TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. God’s Plans for Israel

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Chapter 20  Part II

God’s Plans for Israel

Large portions of the writings of the OT prophets speak of a wonderful, future renewal of Israel by God. There are differences of opinion as to what degree these are literal and physical, as opposed to figurative or spiritual. If they are largely meant to be understood literally, then they speak of the actual Israel and Jerusalem (or Zion), most likely immediately preceding and during the thousand years or Millennium spoken of in Revelation 20:1-7 (cf. Prelude: The thousand years). As such the time of a renewed Israel would largely correspond with that of a physical universal rule of Jesus Christ and would precede the final judgment. If instead the prophecies are basically figurative and spiritual, then they are more likely to be referring to all believers – the “new” Israel (cf. Gentiles have been included in the true “Israel”). As such they would be portraying God’s people and kingdom following Jesus Christ’s mission and/or quite possibly anticipating heaven or the new Jerusalem (cf. Note: The new Jerusalem is linked with the renewed Jerusalem prophesied in the OT).

In reading the following sections, bear in mind that some prophecies are understood to be progressively fulfilled throughout history, culminating in a final fulfillment at the end of the age. For example a number of the passages refer initially to the Jew’s return after the Babylonian exile, but also appear to have a future era in view. Many probably also have an application to the experience of God’s people in all periods. As such – and with the hope that they provide for the future – they are a great source of encouragement to all believers.

Note that while the subheadings speak of Israel, many of the verses refer to Jerusalem in particular.

Return to the Land

Some commentators see a fulfillment of some of the prophecies in this and the following subsection in the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

God will gather the remnant of exiled Israel from the nations and bring them home

Jer 23:3, 7-8  [God:] Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. … 7“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”  ESV

God will aid them on the journey home . . .

Zec 10:10-12  [God:] I will bring them home from Egypt and Assyria, then let them settle as far as Gilead and Lebanon, until the land overflows with them. 11My people will go through an ocean of troubles, but I will overcome the waves and dry up the deepest part of the Nile. Assyria’s great pride will be put down, and the power of Egypt will disappear. 12I’ll strengthen my people because of who I am, and they will follow me. I, the Lord, have spoken!  CEV

. . . and the nations also will assist in bringing the exiled Israelites home

Isa 66:20  [God:] They will bring back all your countrymen from all the nations as an offering to the Lord. They will bring them on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, and on camels to my holy hill Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring offerings to the Lord’s temple in ritually pure containers.  NET

This appears to be speaking of people of other nations bringing the exiled Israelites home.

The people of Israel will possess the land – forever

Isa 60:21a  [God, to Jerusalem:] All of your people will be godly; they will possess the land permanently.  NET

Judah and Israel will be reunited

Hos 1:11a  Then the people of Judah and the people of Israel will be gathered together. They will appoint for themselves one leader, and will flourish in the land.  NET

 Questions for Section A

Physical Renewal

Israel will be physically restored

Ezek 36:35-36  They [people] will say, “This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; the ruined, desolate, and destroyed cities are now fortified and inhabited.” 36Then the nations which remain around you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken – and I will do it!  NET

The land will be fruitful

Isa 30:23  The Lord will send rain to water the seeds you have planted—your fields will produce more crops than you need, and your cattle will graze in open pastures.  CEV

Israel’s population and area will be increased

Isa 26:15  Our nation has grown because of you, our Lord. We have more land than before, and you are honored..  CEV

Joy will accompany God’s renewal of Israel . . .

Isa 51:3  Certainly the Lord will console Zion; he will console all her ruins. He will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the Garden of the Lord. Happiness and joy will be restored to her, thanksgiving and the sound of music.  NET

. . . Israel’s sorrow will be no more

Isa 65:19  [God:] Jerusalem will bring me joy, and my people will bring me happiness. The sound of weeping or cries of sorrow will never be heard in her again.  NET

 Questions for Section B

Deliverance and Everlasting Peace

God will save Israel

Isa 45:17  Israel will be delivered once and for all by the Lord; you will never again be ashamed or humiliated.  NET

God will take vengeance on those who persecute Israel

Isa 35:4  Tell those [in Israel or Jerusalem] who panic, “Be strong! Do not fear! Look, your God comes to avenge! With divine retribution he comes to deliver you.”  NET

Siege and deliverance of Jerusalem – with judgment on its attackers

Rev 20:7-9  When the thousand years are over, Satan will be set free from his prison. 8Then he will go out to trick the nations in all the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. There are so many people they will be like sand on the seashore. 9And Satan’s army marched across the earth and gathered around the camp of God’s people and the city God loves. But fire came down from heaven and burned them up.  NCV™

Two of the most prominent interpretations of “the camp of God’s people and the city God loves” are: a spiritually renewed Jerusalem; and God’s people in general. Note that there are a number of OT passages that similarly speak of a future siege and deliverance of Jerusalem, followed by judgment on its attackers (cf. Isa 29:1-8; Zec 12:2-9; Zec 14:1-14).

Israel will defeat its enemies

Isa 11:14  They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia in the west. Together they will loot the people of the east. They will conquer Edom and Moab. The people of Ammon will be subject to them.  GW

Israel will greatly rejoice in God’s salvation

Isa 61:10a  I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; I will be overjoyed because of my God. For he clothes me in garments of deliverance; he puts on me a robe symbolizing vindication.  NET

The speaker is probably Jerusalem or Zion personified.

God will protect and care for Israel

Isa 27:3  I, the Lord, protect it [Israel]; I water it regularly. I guard it night and day, so no one can harm it.  NET

Zeph 2:7  The coast will belong to the faithful few from the nation of Judah. There they will graze their sheep. In the evening they will lie down in the houses of Ashkelon. The Lord their God will take care of them and will restore their fortunes.  GW

The Messiah will rule forever over Israel, in righteousness and peace

Isa 9:7  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.  ESV

Israel will have peace – and no fear – forever

Isa 32:17-18  [God:] Fairness will produce peace and result in lasting security. 18My people will live in peaceful settlements, in secure homes, and in safe, quiet places.  NET

Zeph 3:15b  The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.  ESV

 Questions for Section C

Spiritual Renewal

God will cleanse Israel of all impurities and sin . . .

Ezek 36:25, 33  [God, the people of Israel:] I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols.33“‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: In the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will populate the cities and the ruins will be rebuilt.  NET

. . . and God will forgive the people’s sins

Jer 50:20  The Lord says, “At that time people will try to find Israel’s guilt, but there will be no guilt. People will try to find Judah’s sins, but no sins will be found, because I will leave a few people alive from Israel and Judah, and I will forgive their sins.  NCV™

Israel will be holy

Ezek 37:28  [God:] When my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I, the Lord, make Israel holy.  NCV™

Israel will be righteous

Isa 60:21  Then all your people will be righteous, and they will possess the land permanently.  GW

The people of Israel will be given God’s Spirit

Ezek 39:29  I will no longer hide my face from them, when I pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord.  NET

The people of Israel will be given spiritual understanding

Isa 29:18, 24  When that day comes, the deaf will hear the words written in the book. The blind will see out of their gloom and darkness.24Then those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding, and those who complain will accept instruction.  GW

Verse 18 appears to be speaking primarily of those who had been spiritually deaf and blind.

 Questions for Section D

A Renewed Relationship with God

Israel will turn to God

Hos 3:5  After this, the people of Israel will return to the Lord their God and follow him and the king from David’s family. In the last days they will turn in fear to the Lord, and he will bless them.  NCV™

Israel will worship God – and trust in him

Isa 27:13  At that time a large trumpet will be blown, and the ones lost in the land of Assyria will come, as well as the refugees in the land of Egypt. They will worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.  NET

Isa 12:1-2  At that time you [the people of Israel] will say: “I praise you, O Lord, for even though you were angry with me, your anger subsided, and you consoled me. 2Look, God is my deliverer! I will trust in him and not fear. For the Lord gives me strength and protects me; he has become my deliverer.”  NET

Israel will be devoted to God

Jer 50:5b  They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in a lasting covenant that will never be forgotten.  NET

Ezek 20:40a  For there on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord, all the house of Israel will serve me, all of them in the land.  NET

These verses demonstrate Israel’s devotion to God, in speaking of the people: having an unwavering commitment to live in accordance with God’s will (cf. Jer 50:5b); and serving God (cf. Ezek 20:40a).

God will be as a husband to Israel, renewing his relationship with her

Hos 2:16, 19-20  “It will come about at that time,” declares the Lord, “you will address me as ‘My husband,’ and you will no longer call me ‘My master’.19“I will make you my wife forever. I will make you my wife in righteousness, in justice, in gracious love, and in mercy. 20I will make you my wife in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord.  ISV

The people of Israel will be God’s people and he will be their God

Jer 30:22  [God:] Then you will again be my people and I will be your God.  NET

This denotes the consummate fulfillment of a key aspect of the first covenant which God made with Israel – that he would be their God and they would be his people.

God will dwell in Jerusalem, living among his people forever

Zec 8:3a  The Lord says, ‘I have returned to Zion and will live within Jerusalem.  NET

Ezek 48:35b  The name of the city from that day forward will be: ‘The Lord Is There.  NET

 Questions for Section E

Exaltation and Glorification

Israel will be exalted among the nations because of what God will do for her. In fact God will glorify Israel.

Israel will be dominant among the nations, who will serve it

Isa 14:2  Nations will take them [people of Israel] and bring them back to their own place. Then the family of Jacob [Israel] will make foreigners their servants as they settle in the Lord’s land. They will make their captors captives and rule over the ones who oppressed them.  NET

The nations will come to Jerusalem to worship God . . .

Ps 102:21-22  And so his name will be proclaimed in Zion, and he will be praised in Jerusalem 22when nations and kingdoms come together and worship the Lord.  GNT

. . . and nations will be established with Israel as God’s people

Isa 14:1  The Lord will show mercy to the people of Jacob, and he will again choose the people of Israel. He will settle them in their own land. Then non-Israelite people will join the Israelites and will become a part of the family of Jacob.  NCV™

Zec 2:11a  [God:] Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on the day of salvation, and they will also be my people.  NET

God himself will exceedingly bless Israel

Jer 32:40-42  [God:] I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. 42“For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them.  ESV

God will glorify Israel

Isa 62:2-3  Jerusalem, the nations will see your goodness, and all kings will see your glory. Then you will have a new name, which the Lord himself will give you. 3You will be like a beautiful crown in the Lords hand, like a king’s crown in your God’s hand.  NCV™

Note that the “new name” (v. 2) appears to refer to one or more of the new names Zion is called later in vv. 4, 12 – which speak of God’s new relationship with her in terms alluding to marriage.

Israel’s glory will primarily be God, with the glory of his presence

Isa 60:2, 19  Darkness now covers the earth; deep darkness covers her people. But the Lord shines on you [Jerusalem], and people see his glory around you. … 19 The sun will no longer be your light during the day nor will the brightness from the moon be your light, because the Lord will be your light forever, and your God will be your glory.  NCV™

Israel’s renewal will bring God glory

Jer 33:9  [God:] All the nations will hear about all the good things which I will do to them. This city [Jerusalem] will bring me fame, honor, and praise before them for the joy that I bring it. The nations will tremble in awe at all the peace and prosperity that I will provide for it.  NET

 Questions for Section F

Pray for persecuted Christians