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All Eyes on Israel
Chapter 1 - What is Your Name?
Page 1 - The Meaning of Israel
(Go back to introduction - What is Dispensationalism?)

The correct meaning of "Israel" is a very important thing to understand as a great deal of theology is determined by how it is understood. As mentioned in the Introductory Page to this series, the whole system of understanding known as dispensationalism is determined by the understanding that Israel refers to the literal nation of Israel today as a direct national "descendent" of Biblical Israel.

"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Gen 32:28)

Various modern books such as those by Hal Lindsey, Grant Jeffrey, the "Left Behind" series especially and many others have greatly increased interest in the modern nation of Israel. Many western Christians have become very interested in the spiritual significance and meaning Israel, in what is happening there and in the Middle East in general and, of course, there are great concerns of what is to come. To them, the Jews must control Israel and, more importantly, Jerusalem or the purposes of God will not be fulfilled.

Bob Simon, correspondent for CBS's 60 Minutes, on the October 6, 2002 broadcast summed up the thinking of the Christian Coalition by saying that "the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland is ... a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ."

For many American Evangelical Christians the U.S. support of Israel has become a bigger issue than even such hot topics as abortion. To many of these people that is the most important issue in religion today. And this has all increased since the start in 1998 of the Intifada. And I will say more about this interest in the Middle East later.

There are many factors working together to increase expectation about a soon-coming Messiah. In Israel today, there are Jews who are, or at least claim to be, literal descendents of Abraham. And they are waiting, still waiting, for the Messiah to come. Of course, they believe it to be for the first time. They cling to their understanding of the Old Testament promises of the Messiah. Many Christians feel they need to support these Jews who they regard as God's special people in Israel today.

A logical question to ask is "Is the present, modern nation of Israel the Israel of God?" To even ask this question, suggesting that it might not be, is outside of the thinking of many modern Christians; it does not fit into Evangelical thought. To ask it is like touching their "sacred cow."

But we need to ask and find answers for some of these questions. What is the significance and meaning of Israel today and in the future? Is everyone watching Israel? Should everyone be watching Israel? Should we have our attention focused somewhere else? Before we even get to those questions we want to look at and answer some more basic questions: What does Israel really mean? Who or what was Israel originally? Then we can look at and better understand the significance of the nation of Israel today, its significance in the future and its proper role in fulfilment of Bible prophecy.

To really understand about who Israel is, the meaning of Israel (the term) - we need to turn to Genesis and read the first verse in the Bible that uses the name Israel:

"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Gen 32:28)

And we need to do much more than just read it - we need to dig deeper and understand what is going on and the true meaning of Israel. Let's go back in time and review the story and get the background.


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