?

This idea that Christmas was probably not celebrated until the fourth century seems to coincide with the fact that for centuries there was considerable debate about the actual date of Christ’s birth. It is difficult to celebrate someone’s birthday without knowing when they were born!

The first contribution in early church writings to this discussion is found in a work by Clement of Alexandria in about AD 200. He mentioned several possibilities: March, April, and May – but not December.

“Be not conformed to this world”

The keeping of non-religious Christmas customs should be a matter of conscience: “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). But as for celebrating Christ’s birth:

  • God does not want us to mark the birth of His Son once a year.
  • If He had wanted this, He would have given us the date and told us how to do it.
  • By doing so, we are copying a man-made festival from a false Church (the coming of which the apostles warned about), instigated for the wrong reason and at the wrong time.

Rod Hale (edited)