There is a gathering of nations in the Middle East that is going to end in tragedy but the outcome is not going to be what all the prophecy books and preachers are predicting. To understand prophecy and Israel you need to understand the mystery of the Hebrews. Before there was Israel or the Jews there were the Hebrews.  And they weren't who you think they were....and there lies an interesting story!

The Bible tells us that Abram was a Hebrew (Gen.14:13). But who or what was a Hebrew?  Bible commentators actually do not know. Ungers Bible Dictionary says, "The origin of the name Hebrew offers difficult problems" (p.547). Unger says that the word can come from the Hebrew verb meaning to "cross over". So a Hebrew was one who "crossed over". The other usual interpretation is that Abram was a descendant of Eber but the problem here is that there were other descendents of Eber that were not called Hebrews. And there were descendents of Abraham that also were not called Hebrews (Ishmael, Esau etc.)

Now lets thicken the plot a bit further.  The people we call "Israelites" in Egypt were not known by that name but were called "Hebrews" by Pharaoh and the Egyptians. And Numbers 1:46 tells us that at the time of the Exodus there were 603,550 men of fighting age. Now add women and children and elderly to that number and you have about 3 million Hebrews coming out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses.

But here is the problem:  Gen.46:26-27 tells us that there were 70 who went with Jacob into Egypt and Numbers tell us that 3 million came out. The further problem is this: Numbers 26:59 indicates to us that Jacobs descendants were in Egypt for four generations. Some think they were there 430 years from Paul's reference in Gal.3:17 but that is incorrect. Paul is referring to Abraham from his time in Canaan (which was under Egyptian control) to the Exodus . The actual years in Egypt itself according to the Rabbi's of the Talmud was 225 years. So the mystery do you get from 70 to 3 million in four generations or about 225 years? You cannot do it by producing large families. So the mystery deepens...who were the Hebrews?

The modern day prophecy writers and Christian Zionists avoid this mystery entirely. It does not fit the popular prophecy narrative which says this: Abraham through Isaac and Jacob had millions of biological children called Hebrews or Israelites and because of their genetic descent from Abraham they are participants in the Abrahamic Covenant and this includes the right to the Promised Land. Therefore the Jews of Israel today have a right to Palestine because they are biological descendants of Abraham just like the Hebrews coming out of Egypt to posses Canaan.  But what they avoid is that does not work out mathematically.  The millions of Hebrews coming out of Egypt could not have all been biological descendants of Jacob and his 12 sons in the time they were there. There is another explanation which will reveal to you how people became Hebrews and why the current occupants of Israel are not Hebrews.

What happened was this: Abram was an evangelist for the Lord God spreading the gospel of the One true God to kings and people living under the deception of multitudes of false gods and idols.  Adam gave that gospel story personally to Lamech who personally told it to Shem who personally told it to Abram. God appears to Abram in Ur and tells him to leave. He eventually ends up in Egypt. God had a plan of salvation for the Egyptians.  Genesis 12:14-20 tells us that "the Egyptians" saw Abram's wife was amazingly beautiful and told the "princes" who told Pharaoh. He grabs her for himself and then God starts plagues on Egypt. Pharaoh gets the message and urgently restores her to Abram. You can imagine what is happening now...the whole court and the nation is buzzing...who is this man and who is his God? Our Pharaoh is dead scared of him and our gods are powerless to protect us from his God. You can bet Abram had a great opportunity to witness for the truth. The exact same scenario played out years later with king Abimilech (Gen.20:14).

Years later Abram's great grandson Joseph ends up as the Prime Minister after saving Egypt from famine. He is a national hero and everyone remembers the amazing story of Abram.  But now the excitement is around Abram's God, the only One true God. The conversions start en-masse...people "cross over" from false idols to faith in the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They are called "Hebrews", people who have crossed over. History records a famous Pharaoh by name of Akhenaton who years after the Exodus abandoned the false gods of Egypt and proclaimed there was only one true invisible God.  Today a similar the hundreds of millions people are being called the "born again" crowd. You know them...they worship the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They also have "crossed over".

And this is the point that Paul was trying to make in his great epistles of Romans and Galatians. Being a genetic Jew means nothing to God.  Paul realized who the "Hebrews" were. They were not the physical descendants of Abraham.  They were his spiritual children.  "Know you therefore that they which are of faith the same are the children of Abraham" (Gal 3:7) The Hebrews were those Egyptians who believed in the God of Abraham and joined themselves to Jacobs sons in their tribes.

Shall a nation be born in a day?

But now lets move the story further and from this mystery explained, we can now  answer the mystery of Isaiah 66:8, "Shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children".  And this is where we get understanding about prophecy in the Middle East.

Every prophecy book I have read refers the fulfilment of this verse to the day in May 1948 when Israel declared herself a nation once again and was recognized as such soon after by most nations in the world. Evangelicals rejoiced at this apparent miraculous fulfilment to prophecy. But was it really?  

The key to understanding who Israel is and more importantly where Israel is will be found in Psalm 132:13. Israel was called to be the habitation of God on earth. The people among whom and in whom God dwells.  This is important: If you can find out where God dwells in the earth, where His manifest presence is in the earth then you have found Israel. Just because people speak Hebrew does not mean they are Hebrews and just because you draw lines on a map and call it "Israel" does not mean it is Israel. The issue is: Where does God dwell, that is where Israel is.

When Israel left Egypt the presence of God was present with them in the form of the glory cloud and fire over their heads. God dwelt among them therefore they were to be holy.

When Israel entered the Promised Land the presence of God was to be manifested in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. The glory flame of God's presence was manifested over the Ark between the Cherubim. This was so awesome that they tied a rope around the High Priest to pull him out in case he died in the fearsome presence of God.

The first place where God established His presence was in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1; Jeremiah 7:12) In the days of Eli the priesthood corrupted itself and God removed His presence from Shiloh (Psalm 78:60) and moved it to Jerusalem (Psalm 78:67-68).  But the nation corrupted itself and God lifted His presence from the Most Holy Place to the hill outside Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 11:22-23).

And from the Mount of Olives the glory of the resurrected Jesus ascended to heaven no more to dwell in temples but it returned 10 days later in the Upper Room which was located on Mount Zion and fell on the 120.  We Charismatics make a big deal about the sign of speaking in tongues that manifested that day. But we forget about the fire that appeared over their heads.  The glory fire of God's presence had returned to earth! But no longer to dwell in temples made by hand but to dwell in His people, the Israel of God. John the Baptist prophesied this when he said I baptize you in water but He, Jesus will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire!

That is why on the day of Pentecost when the glory of God came down and filled the disciples, a nation was born in one day fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah. The nation of Israel was reborn on that day. Jesus told the Jews of his day, "Therefore I say unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Math. 21:43) That nation was formed on the day of Pentecost!

Peter was there and knew a new nation was born that day when he preached and thousands "crossed over",  which is why he wrote, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood a holy nation..." (I Peter 2;9). Paul knew what this great sign meant. That is why he said we individually are now the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:15) and we collectively, the Church are His temple (Eph. 2:19-22). That is why we are the Israel of God.  He dwells in us and among us. Where two or three of us are gathered in His name there is Jesus in our midst.

As Jacob's 12 sons and the 70 went into Egypt and came out with a nation of millions of "Hebrews", so also Jesus sent His 12 and the 70 to preach the gospel of the Kingdom and hundreds of millions of "Hebrews" or "born-agains" have come out to form a new nation of the Israel of God.

Our evangelical prophecy preachers can't see this. They do not know who the Hebrews were, therefore they do not know who Israel is. They want to see a Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem because they can't see the glory cloud has left the Jews and has now settled upon the Israel of God the seed of Abraham all over the world. That is why when judgment comes to the Middle East to all those who would not have Jesus rule over them (the Jews and Arabs), there will be great confusion and consternation especially in the American evangelical church.

And that brings us to next week's blog...The Key to the Mystery of Revelations.

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