I am providing some teaching on praying for Israel as it is an important but often neglected responsibility the church needs to embrace. I begin with a focus on the why, next I will focus on the how. I recently read a long post someone did on Facebook regarding all the signs of the end times and how we should be prepared for Jesus any moment return. There was not a single word of encouragement there, no faith for the harvest, and nothing regarding Israel. Yet when I look at scripture Isaiah 19:19-25 tells me that before the end there will be a great harvest of souls in Egypt and they will turn to Yahweh and worship Him. That is just one thing that needs to happen prior to Jesus return. While it is a significant pending event, even more significant is the end time role that Israel plays.
We begin with the timing of Jesus return. Psalm 118 was one of the Hallel Psalms sung at Passover. Here is verse 26.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord. Psalm 118:26 (NKJV)
This was viewed as a Messianic Psalm, looking forward to the coming Messiah. The Israelites knew the significance and we see the recognition by the crowd when they proclaim it over Jesus as He enters Jerusalem prior to Passover.
9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9 NKJV)
Thus we have the promise in the Old Testament and the fulfillment in the New Testament. The psalm was about the coming Messiah and the crowd welcomes Jesus as the promised Messiah. This happened as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He was welcomed as the messianic deliverer and His next act was to cleanse the temple and declare that it was to be called a ‘house of prayer.’
Jesus then tells a parable about the wicked vineyard keepers which He summarizes by quoting an earlier verse from Psalm 118.
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:42-43 NKJV)
Thus far we have the people worshipping and welcoming Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus receiving their praise, then cleansing the temple. Right after that He confronts the religious leaders of the nation over their rejection of Him and says what they thought they had was going to be taken away. We now come to Matthew 23.
33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Matthew 23:33–39 (NKJV)
This is a huge accountability passage. There were always some righteous in the history of national Israel. Yet over and over again the leadership rejected the prophetic voices the Lord sent to them. In referencing Abel to Zechariah Jesus is covering the entire Old Testament period. So we have Jesus pronouncing judgement over their rejection of Him, which in the next chapter leads to His declaration of the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 AD. What is significant is we have an end time timing event woven in here. Jesus publicly declares that even though the people had welcomed Him as the Messiah the leadership of the nation had rejected Him, as they had all the previous prophets. Now judgment was imminent and the nation would not see Him again until the leadership welcomed Him as the Messiah.
I think the significance of this is generally missed. Many are expecting Jesus to return at any moment and looking for a rapture prior to tribulation. I for one am not. I welcome and look forward to His return. I also recognize that it isn’t going to happen until some other events take place. One is multitudes from Egypt worshipping Him, as I noted at the beginning, but of much more significance is Israel recognizing Him as their long awaited Messiah. So, not matter how much I may long for Jesus to return now, if I want Him to return I would do well to intercede for the salvation of Israel.
I will take this further in my next post but for now I encourage you to join me in being a watchmen on the wall for Israel and praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
6 I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
7 And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6-7 NKJV)
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.” (Psalm 122:6-7)
(Isaiah 62:6-7Psalm 122:6-7).