“Comfort ye, comfort ye My People” - The quote is taken from Isaiah 40:1-2. It is the “mandate from heaven” given to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem three decades ago. It also includes an exhortation that appears to be a contradiction, at least if one applies it to the modern day context. This exhortation says:
“Speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her, that her warfare has ended .....” Isaiah 40:2
For over thirty years the ICEJ has embarked upon a journey of giving comfort to Israel. This journey has involved deeds and compassion, and every town, village and city has been impacted, in some way, by our benevolence ministry that has helped the poor, healed the sick, housed the lonely, encouraged the children, and cared for the elderly.
Our Feast of Tabernacles celebration has impacted more than a hundred thousand Christians with the biblical perspective of recognizing the hand of God in Israel’s modern day restoration and the need to work with what God is doing, and bless it. As I have written before, we are thankful to God for His faithfulness. We have not done our work perfectly but we have done it sincerely. “The Day” at the judgment seat of Christ will determine its real value! Of this too we are most mindful and so should we all be!!
In what way then do we understand the command to tell Israel that her warfare is ended? It clearly has not! I believe we are to understand this in the following ways:
A Prophetic Call
The modern day restoration of the Jewish State has been characterized by war and conflict. However, the God who has brought His people back from the nations has done so with blessing and redemption in mind. It is the encouragement of and expectation of a glorious future that brings perseverance, hope and comfort to Israel.
The scriptures do foresee a time of unparalleled joy and peace being ushered in for Israel. The remarkable Messianic prophecies of Isaiah in chapters two, eleven, and sixty reveal this. “Israel’s warfare” is indeed about to come to an end and when it does, the whole earth will be amazed. Above all, God alone will get the glory for He will unravel a problem that has been far too great for the world to deal with. Not even the church has been able to sort this one out! Indeed much of the church today sees no biblical significance in Israel’s restoration. They believe it is merely a political accident orchestrated by the United Nations.
A Theological Statement
That is, much of Israel’s sufferings have been bound up with her calling. She, by the choice of God, became the vehicle of world redemption. The redemptive blessing of God has come to all the families of the earth through Israel.
This vehicle has been constantly challenged by the powers of darkness. For them the equation has been simple; destroy Israel and you effectively destroy the purpose of God for the world. Thankfully Isaiah declares that this “day” of warfare is coming to an end. On that “day” all the world will know that Israel existed for their blessing and not their cursing.
A Compassionate Response
The Prophet Isaiah says, “Speak comfort to Jerusalem”. Another translation of the same verse says, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem”. A people in peace, joy, victory and blessing do not need the words of comfort or tenderness. No, it is a people in perpetual trauma and conflict that need comfort and tenderness. Sadly church history has been anything but this! Their words have been harsh, bitter and reviling. Thankfully we at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem heard an exhortation from heaven in 1980 that called upon us to “speak comfort to Jerusalem”.
As Israel moves steadily but surely to her God-given destiny, we are determined to “stay the course” with her. We will be guided by the words of Isaiah forty and the principles outlined above that flow from it. We are ever mindful that our journey has not been our story. In fact thousands of Christians from all over the world have made it their journey and story as well. We salute you for joining with us and thank you for standing with us in prayer and support.
Dr. Juergen Buehler
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem