Amir, our outfitter in Israel, told me on our last phone call just before Shabbat that Ibrahim will meet us at the end of the ride to pick up our bikes, and added, “He believes in Jesus like you do.” I said, “Oh, really?” “Yeah, the Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet too.” I let Amir know that we saw Yeshua as a prophet all right, but a lot more—for instance the Servant of Hashem in Isaiah 49. In fact, I didn’t say this to Amir, but you could say that Yeshua is the key to our whole ride from Dan to Beersheva. Let’s see how that works out.
The phrase, Dan to Beersheva, appears exactly seven times in the Tanakh (see “Dan, meet Beersheva” below), with a final appearance in 1 Kings 5:5 [4:25 in Christian Bibles]: And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheva, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon.
This is definitely a happily-ever-after moment, but anyone who’s read the writings of the Prophets knows it’s not going to last. The phrase “Judah and Israel” in this verse is a hint of what’s to come after “the days of Solomon.” He dies and his kingdom is split in two, with Judah going one way and Israel the other. Solomon’s kingdom, at least for a moment, reflected the prophetic hope of everyone dwelling peacefully under their own vine and fig tree and its break-up created a massive delay on the way to that hope. The one people that God had chosen for himself is now divided in two.
So, when the prophets describe the restoration to come at the end of this age, they have to talk about the reunion of Israel and Judah. Ezekiel, for one, sees a valley full of dry bones that come back to life, representing the people of Israel gathered back to the land of Israel and there receiving new life from God. But it’s not just a matter of X number of individual Israelites—or Jews, as we’d say today—being restored and filled with the spirit. Rather, Ezekiel sees Israel as a people restored and made whole:
Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.” (Ezek. 37:15-17)
Israel and Judah will no longer be two, but one undivided nation, from Dan to Beersheva, God’s own people, living in Eretz Yisrael, “and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever” (Ezek 37:25). Yeshua is the prince who brings it all together. As we ride through all Israel and pray for all Israel, we’re praying for the promised culmination of the whole story.
So, Ibrahim, a prophet can foretell this glorious ending, but only the servant-king, the Son of David, Yeshua can bring it to pass.