THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL - TO GOD (2)
Israel today is trusting in her own ability to survive. God says of this attitude, “Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled (Marg. “taloned”) bird, the birds round about are against her (Jer. 12:9). A “taloned bird” using its claws to protect itself—but alas, an unclean bird! How can God change this nation to a dove (Isa. 60:8) with “wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold” (Psa. 68:13). The nation redeemed (silver) and faithful after trial (gold)? Or to put it another way, how can “this people” (see Jer. 11:14; Isa. 29:13; Luke 21:23 etc), a phrase used many times in Scripture of a people estranged from God, become “my people” (Hos. 2:23; Jer. 32:38) – truly, the redeemed of the Lord?
We shall, without being dogmatic, cull from the Scriptures some aspects of this wonderful turning of the remnant of Israel to their God. A day we should long for, because Israel are going to be the leading mortal nation in the Kingdom Age. The close link of their conversion and the nations turning to God and the blessings flowing from this relationship can be seen in the words of Jeremiah chapter 4, verse two:
“and thou [Israel] shalt swear, the Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory”
TIME OF JUDGMENT FOR THE JEWS IN THE LAND
However we interpret the phrase “peace and safety” in Ezekiel 38:11, it is clearly stated in chapters 38 and 39 the reasons why the awesome judgments are coming:
(a) “Thus will I magnify myself and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations …” (Eze. 38:23, cp 39:6-7).
(b) “… I will bring thee [Gog] against my land, that the heathen may know me when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes (Eze. 38:16)
(c) In chapter 39:17-20, God speaks of the “great sacrifice” in the land—the judgments upon the invading forces. And the effect of this? “so the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward” (verse 22.) In chapter 39, verses 1-7 we see the fall of Gog and fire upon nations afar off “So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more”
(d) Finally, in verses 25-29 of chapter 39, we see God gathering “the whole house of Israel”, after the judgments of chapters 38/39. Those in the land (v 26) and those in the “enemy’s lands” (v 27) so that all repentant Jews are back in the “promised land” (v 28), and God’s spirit will then be poured upon them (v. 29). The impression one gains from the wording in Ezekiel 39 of God’s view of Israel in the land, before his judgement is not that of a people serving Him, giving Him pleasure. Here we see history repeating itself. A nation disobeying Him, thinking that it’s achievements are out of it’s own wisdom—so God brings invading forces upon them to punish them. However, a remnant do respond to this twin aspect of judgment and mercy, and form the Jewish nucleus in the land.
This is indeed the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Divine intervention will be awesome (through Christ and the saints, I suggest) as Jeremiah records: “all faces are turned unto paleness” (verse 6) but God will bring His repentant remnant through this refining process.
The prophet Zechariah fills in another piece of the picture in informing us that “half of the city have gone into exile” (14:2, NIV), the rest remaining within the city. Of those remaining in the city and land, a third will be refined and will enter the kingdom (Zech. 13:8-9). This refining is mentioned in other Scriptures as follows:
“And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgement, and by the spirit of burning” (Isa. 4:3-4).
In Malachi chapter four, verse one, the destruction of the proud and unrepentant Jew in the land (and elsewhere) is graphically presented to us: “For, behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
Zephaniah having mentioned the gathering together of the nations for Divine judgment, and the “pure language” to be spoken in the Kingdom, writes: “In that day shalt thou [Israel] not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then will I take away out of the midst of thee, them that rejoice in pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because (margin: “in”) of my holy mountain (Zeph. 3:11).
The earthquake in Zechariah 14, and Ezekiel 38 (see verse 19) happens when the Lord Jesus and the saints arrive in the vicinity of the Mount of Olives. This causes panic and dread among the people, some of whom flee over the area created by the earthquake (Zech. 14:5).
“Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about (in the valley of Jehoshaphat—verse 12) thither cause thy mighty ones to come down O Lord” (3:12).
Micah writes concerning the man born in Bethlehem (5:2):
“And this man shall be the peace when the Assyrian shall come into our Land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then we shall raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men, and they shall waste the land of Assyria … thus he shall deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders” (Mic.5:5-6).
These verses are set in the background of the defeat by God of the Assyrians in the time of Hezekiah, but the chapter’s full implications are not realised until Jesus comes back.
Will Jesus come to Jerusalem on a donkey? The words of Zechariah 9:9&c, have had a fulfilment at his first coming of course, but a careful reading of the chapter shows that the above verse is dealing with the restoration of the Kingdom at Jesus’ second coming. It is a chapter of contrast between the conquest of countries by proud Alexander the Great (Verses 1-8) and the vanquishing of God’s enemies by the humble Lord Jesus Christ (Verses 9-17). This is the kind of thing our God does. The future King of the World born in a manger! The King of the World causing an earthquake with awesome power arriving in the land on a donkey! This arrival by the Lord Jesus Christ is presented to us as the arrival of “light” in the land of “darkness” in the prophecy of Isaiah on two occasions. In chapter 59:20 we read of “the redeemer” who shall “come to Zion”, and this verse is cited in Romans 11:26 as follows:
“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: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins”.
This occurs, as Paul notes, when “the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in” (ANT translation, v 25). However, in Isaiah 59:20, the redeemer “shall come to Zion”, whereas in the above quotation by Paul, from the Septuagint rendering is, “shall come out of Zion” – these two parts being the basis of these articles. If we go back to the prophet Isaiah, and move on to chapter 60 (the chapter break spoils the flow of thought):
“arise, shine: for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee” (Isa. 60:1).
Now notice in the next verse the spiritual condition both of the nation of Israel and the world when he arrives, “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee”. From this bleak situation the chapter flows on in delightful concepts about the glorious future for the “seed of Abraham.” Notice the last phrase of the last words in that chapter: “I the Lord will hasten it in his time” (v 22) – what wondrous signs of the times have happened in such a short period of time in the late 19th and 20th Centuries! The second reference to Jesus coming again in Isaiah as the light is in chapter 9, but to get the context correctly we need to look at chapter 8 where we have the progressive purpose of God set out.
Ch. 8:13-15 Rejection of the “stone of stumbling” – the Lord Je sus Christ by the Jews.
V. 17 Acceptance of Jesus Christ by the remnant (ecclesias)
V. 18 Ministry of the Apostles ( this verse quoted in this context in Hebrews 2:13
V 21-22 Punishment upon Jewry. “darkness and dimness” – scattering amongst the nations.
Ch. 9:1 The gloom will pass from t hose in distress, even from areas that he humbled like the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali (see 1 Kings 15:20) and Galilee (see 2 Kings 15:29) because:
V. 2 “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light …”
That light was the Lord Jesus Christ at his first coming (Mat. 4:15). However, this chapter is dealing with the Kingdom of God, as a careful reading of the chapter will reveal. In verse 3 we read of the rejoicing of Israel, like the rejoicing at the time of harvest. Why?
Building up on the opening word “for” at the beginning of each verse, the message rises to a crescendo in verse 6 with the Kingdom under the Lord Jesus Christ.
Vs. 4 “for” thou hast broken the yoke of his burden” – ene mies vanquished, note “as the day of Midian” this victory achieved with a “remnant”. This will be true of Israel in defeating her enemies in the land at Christ’s coming.
V. 5 “for” every battle of the warrior is with confused noise” – total confusion amongst invading armies.
Vs. 6-7 “for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given … and the gov- ernment shall be upon his shoulder etc”
So as at Christ’s first coming, there was spiritual darkness in Israel, so at his second appearance, thus the present spiritual state of Israel, confirming the accuracy of Scripture.
TIME OF MERCY FOR THE REMNANT OF ISRAEL IN THE LAND
Having seen the power of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the minority of Jews in the land turn to repentance to him, as Zechariah 12:10-14 graphically describes:
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son …”
The deep mourning they had at the death of Josiah (2 Chron. 35:22-24) will be seen again. All the strata of Jewish society will participate in this remembrance of the spiritual disasters of the past and also their own foolishness. The moving message of Isaiah 53 will bear down upon them, they really will acknowledge, “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and Yahweh hath laid upon him [looking at Jesus in their midst] the iniquity of us all” (verse 6).
When David sinned against the Lord (see Psalm 51), God sent Nathan— “thou art the Man,” said the prophet. When God sends Jesus back and they see his pierced hands and feet—“thou art the nation” would be words appropriate for that time. Having turned to their Saviour the Jewish remnant (called “Judah” in Zechariah 12:5-6) will defend themselves and defeat the enemy as Zecharaiah 12:5 says:
“And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, shall be my strength in YAHWEH their God”.
The prophet Joel writes:
“but YAHWEH will be the hope (margin “place of repair”), and the strength of the children of Israel (Joel 3:16).
Zephaniah adds his voice:
“I will also leave in the midst of thee and afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust (lit. “flee for refuge) in the name of YAHWEH. The “remnant” of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; nether shall a deceitful tongue be in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” (Zeph. 3:12-13).
Passages dealing with the repentance of those Jews living outside the land we will deal with later. The order of deliverance is carefully planned by the Lord even in the saving of the neucleus of the Jews in the land. Judah are saved first before the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that there should be no glorying one over another. One of the delightful features of the “restored Kingdom to Israel”, is that at long last there is real, genuine unity amongst the twelve tribes. This list of passages are impressive, which indicate this. The Lord Jesus Christ is instrumental in creating this bond.
Ezekiel (chapter 37) is commanded to take two sticks, which represent Judah and Ephraim, joining them together in his hand (verse 17), which God explains as a type of being in his “hand” (see v 19). Thus Jesus as “the son of man” (Cp. Jno. 8:28), also a perfect manifestation of Yahweh, will unite Israel (see verses 21 & 22). A selection then, of passages which bring out this “unity” theme:
“The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim” (Isa. 11:13-14).
This spirit of unity will commence amongst the Jewish immigrants outside the land:
“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 I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers” (Jer. 3:18)
– the context is that of the Kingdom.
“in those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together going and weeping: they shall go, and seek YAHWEH their God” (Jer. 50:4).
The context is that of the defeat of Babylon, but later on in chapter 51, verses 20-23, the spirit speaks of the Jews destroying Babylon—which was not the case as regards to Babylon situated on the Euphrates. Therefore it must have an application to another Babylon—“Babylon the Great” of Revelation 17:5.