Israel’s Final Triumph
Three streams are cutting deep channels through the processes of human history. The origin of each is faithfully related in the Holy Scriptures. Furthermore, their ultimate destinies were penned by inspired writers millenniums ago. Each, in its own way, demonstrates the epochal proportions of the scope of the prophetic Scriptures — a demonstration which has never been more obvious to the eyes of human observers than it is today. These entities are proceeding along parallel tracks toward culminating circumstances already indelibly recorded in the prophetic portions of the Bible. Israel, the Gentile nations, and the Church (representatives of a remnant made up of Jewish and Gentile believers) comprise the great subdivisions of humanity. Each has a unique future; each is hurrying along its appointed course.
It is possible for one to visualize these manifestations in the following way:
(there is a chart here)
Track One: Gentile World Powers
Over the centuries Gentiles have dominated affairs on this planet. In the perspective of the eternal God, however, Gentile supremacy will be short-lived. Daniel, the Jewish prophet, outlines the central powers which hold sway during the period of Gentile domination. He concludes with an emphatic statement from Jehovah:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Daniel 2:44).
The prophets of Israel universally agree that moral corruption, spiritual decay and an insatiable mania for global conquest will mark the way of the Gentiles. This, in fact, has been the historical case. In the end, the Gentile powers will corporately deny God, and then, in the person of the nefarious Antichrist, defy Him. Zephaniah provides a summary statement in which the destruction of the Gentile system is anticipated:
Therefore, wait upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them my indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy (Zephaniah 3:8).
Subsequently, under the predicted reign of the Messiah-King of Israel, Gentiles will enter a period of dependence heretofore unknown in history. This millennial era will see Gentiles coming to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles and pay homage to the Lord of hosts.
And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King,the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16).
Track Two: The Believing Remnant
Positioned between Gentile powers and the Chosen Nation, Israel, is a believing remnant made up of both Jew and Gentile. This remnant, the Church, is comprised of a called-out body committed to the perpetual ministry of the proclamation of Jehovah’s Word and the exaltation of His Messiah. That Jews and Gentiles should share together in this sanctified remnant is explained by the Pharisee-turned-Apostle of Christ, Paul. In the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans he deplores the suggestion that Israel has been cast off by God. He asserts that the thought should not even be entertained: “God forbid . . . God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew” (vv. I -2). Paul concludes further that as there was a remnant in the time
of Elijah the prophet, “Even so, then, at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (v. 5). Finally, he triumphantly announces a day when, not simply a remnant, but “… all Israel shall be saved …” (v. 26).
This remnant of Jews and Gentiles is independent yet vitally interrelated to both the nation Israel and the Gentile peoples. Their ministry to Jews and Gentiles is bound up in present and preparatory processes.
Presently they are sharing the message of redemption through the reconciling work of the Messiah-Savior, Jesus Christ. Salvation is freely offered to every individual upon the face of the earth, Jew and Gentile alike. It is within the confines of this channel that the “middle wall of partition”, which served to separate Jews and Gentiles, is broken down. Consequently, the most unique fraternity yet known to man has been established. “For he [Christ] is our peace, who hath made both one [Jew and Gentile] and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Ephesians 2:14).
Her mission of preparation is twofold. To Israel she brings a message which is designed to prepare the nation for its appointment with a coming Messiah. To the Gentile system she intones the solemn dimensions of an impending judgment. God will be vindicated before those who have spurned His Word and will.
Track Three: Israel
As Israel is viewed through the eyes of religious Gentiles, two thoughts seem to be most prominent. The first would consign the sons of Abraham to the position of a nonentity in the divine program. The line of reasoning followed is the supposition that inasmuch as Israel’s leadership rejected the claims of their Messiah, God has revoked the covenants and repealed the promises formerly given. Conveniently, Israel’s blessings have been garnered by those who view themselves as worthy successors to the displaced people. An alternate view sees the nation in a state of suspended animation, a condition which finds Jehovah ignoring Israel until a future day when He will once again resume His program for the sidetracked nation.
Both of these views are more or less affected by serious error. First, it is simply not true that God is through with Israel as a nation. As we shall see, she holds a central position in the future program outlined in the prophetic Scriptures. Secondly, while it is true that Israel was set aside as a national entity for a time, there has never been a period in which God ceased to work toward the fulfillment of His future purposes for the beloved people. The process is a dynamic one, which is as much in motion today as if will be when Israel reposes in the full flow of the millennial ministry of the reigning Messiah.
It will be enlightening to trace the progress of the divine program to this point and beyond.
Throughout the extended period of Israel’s dispersion among the Gentile nations, a process of reduction has been in motion. That is to say, Israel has experienced a restriction of suitable alternatives which will bring peace and security. This fact, in turn, has served to sharpen the desire to return to the homeland and be reestablished there, away from the tyrannical intrusions so often experienced among the Gentile nations. A central illustration of this fact is seen in the observation of Theodor Herzl and like-minded Jews, who correctly concluded that the hospitality of their host Gentile nations was wearing thin and an alternative must be found to continuing as
a people in exile among the nations. The subsequent history of the Jewish people and their decimation by the demonical figures of World War II served to emphasize just how correct the.early Zionists had been in their assessment of the situation. Currently, the mounting pressures and blatant attempts to isolate tiny Israel bear witness to the continuation of this process of reduction. Ultimately Israel must confront the necessity of the intervention of her Messiah as the only viable solution to her longstanding problems.
With the commencement of the Jewish return to Palestine came what must be acknowledged as the most fascinating single element in the program of fulfillment of prophecy to this point. Ezekiel 37 outlines the impending reassembling of the nation. God’s explanation to His awe-smitten prophet, as he observed the vision of the bones that came to life, assured him that the restoration of the Jewish nation was an inherent part of His future program.
Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off on our part. Therefore, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, . . and bring you into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 37:11, 12).
In both the Old and New Testaments, it is everywhere asserted and assumed that Israel would return to the land of their forebearers to await the day of reconciliation with the Messiah.
When one ponders the fact that with the birth of the nation the world was faced with a phenomenon without parallel — for the first time in all of human history an ancient nation was brought back from the dead — he can only conclude that we are witnessing a prophetic miracle!
Of course, to those who believed their Bibles, Jew and Gentile, it was never a question of if there would be a return, only one of when it would occur.
Israel inched closer to the fulfillment of God’s promises when the Old City of Jerusalem was taken by Jewish forces during the Six-Day War. The Old City was the pearl which pious Jews the world over had longed to possess through the long night of their passage among the Gentile nations. Occupation of the temple area by Israel is a prime prerequisite to the realization of the Kingdom promises.
Israel’s appointment with the Messiah is as inevitable as the proverbial rising of the sun.. While we are fully aware of the teaching by certain segments of Jewry that Messiah is an ideal or the nation itself, we firmly set forth the fact that everywhere in Scripture Israel’s reconciliation and final triumph is related to the appearance of a personal Messiah. Equally emphatic is the biblical declaration that Messiah will be God incarnate. This line of revelation provides fascinating material for study from the Scriptures. We will do well to pause and examine two representative examples:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that ati people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13, 14).
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east . . . And the Lord shall be king over all the earth, in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one (Zechariah 14:3, 4, 9).
There can be no disputing the fact that these are messianic passages. They assert that the Messiah will be a person; beyond this, He will be the Lord himself.
Zechariah further clarifies the matter when he proceeds to specify details touching Israel’s reconciliation to Jehovah.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn (Zechariah 12:10).
The glorious result of this grand reconciliation is enunciated by the prophet Jeremiah:
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them (Jeremiah 32:38, 39).
Israel’s full restoration to the land is one of the surpassingly beautiful themes which is unfolded before us in the Scriptures. Isaiah comforts Jehovah’s ancient people with a promise that weeps across successive generations to embrace the final return to the land.
Fear not; for I am with thee. I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west. I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, Even every one who is called by my name; for I have created him for my glory; i have formed him; yea, I have made him (Isaiah 43:5-7).
God’s unfailing purposes for those who were created for my glory will be fully achieved in the final pilgrimage of Aliyah (ascenders) who will mount the way up to Jerusalem to bow in subjection before their King.
Restored Israel will be united to Jehovah in a perpetual union rooted in righteousness, peace and glory. Again it is Isaiah who rises to provide a breathtaking panorama of God’s sovereign intentions.
And the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shall no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married (Isaiah 62:2-4).
Oppressed Jewry has often lamented the prolonged agony of their journey across the face of the nations. Jehovah assures: “… they shall] not be ashamed who wait for me (Isaiah 49:23), because the people will be fully recompensed when she takes her place at the head of the nations. Scripture anticipates this day when, according to divine declaration:
Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and set up my standard to the peoples; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens, thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth . . . (Isaiah 49:22, 23).
Israel was created to be a witness to the power and beauty of their God among the nations. Fulfillment will be fully accomplished during this period when Jacob’s sons become heralds of Jehovah’s Word.
And foreigners shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord; men shall call you the Ministers of our God; ye shall eat the riches of the nations, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves (Isaiah 61:5,6),
Glory, beauty and joy are integral parts of the reign of Jehovah with restored Israel.
And the Lord, their God, shall save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they shall be like the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Grain shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine, the maids (Zechariah 9:16, 17).
Perhaps the most symbolic and expressive of all the prophetic predictions is the revelation concerning the relationship of the Gentiles of the period to the Jewish people.
Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. 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 8:22,23).
At this juncture in our history, we can earnestly join our voices in the fervent hope and assurance that this day will soon be upon us!