AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – November 27, 2005
ISRAEL AND ISRAEL – Isaiah 49:20-25, Galatians 6:16
‘The Israel of God’ is a term of striking proportions, following Paul’s justly famous exclamation to the effect that never may it be that one should glory except in the Cross of Jesus Christ by which and by whom the world is crucified to me (Galatians 6:14), and I to the world. Clearly, he is not making a statement about some other church or Gospel, so the ‘Israel of God’ is a way of speaking of the Church, the Israel which, because Christ was the triumphant ‘Israel’ – ‘prince of God’ – is the acceptable one, for salvation.
This is neither to be taken to make Israel’s own promises nothing, since it merely removes any ridiculous ideas about its having some order or time or sphere or scope of its own, something different, contrary to Revelation 14 and the ONLY name and Gospel given among men under heaven (Acts 4:11-12, Galatians 1:6-9); nor is it to make the Church of Jesus Christ a Jewish adjunct. The GOSPEL is embracive of all (Galatians 3:26-29), and will embrace the Jewish remnant likewise (Isaiah 11:10-11), when it is ready (Zechariah 12:10), God pouring out His Spirit that they might look on the pierced Messiah in faith.
Having these profound things clear, we can now look at Isaiah 49:20-21, to see the restoration of Israel as promised, the literal Israel which returns to its land after failing in the service of God (Isaiah 49:19, as in Romans 10:1-4). “WHO is blind as My servant, or deaf as My messenger whom I send ? Who is blind as he who is perfect …?” the Lord asks. Yet next, Romans 11 and Zechariah 12:10 show, comes salvation!
I ISRAEL – its loss/gain account Isaiah 49:20ff.
A) its loss Many and sad have been the losses of the people of Israel in wars and pogroms, persecutions and assaults.
B) its gain There are to be other ‘children’ for Israel, after its savage ravages, ‘the children you will have’. This has happened to the tune of millions in Israel now.
C) its compression So marked is this restoration of people to Israel to be that they will find the newcomers feeling pressurised within it. From Russia and the Middle East, all the world, they have poured in, great waves of immigration, following the ultimate brutalities of WW II. This is fulfilled.
D) its need of room The surging populace will be declaring the place, the land to be too small to contain them – a certain pressure in the little land. This now is. Already it is nearly indefensible; and every time the Arabs grab more land from the tiny section of Palestine left, not yet gobbled up from what the international body allowed, and the Balfour Declaration affirmed, not yet seized for Jordan or various Arabs, there is a more perilous position.
How pleasant for them if they could have a proper place, just as the many Arab nations, Moslem lands have, and as the Balfour Declaration declared! Yet it is those in such lands who frequently seek to dispossess Israel even more blatantly and ludicrously, both of its biblical scope and internationally agreed site. These things, the loss, the gain, the restoration, the compression, all have happened now.
Even now, Israel can say, “I was left alone, but these, where were they ?”
It seemed clear, with the pope a model in silence, nearby in Europe as they were slaughtered, and oil a model of greed in England after WW II, with British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin making it clear how important was this Arab OIL as Israel was harassed in its efforts to return, even after all it had suffered, and that even by the SHIPS of Britain (that former model of liberty) … it seemed painfully clear that Israel was indeed left alone. As to the gift of Palestine, made in the British Balfour Declaration, so important in 1917 before the war was over, when Weizmann in Britain had so helped in the explosives' chemistry for the Allied war effort, and even later in the League of Nations: this infamously, was largely aborted. Thus for Israel to feel ALONE, this was indeed the scenario. But now ? Look, they come, millions of ‘children’ back to their land!
It seemed that they had arisen almost as if from nowhere (Isaiah 49:21), as the sad scenario of slaughter had been enacted millions of times, as if man were mad, and anything suggestive of the living God and His clear promises in Genesis 17, was to be destroyed, either with evil surmisings or by grasping for gain. What a contrast, as courage and tenacity, and divine aid came. Even though Israel as a nation had not yet returned to the Lord, it came to its land. It was HE was doing what HE had promised, DESPITE their failure, precisely as He had promised in Ezekiel 36:22. The pressure continued both on Israel and on those who sought to subdue her, for different reasons, as in Zechariah 12:1-4. What a heavy STONE!
E) its helpers (49:23) Not only did millions of Jews return to their land, as if resurrected from the dead (the very sort of imagery in Ezekiel’s predictive parable in Ch. 37), but at that time, much help was given to them, as Isaiah had prophesied would be so. Here we find how many nations will help this restoration of Israel, such as Germany, paying hundreds of millions in reparations, and the USA which in 1973 gave massive support by a continual airlift. This too has now happened.
– ITS BIRTHDAY,
NOT POLITICAL (May 1948), but SPIRITUAL
Despite all of this, yet are they to be saved, predicted as in Zechariah 12:10: spiritually. Hence in the still rebellious meantime, they experience strife and turmoil, and the nations still rage; for their breach with their own Messiah continues for them as a nation. This 12:10 relates to the parable in Ezekiel 37, where restoration to the land is followed through a separate act, by restoration to the LORD! the period of blindness at last over (Romans 11:25ff.). We await this, and what things are then to be (cf. Isaiah 66, Micah 7).
Therefore we, as part of the Israel of God, the Church of Jesus Christ, let us each one be sure of his or her place in grace, relying heavily and utterly on His promises, performances climaxing at Calvary and power, for power belongs to God (Psalm 57), and never is it too little (John 10:27-28, Ephesians 1:19); yet it must be absorbed, as by an aircraft joined to the tanker craft beside it, and so receiving what HE gives!
III ISRAEL – SUSTAINED, both Israel and Israel!
Just as many, Jew or Gentile, in the midst of surging trials and severe disciplines, find overwhelming odds and clods, clouds and shrouds in their way, and yet the Lord delivers: so does Israel in its travails, yet find first in multiplied (and now famous) wars against vast foes and incredible hatred, then in the help, that they are repeatedly delivered. This comes even before they return to the Lord! Soon, Israel in substantial numbers will find grace shortly; for the time of the Lord’s own return is near (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), with the Jews again in possession of all of Jerusalem since 1967, nearly 40 years now! The time of the Lord’s intervention draws near with the end of the Age, as in Ezekiel 38-39, Micah 7, Isaiah 66, Luke 21, esp. 21:24. Small wonder that the devil is writhing in anger at the Jewish occupation of Jerusalem, and can hardly keep his thrusting power from it, being met by the barrier of the Lord.
So does the Christian, facing many foes, or the one seeking the Lord and at last finding Jesus Christ, discover firstly, that the strength to overcome is far greater than the trial that tests (I John 3:8, I Corinthians 10:13), and secondly, that the Lord, He who is in you as a Christian, is greater than all the powers of darkness ( I John 4:4). If in the process, a person learns not to trust in his or her own wits and power, then this, as with Paul in II Corinthians 1, is all to the good. If the lesson needs to be re-learnt, so be it!
Always remember Psalm 50, and CALL on the Lord in the day of trouble, make thanksgiving and remember to fulfil your commission. HE will hear. So also do you find solace and strength in Psalm 145:18-21, Matthew 7:7ff., 7:24ff.. NEVER wonder if, but ALWAYS know that He will then act. Such is the reward of faith, though not without trouble, for “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” as Paul told the people of Asia Minor (Acts 14:22).
Do not mumble, grumble, mumble or crumble; but WAIT on the Lord, remembering Him in His ways, and rejoice since HE is the most important thing and all else is small besides. As like a little child, you trust Him, praying with all supplication and entreaty, and surrendered in grace before Him, not dictating His way but following it, then you will find the peace which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-6), and the wonder of seeing the actions of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Let no mood betray you, no worry mock your faith, but trusting and walking in Him, LET HIM WORK!