God is Preparing a Table…

May 31, 2019

…It is in the Land of Israel. It is for the nation of Israel. And it is for the Gentile nations who accept the invitation to help set it.

In the 30 years that this land has been my home, I have never seen Israel as lovely—or as flourishing.

Between the Feast of Tabernacles 2018 and Passover 2019, the country experienced an extraordinary outpouring of the former rains and the latter rains, in their season.

Early soft showers primed the soil before driving rains sent water root-deep and deeper, healing and restoring after years of parching drought.

Snow on Mt Hermon—already three times the norm—was still falling into April, while from the north to the Negev, hail and heavy rain drenched and re-drenched the earth.

As spring nudged winter aside, the groups I guided thrilled to see the land bursting into a sumptuous spread for the eyes.

From the heartland to the coast, over the plains and up in the heights a tablecloth in luxuriant shades of green was spread out, arms flung wide, shot through with extravagant seas and splashes of wildflower: blood-red corn poppies and turban buttercups; scarlet pimpernels; white and yellow common chamomile; lavender-blue hyacinth; pink Egyptian campion-carpeted almond groves; prickly Syrian thistles; tall lines of swaying, heavy-headed hollyhocks.

I’m describing a fraction of the diversity, and to some extent we see this dressing of the land annually, but this year!

Israel’s Good Shepherd

“Do you know what we are witnessing?”

Smiling, I put the question to my Christian visitors then take them to the Psalms.

To be correctly understood, the Psalms must first be read knowing who they were written by (Israelites) and whom they were written for (the nation of Israel). Where he speaks in the first person (I, we, us and our) the Psalmist is speaking to and about his nation.

As the Lord wondrously prepares this banquet table in Israel, for Israel... will Australia say yes! to the invitation..?

Also, the Psalms include many prophetic writings about Messiah and about national Israel. Many of those that speak to the restoration of Israel are being fulfilled before our eyes.

“Understanding this,” I say, “and knowing about the pain-filled history of the people whose God calls Himself ‘the Shepherd, let’s read Psalm 23.”

This most beloved of the Psalms speaks to Israel’s past, their present and their future.

As we travel we see the upsurge of urban progression and development—towns and cities that have suddenly doubled in size; the ultra-modern upgrading of national infrastructure—with superhighways, soaring bridges and high-speed trainlines crisscrossing the land; the large new international airport opening a gateway in the south.

This urban mushrooming may not sit as prettily in the landscape as the blossoming outdoors (although Jerusalem’s limestone in its soft shades of white, yellow and pink is very beautiful) but it too tells us that Israel is undergoing enormous growth.

“What we are seeing,” I explain to my wide-eyed group, is how God is ‘preparing a table’ for Israel in the presence of all her enemies.”

It is the most marvellous thing. As gentile nations weather increasingly severe natural disasters caused by ‘climate change’, an almost unrestricted flow of immigration that is erasing national cultures and identities, plus a growing disconnect from their roots of those built on Judeo-Christian foundations, Israel is experiencing a kind of ‘climate correction’ that speaks volumes about the numerous ways in which its Shepherd is gathering, bestowing blessing, turning His face towards and lifting up His countenance upon the people and the land He is restoring one to the other – and will soon restore fully to Himself.

Consider these truths:

The LORD is the Shepherd of Israel. (Gen 49:24; Psalm 80:1) and Israel is His flock. He established the everlasting dynasty of David to shepherd this nation (2 Samuel 7:12-16;
1 Chronicles 11:2; Psalm 78:71) and He was moved with compassion when He saw them as shepherdless sheep. (Matthew 9:36). After their Shepherd had been struck, He said, His sheep would be scattered (Mark 14:27).

Moses had also foretold this: that the nation would be driven out of its land and scattered “even to the farthest corners under heaven” where they would be hated and persecuted.

But he also said that, after this, they would be gathered back physically into their own land and then restored in relationship to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 30:3-5)

God did indeed drive them out—not once, but twice—and they went as sheep to the slaughter. But when they, in their captivity, cried out to Him (Psalm 44:11-26), God began to search for, deliver and restore them (Ezekiel 34:11-12).

As for us, Gentile believers, we should be heeding and doing what He instructs us to do:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’”
(Jeremiah 31:10)

Is God being true to His Word? And are we declaring it?

Since 1882—with the first wave of aliyah (immigration)—Israel’s Shepherd has been about the business of gathering His sheep. Seventy-one years ago, the nation-state of the Jewish people was reborn. Today, nearly seven million Jews call Israel home.

How does this impact Australia?

The nations are, in fact, bidden to help set the table. Will we accept, or refuse, this most important of invitations?

We say yes! as believers by telling Israel (and the world) what the Lord is doing, and where, by upholding to Israel (and the world) the Lord’s scriptural promises of her national restoration.

We say yes! as nations if we stand with Israel; refusing to pressure her into yielding (yet more) land to people hellbent on destroying; by supporting her right to defend herself; by recognizing her sovereign right to her ancestral and covenanted homeland, and by supporting her claim to it.

We say yes! by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital and by placing our embassies in this city.

And in light of the May 18 election which saw Scott Morrison returned as Australia’s prime minister in what he called a ‘miraculous victory’?

I tweeted after the win:

“Congratulations Scott Morrison, non-Australians who love Israel rejoice at your victory. You’re positioned to lead your country in taking the next, correct steps: Recognise ALL Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and place your Embassy there.”

In my understanding, Morrison’s win has granted Australia a divine reprieve. As Melbourne-based Jewish commentator Michael Burd pointed out, the ‘miraculousness’ of it may find its reason in the opposition party’s election campaign, which made its—Labor’s—foreign policy position on Israel very clear: a revocation of the Coalition’s recognition of ‘West Jerusalem’ as Israel’s capital; a unilateral recognition of the State of Palestine; millions of dollars in further funding for the UNRWA.

In the light of all this, there is a strong spiritual and political case to be made for Aussie Christians to continue pushing forward the issue of Jerusalem, lobbying government to update and broaden its policy position on that city. The voters unmistakably chose a Coalition government, and this after Morrison weathered the firestorm against his initial compromising stand on Jerusalem when he tried to please everybody and ended up pleasing no-one.

Now he has been given a second chance to strengthen Australia’s position as a ‘sheep nation’ by coming alongside the United States, whose president broke the logjam when he recognized a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there.

After all, when Messiah comes to establish the seat of His government on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount—raised high above the rest of the mountains—it is neither far-fetched nor unbiblical to anticipate that He might find, around that Mountain, the first clusters of buildings housing the ambassadorial representatives of other nations.

As the Lord wondrously prepares this banquet table in Israel, for Israel, in the midst of all her enemies, will Australia say yes! to the invitation and by planting its own embassy in Jerusalem, help prepare the way for this feast?



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