December 19th … 6 NIGHTS TIL CHRISTMAS




     “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.” [Luke 2:34]


Why was Israel destroyed and dispersed so many times? If the Jews really are “God’s chosen people” why does God make them suffer so much?

As I mentioned earlier, Israel was chosen by God as His ambassador nation. They were supposed to take the revelations they received on Mount Sinai (the Ten Commandments and all the other instructions Moses received from God) and spread them all over the world.  But they were supposed to start by obeying his instructions themselves.

The problem is, they had a problem with obedience.

Every time God told them what to do, they started to obey, but then gradually fell away. For instance, God led them from Sinai through the wilderness to the land of Canaan, and told them to cross into the land and conquer it. But because they were afraid of the people living in Canaan, they chickened out. “The land is full of giants,” they said, “and the cities are walled up to heaven.” Now God had said that he would fight for them, but because they would not obey, he turned them back into the wilderness, where they wandered for forty years, until that whole generation died off and their children had to enter the land …and they conquered most of it (but not all of it.)

Before I continue let me talk a bit about this idea of conquering the land.  The land of Canaan at that time was a beautiful land , as Moses described it in Deuteronomy 8:7,8: “For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.”

 But the people living in it were “exceedingly wicked”. There were already wicked in Abraham’s day, when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah within plain sight of the Canaanites!  “And [they] looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.”[Gen 19:28]). After this demonstration of his power,  you would think they would have repented— but although he gave them an additional four hundred years  to repent[1] (to turn from their wickedness) they never did. These people were depraved to the core. They burnt their children alive as a sacrifice to idols. Their “religion” included temple prostitution and debauchery. When people have descended to a certain point and do not repent, God permits them to be conquered. He takes his hand of protection off a nation, and permits a stronger nation to come in and take over.

Let me also add another  word about conquering. Most of the nations in this world possess the territories they call their own because they conquered it from the people who owned it before them. Human history is full of examples. Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, the legions of Rome, the swordsmen of Mohammed— all conquered by force and claimed as their own, territory they took from others as the spoils of war. Which fact is ignored by the Arabs and the liberal news media today, who continue to revile Israel for wanting to settle on land they won defending themselves during the Six Day War. It seems the world always has a double standard when it comes to the Jews.

So why does the world tend to treat Israel with a double standard? Could it be because the Jewishpeople are known generally to be “God’s chosen people” and the world expects more from them? After all, God expected more from his own people. He expected them to obey him.

Now before you get the impression that God is a ruthless, micro-managing bully, relentlessly demanding obedience,  let me share a perspective that is rarely discussed. Do you know why God insisted on obedience?  Because He gave the Jews rules and regulations which, if properly obeyed,  would have made them the most prosperous, the happiest people on the whole planet.

In fact, in King Solomon’s day, when the Queen of Sheba visited Jerusalem, she told the king, “It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.” [1King 10:7,8]

Do you know what makes people happy? When they have a wise king, who rules his country with wisdom, fairness, righteousness and justice. And where do you think such wisdom comes from? From God. His law produces peace and prosperity— if it is obeyed.

Unfortunately even God’s chosen people had trouble obeying and following through. By following through, I mean really applying God’s law in their daily lives, until it produced the desired results. For instance, did you know it was God who invented the day off ? The Jews were ordered to take one day off a week— the Sabbath— and from that we Gentiles have inherited the concept of a day off.  Did you know that the Jews had seven holidays a year?  Where do you think we get the idea of holidays? The Jews were the first to abolish slavery, by applying God’s rules to their treatment of servants.  The Jewish dietary laws were way ahead of their time. God promised them “rain in due season”— in effect “climate control”.  They had more abundant harvests because the law commanded that they let their fields lie fallow every seven years. He also gave them rules for buying, trading, and selling— the law demanded fair trading. There were laws limiting usury— unfair charging of high interest. The law provided protection for marriage, forbidding the callous pagan practice of divorce for any reason.  Their hygienic laws kept them from getting the diseases of their pagan neighbours— in fact,  over time as the pagans compared their own practices to that of the Jews,  they discovered the science in behind those laws! This holds true for land management, agriculture, trade and commerce, business ethics, criminal justice, fair taxation… the list goes on and on. If ISRAEL had kept the law as God had intended, they would have had peace, prosperity, and a happiness unheard of in history.

But they never followed through. They didn’t keep the Sabbaths, they waffled on every point, until the nation, instead of being an example to the world of God’s gracious economy, became the stumbling-block of the world —“Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” [Rom 2:23,24]

They could have been a good example to all nations, and the envy of all nations, but because they continually disobeyed, instead they became a bad example —an obstacle. This was of course bad for them— but even worse for God. Because His own people would not do as commanded— “shine as lights in the world” (see Philippians 2:15) — God had to let them fall— which as been awfully  bad news for Israel.

The good news, however, is that  because of Jesus Christ, they will rise again!





[1]And [God] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years… but in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full.” Gen 15:13-16