When God Responds To Israel's Repentance

By Francis Frangipane

For the most part, I've been silent and simply prayerful concerning Israel, the "Road Map" and the future.  Now, however, as terrorism and reprisals again escalate, let me offer some thoughts.

First, both the Old Testament and New Testament reveal that God's purposes are irrevocably intertwined with the return and restoration of Israel (Ezek. 37-39; Rev 7).  For those who believe the church has replaced Israel, the Bible tells us that the Jews are God's covenant people, and that as long as the sun, moon and stars exist, the Lord's covenant with Israel shall stand (Jer. 31:35-36).  Of course, through Jesus Christ, Christians receive a better covenant with better promises, but God has not broken His covenant with Israel.  Nothing will thwart the promises of God, as centuries of persecution, Hitler's ovens and, in time, Muslim terrorists will all testify before God in eternity.  Be assured, Israel's full restoration will come to pass in its time.

While we fearlessly rest in our Father's sovereignty, we are not excused from prayer.  During Israel's first restoration in 538 B.C., the prophet Daniel concluded that Israel's seventy year exile  was fulfilled (Jer. 29:10).  Yet, knowing Israel had entered the season of her return did not stop Daniel from prayer (Dan. 9:2-3).  His intercession was then multiplied by the prayers and actions of Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as the restoration prophets.  Eventually all of the returning Jews embraced the call to humbling themselves in prayer--and we must assume even among those Jews that remained in exile, prayer was offered. 

Beloved, when the Almighty desires to bring revival, He first inspires intercession.  All things wonderful and powerful begin in prayer: first with perhaps just one person, then several, and then an ever increasing crescendo of voices, all crying to God for His word to come to pass in the season of its fulfillment.  As intercession multiplies, miracles of provision and grace emerge, as well as breakthroughs and favor that were previously unimaginable.  

Divine Expectations
At some stage, however, the people for whom prayer is offered must themselves repent and turn to God. In Israel's case, there never was a time when they were restored to the full blessedness of God's love and provision that did not include repentance.  They never enjoyed border security and peace apart from repentance.  National repentance was always the path; full prosperity and security was always the result offered Israel by God. 

Indeed, throughout the Old Testament, from Moses to Malachi, repentance was central to Israel's dwelling securely on their land.  This condition is embodied in Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple: "If Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and they return to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this house, then I will hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You have given to them and to their fathers" (2 Chron. 6:24-25).

If the Lord allowed hardship, pestilence or drought; or if He allowed strong enemies to plunder Israel's land; if He exiled the Jews to other nations because of their sins against Him, in His love He provided a means for their restoration.  His promise is familiar and has become, by application, universal to all men.  However, remember that this promise was first spoken to the Jewish nation as the only means offered by God for Israel's national security and healing. 

"If . . . My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chron 7:14).

The principles proclaimed in 2 Chronicles 7:14 represent heaven's pathway to restoration and healing.  Whether we pray as individuals or nations, to know divine protection, blessing and prosperity, we must sincerely return to the Almighty.  If I, as an individual, fall into sin, but humble myself, confess my rebellion and return to God, I will find personal revival in my life. In prayer for the USA, I confess our national sins, humbling myself with other intercessors on behalf of our nation. Yet, while the Lord may delay wrath because of intercession, not until government and community leaders confess our national sins as well, and not until they seek God's help to change our society, will His presence be restored in a true national revival. 

Who can argue against the need for repentance as a prerequiste for personal and national revivals?  I say this will the utmost love and compassion for the Jewish people, as one who desires all Israel to be saved and in hopes of seeing God's destiny climax in the Jews: they are not exempt from seeking God in repentance.  I am not even referring to them coming to Jesus Christ and embracing the New Covenant, which I believe they ultimately will.  I am saying that Israel's covenant with God still endures and under that covenant, God called them to repent as part of their restoration process.

Please understand, I know there are many godly intercessors in Israel, and perhaps even a greater number of godly Jews already crying out to God for His help.  We certainly have a strong beachhead of prayer in the Holy Land. We know that God hears the sighs and groans of His people, and counts the voice of heartache as intercession. Such supplication keeps Israel alive. But we must also be honest.  I say this without any condemnation, but Israel is just as sinful as our western nations.  Israel suffers under the weight of legalized abortion, flagrant immorality, gay parades and perversion, prostitution and many other legalized vices.  In the nation known as the Holy Land, these sins are flaunted by many and protected by law.  How can we expect a Holy God to restore and defend Israel's biblical borders?  

I am not pro-Muslim, but I am pro truth, and the truth is that the Islamic world is pro-life, Muslim women dress modestly, Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol or use drugs, and they must bow in prayer daily.  Israel's more permissive society dwells in contrast with the ultra conservatism of Islam.  Beloved, this is one of the core reasons the Muslims hate the Jews (and hate America moreso)!  In the Muslim world, America is called the Great Satan and Israel is known as the Little Satan, because our cultures export immorality and rebellion.  I love America and thank God for our freedom, but I also hate the sinfulness of my nation.  Even as I hate that Hollywood seeks to export immorality into my home and corrupt my children, so I understand why radical (or even sincere) Muslims hate this invasion of filth into their societies.

I am not in any way justifying Islamic terrorism or legalism.  Such religious fanaticism has unleashed hell on earth.  I am only saying that the moral lawlessness of the West (which includes Israel) is a legitimate core problem in the search for peace with the Muslim world.  If we in the West, with Israel, were not such a threat culturally, Muslim sons would certainly be less willing to die to keep our sin from their culture.

May History Repeat Itself
Please do not read this as though I am saying that Israel deserves the ongoing heartache of terrorist attacks. May God grant Israel some peace, even a season, before the last great revival occurs in the Holy Land.   This article is not about what Israel deserves, it is about the facts of life in the Middle East, and the fact that God has always used Israel's enemies to push the Jews toward Himself. 

My hope is to guide us in prayer toward the only breakthrough that can ultimately last: a national repentance in Israel embraced by both government and a majority of citizens alike.  I am not speaking as one uninvolved with Israel, but as a lover of Israel who intercedes daily for the Jews.  Nor am I speaking as one whose own nation isn't desperately sinful in many ways.  But as we look for a solution to the Palestinian conflict and Israel's peace, from a historic, biblical perspective, the only peace solution offered by God is God.  The adversaries surrounding Israel are allowed by the jealousy of the Almighty to goad Israel into His arms.

So, I am saying that, until the Israeli government, together with a majority of Israel's business and religious leaders, determine to seek the favor of God, hardships will continue to exist.  In my opinion, the current peace plan will try, but fail, to realize its full objectives. I do not see the Road Map as evil, but as an international attempt to remedy both Jewish and Palestinian suffering. However, when Israel returns to God, it will not need American protection or political solutions to its problems.  God Himself will surround and protect the Holy Land.

Some argue that this present aliyah (return) of the Jews to Israel is unique and separate from other biblical times, that the Spirit of God is somehow obligated to restore all of Israel's land without Israel's heartfelt national repentance.

Consider: the very prophecies we use today to celebrate Israel's aliyah, were all initially fulfilled in 538 B.C., when the Lord brought the Jews back from Babylon.  During the Biblical account of Israel's restoration, the Lord provided a living pattern, so we would understand His expectations today.  Read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah; study of the prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi and behold how often the call to repentance came, and was embraced, during their rebuilding period.  The Lord did not restore Israel to her ancient borders without times of repentance deepening their commitment to Him along the way.

Let me also remind you that, during this time, God Himself stirred up several Persian kings (Cyrus, Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus, etc.) to protect, as well as help fund the return of the Jews, and even help rebuild the temple (see the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther).  God used the prevailing world power, Persia, to protect the rebuilding of the Holy Land.  Not every nation was arrayed against Israel during the return.  The strongest nation in the ancient world was a defense and supply for the Jews. Given that we do not see a national repentance in the Holy Land, current American efforts to bring peace to Israel, in my opinion, are a compassionate provision, perhaps orchestrated by God, to temporarily minimize Jewish suffering until Israel's full repentance comes. 

Let us, therefore, continue to pray for Israel, yet not condemn the nations that today, via the Road Map, are seeking to minimize Israeli and Palestinian heartache.  Let us pray that divine justice and wisdom will guide the administrators of this peace plan to the best outcome possible, even though it will be temporary.  However, let us never assume that the Road Map mirrors God's final plan.  The world will stand in awe when the Lord purifies Israel. A repentant Israel will initiate a time of peace, a season when Israel will "live securely . . . without walls and having no bars or gates" (Ezek 38:10-12). She will still face her greatest challenges but first, He who has brought the Jews back to their land, will work all things until He brings her back to Himself.  

Let us also pray that God will raise up an anointed Jewish voice (or a chorus of voices) that, with great mercy and tender compassion, shall call Israel to God and repentance.   Yes, and let us pray that our eyes will see the time when God Himself responds to Israel's repentance.

The Stone Which the Builders Rejected

By Francis Frangipane

The goal of God in this new anointing is to return the church to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  The correct foundation is not just what Jesus did in redemption, but what He commands as Lord. Once the foundation is properly laid within us, the house of the Lord can be built.

Becoming Wise Master Builders
Paul said, "as a wise master builder I laid a foundation" (I Cor 3:10).  The eternal foundation of the church is the Lord Jesus Christ; we rest and build upon Him. It is wisdom to build the Lord's house with only Jesus in mind, for He must be the central figure of every effort; He must abide as the living source of all our virtue.

Yet, there is a tendency to unconsciously avoid the teachings of Christ in favor of some other emphasis from the Scriptures.  We make our favorite teaching the cornerstone of our church rather than the life and power of Christ Himself.  Inevitably, we find ourselves attempting to make disciples in our image instead of His. 

Jesus said, "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief cornerstone" (Lk 20:17).  We cannot separate what Jesus says from who Jesus is. Christ and His word are one. To the degree that we fail to teach what Jesus taught, we are actually rejecting Him as Lord and unconsciously redefining the dimensions of the cornerstone of the church.

Listen, beloved, to how the Lord associates Himself with His teachings.  He said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day" (Jn 12:48). He warned, "Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory" (Lk 9:26).  He exposes our hypocrisy, saying, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Lk 6:46) 

You see, Christ and His word are inseparable. Jesus was not a man who became the Word, but the eternal Word who became a man.  His very core nature is the Word of God.  And to reject or ignore what He says is to reject or ignore who He is.

We cannot build the house of the Lord if we do not honor and build upon the full spectrum of Christ"s teachings. Unless we are teaching our converts "...all that [He] commanded," we are not making disciples (Matt 28:18); we, in our church society, will always be trapped in spiritual infancy and religion.

Therefore, let us honestly ask ourselves: In the building plan of our churches, how much of an emphasis are we placing upon the words of Jesus? Is there a process in which new converts can become disciples of Christ?

If you are like most congregations, there is probably little focus given to systematic study and application of Christ's teaching. You see, if Jesus is truly the designer and builder of this house, then we must come to Him for the architectural plans.  The building code of the kingdom must be obedience to the words of Christ.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall; for it had been founded upon the rock" (Matt 7:24-25).

Beloved, there is a storm coming; even now the sky has darkened and the first drops are falling.  If we will endure, we must be built upon the rock. Please hear me, you cannot build your house in a storm. It is through the Spirit and words of Christ that the house of the Lord is built. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, "I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt 16:14).

The Apostolic Foundation
Multitudes of Christians today know what Jesus did, yet remain stunted in their spiritual growth. Why? Without realizing it, we made the teachings of Paul the "cornerstone" of the church.  The apostle's emphasis centered upon salvation, faithfully bringing us to Jesus. With great wisdom, Paul presents God's plan of redemption in Christ. Paul's message revealed what Christ did; but Paul himself was built upon what Christ said. Paul did not become apostle Paul apart from the words of Christ dwelling in him richly.

But it is Jesus, not Paul, who reveals "the Father."  Christ's Spirit and His word, like no one else in history, has the power to restructure our souls, conforming us inwardly in true accessibility to God.

Obviously, my dear friends, we are not in anyway against the rest of the Bible.  Each year I read the Bible through, often reading on my knees.  I love all of God's word.  Yet, I one time spent three years just reading and studying the gospels over and over again. I am convinced we, as the church, have lost sight of Jesus in the blur of Christianity. He must be to us the very cornerstone and foundation of our lives. Indeed, it was upon this foundation of His Spirit and words that the Lord has built and empowered the ministry in my life.

It is not as though I am alone in my view: all the New Testament writers are in absolute agreement with my emphasis upon Christ.  Indeed, Paul writes in I Tim 6:3-6, "This is the sort of thing you should teach, and if anyone tries to teach some doctrinal novelty which is not compatible with sound teaching (which we base on Christ's own words and which leads to Christ-like living), then he is a conceited idiot!  (Phillips). 

When we seek to build upon a foundation other than Jesus, the results are everything but Jesus!  Only Christ can create Christians. If we focus on our "doctrinal novelties," seeking to be just different enough to attract more people than the church down the street, we have missed the entire purpose of both the gospel and the ministry of Christ!

Paul based his teaching "on Christ's own words." Look at what John taught, "Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.  Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God" (2 John 1:8-9). The priority of this hour is for the church to abide in the teachings and Spirit of the Lord Jesus.  From this foundation, the huse of the Lord will be built. 

We have had our pet doctrines and particular emphasis.  We have been like Peter speaking to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles" (Matt 17:4).  We are so ready to offer a plan to God instead of simply hearing and obeying Jesus.  I believe the Father Himself has had enough of our ideas and advice. In His love He is interrupting our programs with the same word with which He interrupted Peter: "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased: hear Him!

Lord Jesus, forgive me for following winds of doctrines instead of picking up my cross and following You. Help me now to return with my whole heart to Your words.  Lord, I desire to abide in You.  I recommit my life to You, that You alone would be the focal point of all Your people. In Jesus' name, amen.