RPM, Volume 11, Number 1, January 4 to January 10 2009

Prophesy and the Israeli State

By John Wilmot

Dr. John Wilmot ministered in the pastoral office in three churches in the United Kingdom, his last pastorate of thirty-five years being concluded in 1959 at Highgate Road Baptist Chapel, London. On a number of occasions, responding to the invitations of the late Dr. T.T. shields and his successor, the late Dr. H.C. Slade, he served as special lecturer at the Toronto Baptist Seminary, preaching also at Jarvis Street Baptist Church. In 1948 the President and Senate of the Seminary conferred upon him the degree of doctor of divinity.
The provision of a home in Palestine for Jews, wrongly called at the time, "the original owners," and the establishment since of the State of Israeli, is heralded as, or in the way of, the fulfillment of Biblical prediction. Indeed, the announcement by the British government in 1917 is referred to as markedly occasioning divine favor. "From that moment," affirms a Hebrew-Christian magazine "victory was given to Britain and her allies." The inference is that victory was vicariously rewarded, and contrariwise, but for the Balfour Declaration Britain would have suffered defeat! If this premise is sound, we may conjure why God suffered us the more severe chastening of a repeated world war, since the humanitarian kindness of our country to the Jews has not changed. Governmental justice and benevolence are required of God among all nations. "Oxfam" (the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) for instance, might equally receive His recognition, or relief afforded to the million Arab refugees made homeless through the Jews' homemaking.

The Jews are no longer God's chosen people in the sense in which they were from the call of Abram to the coming of Christ. He has His chosen among them as He has among all nations, and these will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. "There is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; and the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him." As to the rest who remain in unbelief there is nothing but "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation". Such are the final verdicts of Holy Scripture, and there is no exception to, or reversal of the principles for either Jew or Gentile, individual or national (Rom. 3:22; 10:27; note the immediate Jewish contexts of these and relative Scriptures).

Dispensationalists have sometimes protested that believers are not to look for "signs" but for the Saviour. Now, however, we hear signs freely spoken of in respect of a possible imminent coming, among them and chiefly, the Jewish resettlement in Palestine. The question merits serious examination of the Scriptures, whether God is operatively in this event as He Who, having made promise, is now by His providential direction performing His Word? If it be so that Jews of the seed of Jacob have returned to Palestine, that is not necessarily fulfilling prophecy. What ostensibly may be regarded as the will and action of God could in reality prove to be the reverse. Nations and individuals alike may insist upon their own way, and find support in the Bible, and even prosper, and call it God's way, and yet be mistaken. The apostle makes it clear that it is their return to the Lord, that is, in receiving the Gospel of Christ, rather than returning to the land, which is esteemed and required, and in his quotation he substitutes "saved" for the prophet's "return". And it is invariably the remnant that is in view and not the nation. "Isaiah also crieth, though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved" (cf. Isa. 10:21-22; Rom. 9:27).

Kings, prophets, priests and people have claimed God on their side to the unveiling of their ignorance of God's will and insistence on their own will. Superficial judgment has often produced mistaken conclusions. The Palestinian settlement may have no special prophetic significance. "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart." David was a man of God's own heart or choice, and not the people's, otherwise he never would have been enthroned. Moses smote the rock and the waters flowed forth. His later repeated action gave similar results, but not of God. Judgment by appearances, that is, by getting the desired results, was no proof of divine approval. God designed to supply the thirst-quenching waters through speaking, but Moses got them again through striking. There is always a solemnly spiritual reason for a divine instruction. A superficial people might judge the event to be of God, but their satisfaction was carnal, and Moses suffered on their account (Ex. 17; Num. 20, etc.) "My ways are not yours", saith the Lord. So it may be with Zionism today.

A prophet might accompany his prophesyings with the promise of signs, and signs appear, yet not what the eye seeth but what God speaketh is the test of His will. "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." "The Jews require a sign," and Christians would appear to supply them using "the returning nation" as itself a sign! The Lord Jesus had no confidence in sign-believers (Deut. 13; John 2). David's plan to build a house for the Lord had the approval of the prophet, but both were mistaken. David's purpose to restore the ark from its lodging to the tabernacle of rest he had prepared was an excellent proposal. It gained the unanimous assent of priests and Levites, princes and people. What could suit the operation better than a brand new conveyance, in modern terms, "the best for God", "my utmost for His highest"! But in thus copying the way of the world fatality befell the undertaking. No such calamity marked the ark's earlier removal on "a new cart" which the Philistines made for it, which now David appeared to imitate. David meditated, consulted God's Word, learned his lesson and commented, "the Lord our God made a breach upon us because we sought Him not after the due order". And thereupon, doing God's work in God's way, he was favored with good success. God is not with any people only as they are with Him (1 Chron. 13-15). Israel suffered because she copied other nations; when in favor with God she avoided their ways. Today, from every angle of view the Israeli State keeps abreast of the nations of the world as one of them. This may not be God's doing, nor marvelous in our eyes, though pre-millennial changes in Palestine are hailed as though fulfilling prophecy already.

Pre-exilic prophecies are no longer outstanding. They were fulfilled as recorded in Israel's national restoration on the expiry of Jeremiah's predicted seventy years' captivity, while the spiritual and evangelical characteristics of those promises intentionally looked forward to Messiah's advent and redemption through the Gospel. So they were released, not for their own sake, but for Christ's sake, Who was to come. And this was the real end and object of that historical return to the land, unto which, it will be found, the humbling and penitent and sanctifying conditions stated in Moses and the prophets led them, for "He is faithful that promised". Interspersed with the temporal particulars in the prophets are Messianic promise and assurance which the New Testament observes implemented in Bethlehem and Galilee and Calvary, and Heavenly Glory; in the dispensation of the Spirit, the building of the Church, and the eternal state of redemptive blessedness. The material forms employed were those of the people appropriate to their circumstances and times, but the objective was spiritual and heavenly. Jews, unenlightened of the Spirit, are no safer guides to the meaning of the Scriptures, not even those which concern their own nation, than the unregenerate Gentile. Jews and their rulers, in the apostles' days, were informed of their ignorance: "they knew not the Messiah nor the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day". Without the Spirit of God they abide in ignorance still. Yet our attention is called to the words of unconverted Israeli or Zionist public men, referring to their quotation of the Scriptures as though enlightened and specially authoritative! After their Pentecostal enduement with the Spirit of illumination the apostles never again spoke or wrote of the kingdom becoming restored to the Israel nation, either before or following the coming of the Lord (cf. Acts 1:7).

Daniel calculated from Jeremiah's writing that the captivity was about to expire, and in answer to his earnest supplication, and he was not alone in observing the prophetic instruction (Ezek. 36, 37), he was favored with an answer of peace, a prophecy of immediate release through Cyrus and ultimate salvation in Christ, which all came to pass. Ezekiel ministered during the exile, and Haggai and Zechariah were raised up to encourage their dispirited brethren when their enemies caused the rebuilding to cease, and attempts were made also to annihilate the nation (cf. Ps. 83:4; Esther; Jer. 48:2; 1 Chron. 20). These prophets, for the most part their language symbolical because the goal and realization was in Christ the Redeemer — as the deliverance from Egypt at the beginning pointed to Him, so did this at the end — observed the fulfilment of the literal parts of their prophesyings in their own generation, although the language, as indicated, often exceeded the localized and temporal restoration, "God having provided some better thing" of spiritual and heavenly and of enduring character, of which Ezekiel had written: "I will do better for you than at your beginnings". The prodigious terms employed account for the phenomenal measurements of temple and city, and "show them to be spiritually and mystically understood, Ezekiel's temple delineated larger than all the earthly Jerusalem, and Jerusalem larger than all the land of Canaan" (Patrick Fairbairn quoting Lightfoot, and confirmed by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, who write: "The Septuagint substitutes cubits for reeds to escape the immense compass given. Fairbairn rightly supports the Authorized Version which agrees with the Hebrew"). Note also the emphasis upon the operation of the Spirit to the exclusion of all human effort, the reverse of the material construction which these very prophets were sent to encourage (Zech. 4:6).

It is claimed by dispensationalists that these post-exilic prophecies envisage a return of the Jews to the land in unbelief, distinct from and later than that of their own day, with the resurrection of their temple, and eventual conversion by the second appearing of Jesus Christ. The present Israeli State is said to be in preparation for if not in part fulfilment of this, and passages from Haggai and Zechariah, not to speak of other Scriptures, are called in evidence. The new Testament, however, provides not the slightest confirmation of it. Haggai's prophecy is not of an earthly and temporary kingdom now being prepared for. The New Testament explanation is that God would "speak yet once more and shake not the earth only but also heaven, signifying the removing of those things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain"; namely, that believers "receive a kingdom which cannot be moved". So "the latter glory" is not millennial but eternal (cf. Hag. 2:6-9; Heb. 12:27, 28; 2 Pet. 3; Rev. 21-22).

Zechariah called attention to the former prophets, to the expiry of the 70 years, as Daniel did, and he makes special reference to the remnant, always a Gospel association (Rom. 9:27; 11:5). Twice he writes of Messiah as "the Branch", as did "the former prophets" (Isa. and Jer.) which in the New Testament is referred to the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:78, "day spring"; Zech. 3:8; 6:12). It is He Who would build the true temple, His church, as He said (Matt. 16). These are said to be "signs", that is, of things to come, for the King-Priest in heavenly glory doth minister peace to those who are "far off" a well as nigh (Zech 6:15; Eph. 2:13). The humble entry of Christ into Jerusalem, seated upon the ass, so contrary to the Jews' expectation of arrival with pomp and ceremony, seems especially set in opposition to the latter (Zech. 9:9-10; Matt. 21:5). The suffering and crucifixion of Christ, His side pierced, the sword awaking against God's Fellow and His people's Shepherd, and the scattering of the sheep (disciples); the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness; the spirit of grace and supplication, repentance and remission of sins, the living waters of salvation, and entire sanctification — all is found in these prophets wrapped amidst their ministry to local needs and temporal conditions affecting the returned captives. But every such passage the New Testament relates in fulfilment to the first advent and not once to the second. Another return from captivity with millennial earthly prospect is nowhere found in the New Testament interpretation of such Scriptures.

Against the complete historical and spiritual accomplishment, especially the closing chapters of Zechariah are brought forward. But do we know all that transpired when God through His servant Cyrus brought back the remnant of all the tribes from "all the countries whither He had driven them" and "from all languages"? A careful reading of the historical substance preserved for us in Scripture alone will show that much of that which is said still to be futuristic is observable is those restored conditions of which the prophet stated the time, saying "in these days". Certainly also there was then bestowed the spirit of grace and of supplication, of national, individual and domestic repentance associated with practical holiness and separation.

We might also enquire, if the Mount of Olives must be regarded with strict literality, what mountain is it which Zerubbabel would have made a plain to facilitate the placing of the headstone with shoutings of Grace, grace unto it? Does not the Headstone represent Christ (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42)? For this accomplishment is "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts". Therefore the challenge "Who art thou O great mountain?" Perhaps, Babylon the great. Was our Lord's reference to "this mountain" which faith could remove, the mount of Olives (Zech. 4:7; 14:4; Mark 11)? What importance also is attached to the reviving of the Festivals under the Ezra-Nehemiah reformation, and especially Tabernacles? It was on the occasion of this feast that our Lord "stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come to Me and drink". And it was of the spiritual significance, thus symbolized, that He added, "He that believeth on Me, as the scriptures have said, Out of His inward parts shall flow rivers of living waters", using the word which may well have signified the riven rock. So that cloven Olivet might itself symbolize, as did Moses' rock, the Rock of Ages cleft for me, and the living waters, as the apostle later explained, the life of the Spirit poured out at and from Pentecost when Christ was glorified (John 7:38-39). Even the dispensational literalist says, the prophet's "life-giving stream is symbolic of blessing transmitted through Christ to all the nations of the world". Another evangelical association with the feast is the promise of unfading illumination so that even "at eventide it shall (still) be light", agreeable to our Saviour's further invitation on the same occasion of the Tabernacle's festival, "I am the light of the world, he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (Zech. 14:6-7; John 8:12, and cf. Rev. 21-22; and Ezekiel's symbolism). There is no exaggeration or fancifulness in such meaning of highly symbolical Scriptures, any more than with the types of Moses which were substantial in themselves but spiritually realized in Christ.

The prophets now considered do not take us beyond this. And if Isaiah's hills and mountains and valleys and places crooked and straight and the wilderness are interpreted of the Forerunner's ministry, humbling and exalting unto repentance and remission, that "all flesh may see the salvation of God"; if the action of making mountains and valleys and paths high and low and rough and smooth, appertain to such spiritual results, and the New Testament says they do (Luke 3:4-6), this is sound guidance for understanding prophecies of similar content.

We have a confirming illustration of this principle in another of the Minor Prophets. The greatest historical event at the beginning of their nationhood is interpreted of spiritual redemption. It anticipates the Gospel, and is a guide to the meaning of literal experiences used by the prophets unto this purpose. Here is prophetic spiritualization. Moses' exodus is typical of Christ's expiration, Micah's Gospel interpretation of the Mosaic parallel covers his record as a comparison will show (Ex. 12-14 with Mic. 6:4; 7:15-20). God is He "Who retaineth not His anger because He delighteth in mercy", therefore "He will turn again and have compassion upon us". And how?

In the literal event the Redeemer-Protector paused over (passover) the blood-marked houses, and the "destroyer" passed by, sparing from the death-judgment. In the spiritual analogy, according to Micah's Gospel, the pardoning God "passeth by transgression".

In the actual event under Moses their taskmasters who had held the people in bondage were all subdued, though they cried, "I will pursue, my hand shall repossess them". In the spiritual conquest Micah's Gospel says, "He will subdue our iniquities", a more formidable slavemaster than the Egyptians.

In the historical account the Red Sea at Moses' word overwhelmed Pharaoh, his chariots and horsemen: "The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea". Giving its intended spiritual meaning, the Gospel according to Micah says, "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depth of the sea", and like their pursuers, they are so covered that "ye shall see them again no more forever" and "there remained not so much as one of them".

Transgression, sin and iniquity, the totality of evil which besets us all are overcome and their victims released, not in consequence of a second advent but effected completely when Christ offered Himself once for all (cf. Ps. 32; Dan. 9:24, etc.). This is how God through the prophet says what He meant, even as also through Moses He meant what He said. This is more "marvellous" than "coming out of Egypt" (Mic. 7:15).

Hence, Micah's doxology is in different terms to that of Moses, though both are true; Moses "Who is like unto Thee, O Lord . . . doing wonders?" becomes in Micah's words, "Who is a God like unto Thee that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by transgression?" In this manner, and it is to be noted, by the inspired spiritualization of literal events the Abrahamic covenant is completely implemented, not in the repossession of the land of Canaan, but in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The prophet's complete assurance that this is what God meant follows in the words: "Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old".

The new covenant is in terms temporal and spiritual. It is acknowledged that the spiritual terms were ratified by the Lord Jesus by the blood of His cross, as He said at the memorial supper, and confirmed through the writings and ministry of His apostles, who were "ministers of the new covenant" (Heb. 8-10; 2 Cor. 3). But, it is said, this covenant is to be fulfilled to the Jewish nation in the millennium, the Church having but prematurely "entered into Israel's spiritual blessings" by Gospel application, whereas to the Jews will be added the literal promises of houses, lands, inheritances, etc. and to this "the returning nation", as it is called, is the prelude and preparation! It is, however, clear, as already pointed out and agreeable to the manner of Scripture, that these were realized in the post-exilic return of the national remnant, while the spiritual awaited the coming of the Redeemer.

This material fulfilment, when the Jews should again possess their inheritances, was guaranteed to Jeremiah by legal deed wherein, at the Lord's bidding, land was purchased just as their captors were to take it in possession and they themselves were to be "carried far away" which, speaking after the manner of men, appeared an imprudent transaction! Yet after the captivity the apparently impossible possession was made good. This, therefore, is not to be postponed to a future millennium, though Judaistic Christians wrongly so used it, but was a strong assurance that, as the temporal promise was honored, so the spiritual would be in due time. For the 70 years now expired and the temporal fulfilled must be followed by "70 sevens" of years unto Messiah's "It is finished" (Dan. 9). History now attests both.

If, however, it be insisted that the two must have simultaneous realization, the terms and benefits of Gospel discipleship are not irrelevant here. Had the Lord Jesus this in mind when He said: "Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house or brethren nor sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come life eternal" (Mark 10:29, 30)? The time-pointer for this is named "the regeneration" (Matt. 19:28). The only other mention signifies that the "regeneration" is this dispensation of the Spirit founded upon the grace of Christ's atonement (Tit. 3:5). And it may be observed that in the context of the original New Covenant passage, the Redeemer's birth at Bethlehem, exciting enemy action, is the supernatural focus point upon which the expectation is founded, and not His second coming in glory (cf. Jer. 31:15-22; Matt. 1:23; 2:17-18).

It is no outraging of Scripture to apply established New Testament principles to the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy. The objective of this is the first advent of the Messiah Redeemer. The second advent is not announced save in reference to the judgment of the wicked and the new creation (e.g., Isa. 65:17-18; 66:22-24; 2 Pet. 3; Rev. 21:1-2). The New Testament announces that He shall come "the second time". No Millennium is mentioned. Such is introduced only by theories which necessitate the abrupt division of chapters, sometimes verses, with Jewish gaps and Church parentheses, so that when the Jews are in the Church is out, and when the Church is in the Jews are out. The truth is that Jews and Gentiles are in together, and without difference, constituting through faith one body in Christ, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. And so we find the twelve apostles and twelve tribes incorporated in the heavenly bride, the Lamb's wife, new Jerusalem.

All this is confirmative of an earlier reminder that the Scriptures emphasize a return to the Lord, the mighty God, rather than to the land. Generally, we are advised in the New Testament, it was not of a future state of Israel that the prophets wrote. Salvation, "even the salvation of your souls", was the subject of their diligent enquiry; "so great salvation" that all the Scriptures are employed to expound it (1 Pet. 1; 2 Tim. 3). Salvation is obtained through the merit of Christ's "sufferings and glory". They so wrote by inspiration of "the Spirit of Christ Who was in them". The things thus prophesied constitute the "gospel now preached with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven". These things even angels desire closely to investigate.

This salvation, already described as, in its perfectness, "ready to be revealed in the last time"; that is, the time of Christ's second appearing, is assured to addressees who were Jews scattered throughout the world, and had become believers in Christ. Their salvation is in contrast with the earthly inheritance which their fathers corrupted and defiled and which therefore faded away or gradually disappeared. Such conception of salvation for Jews is not even hinted. The apostle is enamored of the heavenly inheritance, a lively hope, obtained for God's elect, and unto which they themselves are "kept by the power of God" (1 Pet. 1).

Whether or not the new occupants of the "Home" in Palestine are all true descendants of Jacob is in doubt. It would seem that the identity of exiles who returned under the proclamation of Cyrus, from all the countries whither they were dispersed, was established to attest their descent from "the fathers". Therefore, chronicles were written, and separation from "strangers", wives and families, was enjoined, for they were "a mixed multitude", as they had been also in the original deliverance when they "fell a lusting" (Ex. 12:38; Neh. 13:3; Num. 11:4). Their sanctification of race was strictly necessary then because of Christ Who was to come of Abraham, of David, of Israel. Christ having come, there appears to be no longer any reason for their continued separation from other peoples. Nor, indeed, is it so with them. Never were they so dealt with in divine distinguishing grace for their own sake; no sinners are so regarded of any race; but for Christ's sake alone, and for His sake they may be blessed with others through the Gospel still.

Nevertheless, if it be a question of again being given, under covenant longstanding, the land in possession, with tribal inheritances, statehood, temple, priesthood, sacrifices, the once chosen nation restored to favor and priority in rule over all nations for a thousand years, then the evidence of true descent from "the fathers" to whom promise was made becomes indispensable to support the claim. There are multitudes of Jews content with the lands of their birth or adoption, who have no wish or purpose to return "home". But what of those returned and returning? The Scripture describes the true Jew, and it refers to some "which say they are Jews and are not", which, if taken in its racial literalness may find explication in the following quotation recommending discrimination between "the real Jews and the Zionists."

"Zionists throughout the world are overwhelmingly of Eastern European origin. These Yiddish-speaking ‘Jews' have no racial connection with Palestine or the ancient Hebrews and are of Khazar origin. Here is a quotation from the Jewish Encyclopaoedia (Vol. 4; pp. 1-12): ‘Khazars: a non-Semitic, Asiatic, Mongolian tribal nation who emigrated into Eastern Europe about the first century, who were converted as an entire nation to Judaism in the seventh century, who were conquered in the eleventh century by the expanding Russian nation which absorbed the entire Khazar population, and who account for the presence in Eastern Europe of the great numbers of Yiddish-speaking Jews in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Galicia, Bessarabia and Rumania'. Jewish historians such as Graetz, Dubnow, Friedlander, Raisin and others support this too. Zionists have long misrepresented that these races of Jewish faith have a right to go to Palestine as their home, misleading these unfortunate people by telling them that in Palestine was their only hope. It is because of political Zionism that anti-semitism spreads, and not because of Hebrew traditions and religion. To that remnant of orthodox Jewry which believes in the authority of the Old Testament and holds fast to the laws of the Pentateuch, we can offer respect and sympathy. To the Zionist who has only the restoration of the land for his personal goal, we can only say that he is endeavouring to frustrate God's unalterable will, an impossible proceeding" (quoted from The Christian, 1948).
More recently we have read: "Latterly the flow of European immigrants sank to a trickle; instead, ‘oriental' immigrants from Iran, the Yemen, India, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia streamed in. While the earlier Israelis were largely Ashkenazi or European Sephard — the two main groups defined according to whether their ancestors after the dispersal, settled in Eastern Europe or the Spanish-speaking countries — the new corners were ‘oriental', Sephardim of the most mixed racial origins, and often on a most primitive cultural level" (The Daily Telegraph, London, Nov. 13, 1963).

"Israel" is, indeed, as it is officially described, "an exciting country". In addition to its Biblical and historical and traditional interests, it has all the attractive mixture which other nations advertize and offer to their tourists and visitors. Its transformed economy, industrialization, modernization, improvements due to wise and energetic planning and working, need not, however, and should not be attributed to Scripture incentive and prophetic revival. According to the film popularized on this subject, we suppose it is still "Three Minutes to Twelve", and Christians will be deceived if by such they are led to believe that at the strike of "Twelve" the Messiah will appear. Immigrants to other parts of the world with wastes and deserts and untapped resources have done the like, and countries blasted by wars have put on a renewed appearance and glory in the space of a few years. Material restoration or development is no mark of God's peculiar favor to the Jews or any other people. Of all nations it is written, God "hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him." The object is spiritual (Acts 17:26-27).

The Quarterly of The Free University of Amsterdam (Nov., 1950) contained the comments of their highly reputed and reverent theologian, "the rector magnificus", Professor Dr. G. Ch. Aalders, on Old Testament Prophecy and the State of Israeli. We give the salient parts which are apposite to this subject:

The purpose of the address was to investigate whether the creation of a self-governing state by the people of Israel has to be regarded as an obvious fulfilment of Scriptural prediction. Wide circles of Christians are most fervently attached to this opinion, but the problem is not as simple as many of them imagine. The Speaker has as his particular field of study the Old Testament, but he also pointed out that the New Testament is not concerned with a national restoration of Israel. Whatever the exact meaning of Romans 11:26 may be, it is beyond doubt that it has nothing to say with respect to the national status of the Jewish people on their return to Palestine. Likewise, Revelation 20:9 in mentioning "the camp of the saints" and "the beloved city" does not presuppose the re-establishment of Jewish government in Palestine; as the context makes clear, the passage refers to those who are the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it cannot be disputed that the Old Testament contains quite a number of places which bear upon the realization of a national future for the people of Israel. In taking a survey of these pronouncements the lecturer called attention to the fact that they are only Assyrians and Chaldeans who are indicated as the instruments of divine wrath by whom the people were carried away from their country; and as the Lord's promise of return naturally has been primarily addressed to this people, it goes without saying that this return was meant as a return from the Assyrian and Babylonian exile. Is it acceptable that such promise at the same time could have had in view a much later return from a renewed exile which had not been explicitly announced? Furthermore, the appeal that has often been made to various expressions like ‘I will scatter you among the heathen' and ‘the Lord will gather thee from all the nations', or the phrase ‘in the latter days' do not imply reference to a later period than that of the Assyro-Babylonian exile. The predictions of return occurring in the writings of post-exilic prophets refer to those who remained back after the edict of Cyrus. Having thus enquired into the witness of Old Testament prophecy the lecturer proceeded to answer the question whether the State of Israel as it presents itself now can be considered a fulfilment of this prophecy. He carefully traced all available data concerning the State, starting from the Zionist movement to which the origin of the State is greatly indebted, citing the proclamation whereby the foundation of a Jewish State in Erets Israel was announced, referring to the project of the constitution, and producing a brief survey of the political parties existing in Israel. All these dates sufficiently indicate that the State of Israel does not answer the expectation which many people cherish of a converted Israel restored to its former condition.

Now among those who are inclined to salute the State of Israel as a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy the idea is prominent that the Jewish people would return to Palestine unconverted, and that after this return Israel will come to conversion, and so the promise of Scripture will be realized. Therefore, they qualify the re-establishment of the Jewish nation as particularly significant, and view it as the sign of the fig tree. But just as well as it can be determined that the State of Israel does not match the picture which has been drawn on account of Old Testament prophecy, it likewise must be stated, that the idea of a restored unconverted Israel which is going to be converted afterwards is entirely contrary to the testimony of prophecy. Throughout, prophecy pictures conversion and restoration as closely connected; and when the man of God, Moses, even before Israel had entered Canaan, in the name of the Lord predicts their rebellion and captivity among the nations as well as return from exile, he unequivocally puts conversion as condition for the renewal of God's favour: ‘for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul' (Deut. 30:9).

Finally, it is necessary to observe how the Old Testament itself definitely contradicts the notion of a restoration of Israel to its former position of a people of God after having rejected the Messiah. Daniel 9:27 informs us that the judgment passed upon Israel, as the Messiah will have been ‘cut off', is a judgment ‘even unto the consummation'. In the prophecies of Jeremiah more than once stress is laid upon the fact that in the chastisement of Jerusalem the Lord ‘will not make a full end' — in Hebrew the same expression is used — but contrary to this, after the rejection of the Messiah, the divine judgment will reach the full end. A like tendency strikes us in the well-known prophecy of the new covenant: this covenant is contrasted to the covenant of Sinai, resting upon the external bond of belonging to the nation of Israel; the new covenant rests upon the purely internal bond of having the Lord's law in people's inward parts, and this new covenant is realized in the New Testament Church. In that the Lord says, ‘a new covenant, He hath made the first old; now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away' (Heb. 8:13). So the particular place which Israel occupied as a nation in relation to God has come to a final end.

In summing up the lecturer drew the conclusion: "the establishment of the State of Israel, though certainly a remarkable event in the historic process of the world's nations, cannot be regarded as a realization of prophetic prediction in the Old Testament; whatever has happened in Palestine and may happen there in the future, it has nothing to do with the divine prophecy which is presented in Holy Scripture."

That Christ will come "the second time apart from sin unto salvation" is a blessed assurance to those who "look for Him", but it was addressed in particular to the Hebrews, that is, to Jews (Heb. 9). Neither here or elsewhere is promise of hope other than of "so great salvation" at first spoken by the Lord Jesus, and confirmed by them that heard Him with powers of the Holy Spirit. It is now they "ought to give the more earnest heed" and not "neglect". Otherwise, there is no "escape" from judgment at the Coming (Heb. 2). The solemn word given to unbelieving Hebrews is of "a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation", a "much sorer punishment than those who despised Moses' law and died without mercy", for it is the grace of Christ which is now despised (Heb. 10). The Epistles in general all agree. There is no divergence. The saving opportunity is now, in life upon earth and not after death; while time endures and not in an age to come, while longsuffering waits between the Advents and not upon expiry at the Second Coming. The Lord Jesus insisted upon this in the days of His flesh.

His final word about the Jewish nation was of their dispersal among the nations of the world (Luke 21:24). This came to pass and has since continued. In this dispersion mercy was intended, perhaps, rejoicing against judgment. For settled peacefully and prosperously in Palestine, would they not contentedly abide, still in the rejection of Jesus of Nazareth, as when He was among them, presenting His Messianic claims and calling them to repentance? But scattered among all nations, the Saviour intended they also should hear His Gospel, as many have done, as His great commission has been carried out, by means of which He is taking out from them, from Jews and Gentiles, "a people for His name." Thus are all reached together as would seem to have been His prudent and merciful intention, for "He hath concluded all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all". When in Oliver Cromwell's day, a proposal was made to Parliament that the Jews be admitted to our Island Home, he remarked, "Since there was a promise of their conversion, means must be used to that end, which was the preaching to them of the Gospel, and that could not be done unless they were permitted to dwell where the Gospel was preached".

The Scriptures, then, do not contemplate that the scattered nation would again become a returning nation, now that the final purpose for which God distinguished them from other nations by His vicarious choice of them has been realized in the bringing into the world of His Son the Messiah, Seed of Abraham, Seed of David, Saviour of mankind (Rom. 9). That end fulfilled, like the types and shadows which accompanied their separated and instrumental appointment, they are now superseded, and the Redeemer having so come, it was prophesied that He died "not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad", which prophecy agrees with His own word, using another figure, "Other sheep (that is, other than from among Jews) I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd". (John 11:52; 10:16).

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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