Table of Contents
God’s Promises to Israel
God promised the nation of Israel protection from their enemies as part of their covenant to Him. “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways” (Deuteronomy 28:7). This covenant, however, was conditional on the nation’s obedience to Him.
God’s promise of protection was stated in between these terms, “if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth…But… if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God… all these curses will come upon you…” (Deuteronomy 28:1,15). As long as Israel was obedient to God, He was faithful to His promise. The Lord fulfilled His promise to Israel in delivering them from many of their enemies, such as Egypt, Midian and Philistia.
In the Old Testament, Israel as a nation failed to maintain their allegiance to God time and time again (Nehemiah 9: 26-28). Much of the Old Testament is filled with stories of Israel’s rebellion (The books of Judges,1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea). While there were always some faithful in Israel (1 Kings 19:18), the nation often became corrupted (Judges 10:6).
To prevent this corruption, the Lord warned the nation as to the type of king Israel should have. God even communicated specific guidelines that the king should and should not do in order to remain blessed (Deuteronomy 17:15-20). However, these words of wisdom were generally cast aside and ignored by most kings. Thus, the nation fell because of it (Nehemiah 13:26).
Instead of being faithful to God, Israel backslid and apostatized. They became engrossed in idol worship and did many evils against God and others (Jeremiah 32:35, 1 Kings 16:2). Therefore, God had to remove His protection in order for Israel to stop such practices.
God desired that Israel would repent, yet they went on in their own ways. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries” (Psalm 81:11, 13-14).
Due to their rebellion, Israel was first destroyed and led captive by Babylon. Jerusalem and its beautiful temple lay in ruins until their return after 70 years in captivity (Jeremiah 25:11). Although Israel was unfaithful and God removed His divine protection for a time, He did not forget His people. They were still His children and He merely allowed them to reap the consequences of their actions as a nation. Even during their destruction, God had a plan to restore Israel (Daniel 9:25, Jeremiah 29:11). And He led them back to their land.
Eventually, God’s faithful people sought His mercy and began the road to rebuilding the temple and city (Daniel 9:2-19, Ezra, Nehemiah). It took many years to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. During this time, there was a revival within the nation of Israel while they were rebuilding their beloved city. Those who returned to Jerusalem desired to stay true to God and obey His law.
And in the New Testament, the Jewish nation during the time of Christ changed drastically from that described in the Old Testament. The Jewish leaders desired to move so far the other way from their fathers’ pagan backsliding that they became overly religious (legalist). Many of the religious leaders in Israel, especially the Pharisees, looked down on others in their hypocritical self-righteousness. They lost sight of love for God and others. Rather, they relished in their appearance of holiness (Matthew 6:5). The legalistic and spiritually proud Israel described in the New Testament was as bad as idolatrous Israel of the Old Testament.
The religious leaders knew of the time of the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-26, Ezra 7:7). However, they were not ready for it. They looked more for a conquering king than a humble teacher. Upon hearing the words of Jesus, they despised Him to the point of death (Mark 11:18, Matthew 26:59). This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah would be rejected (Isaiah 53:3, Psalm 118:22).
The End of Israel’s Probation
Jesus tried to convict the Jewish people and their religious leaders to a change of heart (Hosea 6:6 Matthew 9:13). However, the rabbis supported by the people of Israel at that time condemned Jesus Christ to die on the cross (Matthew 27:20, 25, 35). They said to Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). Upon Christ’s crucifixion, the veil rent between the holy and most holy place in God’s Temple. This was a visible sign that God no longer accepted the nation’s religious ceremonies (Matthew 27:51).
The Jews publicly accepted responsibility for crucifying Christ. They were proud of their decision. The disciples later charged the leaders of Israel as murderers of the Messiah (Acts 2:23; 3:14, 15; 7:52), and the leaders, forgetting their earlier acceptance of responsibility, hated this charge (Acts 5:28).
Even after Christ was crucified and resurrected, He still pleaded with Israel through His apostles. It wasn’t until three and a half years after Christ’s resurrection that the Jewish leaders sealed their fate in fully rejecting the message of the Messiah. This occurred at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7: 51-60, Daniel 9:27).
Then, the covenant of God was transferred from the literal nation of Israel to spiritual Israel, who consist of converted Jews and Gentiles, that accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Paul declared, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3: 28,29 also Romans 10:12).
Forty years after the resurrection, in the bitter siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, a generation after the crucifixion (Matthew 24:15–20), the Jews suffered the fruits of their fateful decision the day they withdrew from the covenant by their declaration, “We have no king but Caeasar” (John 19:15). At that time, the temple and Jerusalem were completely destroyed by the Romans just as Christ precisely predicted (Matthew 24:2). If the nation of Israel had accepted Christ and repented from their sins, He would have granted them deliverance from their enemies.
Persecutions and Holocaust
After this time, the Jews were scattered abroad in different nations. For hundreds of years after the destruction of Jerusalem by pagan Rome, the history of the Jewish people has been a series of tragedies. This continued for nearly 19 centuries since. God does not punish children for their parents’ sins; however, the consequences of wrong decisions and actions bring judgments on the following generations (Exodus 20:5; Ezekeil 18:2).
The Jews were a target of persecution till the events in World War II. During the time leading up to the rise of Hitler, the nation of Germany was bankrupt from World War I. Hitler began sharing his strong antisemitic position and used the Jewish people as a scapegoat to the nations financial problems. Sadly, the German nation elected him into power, which resulted in the slaughter of many Jews all over Europe. The genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust is a horrible act in the history of world.
In His service,