As wild olive Gentiles grafted into the good olive stock, it behoves us all to maintain an acute awareness and interest in the people who are the apple of Yahweh’s eye and the land that Yahweh’s eyes are continually beholding.

Recent visitors to the Middle East are truly amazed to discover the extent of the “shooting forth” of the Israel fig tree. Israel is now an absolutely “modern” country, with its cities as up-to-date as any city in Australia. The mud and dirt of excavations occurs everywhere one goes, not so much now concerned with the revelation of ancient ruins (which are everywhere) as much as with the continual erection of ultra modern housing and business centres.

But along with its development continues Israel’s extreme anxiety for survival in a hostile environment. Hence it is a country bristling with weapons. Not only is there the sophisticated radar and missile equipment visible on strategic hills throughout the land or the supersonic jets that continually patrol the skies, but even with the common people, weapons are openly carried. Wherever school children are travelling on excursions, there are the teachers openly toting their semi-automatic rifles for the protection of their young charges.

Nevertheless here is a people “dwelling confidently”, totally relying upon their own arm to defend themselves—a people whose sons and daughters take their oath of allegiance to the State on the hill of Masada with the words, “Masada shall never fall again”! This is that towering fortress in the desert, built by Herod, where rebellious Jewish Zealots finally slaughtered themselves in defiance of the advancing Roman army. Little do they heed the Scriptures which depict for Jacob “a time of trouble such as never was, since there was a nation”—,a time when they shall be reduced to such depths that they will be caused to finally turn to Yahweh their God for salvation, and none else, when the invasion of Ezekiel 38 shall occur.

The spirit of the struggle for survival in the midst of hostile neighbours is deeply entrenched in this “people of God”. Their history of persecution is ever before them in such places as the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, while their will to survive is constantly fixed by current events, such as the suicide bombings of recent times. It is a spirit which is contagious to both visitor and citizen alike: it is a spirit which compels non-aligned, non-religious visitors (let alone Christadelphians) to return again and again: it is a spirit which, when governed by divine truths at Christ’s return, will cause the surviving nations to exclaim: “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath Elohim so nigh unto them, as Yahweh our Elohim is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law…” (Deut 4:6–8).

The spirit of zeal and enthusiasm and total commitment to a cause so ingrained in these people will yet be over-ruled by a spirit of humility and contrition. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son…” (Zech 12:10).

Yet today, though enemies of the Gospel, they are still “the people of the Book”. To know and understand their ways is to help bring the Bible alive. To hear their language spoken, to observe them in their daily living, to visit the ancient sites of their glory and ignominious past cannot be every brother and sister’s lot, but there are many other ways by which one can interest oneself in and keep abreast of their developments. One can struggle with them in their development as a nation through the many interesting biographies of their leaders. One can thrill to the revival of their language through the fascinating book “Tongue of the Prophets”. One can agonise with their struggle to establish a homeland in such works as “O Jerusalem”. One can engage in interesting family projects such as collecting postage stamps of Israel depicting various facets of their history, ancient and modern, or playing children’s games such as “Jerusalem Bus Stops” or the various “Happy Family” card sets from which one can learn so much about the people and land of Israel. One can enjoy viewing slides of those who visit the Land, attend Youth Aliyah evenings or even visit Israel through pictorial books.

In the Jewish Synagogue in Sydney there is an excellent, succinct duplication of the Holocaust Museum in Israel which one can visit, ideally en route to Rathmines Bible School which itself has a superb Israel Room. One can obtain the English Weekly Edition of The Jerusalem Post which presents the news from Israel in a most interesting way.

These are the “People of the Book” who, despite the present turmoil, will see a fragile peace violently shattered as “two parts therein (of their population) shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein”. Nevertheless Yahweh has said, “I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Yahweh is my Elohim” (Zech 13:8, 9).

And for them at last will be an everlasting peace: “And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods” (Ezek 34:25).

Here is the final consolation for Israel; but what of ourselves? Let us seize every opportunity to make the Bible the living book it should be, that we may witness Israel’s progress to their glorious end.

Let us entwine ourselves with the people and their hope that we may see past their present sinful state to the time when Yahweh will “purify the sons of Levi… that they may offer… an offering in righteousness”. Surely “when Yahweh shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory”, “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come” (Psalm 102:16, 13).

Truly “Yahweh loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God”. May our hearts so be with the people of God through their suffering to their ultimate triumph and restoration that it may be said of us also, “Yahweh shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.” Ponder over this (Psalm 87:2, 3, 6)