David Lee Brown
Israel and Its Beginning
When you talk about Israel and Its Beginning, the first place you must know and understand is ancient Mesopotamia. This region is the cradle of human existence, starting from the departure of Noah and his family from the Ark. They disembarked from Mount Ararat and gradually migrated into modern-day Iraq. This location is where the tower of Babel was constructed where God confounded the language of this disobedient burgeoning civilization. Genesis 11:1-9. The people disbursed but some of the people remained in the region and established the city-kingdom of Babylon. These Babylonians spread along the fertile area between the Tigress and Euphrates rivers and down to what is now known as the Persian Gulf. It is there on the Persian Gulf in a region called Chaldea; you find the city Ur. So, let’s start there.
Israel and Its Beginning – Ur of the Chaldees
The Bible’s first mention of Ur is in Genesis 11:28. It refers to a man named Haran who was Abram’s brother, and they were both descendants of Noah through Noah’s son Seth. The second reference of Ur comes in Genesis 11:31, where Terah, the father of Abram, moves his family to Harran. Harran is in the extreme southern region of modern-day Turkey just north of modern Syria. According to scripture, this is where Abram heard from God. God said to Abram, “…I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” Genesis 15:7. So, God spoke directly to Abram in a vision and promised Abram and his descendants all the Land of Promise. But Abram questioned God about this promise because his wife Sarai was barren. Yet, Abram obeyed God and left Harran to see the Promised Land.
Israel and Its Beginning – Abrams Children
In an attempt to “help” God in fulfilling His promise, Sarai offered her maidservant to Abram. This union produced Ishmael, the father of the Arab nations in the Middle East. This stupid move by Sarai and Abram was not only disobedient to God but started the animosity between Israel and its Arab neighbors. When Hagar, the maidservant of Sarai, realized she was pregnant, she showed contempt for Sarai.
The contempt was probably something like, “Look, I conceived, and you can’t, so I’m now superior to you.” This hatred didn’t sit well with Sarai, so the Bible says Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar. This harsh treatment caused Hagar to flee, and at that point, an angel of the Lord appeared and told Hagar to return to Sarai and that Hagar’s son would also be the father of nations. We know now that the countries are the Arab nations. Sarai’s promised firstborn son was Isaac.
The Firstborn of the Promise
At this time, God himself renames Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude). And God renames Sarai (passive tense of Sarah, meaning, My Sarah) to Sarah (princess). Isaac was the firstborn son of Abraham and Sarah. Isaac got married and had children. The next in the line of succession was Jacob (superseder, deceiver), who was later renamed by God, Israel (you have wrestled with God). This name change came about because Jacob deceitfully superseded his brother Esau concerning his birthright. When Jacob repented and mended fences with his brother Esau, God changed his name.
The name change is also related to a wrestling match. Some feel that Jacob wrestled with an angel while others, including myself, believe it was a Christophany. Jesus wrestled with Jacob because as God the Son, He is God, hence the name Israel (Wrestled with God), which is a combination of two Hebrew words sareta [you have wrestled] with God [‘el]. The word ‘el is short for Elohim [God].
Israel and Its Beginning
Jacob, who is now called Israel, was the father of the nation that would become Israel. Many interesting, tragic, and exciting things have happened to this great people and nation. It all started with one family and look at it today. Against all the odds, the Israelites took the Canaan land that was promised to them by God. They built a great nation that would begin a cycle of obeying God and then rejecting God. Each time they obeyed God, they prospered, and each time they were disobedient, God sent another nation in to punish them.
Finally, God scattered them to the four winds. But, as prophesied, in 1948, they became a nation again – in one day – also, as prophesied. Now they are the 6th strongest military power in the world from their stronghold of Israel that is about the same size as the US state, New Jersey. God is awesome!
God’s Chosen People
The Israelites are God’s chosen people. Many revisionists would like you to believe that the Church (Christians) have superseded Israel as God’s chosen people. This thought process is a gross error of Biblical interpretation. Specifically, because in the end times God will save a remnant of Israel to preach the Gospel during the tribulation and multitudes will come to the saving knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ at that time. Remember, the Church has already left in the rapture, before the tribulation, so these Israeli Jews will be the only hope people have to come to Christ. So, cherish the Jewish people, the Israelites, and love them. Never forsake them, because, after the rapture, they are humanity’s only hope for salvation.