Israel in God’s Economy (7) – Our Attitude


Two of the three main prophecies concerning Israel leading up to the Lord’s return have been fulfilled. The nation of Israel was re-established in 1948 after nearly 1,900 years, something unprecedented in world history. Then, in 1967 Jerusalem was returned to the Jews, when the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled (Luke 21:24). Only the rebuilding of the temple remains as a major prophecy concerning Israel that has yet to be accomplished before the Lord’s return. But what about the greatest subject of prophecy in the New Testament—the church? Are we, the believers, ready for the Lord’s return? Is the church in a condition to be presented to the Lord as His glorious counterpart (Eph. 5:27)? What should our attitude be concerning Israel, our living on the earth today, and the condition of the church?

Concerning Israel

We recognize that Israel has a unique place in God’s economy, both in history and in the future. The nations dealing with Israel should exercise care in how they treat this tiny nation because Jehovah is involved with Israel in an unseen way as He was in the book of Esther. God is not named or mentioned in that book, but He was sovereignly active in all persons and events recorded in it. The same is true regarding Israel in modern times. Since its re-establishment in 1948, Israel has conducted itself as a secular nation. At times, the actions and policies of the political state of Israel may offend the sensibilities of some. However, our concern is not whether certain political policies are right or wrong but with God’s move in His economy and Israel’s place in it. According to God’s economy, there must be an Israel, and Israel must include Jerusalem. Otherwise, the temple cannot be rebuilt and the Lord cannot return. Thus, we gladly acknowledge Israel’s place in God’s economy and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the Lord’s purpose for Israel (Psa. 122:6).

Concerning Our Living

In light of God’s dealings with the nations and with Israel, we must ask, what is our responsibility? What type of person should we be? We should not be those characterized by political positions or preoccupied with prophecy. Rather, we should be persons with an intimate life with the Lord who soberly consider our Lord’s return and love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).  Witness Lee said:

In 2 Timothy 4:1 Paul said to Timothy, “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.” This is an exhortation from Paul immediately before his martyrdom. He said that he had fought the good fight, he had finished the course, and he had kept the faith, and that at the judgment seat he would be awarded the crown of righteousness, which would be awarded to all those who have loved His appearing (vv. 6-8). He reminded Timothy, and also us, by the Lord’s judgment and kingdom, that we should have a living that loves the Lord’s appearing. This will cause us not to be discouraged, not to backslide, not to become weak, but to remain faithful to the end. (CWWL, 1990, vol. 3, 587-588)

The Bible charges us to watch and be ready for the Lord to come as a thief in the night to gather His treasure (Matt. 24:42-44; 25:13; 1 Thes. 5:2), to be the prudent virgins and our Lord’s faithful slaves (Matt. 25:2, 4, 10, 21, 23; 24:45), and to not be like Lot’s wife, attached to the things of this world (Luke 17:32; Gen 19:26). Witness Lee said, “Regarding the coming of our Lord, we should have a godly living in which we await His glorious appearing [Phil. 3:20; 1 Thes. 1:10; Rev. 16:15]. This appearing should be the blessing we hope for” (CWWL, 1990, vol. 3, 588). In calling us to be lovers of the Lord’s appearing, Brother Lee warned us, “Do not think that since we are clear concerning the signs of the Lord’s coming, we can be slothful and can first love the world and then pursue the Lord when the last week comes. There is no such convenience” (587).

Although we know the major prophecies concerning Israel and the end times and acknowledge Israel’s place in God’s economy, we cannot afford to be preoccupied with outward world events or ensnared by politics or social issues. Rather, our need is to have a personal and intimate life with the Lord, seeking to hasten the Lord’s return by rendering Him our full cooperation (2 Pet. 3:12). We should be fully captured by the Lord Jesus, in love with Him and His appearing, living with Him and to Him, and watchful for His return.

Concerning the Church

We rejoice at the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Israel and the end times in light of the Lord’s return. Yet, we must admit that many Christians have wasted much time speculating about the things surrounding the fulfillment of these prophecies. These things should not be our focus. As Brother Lee told us:

The prophecies are not the most crucial revelation in the Bible. The most crucial revelation concerns the mystery of human life. The Bible reveals God’s creation. Why did God create the heavens and the earth and then man? The Bible says that in eternity past God had a plan according to His heart’s desire. This plan is to gain a group of people who would receive His life in order to become the Body of His Son, Christ, to be a corporate expression of Christ and God. This is the central revelation of the Bible. (CWWL, 1989, vol. 2, 503)

As those who love the Lord we should care not only for our personal relationship with Him but also for His goal—the building up of the Body of Christ and the preparation of the church as His bride. Brother Lee explained, “[W]e need to realize that holiness, overcoming, and spirituality are all for the building up of the corporate Body of Christ and the preparation of His corporate bride” (CWWL, 1971, vol. 1, 287-288). The church is the subject of the greatest prophecy in the Bible, spoken by the Lord Himself—”I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). This must take place to the Lord’s satisfaction before His return.  The preparation of the bride precedes the Lord’s return (Rev. 19:7). Thus, Witness Lee commented, “Unless His bride is prepared, Christ as the Bridegroom will not come back. Where is the bride of Christ today? In order for Christ to return quickly, He needs to hasten the preparation of His bride” (CWWL, 1971, vol. 1, 287). Later he added, “The prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled now. However, the Lord is not waiting for Israel. He is waiting today for the recovered church. Israel is now a nation, but where is the church? For the accomplishment of His economy God needs both Israel and the church” (CWWL, 1975-1976, vol. 1, 18).

Many books have been written speculating about the end times and the identity of the Antichrist. Such speculations misaim. Over 85 years ago Brother Lee discounted speculation that the Italian dictator Mussolini was the Antichrist, saying that the time was not ripe for the Antichrist’s manifestation, because the condition of the church fell far short of the bride being ready for the Lord’s coming (CWWL, 1971, vol. 1, 325). Sadly, this is still true today. Much has already transpired—Israel has been restored as a nation and Jerusalem has been returned to the Jews, but there is no Bridegroom yet in sight because the bride has not yet made herself ready (Rev 19:7-8; 21:2). While many Christians have been distracted by the past and pending fulfillment of the outward prophecies that precede the Lord’s return, we should come back to God’s goal, which is the preparation of the bride.

Concerning the condition of the church we must consider Ephesians 4:13. It says we must all arrive at three things—”at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Brother Nee called Ephesians 4:16—the growth and building up of the Body of Christ through the mutual supply of all the members—”the most difficult thing” for the Lord to gain. Yet he declared, “there will be a day when God’s recovery will reach the fulfillment of Ephesians 4” (CWWN, Vol. 57, 221). We may consider Ephesians 4:13-16 as a prophecy. Even though today these things remain unfulfilled, the Lord must gain them through our cooperation so that His Body may be built up. Commenting on these verses, Brother Lee explained:

There are thousands of Christians, Christian groups, and so-called Christian churches, but can we see what is prophesied in Ephesians 4:13-16? We have to say no. This was not only a prophecy in the past but also a prophecy that remains unfulfilled today. Even among us, we cannot say that we have had such an arrival. What we can say is that we are pressing on. We are going on toward that goal at which we have not yet arrived. (CWWL, 1972, vol. 3, 425-426)


As we have seen in this series, Israel has a particular place in God’s economy. Its origin was God’s calling of Abraham, and God made many promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that became the basis of God’s dealing with Israel and with the nations throughout history. Under God’s sovereignty His salvation came to the world and was initially spread through the Jewish race. In recent years we have seen the fulfillment of crucial prophecies related to Israel and the Lord’s return, and Israel will play a major role in the end times, in the kingdom, and in eternity future. While it is important for us to know these things, it is even more crucial for us to see that the Lord’s commission to us is the building up of the church as the Body of Christ and the preparation of the church as His bride. It is this commission that should govern our hearts and minds and be the focus of our living. In light of the Lord’s coming, let us press on.