Trip | I left New York a few weeks ago to visit my parents, who are currently living in Amman, Jordan. Today, I’m visiting the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel. Later this month, when I return home, I’ll be creating a short five-day introductory email course about the Holy Land. If you’re interested in receiving these when they become available, you can sign up: here.
Israel | It’s not necessary, however, to visit the Holy Land to experience Israel. True Israel is a people, not a place , and true Israelites are those who trust in God, not those with a particular lineage . This has always been the case – even in the Old Testament. God didn’t give the name “Israel” to the current political nation-state that was created in 1948. He gave that name to Jacob, whose twelve sons became the twelve tribes of Israel . God created His people out of this family. Unlike their neighboring peoples, who had nation-specific deities, Israel worshipped the Lord, who claimed authority over all nations. As Isaiah prophesied, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other … To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance … In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory” .
Promises | Why does this matter? Only Israel can inherit the promises God made to Israel. Therefore, we must be Israelites to claim all the magnificent promises made in the Old Testament. In Christ, however, all those who believe are true Israel. As Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”  and, as Paul explained, “Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel … It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring” .
Prayer | Lord, Since all of your promises are Yes in Christ, we can dive into all your promises. We can claim the promise you made through Jeremiah to Israel – that you have a hope and a future for us . We can take great joy in knowing that your eyes “range throughout the earth to strengthen” your people . We praise you for our new birth through Christ, in which we are your adopted children . Amen.