Israel’s Territory and the Church’s Territory (Lane)
Israel’s Territory and the Church’s Territory
by Lonnie Lane
There is an amazing correlation between what happens with Israel and what takes place in the church. If you are a believer in Yeshua, you know that we are in a war. Israel’s constant battles are a picture of how vicious that war really is. From its inception as a nation, Israel has been besieged by her Arab neighbors. She was not hours old when she was attacked by several nations around her, intent on her destruction. By God’s grace she survived and has even won war after war and now she endures a constant barrage of attacks against her on a daily basis. Yet the world sees Israel as the aggressor. That this “factoid” is so well accepted as truth when in fact it is not, reveals to those in the know how extensive and pervasive are the lies of satan and how much of a hold he has on the minds of the world’s people. If you think I’m over-stating this, keep reading.
I have recounted before in these articles being in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) as a visitor sitting behind bullet proof glass, when Golda Meier, then prime minister, made a statement that I doubt I will ever forget and which sums up the Israeli mind and heart about all the conflicts with their neighbors. She said, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but how can we forgive them for causing us to kill their children?” This was said after a bomb had just hit a school of young children in northern Israel and Israel was forced to retaliate to defend themselves. Israel is not interested in war. They only wish to live out their lives in their own land peacefully, just as you and I do.
But there are forces continually trying to take the land from them. Let me try and draw a visual picture for you. Picture if you can, the land mass of North America from Central America up through to the northern border of Canada which means all of the United States, Mexico and Canada. Now if you superimpose the lands of the Arab nations over that area, the Arab nations would extend far out into the oceans on either side and quite a distance beyond the North and Central American borders. The Arab lands are far greater than the entirety of North America.
Now imagine that the tiny state of Rhode Island, which is roughly about the size of Israel, is being attacked by the rest of all that extensive land for wanting to be a state on their own. They are accused of being “statist” or in other terms, “racist” because they are trying to keep others from taking over their territory so that their state would no longer exist. Image that Rhode Island is being told by the world that they are aggressors for defending their own territory, because they wish to live on their own land as Rhode Islanders. Now imagine, if you will, that Rhode Island is continually bombed and shelled by her neighbor states, to the point that her neighbor statesmen come into her borders with bombs strapped to their bodies and blow themselves up, so intent are they on killing the Rhode Islanders, including their children.
As horrible as that sounds, the world is telling not those intent on Rhode Island’s destruction, but the Rhode Islanders that they are “bullies” and “like Hitler” because they want to protect themselves and their land. They continue to live under the threat of those within their borders and around them who think they shouldn’t even continue to exist. Stirs up a sense of injustice within you, doesn’t it? It almost seems like a master-mind of deception is behind it all, doesn’t it? Indeed it does. Consider, incidentally, that the word for “master” in Hebrew is “baal” so we’re talking about a demonic deity as the “master” mind behind all the opposition to God’s Word. (See 1 Kings 22:53 for one instance.)
God’s enemy is His adversary (satan in Hebrew) in every way. An adversary is defined as an opponent or enemy, foe, rival, protagonist, contestant, antagonist and competitor. Clearly, satan is all that against God. As God’s adversary, satan is also an adversary to God’s promises, to God’s people, and even to the land belonging to the people God gave it to. God has promised only one people one piece of land. No other people group has ever received such a promise from God. It is the land that King Yeshua will eventually return to, to rule the earth. His return will mean satan’s demise. Yeshua is King first over Israel. And satan hates that.
Yeshua identified satan as “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He has lied to Eve about God and he continues to lie to the world about God. He can’t get to God Himself for an all out confrontation, so he comes against that which, if he could, would make God a liar like himself by attempting to invalidate His Word. Plainly said, if he can keep the Jews from having Israel, and in particular Jerusalem where Yeshua will come back to, then he can check-mate God. God is Truth but if satan can render God’s Word as untrue (a lie), then he wins. We who know God and His Word know that can’t happen and won’t happen. Yeshua declared, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35; Mk. 13:31; Luke 21:33). Pretty outrageous statement to make if He wasn’t who He said He was!
But even so, it doesn’t mean satan isn’t going to take his best shots before the Lion of Judah finally steps in and roars – “Enough!” Oooh, I can almost hear the foundations of the earth tremble at the very thought! Divine wrath unleashed; His Glory revealed!! God will come to Israel’s defense. Will it be only for Israel’s sake? In a sense yes, but primarily all that happens on the human plane is not about us, but about the war between God and His adversary, His challenger, satan. God wins, of course, but we can be assured God will defend the land of Israel for the reason He gave to Ezekiel:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
“When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord; yet they have come out of His land.’ But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went.
“And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land” (Ezek. 36:20-24).
So we can see that God’s intention is to vindicate His own holy name and that vindication is directly linked to Israel being in the land He designated as belonging to the descendents of Jacob whom God renamed Israel (Gen 32:28). Yeshua said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters” (Matt 12:30; Luke 11:23). In other words, one is counted as being against God, or an adversary, if they believe the lies of satan over God’s own Word; those who are in agreement, knowingly or unknowingly, with the plan to invalidate God’s Word. To be in agreement with the demise of the sovereignty of the State of Israel in any manner or degree is to be aligned with God’s adversary. This is not a political issue; this is an eternal issue – it extends far beyond the politics or the men involved today in such decision-making as goes on. It doesn’t even have to do with men or their plans or policies. It is a matter of God’s sovereignty over the earth. “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it,” (Ps. 24:1; Ex. 9:29; 1 Cor. 10:26) regardless of how men or fallen angels try to make it seem to be otherwise.
God makes His intended position regarding Israel clear in this statement: “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36:28). While presently the church worldwide sees themselves as God’s people and God as being their God, the fact remains that they have been grafted into a Jewish tree and God is the God of those believing Gentiles because they believe in the God and Messiah of Israel. (See Romans 11.)
Now let’s take this a step further and look at the connection between Israel and the church: Both are God’s people. Even if most of Israel does not yet recognize the Messiahship of Yeshua or see Him as the Atoning Son of God, still, they remain God’s first born. As the Lord said to Moses, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn’ “ (Ex. 4:22,23). That’s how strongly God felt and still feels about His first born son, Israel.
As the church is also comprised of those who are His children, there is a pattern which helps us to see the connection: “first …that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:46). There remains a link between what happens to and in Israel and what takes place in the church. Here’s the physical picture first: Israel, out of pressure from and fear of the world coming against her to destroy her, as illustrated above, has capitulated with the world system and allowed those whom they know are their enemies to live within their borders, and even to take positions of authority in their government. Their fear of retribution from the world causes them to compromise on what God’s Word says. They have compromised their sovereignty as a nation and allowed other nations, America primarily, to be the arbiters of what happens regarding her borders and even within Jerusalem. They have been forced to give up land and sovereign control over land that was theirs (as no other country has done), in order to “buy” peace. They have they been arm wrestled into relinquishing what God defined as theirs.
But woe be unto the nation that divides Israel’s land. Please consider these words of God: “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations…I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, who they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land” (Joel 3:2) Despite what demands other nations may make on Israel, nations may come and go, but God says, “Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in whose land they have shed innocent blood…Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem for all generations. And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged, for the Lord dwells in Zion” (:19b-21). (Jerusalem is in Judah’s designated land.) God’s promises even go on to say, “‘I will not let you hear insults from the nations anymore, nor will you bear disgrace from the peoples any longer…’ declares the Lord God'” (Ez. 36:8-15) Quite a promise. Only God could fulfill it.
Now let’s look at the spiritual corollary, not that what happens in Israel isn’t spiritual in essence; it is, but the church has spiritual borders and is fighting a spiritual battle, not one on the ground. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor 10:4). Divinely powerful means spiritually powerful through God.
The church is well aware of what God defined as holy and not holy, and what were meant to be spiritual boundaries. The Ten Commandments begin that awareness. I’m about to make an outlandish statement: Without Torah a lot of what is God’s defined spiritual boundaries is lost to you. Yeshua as a Torah observant Jew, and His Jewish disciples, all assumed anyone following Yeshua would naturally want to be as well informed about the Torah He embodies as they possibly could. But you know the story, the church was robbed of Torah by some men who thought it was a good idea at the time. Again, this master-mind was behind this lie that this was God’s will and that God was through with the Jews.
But let’s just talk about today, not centuries ago, though the church has not yet fully recovered from the many deceptions and errors that were infiltrated into church practice and doctrine. Today we have a church in which its spiritual borders are not wholly intact; its walls are “broken down and its gates are burned with fire” (Neh. 1:3). In other words, the enemy has managed to bring the church to a place where there is reproach against her. Reproach means blame, criticism, discredit, rebuke, condemnation, disapproval or disgrace. Where that has happened, it is because some believer or group of believers has compromised on what the Word says.
The grace of God is in His commandment to remain holy because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Where we are not, somewhere there’s a lie of the devil at work; somewhere someone was more in agreement with him than with God’s Word. That would apply to individual acts of sin. But consider this – how much have we as believers, collectively or individually, been fearful of what the world would say about us so we back-peddled on our faith, because we were intimidated by what would be said about us, by how people thought of us, so we gave up “spiritual territory.” Or we were tempted by the faade of the enemy and we went along with what was popular or acceptable or in vogue, despite knowing it wasn’t really “holy.” We may even have “turned off” the voice of God in our conscience out of a fear of man’s disfavor.
By doing so, we weaken our personal spiritual borders. Every time we put something that’s unclean or worthless in the eyes of God before our own eyes (Ps. 101:3) we become vulnerable to the enemy. When we dress immodestly or allow our children to because of peer pressure even though in our spirits we are grieving, we are siding with the enemy who wants to destroy us. When we allow anger and bitterness to remain in our hearts, sometimes even for years, it is equal to having our “gates burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3) because gates in Israel were the places of authority, where decisions were made, decisions that were intended to comply with God’s Word.
When we, as Believers, individually or corporately, bow to peer pressure, or go along with the world’s standards of success while ignoring God’s standards (Gal. 2:6 for instance), we are compromising our integrity and our spiritual walls are weakened so that we are vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks against us. Sometimes we do so in attempt to appease the opposing forces because, like Israel, what we really want is just to be let alone and not have to fight the battles anymore. And like Israel, little by little, we believe the lies of the enemy that this will be good for us and we give up one piece of territory at a time. Yeshua came as a light to the world; we are to let His light shine through us. But too often we are sitting somewhere with a bushel over our heads, hiding our light (Matt. 5:15, 16), lest some opposition threaten us, even a little, when taking a stand for Yeshua would set the enemy fleeing.
But true peace will only come as we are lovingly obedient to God’s Word which is divinely designed to bring us maximum peace and well being – in a word, “shalom.” We can trust God, standing strong on what His Word says, choosing His acceptance over man’s, and regardless of what the world dictates as “good.”
So let’s pull all this together. God defined Israel’s borders just as He defined for the church that they were not to be as the pagans in the world around them. So also with the church – we are not to take on the values of the world around us either. “‘Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you'” (2 Cor. 6:17). That’s New Covenant, not Old. Paul quoted these words.
Israel today has compromised and has allowed those who are her sworn enemy to occupy her land even though she knew they want to destroy her, because of her fear of what the world would say in opposition to her, or the world’s threatened wrath against her. The church has done the exact same thing. In our fear of persecution on any level, we have allowed the enemy to occupy where the Kingdom of God should be uncompromised “territory.” We have capitulated with satan’s values and his standards and what appeals to the world instead of undauntingly complying with God’s values and His standards. We have not always loved what God loves nor hated what He hates (which incidentally is never people but that which harms people).
God will ultimately restore both the land He gave to Abraham and the spiritual ‘ground’ of the church. Both will reflect the glory of God. His Word will come to pass and He will be able to say of us, “You are my people” just as we who are truly His will, by His grace, be able to say without reservation, “You are my God and I have followed you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Please do see Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30; Matt. 22:37 and Luke 10:27.)
God often speaks of a remnant being those are truly His, inheriting His promises. I want with all my being to be counted among that remnant. I know you do too or you wouldn’t have read this far. Will you pray with me?
Lord, make us all a part of that remnant! Do unto us according to Your will as Your willing and loving servants. Let us not, any of us, be found as having abdicated our citizenship in heaven because we have treated lightly or with distain what You have called Your people to be – holy as You are holy. Forgive us our sins, as we are committed to forgiving those who have sinned against us. Let Thy Kingdom come, let Israel and Your people everywhere be firmly established in God so that Yeshua can return to us who look for His appearing. We say with the Spirit of God, “Come Adonai Yeshua, come.” (2 Tim 4:8; Rev. 22;17,20.)
Reprints of this article is permitted but must include: Reprinted by permission of Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2008.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.