Delighting in God’s Plan for Israel

  • Brian Overholtzer
Man praying

Two major themes run throughout the Old Testament: God will judge the nation of Israel for their rebellion against Him, and one day God will restore the nation and people of Israel based on His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is an incredible simplification of these themes and there are certainly other significant major themes in the Old Testament, but these are themes that I am passionate about. I am good friends with other believers who are just as passionate about these themes. However, we understand these promises that God gave to Israel differently. My friends see Christ fulfilling these promises in such a way that God no longer has a plan for Israel in the future but rather the church has “replaced” or “superseded” Israel. Again, I apologize for the gross simplification of the topic. There are thousands of books written on the depth of this important topic. 

In desiring to contribute to the position that God’s intended promises will be fulfilled, I have spent a decent amount of time studying and familiarizing myself with the passages in the Old and New Testaments that support my view. Recently, I became convicted over a frightening habit I have practiced; I have devoted much time to studying this theological topic and little time applying it to my walk with the Lord. This led me to ask a question, “Did Israel only know about God’s promises for them, or did they go beyond the study of their future restoration and engrave its beautiful truths on their hearts?” 

To my delight, I found that the songs, prayers, and devotions of many Israelites were based on an uncompromising reliance on the precious truth that in the end, God will restore their people, nation, and land. Not only was this the theme of their devotions but they were in response to their everyday needs. What I want to do now, is to highlight a few of these everyday needs that sparked even the humblest of Israelites to delight in their future restoration. 

Israel’s National Anthem 

Deuteronomy is one of the most fundamental books in the Bible. Near the end of the book, Moses sings a song (31:30 – 32:43) that becomes the national anthem of the people. Every year, Israel sang this song at different gatherings for corporate worship. One of these was probably a festival called the Feast of Booths, a festival the people celebrated to remember God’s faithfulness to them in the wilderness wanderings. If Israel had baseball games, this song would have been sung before the beginning of every game. 

At least two overarching themes permeate Israel’s national anthem: God’s righteous judgment against rebellious Israel and God’s faithful commitment to Israel. The crescendo of this song climaxes in the final verses (32:34–43) in which Moses calls Israel and all nations to rejoice over: God’s sure judgment against rebellious Israel, God’s sure ability to save Israel, and God’s sure future restoration of Israel. 

God’s Sure Judgment against Rebellious Israel 

God is righteous and punishes sinners. This is a truth that belongs in our songs and our prayers, it brings us to a place where we understand the gravity of our sin so that we properly confess and repent of our sins. Moses sings the following judgment God has announced against Israel for continually rejecting their God. 

‘Is it not laid up in store with Me, Sealed up in My treasuries? ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them (32:34–35).’ 

God’s Sure Ability to Save Israel 

Understanding and admitting the gross nature of our sins set the stage for the next devotional nature of our prayers: God’s ability to save us. Since God is able to save, our songs, prayers, and devotions should be filled with a humble reliance on Him. 

‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand’ (32:39). 

God’s Sure Restoration of Israel 

A concern that plagued Israel’s soul was the sure judgment of the nation because the nation rejected their God. What about those in Israel who had faith in God? This national anthem ended with a reminder for the faithful that God would one day fulfill all His promises given to Israel. 

“Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And will render vengeance on His adversaries, And will atone for His land and His people.” 

Israel’s national anthem was designed to call all nations to faith, repentance, and an eager restoration of the people and the land. Israel knew that God would fulfill this restoration of their nation and land by the work of the conquering Messiah who would not only defeat sin and death but would be the One who accomplishes their final restoration. 

Moses’s song permeated the prayers and devotions throughout the Old and New Testaments. In Hannah’s prayer of thanks to God for providing her a son, she rejoiced in God’s ability to restore Israel. David sang of Yahweh’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises to Israel (2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18), Jonah rejoiced when he was delivered from drowning (Jonah 2), and Mary sang in response to God providing the Messiah who would restore His people, Israel. All of these prayers and songs referred to Israel’s national anthem to express their joy in their God. I hope that this was more than just a defense of a certain theological position, but that you were able to share in Israel’s rejoicing in God’s uncompromising and sure promises to His people.