LCN Article
Tomorrow’s Israel

March / April 2024
Personal

Gerald E. Weston

Dear Brethren, Many of you have traveled to places you never dreamed of because you keep the Festivals of God. It may be places in your own country, or in other countries around the world. That is one of those side benefits for obeying God’s instructions. The day will come when people from all countries will travel to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts. It is not logical, due to logistics, that everyone on earth will do so every year, but to go to Jerusalem at least once in one’s lifetime will no doubt be a desire for everyone. There will be hundreds of other sites around the world for people to keep the Feasts and learn to fear the Eternal God always, just as we do today (Deuteronomy 14:23).

Over the years, God has blessed me with the opportunity to travel to many countries, and I have come to appreciate the natural beauty and resources every country offers. Some have greater resources than others, but every country has wonderful potential. And the greatest resource is the people, especially as guided and blessed by their Creator.

Have you ever considered the reward you might be given? The pattern of rewards is instructive: Christ will be King over all the earth, David will be king over Israel, the Twelve Apostles will each rule over one of the tribes of Israel, and others will be given rulership over varying numbers of cities (Zechariah 14:9; Ezekiel 37:24; Matthew 19:28; Luke 19:11–19). 

We might assume from this pyramidal pattern that some will be given a single city and report to someone over five or ten cities, and that others might have lesser positions within a single city. That, of course, is speculation. But where might these cities be that you will help govern for the King of kings? 

I imagine that most people envision ruling somewhere close to where they came from, but Christ will not leave it up to us to decide. We must be willing to go where we are sent if we want to be in His kingdom. Remember the example of Abraham, the father of the faithful, who responded to God’s command to leave his home and family and go where he had never before traveled or lived.

One place where many may not want to go is the Middle East, but do you realize that is where much of the now-scattered human house of Israel will then be living? Jeremiah tells us that both Israel and Judah will be brought back to the Promised Land when Christ returns. “‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that 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’” (Jeremiah 30:3). 

Upon reading this, some consider the populations of the Israelite nations and wonder, How will they all fit there? Even if only 10 percent survive the tribulation and Day of the Lord, that is a number in the tens of millions.

Yesterday’s Blessings 

You can fit the modern state of Israel into Great Britain seven-and-a-half times, New Zealand more than nine times, California 15 times, Italy almost 16 times, France 23 times, and Iran 59 times—even Taiwan and Vancouver Island are larger (“Israel Size Comparison Maps,” IRIS.org, accessed January 11, 2024). So, where will everyone fit?

Our vision of the Promised Land may be based on assumptions and misconceptions rather than on what God promised. “On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates’” (Genesis 15:18). The Euphrates River flows through the middle of Iraq, and this opens up far more territory than today’s tiny state of Israel. Israel’s exact border in the future is not fully known, as the description “from the Nile to the Euphrates” does not give us precise limits in every direction.

To most of us, the Middle East seems to be nothing but desolate, inhospitable desert land. Based on the pictures we’ve seen, that part of the world appears, frankly, unattractive. But has that always been the case? And will it be that way in the future? 

It is well known among historians that climate has changed over the millennia. When God brought Israel out of Egypt into the “Promised Land,” He called it “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17; 33:3). The spies who searched out the land confirmed God’s promise: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit” (Numbers 13:27). They even brought back evidence, as they “cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs” (v. 23). And Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh were so pleased with the land east of the Jordan that they chose to settle there.

The land around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, now within Iraq, was once considered the “cradle of civilization”—part of what was called the “Fertile Crescent.” Lebanon was also part of that crescent, though today we find it “difficult to imagine, with all the exploitation, that the Lebanese rural landscape was once a giant mythical, biblical, and now historical forest” (“A Brief History of the Cedar Trees of Lebanon,” TheCultureTrip.com, March 22, 2017).

Tomorrow’s Beauty

People settled in the Middle East for a reason—and do we think that our Creator would choose an undesirable location for His earthly throne? Nay, my friends: Jerusalem and its surroundings will be the glory of the world! As climate has changed in the past, so we know that climate and topography will change in the future. “For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6).

Whatever God has in mind, we must not let our thinking be limited by today’s boundaries, topography, or climate. Nor should we think that the boundaries set at the beginning of the Millennium will be static over the full thousand years. Speaking of Israel, God tells us that “your waste and desolate places, and the land of your destruction, will even now be too small for the inhabitants; and those who swallowed you up will be far away. The children you will have, after you have lost the others, will say again in your ears, ‘The place is too small for me; give me a place where I may dwell’” (Isaiah 49:19–20).

I have been impressed by the beauty I have seen in my travels to Asia, Africa, Australia, and Central and South America, and I have found the same in my trips throughout North America. God has created spectacularly beautiful places all over the earth. There are rich lands everywhere for all peoples. Clearly, there are more desirable places and less desirable places today, but the problem is not topography or climate, although these can pose challenges. The problem is mankind’s sinful nature.

One fact is certain: The beauty of those imbued with God’s Holy Spirit knows no bounds. God loves all people, and He will give special blessings to all. He will remove the great destroyer who has held the world captive and institute in his stead a government that truly administers righteousness and justice. 

No longer will there be the “1 percent” who have vastly more wealth than they can use while much of the 99 percent lives in abject poverty. Human ingenuity, people living by the way of give, and God’s abundant blessings will unlock prosperity for all. The transformation of our world will be astounding! 

The Holy Days and Festivals reveal to us God’s master plan for all humanity. When the last trumpet sounds, the promised restoration of all things will begin (Acts 3:19–21). No matter where we are assigned by our Savior and King, it is going to be exciting! 

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