THE BASF - ITS IMPORTANCE AND TEACHING
That this restoration of the kingdom again to Israel will involve the ingathering of God’s chosen but scattered nation, the Jews; their reinstatement in the land of their fathers, when it shall have been reclaimed from “the desolation of many generations”; the building again of Jerusalem to become “the throne of the Lord,” and the metropolis of the whole earth. – Isa 11:12; Jer. 31:10; Zec. 8:7,8; Eze. 36:34,36; Isa. 51:3; 60:15; 62:4; Jer. 3:17; Mic. 4:7,8; Joel 3:17;Isa. 24:23.
It has become fashionable in most modern religious circles to discount the Jews from having any further purpose in the plan of the Creator. Interest in them is almost purely a historical one, with their emergence from Egypt and establishment as a nation in their own land being a familiar story taught to many. However, Scripture shows that Yahweh has a future purpose with this nation – indeed, a purpose that lies at the very core of the Gospel message. For as we shall show, it is Israel Restored that is to form the basis of a single worldwide dominion that shall have all other powers subjected to it.
There were those way back in Old Testament times who voiced the same opinions as modern theologians:
“Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families that Yahweh hath chosen, he hath cast them off? Thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nations before them.”
Wherefore the answer came to them:
“Thus saith Yahweh; 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, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy upon them” (Jer. 33:24-26).
Here are plain statements that cannot be controverted by any but the wilfully ignorant. Israel will be granted the mercy of Yahweh, even the “sure mercies of David,” an aion-lasting covenant that they will be restored to the land with Messiah the Great Prince bearing rule over them (Isa. 55:3, Lu. 1:32-33).
THE TESTIMONY OF THE PROPHETS
Contrary to popular opinion then, “God hath not cast away his people which he hath foreknew” (Rom. 11:2), for He has a great Purpose with them still. The prophets are consistent in declaring the future regathering of Israel as being the great national hope:
“It shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And 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” (Isa. 11:2).
“Hear the word of Yahweh, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock. For Yahweh hath ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he” (Jer. 30:11)
“I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land” (Eze. 36:24)
“I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them: and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof: they shall also make gardents, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall not more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith Yahweh thy Elohim” (Amos 9:14-15)
“Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem Yahweh hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thy enemy: the king of Israel, even Yahweh is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more … 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” (Zeph. 3:14-15).
There can be no doubt in the light of these testimonies, that the scattered tribes of Israel’s sons shall be regathered to their land, and have dominion over their enemies. They shall be elevated in glory, having fame and praise throughout the earth, as their King shall be found dwelling in their very midst.
A GREATER RESTORATION
The restoration we have depicted in these testimonies is far greater than the temporary and partial regathering seen at present. The BASF was written before the present day restoration, and speaks of more glorious days yet future. True, Jews currently occupy the land promised to their fathers – and in so doing, they fulfil an important part of Bible Prophecy (cp. Ezek. 38:8; Joel 3:1), but they still reside there in unbelief. A veil is still cast over their understanding (2 Cor. 4:14-15), and they do not believe the things testified in the Oracles of God concerning Jesus of Nazareth whom they took and slew upon the accursed tree.
Even though, within the last 50 years or so, we have seen the Jews pouring back into their Land, these Jews are not yet ready to submit to their King – they still reject the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus, and do not accept the things testified concerning Him in the Oracles of God. And in addition to these faithless sons of Jacob, there are still many more of them resident in foreign lands, who also refuse to bow before their Lord. There is then, a need for a dual conversion – for all 12 tribes, both inside and also outside the land to have the veil currently cast over their understanding to be removed ( 2 Cor. 3:14-17), that they might turn to the Lord in recognition of His Saving Power.
THE JEWS IN THE LAND
As regards to the Jews resident in the Land at the epoch of our Lord’s Return, the Divinely selected means of causing them to turn back to Him, as in the days of old (cp. Deut. 28:49), is to afflict them at the hands of a foreign invader. The prophetic testimony is that by the hand of his angelic ministers, the Lord will gather the armies of the world against Jerusalem, to afflict them for “all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land” (Ezek. 39:26). Thus, Zechariah was “moved” by the Spirit to proclaim: “Behold, the day of Yahweh cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle: and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled: and half of the city shall go forth into captivity …” (Zech. 14:2).
This “day of Yahweh”, is styled by Jeremiah, the “day of Jacob’s trouble” which shall be great, so that none is like it” (Jer. 30:7; Cp. Dan. 12:1), and it is in that unique “day” that Isaiah testifies the Lord shall remove “the filth of the daughters of Zion … by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Isa. 4:4).
It is clear then, that there will be great suffering and sorrow, as the disobedient sons of Jacob are chastised for their iniquities, and brought to a situation of deperation and utter helplessness, that they might learn to trust in a Strength far greater than their own. And in the midst of such affliction, there will be heard the voice of bitter crying; Rachel weeping for her children (Jer.31:51), her tears running as a river day and night (Lam. 2:18), as once again the enemy shall open the mouth against her: “they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it” (Lam. 2:16). Women shall be raped, houses pillaged (Zech. 14:2), sons taken as slaves (Joel 3:3-6), the survivors of half the city shall go into captivity and “a great spoil” shall be taken, and divided in the midst of the land.
In that day, Jerusalem truly shall become a furnace of affliction (Ezek. 22:18-22), in order that the people might be refined as silver and gold in the heat of the fire, and finally look to their God for deliverance.
“and it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith Yahweh, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call upon my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Yahweh is my God” (Zech. 13:8-9).
In the depths of sorrow, and on the brink of annihilation, the survivors, “an afflicted and poor people” (Zeph. 3:12) shall cry unto their God, in confession of their uncleanness:
“We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags: and we all do fade as a leaf: and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us because of our iniquities” (Isa. 64:6-7).
This will truly be a turning point in the history of the world – the final repentance of Israel, in order that the work of reconstructing their kingdom might begin. From that day forward, Israel shall trust in Yahweh their God, Who shall turn and fight against their enemies. Following their confession of sins, and recognition of their utter dependence upon the mercies of the God of their Fathers, they shall cry for deliverance:
“Be not wroth very sore, O Yahweh, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. Thy holy cities are a wilderness. Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation … Wilt thou restrain thyself for these things O Yahweh? Wilt thou hold thy peace and afflict us very sore?” (Isa. 64:9-12).
And Yahweh shall indeed hear the cry of His People – He shall answer swiftly with the outpouring of His Grace (Zech. 12:10, and contend with those nations which so bitterly oppressed His people: “He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry: when he shall hear it, he will answer thee” (Isa. 30:19, Cp. Psa. 50:15), for “then shall Yahweh go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3). “And 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 sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am YAHWEH” (Eze. 38:22-23).
THE MINISTRY OF ELIJAH
This then, briefly describes the circumstances of the repentance of the Jews in the Land. But what of those outside, who will not experience such humiliation at the hands of the Gogian Host? It is testified that the great prophet Elijah shall be instrumental in bringing Ephraim to repentance:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse (Mal. 4:6).
Speaking of Elijah’s work, Bro Thomas wrote:
“The person with whom they will have more immediately to do in their Second Exodus is Elijah. There would seem to be a fitness in this. In the days of their fathers, when they forsook the Lord and abolished the Law of Moses, Elijah was the person whose ministerial life was occupied in endeavouring to “restore all things”. That he might at a future period resume his work and perfect it by restoring all things among the ten tribes according to the Law of Moses, preparatory to their being planted in their land under a new covenant to be made with them there. But it may be objected that Elijah has come already, and that John the Baptist was he (Lu. 1:17). True, in a certain sense he has. John was Elijah to the House of Judah in the sense of his having come “in the spirit and power of Elijah”. But John was not the Elijah who talked with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration. The latter is Elijah to the house of Israel. The scribes taught that Elijah must precede Christ; which Jesus has approved, saying, “Elijah truly shall first come and restore all things.” He said this after John was put to death … (Elpis Israel)
There are those who feel that the Lord will not send Elijah “before the great and dreadful day of Yahweh”, as Malachi taught he will. They say that this prophecy had a total fulfilment in John Baptist, and needs not a further application. But what did John himself say? “They asked him, What then, Art thou Elias: and he saith I am not.” (Jno. 1:21). This is conclusive evidence, which ought to settle all dispute on the matter. Either John was Elias without knowing it, or he spoke the Truth, saying “I am not” True it is, that John came “in the spirit and power of Elias” (Lu. 1:17) as Bro Thomas shows, for his preparatory work for the coming of the Lord Jesus, foreshadowed the future work of the ancient Israelitish prophet (Mat. 17:12). But he was “not” that prophet. This Elijah, it is testified, shall “turn the heart of the Fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the Fathers” (Mal. 4:6) – that is, to join together the hearts of the sons of Israel to become at one with that of our Fathers, that they may rejoice together in the covenant made with them. And this work, as is evident from the present decadent state of the children’s hearts, is a work for the future, which must be accomplished in order for them to inherit the blessing promised to their Fathers.
This will be the mission of Elijah – to “restore all things”, that is, to restore the remnant of Jacob to their God, and effect a second Exodus, the final restoration to the land. How appropriate in this regard, that on the Mount of Transfiguration (a foretaste of the kingdom (2 Peter 1:16-18), there should appear Moses, the leader of the first Exodus out of Egypt, with Elijah the leader of the final Exodus, through the “wilderness of the peoples” (Ezek. 20:35) to communicate with the Lord concerning his “decease” (or exodus as the Greek has it) which he should accomplish at Jerusalem (Lu. 9:31) – the means by which as the captain of salvation, he would lead many sons out of darkness into glory (Heb 2:10).
THE REPENTANCE OF ISRAEL IN DISPERSION
The re-gathering of the 10 tribes forms the object of many prophecies in Scripture as we shall see later, but it is evident that in order for this to occur, their repentance shall come first. Moses, after speaking of the blessings and cursings to come upon the people prophesied of this:
“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations wither Yahweh thy Elohim hath driven thee, and shalt return unto Yahweh thy Elohim, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; that then Yahweh thy Elohim will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither Yahweh thy Elohim hath scattered thee” (Deut. 30:1-5).
Moses thus taught that whilst in the lands of dispersion, Israel shall return to their God, obeying His Voice, “according to all that I command thee, this day” that is, the day in which he taught them the Law prior to their entry into the land. It would appear from this, that whilst in the lands of their dispersion, the people are to be brought under the Mosaic Law, prior to their resettlement in the Land, to discipline them and to teach them the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:19, 24).
This conclusion is strengthened by Malchi, who immediately before speaking of the work of Elijah, spake thus: “Remember ye the Law of Moses my servant which I commanded unto him in Horeb, for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet …” (Mal. 4:4). Bro. Thomas commented on this:
“It would seem from the testimony of Malachi, who prophesied concerning the twelve tribes, that while they are in the wilderness of the people, they will be disciplined by the Law of Moses as their national code, while things concerning Jesus will be propounded to them as a matter of faith: for it is testified by Hosea, that they shall be gathered, and “shall sorrow a little for the burden of the King of Princes” (Hos. 8:10)” (Elpis Israel, P 451).
But by what means are the people to be brought under the Mosaic Covenant once more? What signs and wonders (Joel 2:30, see Mic. 7:15) will testify to the truth of what the diaspora find themselves being taught? It would appear that the restorative work of Elijah will run concurrently with the humiliation and redemption of Jerusalem, for we read that Elijah shall be sent “before the coming of the Great and dreadful day of Yahweh,” that is, prior to the invasion of Jewry by the Gogian host. Yet it will not be finally accomplished until after the salvation of Jerusalem, for “Yahweh also shall save the tents of Judah first” (Zech. 12:7). So it will be that Elijah’s preaching shall receive a powerful witness in the desolation, deliverance, and miraculous blessing of the land.
He will, doubtless, warn the exiles of the coming judgments to come upon the earth, and will be able to look towards Jerusalem as an example of this. Thus it will be, that Elijah will lead the people out from the kingdoms of men, (their dominion about to be crushed by the Stone-power of God (Dan. 2:44)) into the land of promise, its desolate wastes transformed in an Edenic paradise (Isa. 51:3) by the beneficent power of the Lord, upon the repentance and cry of His people. And beholding these things, what greater incentive could there be for the scattered tribes to seek after the One who has performed these “great things” (Joel 2:21)? So it will be, that as they sojourn among the countries of the heathen, they shall see these things and rejoice: “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen: Yahweh hath done great things for them. Yahweh hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psa. 126:2-3).
The response of the people to Elijah will be good: “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa. 110:3), and in belief of their God, they shall depart from their adopted lands, to return home to Zion.
AFFLICTION IN THE WILDERNESS
The Scriptures indicate that many of the returning exiles shall be compelled to leave their host countries because of persecution. Just as the inhabitants of Jerusalem are to experience great affliction at the hands of the confederacy described in the 38th chapter of Ezekiel, so their brethren, resident in “their enemies” lands (Ezek. 39:27) are to groan under great travail and distress:- “behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts” (Ezek. 37:11), as they shall become a “curse among the heathen” (Zech. 8:13).
And even having left those countries, the people shall not find peace in the nations they will need to pass through to reach the Promised Land. Rather, they shall be subjected to a purging:
“I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out from the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I plead with you face to face … 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: and ye shall know that I am Yahweh” (Eze. 20:34-38).
From these words, it is evident that as they seek to return to their homeland, the Jews shall experience many terrible atrocities, as anti-semitic feelings are aroused, probably by the leading countries of the campaign against Jerusalem. The scene of these events is to be “the wilderness of the peoples” – it is in this place that the rebels (those who desire to escape the persecution in their own lands, and experience the blessings of Zion, yet who refuse to accept Yahweh’s terms of deliverance) shall be removed. And it is here also, that the remnant shall be brought into “the bond of the covenant” – that is, the “new covenant” (Jer. 31:31), having been taught of it, through the Mosaic schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24) and the ministrations of Elijah.
We have been unable to find in the Divine Testimony precise details of the route which the returning sons of Jacob shall follow in their journey, and so it is difficult for us to define with certainty the exact location of this “wilderness of the peoples” – if, indeed, it is referring to a specific place. There is a clue, however, in the apocalyptic visions shown to John. He beheld a European “wilderness” (Rev. 17:3), inhabited by the harlot mother of Christendom, the Catholic system, seated upon a multi-headed beast. This beast, we learn from verses 9-13 is a Roman political animal, comprised of 10 kings over which the Papacy exerts its influence – in short, the Roman Catholic Europe as it will exist at the Epoch of the Lord’s Return. And of these 10 kings, we read: “They shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Verse 14). These words serve to place the “wilderness” beheld by John in the time period under our present consideration – at the epoch of the destruction of the Kingdoms of men, and their replacement by the reconstructed Kingdom of Israel.
This Apocalyptic wilderness then, is the arena inhabited by the papal driven European political creature (see Eureka by Bro John Thomas for further evidence for this. It speaks of the European land which, although in many ways is materially a fruitful place, is due to it’s lack of spiritual nourishment, an inhospitable barren desert in the Divine Estimation. And it is quite possible therefore that it is this area of the globe that Ezekiel styles the “wilderness of the peoples”, the places in Europe through which the returning exiles will pass through on their journey homeward – the place which has been the scene of some of the most bitter campaigns of hate against God’s people in past ages.
DIVINE DELIVERANCE ASSURED
But be that as it may, it is clear that in this wilderness, having been “purged” of the “rebels”, the refined remnant shall find grace in the sight of their God:
“Thus saith Yahweh, the people who were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness, even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest” (Jer. 31:2 – see the whole chapter.
It may be thought that these words relate to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, but in that event, it was not just a remnant, but the whole nation which was saved. See also Hos. 1:14).
These people have a promise of Divine protection: “when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned: nether shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. 43:2, see Psa. 66:12) and so it will be, that having entered into the New Covenant, just as the Lord shall deliver the Gogian confederacy into the hand of those in the land, so He will be with His People in contending against their enemies outside. And just as Judah will have a part in executing judgements against their oppressors under the auspices of their Redeemer (Isa. 59:20), even so Israel will execute the Lord’s judgments upon those countries which seek their destruction. Thus we read of the proclamation of Yahweh: “Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I destroy kingdoms: and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider …” (Jer. 51:21). And again, in speaking of Yahweh’s “weapons of war”: “when I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece … and Yahweh shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightening: and the Lord Yahweh shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. Yahweh Tzvaoth shall defend them; and they shall devour …” (Zech. 9:13-15).
In that day the sons of Jacob shall fight victoriously against their enemies, in the preliminary work of subduing the nations under the reign of their King. As it is written: “the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off” (Mal. 5:8-9). So it will be, that Israel shall prosper, being victorious over their oppressors, in preparation for that time prophesied so many years earlier, when “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 Yahweh, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel … I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations” (Isa. 60:15)