THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL - TO gOD (4)
In our previous articles, we briefly considered the spiritual reformation of the Jews and the outcome of this, an inheritance back into the land of promise. God says Jerusalem, “This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and the countries that are round about her” (Eze. 5:5). During the millennium, this city will be both physically and spiritually “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” (Mat.5:14). Her people’s shame over killing their Messiah will bite deep into their conscience.
In the early days of that glorious age, the spiritual turnabout will be so widespread that Isaiah writes, “thy people also shall be all righteous” (60:21). Ezekiel adds: “for in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord God there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land serve me” (Eze. 20:40). Later, Ezekiel describes this heart felt obedience as a “sweet savour” (verse 41), reminding us of Noah. Having come out of the Ark, he offered a burnt offering at which God smells “a sweet savour”: Behind the physical offering, God saw the obedience of Noah as the “sweet savour”.
Likewise, he sees the remnant of Jewry turning to him in the same light. The pattern of the destruction of the world and the saving of a remnant come through. The cry of God through Isaiah is, “Awake, awake, put on thy beautiful garments O Jerusalem, the holy city …” (Isa. 52:1)
Who or what are these garments? Earlier the prophet had written, “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold, all these gather together, and come to thee (returning Jews to Zion, see previous verses) as I live, saith the Lord thou shalt surely clothed thee with them all as with an ornament, and bind them on thee as a bride doeth” (49:18). Her glory and permanence depend upon her people serving the Lord. To God, she has been naked during many centuries awaiting the glad day when under her “great king” (Mat. 5:35) she would be “clothed” with her children. No wonder Isaiah exhorts his readers to “… give him [God] no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:7). The grand purpose of God set before His people at Mount Sinai will then begin to be realised in a way not previously seen in its fullness: “and ye shall be unto me a Kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exo.19:6).
Jeremiah writes concerning the twelve tribes, “And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it” (33:9). This marvellous vision of a reformed and Godly Israel should be a significant part of our preaching message. Israel are to be the leading nation in the Kingdom Age under the Lord Jesus Christ, as Isaiah records: “for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee [Israel] shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted” (60:12). Our hearts should warm to these messages of hope and talk about them amongst ourselves, for this is what the nations will do in the kingdom! “And they [the nations] shall call them, The Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord, and thou shalt be called, Sought out, a city not forsaken” (Isa.62:12). This is the “great nation” promised to Abraham. Of course we can be an integral part of the promises to the patriarchs, but we must never forget the natural seed in our preaching, and prayers. The array of Scriptures provided (and there are so many others!) in these articles, emphasise this significant Christadelphian teaching.
During this long period of Gentile Times, God has caused His people “to abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice” (Hos. 3:4). In other words without the Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice, but also they are without “an image, and without an ephod and without teraphim” (verse 4), perhaps items to do with idolatry. It is noticeable that after the return from Babylon they did not turn back to the forms of idolatry worshipped before. The word “abide” (verse 4), according to the Hebrew Scholar Gesenius, means “to remain for someone” – that “someone” is Yahweh their God manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he returns, the glorious last verse of Hosea 4 will be fulfilled: “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days …”
MERCY AND TRUTH
There are two words used in Scripture which have a particular bearing on the promises to Abraham, Israel’s return to God and subsequent forgiveness linked with the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Godly servant of Abraham having had a successful search for a wife for Isaac, worships and praises God with these words:
“and he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (Gen. 24:27).
Those two words—“mercy and truth” linked here with the important matter of finding a wife for the “seed of Abraham” – Isaac, are used throughout Scripture. I have selected just a few and we shall see their bearing upon the topic we are considering.
The prophet Micah describing the awesome power of Israel after they have been reformed and forgiven (chapter 7, verses 14-19) says:
“Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (verse 20).
Please read the whole of Psalm 89, which deals with the kingdom of Messiah and in verse 14 we have the words “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” The rulership of Jesus will be based upon the principles enshrined in the promises to the patriarchs. Flowing through the words of Mary (Lu. 1:50,54), and Zacharias (verse 72 and 78) the word “mercy” is used, connected with the promises to Abraham (verse 73) and forgiveness of sins for Israel (verse 77). Finally, in Romans chapter 15, the Apostle Paul demonstrating that Jesus Christ was God’s servant for the Jews and Gentiles writes: “now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy;” verses 8 and 9. He then quotes four references from the Old Testament to establish that the Gentiles are linked with the repentant Jews in the salvation offered in Christ Jesus. It is appropriate then that in three of the references quoted, the words “mercy” or “truth” are to be found, and in the final quotation the one through whom that grace is extended—the Lord Jesus Christ.
(1) Verse 9 = Psalm 18:49, the word “mercy” is used in verse 50
(2) Verse 10= Deuteronomy 32:43 the word “merciful is used in that verse
(3) Verse 11= Psalm 117:1 the words “merciful” and “truth” are used
(4) Verse 12= Isaiah 11:10 “the root of Jesse” is the banner provided by God.
So our salvation is closely aligned with the redemption of Israel, as Paul writes “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving in of them be, but life from the dead” (Rom. 11:15).
It appears from Scripture that the Angels will help in the initial setting up of the Kingdom. The writer to the Hebrews cites Psalm 8, and applies it to the rulership of the earth under Jesus and “his brethren”: “For unto the Angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come (that is, “the world” of Psalm 8) whereof we speak”. There is much to be done by the Redeemed, the pattern being set before us in the work of the Master and his disciples in the First Century (see notes below).
THE ROLE OF MORTAL ISRAEL
So let us concentrate on the role of the mortal nation of Israel, remembering the words of God to Israel that they are to be a “kingdom of priests”. The disciples, Jesus said, “ … shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28). Their particular responsibility will be in the control and guidance of the nation. The tribe of Levi will again assume the responsibility of offering sacrifices in fulfilment of the words of Jeremiah 33:17-22, and Malachi 3:3-4, but also instructing the people in the Word of the Lord, as they failed to do in the past (see Mal. 2:4-9). It is stressed in the Prophets that God will provide “pastors” and “shepherds” who will lead and feed his people: “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15). Amongst these shepherds will be mortal Jews helping their brethren and sisters, and visitors to Israel, using their talents in his “vineyard”.
From the Scriptures culled in the former articles, we have tried to demonstrate that only converted Jews will be allowed to remain in the land, so at the beginning of the Millennium there will be enthusiastic compliance to God. It is important to note that both David (Psa. 51:19) and Malachi (4:3), under Divine Inspiration stress that the offerings given by the priests and people will be “in righteousness.” They, along with their fellow Jews will have appreciated that only under the “new” covenant in Christ Jesus is forgiveness found (Jer. 31:31-34) so that the priests and people in giving their offerings will appreciate as no other generations of Jews have the following words of Paul: “Therefore by the deed of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin: But now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets” (Rom. 3:20-21).
Furthermore, God says “… my word … it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
The Law given by Moses was part of that Word of God. When did the twelve tribes of Israel in unity and in righteousness offer animal sacrifices with understanding of their real significance? Maybe in the reign of Solomon or David, but this pales into insignificance compared to what the Scriptures note of the Kingdom to Come. So the Laws and Commandments given to Moses are termed by Paul: “…the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good” (Rom. 7:12). This will be seen in the kingdom. At long last the ritual of the Law will be seen in both its beauty and weakness, God’s Word concerning Sacrifices has not returned “void” to him. The lessons arising from the types and shadows being brought out by immortal and mortal “shepherd” teachers will be a wonderful experience. Out of the lessons of the Law, Grace will truly be revealed. Israel will be the host for the visiting representatives coming to worship in Jerusalem (see Deut. 33:18-19?), and this desire by the Gentiles to worship God is presented to them and indeed for us: “and many people shall go [to Jerusalem] and say, COME YE, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord … O house of Jacob, COME YE, and LET US walk in the light of the Lord (2:3-5).
The problem was “they were filled with the customs of the east” (verse 6, RV). Are we similarly filled with “the customs of the west”? May we learn the lesson.
Oh! Mourn ye for Zion, her beauty is faded
Her joy is departed, her glory is fled
The light and the hope of her prospects are shaded:
She wanders in darkness, her comforts are dead.
Oh pray ye for Zion, though sad and forsaken,
Though scorned and derided, despised and forlorn
The truth of Jehovah, our God, is unshaken,
Her night shall usher a glorious morn
Oh! Labour for Zion, though now in her blindness
She knows not her Saviour, Messiah and Lord;
Yet, guided by mercy, the life-tones of kindness
Shall win her dull ear to the voice of His Word
Oh! Watch ye for Zion; the day-spring is breaking
Her night has been gloomy, but shortly will end;
Her long-promised Shepherd His lost sheep is seeking,
The heart of the obdurate nation will bend.
Oh! Hope ye for Zion! Jehovah has spoken;
Jerusalem’s outcasts shall yet be restored;
The bonds of the fetter-bound slave shall be broken,
And Judah set free at the word of the Lord