Why a Duggar named her baby Israel

5:41 AM

I am so excited to share, today, the wisdom and passion of my beautiful friend Michelle Katz-Sigulum. She was the first person I reached out to when I heard about the new Duggar-Dillard baby being named Israel (I thought: is this name good? right? offensive? incredible?) and just as she always does, she exceeded my expectations and gave me an answer full of both research and love! Enjoy her take on the name, Israel, below:

As many of you may be aware, Jill Duggar and husband Derick Dillard welcomed a beautiful 9 lbs., 10 oz. boy into the world, naming him Israel David.
Upon the baby announcement making headlines, I had a couple of friends ask me what I thought about the name the Dillards chose. People wondered what this meant? Was there any significance to them choosing the name Israel? And one of the most baffling things on many people’s mind was, why was Derick wearing an IDF (Israel Defense Force) t-shirt in the first family photo?!
Here’s a little background on me:
Jill Duggar-Dillard, and husband, Derick Dillard,
 hold their new baby, Israel David.
Courtesy of People Magazine
Six years ago I was an IDF soldier; and two years ago I married an Israeli. Today, I’m living in my hometown, London, Ontario. In fact, many people are surprised to find out that I do not have Israeli citizenship yet! I was born in London, Ontario to a “Jewish-Christian” family, (Yes, that really is a thing!) There are many terms, ie. Jewish believer, Messianic Jew etc., but I will use Jewish Christians because I think it is the one people can identify with most.
 Last summer I was in Israel for my sister’s wedding during a time of extreme political turmoil. But really, what else is new? This small little country has been under attack since its reestablishment in 1948. During my time there, I was in and out of bomb shelters, and every sound (whether it be an ambulance, a motorcycle or wind) masked as a Red Alert Siren, paranoing me to a point of insanity.
Yet, I didn’t want to leave this place. Crazy, isn’t it?
As I hesitantly got on the plane to return to Toronto, I asked God, “Why do I have to return home? I love Israel so much…” In my heart I felt him piquantly respond, “Because you love Israel, you need to return home to Canada.”
So how is this all connected to Jill Duggar naming her baby Israel? Let me tell you.

As everyone knows, the Duggars, and now the new growing Dillard family, are Bible-believing Christians. The word Israel is mentioned in the Bible approximately 2575 times. The Old Testament accounts for 39 of the 66 books in the Bible. Yet, currently many churches in North America centre on the New Testament and do not take time to elucidate how or why Israel fits into the picture. In fact, among millennials there has been a new movement of erosion of Christian support for Israel. But I like to believe that in many cases, the lack of knowledge about Israel occurs because many pastors have not personally been taught about the significance of Israel (and we can not fault them for this). I have also had many discussions with close Christian friends who have even apologized about their ignorance surrounding this topic. There's no need to apologize, I am humbled by people's honestly and willingness to learn and I love sharing the message the Lord has put on my heart! I have witnessed many friends’ relationship with God and personal faith flourish upon gaining an understanding of Gods heart through Israel.
That is where I come into the picture.
It has come to my attention that many Christians want to know about the significance of Israel and understanding this “mystery”. While Christians read their Bible, they see Israel mentioned from Genesis to Revelation, but they may have unknowingly bought into Replacement Theology. The more I talk with people, the more I realize this theology has crept into the corners of the Church even without anyone being aware that such a thing exists! Replacement Theology is the idea that the Church has replaced Israel, meaning that all of the promises God made to Israel (and the Jewish people) are now completely abolished and annulled.
“The younger generation has grown up disconnected from Israel because 'standing with Israel' has become a political statement rather than a spiritual attitude" (The PR rep of FIRM).
Candidly, God has significant Biblically based plans for Israel and for the Church. Since the time that God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he planned to keep his word and fulfill all that he intended and promised. Remember, Jesus came to fulfill, not to abolish: “"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). God uses Israel to reveal his character to us, to each and every believer. There is significance and interwoven connection between Israel and the Church. “Israel is God’s timepiece, the Church is his masterpiece” (Howard Katz).
If you are a Christian, the very fact that Israel exists as a nation today, verifies that your God, the God of Israel, is tangible and upholds his covenants forever. Outside of God, nothing can explain why Jewish people still exist today. When was the last time you met an Amorite or a Hittite? When they lost their country, they lost their identity and were assimilated. Can you think of any other nation having lost their homeland and managed to regain it? For nearly 2000 years the Jews had no homeland and were repeatedly dispersed and persecuted, yet Jews have continued to maintain their identity. If God had finished with Jewish people, they would have gone the way of the Amorites and Hittites, and disappeared. But God wasn’t finished with the Jewish people, and not because of their faithfulness, but because of this: “"Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations” (Ezekiel 36:22). God takes his covenants seriously and his gifts and callings are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). The very fact that Israel exists shows that God is fulfilling all that he has promised in her.
We are living in prophetically fulfilled times. For 2000, the people of Israel were scattered and dispersed, but the time came in 1948 when God answered Isaiah’s question, “Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” (Isaiah 66:8) The eyes of the world have been on Israel and Jerusalem since that time. Ezekiel 36-37 speaks about the restoration of Israel, and Jeremiah 31 speaks about the certainty that both Israel and the Jewish people will continue to exist.
Ezekiel 37 verse 21-28
God says, “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel….They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell their forever…I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
So I’m sure the question plaguing many of you is, if the Jews rejected Jesus then didn’t he reject them? (A key argument often used to support Replacement Theology). Let us look at scripture to get the answer for this one.
Romans 11:1-2 & 8
I ask then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.  As it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
Romans 11:11 So I ask then, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
Romans 11:25&28-31 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. …they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, they too have been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. God has never and will never forsake His people.”
Paul specifically addresses this question in Romans. God loved the whole world so much that he purposely allowed a partial hardening to come upon Israel so that salvation could spread around the world and thus, allow every human being the opportunity to know Jesus personally. But we find all throughout scriptures, God is not done with Israel yet. He has many more plans to fulfill in her. 

He “will never leave us nor forsake us.” Until we grasp the relevance of God’s relationship with Israel, we will miss an important dimension of God’s character. His heart for us is revealed through his dealings with Israel. God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to Israel shows us God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to each Believer personally.
Zechariah 12:2-3 speaks about Jerusalem being a cup of trembling, a burdensome stone. For the last 2000, Jerusalem has been a rather insignificant city. Now, Israel is a country that is blossoming in a hostile Middle East, yet the world is demonizing this minuscule state. The UN has more condemnations against Israel than another other country. How is this possible when we see what’s happening in Iraq with ISIS, Syria’s use of chemical warfare on their own people, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?
So let us return to the discussion of Jill and Derick naming their baby Israel; I was asked if the Duggars naming their baby Israel was offensive, and here is my answer:
I deem that naming their son Israel is prophetic. How? Because we are living in times when the Biblical prophecy about the whole world turning against Israel is coming to pass. Anti-Semitism is rapidly spreading in Europe, just 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz—“never again?” As the world is turning its back on Israel, the Christians will be the ones who will stand up and say,“ I believe in the scriptures, I believe in the promises of God; I believe in the covenants God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I stand with Israel.” That is what I found so profound about the baby announcement. Not only did they choose to name their baby Israel, but also that Derick was wearing an IDF t-shirt in their first family photo. Upon seeing this all I could think was, these people are taking a stand, they are saying we support and believe in the prophetic promises and fulfilment that this slight but momentous country represents. It is time to share with the church about the significance of this small little country, a country that is about the size of Vancouver Island! This small country, making national headlines, that is scarcely detectable on a world map. Yet,  it is enormously visible and precious in the sight of God.
There is a significance and interwoven connection between Israel and Christians. I hope that by having the Dillards name their baby Israel, the world, and specifically Christians, will come to discover and comprehend God’s heart and calling for Christians in regards to Israel and in regards to each and every believer personally.

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  1. Wonderfully written, beautifully expressed, Michelle! Love...Arlene


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