TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

II. God’s Plans for Israel

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Chapter 20  Part II

God’s Plans for Israel

The OT prophets speak of a great, future renewal of Israel by God. Opinions differ as to whether these prophecies are literal and physical, as opposed to figurative or spiritual. If they are literal, then they speak of Israel and Jerusalem (or Zion), most likely immediately preceding and during the thousand years spoken of in Rev 20:1-7. 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. 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.

In reading the following, 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 some passages refer to the Jew’s return from exile in Babylon, 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 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

God will return home the remnant of exiled Israel

[God:] I’ll gather the remnant of my flock from all the countries where I’ve driven them, and bring them back to their pasture where they’ll be fruitful and increase in numbers.   Jeremiah 23:3  ISV

Note that some commentators see a fulfillment of prophecies such as this one in the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

The people of Israel will possess the land forever

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

Physical Renewal and Peace

Israel will be physically restored

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!   Ezekiel 36:35-36  NET

Joy will accompany God’s renewal of Israel

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.   Isaiah 51:3  NET

The Messiah will rule Israel forever in righteousness and peace

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.   Isaiah 9:7  ESV

Israel will have lasting peace

[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.   Isaiah 32:17-18  NET

Spiritual Renewal

God will cleanse Israel of sin

[God, the people of Israel:] This is what the sovereign Lord says: In the day I cleanse you from all your sins …   Ezekiel 36:33a  NET

The people of Israel will be given God’s Spirit

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

A Renewed Relationship with God

God will be Israel’s God and they will be his people

[God:] I will be their God and they will be my people. For they will wholeheartedly return to me.   Jeremiah 24:7b  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

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

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

The nations will come to Jerusalem to worship God

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.   Psalms 102:21-22  GNT

Glorification

God will glorify Israel

Jerusalem, the nations will see your goodness, and all kings will see your glory.   Isaiah 62:2a  NCV™

Israel’s renewal will display God’s glory

The desert and the dry land will be glad, and the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. 2Like a lily the land will blossom. It will rejoice and sing with joy. It will have the glory of Lebanon, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. Everyone will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.   Isaiah 35:1-2  GW

God’s glory and majesty will be evident in Israel’s wonderful and glorious restoration.

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