God Loves Israel

Israel FlagIsrael is a special nation that was created by God Himself. The Lord said of Israel, “I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King” (Isa 43:15). This makes Israel unique among all the nations of the world! He even calls Israel, “My glory” (Isa 46:13). And God loves Israel, declaring, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jer 31:3). God is eternal, and His love is eternal, which means it never fades for His people, Israel. To possess the love of God is to love that which He loves. One cannot claim to have God’s love, and simultaneously hate Israel, His chosen people. There is no place for anti-Semitism in the heart of anyone, especially the Christian! According to Lewis S. Chafer, “When the Christian loves with a divine compassion he will acknowledge what God loves. Therefore, he too must love Israel.”[1]

To love the people of Israel is not a blanket endorsement of all their beliefs and behaviors. God, who loves Israel and chose them to be His people (Deut 7:6-8), also called them to be holy (Ex 19:5-6; Lev 11:45), and to live righteously (Deut 6:24-25). Under the Mosaic Law, God blessings and curses for them were conditioned on their obedience or disobedience (Deut 11:26-28; 28:1-68). For much of Israel’s history, we know they failed to walk with God, sometimes rejecting His love for them and walking in the ways of the world (see 2 Ch 36:15-16; Jer 7:25-26; 25:4-7). The national rejection and crucifixion of Jesus (Matt 27:22-23; Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28), Israel’s promised Messiah (Deut 18:15; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; 53; 61:1; Matt 1:1, 17; Luke 1:31-33), is their greatest historical failure.[2] Did Israel act alone in crucifying Jesus, their Messiah? No! God foretold Israel’s Messiah would suffer and die (Psa 22:11-18; Isa 53); and, according to His sovereignty, He used wicked men, both Jews and Gentiles, to accomplish His will (Acts 22:22-23; 4:27-28). Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote:

If it be inquired, as constantly it is, who put Christ to death? It may be pointed out that He was offered by the Father (Psa 22:15; John 3:16; Rom 3:25), of His own free will (John 10:17; Heb 7:27; 9:14; 10:12), by the Spirit (Heb 9:14), and by men—Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and Israel (Acts 2:23; 4:27). To this may be added that part of His death was contributed by Satan (cf. Gen 3:15).[3]

God, who loves Israel with an everlasting love, continues to keep His Word to them. Israel has a future hope because of the promises and covenants God made through the patriarchs and prophets (Gen 12:1-3; 15:18; 17:8; Deut 30:1-10; 2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:33-37; Jer 31:31-33). Though unbelieving Israel is currently under divine discipline (Matt 23:37-39), God’s covenants and promises are still in effect (Rom 9:1-5), and will remain in force until Jesus returns and is accepted as their Messiah.

Furthermore, it is wrong to think the church has replaced Israel, for “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Rom 11:2), even though there is a “partial hardening” among them until Messiah returns (Rom 11:25-27). Until then, unbelieving Israel is under spiritual darkness and divine judgment. The apostle Paul—a biological Jew himself—revealed that God’s promises and covenants are still valid for Israel, and wished all would come to faith in Christ. Paul said:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart [for unbelieving Israelites]. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh [to whom Paul is related biologically], who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh [i.e. Messiah], who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Rom 9:1-5)

Today, Jews and Gentiles alike become partakers of the church, the body of Christ (Eph 1:22-23; cf. 1 Cor 10:32), when they believe in Jesus as their Savior (Gal 3:26-28). These believe the gospel message, that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Christians are looking forward to the rapture of the church, in which He will catch us away (ἁρπάζω harpazo – to seize, catch up, snatch away) to heaven (1 Th 4:13-17). Until God resumes His prophetic plans for Israel, Christian are called to love them, pray for them, and share the gospel of grace that they may turn to Jesus as the Messiah and be saved (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18-24; 15:3-4).

Dr. Steven R. Cook

Related Articles:

[1] Lewis S. Chafer, “Israel” in Systematic Theology, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI., Kregel Publications, 1993), 206.

[2] Even Jesus, at the time He was pronouncing judgment upon the nation because of their rejection of Him, still had great affection for them, saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt 23:37). There is great tenderness in the heart of Jesus for His people.

[3] Lewis S. Chafer, “Christology” in Systematic Theology, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI., Kregel Publications, 1993), 80.