TEXT: Genesis 22:15-18 — Promise to Abraham; Deuteronomy 28:64-66; Ezekiel 37:21-22 — Dispersion and restoration of people; Leviticus 26:27,31-33; Ezekiel 36:8-11,29-35 — Desolation and restoration of land; Leviticus 26:42-46 — National identity
The students will be able to relate a number of events which show that from the time God chose Abram and promised to make of him a great nation, through to Israel’s position in the world today, the events in their history are a significant prophetic fulfillment.
The nation of Israel began with a promise God made unto Abram when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees. God promised to make of him a great nation (Genesis 12:2). The name “Israel” was given to his grandson Jacob, when Jacob needed an answer from God. After wrestling with an angel, Jacob was told that his name would be called Israel, for as a prince he had power with God and man. This name was Yisra’el in Hebrew, and meant, “He strives with God and prevails.”
The Children of Israel were the descendants of Jacob. The first record in the Bible of their being called Israelites is in Exodus 9:7. The term Israelite was used by the Israelites themselves, while Hebrew is the name by which they were known to foreigners (Genesis 14:13). The name Jew was first used to identify the Children of Judah from the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 16:6). After the captivity, it received a larger application and is still used with reference to the Children of Israel today.
In a period of about ten generations, God increased their numbers from a clan of several hundred to approximately 3,000,000. In 2019 there were approximately 6,451,000 Jews in Israel and 14,511,000 worldwide.
In Israel’s history there have been many times of great persecution and anti-Semitism threatening their very existence. In their early history, envy and fear moved the Egyptians to enslave and persecute them. In Hitler’s Germany millions were persecuted and exterminated. However, God has remembered His covenant with Abraham and the people have not been completely annihilated.
The nation of Israel began with a promise to Abraham. Its name was taken from that of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. In later years the twelve tribes were dispersed in fulfillment of earlier prophecies. When they were restored to their land and became a nation in 1948, they named their country Israel.
- In reference to our text, what were the promises God made to Abraham?
Response: A number of promises were given to Abraham. After your students recount these, direct their attention to the promise that through his seed all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. God’s promises are nearly always conditional upon obedience, but the promises mentioned here are unconditional. Ask your students why they think this was so. Bring out that Abraham had proved his willingness to obey God in the most extreme circumstances and God rewarded him for doing so.
- How were all the nations of the earth blessed through the seed of Abraham? See Matthew 1:1,21.
Response: The Scriptures given in Matthew 1:1,21 show that Jesus was of the lineage of Abraham, and is the One through whom salvation is provided for mankind.
- Ten tribes of Israel went into captivity to the king of Assyria and were dispersed according to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 28. Why and how did this occur? See Deuteronomy 28:58 and 2 Kings 17:6-8.
Response: Because Israel sinned against God and His commandments to them, they were carried away by the king of Assyria in a fulfillment of the prophecy in Deuteronomy 28:64-66. Discuss with your class the danger of ignoring God’s warnings. It is not only Israel that will be punished. Read Psalm 9:17.
- Jeremiah 25:1,11 tell us that the kingdom of Judah (which included the tribe of Benjamin) would go into captivity for seventy years. The name of the king who would order their return to Jerusalem was prophesied some two hundred years earlier in Isaiah 44:28. Read 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, and tell how these verses show a fulfillment of both of these prophecies.
Response: 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 details how Cyrus, the name mentioned in Isaiah, released the people of the kingdom of Judah, thus fulfilling the prophecy in Jeremiah. The point should be made that these prophecies were fulfilled, even as spoken.
- The destruction of the Temple, as foretold by Jesus, occurred when the Roman general, Titus, captured the city in A.D. 70. However, Jews continued to live in the land of Israel until A.D. 135. The Roman emperor, Hadrian, decided to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, make it a Roman colony, and build a temple to Jupiter on the former site of the Jewish Temple. The Jews revolted and were defeated and scattered over all the world, not having a nation of their own until 1948. What prophecy does this fulfill?
Response: This fulfills the prophecy given in Leviticus 26:27,31-33.
- For over 1800 years the Jews were without a homeland. Why, in spite of all their persecution, were they not completely destroyed?
Response: The Jews were not completely destroyed because of God’s covenant with their ancestors, as shown in Leviticus 26:44. Discuss with your students just what this tells us about the covenants of God, focusing on the fact that they are infallible.
- God told the Children of Israel that their land would be desolate if they disobeyed. Other than by the dispersion, how did God accomplish this? See Deuteronomy 28:23-24.
Response: The land became desolate because of the withholding of rain. For some 1800 years the land of Israel had scant rainfall, and for this reason became an arid, unproductive, and relatively unused portion of land. It might be interesting to discuss with your students why God chose to make the land itself desolate. Would it not have been sufficient just to disperse the people? Talking over this point will bring out that because the land was not desirable, other nations did not move into the area. You might also wish to point out that in Leviticus 25:1-6, God commanded that the land be allowed to rest for specified periods at regular intervals. The people of Israel did not obey this command, and perhaps this was also part of the reason God permitted the land to remain uncultivated for so long a period of time—to make up for the years when it was not allowed to rest.
- What other events in today’s history verify that Ezekiel’s prophecy is coming to pass? Bring some documentation to class from current encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, etc.
Response: Your students may bring out that as well as the increased rainfall over the territory of Israel, other verifications may include: the fact that Israel now grows seventy-five percent of her own food; because of the rainfall and irrigation Israel exports grapes, citrus fruits, olives, flower bulbs, etc.; her cities are again inhabited; the population is growing.
News clippings and books on World War II may provide some visual aids to portray the suffering of the Jewish nation during that time. Relate this to why the Children of Israel suffered in this manner.
Have two people act out a short situation in which one makes a promise to the other but is unable to keep it. Explain how we as humans have no control over circumstances. Then explain how God can make promises and keep them because He has all power in Heaven and earth.
Bring a present-day map of Israel. If possible, locate maps which indicate the same area in other periods of history showing who controlled it. (The back of your Bible or books regarding Israel may provide these.) If you have access to an overhead projector this could be done very effectively with different colored overlays.
Use newspaper and magazine articles which correlate with Scripture to show fulfillment of prophecy.