Greater Israel: In modern terminology, the term “Greater Israel” is meant by some to be the borders of modern Israel plus the Palestinian territories. Others use the term to refer to the land promised Abram in Genesis 15:18-21: “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” This map is a general depiction of the land promised to Abram’s (Abraham’s) future Hebrew nation.
There are some big misunderstandings about the Bible, particularly when it comes to understanding the concept of Israel. A misunderstanding of this very issue can be the difference between Christians, the “very elect,” being unknowingly deceived into receiving the mark of the beast. Many Western Christians, especially too many evangelicals, confuse the Israel of the Bible with the current, very secular and non-Christian nation called the State of Israel. A quote from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during a keynote speech at the new “In Defense Of Christians” organization’s dinner in Washington DC in September 2014, sums up this misconception:
“I told the attendees that those who hate Israel also hate America,” Cruz said. “That those who hate Jews also hate Christians. And that anyone who hates Israel and the Jewish people is not following the teachings of Christ. These statements were met with angry boos. I went on to tell the crowd that Christians in the Middle East have no better friend than Israel. That Christians can practice their faith free of persecution in Israel. And that ISIS, al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, along with their state sponsors in Syria and Iran, are all part of the same cancer, murdering Christians and Jews alike. Hate is hate, and murder is murder.”
Of course, any Christian who hates any group of people is not practicing the Christian faith, but in this context, Cruz is singling out the Jewish people and Israel for a very different purpose. Notice he says “That those who hate Jews also hate Christians. And that anyone who hates Israel and the Jewish people is not following the teachings of Christ.” Here, he is in jeopardy of adding to the Bible, because hating the policies of a country in this world does not violate Christian teaching at all. Cruz was referring to those Christians in the audience who booed his unwavering, one-dimensional support of the State of Israel. In his words, he does what many evangelical Christians do: confuse this current nation of Israel with the ancient Israel of the Old Testament. Recently, many evangelical churches have been hosting pro-Israel speakers in the pulpit who slam Islam yet worship the State of Israel, repeating the false notion that those who curse Israel will be cursed by God.
Is this true? Let’s look.
One of the pillars of this strange state worship of today’s Israel is the gross misinterpretation of the Book of Revelation when it speaks of the 144,000 Israelites the Lord has reserved to be free of the sins of this world. Notice Revelation says that only 12,000 of these are of the tribe of Judah (Jews as they are commonly called for short). So how do only 12,000 Jews suddenly become 144,000? Through deliberate and spiritually dangerous deception. Some Israel state worshippers claim that all of the 144,000 Israelites are Jews because it is an allegorical number, not a literal number. But what verse in the Bible says this number is not literal? Also, there are far more than 12,000 Jews who live in the State of Israel, so even using this flawed interpretation, most of the Jews in Israel who are not the 144,000, are then not blessed. See how erroneous this line of thinking can get when you abuse the meaning of the Bible?
The fact is, only the Lord God knows exactly who the 144,000 descendants of the Israelites are, and only 12,000 of them are Jews. Moreover, these 144,000 Israelites are dedicated followers of Jesus Christ and are awaiting His return and will not receive the mark of the beast. The official religion of the State of Israel is definitely NOT the Christian faith. There should be no confusion here.
In Genesis, God is so pleased with Abraham that he blesses Abraham and promises that even more blessing await his descendants. But who are his descendants? Here’s yet another point of confusion among many Christians and even Jews. Israel is a descendant of Abraham, but Abraham is not a descendant of Israel. Thus, the blessings to Abraham’s seed applies to all of his descendants, not just the descendants of Israel.
So who are all of the physical descendants of Abraham?
The reality is that no one alive today knows except God! It is probably true that every race of man today has Abraham’s blood running in them. But as Paul tells us, we should avoid getting bogged down in endless genealogies. John the Baptist further tells us in Matthew 3:9 the following:
“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
Why did John say this? Because being physically born into a family or race is not the point of life. Being spiritually reborn as the spiritual seed of Abraham through Jesus Christ is far more important and necessary for everlasting life!
Let’s not stop there. Let’s go into a verse that most evangelical Christians strangely dare not venture into for fear of being considered anti-Semitic and anti-Israel: John 8…
31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
42Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
48Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Notice in the lengthy bible quote above that Jesus Christ speaks a duality regarding Abraham being their physical father vs Abraham the spiritual father. Too many Christians miss this important point. Jesus acknowledges they are the physical descendants of Abraham, but that’s nothing. He focuses on the fact that they are NOT the spiritual descendants of Abraham, which is far more important. So why would God just bless the wicked ones among Abraham’s descendants? Jesus said either you are for Him or against Him and clearly there are those among the Jews who do not support Jesus Christ in any way. The blessings are of a spiritual nature and are for those who do the works of Abraham, as Jesus says. The works of Abraham are the same as the works of the Christian faith, for God is the same yesterday (when Abraham was alive), today and forever.
Was Jesus being hateful in speaking to certain Jews in such a strong manner? Of course not! Among the Jews were certain ones who themselves were dedicated to lawlessness and were part of a secret scheme to overtake the Roman Empire and establish a new kingdom with them ruling from behind the scenes. This last conclusion might surprise many who have been taught a very watered down, filtered, propaganda view of history. But Jesus Christ Himself already gave us the biggest clue with the Parable of the Tenants and the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (Tares).
Furthermore, the Book of Acts is basically the story of certain Jewish leaders leading a systematic, city by city persecution of the Early Church by stirring up the citizens and local leaders against the apostles and disciples. This is the spirit of antichrist at work, the same spirit that will lead the world to accept the mark of the beast. The same spirit that would mislead people into faulty interpretations of the words of Jesus and His Apostles, including the Wailing Wall when Jesus clearly said that no stone of the Temple in Jerusalem would be left standing. The same spirit that will then build on that deception and entice the faithful to believe in the Antichrist as Jesus Christ (even using a decoy antichrist before unveiling the real Antichrist). So we must be careful when studying the Bible.
The 2nd Temple during the Roman Empire era
The Book of Hebrews was an attempt to help regular Jews bridge the gap between the Old Testament era and the New Testament era faith. All of this was done in a loving way to actually help Jews see the truth about why God blessed Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Israelites in general, that it was not based on something as simplistic as being born physically of these great men of faith, but that the spiritual works that pleased the Lord were the things He wanted them to embrace. But if after hearing all of this, some Jews do not want to embrace the faith of Jesus Christ, then that’s ok. We still must love them anyway, but that does not mean that we worship the State of Israel, which is unfortunately based on stealing land from others already there and implementing a hateful system of racism against those same people.
The blessings of Israel in the Old Testament are for those who do the spiritual things that the great men of faith in the Old Testament did, not their bodies or race. Christians must remember that our kingdom is not of this world, that we are just strangers here until the New Jerusalem is revealed. The Jerusalem in the State of Israel today is not this New Jerusalem! So if it is not the New Jerusalem, why is it called Jerusalem? That’s the biggest clue as to the real purpose of this nation. We must not favor any nation. We are only tasked to love our fellow man, regardless of who they are and what they believe. Stay awake, Church!