Chapter 1: The Rebirth Of Israel!
By Ken Humphries
It would not be an exaggeration to say Israel is the most remarkable of nations upon the face of this planet today. Other nations have come to the fore and some of them became mighty and powerful and ruled over others with great skill and wisdom, but today they are only a remembrance of what used to be. Other peoples and nations have, as emigrant peoples, been absorbed by one country after another until that once great people are now insignificant in the world. Not the Jewish people. The nation of Israel stands out today; although small by way of landmass are a people to be reckoned with. Follow their history carefully.
Looking at the statistics of Israel today one would scarcely believe this nation had such small beginnings. Israel stands at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. Geographically, it belongs to the Asian continent. Its western border is the Mediterranean Sea. To the north Lebanon and Syria bind it, to the east by Jordan and to the south by the Red Sea and Egypt. Long and narrow in shape, Israel is about 290 miles (470 km.) long and 85 miles (135 km.) across at its widest point. Its total area is 22,145 sq. km, of which 21,671 sq. km is land area. Geographical Regions: Arid Zones 45%, Plains and Valleys 25%, Mountains 16%, Rift Valley 9%, Coastal Strip 5%. Selected elevations: Mt. Hermon, Golan 9,220 ft. 2,810 m. Mt. Meron, Upper Galilee 3,964 ft. 1,208 m. Mt. Ramon, Negev 3,396 ft. 1,035 m. Mt. of Olives, Jerusalem 2,739 ft. 835 m. Mt. Tabor, Lower Galilee 1,930 ft. 588 m. Mt. Carmel, Haifa 1,792 ft. 546 m. Dead Sea - lowest point on earth - 1,300 ft. - 400 m. People: 1980, Population 3,921,700, 1990, Population 4,821,700, 2002, Population 6,640, 200 Civilian labour force 1,318,100 1,649,900 2,284,000: Jews in Israel, as a percentage of World Jewry 25 30 38: School population 1,200,700 1,451,300 1,972,000.
Percentage of the population (15+) with 13 years or more of formal schooling 19.2 25.3 42.5. Population by Religion: Jews 77.2%, Muslims 15.4%, Christians 2.1%, Druze 1.6%,
Not classified by religion 3.5%.
Population Distribution: Urban localities 91.6%, Rural localities 8.4%
Of which: Moshavim, Kibbutzim, 3.0%,1.8%.
Immigrants by Continent:
1948-2002: Europe 1,777,000, Africa 479,700, Asia 421,100,
America & Oceania 218,200, Unknown 31,550.
Immigrants by Year of Immigration
1948-1951 688,000, 1952-1959 272,000, 1960-1969 374,000, 1970-1979 346,000, 1980-1989 154,000, 1990-2002 1,012,400
Economy State Budget, 2002: NIS 254.8 billion.
1980 1990 2002 Gross Domestic Product (US$ billions) 23.2 59.2 111.8
Net exports of goods (US$ billions) 5,291.9 11,603.
Industrial products (excl. diamonds) 125, 689.2 thereof:
Net imports of goods (US$ billions) 7,845.7 15,107.1 32,696.2
Tourists arriving 1,065,800 1,131,700 1,195,700
Air passengers (annual) 2,847,000 3,720,000 8,020,000
Freight shipped by air (annual in tons) 105,800 194,160 296,055
Production of electricity (millions of kilowatt/hours) 12,400 20,900 43,800
Private cars 410,000 803,000 1,460,800
Education: University Students by Field of Study
(Total 117,525 students in 7 universities)
Humanities 26.3%, Social Sciences 23.6%, Science and mathematics 20.8%
Engineering 14.5%, Medicine 7.8%, Law 3.4%, Business & Administration 2.3%,
Agriculture 1.2%: * Figures based on the Statistical Abstract of Israel, No. 53,2002.
Listen to this quote from Charles Krauthammer, The Weekly Standard, May 11,1998.
"Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store."
The people of Israel (also called the "Jewish People") trace their origin to Abraham, who established the belief that there is only one God, the creator of the universe (see Old Testament). Abraham, his son Yitshak (Isaac), and grandson Jacob (Israel), are referred to as the patriarchs of the Israelites. All three patriarchs lived in the Land of Canaan, that later came to be known as the Land of Israel. They and their wives are buried in the Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron.
The name Israel derives from the name given to Jacob (see Old Testament). His 12 sons were the kernels of 12 tribes that later developed into the Jewish nation. The name Jew derives from Yehuda (Judah) one of the 12 sons of Jacob. So, the names Israel, Israeli or Jewish refer to people of the same origin.
The descendants of Abraham crystallized into a nation at about 1300 BC after their Exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses (Moshe in Hebrew). Soon after the Exodus, Moses transmitted to the people of this new emerging nation, the Torah, and the Ten Commandments. After 40 years in the Sinai desert, Moses led them to the Land of Israel, that is cited in The Bible as the land promised by God to the descendants of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The people of modern day Israel share the same language and culture shaped by the Jewish heritage and religion passed through generations starting with the founding father Abraham (1800 BC). Thus, Jews have had continuous presence in the land of Israel for the past 3,300 years.
The rule of Israelites in the land of Israel starts with the conquests of Joshua (ca. 1250 BC). The period from 1000-587 BC is known as the ‘Period of the Kings’. The most noteworthy kings were King David (1010-970 BC), who made Jerusalem the Capital of Israel, and his son Solomon (Shlomo, 970-931 BC), who built the first Temple in Jerusalem as prescribed in the Tanach (Old Testament).
In 587 BC, Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar's army captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon (modern day Iraq).
The year 587 BC marks a turning point in the history of the region. From this year onwards, the region was ruled or controlled by a succession of superpower empires of the time in the following order: Babylonian, Persian, Greek Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Empires, Islamic and Christian crusaders, Ottoman Empire, and the British Empire.
After the exile by the Romans, the Jewish people migrated to Europe and North Africa. In the Diaspora (scattered outside of the Land of Israel), they established rich cultural and economic lives, and contributed greatly to the societies where they lived. Yet, they continued their national attachments and prayed to return to Israel through centuries. In the first half of the 20th century there were major waves of immigration of Jews back to Israel from Arab countries and from Europe. During the British rule in Palestine, Arab civilians or forces of the neighbouring Arab states subjected the Jewish people to great violence and massacres. During War II, the Nazi regime in Germany decimated about 6 million Jews creating the great tragedy of The Holocaust. In 1948, Jewish Community in Israel under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion re-established sovereignty over their ancient homeland. The Declaration of the modern State of Israel was announced on the day that the last British forces left Israel (May 14, 1948).
A day after the declaration of independence of the State of Israel, armies of five Arab countries, Egypt, Syria, Trans Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, invaded Israel. This marked the beginning of the War of Independence. Arab states have jointly waged four full-scale wars against Israel: 1948 War of Independence. 1956 Sinai War.
1967 Six Day War. 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Despite the numerical superiority of the Arab armies, Israel defended itself each time and won. After each war the Israeli army withdrew from most of the areas it captured. This is unprecedented in World history and shows Israel's willingness to reach peace even at the risk of fighting for its very existence each time anew.
Note, as was mentioned earlier, that with Judea and Samaria Israel is only 40 miles wide. Thus, Israel can be crossed from the Mediterranean coast to the Eastern border at Jordan River within one hour of driving”.
While I would not agree with all of the quotes and material in this article yet it does display that others outside of Evangelical Christian circles do have a firm belief in Pre-millennium Eschatology and recognize that there is not only an exciting present but when we examine the past and compare it with the present it surely indicates for us just an exciting prospective for Israel.
Statistics, no doubt can make interesting reading even if somewhat dull to wade through, in this case, with respect to Israel, it makes clear to all who wish to read them, here are a people who will not go away, they will not lie down and be silent, they in fact are a people who are hear to stay. Why so? Well, surely the answer is to be found in Scripture if we are willing to take the time to read and understand what God is saying. Please read carefully what follows.
“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you (speaking of Israel) because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because He loves you” (Deuteronomy 7vv7-8).
It would appear according to Scripture that God had a very deep and continuing interest in this people we call Israel, in fact they were on occasions referred to as “the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2v8).
So having looked albeit briefly at Israel’s present, lets take a Biblical look at Israel's Past!
1. The Land Promised: By God! Genesis Ch. 12v1-5:
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee:And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”
God calls it "A Land" indicating to us that this is nothing other than a geographical Location. (By the way, he is no fool who walks by faith as Abraham did)
We have now come to an amazing part of Holy Writ which must surely be to every reader tremendously interesting and crammed full of powerful lessons for those who will take God’s Word seriously. This great passage introduces us to what is called the third great section of Genesis. Genesis of course is known as the book of beginnings and as Arthur W. Pink says in his book Gleanings in Genesis page 136, “its literary structure is true to its title for the whole of its contents centre around three beginnings.”
First there is the beginning of the human race in Adam; second, there is the new beginning on the post-diluvian earth in Noah and his Sons; third, there is the beginning of the Chosen Nation in Abram. Thus in Genesis we have three great “beginnings “ and therefore as three is the number of the Godhead, we see how in this first book of the Divine Library, the very autograph of Deity is stamped on the opening pages of Holy Writ as though anticipating and rebuking the modern assaults on this book by the Evolutionists and Higher Critics.
The relative importance of the three main divisions of Genesis is indicated by their respective dimensions The first two divisions cover a period of not less than two thousand years, yet, but eleven chapters are devoted to this section of human history; whereas the third division, covering scarcely four hundred years, contains no less than thirty-nine chapters. More than three-fourths of the book is occupied with narrating the lives of Abram and the first three generations of his descendants.
While it is true that the first two divisions of the book are embraced by the first eleven chapters in Genesis, yet, from a literary viewpoint, it would really be more correct to regard these chapters as a preface, not only to the remaining twenty-nine chapters of Genesis, but also to the entire Old Testament, and, we may add, of the Bible as a whole. This Divine “preface” is given to explain that which is made known in all that follows the first eleven chapters of Genesis, and is really the foundation on which rests the remainder of the Old Testament. They trace in rapid review the line of descent from Adam to Abram. It has been well said concerning the book of Genesis that as the root to the stem so are chapters 1-11 to chapters 12-50, and as the stem to the tree so is Genesis to the rest of the Bible.’’ One of the main purposes of Genesis is to reveal to us the origin and beginnings of the Nation of Israel, and in the first eleven chapters we are shown the different steps by which Israel became a separate and Divinely chosen nation. In Genesis 10 and 11 the entire human race is before us, but from Genesis 12 onwards attention is directed to one man and his descendants.
Genesis 12 brings before us Abram-- ”the father of all them that believe.’’ Abram whose name was subsequently changed to Abraham the most illustrious personage in ancient history. Abraham! Venerated by Jews, Christians and Mohammedans. Abraham! The progenitor of the nation of Israel. Abraham! Termed “the friend of God.” Abraham! From whom, according to the flesh, our Lord came. Surely we shall be richly repaid if we devote our most diligent attention to the prayerful study of the life of such a man.”
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto ‘a land’ that I will show thee’’ (Genesis Ch.12v1). The tense of the verb here looks back to an incident which was referred to by Stephen and which is recorded in Acts Ch.7vv2-3 “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia before he dwelt in Charran, and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and come into ‘The Land’ which I shall show thee.” God calls it ‘A Land’ or ‘The Land’ indicating to us that this is nothing other than a geographical Location, its not a type, its not a shadow, its not a metaphor it is proof positive that this is an actual place.
It is also note worthy as we continue to read in Genesis Ch.12v7: God now calls it ‘This Land’ “And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, unto thy seed will I give ‘this land’: and there builded he an alter unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.” Once again evidence that this is an actual geographical location.
Again, read with me in Genesis Ch.13vv14-18: God now gives this land to Abram and His People forever! What does God give Abram? An actual land mass, a geographical location, of that, surely there can be no doubt. Although others have given much of this land away in the name of peace it will eventually be returned to the Jewish People because this land was given to them as an inheritance forever.
Follow through once more this reading in Genesis Ch.15v18: “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates”. Notice! I say again this is a geographical location because of the boundaries placed about it, The Nile to the great river Euphrates. Not some imagined place! Now, Abraham never did live to see the fulfilment of that promise, in fact it was some four hundred years later before God fulfilled His promise.
2. The Land Possessed: Under Joshua! Joshua Ch. 1v1-18:
Eventually Joshua divides ‘The Land’ into portions to the tribes of Israel who settled with him in the Promised Land Joshua Ch.13: We should remember here once again, this was the Promised Land, this was to be the Land of Blessing. It would be in this special land that God’s earthly people the Jews would be especially blessed. In the first chapter of Joshua God relates to Joshua what He has in mind for His own people. (By the way, it is most interesting, as God speaks with Joshua in Chapter one Joshua listens in absolute silence, so important was their journey to blessing Joshua was going to be sure he received all God’s instruction and would follow it through to the letter). Maybe a good principle to adopt in today’s hurried and bustling world, “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46v10). Let me take time just here to highlight the wonder of this land of blessing.
As you begin this great and historic book, we are reminded that the book of Joshua is not only a revelation of what God has accomplished in a past time zone but also it is also a revelation of what God can do through any man or woman wholly, fully and completely surrendered to Him in this time zone. This book is more than a history book! Listen to what the apostle Paul says with respect to this time zone in 1 Cor.10 v 11. "Now all of these things happened unto them for ensamples and they are written for our admonition.” So New Testament Christians are to draw application from Old Testament Christians they can follow in this present time zone.
So no new headings or titles today, nothing original, it has all been said before but it’s absolutely imperative we are reminded of it once again!
A young ordinand setting out for his first church said, "I will be original or nothing!" He was not long into his ministry when he discovered he was both original and nothing! Yes, it’s all been said before, but oh, to make it our own!
Oh, to make this, our own and take example from Joshua and the saints of God from this age will bring amazing benefit to our calling and life for the Lord.
Now there are five segments to this first chapter of Joshua and each of them has great import and worth our attention, so listen up, we are going on a journey with Joshua and I trust we thoroughly enjoy it.
This was to be a land of rehearse! Joshua Ch.1vv1-2a.
"Now after the death of Moses, the Servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses Minister, saying, Moses my Servant is dead" What an honourable title! Moses is distinguished as "The Servant of Jehovah." He was this by choice, for he willed to be the servant of God rather than to be great in the land of the Pharaohs. Such he was by perseverance throughout his whole life, such he was by complete submission for he waited upon God for his directions as a servant waits upon his master. Such he was for he endeavoured to do all things according to the pattern and plan shown him in the Holy Mount.
Though he was King in Jesurun, he never acted on his own authority, but was the lowly instrument of the Divine Will. Moses was most faithful to God in all, his house and as a servant. You neither see him overstepping his office nor neglecting it. His reverence for the Lord’s Name was deep; his devotion to the Lord’s Cause was complete, and his confidence in the Lord’s Word was constant.
He was a true servant of the Lord Jehovah from the time he was appointed at the burning bush until the hour when he surrendered his keys of office to his successor, and climbed the appointed mount to die.
That beloved, is the mark of godly leadership, when the God of all Glory acknowledges us as his servant. "Moses my Servant is dead." Oh, that you and I may so live to be approved servants of God! And the reason I say this was to be a land of rehearse is because this is to be the land into which God is calling His People to live a victorious life for His Glory. You see God has given us the possession of victory, but few of us seem to live a constant life of victory! We look at the lives of men and women from Old Testament times and New Testament times, from generations past and say, oh, that I could be like them! But what was it that made men and women great in the past? It was that they lived their lives from the standpoint of victory!
You say to me, well Preacher I don’t have that kind of victory most of the time! Well, I would have to say the same, but beloved that’s not God’s plan for us. God has given us victory and if we fail to live in victory we are living beneath our privileges. Now while the Bible admits the possibility of defeat and failure, it never assumes the necessity of failure. We can always live in triumph in Christ Jesus.
John Ch.1v12. "To as many as received him, to them, gave he power to become the sons of God, even to those who believed on his name" The power to have continual victory is built in to our salvation. And that’s the very reason God, when Moses dies, looks to one of like mind for leadership, Joshua! He is not placed in leadership because of who he is, but because of what he is, a faithful and true and powerful Servant of God. And his task is daunting! Joshua is to lead the people of God into a place that is hostile to everything they are and believe, but God is telling them to go in and possess their possessions. This is your land and everything in it belongs to you, go in and claim what’s yours and live in the victory and blessing of it.
Now Canaan is a picture of the land of victory and blessing, not as some would tell us in hymnbooks and storybooks, that Canaan is a picture of heaven. We get our metaphors mixed up a little bit sometimes. Like the preacher who was waxing eloquent in prayer and he prayed, "and Lord if there happens to be a spark of fire in this church, please water that spark." Now that did not just come out right, he had mixed his metaphors somewhat! Canaan is not a type of heaven because there is warfare in Canaan, there is sin in Canaan, there is a going in and a coming out in Canaan, and there are giants in Canaan. Rather Canaan is a picture of possessing our possessions while we journey through this difficult land. We live as strangers and pilgrims in this land but we can possess victory while we do. You see beloved; there are many that have come out of Egypt, yes! But they, sadly, like others, never did get Egypt out of themselves.
And the idea of living in this present evil world is that we might rehearse a life of godliness and holiness, while struggling with the threefold enemy that troubles us so much. The external foe, the world! The internal foe, the flesh! The infernal foe, the devil! But as we rehearse a life of godliness and holiness we can know victory and possess all God wants to bless us with!
But not only was this to be a land of rehearse, this was to be a land of release! Joshua Ch.1v2b."Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people."
You see up until this time they had been a nation of slaves, but now the command comes to set them free, they are from now on to live as free people!
After their liberation out of Egypt they were brought into the wilderness to await God’s timing to enter the land of blessing, and remember it all did happen, but only in God’s planned time, not before!
We have such a tendency to want everything we think God should have for us yesterday. Now it’s interesting, they had been delivered out of Egypt by a miracle, but God brought them into a wilderness, and by the way, they spent forty years in this wilderness, and by the way again, only two of the original crowd that went into the wilderness came out, Joshua and Caleb! The reason being, although they had been delivered from Egypt, it would seem they could not find deliverance over the bondage into which sin had brought them. Just like so many dear Christians today, we have been delivered from sin but somehow we are still in bondage to it. We never seem to know victory over temper, lies, duplicity, deceit, criticism, backbiting, jealousy, fear, depression, doubt, etc. etc.
And that beloved is because we are in a battle, and yet we treat the Christian life like a picnic. "Victories that are easy are cheap. Those only are worth having which come as the result of hard fighting." Henry Ward Beecher.
"For sin shall not have dominion over you" Romans Ch.6v14.
"If the son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed" (John Ch.8v36).
Berdyalov, a Russian philosopher, said, "men are slaves because freedom is difficult and slavery is easy."
Here’s something worth considering, James reminds us in chapter one how free men and women act!
How do you react to trial? James Ch.vv1-12.
How do you resist temptation? James Ch.vv13-15.
How do you respond to truth? James Ch.vv15-25.
How do you restrict your tongue? James Ch.1vv26-27.
Your answer to those four test questions reveal just how free you are, or indeed how much in bondage you are!
And just as this was a land of release for God’s ancient people so he wants that this be a life of release for his present day people. Mankind is born free, yet everywhere, in every race and culture mankind seems to be in chains to some bondage or other.
There is only one answer to the anguished question asked long ago:
Romans Ch.7v24."O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?" Jesus will by the power of the Spirit and the practice of the Scriptures.
Thirdly, this was not only to be a land of rehearse and a land of release this was to be a land of refreshment! All this time they were in the wilderness, do you know what they had to eat? Of course you do! Manna! Manna! Manna!
Three times per day, seven days per week, every week of the year, for forty years!
Manna in the morning, manna in the evening, manna at suppertime.
Let me tell you they were sick and tired of manna, they were fed up to back teeth with manna! Numbers Ch.21v5."And the people spake against God, and against Moses, wherefore have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread"
Hey folks! Canaan was the land of corn and wine, milk and honey, grapes and pomegranates, a land of abundance. Why should they go in and possess the land?
Because it was a land in which, at long last, they would get some real refreshment, some real blessing!
Now, we can understand, to some degree at least, their moans and groans in the wilderness, but here’s the point, they were not long into this new land of refreshment until they were at the complaining again. Would I surprise you by saying we do the same today! We sit in for a spiritual meal at this table of God’s precious Word yet we never seem to be satisfied with what God is feeding us. We moan and groan like the children of Israel in the wilderness and we come away from the feast spread and are totally dissatisfied. Why so? Why is it we react this way? I believe it’s because we are just living on the scraps thrown to us from this meeting or that meeting, we are forever in the cafeteria living on tidbits we like instead of feasting on the finest of the wheat God has provided for us. Our gracious heavenly father steps in, gives us a feeding and leading shepherds to feed and lead us, at first it is sweet to the taste, but it’s not long before we are back at our old habits, carping and complaining about the spiritual food we are given to eat! What’s wrong with us in this country with respect to God’s word beloved? Would I surprise you again by saying, the reason is, I believe, people are sick and tired of their Christianity. They just have enough Christianity to make them miserable. They have come out of Egypt, out of the world, yes! But never have entered the blessed refreshment God intended they would have.
Instead of partaking of the refreshment spread on the father’s table, like the prodigal son, they still try to satisfy their soul at the hog pens of this world. And you know what? All that does is make them more miserable and contrary.
A pastor met one of his delinquent members down the street one particular day!
"Well," he said, "I haven’t see you much at church lately!" "No," he said, "you know
how it’s been, the children have been sick, I’ve been working late, the car is off the road, and anyway, it’s been raining and raining, and raining." "Well," said the pastor trying to encourage him. "It’s always dry at church." "Yea he said, "that’s another reason I haven’t been coming!" Vance Havner.
Hey folks! It ought not so to be, we are dealing with divine dynamite, the dunamos of God’s precious Word and everyone who hears God’s Word should be affected by it. How can it affect others if it first does not affect you? Your theology must have doxology! If it doesn’t give you a song in your heart it won’t bring a song to the hearts of others.
Listen dear people, this world is growing awfully tired of this dry as dust, dead as old King Tutu Christianity. And before we start blaming the church for being dry and dead and boring and dull, remember the church is just as alive as you are, as alert as you are, as awake as you are, why, you are the church!
Don’t you want something that’s alive and refreshing, not man made refreshment that loses its Savour so quickly, but that which flows from God, then it’s got to come through you.
I’m feeding on the living bread; I’m drinking at the fountainhead;And whoso drinketh, Jesus said, shall never, never thirst again.What, never thirst again? No, never thirst again.What never thirst again? No, never thirst again.And whoso drinketh, Jesus said, shall never, never thirst again.Therefore, life is wonderful, yes; it’s wonderful;Life is wonderful now to me.I let Jesus in, he changed everything, life, is wonderful now.Since his blessings came into my heart,Joy unspeakable fills every part,And I want to live for my Lord life is wonderful now!
Is that true of you and me? Or am I robbing others, and myself of the blessing of this refreshment because I do not enjoy it?
Not only was this to be a land of rehearse, a land of release, a land of refreshment but this was also to be a land of rest!
The unknown penman writing in the book of Hebrew’s called this land a place of rest!
Hebrews Ch.3vv18-19. "And to whom swear he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believe not? So we see they could not enter in because of unbelief." Bringing with it a timely reminder!
Hebrews Ch.4vv1-2 “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being given us of entering into his rest, any of you should come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." Not rest, of course, from work but rest in work!
Jesus said, "Come unto me and I will give you rest" (Matthew Ch.11v28). But He did not mean we would have rest from work, but rather we would have the rest of the Lord while working, and that brothers and sisters is worth having.
You know, you very soon find in this work that people love you today and loath you tomorrow, and if you didn’t have that rest you would fold up under the awful strain, under which one can be placed. But oh, my, the rest of the Lord while you work allows you the privilege of simply leaving those people to the Lord and allowing him to do what is necessary with them! In Egypt there was no rest! In the wilderness there was no rest. In Egypt they were sorely oppressed, in the wilderness they were just going round and round in ever increasing circles. They knew every grain of sand; they had been pricked with every cactus in the place! Why possess their possessions? Why, because it’s a land of rest! Why give up all to God and serve with your whole heart? Why, because there is a wonderful rest in serving the Lord. Look at the marks of reality in the infant church at Thessalonica.
"Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians Ch.1vv1-10).
They are not living on a nerve edge, they are simply enjoying being Christians and telling others so. You see beloved, when you serve the Lord like that you don’t have to force doors open looking for something to do. You don’t have to chase key men around if you know the keeper of the keys. We come to church and sit, but we should also come to church to serve, in worship, praise, prayer, preaching, giving, remembering the Lord. It’s in the doing of these things that true rest comes.
One final thing in Joshua Chapter one, this was to be a land of reality!
You see to date all they had known of Canaan was what they had heard by way of sermon from the elders as they sat around the campfires in the evening.
But they had no hands on experience for themselves; they had not yet experienced the wonder of this land. And folks, many Christians have never yet experienced the hands on experience of personal involvement in the work of the Lord, and therefore it’s all second hand experience to them, it’s all hear say! Aren’t you tired of just listening to sermons about victory and blessing, don’t you want to experience it all for yourself.
Would you not like for some of what you hear to be reality? Do you know there are folks who come to church on a regular basis but have no more notion of applying what they hear, they simply listen and may even pass comment now and again. Oh, he wasn’t as good today as he was last week. Or, I really love it when your man from down the road comes, and you want to hear Dr. Thunderbolt when he preaches, but as for turning teaching into reality, don’t annoy me please! Listen folks, God wants his dear people to live in victory, he does! And here I believe is the key. God has already given us the victory, do you hear me today! God has already given us the victory. You say, well why don’t I have it then? Oh, beloved, God has given the victory but we have not yet possessed our possessions. Joshua Ch.1v3. "Every place the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given you, as I said unto Moses"
They were not even in the land yet but here was God’s promise. Not, I am going to give it to you, I have given you!
"In the early beginnings of the United States of America a weary traveller came to the banks of the Mississippi River for the first time. There was no bridge. It was early winter, and the surface of the mighty stream was covered with ice. Could he dare cross over? Would the uncertain ice be able to bear his weight? Night was falling, and it was urgent that he reaches the other side. Finally, after much hesitation and with many fears, he began to creep cautiously across the surface of the ice on his hands and knees. He thought that he might distribute his weight as much as possible and keep the ice from breaking beneath him. About halfway over he heard the sound of singing behind him. Out of the dusk there came a man, driving a horse-drawn sleigh loaded with coal across the ice and singing merrily as he went his way. Here he was--on his hands and knees, trembling lest the ice be not strong enough to bear him up! And there, as if whisked away by the winter's wind, went the man, his horses, and his sleigh and his load of coal, upheld by the same ice on which he was creeping!
Like this weary traveller, some of us have learned only to creep upon the promises of God, cautiously, timidly, tremblingly we venture forth upon His promises, as though the lightness of our step might make His promises more secure, as though we could contribute even in the slightest to the strength of His assurances!
He has promised to be with us. Let us believe that promise; He has promised to uphold us, let us believe Him when He says so; He has promised to grant us victory over all our spiritual enemies, let us trust His truthfulness. Above all, He has promised to grant us full and free forgiveness of all our sins because of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and He has promised to come and take us to His heavenly home, let us take Him at His word. We are not to creep upon these promises as though they were too fragile to uphold us, we are to stand upon them--confident that God is as good as His word and that He will do what He has pledged." James S. Hewett.
Listen! Listen! Dear people, it’s finished, the victory is won, the devil is already defeated. You say to me, well he does not act like it, and I’ll tell you something, he hopes you never find out and truly believe it. Our Lord Jesus on the cross defeated the power of Satan by the power of his redemptive work and has given you and me authority over all the power of the enemy. Put the feet of faith on the promise of God and say this is mine, make an announcement about it before God and Satan, this is mine, and in the Saviour's name I take God at His Word and I am going to live in the blessing of it!
A man who was an immigrate bought passage for a new land and a new start. So as not to be hungry on his journey he brought along some crackers and cheese, but soon they run out, he almost starved as he lay under the seats on deck.
In due course he was found very ill and brought to sick bay and received healing help. "What happened?" was the Captain’s question as the man recovered. "Well sir, I ran out of food and was starving to death." "Man don’t you know that the fare you paid included your food and a room in which to sleep?" He never did claim his possession until it was almost too late!
Stand up; stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;This day the noise of battle the next the victors song.To him that overcomes, a crown of life shall be, He with the king of glory shall reign eternally.
Can you understand dear friend how important this land Called Israel was to God’s people? The promise of this land and the fulfilling of that promise had amazing consequences; it was all-important to them and still is. But then an amazing thing happened some years later when the children of Israel were well settled into the land and enjoying to the full many of the blessings, which God had promised, there came pollution into the land:
3. The Land Polluted: By the People!
Would you believed it they polluted the land. How? By demanding of Samuel a King 1 Samuel Ch.8vv1-9: Israel Demanded A King, so Saul, David, and Solomon became the first three kings. We discover though in1 Kings Ch.11v43 that Solomon dies and in 1 Kings Ch.12vv1-20 the nation becomes divided, and of course there is nothing quite as bad as a people divided, all it brings is pollution and further division.
Now there are two Kings in the land: Rehoboam makes Jerusalem the Royal City:
Sometimes known as Judah! (The Two Tribes) Jeroboam makes Samaria the Royal City: Sometimes known as Israel or Ephraim! (The Ten Tribes). This of course leads God once more to take the severest of action with regards to His earthly people Israel. What a chequered career they have had. Remind you of anyone?
Now because of that pollution God once again took amazing steps.
4. The Land Purged By God!
God now takes the amazing step of having to purge the land:
2 Kings Ch.17vv20-23: The Ten Tribes are torn out of "The Land" and removed out of God's sight to be captives in Assyria.
But also around the same time 2 Chronicles Ch.36vv14-21 reveals that the two tribes are torn out of "The Land" and are removed out of God's sight to be captives in Babylon for seventy years.
Remember that God commanded His blessing to His people in "The Land" and only in "The Land". The people had to be in the land for blessing. Likewise, the Lord commands His blessing only in "The Lord" We must be in the Lord to be in blessing!
It is most interesting; when God carried His people away into captivity he made this statement: Ezekiel Ch.21vv1+2: “And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel.” Ezekiel was one of the Prophets sent with the people into exile. And further God speaks through Ezekiel Ch. 21vv25-27
“And thou, profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the LORD GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”
He would remove the King, the Crown, the Power and the Blessing, as he also makes crystal clear in Hosea Ch.3vv3+4.
Can God remove the light and the blessing from the Church as he did with the nation? Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! Revelation Ch.3vv14-22.
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on His Throne! He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Yes, just as God took away the blessing from Israel He can remove the blessing from the Church, surely something we should guard against with our whole way of living. Well the evidences are there that God can remove His people, but praise His Wonderful Name the evidences are there also that God can restore His people. You see, God needed His people back in the land; He needed them to once again take up their privileged position of dwelling in this amazing land of promise, so we have our next thought.
5. The Land Peopled: By God!
So God peoples the land again under Ezra and Nehemiah! When the years of captivity were concluded God sent Ezra back to the land with a remnant of people to rebuild "The City" and sent Nehemiah back with a remnant of people to rebuild "The walls" and "The Gates." Never forget God is always as good as His Word. He said in Hosea Ch.3v5: "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." Note that phrase! "THE LATTER DAYS" moving now toward the end times. It may seem to us an amazing distance away but where God is concerned it is only a short time. "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter Ch.3v8).
Now, why would God want His People back into this land?
I mean they polluted the land before surely, they are just foolish enough to do the same thing over and over again. Well, true as that may be it reminds us that we have a wonderfully forgiving God who is willing to forgive us again and again and start us over in the pathway of worship, witness and work for his glory, which also reminds us that failure need not be final. Through repentance and confession there is forgiveness and as we continue in obedience, days of blessing will follow. But you see God needed His people back in the land because of the promises of the coming Messiah.
The Old Testament was full of Messianic promise. In fact, it’s fair to say that the coming Messiah was the main focus of the Old Testament. The first hint of a Messianic Redeemer came in Genesis 3, right after Adam’s fall, when God promised that the Seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head (v.15). In the closing chapter of the final book of the Old Testament, God promised, “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4v2). And between those two promises, the entire Old Testament is filled with prophecies of the coming Deliverer—at least 333 distinct promises, by one count. More than a hundred of those prophecies were literally fulfilled at the first advent of Christ.
Here are some key Scriptures:
Isaiah prophesied that he would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7v14; Matthew 1v18, 22).
Micah foresaw that Bethlehem would be His birthplace (Micah 5v2; Matthew 2v1).
The experience of Old Testament Israel graphically foreshadowed His being called out of Egypt (Hosea 11vv1-2 Matthew 2vv13-15).
Isaiah foretold that He would be a descendant of Jesse (King David’s father) and that He would be uniquely anointed with the Spirit of God (Isaiah Ch.11vv1-5; Matthew 3vv16-17).
Zechariah prophesied that He would enter Jerusalem riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah.9v9; Luke 19v35-37).
Psalm 41v9 predicted that He would be betrayed by a familiar friend with whom he had shared a meal (Matthew10v4).
Zechariah prophesied that He would be stricken and His sheep scattered, anticipating that He would be forsaken by His own closest disciples (Zechariah Ch.13v7; Mark Ch.14v50).
Zechariah also foretold the exact price of Judas’ betrayal (thirty pieces of silver), as well as what would become of the betrayal money (Zechariah 11vv12-13; Matthew 26v15; 27vv6-7). Isaiah foretold many details of the crucifixion (Isaiah 52v14+53v12; Matthew 26v67; 27vv29-30+ 57-60).
David foretold many additional details of the tortures Christ endured at the cross, including His last cry to the Father, the piercing of His hands and feet, and the parting of His garments (Psalm 22; Matthew 27vv35+ 42-43, 46; John 19vv23-24).
David also prophetically foretold that none of Christ’s bones would be broken (Psalm. 34v20; John 19v33).
And elsewhere David alluded to the Resurrection (Psalm.16v10;cf Acts 2v27;13vv35-37).
All the prophecies dealing with the first advent of Christ were fulfilled precisely and literally, His riding on a donkey, the parting of His garments, the piercing of His hands and feet, and the vivid prophesies of His rejection by men in Isaiah 53—all these might have been interpreted symbolically by Old Testament scholars before Christ. But the New Testament record repeatedly reports that such things were fulfilled in the most literal sense, so “that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matthew 26v56;cf2v15; 4vv14-16; 8v17; 12vv7-21; 13v35; 21vv4-5; 27v35; John12v38; 15v25; 19vv24+28).
In some cases Old Testament prophecies about Christ were fulfilled with a literalism that could not have been anticipated by even the most careful Old Testament scholars. For example, Psalm 69 seems to be a lament from David while he was under attack from his enemies and in deep distress. Nothing in the Psalm itself gives us a clue that any prophecies are contained in it. In fact, in verse 5 David refers to his own foolishness and sins. So these words came from the heart of David to describe his own anguish at being hated without a cause. Yet there is a deeper, prophetic meaning. Typologically, David prefigured the Redeemer. And the New Testament indicates that certain phrases in this psalm refer to Christ in an even greater way than they referred to David. “Zeal for Your house has eaten me up” (v.9) is shown to be a prophecy that was literally fulfilled by Christ in Mark 11vv15-17 (cf. John 2vv14-17). Verse 21, “They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,” turns out to be a prophecy that was literally fulfilled on the cross (Matthew. 27v34).
It stands to reason, then, that the remaining two-thirds of Old Testament Messianic prophesies will also be fulfilled literally. And that requires the return of Jesus Christ to this earth.
When Christ took up the scroll in His hometown synagogue at Nazareth and began to read, in God’s perfect timing the scheduled reading for that week came from Isaiah 61. Luke 4vv17-21 records the incident:
And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
If we compare the text with Isaiah 61, we see that Christ stopped reading abruptly in the middle of a sentence. Here’s the full text of Isaiah 61vv1-3:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified”.
The rest of the chapter from Isaiah goes on to describe the blessings of the millennial kingdom, when “the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth. So the LORD God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations” (Isaiah 61v.11).
Christ deliberately stopped reading mid-sentence because “the day of vengeance of our God” pertains to His second advent, not His first.
Many Old Testament prophecies seemed to telescope Messianic events this same way, so that it was not always immediately obvious when one portion of a prophecy referred to the first coming of Christ, while another portion referred to His second coming. Employing the Old Testament alone, it would have been very difficult to discern any distinction between the two classes of Messianic prophecies.
But here are some familiar Old Testament prophecies about Christ that await fulfillment at His Second Coming:
Psalm 2. We know this speaks of Christ. Verse 7 is quoted several times in the New Testament and is applied to Him: “You are My Son, today I have begotten you” (cf Acts 13v33; Hebrews.Ch.1v5+Ch.5v5). Yet many aspects of this Psalm await future fulfillment. Verse 6 suggests an earthly reign that is yet to be realized: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” The kingdom and the judgment described in verses 8-9 also have yet to be fulfilled literally: “I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Isaiah 9vv6-7. This familiar passage also seems to have both the first and second comings of Christ in view: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.“
That plainly refers to His first advent, anticipating the angel’s promise to Mary in Luke 1v35. But the rest of Isaiah 9vv6-7 describes Him as a king in glory on David’s throne:
And the government will be upon His shoulder, And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
Christ Himself pointed to His second coming as the time when He would assume that throne in a literal sense: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matthew.25v31, emphasis added). Micah 4v3. This passage echoes the promise of a kingdom of peace under His rule: “He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Again the literal fulfillment of that prophecy awaits a second advent of the Saviour.
Jeremiah 23v5. Here the Word of God expressly states that the future kingdom of Christ is to be an earthly one: “Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.” He must return to establish that kingdom on earth. Zechariah 14vv4-9. Zechariah describes the Second Coming graphically: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through my mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with you. It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish. It shall be one day, which is known to the LORD— neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be, ”The Lord is one,” and His name one.”
That describes the glorious appearing of Christ, which is yet to come, when He returns to set all things right. Nothing like that occurred at His first coming. Like much that pertains to Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, it awaits future fulfillment at the Second Coming of Christ.
Scripture says God “cannot lie” and that He will not change His mind (Titus 1v2; Numbers 23v19). What He has promised, He will do. And much of what He promised about Christ requires that the Saviour return to earth in triumph in order to bring it to pass. You see the truthfulness of the Bible is at stake. I say all of that to forcefully remind you, as I have already said, God is always as good as His Word. Psalm 19v7b “The Testimony of the Lord is SURE, making wise the simple.” Just as the land had to be peopled for the Saviours first coming, so it must be peopled for His Second Coming, but some interesting happenings occurred even at that amazing time. Under Ezra and Nehemiah and others the land of promise became occupied once more to herald the coming of the Messiah to this earth as a little babe in Bethlehem’s manger and as we all know, come He did according to promise, and beloved friends in that coming something remarkable happened.
6. The Land Perfumed: By Jesus!
Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ! Power and Wisdom came by Jesus Christ!
Love and Mercy came by Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ perfumed this amazing land of promise; the sweet perfume of heaven filled the whole earth, enough surely to bring the whole nation to their senses and fall at His beautiful feet and Worship Him.
What was the response of the people? The Mighty God, The Prince of Peace was rejected! And when Jesus Christ came bringing the beautiful perfume of Love, Grace, Truth and Wisdom into a land that stank with the pollution of sin the people said, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him” they made it so abundantly clear they did not want Jesus Christ, the one who had come amongst them with the sweet fragrance of heaven, the one who was in fact their promised Messiah, as far as they were concerned would have no part in ruling over them. What was the outcome?
Remember when Jesus steped into this situation and began His ministry one of the first confrontations he had was with the religious rulers in the land. He said:
"Make not, my Father's house a house of merchandise" John Ch.2v16.`
"My house is the house of prayer" Luke Ch.19v46. Of course they would not have this man to rule over them, they were in no mood to listen to God’s final Word to this world and eventually Jesus said unto this stiff-necked and hardhearted generation,
"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" Matthew Ch.23v38.
In AD 33 Jesus was placed on a cross and left His earthly people the Jews who rejected Him and gave them over to a wandering desolation! They became the laughing stock of the nations and wandered like nomads through out this world. Every nation in the world wanted to conquer Jerusalem because that was an indication they were world-class leaders. It really is amazing that such a small strip of land is so important to this world's leaders. What is it about this little piece of dirt in the wilderness? But amazingly in AD 70, something else amazing happened in this land, which God had promised to His earthly people the Jew.
7. The Land Pillaged: By Titus!
In AD 70, Titus, a mighty general of the Roman army came and captured Jerusalem and from that day onwards the land that God had promised to His earthly people Israel, was in the hands of one foreign power after another.
Ezekiel Ch. 5v5 reminds us:
Thus says the Lord God, "This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her."
Arnold Olson said: "Jerusalem, the centre of world interest centuries after other capitals have disappeared; Jerusalem, destined to be completely renewed after Washington, Moscow, Paris and London have joined the other centres of power in the cemetery for dead bodies; Jerusalem, future site of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven." What is it about this little piece of dirt in the wilderness? Well, it’s a promised inheritance from God to His earthly people called Israel and whatever may be happening in that wonderful land right now, one day the people known, as Israel will occupy it completely and absolutely. Israel, according to God’s Holy Word, has a marvellous future. Read with me Ezekiel Ch.37vv1-28. The vision brings before us the spiritual condition of Israel nationally during all the long centuries of the dispersion. Having turned away from God they are characterized no longer, as a people, by divine life. Not only has blindness in part happened to them so that they find it difficult, even when reading their own Scriptures, to discern the mind of God, but also they are actually dead in trespasses and in sins, as are the Gentiles whom once they despised, because of their ignorance of the law and of the true God.
We discover in this amazing vision, Ezekiel finds himself placed in a deep valley and this valley is filled with dry bones. He says:
“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD”. (Ezekiel Ch.37vv1-6).
The Lord, Jehovah instructs Ezekiel to look about him, on doing so he notices that wherever his eye falls there are amazing numbers of bones and they are described in these verses as very dry; in other words there was not the slightest evidence of spiritual life. Then God asks this very potent question of Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” What a question, surely none but God alone could answer. As far as human reasoning was concerned it must have seemed an impossible task. How on earth could these dead, dry bones, ever come back to life? We know today, don’t we, especially as we try to witness and win to the Lord His own earthly people it is the most difficult task imaginable to see light and life enter the souls of these who are dead in trespasses and sins. So utterly dead are they to the truth of God’s Holy Word, their own Scriptures, that it is only as the Holy Spirit of God moves upon them that the light of the gospel dawns, and they, in fact, recognize that they are indeed dead in trespasses and sins and believe on His Holy name. We are told in the New Testament, “It pleased, God by the foolishness” (or the simplicity) “of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians Ch.1v21).
So Ezekiel is commanded to prophecy over these bones: that means, he is to proclaim the message of God, saying to them, “O ye dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah.” And what was the word of Jehovah? That He would cause breath to enter into them and they should live, for He would put sinews upon them and bring flesh upon them with skin, and put breath in them, that they might once again respond to His love and know Him as their God. I here recall David’s prayer in Psalm Ch.119v25, “Quicken thou me according to thy Word”; and the Lord Jesus has reminded us, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John Ch.6v63). So when the life giving Word goes forth in the energy of the Holy Spirit even poor, dead, dry Israelites will be revived and will know that God has spoken. What did Ezekiel do? The moment he heard the divine command he began to prophecy to the bones, no questioning, no running it past the bar of his own mind to decide if it was right or a wise thing to do, he just did what God said, guess what! The results were made known immediately. Ezekiel Ch.37vv7-10: “So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army”.
As Ezekiel proclaimed the word there was a noise as of thunder and a tremendous shaking of the earth; and then, before the prophet’s startled eyes, the bones came together, each one fitted to the other, until they formed complete human skeletons. In another moment sinews and flesh came upon them and skin covered them, and they became perfect human bodies, but there was no breath or life in them. Again the word of the Lord came to the prophet, saying, “Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” So far as I have been able to discern this is the only place in sacred Scripture where we have prayer addressed directly to the Holy Spirit. Ordinarily, as we see in Ephesians Ch.2v18, prayer is by or in the energy of the Spirit to the Father in the name of the Son; but here we have a definite case where one was commanded to speak directly to the Holy Spirit, for the term “wind” here can mean no other than He who is the blessed life-giving Spirit of God. It is He who quickens the dead; and in answer to this prayer, breath came into these resurrected bodies, and they stood up upon their feet an exceeding great army.
We need to remember that all this was in vision and is not to be taken as referring to a literal physical resurrection of the dead. That Scripture does teach such a resurrection—in fact, two resurrections: one of the just, and the other of the unjust—is perfectly clear; but that is not what is contemplated here. This is rather a fulfillment in vision of what is predicted in Daniel Ch.12v2, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” These words might be applied to the two resurrections just referred to: the one before, and the other after the millennial reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, but the connection in which they are found in Daniel 12 makes it evident, in my judgment, that the resurrection there depicted is a national resuscitation, such as we have in our present chapter. For long centuries Israel has been a dead nation, sleeping among the Gentiles. In the day of Jehovah’s power, they will be brought out from their graves. gathered from the countries into which they have been dispersed, and appear as an exceeding great host: Those in whose hearts faith is found entering into everlasting life, and those who refuse to believe the message of that day given over to shame and everlasting contempt. The explanation of Ezekiel’s vision is given very clearly in the next few verses:
“Then He said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, O my people. And I will put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and ye shall know that I Jehovah have spoken it and performed it, saith Jehovah. (Ezekiel Ch.37vv11-14).
The identification is complete. These bones are the whole house of Israel. In their distress they have said, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.” But they are yet to learn that Jehovah has better things in store for them: He is going to open their graves; that is, cause them to come up out of the condition in which they have been for so long as scattered over the world, suffering under the hand of the Gentiles, and He will bring them into the land of Israel. Then indeed they shall know that they have to do with Jehovah when He has renewed them as a nation and delivered them from the hopeless condition that has been theirs for so long. At that time, as we have seen in the previous chapter, they will be regenerated as a people. God will put His own Spirit within them, and they shall live, and He will place them securely in their own land, thus fulfilling all that He has spoken concerning them.
“The word of Jehovah came again unto me, saying, And thou, son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them for thee one to another into one stick, that they may become one in thy hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his companions; and I will put them with it, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in My hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thy hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they are gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all; neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God” (EzekielCh.37vv15-23).
Following the death of Solomon the nation had been divided into two parts, the Northern Kingdom going by the name of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom by the name of Judah. That difference continued until the dispersion of both peoples, but when God restores them to Himself again the two houses of Israel will be united in one, nevermore to be separated. So the prophet was commanded to take sticks, or pilgrim rods, and to write upon one the name Judah, and upon the other the name Israel. These were to be joined one to another so that both could be held with a single hand; and in this way he was to picture the union of the two kingdoms in the coming day. When the people of the captivity inquired of him what was meant by his carrying the two sticks in one hand thus united to each other, he was to declare the truth that God had revealed to him, and tell them that Jehovah had said He would take the children of Israel from among the nations whither they had gone, and gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land, and make them one nation in that land upon the mountains of Israel, and set one king over them all. Moreover, they would be divided no more into two kingdoms; nor should they be defiled by idolatry and other detestable things, but they would be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, and cleansed from their sins, and openly acknowledged by God as His people, even as they would own Him as their God. This is the glorious future, which, according to the universal testimony of the Prophets, is yet in store for Israel. In that day Messiah, the Son of David, will be recognized as their King and Shepherd.
“And My servant David shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in mine ordinances, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, they, and their children, and their children’s children, for ever: and David My servant shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the nations shall know that I am Jehovah that sanctifieth Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezekiel Ch.37vv24-28). “My servant David,” God says, “shall be king over them.” I do not understand this to mean that David himself will be raised and caused to dwell on the earth as king. Some have thought this. It seems to me as one considers other scriptures that the implication is that He who was David’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, is to be the King, and thus David’s throne will be re-established. The Lord Jesus, when here on earth, declared Himself to be the Good Shepherd, and spoke of the gathering together of the children of God scattered abroad, and said there should be one flock. This is true now concerning Jews and Gentiles who put their trust in Him; it will be true also in millennial days when He will feed His flock like a shepherd, and those of Israel and those from among the Gentiles will together own His righteous sway and rejoice in His shepherd care. No man will then rebel against the law of God, but they will walk in obedience to His ordinances and observe His statutes, glorying in the fact that they belong to Him. Nor shall they ever again be driven out of the land, which God gave, by covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They shall dwell in the land with none to make them afraid, and under the gentle sway of Messiah, the Son of David, who will be their Prince forever; they will delight in obedience to God. At that time a covenant of peace will be made with the people in accordance with God’s promise through Jeremiah, to confirm a new covenant with Israel and Judah; this will be an everlasting covenant with no possibility of its ever being broken because of the fact that it will be a covenant of pure grace. The blood of that covenant has been shed already on Calvary’s cross, but not until the time of the end; will Israel come into the good of it. Then after restoration to God and to their land, Jehovah will set His sanctuary in the midst of them. When He brought them out of Egypt He put into their hearts the desire to make a dwelling-place for Him that He might live among them. The tabernacle in the wilderness was such a dwelling-place but only for a short time. Solomon’s Temple was owned of God in this way but soon became defiled. When the day of restoration comes the Tabernacle of the Lord will again be set up in the midst of Israel, and He will be their God, and they shall be His people. Then they will understand that He is Jehovah the Sanctifier who shall set Israel apart for Himself and dwell in the sanctuary, which will be rebuilt in Palestine, never to be destroyed so long as the world lasts.
Now, I take time to go over all of that with you to display the truth of God’s wonderful Word. Yes, the land was pillaged by Titus and the people of Israel have wandered like Nomads from pillar to post but once again I say it, we need to understand as Ezekiel has been declaring to us very forcibly, there is a fabulous future for Israel and there is a prospective for God’s beloved earthly people.
So having taken a look at Israel’s Present and Israel’s Past lets now take an investigative look into Israel’s Prospective.
Israel’s Prospective! Does Israel Really Have A Future?
We are talking here about the Rebirth of Israel are we not? So what is it would make us think that Israel has a future? It is, as already stated, true, that for many years Israel have wandered homeless and landless, ever since Moses was spoken to by God out of the burning bush, Israel has had to face the deep seated hatred of almost ever nation in the world at one time or another and at one level or another. At this very moment when Moses stood before the burning bush listening to God’s precious word, Pharaoh, in Egypt, was hatching a dastardly plan to exterminate the Jews but what Pharaoh or the Egyptian people did not understand, in that bush and in those words was a very potent message from God to Moses concerning the Jewish people. That bush right there before Moses burned with fire but was not consumed, for God was in the midst of it. God instructed Moses, that very day, that the nation of Israel was about to be set free from Egyptian slavery yet, as a people they would never be out of the fire. One body of people, one ruler, one somebody somewhere would try to exterminate them but they would never be consumed, they would never be assimilated into another nation, why? God would be in the midst of His people just as He was in the burning bush and they could never be destroyed. God had and still has, if I may be so bold, a glorious future for His beloved earthly people. Remember this, the Jew has stood at the graveside of every empire that ever took upon themselves the task of judge, jury and executioner in an endeavour to exterminate them as a nation, and will yet stand by the graveside of every nation, people or individual who is at this present time persecuting them.
Think with me as I reveal this amazing onslaught on this equally amazing people.
The poet Byron summed up the plight of the Jewish people in a Gentile world succinctly:
Tribes of the wandering foot, and weary breast,
When shall ye fly away and be at rest!
The wild dove has her nest, the fox his cave,
Mankind their country; Israel but a grave.
Time after time in their long and troubled history the Jews have faced the possibility of extermination. In 1548 B.C. a new pharaoh came to the throne of Egypt, Amenhotep I.
It was he who launched history’s first attempt to exterminate the Jews. All newborn Hebrew males, he decreed, were to be tossed into the Nile. But God stepped in and instead of extermination the Jews experienced the exodus.
In 722 B.C. the Assyrians culminated a three-year siege on the northern tribes of Israel. They sacked Samaria, depopulated the country, and marched their Hebrew captives by the thousands into exile and oblivion. In 701 B.C. the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib, having devastated most of Judah, turned his attention to Jerusalem to uproot what was left of the Jewish people. Again God intervened. This time the armies of the invader were swept away in a divine visitation of judgment, and the humiliated Sennacherib returned home to face an assassin’s knife.
In 586 B.C. it was the turn of the Babylonians. Having led two successful expeditions against Judea and Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar returned to make an end of them. He demolished Jerusalem, burned the temple, slaughtered Jews wholesale, and deported the remainder to Babylon. But there they prospered, outlived the empire that had enslaved them, and were repatriated by order of the Persian emperor Cyrus, as foretold both by Isaiah and Jeremiah.
In 473 B.C. Haman, chief minister of the Persian tyrant Xerxes, persuaded his royal master it would be to his benefit to rid his realm of Jews. Again God intervened, this time through a woman; Queen Esther, and the plots of this rabid anti-Semite were foiled. In one of the ironies of history, Haman ended upon the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai—the Jew he hated the most.
In 169 B.C. a half-mad Syrian tyrant named Antiochus Epiphanes, heir to a segment of the dismembered Grecian empire, captured Jerusalem and put the Jews to the sword. He defiled their temple, issued idolatrous laws no conscientious Jew would think of obeying, and did his best to replace Jewish culture and religion with Hellenism. But Antiochus perished and the Jews lived on.
In A.D. 70, after a long and stubborn siege, Jerusalem fell to another imperial power, Rome. During that war, over a million Jews perished by the sword, starvation, crucifixion, internal strife, and disease. The Romans glutted the slave markets and arenas of the world with captured Jews. But once more the Jews survived, this time to lay firmer foundations for Judaism as a viable force in a hostile Gentile world, no matter where or how Jews might be forced to live.
In A.D. 135 the Romans crushed a third Jewish revolt, this time led by Bar Kochba, a pseudo messiah. The infuriated emperor Hadrian now made it a capital offense for anyone to practice Judaism, but Hadrian died and the Jews lived on.
In 339 Emperor Constantius II made it illegal for Jews to intermarry with Christians. In 438 Emperor Theodosius II banned Jews from all high office in the Roman world. In 531 Justinian resurrected and enforced the prohibitions of Theodosius and, in his famous Corpus Juris, made it illegal for Jews to appear as witnesses against Christians. In 630 the Byzantine emperor Heraclius connived at the massacre of Jews who had re-infiltrated Palestine. In 722 Emperor Leo III ordered all Jews to become Christians. In time, the Roman Empire passed away. New powers took the stage, but the fate of the Jews remained unchanged. They were unwanted aliens in a Gentile world.
In 1066 the Muslim rulers of Granada in Spain massacred four thousand Jews in a single day. In 1096 Pope Urban II proclaimed the first crusade to rid the Holy Land of the Muslims. The crusade was preached throughout Europe by Peter the Hermit, and medieval knights rallied to the cause.
On their way to fight the Paynims, the knights found settlements of Jews in the cities through which they passed. “Why fight the enemies of the cross in Palestine,” they argued, “and leave these enemies untouched?” So they massacred Jews by the thousands, torturing them, burning them, forcing them to commit sacrilege; and then they marched on their way to war, feeling they had done God a favor.
As crusade-followed crusade the Jews of Europe knew what to expect when the knights and their motley armies appeared. In many communities the Jews adopted what they called the Kiddush ha-Shem (the tradition of sacrifice), namely mass suicide. At least they could die in peace and dignity.
In 1149 the Berbers, who controlled the greater part of Spain, gave Spanish Jews the usual choice: convert to Islam or get out.
In 1215 the fourth Lateran council of the Roman Catholic Church (the same council that formalized the dogma of transubstantiation) ordered all Jews to wear a badge to distinguish them from other people. The edict was known as “the law of the patch,” and its purpose was to segregate and degrade the Jews.
In 1290 Edward I ordered all Jews out of England. In 1306 Philip IV ordered all Jews out of France. In 1475 all Jews in the Italian city of Trent were killed. Throughout Europe, Jews were accused of poisoning wells, raping Christian women, and stealing infants from Christian homes to use their blood in ritual sacrifice.
In 1371 Jews were massacred in Castile under the rule of Henry II.
In 1391 they were massacred in Seville. Those who survived were forced to convert to Christianity, and those who did were called marranos (the damned). And damned they were, for the church suspected them of secretly practicing Judaism and bided its time. In 1479 Ferdinand and Isabella united Spain and cleared the country of Moors. A tidal wave of pride, patriotism, and religious prejudice swept Spain. The Catholic Church introduced the Inquisition to root out heretics, especially Jews and Marranos. A new chapter of horror began for all who disagreed with Rome, especially those of Jewish blood. In 1483 Torquemada arrived in Spain to be father confessor to the queen and to make the Spanish Inquisition the most feared instrument of terror in the medieval world. One of its primary goals was to root out and massacre Jews. In 1492, by the Edict of Expulsion, 300,000 Jews were tossed out of Spain to set out on a dreadful journey to nowhere.
In 1506 many Spanish Jews, who had sought refuge in neighboring Portugal, were mobbed and massacred. In 1531 the Inquisition was imported into Portugal, and Portugal became another Spain.
In 1648 hundreds of thousands of Jews in Poland were massacred by the Cossacks.
In 1660 the Jews of Europe were accused of spreading the Black Death, which was depopulating the continent, and the panic-stricken populace slaughtered them in country after country.
And so it went. Ever since the Jewish people in Pilate’s judgment hall pulled down on their heads the dreadful curse “His blood be on us and on our children,” (Matthew Ch.27v25) they have wandered from land to land, from one graveyard to the next.
The curse of their own law has come upon them too. According to Deuteronomy 27 and 28, both blessings and curses were part of the Mosaic Law. The passage contains many threats and warnings. The Jews were warned that national apostasy would be divinely punished. God said that He would bring disease, drought, defeat, and deportation upon them, and that their doom in foreign lands would be terrible indeed.
“And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to naught; 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 even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known . . . And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! And at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! For the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see” (Deuteronomy 28vv63-67).
No wonder a rabbi once said to Ferdinand and Isabella, “You cannot curse us for there is a blessing on us, and you cannot bless us for there is a curse on us.” The history of the Jewish people since Calvary has been one long commentary on the curses of Deuteronomy. Their fate has pursued them relentlessly down the ages, right into the twentieth century.
In 1897 a pampered, half-assimilated, wealthy Budapest Jew by the name of Theodore Herzl said to himself, “Enough is enough!” Herzl was a journalist. He had long puzzled over the worldwide problem of anti-Semitism, that strange disease afflicting the Gentiles, always endemic, sometimes epidemic. At one time he toyed with the idea of persuading the Jewish people to embrace Roman Catholicism. Perhaps then they could be totally assimilated and their strange fate come to an end. The Dreyfus affair cured him.
Alfred Dreyfus was an officer in the French army. He was a Jew. On October 15, 1894, Dreyfus was arrested and falsely accused of spying for Germany. Found guilty by a military court, he was stripped of his uniform and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Dreyfus maintained his innocence throughout the trial, and his testimony convinced at least one member of the general staff. When this officer tried to espouse Dreyfus’s cause, however, he was bluntly told by his superiors to let the matter drop. Dreyfus was eventually given a second trial; but by then anti-Semitism was rife in the French army, and the second trial was a mockery. It was not until 1906 that the French high court reviewed the Dreyfus case, acquitted him, and ordered him to be reinstated in the army.
Herzl followed the case with increasing dismay. When he heard the French mob shouting, “Death to the Jews,” he concluded, with startling foresight, that there was no future for the Jews in Europe. (That was long before anyone had ever heard of a corporal in the German army by the name of Adolph Hitler.) Herzl’s new convictions led him to found the Zionist Organization in 1897. His goal was to find a national homeland for the Jewish people; a place where being a Jew would cease to be a problem. At first even the Jews thought he was mad and where not at all interested in accepting his idea, eventually though, they began to realize this idea would work.
Many Old Testament Scriptures foretell the rebirth of the state of Israel in the last days. Take Isaiah Ch.11vv11-12, for instance. Here mention is made of a second return of the Jewish people from captivity, one in which Jews would be re-gathered to the Holy Land from Assyria, Egypt, the islands of the sea, and the distant corners of the earth. At the time this prophecy was given, the Babylonian exile was a century in the future. Isaiah’s vision, however, went far beyond the limited repatriation of the small Jewish remnant that eventually returned to the Promised Land after that captivity.
Isaiah also foretold in this prophecy that the ancient division of the nation into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) would end and that Israel would be reborn as a single nation. He foresaw that, when the time came for this return, the re-born state would wage victorious war on its neighbours. He also foretold something that is still future today: God will “destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea” (Isaiah Ch.11v15). Evidently Egypt will be numbered again with Israel’s foes and during some future war the waters of the Nile will be cut off. A well-placed atomic bomb, at the site of the Aswan Dam for instance, could do untold damage to Egypt by affecting the flow of the Nile. Without the Nile, Egypt cannot exist. Numerous prophecies in Scripture suggest that Egypt will be on the side of Israel’s foes in the last days.
In Isaiah Ch.43vv5-6 the prophet spoke again of a universal re-gathering of the Jewish people from east and west, from north and south, from the ends of the earth. He also foretold something that has not yet happened: the Jews will be called by the Lord’s own name (Isaiah Ch.43v7).
There is another remarkable prophecy in Isaiah Ch.60vv8-10 in which the prophet foretold that Jews would return to their land by air. This actually happened on a large scale in the case of the Yemenite Jews, and, of course, many modern Jews have returned to the re-born state by plane. Isaiah said that the Jews would “fly like doves” to their land. A dove has a strong homing instinct, which always causes it to return to its nesting place no matter where it may be. Just so, the Jewish people, the prophet said, would be instinctively drawn to their own homeland. And that is what has happened. When the British government, for instance, offered the Zionist an attractive stretch of territory in Uganda as a national home for the Jewish people, the offer was declined. The homing instinct of the Jews was not for Uganda, but for the land of Israel.
In this same prophecy Isaiah also foretold that a great western maritime power would lend its aid when the time came for this return. He named this country Tarshish. In its general prophetic setting Tarshish seems to be a term used to depict the western world; here it is probably a reference to Britain, at least initially. Isaiah said that the sons of strangers would build up the walls of the Promised Land and their kings would minister to the returning Jews. Although this prophecy will probably have a more complete fulfillment during the millennium, we cannot help seeing that it has had an initial and partial fulfillment already. The “isles” did serve the Zionist cause. The kings and ministers of a great seafaring power did play a leading part in administering Palestine on behalf of the budding Jewish state. The fact that the British mandate ended in tragedy does not alter the fact that Britain did much to make the Zionist dream a reality, far more than any other country in the world.
Isaiah concluded this particular prophecy by predicting a future flow of wealth into the new state of Israel, the ultimate conversion of the Jewish people, and the downfall of nations that refuse aid to Israel.
Isaiah was by no means the only prophet to see these things. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” is God’s principle (Matthew Ch.18v16). Thus we find that Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets were equally farsighted.
In Jeremiah Ch.16vv14-16 the prophet foretold there would come a time when the Egyptian exodus would cease to be a wonder, because a greater one would eclipse it. The Jews in their annual Passover feast have commemorated the exodus from Egypt for thousands of years. It is a recurring theme in the Psalms, and it was intended to be an unforgettable reminder to the Jewish people of the sovereign greatness of God in human affairs. But that great event in the history of the Jewish nation would become as nothing, Jeremiah said, when compared with the even greater miracle of Israel’s coming national rebirth. He saw Jews flocking back to the land, not just from Egypt but also from the lands of the north and from all lands.
He also foretold that this return would not be entirely spontaneous and idealistic. There would arise “hunters” and “fishers” who would treat the Jewish people as so much game. The Jews would be sent fleeing to the land to save their lives. Hitler was one such hunter.
In Jeremiah Ch.23v3 the prophet again spoke of a gathering of a Jewish remnant out of all countries. He saw to the very end when at long last this re-gathered people would become spiritually fruitful, when they would be converted, and when they would become “a righteous branch.” That has not happened yet, but it will.
Jeremiah Ch.29v14 also records again the end-time gathering of the Jewish exiles and the final end of the long exile of God’s ancient people. The prophet saw his people being gathered from all nations and from all the places where they have been scattered.
Jeremiah was the prophet of the Babylonian captivity. It was he who actually specified the length of that captivity and foretold its end. But the visions and prophecies of Jeremiah mentioned above go far beyond the Babylonian captivity and far beyond the events connected with its termination. The return from Babylon was not universal in scope, and its dimensions did not eclipse the exodus from Egypt. When the Babylonian captivity ended and Cyrus gave permission for the Jews to return to their ancient land, only a handful of Jews responded. The majority had settled down in Babylon and ignored the decree ending the captivity.
The exilic prophet Ezekiel also foresaw the end-time re-gathering of the Jews to their land. In Ezekiel Ch.11vv17-19 he likewise foretold that the Jews would come back home from all countries. He saw the land cleansed of its detestable abominations and idolatries, and he foresaw the coming conversion of the Jewish people.
In Ezekiel Ch.34vv11-24 he spoke of the Lord shepherding Israel as a flock back to the land. Thus, while wicked men might hunt them and fish them, God Himself would shepherd them. Like a shepherd He would gather them out of all countries and bring them back to their rightful fold. Looking even further into the future, Ezekiel described a coming day when David himself would rule over the Hebrew people as a shepherd king. Thus Ezekiel looked forward to the resurrection and the millennial age.
The prophet had more to say in Ezekiel Ch.36vv24-28 again he foretold the re-gathering of the Jewish people from among the heathen and their return to their own land, and once again he spoke of their coming conversion when they would receive a new spirit and a new heart.
Probably the most famous of Ezekiel’s prophecies about the rebirth of the state of Israel is found in Ezekiel 37. This I mention once again as it has great significance and should not easily be forgotten. The chapter actually contains two visions. The first is the vision of the valley of dry bones, in which the prophet saw Israel scattered and dead as a nation, buried far and wide in Gentile lands. God asked him whether these bones could live. They were very many, and they were very dry. Could the impossible happen? He was then told in his vision to prophesy to the bones so that they would come together as skeletons. The skeletons were then clothed with muscle and sinew, and the corpses were then resurrected to life as a mighty army. He was expressly told that these bones represented the house of Israel, dismembered, scattered, and buried in Gentile lands. It was a vision of a miracle, the miracle of the rebirth of a nation, a miracle that has come to pass in our own days.
In the second vision Ezekiel saw two sticks becoming one stick. This pictured an end to the centuries-long division of the nation into two kingdoms, and it foretold the re-gathering of the Hebrew people as one nation in the end times. He saw this newly united nation abhorring idolatry. He also saw the time when David Greater Son would rule over them.
What makes Ezekiel’s prophecy so relevant is found in the next two chapters in which he foretold the rise and fall of Russia. The two events were to be contemporaneous. The rebirth of the state of Israel in the last days would coincide with the rise of a great Northern Power, which in turn would meet its end when it launched its armies against the re-born nation of Israel.
It seems incredible that with such a weight of evidence before us anyone could deny that Israel has a great national future and that the rebirth of the state of Israel is an event of great prophetic significance. Many do deny that, however, usually because they have decided to spiritualize prophecy and equate the church with Israel. The rebirth of the state of Israel, nevertheless, is a fact. It vindicates the view that these Old Testament prophecies are to be taken literally.
It was Theodore Herzl who set the process in motion with his call for the rebirth of the state of Israel. Not that Herzl himself believed in the fulfillment of prophecy; he was an agnostic and had no faith whatsoever in the Bible. He was not motivated by religious convictions but by political considerations, as he said in his epochal work, “The Jewish State” In this book he voiced his unbelief and scorned the idea that theocratic principles should have any part in the new state. On the contrary, he envisioned a state run by an “immoral band of free thinkers.” His idea for an Israeli flag likewise scorned all idea of religion. He wanted a secular flag for a secular state, a flag with a white field embroidered with seven stars, the white background to symbolize a pure, new Jewish life and the seven stars to depict “the seven golden hours of our working day.”
Thus, unknown to him, Herzl actually fulfilled another Biblical prophecy. The Lord Jesus, in His Olivet discourse, foretold that the end-time rebirth of the state of Israel would be in unbelief. He foretold this by comparing the rebirth of Israel to a fig tree covered with leaves. Just shortly before, He had cursed a literal fig tree for this very thing, bearing nothing but leaves (Matthew Ch.24v32; cf. Ch.21vv19-20).
Herzl’s dream took concrete form when Chaim Weizmann, a Jewish chemist in Great Britain, rendered unique service to the British government during World War I. Asked by Lord Balfour to name his own reward, Weizmann, an ardent Zionist, asked for British help in establishing a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. The British government issued a famous document, known as the Balfour Declaration, in which it pledged itself to do all in its power to bring this about.
In 1917 General Lord Allenby liberated Palestine from the Turks, and in 1922 the League of Nations conferred a mandate on Britain to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. One of Britain’s first moves was to sever a sizable section from the country and create the state of Trans-Jordan as an Arab national home, separate from Palestine. Far from being satisfied by this gesture, the Arabs were enraged at the influx of Jews into the remainder of Palestine. The country erupted with violence. In 1939, with World War II imminent, with the Arabs in revolt, with Germany making friends in the area, and with vital oil resources to be considered, Britain betrayed its trust. Just at a time when Hitler was preparing to launch the Holocaust and the Jews of Europe desperately needed a place of refuge, the British issued a white paper that drastically curbed any more Jewish immigration into the country.
Enough was not enough after all. Anti-Semitism had not died. What Herzl foresaw came true in all its horror. Hitler applied “pest control” techniques against unwanted peoples in his growing domains. His goal was to exterminate about thirty million people including all the educated classes in Poland, a very large percentage of Slays and, above all, every Jew in Europe. This was his “final solution to the Jewish question.” After the war, when the horror camps of the Nazis were overrun and their atrocities shown to the world, civilized people could hardly believe the thoroughness with which the Nazis had pursued their cause.
Auschwitz is an example. At the end of the war the camp commandant was Rudolph Hess, age forty-six. He talked freely to those who interviewed him while awaiting transfer to Nuremberg. He showed no sense of guilt as he reviewed his activities. In a matter-of-fact way he estimated that probably 2.5 million Jews had perished under his personal direction. Even greater numbers could have been handled, he said. The killing had been easy; it was the disposal of the corpses that slowed things down. The killing, in fact, was so simple that guards weren’t even necessary. People went into the gas chambers thinking they were going for showers. It wasn’t until the doors clanged shut and the gas jets hissed that they realized what was happening. Then it was too late.
The order to exterminate the Jews had been given to him by Heinrich Himmler in person. “The Fuhrer has ordered the endiosung” (meaning the final solution) Hess was told. Auschwitz had been selected as the main site because it was isolated and accessible by rail and he had been chosen to get the job done.
Auschwitz, located on marshy ground in southern Poland, covered eight thousand acres. A high concrete wall surrounded it, with watchtowers strategically placed around the perimeter. Two electric fences also surrounded the camp. Twenty-eight two-story blocks of buildings housed the prisoners. Three miles further on was another camp. Initial methods of mass murder soon proved inadequate. Millions of French, Belgian, Dutch, Polish, Greek, and Italian Jews had to be killed; new crematoria were built to speed up the disposal of bodies. When Auschwitz was operating at full capacity in the spring of 1944, trains arrived in an endless flow. Sidings were built so that trains could pull in while others were being unloaded. Furnaces for burning the bodies were so overworked that their chimneys split; the system broke down. Corpses were then burned in the open until repairs could be made. Corpses waiting burning were stacked like firewood. During those few weeks of spring, half a million people were murdered at this one camp alone. By then there was a sense of urgency, of unfinished business. The Russians were closing in.The Russian prosecution at Nuremberg told what they had found: a camp, where mass murder beyond anything that could be imagined, was being carried out and where experiments in sterilization and castration were carried out with cold-blooded cruelty. They introduced documents telling of a doctor, for instance, who experimented with teenage girls. He used electrical currents and X-rays to destroy their hormones and make them prematurely old. The teenagers became old hags, hobbling on sticks, and looking as though they were seventy or eighty. What did it matter if they grew old in a hurry? They were going to die in a hurry anyway.
Auschwitz was only one example. Diabolical experiments were performed on women at Ravens Brueck and elsewhere. Inmates at Buchenwald were submitted to tests to determine the value of vaccines. They were injected with typhus, yellow fever, smallpox, cholera, and diphtheria. Himmler put hundreds of concentration camp prisoners at the disposal of the doctors whose experiments brought about slow, painful, frightful death. The Allies discovered more and more camps, and in each of them the story was the same: beatings, starvation, backbreaking work, torture, murder.
And it was profitable. When Auschwitz was overrun, its safes were found to contain over $40 million in currency taken from prisoners. In addition there were enormous piles of watches, jewellery, and precious stones. Dentures, shoes, clothing, artificial limbs, gold teeth, hair, tattooed skin, eyeglasses—all were salvaged. Gold extracted from teeth was melted down into ingots and shipped to the Reichsbank, tattooed skin was made into lamps shades, and human hair was baled for commercial purposes. As Sir Hartley Cross observed at Nuremberg, “Mass murder was becoming a state industry—with byproducts.” The fate of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe spurred the Zionists on. As soon as the war ended they chartered any vessel that would float, as long as it could make the Palestinian shore. They ran the British blockade and defied the gunboats sent out to intercept them. They smuggled hundreds of thousands of Jews into the country by night, hiding them in the kibbutzim, absorbing them smoothly and efficiently into Jewish life, preparing them for the struggle ahead and for statehood. Jewish terrorist organizations operated throughout the country, blowing up trains, bombing buildings, attacking British troops and the British-dominated Palestine police, raiding banks, murdering British soldiers by way of reprisal when their own men were tried and hung as terrorists by the British.
Britain was exhausted after World War II, virtual bankrupts, and controlled by a left-wing party that had as a major goal the dissolution of the British Empire. Soured against the Jews by the ceaseless acts of sabotage and terrorism and anxious to placate the oil-rich Arab states, Britain handed the Palestine problem over to the United Nations. In 1947 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the idea of a partitioned Palestine as a solution, which, it hoped, would satisfy both Jews and Arabs. Although the boundaries drawn were unworkable, the United Nations pressed ahead with its plans. The vote was taken on Friday, November 29, 1947. The outcome swung in the balance to the very end, since the Jews needed a two-thirds majority to win and thirty-three votes just to offset the voting power of the Arab-Islamic members. In the end the Jews won partition. The Arabs had been able to muster only thirteen votes against it—those of their own Muslim bloc and two others— Greece, which voted against partition under heavy pressure and coercion, and Cuba, the only nation the Arabs had been able to persuade to take a stand against the Jews.
Arab reaction was predictable. “There are fifty million Arabs,” cried Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. “What does it matter if we lose ten million people to kill all the Jews?” The head of the Muslim brotherhood vowed that the Muslim peoples would fill the sea with Jewish corpses. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem called for a holy war and urged Muslims to murder Jews. The secretary general of the Arab League called for a war of extermination and declared that what was needed was a massacre equal to those associated with the Mongols. The Arabs picked up the mantle dropped by Adolph Hitler and began a reign of terror, which continues in this present day, the hatred goes so deep men, women, and even children willingly become human bombs.
Then came 1948! On May 14 Israel was proclaimed a state. On May 15 the last of the British forces withdrew, having deliberately left a number of strategic positions in Arab hands. Arab armies from surrounding countries immediately invaded Israel, and a fierce war of independence was waged. At the same time Jewish immigration into the country became a floodtide. The Arabs were defeated and called for a truce.
In 1949 Chaim Weizmann became the first president of Israel. That same year Israel was admitted to the United Nations, and the Jewish population in Israel reached a million.
In 1956 the Sinai War broke out; and Israel occupied Sinai and the Gaza Strip, relieving the country of oppressive Egyptian military pressure.
In 1967 war broke out again between the Arabs and Jews. Egypt moved her armoured forces into the Sinai and Jordan; Iraq and Syria joined the assault. Other Arab nations joined in as the United Nations peacekeeping forces beat a hasty retreat, and Israel’s friends in the western world hemmed and hawed. The Arabs suddenly realized they had a tremendous weapon in their hands— oil! The Jews discovered a forgotten weapon too—millions of Jews in other countries who could supply men and money and bring political pressure to bear in high places.
Again the tide turned against the Arabs as Israel stormed the Golan Heights and threw Syria back from her threatening position overlooking the fertile Israeli farms below. Jordan was pushed back across the river, and the Jews seized Jerusalem. When Israeli forces seized Sinai and threatened Egypt, the Arabs again called for a truce.
But the war of attrition went on. The Arabs wielded their newfound oil weapon to bully and blackmail the western powers and the needy nations of the Third World. Propaganda offensives were mounted in the West to make friends and influence people for the Arab cause. Jewish goods were boycotted, and nations having business ties with Israel were threatened with the loss of oil supplies. Acts of terrorism began to escalate. Then in 1973 the Arabs decided to try again, and the Yom Kippur war broke out. Egypt and Syria threw themselves ferociously on Israel at a time when most Jews were celebrating the holiest of their annual feasts and their guard was down. Egypt fielded 700,000 men, 2,500 tanks, 650 planes and 150 anti-aircraft missile batteries. Syria brought up 300,000 men, 2,000 tanks, 330 planes, and 35 anti-tank missile batteries.
Israel had to oppose a million men equipped with modern heavy weapons. Caught off guard, Israeli forces reeled back. Nevertheless, within three days they had not only recovered, but their army was within sight of Damascus. Two days later Israeli forces crossed the Suez and took Egyptian defenses in the rear. Had not the West intervened, Israel could have taken Damascus and Egypt—and probably have dealt their old enemy Libya a crushing blow as well. Egypt began to have second thoughts about fighting Israel, and Anwar Sadat made peace overtures. Negotiations began which led to the signing of a peace treaty, and Israel handed the Sinai back to Egypt.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization, based in Lebanon, refused to learn any lessons from Arab wars with Israel. It kept up its murderous terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens not only in Israel, but also around the world. In 1982 Israel struck back. They moved the full weight of their armed forces into Lebanon to throw the Syrians of the country out and make an end of the PLO as a guerilla force in the Middle East. The Arab nations, while sending howls of outrage at this attack, seemed secretly pleased. The PLO discovered that it was not really very popular with most Arab states. Certainly no Arab country wants to repeat the experience of Lebanon, which offered asylum to the PLO only to be saddled with a militant force able to intimidate and dominate its government.
The war in Lebanon went wrong. The country could not be permanently occupied by Israel. The pressure of world opinion, the erosion of support for the war in the army and at home, and the high cost in lives and money led to a withdrawal. It was a war with no clear beginning, no clear ending and no clear results. PLO terror was replaced by Shiite terror. Syria occupied much of Lebanon, bringing an eventual confrontation between Israel and its powerful Soviet-backed northern neighbour that much closer. On the home front, Israel became a house divided. In Lebanon, members of the PLO, expelled at such cost, began to filter back.
In late 1987 a new threat raised its head—Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip began to riot. The confrontation became more serious when 740,000 Arabs holding Israeli citizenship joined their brethren in the occupied territories in a general strike, breaking a tradition of peaceful coexistence with Israeli Jews. The Jewish response was swift: a crackdown on rioters no matter who was hurt, and even deportation of ringleaders.
The majority of Israelis see the occupied territories as vital to their security. Without them, Israel is a strategically crippled country. Few thinking Jews can concede to allowing those areas to be returned to Arab military occupation. The combined Arab armies of the countries directly surrounding Israel number 1.2 million men as compared with Israel’s regular army of only sixty thousand soldiers. It takes Israel forty-eight hours to mobilize fully. It cannot afford ever again to return to the indefensible pre1967 borders. Arab armies are now better trained than they used to be.
The outbreak of violence by Arabs inside Israel strengthens the hand of hard-liners in the Jewish state who bluntly label all Arabs in the country as enemies and who advocate driving them out. The debate is a hot one. Do Arabs in Israel have the right to full equality, eventually to outnumber Jews in the country, to seize on the democratic process to become the voting majority and turn the country into an Arab state? Many are saying no to that. Some are saying that the essence of Zionism is to have a land of Israel with a Jewish majority—a Jewish state, at all costs.
Thus Israel, reborn, has defended its national interests with courage and vigor. It is back in the land to stay, and the Arabs know now that any attack on Israel will be costly indeed. However, Russia, even though she stands today like a wounded bear, is licking her wounds and healing her wounds and looms in the background with long-range plans to take over the whole area in the interests of world conquest. And standing even further in the shadows, not yet summoned on stage, is the antichrist. His coming has long been foretold, and one day he will dominate affairs, not only in the Middle East, but also in the whole world. And behind him looms the figure of the Christ, who will return in Israel’s most desperate hour to rescue her from all her foes and make her the world’s leading nation. The Rebirth Of Israel? Believe it!
Dr. John Walvoord who was Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary for many years and a prolific writer with respect to prophecy, says:
"Israel's Re-establishment in the ancient land, as was prophesied for the end of the age, is God's principle sign of the approaching advent of Christ".
During the 1930's and 1940's, the London newspaper Sunday Express carried an astrology column by R. H. Naylor. Within a few weeks he predicted that Franco would never rule Spain, a united Ireland was imminent, and there would be no war in 1939. He explained that Hitler's horoscope showed he was not a war maker. So much for the horoscope! Today's astrologers do no better. On the rare occasions when their guesses are right, unthinking people tout them, never noticing the many, many times when they are wrong. Robert C. Shannon.
Is not amazing, God is never wrong yet we find it so difficult to accept his testimony and witness about future events.
Imagine a colony of grubs living on the bottom of a swamp. And every once in a while, one of these grubs is inclined to climb a leaf stem to the surface. Then he disappears above the surface and never returns. All the grubs wonder why this is so and what it must be like up there, so they counsel among themselves and agree that the next one who goes up will come back and tell the others.
Not long after that, one of the grubs feels that urge and climbs that leaf stem and goes out above the surface onto a lily pad. And there in the warmth of the sun, he falls asleep. While he sleeps, the carapace of the tiny creature breaks open, and out of the inside of the grub comes a magnificent dragonfly with beautiful, wide, rainbow-hued, iridescent wings. And he spreads those wings and flies, soaring out over those waters. But then he remembers the commitment he has made to those behind, yet now he knows he cannot return. They would not recognize him in the first place, and beyond that, he could not live again in such a place. But one thought is his that takes away all the distress: they, too, shall climb the stem, and they, too, shall know the glory.
Bruce Thielemann, "Christus Imperator," Preaching Today, Tape No. 55.
There is a day coming when Israel will break through all the days of darkness and difficulty faced on this planet earth and be reborn like the grub into a magnificent butterfly and will once again be seen in all her pristine beauty and be wondered after by the whole wide world who will be astonished and marvel to realize, all the while what the Bible had to say concerning God’s earthly people the Jew was correct!