The Apple of His Eye
By Eric Purtic

Now what on earth is the prophet Zechariah talking about?

The phrase "the apple of His eye" is a metaphor that refers to the pupil of the eye. The pupil, you see, is a crucial, essential and indispensable portion of the eye. It is to be cherished and protected at all costs. So, in essence, God is saying that those who come against His beloved land, Israel, are sticking their finger in His eye.

Every evening when we turn on the news, we see the whole world deliberating over this very issue. We have to ask ourselves, "Why Israel? Why Jerusalem? Why we are watching the Middle East so intently when there are wars all over the world with far greater atrocities, and even genocide?"

Israel is God's pride and joy.

While Israel has no natural resources to speak of, no strategic military significance, and is not part of any major trade routes, it is the geographical, political and prophetical center of the world.

The Hebrew Scriptures tell us that God has a very intimate relationship with His chosen nation: "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).

God gave them a precise, distinguished mission. It was His plan to reveal Himself and His love for the entire world through the nation of Israel and His people, the Jews: "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6).

Israel rejects the One who loves her.

The Israelites were supposed to be an example to a dark and desolate world but, instead, they rejected God time and again. To this end, the prophet Hosea wrote a scathing indictment against the nation as they plunged into a moral freefall.

Hosea 4:12-15 reads, "My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, And their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, And they have played the harlot against their God. They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops, And burn incense on the hills, Under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, Because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, And your brides commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, Nor your brides when they commit adultery; For the men themselves go apart with harlots, And offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot. Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled. Though you, Israel, play the harlot "

At this point in their history, the Israelites had neglected God's Word for 200 years, even though He provided for them with abundance and prosperity. Hosea's job was to declare to a once holy nation that they had turned from their God, just as a wife might turn from the husband who loves her, only to become a prostitute, following after pagan idols.

While Israel chose to play the part of a harlot for much of her career, God chose to cherish her anyway. The Hebrew Scriptures depict the story of a loving, patient God chasing down His children, giving opportunity for repentance, and ultimately offering them His Son as a sacrifice for their sins (Leviticus 17:11; John 6:51).

If Israel is the apple of God's eye, why is she suffering so much?

Jews today may be asking, "Where is God amidst this chaos and calamity in the Promised Land?" God is where He always was - waiting in His throne room for His people to call on Him (Psalm 121:4).

According to God's prophetic word, Israel is still not ready to repent, even though He has gathered her people back into the land. As a nation, Israel still has not asked God for His blessing (Romans 10:3).

But rest assured, just as the prophet Hosea did not abandon his unfaithful wife, God will not forsake Israel. "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

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