Reading the many passages in the Tenach [Hebrew Bible] about the wonderful prospects of the promised return to Zion by the Jewish people, I simply have to conclude that if there is one Zionist in the world it is G-d Himself!
The theme of G-d restoring His people back to the land He always had intended to be theirs runs right through Israel’s prophets. Take the following words by Isaiah:
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, Who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself… Who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ to the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built’… Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid”‘ Isaiah 44:24, 26, 28.
As we have already seen, it is G-d’s holy intention not to bring His people back only to His land, but also to His holy hill in Jerusalem, there to worship and serve His holy purposes the very reason for His bringing them back. And this purpose cannot be realized apart from, or at any other place than, this Mountain of the Lord in the city of the Great King.
As Ezekiel wrote it:
“For on My holy mountain… says the Lord G-d, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land shall serve Me; there I will accept them…” Ezekiel.20:40.
But just as Israel in days past needed G-d to raise up a strong gentile ruler like Cyrus the Anointed of the L-rd to undergird the Jews and make it possible for them to rebuild their temple, so too today will the Israelis never dare, or never be permitted by their many foes, to build their temple once again. Never, that is, unless G-d again raises up a strong Gentile leader to stand beside G-d’s people in this desire to establish worship to Him on His holy hill.
This is why Isaiah’s words seem so significant in relation to the present time:
“The Lord your Redeemer… Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’ and to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid” Isaiah 44:28.
The situation in Israel today is very much as it was just after the second homecoming of G-d’s people from their dispersion in Babylon in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Just as they have in modern times, those ancient Jews returned to their land when there was as yet no temple.
Perhaps that was partially why it was so easy for them to turn to the Gentile women and their gentile ways, and forget the very reason G-d allowed them to once again return to their land after their terrifying ordeal.
Witnessing this intermarriage with Gentile ways and customs, Ezra’s heart was broken. Spreading out his hands in fasting and deep prayer to the Lord His G-d, the prophet cried:
“Oh my God: I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my G-d; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our G-d, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our G-d may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. For we were slaves. Yet our G-d did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our G-d, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. And now, O our G-d, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, which You have commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.’ And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people of these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? O Lord G-d of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!” Ezra 9:6-15.
Oh, that G-d would again give us such men in Israel, men who would see that it is not enough for Israel just to depart from the Gentile lands only to turn back to these Gentile ways after returning home, as have many in Israel today, but men who, with all their hearts, wants to turn back to their one and holy G-d.
The result of this heart-rending cry and prayer of Ezra was that a “very large congregation of men, women, and children assembled to him from Israel, for the people wept with him very bitterly” Ezra 10:1. So may those individual men today, as then, cause many to pray and weep with them until they become, as in Ezra’s day, a very large company of people all over the land of Israel who want to go G-d’s way.
Nehemiah prayed a similar prayer, as recorded in his book:
“So it was, when I heard theses words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the G-d of heaven. And I said: “I pray, Lord G-d of heaven, O great and awesome G-d, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded You servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.'” Nehemiah 1:4-9.
It is only when the spirit of supplication will come upon us that we shall begin to long, as Ezra and Nehemiah did, for the place that G-d has chosen as a dwelling for His Name. (See Nehemiah 1:9) Without this longing, the Temple and the Temple Mount will remain a curiosity and not a passion as with David, who wrote these wonderful words in love for God’s holy hill:
“LORD, remember David and all his afflictions; How he swore to the LORD, and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place, you and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your saints shout for joy. For Your servant David’s sake, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed. The LORD has sworn in truth to David; he will not turn from it: “I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body. If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.” For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for His dwelling place: “This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon Himself His crown shall flourish” Psalm 132.
But as anyone with understanding knows, this would hardly be possible without a modern day Cyrus supporting such a move. And I do believe that if Israel is willing to move in this direction, G-d will find a way to bring it to pass against all the odds, and even to anoint an important ruler with the mantle of Cyrus of old.
“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing, saying: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And he has commanded me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah [not Palestine]. Who is there among you of all His people? May the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!'” 2 Chronicles 36:22,23.
“Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! … Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, … Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”‘ Isaiah 44:21, 24b, 28.
This then is our God-given task, to stand up for God’s purposes for this late great planet, to bring blessing to the whole free world, and especially to your own people. Through the prophet, God says in Isaiah 60:12: “The nation that shall not serve you (Israel) shall perish, yes shall be utterly wasted.” God also says in the Bible that He will bless those who bless the Jewish people and curse those who curse them.
As Ezekiel writes at the end of eight chapters in which he describes this glorious building the Lord will come to this temple and then the name of the City of Jerusalem shall be called, “The Lord is there!” (See Ezekiel 48:35).
In the light of all this it definitely seems highly significant that all the recent turbulences in and around Israel, both on the political world scene as well as with all the violence and war-like atmosphere on the ground here in Israel, that most of this was all in relation to the central issue of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount! All the trouble started around and because of this tiny piece of real estate – a proof nearly for all those who will still hold the opinion that this mountain is insignificant – that it surely seems to be.
It is as though G-d is allowing this issue to come to the foreground thus forcing His people to rethink their relationship and beliefs towards this most important piece of real estate in the whole world – their most holy place – the very heart of Jerusalem and reason why Jerusalem became the city no other city in the world has become – a city with a divine destiny for all mankind.
Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director
International Christian Zionist Center
Republished with the kind permission of Author Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director of International Christian Zionist Center.
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