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How glorious a national hero would such 'another Jesus' (II Corinthians 11:4) be... The more he effects his role as Messiah, gaining the popular channel for that in the scriptural format; the more he would appear to occupy the prophetically indicated role, the more the appropriate, predicted and devastating consequences follow. His success... would be for a career of rejection followed by vast tracts of national failure. That is, as shown already, the prediction!
The more he 'succeeds', the more remorselessly and firmly his power and appeal would relate to a scriptural prognosis of:
i) personal rejection by his people.
ii) rejection of his people, from their land.
iii) alienation and contempt for his people from the world, blended with the sheer extravagant pleasure of
iv) departure of both temple and sacrifice in Jerusalem from his people.
Some national hero! some contrivance of subtle intellect! How enlightened a drive to breach the barrier of the supernatural in order to secure such an astute manipulation of religion... Prophecy therefore provides an a fortiori proposition in exposing the callow hollowness of such illusory fantasies. With what clear keenness ring the words of Peter, at every side of investigation: II Peter 1:16...
Have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.*2 Of great interest is this reference to the Jewish emplacement in the Christian ensemble to make one church, based on one Messiah, with one sacrifice, one to whom they come, with one gospel (Isaiah 52:15-53:12, Heb. 3:16-4:2, I Cor. 10:4) to become one people (cf. Ephesians 4:4, Isaiah 65:10-13, 53:10, 49:6, 66:3, 20), God's servants now having another name (Isaiah 65:1-13), so that all may worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23, Isaiah 65:16), with new heart (Ezekiel 36:25), in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-32), not according to the Old.
They have already fulfilled the part of coming, as yet unclean; but they are not yet repentant to the one Lord (Zechariah 12:11), though this is to come. This as a sequence is fulfilled: the return and the need of cleansing and... sprinkling. While this reminds one of Isaiah 52:15, where many peoples will be sprinkled (a purificatory ceremony -John 3:22 ff.), but with blood: in this case it is in a setting where already is envisaged a sprinkling with water (Ezekiel 36:25). The parameters are already fulfilled.
What then do we have in the predictive parameters ? It is a people already returned to their land for no further disjunction (Ezekiel 37:26, 23, 31), but rather to be saved for ever past the very removal of the present heaven and earth (Isaiah 51:6, 65:17): that is, a people who as such have no further removal from the land, and of whom many will come to the Lord in these terms, for there is always the criterion of faith (Deuteronomy 29:14-20, Isaiah 53:1).
They are seen in this Ezekiel 36 context coming to Christ, the Messiah, the formerly rejected Messiah, as Messiah-people, that is, Christians (Ezekiel 37:22-24 presents it yet more expressly).
Now Ezekiel explicitly states the ceremony of acceptance associated with the cleansing of hearts, related in turn to the Messiah's rule for them, with the purification of spirit (one undergirded by the noted 'sprinkling' of Christ's blood, as One 'pierced'). This situation allied to this ceremony has three ingredients: repentance, water and sprinkling, while introductory to the new relationship to their Messiah.
It is an historical fact of great prominence that large and normative bodies of Christians, for thousands of years, have sprinkled with water (see also Adams, The Meaning and Mode of Biblical Baptism); something to be associated with repentance for those so aged as to be susceptible to it. As the Jews are to join Christians in the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31, Ezekiel 36:26, 11:19-20), here is confirmation in advance of the practice so widely used now, as specified then. In particular, the 'sprinkling' noted by Isaiah 52:15 conforms to the vast Old Testament usage, re purification, encapsulated in Hebrews, with specifications seen for example in Hebrews 9 as noted. As such it is apologetically significant that it is so specified by Ezekiel, so expressly as to constitute a valid prophetic coup, featuring water as long used by Christians for this introductory covenantal rite, in the Christian Church.
Sprinkling for Christ (Isaiah 52:15) as a purification (John 3:25-26, Hebrews 9:10-the 'washings' are literally 'baptisms'- to 9:13, 17, 19, 22), noted by Isaiah conforms to the vast Old Testament usage for purification, expounded in Hebrews 9-10. It is therefore no less significant that it is so specified by Ezekiel as to mode, for water sprinkling, heightening the coup. Water and sprinkling both are the milieu, substance and method, for this forecast of the return of many Jews (cf. Romans 11:25-32) to the Messiah, coming to this same Christ whose servants are to be called "by another name".
This is the New Covenant prediction, already broadly operative in the (currently largely) Gentile section of the Christian Church, for which there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5)... just as there is one God (Ephesians 4:5)! As Paul tells us in Romans 11, there is, statistically speaking, to be another, an historic addition to be made into this union in Christ, when the blindness which has in part befallen Israel, is to be taken away, even the one which befell them, and on account of which they were, as a nation, for the time, taken out of the tree in which they were branches... a tree into which the Gentiles were then grafted. But what, exclaims Paul, will it be when they wake ?
If their casting away is the reconciling of the world, what will the receiving of them be, but life from the dead ? (Romans 11:15.)*3 The NASB gives a notable rendering of this textual area (Isaiah 38:18-21):
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,*4 The Turkish Empire (Ottoman) substantially covered ancient Assyria: it was against the former that the 'birds' ... 'hovered' in 1917. Sennacherib's ruin in ancient Assyria (II Chronicles 32:9-22) is like a foretaste of Arab defeat. The finale for the assailants of Jerusalem, the city of the restored Jews, will be in that divinely cast mould. Whatever their source, they shall not prevail (cf. Micah 7:8-20, Zechariah 12:9).
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer.
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
When He hears it, He will answer you.
Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself,
but your eyes will behold your Teacher
And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it,
whenever you turn to the right or to the left."
This defeat thus accurately depicted and significantly fulfilled, is seen blending into the impending and unique Messianic wonder (Isaiah 33:1-6,17-24, 32:1-4) amid divine dynamics of healing and destruction (Isaiah 30:18-31, 31:7-32:4, cf. pp. 791-796 ff. infra, and Isaiah 32:15-17, 66:6-15, 61:1-3, 63:1-5). Indeed this depiction is enveloped in the criteria of the consummation: it is filled with the sense of the end. In Isaiah 30, there is (v.9) the Age-spreading indictment of Israel for its rebellion, the appeal (v.30) set in terms of God's ancient victories for this people (v.17, cf. Deuteronomy 32:30,36-43, likewise careering to the end, in parallel). There is also His intimate comradeship to come (Isaiah 30:19-21) with an entire purging of the heart (v.22); and this is manifestly (v.26) in the realm of that abundance of sheer light that habitually denotes the established environment of the Messiah.
Isaiah 32 likewise addresses the Messiah's reign. Though Israel baulked at first (cf.Isaiah 30:8,49:7), it is not so at last.
The full flavour of the prediction about 'birds hovering' (Isaiah 31:5; with Assyria, 31:8, cf. Micah 5:1-8, with its Messianic exposure in 5:1-3) comes in a consummatory environment. This, while it involves some waiting (Isaiah 32:1-4), yet is pregnant with the power of the resident and ruling Son of David (Ezekiel 37:21-25), whose character and presence is a major - indeed critical - aspect of the demonstration of God's grace and power to the nations on Israel's return (Ezekiel 37:21-28, Zechariah 14:1-9, Jeremiah 30:8-11, Isaiah 32:1-4,15-17, 33:21-24). On this last point, see also the Extension on the Wonders of the Word of God in Isaiah, pp. 794 ff. supra.
*5 On p. 782 supra indication is given of a note to follow at the point where it was affirmed that God would restore the Jews to their land 'when He is ready for this.'
Interesting here is the Joel prophecy considered on in Chapter 8 supra, at SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS. This is the one quoted by Peter at Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:17-21. We have observed the extraordinarily high-impact sign of the column or pillar of smoke or vapour mentioned in the predictive prophecy concerned.
Now, referring to Joel 2:30 we verify in situ the column, and then in Joel 3:1 notice this. "In those days, God will bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem": those are His words. Did He do this ?
The Bomb with the predicted column of vapour occurred in 1945 and has continued to this hour to be a convulsive agent on the earth at the height of technology: and it does this both psychically for millions and physically. "In those days", then, as predicted, the prophetic criteria duly assembling, what happened to fulfil the prophecy? Then ? Israel returned in I948 to become a nation ''born at once'' - when the radio announced this astonishing fact to be true of a 'nation' which had just before consisted merely of elements of a Palestinian population, strongly Arab. That is verification par excellence... chronologically, dramatically... It is found indeed even in the very cast of amazement exhibited in the prophetic phrasing, following to perfection in the event.
Joel 2:30-32 covers the drastic events in their height, the safety of securement of Jerusalem and the restoration of 'Judah and Jerusalem' in one culminating characterisable period. What else then is set down, for 'those days' ? (Cf. Jeremiah 30:5-9 where the 'day of Jacob's trouble' is the immediate prelude to their experience of the Davidic Kingship in Christ; Isaiah 66, Ezekiel 36:22-23, 37:21-24, Jeremiah 30:8-10.)
It comes with the climax immediately afterwards in the text (Joel 3:2). Just as our nations seem almost madly drawn to a vortex of destruction, so the verses Joel 3:2 ff. picture just that. Indeed the rambunctious ''heathen'' are invited (3:11) to ''assemble'' their ''mighty ones'' before the Lord shakes heaven and earth (3:16 cf. Haggai 2:6-7).
I will also gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat and I will enter into judgment with them there.This spread of relevant nations (given one preliminary but vital incident, in the predictive record of Ezekiel 38-39) is here shown in an ultimate earthly catastrophe... before indeed the whole earthly stage is withdrawn, when its time has come (cf. Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35).
Thus Joel depicts the return of the Jews to their nation, the beginning of the lifting of the severe sanctions noted against them (in Hosea 3:4-5 for example - the terrestrial ones are largely moved now); and he does this in the period subsequent to Pentecost (Joel 2:28 ff.); while Zechariah 12:8 ff. shows them repent in this culminating hour, repent of the murder, the crucifixion, the 'piercing' of the God-man ("they will look upon Me, whom they have pierced", says the Lord, in that place), of the Messiah. This return is therefore subsequent to that treacherous regicide Zechariah (12:11); whilst Isaiah (66:7) shows them suddenly reconstituted as a nation echoing in history the predictive words of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:36-43) for the end of the Age, a prophetic item already siting things in time sequence, as it has happened! We have almost entirely arrived...
What do all these things attest ? Two things may be noted at once. First, they show the unending capacity of scripture to sustain investigation and to provide verification, not indeed without exhilaration both from the way it is written, and the way things occur and concur with it. Secondly, it shows specifically to the Christian, how marvellously near these culminating times now are! Such a sense of joy and fulfilment as signified by Christ, is pre-authenticated by Him and He in fact exhorted to such a spirit (Luke 21:28, 1 Peter 1:8-12, II Peter 1:19). That too is fulfilled. Let us quote the last of those statements, from Peter:
We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hears.Peter's assured conviction is abundantly verified, as is everything else in this scene, scenario, the libretto of the Lord. Now we revert to Christ's own words.
After he had sketched some of the major developments prior to His return, choosing the fig tree, a symbol of Israel, He said (Luke 21:29-33):
Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you likewise, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.In Matthew 24:33, Christ says, after reference to the fig tree:
When you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors.Luke again, in 21:28, records this from Christ:
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.Thus the souls will soon find the redemption of the body and the manifestation in public of things done in secret (cf. Matthew 13:43) - "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Why then did one say 'marvellously near' in reference to these culminating events of this awesome era ? It is because it is Christ's return which such things expressly, by the book, are signalling. To revert to Matthew 24, we find in verse 30: "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect [His chosen ones, His own] from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other."
That is a return even greater than that of the Jews. That is the return to the presence of the Lord in open wonder of those who know Him, whether Jew or Gentile. This second however has as an index, the first; for it is a deposition of coming events.
Current events are entirely on course in every regard. This is the ensuing 'trip', not to the 'Holy Land' but to the immediate presence of holy Christ, shortly to come.
For Christians, the reality of our lives is already 'in Christ', so that when "Christ who is our life, appears", it is not as an invader or an alien, but like seeing a film star after having viewed the screen, or a person after letters and a snapshot. Paul puts what we also find, for he speaks the truth:
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:3-4).This 'appearing' then is the most natural thing in the world, eminently desired (cf. Revelation 22:20-21). The current nearness of His presence, peace and power is likewise co-ordinate with the external fulfilments of prophecy now. It is like a house - all of it, when moved to site: it moves together.
*6 See Extension 1: On Forests, Flowers, the "Mushroom" and the Cross, pp. 790 ff. infra.
*7 The zeal of the Lord of hosts, to ensure that this land is indeed to be restored to - because granted to - the Jews, is deeply expressed in Ezekiel 20:42:
Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I lifted my hand in an oath to give to your fathers.Uncancelled, the territorial specificity of Genesis 17:1-8 is an allocation until the consummation. Divinely, as real estate, it is quite simply allocated to the Jews.. and God's will is not manipulable by 'commission', as though He were paid off ... but met by command (cf. Psalm 105:9-12).
Can man deny what God provides (cf. Amos 4:12-13)! Though complicated by (predicted) divine discipline, it remains an easy testing point of the will of man, the world and the devil versus the will of God, who relishes the opportunity to make the point that the world is ruled, and that His word is reliable: He is loyal to it and to those to whom He assigns what He will (cf. Ezekiel 36:21-28).
But I had pity for My holy name... and I will sanctify My great name which you have profaned among the nations ... and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when I am hallowed in you before their eyes ... Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers.He will keep His word.
Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it (Ezekiel 36:36, cf. 35:20-23, 37:12-13-28, Jeremiah 33:17-26).Throughout history, this word rules; being not at all embarrassed by the need for the provision of discipline, as well as that of fulfilment: moving like a missile on course, it is undeflected in the midst of more minor discipline as with the 70 year exile, or that more major exile of nearly 1900 years of rigorous discipline of a people, officially starkly unbelieving in the Lord Jesus Christ. It certainly makes abundantly clear the point of grace: "Not for your sakes do I this!" God states and returns to repeat - 36:22,32. (Yet He does it!) Ezekiel 36:32 is almost like an Old Testament Ephesians 2:8, in this: "By grace are you saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
Though here it is merely the territorial prelude and site for the deeper evangelical work to come, yet the setting of grace is in itself a pointed sermon and piece of pre-evangelism. It is, as well, a princely pièce de resistance at the physical level, a reproof to the men pre-occupied with the flesh. As in His own physical resurrection, so in that symbolic resurrection of the Jewish people, there will be a continuity, a specificity and a power that none can resist. Where He said, how He said and the time arena when He said: That they will be!
The dynamics of international powers makes the securing of this result all the more exacting - though not too far so for the One who said (Isaiah 40:15,17):
Behold the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance ... all nations before Him are as nothing.To any ordinary power, however, exacting it is. Thus if you use as advertisement a live bull in a china shop, whilst doing diamond cutting on a side bench, you are showing a kind of control which is unique. If God uses the Polish and Russian pogroms, and then Hitler, for example, to rebuke the Jews, turning the British Empire to their favour (I917) in a critical day and way, then allowing it to become adverse in practical and severe ways in 1948... and still makes them exist, and abound where and as He said He would: then vast wisdom and personal power is at work. If He suffers things to be going even further, letting the British resist Jewish re-entry to the land after World War II in a strange volte-face, while sending whole nations of Arabs bent on their destruction, meanwhile securing for them massive U.S. aid and German reparations... then forces of vast human magnitude are involved. When this aid is predicted, as we see in this Chapter, then we simply marvel! (See under: Fourth, the method of return of the Jews.)
A little too far here, too little there... and uncontrolled, such forces could crush to extinction or anoint to triumphs of destructive pride, the small nation... of Jews. To none of this does prophecy bow. God states (Isaiah 40:15) that the nations are like the small dust in the balance to Him, and He shows that it is so. Fragile in its slender land, Israel continues. Yet Hitler's Germany is no more, the Poles are doubly betrayed, Berlin is lost and the USSR lost millions in the war and with some relaxation in recent times, yet seemed keen to suffer further as predicted from God's hand, not least for its treatment of Jews (Genesis 12:3, Ezekiel 38:14-18). Its 1992-1993 suffering is not unrelated (Genesis 12:2-3).
The Jews continue in the exact channels of place, event and sequence specified beforehand in Scripture. It is rather like using atomic bombs exactly to configure the countryside. Doubtless it could be done: if you knew everything - and nothing was too hard for you (Genesis 18:14). What makes the precision yet more profound is this: that they are still receiving their own discipline, pending return to the Lord, and the bounty of divine mercy in the interim, following the severity of their discipline. God is personal and acts as a Person, not as a system, articulating His will, His thoughts and His love, His reproof and His mercy, in a personal way, and fulfilling it all exactly, because in the beginning He knew what He wanted to have done. In the end, He does it, in the interim saturating the earth with most moving appeals to receive His mercy, made intimately and ultimately personal in Christ.
*8 See Extension 2: On the Wonders of the Word of God in Isaiah, pp. 794-800 infra, following the Extension on Flowers... (see *6 supra).
*9 Isaiah 59 has a very special flavour, but for all that, it conforms to the phase relationships over time, so often found in this area of action. Its frank and free expression of God's saving power (v.1) is followed by an indictment that has a very personal sound, and an intensity of repugnance that is startling.
Wasting and destruction is in their paths. The way of peace they have not known ... we wait for light, but behold obscurity ... we stumble at noon day as in the night ... we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation but it is far off from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us ... in ... lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood... truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. (Excerpts: Isaiah 59:7-14, with italics added.)Into this maelstrom of trouble and wickedness, in an ostensibly godly nation comes the Lord, announcing dramatically His advent (Isaiah 59:19) in the role of avenger:
According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompence to His enemies ... so shall they fear the name of The Lord from the West, and His glory from the rising of the sun.Reminiscent of the early verses of Isaiah 63, and close to the flow of terminal sequence in Isaiah 66, this section makes special emphasis on the dead pseudo-life of a 'spiritual' people who "wait for salvation", and with whom the prophet uses the 'we' of communality, as of a member of the straying nation.
Into this recidivist ruin of Israel, the Lord enters, balking and battling the enemy while delivering "those in Zion who turn from transgression", (Isaiah 59:20). Here within the city, amid the people who bear this name are some who turn to the Lord. They are not the Lord's by definition, but by discrimination. This is the people just addressed (58:14) in terms of "Jacob your father", to whom in 59:1 the Lord is explaining that it is not the distance of His salvation which is in view but the muttering of perversity, the defiling debauchery away from the place of appointed repose: it is this that creates this horror.
It is a question of "departing away from our God" (Isaiah 59:13), of cleavage as in Hosea, as a nation from the previously known Lord. This is done by a straying people to whom, the children of Jacob (v.20), the Lord will not now come only with the receptive meekness of the Saviour offering cleansing for the soul while being crucified; He will come also with the strength of the Lord cleansing the hearts of those whom He succours and rescues with force and might from the hands of enemies whom, indeed, they have deserved. It echoes Deuteronomy 32:27-43 very closely indeed, which (v.43) invites the nations to "rejoice with His people" on whose account He will "render vengeance" while being merciful to His land (Genesis 17:7-8).
As in Zechariah 12, 14, this is a day of judgment in which His people in Israel will be awakened by the vision of the crucified Saviour (12:10-11), and mourn for their follies of the past, prior to (Chapter 14) His return to their land in visible majesty and power (Zechariah 14:4).
*10 The Jews are far from being in a heroic role in this matter, considering it spiritually. As God repeatedly emphasises in Ezekiel 36-37, it is not for their sakes He acts on their behalf. To them is shame, He indicates, but to His name He will look in honouring what He said, in bringing them back to the land He first gave and warranted. Unconditional promises have unconditional fulfilment.
I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went (Ezekiel 36:22).There is about all this such an air of verisimilitude, such obstinately tiny detail all fulfilled, like the coast of one's homeland which, on returning, one recognises by oh so many details, and by their inter-relationship, as the ship approaches.
Thus not only were the Jews removed, as prophesied from Moses on, for their sins, from their land, as an ultimate thrust into the hinterland of their suffering; not only were they to be mocked and despised and bundled out among many nations in the interim before their return, not having listened to the 70 year exile, as Jeremiah made clear that episode would be; not only were they to be brought back to their land despite demerits and still unbelieving; not only were they to fight their amazingly successful wars, and have such a bevy of nations assault them, with the world's union of nations to the fore: all this was prophesied. It is, as we see, also fulfilled. In addition, the Jews even were, as Jesus indicated, to be so resistant to the truth and insistent on their own way that a seemingly impossible thing would occur.
It is this which Christ spoke: "But when they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I tell you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes" (Matthew 10:23).
So far from an evangelised Israel, we have it divided among a Middle East in which the effectual banishment of erstwhile resident Christians proceeds apace, as militant Judaistic and Moslem feelings, actions or difficulties make co-existence more and more difficult or indeed perilous.
One publication notes that the 'Christian' population of Jerusalem has declined from 29,000 in 1944 to 8000 in 1991... within a larger Jerusalem! amid other negative indices. This News Brief of the Open Doors with Brother Andrew movement (April 1991, Australia), indeed asks: Will there be a church in the Middle East by the year 2000 ?
The thrust of the presentation is this: There is little desire for Christians here, and the furniture of religionists otherwise set is not built to accommodate Christians. The Middle East, where Christianity began, may become a scene of very considerable evacuation of Christian residents, and such a process, it indicates, is far from merely futuristic.
That fits perfectly with the words of Jesus Christ, which (amid other words about nations arising, before He would return, in rounds of conflicts indeed - Matthew 24:7), speak of that very national Jewish heartland. Here occurred both the numerous prophecies concerning Christ, and the crucifixion and resurrection of His Person in bodily format. Thus Christ indicated that Israel itself would be a scene of resistance for so long, that in it, the work of human missionaries would be incomplete by the time He should return!
How devastatingly accurate, this is! The horror is this (and it is rich with pathos and poignancy, when you consider how the Jews have suffered): that they rejected the Lord, and this becomes a symbol of national individuality, of religious preference, even perhaps of patriotic insistence. It becomes one of those things which differentiate the nation, distinguish the continuance, as they may conceive it, of their religion, their tradition, their distinctiveness. To accept the Lord Jesus Christ in such a setting ... it can become a rupture of some kind, or be perceived as such.
So do men construct their own calamities (cf. Proverbs 1:20-31). In this, the Jews do not otherwise than Gentiles; they merely do it differently. All have sinned, and individuals and nations make their own strayings, even trusting at times in those very things, as though the polluted were the precious! One Jewish organisation in Australia even sought action against an evangelising body for Jews, because Jews sometimes responded by becoming Christians.
This shows the strength which such a passion can have: and the more so, when you consider that numbers of bodies calling themselves Christian churches make no formal objection at all, even when the children of members are forcibly subjected to rash and indeed irrational propaganda for anti-creationist fantasies in multiplied State schools, this being the required method of teaching where tax funds are used for the purpose... in S. A. government schools, to take merely one example. (Cf. pp. 109-110, 197, 199-201, 230-231 supra, and Professor Thompson's reference to 'fragile towers of hypotheses based on hypotheses, where fact and fiction mingle in inextricable confusion' because 'historical arguments are invoked' where historical evidence for evolution is missing. Here Thompson gives a a very mild formulation of thoughtful response).
Ultimately, then, Gentiles in masses have also found their own notions and attitudinal pivots on which to make denial of Christ, in some sense, almost a psychological compulsion. Appropriately, what the Jews called 'the nations', the Gentiles, these alas have constructed their own shibboleths of unbelief.
This brings us to an allied point concerning prophecy.
In the end, the Romanists - 'Roman Catholics' (in principle) - manipulate 'Christ', the Buddhists reject God, the Confucians bypass Him, the Hindus proliferate the 'Christ', the Moslems reconstruct 'Him', the Jews reject Him (as a nation) and many of the Gentiles, helped by insistent government propaganda in schools, in association with universities and by popular TV and other media, tend to ignore Him. (For more detail, see Chapter 10 infra.)
Such an accomplishment on behalf of the 'man' whom they will not have to 'reign over them' (Luke 19:14)! They have had such opportunities thereby in Hitler, with a system built by a man with no small admiration for the Jesuits in his mind; in Stalin, partly trained for Russian Orthodox priesthood, and well able to consider the history of the Roman Catholic Inquisition before instituting his own tortures, brow-beatings and deaths; they have a Mao and his murdered compatriots: all of these used the rule of hypertense orthodoxies of man, which know little mercy. These things have they achieved.
Still, they have done it, managed with philosophy and had her children to meet and relish as they 'grow up'! Thus (Luke 18:8):
When the Son of man returns, will He really find faith on the earth ?This, no less than the reference to Israel and the proclamation to it, is a continuing attestation that God not merely knows, but can tell man what is to be; yet man continues in his way, as if ears were denied him, and sight were forever missing. The signs of the weather he increasingly observes; but the signs of the times are the topic for oblivion. So it will be, to note yet another prophecy rushing towards fulfilment:
For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:36-38).
Moving From Immigration To OperationA more remarkable people we might look hard to find, than the Jews; and a more remarkable God, we will not find. Indeed, as Isaiah 48 makes so clear, God makes sure that His criteria of power and prerogatives of personality are seen to be unique; or at least, shown to be so to all except those whose eyes have been shut (Isaiah 6:10), a point duly applied by Christ to the people intent on His rejection - Mark 6:1-6, Matthew 13:13-16.
Thus not only have the events, but the spiritual description of them has caught up with this people. The word of God is having the last word to this hour.
If the signature of God on their history is not on wax but with iron, what is to be said of their capital city, Jerusalem ?
Here the pathos and pity of it all is provided with a new feature. There is to be seen here something of the foolishness of Gentile nations who, not by any means all being believers (Isaiah 53:1) are for their part ignoring also the word of God. And they too are suffering for it. This brings us to our operating theatre.
Neither U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, nor Yasser Arafat, nor Colonel Gaddafi, nor Iran nor Iraq, nor a 'pan-Moslem' alliance as perhaps adumbrated in the 1991 Teheran Conference, will alter God's mind... at all, concerning the Jews, concerning Jerusalem. What will happen in due course, as predicted, is this: the Jews will meet a vast assemblage of nations' power, and will turn and seek the Lord, in repentance, and will be delivered. (See pp. 520, 541 supra, with 811, 852, 855, 863, 916 and 1096 infra - Romans 11, Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 12, 14.)
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