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Back to Israel?

January 09, 2017
Back to Israel?
In the wake of multiple terrorist attacks targeting Jews in France, thousands are moving to Israel. Figures show that 5,000 French Jews emigrated to the land of their ancestors in 2016. Fear and a felt lack of security have motivated many to leave over the last decade—with more than 40,000 seeking permanent residence in Israel since 2006, a decade that saw an uptick in anti-Semitic activity across Europe.

Some see this mass return of Jewish people to Israel as a significant fulfillment of Bible prophecy, one that will usher in the last days. Many Evangelical organizations have been established to help those of Jewish descent move back to Israel, all based on their understanding of prophecies found in the Old Testament.

John Nelson Darby, a Bible teacher in the 1800s, and his doctrine of dispensationalism helped promote the belief that all end-time prophecy should be viewed through the literal nation of Israel. As such, millions today are focused on Jerusalem and believe a Jewish temple will soon be rebuilt—which will lead to a literal Middle East Armageddon. However, it often seems the fruit of these teachings are little more than failed predictions, such as those found in the book The Late Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series of books and film.

Perhaps we should affirm then that even Jewish New Testament writers understood most Old Testament prophecies about Israel as being given to spiritual Israel. Peter wrote to both Jew and Gentile believers, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). The apostle Paul added, “They are not all Israel who are of Israel” (Romans 9:6).

It seems a true Jew, at least according to the Bible, is not based on genetics, but on our characters. “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28, 29).

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