Scripture shows us that God has an ongoing plan for Israel and is committed to the Jewish people by everlasting covenant. His never–ending care for Israel is a sign of His faithfulness and holiness.
When God called Abraham He told him that He would show him a new land, which would be his, and swore by His own name that this would be so. Psalm 105 expresses the matter clearly.
When the people of Israel entered the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership they were told to destroy the heathens who had previously lived there, and be separated unto God. Because they failed to do this and began to follow the false gods of other peoples, Israel went into captivity in Assyria and Judah went into captivity in Babylon in 586BC. In fulfilment of prophecy of Jeremiah (25:11) the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah, along with some priests and Levites, returned after 70 years in exile. The events are recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
Failing to recognise Jesus as Messiah, they were dispersed again following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the failure of the Second Revolt in 132–35. This time they were scattered throughout the whole world and the exile (Diaspora) lasted for almost 2,000 years. God had promised that this dispersion would finally end before the return of the Messiah. The burden of the Major Prophets concerns the return and it is referred to in other scriptures ranging from Leviticus to Malachi. There are at least 141 prophecies concerning this final, irreversible restoration of the land of Israel and the chosen people to Israel, His land, with Jerusalem, God’s city, as its eternal capital.
Compare, for instance, Jeremiah 33:11, which predicts the restoration of both the land and the people, with Isaiah 43:5–6 … ‘from the ends of the earth’. Ezekiel 36:24–28 predicts that when the people of Israel are restored to their land they will also be restored spiritually, ‘I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you …you will be my people and I will be your God.’ Also see Deuteronomy 30:1–6, where Moses predicts this dispersion and restoration, and Zechariah 10:8. Isaiah 62:1–5 shows how the people are married to the land; Israel the people and Israel the land belong together.
The exile of the Jews actually profaned God’s name (Ezekiel 36:20), so for the sake of His own name God causes their return (Ezekiel 36:22). God is concerned for His reputation, which is restored when the people return.
Modern ‘replacement’ theology declares that God broke His relationship with Israel after the Jews refused to accept Jesus as their Messiah and that the Church became the ‘spiritual Israel’ to the exclusion of the natural people. Such views are not only unbiblical and ignore history, but also atheistic in the sense that those holding them do not believe that God’s Word is unchanging and that He is capable of fulfilling it!
Key scriptures to quote:
‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, “Give them up!” and to the south, “Do not hold them back.” Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth.’ Isaiah 43:5–6
‘Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? … in the lead are the ships … bringing your sons from afar …’ Isaiah 60:8
‘See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labour; a great throng will return … Hear the word of the Lord, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands. He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd …’ Jeremiah 31:8–11
‘Therefore say to the house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone … Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you a heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will … move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave to your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”’ Ezekiel 36:22–28
‘ “Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven … Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!”’ Zechariah 2:6–7
Scripture quotations from the New International Version (NIV).