Israel: A Light unto the Nations! Yesterday and Today!
Israel has a unique mission.
While God has called each of us as Christians to be a light to those around us. God has called Israel to be a light unto the Nations.
In Isaiah 49:6 God instructs the people of Israel,
“Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
It’s surprising that Israel can even perform this role today. Think about it.
Imagine being a European Jew in 1945. Two thirds of your family and friends, maybe even your entire hometown has been lost. You survive that only to be put back in a concentration camp by the British while the new superpowers are too busy carving up the spoils of war than to worry about keeping you alive or where to go. Most countries like Canada have official policies not to let you in as a refugee. Then, miraculously, you and other refugees make it to the Holy Land only to have to fight off the gathered arab armies.
Just surviving has taken every last drop of spirit you have.
And then David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, says he expects your new nation to be a Light Unto the Nations. That this goal will be their new “Guiding Star.” It sounds like a tall order. But let’s see how tenaciously they have clung to this Biblical Mandate.
When the Jewish refugees arrived in the Holy Land, either from the shtetls of Russia or the concentration camps of Germany, they arrived with nothing. And what was waiting for them? Malaria infested swamps and barren desert.
But they knew that God was with them and they worked hard, transforming the wasteland into beautiful farms, gardens and cities. And they have given this power to transform the environment to other nations. In America for example, the Israeli system of precision irrigation is used across the southwest to make the most of arid conditions. Israelis learned to feed themselves in the desert, and now Americans are fed with those same skills. Over the years Israel has worked with 132 countries as diverse as Ethiopia, Vietnam and Guatemala.
The new state also took in almost a million refugees from the middle east. They housed and fed them, and helped them find employment opportunities. Values they share with America. And they have practiced these values by showing compassion to refugees in a part of the world famous for coldness and conflict. For example, since the war with Russia, Israel has allowed 25,000 non Jewish Ukrainians to find refuge in their country.
Israel has also worked to help Christians around the world reconnect to our roots. Israeli law grants full religious liberty to Christians and each year millions make pilgrimage to holy sites. Israeli tour guides also shows the countless ways that the roots of our faith are actually Jewish!
When these Christians return to their home countries they have a renewed fire for God to spread in their lands as well. Some have said that after visiting Israel the black text of their Bible is now in living color!
But we are not alone in receiving these blessings. Israel’s mission to be a light has spread to other nations as well.
In the 1990s Zambia normalized its relationship with Israel. President Frederick Chiluba stated a big part of that normalization was wanting to be part of Israel’s development activities. “We wanted the Israelis to come back because ten of them had done more than the thousands of foreign advisors currently at work in Zambia.”
What an opportunity we as Christians have to be part of this story!
By helping feed the next generation of Israelis through Leket Israel: The National Food Bank, Christians can help Israelis spread this light throughout the nations, and thereby be a part of God’s blessings!