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BULLETIN SIXTY EIGHT
Phases in the Bible Concerning Israel
There are simple facts which sometimes escape the ready listener, as various occupations and preoccupations arise in Christian life.
One of these is the various phases of history which the Bible predicts quite clearly for Israel. Since as in Hosea 11 and Jeremiah 31:ff for example,, God regards Israel as His child metaphorically but in spiritual intensity, just as Jesus the Christ (Messiah) is His eternal Word incarnate, God Himself in expressive form, format and representation, the ONLY Almighty, in singular manifestation, and set on earth as King, to be crucified, raised in body and to return in triumph over the whole earth: therefore we need to be aware of the phases.
In these Israel has a close relationship in blessing and cursing to the Christ, so that their courses in history, and in the case of Christ, over history in some ways interweave.
Let us trace a few of these phases, found in the Bible, and depicted as sovereign themes, like vistas from a mountain train window, as you pass them, first seeing them approach, then in full face, then looking back.
1. You find Israel called after the judgment of the flood, to a promised land with a premissed history to come. It will have two main features, this call: firstly it involves the gift of this land and secondly the use of Israel, thus sited for service, as a human pathway for a blessing for all peoples on the earth (Genesis 12, 15, 17:7-8).
2. They are to be present in Egypt for a period, while the wickedness of those in the promised land is allowed to ferment to the point of vexation enough for divine action of a remarkable kind. Israel is to attack them in the divine name and take over the land. This is one way God then chose to chasten, to punish, to replace a people so foul that one cannot help looking at the current moral decline and infamous follies being practised by some nations now, more and more publicly, and ponder judgments as promised for the End Phase, to come.
3. After 400 years the time of entry into their land comes due for action (Genesis 15:13-18).
4. When that time comes, the Exodus in all its miraculous manifestations and divine testimony to man, comes into its national application to Egypt, which has proven a slave-making misery that is turned by successive divine curses, into a mess, so that the moral infamy matches the physical devastation. The matter is step by step, as the refusal of Pharaoh to let the 'slaves' go is tested, moves a little, and then re-asserts itself, as if it is not enough to refuse to liberate the enslaved people whose Joseph so helped Egypt, but they must toy with their dealings with God!
5. After Joshua, Israel becomes so slack as to under Judges, some of which are if heroic, also themselves stricken with severe sin, unfaithfulness, until the days of Samuel and David, who is a man after God's own heart, we read, and from whom the rescuer even from an evil heart, the payor with personal ransom for those who receive Him, is to come. For a time this is a wonderful kingdom, but even in the latter days of David's son, Solomon, there is a flirtation again with fictitious gods called idols, so that blessing not only lapses, but fearful failures lurk and strike, like serpents.
6. Indeed, you see from long before, Israel with a coming rebellious phase depicted and predicted even as early as in Deuteronomy 33, as in Joshua 23:15-24:20 with Leviticus 26. This will evacuate them eventually from their land, and as Jeremiah around that scarifying time, predicted, it would be for 70 years (Jeremiah 25), a matter brought up in its time (when the time had passed and he was living at that time) as he sought for the return following this (relatively) minor exile in punishment for their pride and rebellion.
7. You come upon them told to be content and prosper in Babylon during this 70 year long rebuke in exile, for it has a beginning, a cause AND an end (Jeremiah 29:5ff.). This is a message of unconquerable hope vested in a context of certain return, resettlement and the return of joys and normalcy.
8. You find the forecast of the rebuilding from the devastation of temple and city by Babylon, to which many were taken in batches, one including Daniel, with the blessing of God, who forgave. Seventy years past, the restoration to rebuild and reinhabit came faithfully. It did come easily, but it involved great faith and perseverance, devotion and considerable sacrifice, and a trust in God to overcome their subtle and not so subtle enemies, and still have the walls, city and temple successfully rebuilt (Ezra and Nehemiah, Jeremiah 29:4:14). In this God gave them remarkable assistance, and at length predicted by Isaiah (44-45), through one named Cyrus, foretold by name many years before he, taking over with Medes and Persians, sacked Babylon, the captor empire of the Jews. The archeological exhibit of the Cyrus Cylinder exhibits this staggering, foretold fact.
9. Thus prediction and events go hand in hand, and the cause of the events is given graciously and fully. Yet this is not all, not at all! A final solution (in terms of offered free redemption, singular and individual in kind, with its own history for Israel in its rejection and acceptance) is portrayed, not once or twice or three times. It is like lights in a road tunnel through the mountains, appearing in the ceiling all the time (cf. II Peter 1:19). Peter referring to the Church on earth pending the time of the end, declares it wise to be conversant with this treasure of light, guiding through the trial period which proceeds from that time. Thus perspective, conviction and perseverance meet like a triad, in one.
It is not the 'final solution' of Hitler but that of sin and dissavour and severance and woeful wilfulness and severance. It is something which it seems Jeremiah found singularly beautiful and restful to consider (Jeremiah 31:26). It is a time (Jeremiah 31:23-26) of restoration in a new situation, not novel but impactive to the uttermost. It is that of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:29-34).
10. Free as this is (Isaiah 54-55), it is not reached without high cost, sacrifice, horror and betrayal to be suffered. The Sufferer, however, is not Israel for this result, but that same incarnate Word of God, the only begotten Son of God where deity via flesh BECAME formatted as man, to suffer for his sin and to conquer the GROUNDS of death (justice TO sin), by paying for it Himself, in a grandeur sufficient to cover any and all, but efficient only for those who received it (you do not expect someone to fling a cheque after your retiring body, in a tantrum of self-sufficiency departing the scene!). Thus those who are 'healed' of their sinful subjection and fallen will, are also those whose sin is laid on Him (you notice the "we" and "us" in Isaiah 53:5-6, that those who are 'healed" have also their sin laid on Him - it is an open invitation but a closed circuit! cf. Romans 8:32).
Christ came in the format of a Jew, and thus this is part of the history of the Jewish people, not that that brought salvation, but it is by incarnation as a Jew that salvation came solely and wholly effectual in terms of God Himself.
11. The honour for Israel, chosen for service (Isaiah 43:21), is however at first blighted by their predicted rejection of their Messiah, even theirs (Isaiah 49:7 in general and Isaiah 53 in particular, and as to ... method!). In fact, "they shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek," Micah 5 predicts of the coming Messiah, and as a result, Israel will this time be dispersed for an indeterminate period (as far as mankind is concerned), UNTIL the Spirit of God awakens Israel (as also in Romans 11:23-26, Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1). "Therefore He shall gfive them up, until the time that she who is in labour has given birth." Again you read in Isaiah 32:15 that smitten Israel's palaces will be forsaken "UNTIL the Spirit is poured upon us from on high."
12. For this to happen, and Jerusalem to be available for this feature, there has been a period of RETURN and RESTORATION, contested. but invested into history as foretold in detail for example in Jeremiah 33. Here you see graphically the return to their land, the bulk of it, and that in this phase, including their restoration as a nation, as a people in place, something vastly significant and crucial occurs. Thus it is "in those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of Righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness upon the earth", as in Isaiah 11, 32, Psalm 72, Isaiah 65.
13. As Zechariah 12 shows, by this time Israel is back in their land, there brought by the Lord for this purpose not least, even their conversion to the Lord of glory, whom they crucified (AS a nation - the apostles being followers with it seems tens of thousands of Jewish people, constituting the early Christian church). The way Jesus Christ expresses this phase is by saying that JERUSALEM (a touchstone in history and in prophecy) will CEASE to be "trodden down" by non-Jewish people (the Gentiles) as the time for His own return to rule approaches, comes "near".
14. Their subjection in this taunting and vaunting way by Gentiles comes to a close, and those so acting, so presumptuously, so pompously, so offensively and magisterially or destructively over the returned nation of Israel will find that just as Israel is brought out from their long-enduring clutches, so also they will exchange places with it, and the cup of curse will come to those nations so continuing to act (as before when Israel returned from 70 year exile - Jeremiah 25:27-33, and now again as in Isaiah 51:17ff., as the prophet moves on to the time of Christ on earth and His salvation as shown in Isaiah 52-55.
As in Micah 7, the judgment on Israel's quasi-judges will be both vigorous and thorough, for not only pride come before a fall, but a failure to LISTEN to the divine word of rebuke and the offer of salvation, both is as fateful as you can get, and bitter is the result (Micah 7:16ff.) and many will rejoice when Israel is so delivered (Deuteronomy 32:43, Romans 15:10).
15. WHEN Israel then, is at last converted nationally, then curse becomes cure and the Lord takes His Church, of whatever racial origin (not like a bride, one leg at a time), as one to heaven (cf. Revelation 7, Matthew 24:29ff.).
16. Thus the Lord, having received all in heaven (Revelation 19:8) will come WITH them to reign on this earth, last time spitting Him out like an unspiritual saliva, so great was their sin - as is that of Gentile nations now in reverse gear away from Christ, just as Israel was at the time of His death. You see this also in Zechariah 14:5, and I Thessalonians 3:13: for He comes with ALL His saints, those formally received as such as in Revelation 19.
17. In this period (Isaiah 2, Micah 4, Isaiah 11, 32, Psalm 72, Isaiah 65), sin is not extinct, since there is to be a rebellion at the end of it, showing that however wonderful conditions may be, yet in the human heart there is real scope for subversion as by the devil in Eden, with similar enticement, to be as God! Dope, like hope, tends to spring if not eternally in the human heart, then at least sufficiently to surpass all barriers. Only those who belong to the Lord are immune, though not without sin incidental to living (I John 3).
18. Judgment and eternity direct now come into their phase, their unvarying place. Confirmation and demonstration await, and indeed all the Lord's people are resurrected when Christ returns, as we saw, and none of these will come into judgment; for there is a book of life as well as that of judgment, and these are all in that, free by prepaid ransom from Jesus Christ.
19. For Jew or Gentile, it is necessary to realise that the ONLY Saviour (not Christ and you) is Jesus Christ. The ONLY works that count are His (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2). HENCE the ONLY way a Christian, whether Jew or Gentile, could fall would be if the works of Christ failed; but these are done to the point already. Hence a Christian, not a shallow substitute, the ground unyielding, unwilling even to receive the seed, with a case of flirtation and not an engagement in view, could fall to rise where the seed had never penetrated! A Christian on the contrary, is as sure as the word of God to endure (John 5:24, Ephesians 1:11), whether Jew or Gentile.
Thus just as the Jews were predicted to come back to their land, and stay there, so those who receive Christ by faith, entering the door which He is by faith (John 10:9), will be saved and not come into judgment, but instead, not only KNOW His voice, but FOLLOW Him. Further no one can snatch them from Him, from His Father's hand (John 10:27-28). They live as sheep with their Shepherd and their final site, land, destination is heaven itself, where they behold His face (Revelation 22). Indeed, the cry to come and drink if thirsty, comes right at the final Chapter of the Bible, at Revelation 22:17. gh
20. In this way, the consummation of blessing is also a culmination, and the catastrophe for any race, is not something which one of their neighbours is or does, but what each person individually (whether in a surge of a nation or not, it is still an individual matter in the end) elects to do, showing where to go by going there, under the judging eye of God. It is He who marvellously, would not condemn those who had not heard of His works and words, but only made clear the condemnation of those who DID hear and YET did not receive Him (John 15:22-25, 9:41). He is not only fair, but gloriously free, wonderfully considerate and incredibly kind.
It applies to this race
and that. As to that, the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole point is what
is DONE WITH IT (Proverbs 16:33)