God’s People Return to Israel
Have you ever connected the happenings in the world, in our newspapers, history books, and on the evening news - with God's Word the BIBLE?
To begin with open to Isaiah 11:11 as God describes the second return of His People. The first was after the Babylonian Exile in 586 BC, this is the second return after the Roman Destruction of Israel in AD 70-130 and this second return has happened in OUR GENERATION! People alive here tonight have witnessed this happen!
As I read, see if your heart thrills as your mind sees the modern day "Miracle of Israel” that has occurred in the re-gathering of almost ½ of all Jews from 100 nations around the world back to Judea and Samaria of the Bible!
And they have returned since 1948 under the "banner” of a flag containing the blue of the Messianic longings of the prayer shawl and the Star of David (symbolizing the Messianic line of Jesus through David) boldly centered as the only sign of their flag!
Where exactly did God say they would come back to in this second return? Ezekiel helps us by naming the places that the bones (the destroyed bits of the nation Israel) would come and be clothed with flesh (a nation again) awaiting the breath of God (revival) to come in the Tribulation Hour of Jacob's Trouble.
When? Perhaps after the greatest Holocaust the Jewish Peoples have ever known? Look at Psalm 102.
When the nation was first founded, God promised through Abraham, "I will make of thee a great nation . . . And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2,3). The continued existence of the Jews after centuries of dispersal and persecution unique in human history is a mute but eloquent testimony to fulfilled prophesy. The restoration of Israel as a nation among nations in our own generation is merely the most recent in a long line of fulfilled prophecies dealing with the Jewish people.
God declared Israel His Nation would be Scattered: God promised the children of Israel great blessing in the land of promise if they would remain faithful to Him. He also predicted great suffering, persecution and worldwide dispersion when they forsook Him. These prophecies came to pass. Some of these warnings were as follows:
"The LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; . . . And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life" (Deuteronomy 28:64,66).
"And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them" (Jeremiah 24:9).
But with all this, they would not be like so many other nations of antiquity (indeed like all other nations who were driven from their homeland). "Though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee" (Jeremiah 30:11).
"My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations" (Hosea 9:17).
God declared Israel, His Nation, would Survive: We have already noted what is probably the most important of these end-time prophecies, namely, the re-establishment of Israel as a nation in its ancient homeland. It is almost impossible that a nation could survive as a distinct nationality, regain its homeland and be recognized as a viable nation once more after being completely destroyed as an organized entity by an invading army (as Israel was by the Romans, in A.D. 70). Its people were either slaughtered or scattered from one end of the world to the other; its land occupied and ruled by aliens for over 1900 years. Israel's survival is amazing, but even more so is the fact its survival was predicted many centuries earlier.
When Israel, including Judah, first went into captivity, in 588 B.C., the period known as "the times of the Gentiles" began. Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome were successive world empires and their domain included the land of Israel. After Rome destroyed the city and the temple in A.D. 70 (as predicted by Christ Himself in Luke 19:41-44), the people of Israel were scattered "among all people, from the one end of the earth unto the other" (Deuteronomy 28:64).
God declared Israel, His Nation, would be Regathered: Even more impossible than the fact that a people could retain its identity without a homeland for two thousand years is the fact that they should then return and establish their ancient nation once again. Yet this is exactly what the Bible had predicted.
"Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land" (Ezekiel 37:21).
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time [note, the second time -- the first was when He brought them back from the Babylonian captivity] to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, . . . and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11, 12).
The "wandering Jews" were without a national home for "many days" (Hosea 3:4, 5) and it seemed impossible that such prophecies as these could ever be fulfilled.
Even many Bible-believing Christians thought for centuries that God was through with Israel and that all the Old Testament promises to Israel should be spiritualized and applied to the church. But now, with the return of the Jews and the re-establishment of their nation, it is evident in a unique way that God's Word means exactly what it says.
God declared Israel, His Nation, would have a Future agenda in God’s plan: In this context, we come to a remarkable prophecy made by Jesus Christ: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24).
Since the word "fulfilled" is the same word in the Greek as "finished," this prophecy clearly means that the times of Gentile world-rule will be ended when Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile control. But this can only be accomplished when Christ returns to banish the Gentile nations from Jerusalem and to establish His own world-kingdom capital there. Thus, the restoration of Jerusalem to the chosen people is necessarily accompanied by the coming of their Messiah to reign there. This is also clearly indicated in Zechariah 12-14 as well as other Scriptures.
God is at work today in the saga of the Jews: The Jews began to return to Palestine in small numbers in the early part of the twentieth century, and then in much larger numbers after World War I and the Balfour Declaration. Jerusalem was still under British rule, however. After World War II, the Israeli nation declared its independence in 1948 and was soon recognized by most of the nations and by the United Nations. The new city of Jerusalem indeed did go back to the Jews at this time. However, the old city, including the all-important temple site on Mount Moriah, remained in the hands of the Jordanian Arabs.
In the "six-day war" of 1967, Israel finally recaptured the old city of Jerusalem, and the Israelis insist they will never let it go again.
Could God be waiting for something to happen? Yet, the Lord has not come! The times of the Gentiles are still in full sway, even though Jerusalem has apparently gone back to the Jews. However, there is one exception. This exception makes all the difference and indicates with what fine lines the Holy Spirit inscripturates His Word. Jerusalem is not, in God's judgment, a collection of houses and streets, like other cities. It is a temple where God dwells, where His people approach Him through sacrifice, and where He meets with them.
God has focused on one acre of land: As Solomon built the temple, God said: "I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there" (2 Chronicles 6:6). But long before this, God had first spoken through Moses: "There shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt-offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD" (Deuteronomy 12:11).
Where is ground zero? This place was not just any place in Jerusalem; it was an exact spot, chosen by God. It was on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1), the spot which God told David to purchase from Ornan the Jebusite and to set up the altar there (1 Chronicles 21:18). This was the same spot where Abraham had, almost a thousand years before, prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2). It is only a short distance from Calvary itself.
This spot, to the Jews and to God, is Jerusalem! And, amazingly, this one spot is the only spot in Jerusalem still controlled by Gentiles. It is on Mount Moriah that the Arabs have built their famous Dome-of-the-Rock, the second most holy place in the Muslim world. The Jews, for political or other reasons, have not yet dared to expel the Arabs from this site, raze it, and proceed to rebuild their temple, as they surely desire to do.
It is apparently by this exceedingly slender thread, therefore, that the "times of the Gentiles" are still suspended. As the Lord Jesus said, "One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18).
We have only scratched the surface. There are scores of other Biblical prophecies that either have already been fulfilled or are presently in process of fulfillment. There is no other book like the Bible.
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of men: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21).
God promised to preserve His chosen people of destiny from annihilation. God declared that in spite of such persecution and the periodic wholesale slaughter of Jews, He would not let His chosen people be destroyed, but would preserve them as an identifiable ethnic, national group (Jeremiah 30:11; 31:35-37). The Jews had every reason to intermarry, to change their names and hide their identity by any possible means in order to escape persecution. Why preserve their bloodline when they had no land of their own, when most of them didn't take the Bible literally, and when racial identification imposed only the cruelest disadvantages? Shamefully, many who claimed to be Christians and thus followers of Christ, who was Himself a Jew, were in the forefront of Jewish persecution and slaughter. After the emperor, Constantine, supposedly became a Christian, it was those who called themselves Christians who were far more cruel to the Jews than pagans had ever been. The Roman Catholic popes were the first to develop anti-Semitism to a science. Hitler, who remained a Catholic to the end, would claim that he was only following the example of both Catholics and Lutherans in finishing what the Church had begun. Anti-Semitism was a part of his Catholicism from which Martin Luther was never freed. Absorption by those among whom they found themselves would have seemed inevitable, so that little trace of the Jews as a distinct people should have remained today. After all, these despised exiles have been scattered to every corner of the world for 2500 years since the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. Could "tradition" be that strong without real faith in God? Against all odds, the Jews remained an identifiable people after all those centuries. That fact is an astonishing phenomenon without parallel in history and absolutely unique to the Jews.
The "wandering Jews" were without a national home for "many days" (Hosea 3:4, 5) and it seemed impossible that such prophecies as these could ever be fulfilled. Even many Bible-believing Christians thought for centuries that God was through with Israel and that all the Old Testament promises to Israel should be spiritualized and applied to the church. But now, with the return of the Jews and the re-establishment of their nation, it is evident in a unique way that God's Word means exactly what it says.
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