Israel in God’s Economy (1) – An Introduction


As the day of the Lord’s second coming approaches, it is important to have a basic understanding of the place of Israel in God’s economy. Since the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, the Middle East generally and Israel particularly have become increasingly central to world events. This development is in accord with biblical prophecies. In recent times, rampant anti-Semitism has re-emerged and is even promoted on some college campuses. Looking at the outward situation in the world is troubling. Events seem chaotic and evoke our sympathy for those who are undergoing suffering. What should be our attitude and response? The answer to those questions lies in the Bible. This series of articles examines the Scriptures regarding Israel along several lines. It is important to make several observations from the outset. These articles:

  1. Help readers understand events related to Israel from the perspective of God’s ways in His move to carry out His economy;
  2. Do not assess matters in terms of right and wrong, as doing so inevitably leads to dissension, strife, and ultimately division;
  3. Do not delve into any issues of social justice;
  4. Do not assess the policies of any government or any political viewpoints, though we acknowledge God’s sovereignty in those that He establishes as rulers (Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:14); and
  5. Present the particular and special role of Israel in God’s economy.

To adopt a humanistic view of world events is a mistake. Our own sentiments and sensibilities may lead us astray, even as far as opposing what God is doing in our age and time (Acts 5:39). Examining human history, as Brother Lee did in The World Situation and God’s Move, affirms the proposition that God moves in human history in hidden and mysterious ways, as a brief survey of key developments in His move shows.  In that book Brother Lee points out that although the Old Testament prophesied that the Lord Jesus would be crucified (Deut. 21:22-23; cf. Gal. 3:13), crucifixion was not yet a form of execution of criminals until the ascendancy of the Roman Empire (10). In this way, the Roman Empire, an ungodly human enterprise, was used by God to bring about the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy regarding the means of the Lord’s redemptive death. Moreover, the Roman Empire brought to its subject nations a common language, one ruling power, an unprecedented road system, and a relatively stable social order, all of which happened under God’s sovereignty to facilitate the early spread of the gospel (11; see Acts 17:26; Psalm 74:17).

Consider also the beginning of the Lord’s recovery with the Reformation. It coincided with the invention of the printing press, which the Reformers used to print Bibles and tracts in the common languages. This enabled them to both spread the gospel and to defend and confirm the truth of justification by faith. Moreover, the political situation among the German lands, which lacked a strong national government, afforded the Reformers greater freedom to teach and practice what they saw in the Bible and shielded them from the consuming persecutions that had largely wiped out their predecessors. The defeat of the Spanish Armada by a much smaller British fleet ushered in the global ascendancy of the British Empire, which was much used for the spread of the gospel through missionary work to various parts of the world (14, 17).

Recognizing God’s move in human history does not mean endorsing as righteous all of the actions that nations have taken. Both the Roman and British Empires were imperialist powers and did many unrighteous things. Nevertheless, their utility in God’s hand is undeniable. For example, Brother Lee commented:

Imperialism is the policy and practice of maintaining an empire through the conquest and domination of weaker countries. Politically speaking, imperialism is evil and should be condemned, but God is sovereign. Imperialism was used by the divine hand to spread the gospel. (The Satanic Chaos in the Old Creation and the Divine Economy for the New Creation, 84) I hate imperialism, but I thank the Lord that He used imperialism to save me. Without imperialism, the gospel could never have gone to China and to my hometown there. (The Ten Great Critical “Ones for the Building Up of the Body of Christ, 23)

More immediately to our own time, the twentieth century witnessed a cataclysmic event with untold human suffering—the Second World War. Yet out of this war, three things happened that have greatly furthered the accomplishment of God’s goal in His economy—the nation of Israel was established after being nonexistent for almost 1900 years, the ministry and work in the Lord’s present recovery was thrust out of China, and the United States became the preeminent world power. The last two of these have enabled the spread of the Lord’s recovery to every inhabited continent.[1] The point here is that amidst the chaos and resultant sufferings that we see in human affairs God is still able to advance His purpose. He is not the cause of the chaos and the sufferings, but in a mysterious way He still operates everything according to the counsel of His will for the benefit of those who love Him and whom He has called according to His purpose (Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28).

The Bible shows us that, according to His plan, God has chosen two peoples. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that He chose the New Testament believers “before the foundation of the world.” However, the Bible is equally clear that God chose Abraham and his descendants to be His people among all the nations of the earth. We should not think that God’s purpose regarding Israel is over. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul, writing concerning Israel, reminds us that “the gracious gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). It is important, therefore, for us to understand God’s economy with respect to both the church and the nation of Israel and how it applies to the present day.

The articles in this series will look at the special place that Israel occupies in God’s economy from a variety of angles, including:

May the Lord enlighten the saints in His recovery that we may give Him our full cooperation without distraction that He may consummate His move in this age for the building up of the Body of Christ and the preparation of His bride that He may come back to establish His kingdom on the earth.

[1]   This is not to minimize the contribution of the churches in the Far East from the beginning of the Lord’s move in His recovery in 1922 until today. Their labors have contributed greatly to the Lord’s interest and the spread of His testimony. However, Brother Lee spoke of the necessity of the release of the ministry in English for its global spread:

This is the age when the Lord will use the United States. If all these messages were given in the Chinese language, they would lie buried in that hard-to-understand language. As it is, they can be sent out all over the world as Life-studies, audiotapes and videotapes, and books. With the word sent out in spoken and written form, I believe it will not be in vain. The Lord will follow His word to accomplish His purpose. (The World Situation and God’s Move, 34)