The hope of Israel
It will seem a strange suggestion
to most in these days, that there is any connection between the
gospel hope and an event so local in its character as the restoration
of the Jews to their own land (Israel). Nevertheless, such a connection
exists, if we are to be guided by the Scriptures. We shall find
that in the purpose of God, the salvation of the world is bound
up in the destiny of the Jews; that apart from their national
glorification, such salvation is a dream, to be realised neither
by nations nor individuals, spiritually nor temporally, and that
the man who is either ignorant or sceptical of this coming future
development, is darkened in his understanding on one of the essential
features of Christian teaching.
We look at
the evidence. Jesus said to his disciples, "I am not sent but
unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew15:24).
That he meant the Jews is evident from another statement
"Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of
the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of
the house of Israel". He further declared to the woman of Samaria,
at Jacob's well, "salvation is of the Jews"
(John 4:22). These passages alone show the national restrictedness
of the salvation proclaimed by Jesus and his apostles. Jesus was
a Jew, born in the house of David as the God-appointed heir of David’s
throne, and the apostles who laboured with him were also Jews. They
proclaimed a message which came from the God of the Jews, and which
according to the original instructions of Christ was only intended
for the Jews. Therefore, Paul could emphatically characterise the
gospel as "the hope of Israel",
which he did in the words recorded in (Acts 28:20), for
the hope of IsraeI I am bound with this chain".
He could also make the following statement with peculiar emphasis,
in defending himself before Agrippa:
"And now I stand and am judged
for the hope of the promise made of
God unto our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly
serving God day and night, hope to come; for which
hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews"
He could also say with a truthfulness
not generally appreciated:
"My kinsmen, according to
the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the
adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and
the giving of the law, and the service of God, and
the promises" (Romans 9:3-4).
Thus it is evident that the salvation
proclaimed for acceptance in the gospel is intensely Jewish in its
origin, its application, and its future bearing; and it is equally
evident that this was the light in which it was regarded by the
disciples after the day of Pentecost; for we read:
"They which were scattered
abroad...travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch,
preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only"
The reader will also remember that
Peter required a special revelation to instruct him as to God’s
proposed admission of the Gentiles into the blessings of Israel,
and even then he threw the onus of it upon God. He did not attempt
to justify it himself, but apologised to his brethren for preaching
to the Gentiles, saying, "What was I, that I could withstand
God?" (Acts 11:17). The fact is, the admission of the Gentiles
was one of the "mysteries of the gospel". This is evident
from the statement of Paul:
"Ye may understand my knowledge
in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known
unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles
and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs,
and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by
the Gospel" (Ephesians 3:4-6).
But this opening the way for the
admission of the Gentiles did not destroy the Israelitish character
of "the hope". The effect was
just the other way. Instead of the Gentiles converting the hope
into Gentilism by their reception of it, the hope converted them
into Jews, conforming them to its essentially Israelitish character.
Hence, says Paul, to those Ephesians who received it:
"Ye were without Christ,
being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from
the covenants of promise...Now therefore ye are no
more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens
with the saints and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:12,19).
He further said to the Romans, "he
is a Jew which is one inwardly" (Romans 2:29),
that is, he who, being a Gentile by birth, has become a Jew in heart,
and taste, and hope, is more of a real Jew than the reprobate natural
son of Abraham. Referring to the admission of the Gentiles, he speaks
of it as a cutting out of the olive tree, which is wild by nature,
and a grafting contrary to nature, into the good olive tree (Romans
11:24). Hence the Gentiles are "wild olive branches",
without hope - without birthright - without promises - without a
future portion of any kind, and if they would become heirs of the
inheritance to come, they must cast off "the old man"
of their Gentilism, and put on "the new man" of true Jewism,
"which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that
created him" (Colossians 3:10).
But to come to a closer consideration
of the subject: Paul says he was bound "for the hope of Israel",
which is equivalent to saying that he preached it, seeing that it
was for his preaching that he was put in bonds. Now, if Paul proclaimed
"the hope of Israel", it is clear that he did not preach
the set of ideas which now passes current in the popular churches
as the gospel; for in what sense can these ideas be said to be "the
hope of Israel"?
The Jews are a people whose origin
and history are pretty well known to Scripture readers. Abraham,
the member of a Chaldean family, was commanded to separate himself
from his people, and go into a land "which he should after
receive for an inheritance" (Hebrews 11:8). He obeyed, and
went out, "not knowing whither he went". He was afterwards
informed that his descendants would become a great nation, with
whom God should have special dealings, and who should be the special
objects of his care. In the course of time Abraham’s household
went down into Egypt, and settled in that country as a friendly
colony. In the course of events, the Pharaohs enslaved them, and
subjected them to a bitter rule for more than a century. At the
end of that time, they were delivered through divine interposition
by the hand of Moses; and after various vicissitudes, they settled
in the land of promise under a divine constitution, which provided
that so long as the nation was obedient to its requirements, they
would remain in the land in prosperity, but that so soon as they
departed from the statutes of God who had called and constituted
them, adversity would overtake them.
The subsequent part of their history
is summed up in a sentence; they failed to observe the conditions
of this national covenant, and were expelled from the national territory
in disgrace, and scattered among the nations as fugitives.
However, the reader’s attention
is directed to the following testimonies regarding the national
standing of the Jews before God:
"I the LORD am holy, and
have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine"
"Thou art a holy people unto
the Lord thy God. The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special
people unto himself, above all people that are upon
the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6).
"Thou art a holy people unto
the Lord thy God; and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar
people unto himself, above all the nations that
are upon the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).
"The Lord hath avouched thee
this day to be his peculiar people,
as he hath promised thee; and that thou shouldest keep all his
commandments, and to make thee high above all nations which he
hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour: and that thou
mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy
It would be difficult to give more
emphatic expression to the idea of a special, deliberate, and unconditional
selection by God of the Jews as a people to himself. Who may cavil
at it? "Hath not the potter power over the clay?" Hath
not the Eternal Creator, in his infinite wisdom, the right to develop
his own plans in his own way? The selection of the Jews is one feature
of the plan which he has conceived in relation to this world. This
is incontestably proved by the testimonies adduced. Nothing can
undo that selection. "The gifts and calling of God are without
repentance." The Jews themselves cannot nullify the decree.
They may bring upon themselves, as they have done, the divine displeasure
and the divine affliction by their sins, but they cannot alter their
position before God as his chosen nation. The very punishments which
they have endured for many generations are proof of the divine speciality
of their national character. "You only have I known of all
the families of the earth; therefore I
will punish you for all your iniquities." This is the language
of Jehovah toward them in Amos 3:2; the very calamities which have
befallen them are proofs of divine supervision and dealing. They
were dispersed because of their iniquities, but not for ever cast
off, as the common idea is. Paul says, in Romans 11:2, "God
hath not cast away his people which he foreknew". The testimony
of Jeremiah is still stronger:
"Though I make a full end
of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make
a full end of thee; but I will correct
thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished"
The national sufferings of Israel
are but the measured correction to which God is subjecting them;
they are not evidence that God has finally rejected them. The language
of Jehovah, in Jeremiah 3:24-26, would imply that some, in ancient
times, took a contrary view, and contended, as many who call themselves
Christians now do, that God had for ever disowned his people, and
intended their destruction. The answer is sublimely emphatic:
"Considerest thou not what
this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord
hath chosen he hath even cast them off. Thus they have despised
my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus
saith the Lord, If my covenant be not
with day and night, and if I have not
appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then
will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant."
For centuries the Jews have suffered
as a punishment for their sins. They cried before Pilate, "His
blood be on us and on our children", and with blood and fire
has their terrible invocation returned into their bosoms. But are
there no brighter days for Israel? Are their calamities to have
no end? Is Jehovah’s anger to burn against them for ever?
Let us hear the prophet:
"Thus saith the Lord, Like
as l have brought all this great evil upon this people so will
I bring upon them all the good that I have promised
them" (Jeremiah 32:42).
Now the question immediately suggested
by the consideration of this statement is, "what good has been
promised them?" In answer to this, we read:
"Behold the days come, saith
the Lord, that I will perform that good thing
which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house
of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch
of Righteousness to grow up unto David: and he shall execute judgment
and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved,
and Jerusalem shall dwell safely" (Jeremiah 32:14,16).
Here the "good thing promised"
is briefly summarised. Its two main features are - a king to execute
judgment and righteousness in the land and the salvation of Judah
and Jerusalem in his day. This is neither more nor less than a promise
of the Messiah to rescue them from their enemies, and to recover
them from the oppressions to which they have been subject for ages,
a promise which is repeated in the following words:
"I will make them one nation
in the land upon the mountains of Israel and one king shall be
king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations"
At present there is no Messiah executing
judgment in the promised land, and no dwelling safely of Judah and
Jerusalem, and never has there been such a state of things. Yet
the promise is that this "good thing" shall "come
to pass", with all the certainty of the evil which has overtaken
the nation; and this promise is not confined to this part of Scriptures
nor restricted to this language, for:
"It shall come to pass, that
like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down,
and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict, so will I watch
over them, to build and to plant, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah
This is to be in the days of the
Righteous Branch, when "he shall reign and prosper, and shall
execute judgment and justice in the earth"; for we find:
"At that time, they shall
call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall
be gathered unto it; to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither
shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
In those days, the house of Judah shall
walk with the house of Israel; and they shall come together out
of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an
inheritance unto your fathers" (Jeremiah 3:17-18).
We further read:
"Thus saith the Lord God,
Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen,
whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and
bring them into their own land" (Ezekiel 37:21).
"I will take you from among
the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring
you into your own land" (Ezekiel 36:24).
There is no evading this language.
It is too definitely worded to be spiritualised or misunderstood.
As if to preclude such a thing, it is put in the following antithetical
the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles
afar off. He that scattered Israel
will gather him, and keep him, as a
shepherd doth his flock" (Jeremiah 31:10).
In the sense therefore, in which
the Jews were scattered, will they be gathered. They were driven
from their own land, and dispersed among the nations; this was the
scattering. They will be collected from the lands among which they
are now distributed, and re-settled in their land as a great nation;
this will be the gathering. Surely this is plain. The Jews have
been a taunt and a proverb throughout the centuries, according to
the prediction of Moses; but in their restoration, it will just
be the reverse. They will be supremely honoured in proportion as
they are now despised:
"Behold, at that time I will
undo all that afflict thee, and I will save her that halteth and
gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and
fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that
time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you;
for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the
earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith
the Lord" (Zephaniah 3:19-20).
"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts,
In those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold,
out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the
skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we
have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23).
This honour is connected with political
supremacy. The Jews - for centuries, the meanest, the weakest, the
most despised people on the face of the earth, are to become the
most powerful and renowned among the nations, having all people
in subjection. This is evident from the following testimony:
Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness
of thy rising...and the sons of strangers shall build up
thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee; for in my
wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
Therefore, thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not
be shut day nor night that men may bring unto thee the forces
of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the
nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall
perish, yea, those nations shall be
utterly wasted...The sons also of them that afflicted
thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised
thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they
shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One
of Israel. Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that
no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency,
a joy of many generations" (Isaiah 60:3,10-12,14-15).
When this shall come to pass, the
enemies of Israel will be confounded. Those who deride them, and
mock at their national hope, will be overtaken by the retribution
to which they are rendering themselves liable. The approaching noontide
of Jewish prosperity will be their destruction. The preliminary
symptoms of the change will fill them with panic. This is the testimony
of the following Scripture:
"The nations shall see and
be confounded at all their might; they shall lay their hand upon
their mouth; their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust
like a serpent; they shall move out of their holes like worms
of the earth; they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall
fear because of thee" (Micah 7:16-17).
And the fate they dread will overtake
them, as is evident from the words of Isaiah:
"I will contend with him
that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children: and I
will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they
shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and
all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Saviour and thy
Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob" (Isaiah 49:25-26).
Again we read:
"Behold all they that were
incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded. They
shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee
shall perish. Thou shalt seek them
and shall not find them, even them that contended with thee. They
that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought"
Here, then, is certain doom for
all who now take part against Israel; but there is a blessing in
store for those who befriend them. "Blessed is he that blesseth
thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee." This was the decree
pronounced by Balaam under the influence of the spirit, and declared
to Abraham centuries before. It is both individual and national
in its application. Nations that have been least rigorous in their
persecutions of the Jews will, in all probability, fare the best
at the coming of Christ. Individuals who have looked with interest
and compassion upon the exiled race may expect a blessing when the
scoffer’s brazen voice is heard no more.
We look upon the Jews in their present
condition, and find them destitute of much that is admirable. This
is a difficulty in the case at which many honest minds stumble.
They say, how is such a character to be reconciled with the coming
blessing of him who is no respecter of persons, and who gives to
every man according to his work? There would be force in this inquiry
if the restoration of the Jews were conditional upon the moral condition
of the nation, but this is not the case:
"I do not this for your
sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s
sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went...not
for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be
it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your
own ways, O house of Israel" (Ezekiel 36:22,32).
At the same time, though national
restoration as a purpose of God is not contingent upon national
reformation, there will be a national purgation before that restoration
is effected. Though they will be gathered from the countries irrespectively
of moral condition, they will not necessarily obtain admission into
the land. That admission is conditional with every individual of
"I will bring you out from
the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye
are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with stretched-out arm,
and with fury poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness
of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like
as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of
Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God, And I will
cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the
bond of the covenant, and I will purge out from among
you the rebels and them that transgress against me.
I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn,
and they shall NOT enter into the land of Israel" (Ezekiel
In this we recognise a parallel
to what occurred to them after leaving Egypt under Moses. They were
then a rabble of untutored, unbelieving slaves; and a whole generation,
with the exception of two persons - Caleb and Joshua - perished
in the wilderness. They "entered not in because of unbelief",
says Paul (Hebrews 4:6). So the Jews contemporary with the return
of Christ, will be unfit to enter the land; the event will find
them in their present degraded and perverse condition; and the purging
described in the testimony above will be necessary. That purging
will take place in the wilderness, as in the days of Moses as stated
in Micah 7:15: "According to the days of thy coming out of
the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things."
The following testimonies will, after the process, be fulfilled:
"Then shall ye remember your
own evil ways, and your doings that were not good; and shall loathe
yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your
abominations" (Ezekiel 36:31).
"Thy people also shall be
all righteous; they shall inherit the
land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I may be glorified" (Isaiah 60:21).
Now from the
testimony advanced, we learn:
- That the Jews are God’s chosen nation.
- That they are the repository of God’s
- That they are dispersed at present as a
punishment for their iniquities.
- That they are to be restored from their
dispersion, and reinstated as a people in their own land.
- That all the enemies of Israel are to be
- That the remnant of the nations are to become
subject to the restored kingdom of Israel, and to repair periodically
to Jerusalem to do homage to the King of all the earth, and
to learn his ways.
This is a summary
of the things constituting "the hope of Israel", for which
Paul was bound with chains; and who can fail to perceive
that they are also the bases of the believer’s hope? The hope
of the believer is the coming of Christ, and the establishment of
the kingdom of God involving the restoration of Israel. The hope
of the Jew is the coming of Christ, and the establishment of the
kingdom of God. Hence their hopes are identical, though their relation
to it is, at first, slightly different. The apostolic gospel is
truly "the hope of Israel". That gospel was, in reality,
a proclamation of a coming re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel
under the "greater than Solomon", and an invitation to
all to become partakers of Israel’s glory, on certain specified
conditions. No one, therefore, can Scripturally understand the kingdom
of God, which is the gospel hope, who is ignorant of the prophetic
teaching concerning the restoration of the Jews, for that restoration
is a most essential element of its establishment. Were it omitted,
no kingdom of God, such as is revealed, could be set up in the future
Yet a certain
class of well-meaning persons oppose the doctrine zealously. Taking
their stand upon certain statements in the New Testament, they maintain,
with great tenacity, that the restoration of the Jews is impossible.
Now, we may accept it as a first principle, that any New Testament
deduction which is diametrically opposed to the plain statements
of the prophets, is erroneous, for the writers of the New Testament
said "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses
did say should come" (Acts 26:22), and appealed to them
as their authorities. There can be no contradiction in writings
dictated by one and the same eternal Spirit; and, in fact, there
is none. The New Testament arguments against the restoration of
Israel, are all based on misconceptions of the statements on which
they are founded, for example in Romans:
"They are not all Israel
which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham
are they all children; but In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not
the children of God; but The children of promise are counted for
the seed" (Romans 9:6-8).
Now, this statement is in strict
agreement with the prophets, without in any way diminishing the
force of their teaching in reference to the speciality of the Jews
as a nation, and their future natural restoration. It is absolutely
true that all of Israel are not Israel - that thousands of the seed
of Abraham are not children - and that
the divine principle is to count "the children of the promise"
for the seed; and this is exemplified individually and nationally.
In the case of the Jews, requirements such as circumcision, sacrifice,
reverence for the name of God, and numberless other things specified
in the law, were laid down as conditions of citizenship in the nation,
and transgression was visited with expulsion. The penalty attached
to almost every statute was, "That soul shall be cut
off from his people". Transgressors, therefore,
though of Israel, were not Israel, even under the law. A whole generation
of such non-Israelites perished in the wilderness; but this did
not nullify the national election of the seed of Abraham (through
Israel). It only showed that fleshly descent from Abraham did not
of itself constitute accepted Israeliteship - that it required Abraham’s
faith as well as Abraham’s blood.
Individually, as well, in reference
to the heirship of the kingdom, "the children of the promise
are counted for the seed". No fleshly son of Abraham has a
natural title to the honour, glory, and immortality of the kingdom,
covenanted. These are reserved for a class developed on the principle
of believing the promises. In this respect, "the flesh profiteth
nothing"; and even in respect of mortal citizenship, it profiteth
nothing, for, as we have seen, that privilege is not to be granted
on mere fleshly title. "I will bring you into the bond of the
covenant, and I will purge out from among you the rebels."
This is the prophetic declaration. Thousands of Jews will be gathered
from the countries who will never enter the land, yet this will
not destroy their national relationship. Being Jews, whom God has
specially chosen as a nation, with a view to the development of
his ultimate purpose, they will every one be gathered in the preliminary
This is the declaration of Moses,
"If any of thine be driven
out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord
thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee"
Isaiah gives similar testimony;
"He shall set up an ensign
for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts
of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the
four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12).
"And it shall come to pass
in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of
the river unto the stream of Egypt; and ye shall be gathered one
by one, O ye children of Israel" (Isaiah 27:12).
Thus there will be an indiscriminate
national restoration, without any reference to moral condition,
just as in the case of the tribes when delivered from Egypt by the
hand of Moses; because the nation, as a whole, is God’s by
sovereign election, and cannot alienate themselves from that relation,
though they may be rebellious, and render themselves obnoxious to
his destroying judgments. Yet, having been thus indiscriminately
gathered, they are not at once settled in the land, but, like their
forefathers, in the day that they came out of the land of Egypt:
"I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn,
and they shall not enter into the land of Israel."
Thus, even in the future national
restoration of the Jews, the mere children of the flesh are not
counted for the seed, but those of faith who shall be developed
by the probation in the wilderness. It must then be obvious that
it is a very short-sighted construction of Paul’s words, indeed,
which would use them to destroy the doctrine of Jewish national
restoration. It is a construction to which he himself would strenuously
object, were he now alive; for he has left his mind on the subject
on record. Speaking of his "kinsmen according to the flesh,
who are Israelites", he says:
"Blindness in part is happened
to Israel, until the fulness of the
Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved;
as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer,
and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.... As touching the
election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake;
for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance...If the
fall of them be the riches of the world and the diminishing of
them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their
fulness? If the casting away of them be the reconciling
of the world, what shall the receiving of them be,
but life from the dead?" (Romans 11:25-26,28-29,12,15).
Here Paul contemplates an approaching
Jewish "fulness", "a receiving again", a national
change, "when the fulness of the Gentiles be come in",
and warns the Gentiles in view of this not to boast against the
Jews in the wisdom of their own conceit (verse 25). This lets us
into Paul’s views on the subject of the restoration of the
Jews. The prophets and Moses as we have seen, foretell the glorious
restoration and national restitution of the veritable nation that
has suffered the vengeance of the Almighty for nearly twenty centuries.
How then could Paul, who spake none other things than they (Acts
26:22), inculcate principles entirely subversive of their teaching?
It is only partial knowledge or positive ignorance that leads men
to erect a system of doctrine on the New Testament that contradicts
the plainest testimonies of the "holy men of God", who
"spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit".
The Scriptural testimony is that
the restoration of Israel is one of the main features of the divine
purpose to be developed in the future - that the kingdom of God
cannot be established without its accomplishment, and that, in fact,
it is an element in the grand event on which the world’s salvation
The return of some of the Jews to
the promised land during this century accords with the prophecies
of their restoration and is one of the most prominent signs of the
times by which we can see that the hand of God is at work among
the nations and that the time for the re-establishment of his kingdom
is near. Ezekiel describes the circumstances of the land and people
of Israel after some Jews will have returned to the land and before
God's intervention to re-establish his kingdom. The land of Israel
is described as:
"The land that is brought
back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people...the
mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought
forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them"
During this 20th century we have
witnessed the development of this situation in the promised land.
At the turn of the century the land was part of the empire of the
Turks who had kept that land, which was once "a land flowing
with milk and honey", a desolation and a waste for centuries.
Then during the first world war, in 1917, the British army drove
the Turks out of the land and captured Jerusalem. The British government
then declared that the land "should become a national home
for the Jewish people". Thereafter Jews returning to the land
had to overcome many obstacles but, eventually in 1948, the State
of Israel was established. Despite many years suffering the threat
of invasion by their Arab neighbours, in recent days we have seen
movement towards peace which will no doubt lead to the situation
described by Ezekiel in which Israel "dwells safely".
It is when this condition prevails that Israel will be invaded from
the north by a great confederacy, and then God will intervene, making
himself known to Israel and the nations of the earth. Addressing
the invader, referred to as Gog, the Lord says:
"Thou shalt come up against
my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be
in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that
the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O
Gog, before their eyes.
"I will plead against him
with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and
upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an
overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
"Thus will I magnify myself,
and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations,
and they shall know that I am the LORD" (Ezekiel 38:16,22-23).
Clearly the kingdom of God is near
and "Salvation is of the Jews", nationally and individually.
It is important therefore to understand this element of the truth
of God, that by our enlightenment, we may become related to the
commonwealth of Israel and, being "Abraham’s seed",
we shall be "heirs according to the promise".
from Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts with slight amendments
to reflect the current state of affairs among the nations. Copies
of this excellent guide to understanding the Bible are available
by contacting us).