Our Duty To Israel
I take my text today from Romans 1:16 which we read a few moments ago… where Paul says:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek“.
Most people are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. The so called intellectual are ashamed of it, because it calls men to believe and not to doubt, to have faith in it; the great are ashamed of it, because it brings all into one equality, and the rich are ashamed of it, because it is to be secured without money and without price—and so the good news of the Lord Jesus having come into the world a Surety for lost sinners, and a Saviour for lost souls – is despised, rejected and neglected because men are ashamed of it.
This then begs the question – Who are not ashamed of it? I recon only a small and insignificant Church, – those whose hearts the Spirit of God has touched. They were once like the world, and of it, but He awakened them to see their sin and misery, and that Christ alone was a refuge, and now they can sing… “None but Christ can satisfy—there’s love and life and lasting Joy, Lord Jesus found in Thee!” Paul says of such that they Glory only in the cross of Christ. Jesus is precious to their hearts—he lives there—He is often on their lips—He is praised in their family and they would gladly speak of Him to all the world.
They have found in their own experience that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. My dear listening friends, is this your experience? Have
you received the Gospel not in word only, but in power? Has the power of God been welcomed into your soul along with the word? If so, then this word is yours, this Gospel is yours, Salvation is Yours – yet today I want to point out that it is not yours first?
One peculiarity in Paul’s assertion or statement which I wish you to notice is that he glories in the Gospel as the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first, from which we may draw this DOCTRINE—that the Gospel should be preached
first to the Jews.
Today, in my sermon entitled “Our Duty To Israel” I want you to discover with me just how important Israel is to God and how important Israel should be to you and to me. Some of her neighbours in the middle east would gladly eradicate her from the map and gladly remove her from the mind, but God says she is “special” to Him, and all who would walk with God should know why. So I want to answer this question WHY?
First of all, We owe a duty to Israel – Because judgment will begin with them— “Indignation and wrath, to the Jew first.”—Rom. 2.6-10. It is an awful thought that the Jew will be the first to stand forward in the Courtroom of God to be judged. When the great white throne is set, and He sits down upon it from whose face the heavens and earth flee away—when the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books are opened, and the dead are judged out of those things that are written in the books, is it not a striking thought that Israel—poor blinded Israel—will be the first to stand in judgment before God?
When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, when He shall sit upon the throne of His
glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them from one another, as a Shepherd divides his sheep from the goats—when the awful sentence comes forth from His lips, depart ye cursed— and when the guilty many shall move away from before Him into everlasting punishment—is it not enough to make the most careless among you pause and consider, that the indignation and wrath shall first come upon the Jew—that their faces will gather deeper paleness, their knees knock more against each other, and their hearts die within them more than others?
Why is this? Because they have had more light than any other people. God chose them out of the world to be His witnesses. Every prophet was sent first to them; every evangelist and apostle had a message for them. Messiah came to them. He said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The Word of God is still addressed to them. They have it pure and unadulterated in their hand; yet they have sinned against all this light—against all this love.
Jesus himself says; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathers its chickens under its wings, and ye would not!” Matt 23:37. Their cup of wrath is fuller than that of other men—their sea
of wrath is deeper.
Is not this a reason, then, why the Gospel should first be preached to the Jew? They are ready to perish—to perish more dreadfully than other men. The cloud of indignation and wrath that is even now gathering above the lost, will break first upon the head of the guilty, unhappy, unbelieving Israel.
Ought we not then to share the feelings of Christ in us, that we should not run first to them that are in so sad a case? In a hospital, the caring physician runs first to the bed where the sick man lies who is nearest to death. When a ship is sinking, and the brave sailors have left the shore to save the perishing crew, do they not stretch out the arm of help first to those that are likeliest to drown beneath the waves? And ought we not to do the same for Israel?
The billows of God’s anger are ready to dash first over them—shall we not seek to bring them first to the Rock that is higher than they? Their case is more desperate than that of other men—shall we not bring the good Physician to them, who alone can bring health and cure?—for the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
I cannot leave this thought without speaking a word to those of you who are in a situation very similar to that of Israel—
to you who have the Word of God in your hands, and yet are unbelieving and unsaved. In many respects, Ireland may be called God’s second Israel. No other land has its Saints and Scholars as Ireland has—no other land has the Bible as Ireland has—no other land has the Gospel preached, free as the air we breathe, fresh as the stream from the Mourne Mountains. So, think for a moment, you who sit under the shade of faithful Preachers Pastors and Priests, and yet remain unconcerned and unconverted, and are not brought to sit under the shade of Christ, think how like your wrath will be to that of the unbelieving Jew. And think, again, of the marvellous grace of Christ, that the Gospel is first to you. The more that your sins are like scarlet and like crimson, the more is the blood free to you
that washes white as snow; for this is still His word to all His ministers, …. “Begin at Jerusalem“.
In the Second Place we owe a Duty to Israel for – It is like God to care first for the Jews.— It is the chief glory and joy of any soul (especially any saved soul) to be like God. You remember this was the glory of that condition in which Adam was created.
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” His understanding was without a cloud. He saw, in some measure, as God sees. Adams will flowed in the same channel with God’s will. His affections fastened on the same objects which God also loved. But when man fell, we lost all this, and became children of the devil, and are no longer children of God.
But when a lost soul is brought to Christ, and receives the Holy Spirit, he puts off the old man, and puts on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. It is our true joy in this world to be like God. Too many rest merely in the joy of being forgiven, but our truest joy is to be like Him.
Take no rest my friends, until you are renewed after His image, until you partake of the Divine nature. Long for the day when Christ shall appear, and we shall be fully like Him, for then we shall see Him as He is.
Now, what I must insist on today is, that we should be like God, even in those things which are peculiar. We should be like Him in understanding, in will, in holiness, and also in His peculiar affections. “Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7 Yet the whole Bible shows that God has a peculiar affection, an exceptional love for Israel.
You remember when the Jews were in Egypt, sorely oppressed by their taskmasters, God heard their cry, and appeared to Moses—”… I have seen, the affliction of My people, and I have heard their cry, for I know their sorrows.” Exodus 3:7
And, again, when God brought them through the wilderness, Moses tells them why He did it. “The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people, but because the Lord loved you.”—Deut. 7:7. Strange, sovereign, most peculiar love. He loved them because He would love them. Should we not be like God in this peculiar and special attachment?
Now, while it is true that in past times, God has scattered the Jews into every land—But what says God of this? “I have left Mine house, I have forsaken Mine heritage, I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.”—
Jeremiah 12: 7.
It is true that Israel was given, for a reason and a season, into the hand of her enemies, but it is also true that they are still the dearly beloved of His soul. Should we not give them the same place in our hearts which God gives them in His heart? Shall we be ashamed to cherish the same affection which our heavenly Father cherishes? Shall we be ashamed to be unlike the world, and like God in this peculiar love for Israel?
Yet some say God has cast them off? Has God cast away His people which He foreknew? God forbid. We read “Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still. Therefore My bowels are troubled for him,
I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” Jer. 31:20.
The whole Bible contradicts the idea that God has cast them off.
“I will plant them again in their own land assuredly, with My whole heart and with My whole soul.” “Zion saith, the Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”—Isaiah. 49:15. “And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
Now the simple question for each of you is, … Should we not share with God His peculiar affection for Israel? If we are filled with the Spirit of God, should we not love as He loves? Should we not engrave Israel upon the palms of our hands also, and resolve that through our mercy they may also obtain mercy.
Finally, we owe a duty to Israel – Because they will give life to a dead world. – I have often thought that a reflective traveller, passing through the countries of this world, and observing the race of Israel in virtually every land, might be led to guess, merely from the light of his natural reason, that this singular people are preserved for some great purpose in the world?
There is a suitability in the Jew to be a missionary of the world. They have not that peculiar attachment to home and country which we have. They feel that they are outcasts in every land. Yet are also familiar with every climate; they are to be found amid the snows of Russia and beneath the burning sun of Pakistan. They are also in some measure acquainted with all the languages of the world, and yet have one common language—a holy tongue—in which to communicate with one another.
All these things must, I recon, suggest themselves to every intelligent traveller as he passes through other lands.
Yet what does Gods word say? What do we read …
“It shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing.” Zechariah. 8: 13. To this day they are a curse among the nations, by their unbelief—by their covetousness; but the time is coming, and coming soon my friends … when they shall be as great a blessing as they have been a curse.
“And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.”—Micah v. 7.
Just as many of us have discovered who have had the privilege of visiting that Land, we have found, among the parched hills of Judah, that the evening dew, coming silently down, gives life to every plant, making the grass to spring, and the flowers to put forth their sweetest fragrance, so shall converted Israel
be when they come as dew upon a dead dry world.
“In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you.” Zechariah. 8:23. This prophesy has never been fulfilled, but as the Word of God is
true, this is true!
Perhaps some will say, … If the Jews are to be the great missionaries of the world, then let us send missions to them only. This is a fresh revelation, so then let us call back our missionaries from India or Africa. They are wasting their precious lives there in doing what the Jews are supposed to accomplish. It pains me to think that any lover of Israel should so far pervert the truth, as to argue this way. The Bible does not say that we are to preach only to the Jew, but to the Jew first!
“Go and preach the Gospel to all nations,” said the Saviour.
Let us obey His Word like obedient children. All that I ask for is, that, in sending out missionaries to the lost world, we may not forget to begin at Jerusalem… “To the Jew first.”
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
Seeing our Duty to Israel will bring us great rewards. Gods word to Jacob was “Blessed is he that blesseth thee; cursed is he that curseth thee“. Num 24:9. We must Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love her. Psalm 122:6 . I have felt this in my own experience. In going from country to country, I felt that there was always One going before me, ahead of me preparing my way. Though I have had perils in the waters and perils in the wilderness, perils from sicknesses and perils from the heathen, still from all the Lord has delivered; I have truly ample reason to say, that in keeping His commandments
there is great reward.
But your souls shall be enriched also, and your Church too,
if this cause find its rightful place in your affections. Not only dispensing the light on every hand, and at every opportunity, but dispensing it first to the Jew. Then shall God revive His work in the midst of the years. Our whole land shall be refreshed. The cobwebs of controversy shall be swept out of our sanctuaries—the jarring and jealousies of our Churches be turned into the harmony of praise—and our own souls become like a well-watered garden.
Jesus said – the times before His second coming would include a multiplication sign, a mental sign, a moral sign, and a miracle
sign. Concerning the latter, He was talking about the nation of Israel. He reminds us to keep our eyes on the fig tree. When it begins to blossom you know the end is near. Israel is the historical miracle in world civilization. She had been extinct as a nation for over 1,900 years, ever since Titus and the Roman legions marched into Jerusalem in AD-70 and nearly obliterated the Jewish people, forcing them out of their own country. The people were slaughtered and Israel died as a nation that day.
But she was born again in one day. Isaiah predicted it would happen. On May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation again. Prime Minister – David Ben Gurion signed the Declaration of Independence. Jesus said when the fig tree buds the kingdom is at hand – and just look how it’s budding today!
None of us can thwart the plans and purposes of God for that small but sacred land of promise. God swore to Abraham that his promise would stand for ever. The Promise was valid in times past, it is valid today and it will be valid for all eternity – it is an everlasting dynasty and no man or machine gun can ever change Gods mind.
It is my Prayer that God will put something in your mind today that you can do for Israel?
God Bless You: