The History of Israel
The Reason We Learn the History of Israel
The reason we learn the history of Israel is because the natural Israelites’ history contains the things that will happen to us, the spiritual Israelites.
Through the prophetic points in the history of the natural Israelites, we must know in advance what will happen to us and have the right faith as God’s sons and daughters, solidifying our status and position as children of God.
The history of Israel can be classified as follows:
- From Adam to Noah
- From Noah to Abraham
- From Abraham to Moses
- From the Exodus to the Time of the Conquest of Canaan and the Period of the Judges
- The Period of the Kings
- The Period of the Divided Kingdom
- The Babylonian Captivity and Return
- The Fall of Jerusalem and Its Restoration
1. From Adam to Noah
The genealogy from Adam—the ancestor of all humans—to Noah is described in detail in Genesis 5. As people grew in number and their wickedness became great, God judged them by water. This judgment of God was written down as a warning for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Mt 24:37–39
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Pe 3:6–7
2. From Noah to Abraham
After the flood of Noah, people tried to build the Tower of Babel so that they would not be scattered over the face of the earth. However, as God confused their language, their plan to build the tower was shattered and they were scattered over the face of the whole earth. After that, the blessing of God was given to Abraham who was a righteous man. Abraham lived with his father Terah in Ur of the Chaldeans, and then moved to Haran. Afterwards, he set out for the land of Canaan according to God’s command (Ge 11:31–12:5).
3. From Abraham to Moses
1) Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat twelve sons. The eleventh of Jacob’s twelve sons was Joseph, who was sold into Egypt by his jealous brothers (Ge 37:1–36).
2) Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt, was favored by God and became ruler and governor over all the land of Egypt (Ge 39–41).
3) Because of the seven years of famine, Joseph’s brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain, and they met Joseph who had become the ruler of Egypt. Jacob and his family left Canaan and settled in Egypt (Ge 39–47).
4) After Joseph and the people who lived in his time all died, there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. Pharaoh enslaved Jacob’s descendants and oppressed them. The Israelites earnestly prayed to God for their emancipation from slavery. God listened to their prayer and let Moses be born.
* The word “Pharaoh” comes from Greek pharaō, from Hebrew par’ōh. Pharaoh, meaning “great house,” originally referred to the royal palace, and it became the common title for the kings of ancient Egypt, but later the term evolved into a generic name for all ancient Egyptian kings.
4. From the Exodus to the Time of the Conquest of Canaan and the Period of the Judges
1) The Exodus was an event of great importance in Israel’s history: The Israelites, who had been oppressed in Egypt, experienced the mighty power of God through the Passover (Ex 12:1–51); they were saved from the tremendous disaster—the killing of all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Then they crossed the Red Sea by the power of God.
Afterwards, the Israelites started their journey through the desert. When they arrived at Mount Sinai, they received the Ten Commandments and set up the tabernacle on the first day of the first month of the second year after the Exodus (Ex 19, 20, 35–36, 40).
2) When the Israelites arrived at the border of the land of Canaan, they sent twelve spies to explore the land. All of the spies, except Joshua and Caleb, spread a bad report about the land they had explored. As a result, the Israelites wandered through the desert for forty years (Numbers 13, 14).
3) After 40 years, the Israelites who followed God were able to conquer the land of Canaan under the guidance of Joshua (Numbers 1–24).
4) In Canaan, when the Israelites worshipped idols, they were conquered and oppressed by the Gentiles. Whenever they did, God chose a leader for them and the leader was called a “judge.”
* The word “judge” means “one who governs, decides matters and pronounces sentences.” When the Israelites were in danger, God sent a judge to deliver them and then made him a ruler over Israel. Unlike the throne of a king, the office of the judge was not hereditary.
5. The Period of the Kings
In the time of Samuel the last Judge, the Israelites asked God to appoint a king to rule over them as all the other nations had. So God made Saul from the tribe of Benjamin king over Israel (1 Samuel 11–13).
Saul was on the throne for 40 years and he died in battle against the Philistines (Ac 13:21; 1 Sa 31:1–13). After that, David became king and ruler over Israel for 40 years (2 Sa 5:4).
After David’s death, Solomon succeeded his father to the throne, and he also reigned for 40 years (1 Ki 11:42).
6. The Period of the Divided Kingdom
After King Solomon died, the kingdom of Israel was divided into two: Judah (whose king was Rehoboam) in the south and Israel (whose king was Jeroboam) in the north (around 975 B.C.; 1 Ki 12:1–24).
1) Israel in the north
Israel fell into idolatry from the beginning and provoked God to anger.
As a result, Israel was attacked by Shalmaneser king of Assyria and came to an end 255 years after its foundation (B.C. 721; 2 Ki 17:1–18).
Then all people of Israel were captured and deported to a faraway land (2 Ki 17:6). The king of Assyria brought people from other conquered kingdoms and settled them in the towns of Samaria (2 Ki 17:24).
2) Judah in the south
Judah also neglected to observe God’s commands, but as the people of Judah celebrated the Passover in the time of Hezekiah (2 Ki 18:21–19:37), they were protected by God. For over 100 years, they continued to find grace in God’s eyes.
※ Refer to the Truth Book titled “The Mystery of God and the Spring of the Water of Life: Chapter 8 “The Mystery of the Passover”
7. The Babylonian Captivity and Return
Despite the fact that the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed as a result of despising God’s laws and decrees, the southern kingdom of Judah continued to neglect to serve God and even ignored God’s commands. So God put the people of Judah under the oppression of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, so that they might know the true will of God.
1) Being taken captive to Babylon
When the people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon in a series of three invasions by the Babylonians (606 B.C., 597 B.C., and 586 B.C.), God prophesied through Jeremiah that they would return to Judah after 70 years.
2) Being released from Babylon and returning to Jerusalem
According to the prophecy of God, Babylon was destroyed by Media and Persia. At the end of the 70 years of captivity, God moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his kingdom and to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “ ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.’ ” Then the people of Judah gave thanks and praise to God Almighty and returned to their country and built a temple for God (537 B.C. and 457 B.C.; Zechariah 1–3).
3) Being colonized by Rome after being subject to Media-Persia
The kingdom of Judah, which had been subordinate to Media-Persia, came under the rule of Ptolemy of Egypt due to Alexander’s expedition to the east and the division of the Greek empire into four separate kingdoms. After that, Judah was put under the rule of Seleucus of Syria. During the colonial period, Judah was seriously endangered as many Greek idols were brought into the temple of God, but it finally achieved independence and secured its autonomy.
However, as Rome intervened in a civil war that broke out in Israel, its intervention in Israel ended Jewish independence and Israel finally became a Roman colony in 63 B.C. Rome appointed Herod king of Judea. In the time of King Herod, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea.
8. The Fall of Jerusalem and Its Restoration
The Jews committed the sin of crucifying Christ, who came to save them, instead of receiving Him. Moreover, they persecuted Christians severely.
Afterwards, they made many riots against Rome for independence from Rome, and in 70 A.D. they were attacked and destroyed by the Roman army under General Titus. 1,100,000 Jews were killed and 97,000 were taken captive. As stateless people, the Jews were scattered among all the Gentile nations for a long time. During World War II, they suffered the Holocaust [the Massacre of the Jews], and in 1948 Israel finally became an independent state with the help of England and it has remained independent to this very day. Israel’s independence after 1,900 years has been called an unparalleled “miracle” of history among the historians. It is clearly recorded in the history of the world.
The independence of Israel shows us when Jesus comes again and it helps us realize that the time is near when the spiritual Israelites will go back to their heavenly home.