Israel and The Name

The reestablishment of the State of Israel on May 14th 1948 was a modern-day fulfilment of an ancient promise. Israel's survival since and development as a nation only magnifies the significance of the miracle and confirms the authenticity of the promise.

Through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord declared, "'I will bring back from captivity my people Israel and Judah', says the LORD. 'And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.'" (30:3)

The people of Israel have returned to the land of their fathers. The importance of such an event is further highlighted by the fact that Israel is now recognized as a nation after nearly 2,500 years of roaming among the nations without a national home or state. The fact that they have returned to the very same plot of land promised to their fathers after so many years of separation is beyond human explanation and reasoning. It is the Lord!

The return of Jewish people to Israel has effected countries and nations in various ways. Among those most affected has been the former Soviet Union where an exodus of enormous proportions in recent years has seen hundreds of thousands of Russian speaking Jews return to the land of their fathers. We wonder at such an event because of its magnitude and because of the potential logistical problems associated with absorbing such numbers. Defying human explanation, it has happened and Israel continues to survive. It is the Lord!

It is exciting to discover that these happenings were actually prophesied many centuries ago. "'Therefore behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'that it shall no more be said, "The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt," but, "The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the lands where he had driven them." For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.'" (Jeremiah 16:14-15)

The magnitude of this latter-day return is likened to, and is considered greater than, that of the Exodus from Egypt during the days of Moses. This is staggering to contemplate, but let us not overlook the fact that the same Lord who led Moses and the people of Israel out of Egypt is alive and well today. The Lord lives!

When the people of Israel cried out, because of the bondage in Egypt, "God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and with Jacob." (Exodus 2:24)

At that time the Lord raised up Moses to prepare His people, firstly to recognize Him and then to follow Him. "Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they say to me, "What is his name?" what shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM (YHWH) ' And he said "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM (YHWH) has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:13-14)

This was a significant development because YHWH, would be linked to Israel's deliverance from Egypt and possession of the Land of Promise. "And God spoke to Moses and said to him: 'I am the LORD (YHWH) . I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name, LORD (YHWH) , I was not known to them. I have established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan . . . . And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel . . . . and I have remembered my covenant.'"

"Therefore say to the children of Israel, 'I am the LORD (YHWH) . . . I will redeem you . . . I will take you as my people and I will be your God . . . And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am the LORD (YHWH) .'" (Exodus 6:2-8)

Israel 's possession of the land would be dependent on the integrity of the Lord's name (YHWH). The land belongs to Israel by inheritance, through the promises made to their fathers. However, Israel's obedience to YHWH determined whether or not they resided in the land, as nation. If they obeyed they enjoyed the benefits of being His people. If they disobeyed, "Then the LORD (YHWH) will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known – wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD (YHWH) will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul." (Deuteronomy 28:64-65)

Israel took possession the land, during the days of Joshua. Then history records the reality of Israel's disobedience and separation from the Lord. Consequently their residence was under review and their eviction pending.

The prophet Ezekiel testified, "Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. Therefore I poured out my fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they defiled it." (36:17-18)

And as promised the prescribed punishment was metered out. "So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds." (36:19)

Israel had taken possession of the land but disobeyed and so were evicted and scattered. Israel continues to be scattered except now they have a homeland, and are once again a nation. What then has happened to cause Israel's return? Has Israel repented, and have they been restored to the Lord?

"When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned my holy name – when they said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD (YHWH) , and yet they have gone out of his land.'" (36:20)

Israel 's presence among the nations invoked comments and ridicule from their Gentile hosts which in turn made the name of the Lord (YHWH) of diminished importance.

The link between the people and the land of Israel, and the Lord's holy name, YHWH, is undeniable, even at the height of Israel's disobedience and punishment.

The Gentiles, unknowingly, have incurred the displeasure of the Lord because of their comments and behaviour toward the Jewish people. Moreover, the Lord has taken action because His holy name has been defamed.

"'But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the LORD GOD: 'I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD (YHWH) ,' says the LORD GOD, 'when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.'" (Ezekiel 36:21-23)

The Lord has stepped in not because Israel has repented, but rather to sanctify His name. And His name is sanctified in Israel's return and possession of the land. Thus the Lord declares, "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of the all the countries, and bring you into your own land." (36:24) The nations will see and Israel will benefit but it is not because Israel is more righteous, "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel…"

Israel returning to the land and possessing it, exactly as promised, is a modern-day miracle. Most significantly, it is not because of Israel's obedience or faith, but because the Lord is sanctifying His great name. To be sure, it is this undeniable link between the people, the land of Israel, and His holy name that has brought about the Lord's intervention.

Jerusalem has also played a significant role in recent events. Since its miraculous return to the nation of Israel in June 1967, during the Six-Day War, Jerusalem has become a focal point of controversy among the nations and conflict within the land.

In light of these developments it is not surprising to discover that Jerusalem is also linked to the holy name, YHWH. King David had the desire, but it was his son, Solomon, who built the house for the name of the Lord, in Jerusalem. On its dedication, the Lord appeared to him and declared, "…I have chosen this house, that my name shall be there for ever; and my eyes and my heart will be there perpetually." (2 Chronicles 7 16) This is consistent with the promise that Jerusalem will be "the city of the great King (Messiah) " (Psalm 48:2) in the days to come, when Jerusalem will be known as "YHWH shammah" , literally, the LORD is there, (Ezekiel 48:36).

Jerusalem 's restoration to Israel is no accident. To be sure, it is a miracle, just as are the return of the Jewish people to the land and their possession of the land of their fathers, because by these means the Lord is sanctifying His holy name.

For this reason, it would be unwise for any nation to consider lightly the return of the Jewish people and their possession of the land. Furthermore, it would be perilous for any nation to support any proposal that would in effect expect Israel to exchange land for peace. Rather it would prove beneficial to consider these sensitive issues and events in the light of the Lord sanctifying His holy name.

"Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate you have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against your people, and consulted together against your sheltered ones. They have said, 'Come and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more…. O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind! As the fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with your tempest, and frighten them with your storm…that men may know that you, whose name alone is the LORD (YHWH) , are the Most High over all the earth." (Psalm 83)