Title: God's Loving Sovereignty Over His Chosen Nation, Israel
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Today, the sounds of war fill the air much of the time in modern Israel, even though the words, 'Peace Process' are on the lips of her leaders. Israel's Arab neighbors, both nations and the Palestinians, are committed to Israel's destruction, just as they have been for the past 3,000 years.
We would like to depart from our normal programming today so we may discuss the modern-day rebirth of the nation Israel in the light of Last Day's prophecies. Many Christians either do not understand the historical miracle of Israel's rebirth or they mistakenly believe that the Jews are no longer God's Chosen People, that the re-establishment of Israel in 1948 has no prophetic significance. We are talking primarily to the people who believe the latter. Stay with us, because this is a faith-building study.
Let us begin by discussing the unprecedented historical miracle of Israel's rebirth. God began to throw the Jews out of their nation with the invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 602 B.C. The Jews never really governed themselves as an independent state from that time forward, even though the Greeks and the Romans allowed Israel limited self-government. However, Rome's patience for the Jews was put to the test continually by their repeated rebellion. Roman patience was finally exhausted in A.D. 66, when the Jews rose in unprecedented revolt. At first, the Jewish army took over part of Palestine, including Jerusalem. Rome's military response was also unprecedented, as it sent an immense force against Jerusalem. In A.D. 70, the Roman Army conquered Jerusalem. Roman leadership was determined to finally rid themselves of the perennially rebellious Jewish nation. Therefore, they slaughtered untold numbers of people and began to systematically force the Jews out of Israel, into the nations which surrounded her. In doing so, they fulfilled God's many warnings that He would punish Israel in just this way if they continued to sin against His commandments. We will study these prophecies in a few moments.
But, the historical fact records that Israel was out of her land for the next 1,900 years. Israel's land was controlled by a succession of Gentile powers during that long period of time.
At this point, Israel should never have been expected to gain her land back, because no people who had ever been out their land for several hundred years had ever regained it. But, Bible scholars who believed the Bible literally consistently insisted, on the authority of God's Word, that Israel would be restored back to her land. In fact, there were scholars who maintained that the countdown to the End of the Age could not actually begin until National Israel was reestablished. Therefore, when Israel returned as a nation, Bible scholars knew the world had entered into the End of the Age!
And, against all historic odds, Israel was reborn in one day in May, 1948. Since then, she has fought several wars for her survival, against incredible odds. The rebirth of Israel in 1948 was truly an historically unprecedented miracle of God, accomplished against all historic odds. Remember, tiny Israel is one of the major players to watch as you try to understand how close we are to the end.
But, we should not have been surprised that Israel returned back as a nation. God foretold in many places in both the Old and New Testaments that He would tear Israel out her land if she refused to obey His commandments but then he repeatedly turned around and promised national restoration. We need to study these Scriptures, and is so doing, permanently lay aside the false doctrine that God is finished with the Jewish nation as His Chosen Nation.
One of the most important principles of interpreting the Bible is that we interpret the Old Testament in light of the New. So, let us begin with Paul's revelation in the New Testament, in Romans 11; in this chapter, Paul addresses the concept that God has permanently discarded Israel as His Chosen People. Listen carefully to Paul's words, beginning with verse 1:
"I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid ...God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew..."
Even though Israel had sinned greatly and repeatedly, God had not cast them aside as His Chosen People. When we look back at God's covenant with Abraham, we see why God could not cast aside Israel and still be true to His eternal, unchanging Nature. In Genesis 17:7-8, God explains His covenant with Abraham. God promised, "I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant..." God repeats this commitment to an everlasting covenant in verse 8.
Notice God stated His covenant is with Abraham and his "seed". This word, "seed" most definitely refers to those physical descendants which will follow Abraham, to the nation Israel, which grew out of Abraham's descendants. Further, God stated that this covenant will be an "everlasting" covenant. The word, "everlasting" literally means, "forever" or "eternal." God could not end this physical covenant with Abraham's descendants without violating His unchanging Nature. He simply had to ensure that this National Covenant stood for eternity. Notice, also, that this covenant with Abraham was unconditional. Even if the Jews following Abraham were to rebel against God, this covenant would stand. In contrast, the Law, covenanted with Moses, was destined from the beginning to be abolished once the New Covenant of Jesus Christ was established. This is one of the great themes of the writer to the Hebrews.
Remember, we are talking two covenants here. Let us again review:
1. The National, Racial Covenant with Abraham, was given in approximately 1900 B.C. The Jews were proclaimed God's Chosen People, not for anything they had done, but for God's glory. God also promised that from this national and racial line, the Messiah would come, not once, but twice. This Messiah would reign forever. We see this promise of two comings in Isaiah 9:6, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given..." This foretells of Messiah's First Coming to take away the sin of the world. But the passage continues: "...and the Government shall be upon His shoulder...Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever..." This prophecy obviously has never been realized; we are still waiting for this wonderful Divine Government. But notice carefully that this line is passed from Abraham through David to Messiah, Who is Jesus Christ. And Jesus' Kingdom will be established forever. Obviously, the Jew and His nation Israel, had to continue to be God's Chosen if this forever kingdom was to be established.
Now, let us examine the Mosaic, covenant, a spiritual, ritual, and Temple covenant.
2. The Mosaic Law was given to Moses in approximately 1500 B.C., 400 years after the Abrahamic covenant. This second covenant was spiritual, and Jesus set it aside, except for the moral code, when He established His Second Spiritual Covenant. When people read Paul's words that true Jewishness is a matter of the heart, to be achieved by faith in Jesus Christ, they assumed God had set Israel aside in favor of Christians. Such people confuse the Mosaic Law, most of which is abolished, with the Abrahamic National Covenant, which God never abolished.
But, if this is true, God created a problem for Himself when He removed Israel from their land dispersing them into the nations which surrounded her. In order to understand this problem, and God's solution, we need to go back to Scripture.
In Deuteronomy 28, the people of Israel were encamped in the plains of Moab, preparing to enter the Promised Land. Moses addressed them. In chapter 28, Moses promised, in verse 1, "...if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments...the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth." Moses then proscribed blessings in every area of Israel's life, if they would obey God. Then, in verse 15, Moses warned, "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe all His commandments and statutes which I command thee this day, all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee." Moses then took all the blessings which he had just promised Israeland he reversed them all, turning them into curses. From verses 15-68, Moses details these curses; we encourage you to read them in detail, for they are very instructive as to the Judgmental Nature of God.
Many of these curses were literally fulfilled on many occasions throughout Israel's Old Testament existence. But, in verse 58, God shifted gears, as He says, "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law... THE LORD THY GOD.. will make thy plagues wonderful..." At this point, let us look at the translation afforded us by the original language, so our understanding is complete. In Deuteronomy 28:59, God says, "Then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary strokes and blows, great plagues of long continuance, and grievous sicknesses of long duration..." One does not have to be a thorough student of Jewish history to think of the Jewish Dispersion here. From the time of Nebuchnezzar, 606 B.C., to 1948 A.D., a period of 2,554 Gentile calendar years, the Jewish people have been outside their land, have been persecuted, hunted, and killed in unprecedented ways and numbers. Certainly, God meant what He said when He gave this warning.
But, then in verse 62, God gave even more detail to His warning of unbelievable punishment. He said,
"And ye shall be left few in number...And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good...so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you...and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth to the other..."
In these few verses, we can see the outlines of the entire 2,500 year dispersion! This is one of the greatest faith-building verses in the entire Bible.
Now, let us move to Deuteronomy 29:24, where God asks the rhetorical question,
"Even all nations shall say, 'Wherefore hath the Lord done this (the destruction of the nation Israel)? 'What meaneth the heat of this great anger?' Then men shall say, 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which He made with them... and the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger...and cast them into another land...'"
But, then in chapter 30, God promised reconciliation, starting with verse 1, "...when all these things come upon thee...and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day...then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity... and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee."
God's Nature is such that He must punish sin, and punish it severely. However, to be consistent with His Nature to keep His promises to Abraham, God then promised to gather Israel back from among all the nations to which He had scattered her, and restore her fortunes.
We now move ahead from approximately 1500 B.C., to 600 B.C., during the times of the major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. God utilized them each in a slightly different way and in different locations to deliver God's final warning to turn back to Him in repentance or face His certain physical judgment. On many instances, God warned of His judgment which was about to fall upon Israel. God laments in Isaiah 1:5, "Why should you be stricken and punished any more [since it brings no correction]? You will revolt more and more; the whole head is sick..." These are fearful warnings and it does sound like God was ready to punish in an unprecedented manner. God warned, in Ezekiel 5:8-9, "thus says the Lord God: Behold, I..am against you, and I will execute judgments in the midst of you...and because of all your abominations I will do in you that which I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again." From Ezekiel 5:10-6:7, God recounted these terrible curses, all of which have since been fulfilled, especially in the great dispersion. But, then, in 6:8-10, God says, "Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when you shall be scattered through the countries...And they shall know, understand and realize that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would bring this evil calamity [in punishment] upon them...Thus will I accomplish My wrath upon them..." God is very clear in foretelling two distinct things:
He is forced by His unchanging Nature to severely punish Israel for her sins.
But He will move to bring the Jews back to the Land of Israel, gathering them out of the nations into which He had scattered them.
Just to make sure we do not misunderstand His intentions, God reiterates this twofold prophecy of dispersion and gathering together, in Ezekiel 11:16-17, "...Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel ." God could not have been more plain!! He will scatter the Jews for a long time and punish them severely, but after His wrath has been satisfied, He will return them back to their land and give it back to them. God reiterates this truth in the following passages:
Ezekiel 22:15-17 Judgment
Ezekiel 24:13 Judgment/Restoration
Ezekiel 28:25-26 Restoration
Ezekiel 34:10-31 Restoration
Ezekiel 36:6-38 Restoration -- This passage is one of the most revealing concerning God's plan to restore Israel. In verse 6, God reiterated that Israel will suffer His judgment, but then in verse 7, He stated that, after He had finished His judgment, He shall call the Gentile nations which He had used to punish Israel into judgment. Then, in verses 8-10, God stated, "O mountains of Israel...shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people, for they are soon to come home..." And then, just to ensure that no one misunderstands the nature of this return, God states, in verse 10, that He will give all the land of Israel back to the Jews. A check of a map of the original land given to the Twelve Tribes of Israel shows that its boundaries extend northward to most of Lebanon, much of Syria, and Jordan, and some of Iraq. The Jews have partially returned to their land on several occasions, but have never recovered all their land, even today. God reiterated His promise to restore all their land in Amos 9:8-15, but adds this promise: "I will bring back the exiles of My people, Israel...And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be torn up out of their land which I gave them..." God simply cannot state this promise of reconciliation any more plainly. After His decreed punishment for sin has run its course, He will bring Israel back to her land.
This wonderful chapter foretells precisely how God will return Israel back to her land. God likens this gradual process to a valley of dry bones being systematically raised up to a living body again. And, just to ensure that no one misses this point, God first gives the cryptic prophecy in verses 1-10, and then the plain explanation beginning in verse 11. God states plainly, "...these bones are the whole house of Israel...I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel".
Interestingly, God stated, in verse 8, that He will bring Israel back into the land without His spirit; since we know that the Holy Spirit always testifies of Jesus Christ, we know that God will restore Israel initially in a state of unbelief in Jesus Christ as Messiah. But, then, in verse 14, God says, "And I shall put My Spirit in you and you shall live..." Of course, we know from recent history that Israel was, indeed, established in unbelief in Jesus Christ; her belief in Jesus as Messiah is still future.
In Hosea, God again mightily reiterated these two themes, the physical destruction and dispersion of the Jews and their future restoration. In chapter 1:2, God states the reason for His action, "...for the land hath committed great whoredoms, departing from the Lord..." God sternly states that the time for pity had passed; the time for judgment had arrived. Yet, in verses 10-11, God foretells the restoration of Israel!! In chapter 2, God again foretells judgment from verses 1-13, but then turns to the future restoration in verses 14-23. He says in verse 14 that He will speak to Israel "comfortably" or "tenderly" and will speak to her "heart". In verse 23, God clearly states that He will turn again and have mercy upon Israel and will betroth her again.
In Hosea 3:4, God foretells that His punishment of Israel will be for "many days" and that their religion will be rendered inoperable. History tells us that this judgment occurred just in this way. Then, in the very next verse, God turns to His theme of restoration, when He states, "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." Notice that Israel will seek Messiah Jesus, referred here as "David their King". Also notice that God places this return in the "latter days", a clear reference to the End of the Age. But, the best is yet to come.
In Hosea 5:14, God foretells the severity of His punishment when He says, "...I will rend and go on [rending] I will carry off, and there will be no one to deliver." But, in the very next verse, God returns to the theme of restoration!! "I will go and return to My place (in Heaven) till they acknowledge their offense and seek My face: in their affliction, they will seek Me earnestly." God is saying here that, once the Jews acknowledge their guilt and earnestly seek His face, He will return to them. Then, in chapter 6, we hear what the people will be saying at this time. They will be saying, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord, for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten and He will bind us up." This Scripture is probably the best in clearly stating both the physical punishment and the planned restoration in one single verse.
In Joel, we have much of the same prophecies. And we can see that this restoration
will occur at the end of the age, because we see references to the "Day
of the Lord", and in chapter 2:1-11, we see prophecies which parallel those
of Jesus in Matthew 24 and Revelation. In chapter 2:18, God clearly states His
theme of restoration, when He says, "Then will the Lord be jealous for
His land and pity His people". God then details how He will bless Israel
when she returns to her land in these last days, and how He plans to protect
her militarily. Then, in chapter 3, verse 1, God says, "...in those days
when I shall bring again (or bring back) the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem..."
Again, God foretells the return of Israel to her Promised Land.
The entire book of Amos is instructive in these twin themes of physical destruction and latter day restoration. In chapters 1 through 9:7, God thoroughly mourns Israel's sin and her coming punishment. But, in verse 8 of chapter 9 God returns to His theme of restoration. God says, "...the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth, [except] that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob...I will command and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations... yet shall not the least grain (Jew) fall upon the earth. All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword..." But then God turns to the theme of restoration, beginning with verse 11. He promises to accomplish the following:
He will reestablish the Tabernacle of David and will rebuild it as in the
days of old. In other words, He will bring the old Sacrificial system back into
He shall cause the land to become extremely productive once again. Since 1948, God has caused rainfall to return to normal, and Israel has flourished agriculturally .
God promises to bring back the Jewish exiles so that they may rebuild the waste cities, plant vineyards, and make gardens. And this time, they shall be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, rather than seeing their enemies enjoys the fruits of that for which they had labored.
God promised that, when He brings them back to their land, they shall never more fear being driven back out of it. They will never face military defeat nor annihilation. Even when the invasion by the armies led by Russia in the last days, as foretold in Ezekiel 38-39 occurs, Israel will be saved.
There are many more instances in the Old Testament where God foretold physical destruction against Israel as judgment, to be followed by full and complete restoration. In fact, in Haggai 2:9, God says that the latter glory of Israel would be greater than her former glory.
But, why is God so interested in returning Israel back to the Promised Land, after Israel had sinned so often and so grievously, and after God had declared that His patience and pity with Israel to be at an end? This is a very good question, and one that, when it is answered, will finish the illumination on this subject.
In Ezekiel 20:40-44, God specifically addressed the return to Him. In verse 44, God says a very interesting thing: He says that He will restore Israel "for My name's sake". He reiterated this truth in Ezekiel 36:21-22. God very explicitly told Israel why He was planning to restore her to her land. He plainly says, "But I had pity (or concern) for mine holy name...say to the house of Israel...I do not (do) this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake...And I will sanctify My great name..."
Now we are at the core truth. God had given Abraham a promise that Abraham's descendants would be the Chosen People forever. You see, God's Redemption Plan was set to come through this Chosen People, Israel. And Messiah was to come twice, the second time in great glory and power, ruling absolutely for eternity. If God destroyed Israel for her sins and did not restore her, Jesus could not come back as He had foretold. Whereas He could still return in all His glory and power, He could not come back as a descendent of Abraham. God's promises would prove to be null and void; God will have been proven to be a liar to Abraham.
So, God was forced by His own Nature to restore Israel after His punishment ended. Thus, God foretold often and long of the planned restoration. This theme is told so often in both Old and New Testaments it is impossible to miss it, unless you close your minds completely to this obvious truth. And this is what many people have elected to do today. They do not believe because they do not want to believe. But God's power is so great it does not matter that many are trying to deny Israel is still God's Chosen Nation and the Jew His Chosen People. Israel was reestablished in 1948 and will never be thrown out of her land again.
God is good and is true to His Word. Praise His Holy Name!!
P.S. God chose Israel originally because she was the smallest of all the nations, so when she became the greatest, God received the glory. Today, little Israel has thoroughly beaten the Arabs in six wars, and outperforms them politically and economically. I have listed below the Arab population versus the Jewish. Israel is outnumbered 52 to 1! To God be the glory!
Total Arab Population Surrounding Israel = 566,213,000
Total Population of Israel = 8,051,200 (Wikipedia, Israel)
Source: "World Atlas"
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