God from the beginning intended Israel to be a model nation, a positive example for the rest of the world to follow of a nation that obeys God and practices God's way of life. "Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:6-8).
For the most part, Israel has not fulfilled that role. But they will in the millennium.
God will work first with Israel. He will rescue them and save them from the tribulation and will gather those who survive into the land of Israel.
As God teaches and rules Israel, other nations will see Israel's example and prosperity and will see the advantage of coming under God's rule voluntarily. Those nations that refuse to obey God will suffer punishments. "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16-19).
Those nations that obey God will be blessed. (By the way, since nations will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem for the Feast, that suggests to me that there will be airplane travel, for how else would it be practical for leaders of nations all over the world to go to Jerusalem for the Feast? - something to think about.)
Israel will be the first nation to receive blessings for obedience, and God's way of life will spread all over the earth as other nations see the benefits of obeying God and receiving the blessings of obedience. They will see Israel's blessings and will want the same blessings themselves. The leaders and representatives of all nations will come to Jerusalem (in some cases after learning their lessons when they receive no rain - Zechariah 14:16-19), and will experience and see and hear firsthand what God's way of life is like. They will hear God's law and word taught at the Feast. They will see the prosperity and example of God's people. And they can take the lessons they learn back to their own lands and say to their people, "Let us obey the God of Israel, for I have seen that Israel is exceedingly blessed."
In this way, God's way of life and knowledge of the true God can spread over the earth.
I don't know for sure it will happen exactly this way. I am not sure to what extent Christ will simply rule other nations by force or motivate them to submit voluntarily through a combination of rewards and punishments, blessings for nations that come under God's rule and curses for nations that refuse to obey for a time, till they repent (Zechariah 14:16-19).
But Israel will be a model nation in any case.
Yet every one of us has a direct responsibility right now, in helping to bring about the transformation of Israel into a model of God's way of life, whether we realize it or not. Your Feast offerings have a direct bearing on this.
That first generation of Israel is very important, and most of that generation is alive today. Our responsibility is to prepare that generation for the tribulation, now.
We do that by preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to them, now.
Why is that important?
Why is it important for Israel to hear the true gospel and the Ezekiel warning, now, before the tribulation begins, in order for them to be a model nation at the beginning of the millennium?
Israel must have a good attitude in order to truly repent and obey God on a consistent basis. Israel must be humble and teachable. Israel must also trust God and believe in God's goodness and fairness.
Now, put yourself in the position of a typical religious American, Canadian, or Briton. You might be Catholic or Protestant. You are sincere. You believe in God. You are active in your church, and you are serious and zealous about serving God, but not according to knowledge, like many of the Jews of Paul's day. You worship God, but not in truth because you are deceived.
You have some knowledge of God's law, but it is limited and incomplete. Yet, to the degree you know God's law and will, you obey it. You know that adultery is wrong, so you are faithful to your spouse. You know that it is wrong to lust, so you do not look at other women to desire them. You never steal, never cheat on your income tax. You honor your parents. You never use filthy language or take God's name in vain. You do good deeds for others, serve widows, and give to the poor. You forgive others and do not hold grudges because you know that Christ commands forgiveness.
Yet, you believe and practice the traditions of your Catholic or Protestant church more than the Bible. You pray to a "trinity" god. You work on the Sabbath and observe Sunday as "the Lord's Day". You observe Christmas and Easter and think you are worshipping God by doing so. And you may be setting up idols, images of Christ, images of Mary, as an "aid" to worshipping God.
Why? Because you are deceived and you don't believe what God says in the Bible. You have been taught that the Bible needs to be interpreted by your church, and you have been taught that God guides your church to interpret the Bible correctly. So you let them twist the meaning of plain scriptures to justify your traditions.
But you think you are pleasing God in your life. You may pray quietly in your mind, many times during the day as you go about your business. You feel close to God. You teach your children about God and rejoice when they believe as you have taught them because you think you are doing a good thing for your children to bring them into a close relationship with God.
You are sure God is pleased with your life. But God is not pleased. You think you know God but you don't know Him.
Is this fiction I am describing? Is there anyone like this in our countries?
There are probably millions like this. I was raised Catholic. My family is Catholic. I think I know what I am talking about.
So how do you think these people will react in the tribulation, when they finally learn that God is punishing them for the way they have tried to worship Him, if they never have a chance to hear the truth while they have time to repent before the punishment? If God never even gives them a warning that what they are doing is wrong before their punishment comes, what will they think about God? Will they trust in God's goodness after that? Not likely! Not easily.
Will they not say to themselves, "God isn't fair. He never gave me a chance. If He had only warned me, I would have repented."
But in fact, God has provided a warning, through us, His servants, IF we deliver it. "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 3:17-18). "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter" (Proverbs 24:11). "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12). "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:39-40). "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:13).
God commands we deliver the warning message and the true gospel of the Kingdom of God. But He has not made it easy for us. We can do the job, but only if we sacrifice. We need to go all out.
If we are faithful to do the job God has given us, Israel will be warned, and when they go through the tribulation, they will remember that God was fair to give them a warning first. They will be able to take responsibility for their decision to ignore the warning. Acknowledging their own fault in ignoring the warning message will be a necessary step towards repentance. But for that to happen, they must hear the warning, and we must give them the warning.
Then, they will acknowledge that God was fair towards them in having the Church give them a warning before their punishment. They will be able to trust God, knowing that God was fair.
That is what will make Israel humble and teachable in the millennium so they can be converted and become the model nation to set the example for all nations on the earth.
We need to go all out to preach the good news, the true gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the Ezekiel warning of the coming punishment of the great tribulation and the Day of the Lord upon Israel if Israel does not repent of following their traditions and begin to believe the Bible and obey God.
When you hear a sermon during the Feast about Israel setting an example during the millennium for other nations to follow, know that your holy day offerings for the preaching of the gospel will help bring this to pass. That is our job now. It is our responsibility. Let's do it with zeal and with sacrifice.
Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:
CHAPTER 4 - WHY PREACH THE GOSPEL? - A LESSON FROM THE HOLOCAUST
Friday, October 10, 2014
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