Return to Sender--No Such Number, No Such Name
The modern state of Israel was carved out of the landscape of the Middle East in 1947. Many Christians in the West saw this as a fulfilment of biblical prophecies. They could not have been more mistaken.
Clearly the Bible speaks of a glorious future for Zion and for Israel. But the Bible also speaks of how that glorious future has been fulfilled--and will be fulfilled in the future. Is the modern day nation of Israel part of that fulfilment? Let's lay out the Biblical teaching.
Firstly, Israel represents the people of God who, by God's initiative and condescension, have entered into covenant with God. This covenant contains both promises (blessings) and judgments (curses). As redemptive history unfolded, Israel repeatedly broke God's covenant, and so fell under the judgments and curses of the covenant. The first was the shattering of the nation in two after Solomon. The second was the Babylonian captivity, culminating in the destruction of the Temple in 586BC. The third and final judgment was the devastation of AD66-70, when Rome razed the land, Jerusalem and the Temple. Thereupon, as Christ interdicted--the house was left to them--the rebellious Jewish people--desolate.
At that point, Israel as a people and nation were cut out of the covenant (Romans 11:1-24). Only a remnant remained--who acknowledged and accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah of God, their Lord. These alone remained as the Israel of God. To them was added the believing Gentiles, who also became the (new) Israel of God, grafted into the Old Covenant in terms of the New Covenant in His blood.
Jerusalem remained--but not the Jerusalem in the Middle East. The Bible makes clear that that city had ceased to be the biblical Jerusalem, but had instead become the slave city, Mount Sinai. The real continuing Jerusalem was now from above, where the risen Christ dwells (Galatians 4: 21--31). Thus, the glorious promises found in Scripture for the future of Zion, Israel, and Jerusalem are not in any way related to the carnal, earthly nation of Israel found in the Middle East. Rather, these promises are inherited by those who continue as the people of God, grafted into Christ. His Church, then, is the real, continuing Israel of God--inheritor of all the promises made to Abraham and his descendants (Galatians 3: 29; II Corinthians 1: 15--22). Paul is bold enough to declare the Church to be the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).
One misconception needs to be cleared up immediately. There are those who mistakenly think that since Jerusalem and Zion and Israel are now heavenly, they have no presence or existence on the earth. This could not be further from the truth. It is precisely because Jerusalem is now in heaven, where Christ holds all power and authority over everything--both in heaven and upon the earth--that His Kingdom has come, is coming, and shall come upon earth--all the earth. "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). Our constant prayer is therefore to be, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." God faithfully answers that prayer through all the generations.
The modern nation state of Israel bears no relationship whatsoever to the Bible and its promises. It is not a fulfilment of prophecy; it is not in any way a redemptive work of God. Granted, the modern nation state of Israel exists by God's providence--as does the United States, New Zealand, the UN and so forth. But it is not a fulfilment of biblical prophecy or promise. It is not a manifestation or institution of God's covenant. It is just one more secular nation, Christ denying and, therefore, God hating.
Does it represent the Promised Land in any sense? Not at all. Should it be regarded by Jews as a land promised to them by God? Not at all. That has long since been lost. It will never be restored as a fulfilment of divine promise.
If the nation state of Israel has nothing to do with God's redemptive purposes, do the Jews as a people still have a place in God's plans? We will consider this next.