News & Views
How Do We Know God Loves Israel?
In this month’s guest blog, with thoughts turning to love as Valentine’s Day approaches, Bobbie Ann Cole takes a look at how we know that God loves Israel.
God loves Israel and so did Jesus when He walked the earth. Jesus’ love for Israel shines through, first and foremost, in the beautiful imagery He used when speaking about it. When He said, “See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29), He was surely describing the startling red anemones that carpet large areas of the country, particularly the Negev, in early spring. He told His disciples to lift up their eyes to the barley fields in April for they were already white for the harvest (John 4:35). He spoke of Himself in this wine-growing land as the “true vine,” while His Father is the gardener (John 15:1).
In Jerusalem, Jesus went often to the Mount of Olives where He could look across the Kidron Valley to the temple that His disciples described as “adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God” (Luke 21:5). He loved to walk and teach in the temple courts. He participated in the Jewish festivals there. During Tabernacles, when an abundance of living water was poured over the great altar, “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’” (John 7:37-38).
Although He lived simply: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20), Jesus enjoyed the good things of life: “the Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Matthew 11:19). His first miracle would set the agenda for the celebration of life that would follow throughout His ministry. At a wedding in Cana in the Jezreel Valley, He turned water to fine wine (John 2:1-12).
When the time came for Him to die, He showed us just how much He loved His life by asking if His Father could take this bitter cup from Him (Mark 14:36). He loved His disciples and considered them true friends. He told them, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” If they did so, they would “bear fruit — fruit that will last” (John 15:9-17).
God sent Jesus to Israel and not another country because it is His Chosen Land.
God sent Jesus to Israel and not another country because it is His Chosen Land. To Abraham and his descendants, the Children of Israel, God gave the Land of Israel, a “land the Lord your God cares for; [His eyes] are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end” (Deuteronomy 11:12). Israel is where the Children of Israel began and where Moses led them as free men and women.
They are an example through which God shows His desire to love and bless the whole world. Through His prophets in the Land, He promised the Jewish Messiah would appear and build His church and become a Savior to all.
God repeated the promises He made to Abraham regarding Israel to his son, Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob. Jacob was given the name Israel, which means “one who struggles with God,” following a spiritual wrestling match (Genesis 32). Jacob initially tried to break free, as many of us do when we are claimed by God. As the battle continued, he realized he had come face to face with the living God and changed tack, refusing to let his “opponent” go until He blessed him.
I see the ebb-and-flow of this fight as a microcosm of the Jewish people’s relationship with their God. Since the opponent is described as “a man,” perhaps we can go further still and see in this fight their battle with Jesus, God’s earthly incarnation.
God sent Jesus to the Jews because, long ago, He chose them to be a holy people to Himself, a special treasure, above all the people on the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6). By so doing, He was fulfilling His promise to Abraham: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing… and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).
The above article is adapted from Bobbie’s memoir “Love Triangles, Discovering Jesus the Jew in Today’s Israel.”
Bobbie Ann Cole, a Messianic Jew, is a bestselling writer, teacher and speaker who has lived in Israel and worked for Messianic congregations, including CMJ. Her experiences, have inspired her latest book, “Love Triangles, Discovering Jesus the Jew in Today’s Israel”. To connect with Bobbie and receive her FREE “Pictorial Guide to the Israel Jesus Loved”, go to www.jesus-ebook.com.