Today's Foundations Devotional: Israel as an example for the world
You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God,
am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to
the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy
to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
On a larger scale, the record of God’s people Israel from the time of Moses down to the present day abounds with examples of God’s judgements in history. At the time when God first gave the law to Israel, before they ever entered into the promised land, God warned them through Moses of the judgements He would bring upon them if they should thereafter turn away from Him in disobedience and rebellion.
One such passage of prophetic warning to Israel is found in Leviticus 26:14-45. God first warns Israel of various judgements for disobedience that He will bring upon them while they are still in their own land. Then He warns them that continued disobedience will bring upon them judgements yet more severe, by which they will be scattered abroad as exiles from their land.
And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste (Lev. 26:27-33).
Through the invasion of the land of Israel by the Roman armies under Titus in 70 A.D., and through subsequent invasions, every detail of this prophecy was exactly fulfilled in the experience of Israel. In the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, the Jews there were reduced to such straits of hunger that they literally ate the flesh of their sons and daughters. Thereafter, all their sanctuaries and religious centres were destroyed. Great numbers of the people were massacred; others were sold into slavery and scattered abroad as exiles. Gentiles from the surrounding countries moved in and took possession of the land thus left desolate. In verses 36-37 God goes on to warn Israel of their pitiful condition during the ensuing centuries of their dispersion among the Gentiles: And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; … and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies (Lev. 26:36-37).
However, before the prophecy closes, God also gives a promise that His mercy will never be fully or finally withdrawn from Israel.
Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God (Lev. 26:44).
Just as surely as God’s warnings of judgement have been fulfilled, so has His promise of mercy been fulfilled, even in the midst of judgement.
Viewed thus in the light of prophetic Scripture, the whole history of Israel becomes a demonstration on a world-wide scale of both the judgement and the mercy of God; for even in the midst of judgement God still delights to administer mercy.
Heavenly Lord, how awesome it is that everything You have spoken about
Your first covenant people of Israel has indeed come out with great
accuracy. I intercede for them, Lord. In these last days - the end time of
human history - please open their eyes to Yeshua, who is also their Saviour!