What does the name Israel mean?
In the Hebrew culture, every name had a deeper mean-ing. The names meant more than just a simple title.To find out the true meaning of a name in the Bible, wemust look at the first time it is used.The name “Israel” is first used inGenesis 32:28: “And he said, Thy nameshall be called no more Jacob, butIsrael: for as a prince hast thou powerwith God and with men, and hastprevailed.”Jacob had deceived his father toobtain the blessing that was due Esau.Upon discovering the deception of Jacob, Esau said, “Is he not rightlynamed Jacob?” Gen. 27:36. The nameJacob meant “deceiver,” and he livedup to the name!Twenty years later, as Jacob journeyed home, he received news of his brothers approach and feared thathe, and his family, would pay for hissins of old. Jacob hid his family and“...was left alone; and there wrestled aman with him until the breaking of theday.” Gen. 32:24. Upon the realizationof who his “assailant” was, Jacobpleaded, “I will not let thee go, exceptthou bless me.” vs. 26. The angel,although he knew who Jacob was,asked him for his name. As Jacobanswered in humility, it represented aconfession of, and turning away from,his past sins. The new name that hereceived from the angel, Israel, meant“overcomer.” The angel said thatJacob had “...power with God and withmen, and hast prevailed.” vs. 28. Jacobhad overcome his sins, he was now anew creature, able to serve God.The name Israel was a
name given to a man who overcame sinin his life.The descendants of Jacob were tobecome the “Nation of Israel.” Moseswas instructed to say to Pharaoh,“Thus saith the LORD, Israel is myson, even my firstborn: And I say untothee, Let my son go, that he may serveme.” Exo. 4:22-23. It was God’s desireto make these people a great nation of overcomers thatwould serve Him.Unfortunately, most of the Jews never fully lived up totheir name. They never realized the significance of the termIsrael. Israel is a spiritual name for the spiritual kingdom of those who overcome sin.
A Conditional Promise WithThe Results of Failure
Upon reaching Mt. Sinai, the Israelites were given aconditional promise: “Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel...Now therefore,
my voice indeed,
then ye shall be
apeculiar treasure unto me above allpeople: for all the earth is mine: Andye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Ex.19:3-6. Notice God said,
“if ye will obey...then ye shall be”
. If theydidn’t, they would
be!After entering the “promisedland,” the Hebrew nation turned fromGod and worshipped Baal time andtime again. They failed to meet theconditions of the promises listed inExodus 19. In 722 B.C., the ten tribesof the Northern Kingdom were takento Assyria. Judah realized the sameretribution because of her disloyaltyto God when she was carried toBabylon in 586 B.C. and the glorioustemple built by Solomon wasdestroyed.The captivity of Judah was to lastseventy years [Dan. 9:2]. After thistime period, Israel was to get asecond chance. Jerusalem and thetemple were to be rebuilt. Israelwould become a nation again, butthe same conditions would apply tothem as before the captivity. Theymust walk in the ways of righteous-ness or betray God’s favor and kindleHis wrath.While in captivity, “In the thirdyear of the reign of king Belshazzar,”king of Babylon, Daniel received avision portraying the rise and fall of the worlds empires and a 2300 “day”prophecy. Some of the scenes wereterrifying to him and he did notunderstand what the vision wasabout: “And I Daniel fainted, andwas sick certain days; afterward Irose up, and did the King's business;and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.”Dan. 8:27.“In the first year of Darius,” the ruler of the now Medo/ Persian Empire, while Daniel was in prayer, Gabriel comes toexplain the vision and tell him what was to become of hispeople. This prophecy was to reveal the probation of the
A Palestinian man proudly displaying theblood of an Israeli soldier.At Christ’s trial, looking upon the smittenLamb of God, the Jews had cried, "His blood beon us, and on our children." That awful cryascended to the throne of God. That sentence,pronounced upon themselves, was writtenin heaven. That prayer was heard. The blood of the Son of God was upon their children and theirchildren's children, a perpetual curse."Not this man, but Barabbas." Barabbas,the robber and murderer, was the representativeof Satan. Christ was the representative of God.Christ had been rejected; Barabbas had beenchosen. Barabbas they were to have. In makingthis choice they accepted him who from thebeginning was a liar and a murderer. Satan wastheir leader. As a nation they would act out hisdictation. His works they would do. His rulethey must endure. That people who choseBarabbas in the place of Christ were to feel thecruelty of Barabbas as long as time should last.Terribly was it realized in the destructionof Jerusalem in A.D. 70., in the Inquisition andthe Holocaust! Terribly has it been manifested inthe condition of the Jewish nation for twothousand years, a branch severed from the vine,a dead, fruitless branch, to be gathered up andburned. From land to land throughout the world,from century to century, persecution topersecution. Even to this day, there is no peacefor the tiny nation of Israel.