Israel, God’s Disciple
By Youval Yanay
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Israel is the firstborn among the nations, the beloved Son of God. Israel did not exist as a nation, like the rest of the nations, but was rather created by God himself, for Him, and for His purposes. Israel is not only God’s firstborn and beloved son, but like a son in every family, Israel is also God’s disciple. The story of Israel begins with God’s call to Abraham. God called Abraham to go on a journey. A journey that required going out, surrender, change, growth, and development. Abraham accepts God’s call, believes Him, leaves everything behind, and sets out on a journey into the unknown where Abraham is completely dependent on God’s guidance and direction. Abraham believes that God is a good father and that His intentions are for his good. This is the basic principle of every disciple, of every discipleship program.
I was born and raised in Israel but grew up in a family that did not know God. All my life I looked for meaning. Why get up in the morning? Was there a purpose to this life I was born into? I found the reason I live when I was born again. From the moment one becomes a believer in Yeshua, they become His disciple, and like Him leave everything behind, ready to give up everything, and in faith in the love of God step into the unknown. They are prepared to go through periods of discomfort, lack and maybe even suffering. This is the journey of the disciple of Yeshua. (Philippians 2:5-8).
This journey of transformation and discipleship does not intend to cause us suffering, nor is it the focus. It is the inner change that drives us to the place we all aim to become more like Yeshua Himself.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” – Romans 8:29
When I realized that this was the process that gives meaning to my existence on this earth, my whole life changed. I had found the way. From that moment on, everything that happened to me was no longer meaningless – there is a reason for everything that happens to me, there is someone who leads and guides me, and most importantly – I have a purpose. On this journey of life, we relinquish those traits and behaviors that have encompassed our lives, that control us, have enslaved us, or hurt us, as a result of everything we have been through. God, through the Holy Spirit, guides us step by step on this journey to which he has called us. He is the one who comforts us during our difficulties, he heals our past wounds, through the Holy Spirit anoints our wounds with oil. This is how we are changed from glory to glory and become more and more like the image of His beloved son, Jesus Messiah. It is a journey that never ends.
Abraham went out on this journey, in faith, submission, and obedience to the call of God. Isaac followed, and Jacob, also called Israel, after him. From him were born the sons of Israel, the tribes of Israel. After Jacob, the journey is continued by an entire nation, the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel is God’s beloved son. The son God created for Himself, His firstborn, the first nation that is God’s disciple. Israel was destined as a people to embark on a journey of change that from glory to glory draws near to the image of the Son of God. A journey of change that also involves suffering. Change happens when we repeatedly choose God and follow His commandments. It is painful as we give up on what we want to do and choose God’s plan for us.
Israel’s journey began with Abraham. Throughout Israel’s history, as the Scriptures testify, God directed the people of Israel towards the image of His Son, to the image of Yeshua. Israel as a nation, goes through painful and difficult events and processes to no end, and each time the people are called to choose God, to choose submission and obedience instead of selfishness and rebellion. Slavery, exodus from Egypt, death in the desert, victories, defeat, plagues, conquest, exile, and again a terrible exile, slavery, and persecution. The people of Israel, as a beloved son, are going through a journey of discipleship, a journey of change under the hand of God. (Hebrews 12:6).
“Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:12
The heart of this journey of transformation, as well as the heart of all our lives, is love. God loves us without condition and we are called to love like Him without condition. To love others, our family, our neighbors, and colleagues….and also to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. The love of God is the heart of the image of Yeshua. To conform to Him means to love like Him. And where is Israel in all of this today?
Our role as believers in Yeshua, specifically now here in Israel, is to proclaim the gospel of the love of Yeshua, even when all around us rages when it seems all hope is gone and there is no way out. We are called to be light in the dark, to reflect the image of Yeshua, and share with our people the way to salvation. We are entrusted with the gospel and we must strengthen ourselves in God and share with everyone around us the gospel of God, even in circumstances of struggle and in times of difficulty.
The nation of Israel is God’s son and disciple. God is the one who turns every difficulty and trouble into a blessing and a victory for His kingdom. Let us pray and believe that God will carry out His will here among the people of Israel sooner rather than later, by His grace alone!