A History of Israel's Struggle: Part 2

Previously I wrote on how the nation of Israel received its name, what the name means, and its theological implications.  Jacob was named Israel by the angel who wrestled him, who many believe is the preincarnate Christ.  The name Israel means, he struggles with God.  I then provided a macro view of how the nation of Israel split apart into two different kingdoms, their exile to Babylon, and their return.  The Israelite’s who survived the Babylonian invasion and were exiled off to Iraq, became known as the remnant. (2 Chron. 36:20; Jer. 25:11)

In 539 B.C, a year after Persia’s overthrow of the Babylonian Empire, Cyrus the ruler of Persia, decreed the Israelites who were under Babylonian captivity were free to return to their homeland.  This is all in keeping with the words of the prophet Isaiah who prophesied 200 years before Cyrus’ decree that God himself would raise up Cyrus to bring about God’s purposes of bringing the remnant back to their homeland. (Isa. 44: 28, Isa. 45:1-5)

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Israel's Struggle: A Historical Perspective Pt. 1

Genesis 32:28 records Jacob, the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, having his name changed to Israel.  Why?  The text tells us it is, “because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”  What a prophetic word, with a promise. 

The context of the passage shows us that it was Jacob who wrestled the angel and won, but the message from the angel and name Israel takes on much more theological significance than we may typically think.  To understand this more it will be helpful to take a macro view of the Israelites heritage through the Old Testament.  

Moses and Elijah are two Old Testament heroes of the faith who were worn out by the lack of faith and depravity possessed by God’s chosen people.  In 1 Kings 19:10 Elijah communicates his plight to the Lord of how the Israelites have rejected God’s covenant (Mosaic) and put the prophets to death.  Elijah saw himself as next in line the line of fire and was wondering where hope for Israel was to be found.  God replied that he had reserved seven thousand in Israel. (1 Kings 19:18) 

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