The Good News of the Gospel
Israel: Center Stage of the Nations
"This is what Sovereign YHWH says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her” (Ezekiel 5:5-6). According to YHWH’s will, the arrangement of His Kingdom calls for the people of Israel to be at its center and surrounded by the nations.
Its easy to think of this scripture in the geographical context of the state of Israel located in Palestine. But when we look at it in the context of the Exodus, we realize that the concept of “center” goes much deeper. Remember that YHWH’s plan for the arrangement for the Israelite community set the descendants of Jacob in the center of the camp. All those who were not of Israelite descent, in other words, the Gentiles, were to surround Israel. But why such an arrangement? Did YHWH consider that nations (gentiles) as outcasts? The answer is NO!
Why YHWH has ordered a segregated camp can be discovered in the ancient amphitheater I have illustrated. The Gentiles are to come and take their seats to absorb the spectacle that is to play out before them. The people of Israel on the other hand, are designed to take their position as actors on the center stage. This worldwide theater has less to do with the six million Jews living in the state of Israel and more to do with the 12 tribes of Israel scattered to all nations of earth. But what exactly is it that the God of Israel desires the nations to gain from watching this spectacle?
The Covenant made with Israel called the Blessings and the Curses states that: “The alien (non-Israelite Torah keeper) who lives among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. He will lend to you, but you will not lend to him. He will be the head, but you will be the tail. All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you” (Deuteronomy 28:43-45).
Interestingly, this passage concerning the Judgement of Israel coincides with the verse I originally quoted from Ezekiel. “This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her… in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees…Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations” (Ezekiel 5:5-8).
The genre of the play written for the Gentiles to see is not a comedy or musical. According to the Covenant made with Israel, the Gentiles are to gather together to watch a horror story. “The LORD will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your fathers. There you will…become a THING OF HORROR and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you” (Deuteronomy 28:36-37).
YHWH has reserved the 12 tribes of Israel to become a cautionary tale of the past, present and for the future to teach the Gentiles what type of behavior is pleasing to Him and what is abominable in his sight. The Apostle Paul understood this concept from the Blessings and Curses of Deuteronomy chapter 28 when he wrote “There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:9-11). While all men are judged by the same standards, YHWH, in His mercy, has established a hierarchical order as they relate to blessings for obedience and punishments for disobedience.
I know what is like to be the recipient of these two extremes being the eldest brother of a large family. By nature, the eldest child becomes the example of the family simply because he is first. When he does good, he is rewarded and when disobedient, he is punished to a far greater degree than the others. And remember that YHWH said to Pharaoh: “Israel is my firstborn” (Exodus 4:22).
So with this high placement above the nations of earth, the people of Israel have inherited a great responsibility. Not because of some good that they contain within themselves, but simply because they are first in the birth order of Nations. If YHWH can get things right with Israel, the nations will follow. The prophet Isaiah observed and wrote "When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9).
The Prophecies of Revelation certainly make the concept of Israel leading the world through example apparent. In chapter seven, John is shown a vision. Those in the foreground are the sealed company representing those of Israel that are fully and finally circumcised to the Law of Moses. These elect had taken center stage during the final act of the Last Days. In the background is the great multitude of nations who were influenced for good as they watched as the Father deliverer blessings to the Israelites when the obeyed, and curses when they rebelled.