W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Volume What is New
BULLETIN ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FOUR
ISRAEL IS NO AFTERMATH
The return of the Jewish people to their land which God gave to Abraham and the patriarchs for all generations (Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22) in His faithfulness, despite their murder of His only begotten Son not deflecting from His purpose, but simply enforcing the dispersion of Israel for around 2000 years, is epochal. Their temporary exile from their land for chronic rebellion, is predicted as far back as Leviticus 26.
However God declared He would rebuild with the same determination as He had ruined (Jeremiah 31:28). This is associated with wonderfully divinely assisted help in battle, upon their sudden return as a nation. Israel, as has now happened, has now experienced this help, these triumphs, this protection as in Zechariah 12, and can rightly look toward the return of the Messiah Himself to its midst, in Person (Zechariah 14:5).
One view however would have it that the Messiah lets the Jewish people go missing at the 'marriage of the Lamb' in heaven, following 'the rapture' - cf. Matthew 22, Revelation 19:8. They would place the restoration in spirit of Israel, their large revival and conversion to Christ. as if it would be delayed till after the millenium.
There are, however, several areas of the Bible which do not chime with this. Firstly, there is as already noted, that in Zechariah 12-14. Here the national conversion, bulk arrival of faith in the enormous revival and restoration of heart, comes before the culmination of the personal arrival on earth of Christ with all the saints. After Zechariah 12, we learn in Ch. 13, this, that "the day of the Lord" is coming. Salvation through the blood of Christ has been specified in a national time of destiny (Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1), in the formalisation and normalisation of the huge revival just specified in Ch. 12. Yet the day of the Lord, yet to come, is announced and narrated in due time in Zechariah 14.
Moreover, how could THE marriage feast of the Lamb occur without one of the two main components being present, entities, Jews and Gentiles, the restoration of the one occupying in the parable, or allegoric image in Romans 11, as being like "life from the dead". Is this really entirely omitted from the marriage! It would be rather like bringing just one portion of the bride behind, which would be a ridiculous thing, for a marriage. A body must be intact.
Further, in Ezekiel 36-38, we find first an enormous emphasis as so very often in the Bible, that the Lord will bring back Israel, despite their shame (36:22), and in marvellous detail of prophecy, sprinkle them with clear water as they come and experience a new Covenant (36:24-26) as in Jeremiah 31:31ff.. This return is be TO a Messiah who as king will be found ruling without limit or loss, in this event series, and do so for a profoundly enduring period (36:34-35). The period is named as one (Jeremiah 33:22-26). However, if the time for these events were after the rapture, the marriage of the Lamb and the millenium, there is in fact no such period in the declared scenario, available before a new heavens and a new earth. It is the millenium which fits the text for the time following Israel's return as a nation. To bypass it is to invent a new scenario. However, we must never add to or subtract from the word of God (Proverbs 30:6, Mark 7:7ff., Jeremiah 23:18-20). Building permits are here denied!
The same type of consideration applies in Isaiah 66, where following the Lord's fury (as in Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7), and devastation of the enemy in its assault on Israel, there is a long period of mutuality between Jewish missionaries and Gentile ones, with one Gospel, in their deployment on the earth. This would not fit for a period AFTER the millenium. Again, Romans 11 makes it clear that this return to the tree of true faith on the part of Israel, is no addendum, but a focal point in the entire process, a restoration, not an addition.
The placement of the return of Israel, then, after the millenium, seems entirely contrary not only to the word, in scripture after scripture, but to the thrust and emphasis and sequential impact which it repeatedly has concerning this topic. Therefore it is not adopted. It comes before it and is set in peace, security and longstanding stability.
This leaves the national thrust of a massive conversion to Christ within Israel as eminently imminent in the coming time. Naturally (Acts 1), we do not know when: just that it is : "near".
A further consideration is this. The events of Ezekiel 38-39 are soon after Israel returns as a people to its land (Ezekiel 38:8), one which had " long been desolate", and hence now newly settled, and especially vulnerable to attack. Yet in Jeremiah 33, it is apparent that the phenomenal rushing (Jeremiah 31:28) of so many of the Jews from so many places with such enormous results, the national return to their land so often noted, is in one chronological piece with their rule by the resident Messiah (Jeremiah 31:12ff.). It closely relates to His impending arrival as King. They cannot well come back to their land and to their Lord after the millenium, and then proceed for vast periods to have it so on earth. Nor can they so come back "at that time" to find their King within the period of their roaring return if shortly, to share one thing with another, He is not there! It is therefore before both the millenium and the marriage, that they return and to a soon arriving King as in Zechariah and Ezekiel that they come.
It is then in the same integrated unit of events. As there is no other return to rule on earth - apart from the preliminary call of the Rapture, thus this phenomenon occurs not long after their famous return. Indeed, as Christ has declared it, when Jerusalem returns to their occupancy, under Jewish rule, His coming is then "near"; and this is soon followed by the millenium with its regal Ruler (cf. Psalm 72), over His own and indeed all people (Isaiah 60). What dates appear are notable - 1948, return to competent occupancy and nationhood, 1967, restoration of all Jerusalem to Israel, 1980, declaration by the Knesset that Jerusalem is their eternal capital.
So far from this intimately associated series of events not applying to the Jewish people, it is to them most directly that this set of data is given, not as for aliens or others (Luke 21:24ff.), but for themselves (though the Gentiles, as noted before, are repeatedly added to the one whole in view - e.g. Isaiah 49:6, 42:6, 60:1-3). Moreover, the return of Israel to nationhood is strangely sudden (Isaiah 66:5-10), and astonishing in its statistics, not only in a series of triumphs in battle, contrary to all statistical expectation, but as in Isaiah 49, staggeringly numerous, so that the very land seems too small for the multitude constituting the newly formed nation to live in. This, it is written, is a shock to find, in view of the terrible loss of people which was to (and did) occur, very much in living memory (Isaiah 49:23). As to prophetic precision, the nation was indeed formed IN ONE DAY (Isaiah 66:7ff.). All this of course has been fulfilled progressively since 1948, except for the thrust of the national conversion which is to be near.
So does the Lord provide in a multitude of ways, the data of authenticity.
Praise God that another of His divine prophecies is fulfilled: as Peter declares in II Peter 1:16-20), we have as one of our gifts as Christians, the prophetic word which operates for the Christian Church (the living one!) as a "light in a dark place." To ignore it (not merely seek to interpret) is to have a compass in the desert, and fail to use it, though it is clear that it is entirely functional!
These things the Lord has put together or close in scripture; it seems unwise to separate with vast time distances, what God has put synthetically and in sequential emphasis, together.
Daniel was told of some of his prophecies that they were sealed till the time came, in the epoch of conclusion in judgment. Time even improves the vision. It is moreover always wise to match events as all the many other varied signs of Christ's coming accumulate, some coming just once in some 1900 years, and of a unique type. In other words, the EMPIRICAL must also be given due weight. It is never wise to shut the eyes, lest they see, as Christ charged was the way of many in His day (Matthew 13:14ff.).
Now that much of the whole roiling series of major and in some cases unique events, or series has occurred, these doors of understanding, even these, have this simple confirmation. They have happened already. We must be most careful not to shut the eye to an open door, with its meaning marked upon it.
A JEWISH PEOPLE EPILOGUE
Let us review, collect, sum up
In summary, the prophetic placment in time of the restoration of Israel as a nation, to their land, and as a panorama of people in their land, soon to be converted to their Lord, whom as a nation that had crucified, is attested by a number of crucial events.
Firstly, in Jeremiah 33 we find much attention given to the famous (then) coming return of the Jews to their land, and it is said that this dramatic event will be at the same phase of time, in the draft of sequence, as the coming of Christ as King over all the earth (Jeremiah 33:7-26). There is one such coming with all the saints in the Bible (I Thessalonians 3:13) which as in Revelation 20, precedes the judgment with the rule of Christ on the earth. Their so highly impactive return to ruling their own land precedes and merges into that great day of Christ on the earth in triumph Thus this placement of Israel's tune in the sequence of events is clear. It is near to Christ's coming WITH HIS SAINTS for the outset of the millenium. It is before it.
The same type of constraint occurs in Ezekiel 36-37, where in a most dynamic and vivid manner, God indicates the epochal event of the vast restoration in numbers of Israel to its divinely appointed land (Genesis 17) as impending on the millenial rule. It precedes the return of Christ to such rule, therefore (Ezekiel 37:21ff.).
Let us take another
aspect. The bridal event, symbolically, where Christians participate in a
'wedding' to Christ before returning with Him to His earthly rule, would confirm any thought of a delayed 'marriage' in stages, part of the bride arriving a thousand years later, and that as in Romans 11, a crucially important part, equal in exposure to the Gentiles in the narrative. The Jewish "life from the dead" restoration from being cut out, back into the tree of faith (Romans 11:12-15) being not an addendum, but a substantial segment of the entire presentation in its unity and wonder, in which Paul glories in terms of his arboreal imagery.
Again in what at first appears in the domain of soliloquy on the sadness of the situation of the dispersed Jewish people, Micah 7, showing the suffering theme of the lost Jewish people (as a nation), there is suddenly seen in a magnificent display of divine power and deliverance for this people. With it, come an utter humiliation to the taunting and invasive but now smashed enemies, comparable in degree and type to the devastation of enemy forces in the Exodus from Egypt (Micah 7:15). Moreover, this, then, will follow a long period of desolation in the land (as there was until the Jewish people began to pull it back after 1948), which certainly is no part of the millenium. It precedes it since there no such heavily extended time in view later, after it, on earth.
In parallel, numbers of biblical passages refer to something even more precise. It is the place of Israel the desolate, the detested, the assaulted, the despised, the derogated as being delivered for a long participation in the rule of Christ on earth - not at all as superior.
Indeed they are here biblically presented as having behaved (like the Gentiles) shamefully as a witness to Christ, more a scourge (Jeremiah 36:20-25 cf. Isaiah 30:8ff.) for His name, in much: but now comes the eminent contrast.
In accord with Jeremiah 31:28, their position is transformed, not only in residency in the land but as to their Lord, now delightedly acknowledged. Thence they proceed, delivered, as having a long-ongoing time of impenetrable peace, exceeding prosperity and safety from the affront and assault which this people had long suffered. Such is the biblical prediction.
This requires the millenium with its advent in the return of Christ as King to the earth, within the times specified for the earth; and unless you just add to the word of God, this confines its return to its land (at first unconverted as in Zechariah 12:10 especially) to a time prior to the return of Christ, Saviour, present Judge and King.
That is in all cases its chronological sequence. So there is not only the proximity of the epochal return to the place and nationhood of Israel, as a constraint for its timing, shortly before Christ's return to this earth, as also attested by Christ Himself in Luke 21:24. It is also even presented by Jesus Christ in terms of their regaining of Jerusalem. This they have now done. It has now already happened, which by itself resolves the matter, since when this occurs, His return is declared to be near. When God speaks, it is well to listen, better yet, to heed.
Thus most graciously Christ declared this significance of that event. Soon therefore He is to return. It is then that the magnificent features and foci of the millenium come to bear. There is this inexorable constraint of the epochal return of the Jewish people to their land and capital city, this being prior to the millenium.
It is best to follow, not drag after oneself, the word of God, so that Christians should not be robbed of their delight in seeing the plans of God as pre-announced through Christ and the prophets, nor deprived of the confirmation this provides. Instead, as part of their heritage, they should be heartened through this highly impactive series of events, being disclosed before our 21st century eyes, making them the more enlivened to spread the news of the Gospel and the vast events of God's warning, the core of His message concerning the necessity of ceasing rebellious living and returning to the Maker, Creator, Saviour, Jesus Christ.
To hide the biblical predictions concerning this surging sequence of eschatological events, the coming consummation and current climax, becomes the more amiss and awry, for it merely reduces the testimony in a dark place of vast and increasingly engulfing immorality which is gripping most of the world and seeking to subdue more of it. It makes it the more pitiful for the lost when in fact it becomes yet more urgent that with conviction disciples of Jesus Christ seek deliverance for some (II Peter 1:16-21), with mounting zest and zeal.
Here is ground for comfort, grace upon grace for living and the light of the eternal God shafted through His word. Let none trample on it; for it rises like a mountain with a snow of truth beautiful on its heights.