Steven Spielberg once said: “As a Jew I am aware of how important the existence of Israel is for the survival of us all. And because I am proud of being Jewish, I am worried by the growing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the world.”
And God once said: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest …..” (Isaiah 62:1) (KJV). In the Hebrew, the first phrase may also be read “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent”, as a number of versions have translated it. If you have read our earlier blogs you will have noticed that we too are not keeping silent about our commitment to the people and the Land of Israel.
I believe that we are living now in times which present to us an amazing opportunity. I think we have seen in some recent events on the world stage how the people, ordinary everyday people, are able to reach their fellow countrymen and women in an unprecedented way and, as a result, bring about major change. Through social media and the internet, ordinary folk have a voice that can be very quickly and effectively spread among and heard by the people.
This is the voice that was once represented by the mainstream media, which have largely abdicated that responsibility and so have lost the privilege. So, each of us may now use our newfound freedom and opportunity to spread among the people God’s own message about His nation and land of Israel and His city Jerusalem. What’s good about this opportunity is that we don’t need to have any particular standing or recognition, we don’t have to be skilled orators or writers, and we don’t have to have an organised audience. We can simply network on social media and see our message proliferate!
The direct references in God’s Word to His commitment to Israel are plentiful and are very clear statements. But one of the amazing things about the Hebrew language – God’s own language in which the Old Testament Scriptures were written, is the way that the Hebrew contains a depth of meaning that cannot be represented in English. It’s just that English is often an inadequate vehicle to bring us the full depth of meaning that the Hebrew of God’s Word contains. It’s usually limited to getting its message across through the cumulative meaning of the words in a phrase or a sentence.
Let’s look at an example of this which will provide us with another level of understanding from the very heart of God, through His own unique language, about His commitment to the nation and land of Israel. This will show us how beneath those obvious messages we read in the English Bible about the place Israel occupies in His heart, there is a further profound message about Israel woven into the very fabric of the word “Israel”.
The spelling of “Israel” in Hebrew is ישראל (pronounced Yisra’el – remembering that Hebrew is read from right to left). The root word on which this word is based, and which carries the fundamental meaning, is ישר. Note, these are the first three letters of the word ישראל. This root word (ישר) means “upright” or “honest”. The remaining two letters (אל – pronounced “el”) mean “God”. So, we can translate the word “Israel” with a number of possibilities: “upright (or honest) before God”; “upright (or honest) of God”; “upright (or honest) with God”.
So the point is, the word “Israel” carries within it a profound statement of how the Almighty perceives this land and these people. What a privilege and a blessing it must be to belong to a nation and a land, the very name of which describes its wonderful relationship to Almighty God. What a privilege it is to be associated in some way with this nation!
Perhaps this meaning of the name “Israel” helps us understand more fully the significance of passages like Joel 3:21: “… For the Lord dwelleth in Zion” and Ezekiel 48:35: “… and the name of the city [Jerusalem] from that day shall be, The Lord is there.” Surely we would want to do all we can to support and help protect such a place – God’s own place.
The words of the respected teacher of the Word, the late Derek Prince, provide a concise summary: “All Christians … owe an incalculable debt to the Jewish people, a spiritual debt. Every spiritual blessing we have ever received we owe to one nation, the Jewish people. … If there had been no Jews, there would be no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible, and no Savior. How much would any of us have without those five things? No wonder Jesus Himself said in John 4:22: “Salvation is from the Jews”. Every person who has received salvation through faith in Jesus owes their whole spiritual inheritance to the Jewish people”