There is a lot of focus on Israel today. Unfortunately, much of this focus is deeply misguided, and arises from dispensational theology. That is not to say, however, that Israel is unimportant for the Christian. Here’s what I mean:
A good understanding of the role that Israel played in redemptive history is indeed vital. However, far from leading us into an obsession with current news events, or sensationalist eschatology, it is intended to teach us about God’s unfolding work of . . . you guessed it . . . redemption!
Here’s the most important thing to understand: while each individual Israelite could find grace in the coming Messiah (foreshadowed by the tabernacle ministry), the nation as a whole were placed under a national echo (or ‘republication’) of the Edenic covenant of works. Viz., All the blessings upon the land, promised in reward for Israel’s obedience, foreshadowed the blessings of an uncorrupted kingdom. This pointed the state that Adam could have attained through his obedience. Likewise, all the curses spoken over Israel’s disobedience pointed to the reality of judgement: that which Adam had in fact brought upon all of mankind by his disobedience.
This then, is why a solid focus on biblical (not contemporary) Israel is important. Through the unfolding of their story in the Bible, God was teaching us an object lesson of epic scale. Israel (and all Gentiles who would look upon Israel) would be shown that they were not greater than Adam, and that they would be unable to earn their ‘blessing’ by the arrangement of a covenant of works. Only if another Adam came, and worked on our place, earning our blessing for us and then giving it to us freely (by a covenant of grace) could there be any hope whatsoever. And indeed, in this way Israel’s failure, and great need, point us to the very heart of the gospel.
As Paul says: “Therefore the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).