“Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV).
The “Great War” of 1914 stands as a visible marker of our faith in Israel’s restoration in preparation for God’s earthly Kingdom. After one hundred years, though the “vision” of God’s glorious Kingdom has seemed to “tarry,” we are promised that “it will surely come” (Habakkuk 2:3)!
The Prophet Jeremiah revealed God’s mind regarding the future of Israel. “I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. … Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them” (Jeremiah 32:41,42 NASB).
Jewish people — even those that have returned to the Promised Land — are not yet committed to serving Messiah’s Kingdom as a “light to the Gentiles.” As Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, he told his disciples that Israel would be restored “in the Father’s time” (Acts 1:6,7). Then, “before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24-25).
First “Trodden Down” of the Gentiles
Israel’s path to the Kingdom has been troublous. Covenant breaking under the Law resulted in their punishment: “Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers … where I will not show you favor” (Jeremiah 16:13). Jesus predicted their expulsion, but he also set a time limit to the punishment. “And they 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). Hope for the rebirth of a national identity would be after Gentile supremacy over Israel’s land would end.
The graphic vision of Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream dealt with the Gentile “times.” Daniel both recalled and interpreted the dream of the “great image,” identifying the “head of gold” as Nebuchadnezzar himself (Daniel 2:38). Following the head of gold would be “another” dominating world power, then “a third” and finally “a fourth kingdom” (verses 39,40). When Israel’s last king was dethroned, Babylon became the first of four Gentile empires to tread over Israel (2 Kings 25).
The Mosaic Law imposed consequences for violating its provisions. “I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:18). This penalty was stated four times in Leviticus (verses 18, 21, 24, 28). In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, after the succession of four world empires, a “stone … smote the image” and would become “a great mountain” to fill “the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34, 35). How appropriate that this “stone” grows into a mountain and represents God’s Kingdom that Daniel said “shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).
When the image was smitten, the eviction phase of God’s Plan began. The image pieces are carried away like “chaff” by the wind and “no place was found for them” (Daniel 2:35).
This eviction process also appears in Daniel’s parallel dream of “four great beasts.” The fourth “terrible beast” was first “slain,” but only later “given to the burning flame” (Daniel 7:11). Although the image was “smitten,” and the beast “slain” in 1914, the residual Gentile powers are still around.1 European nations today are the remnants of the Roman Empire’s “ten toes” (and “ten horns” of Daniel 7:24). Daniel says that concurrent with the final destructive work, God would set up His kingdom “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44).2
The nations will ultimately no longer be allowed to tread on or “walk over” Israel as on a “street” (Isaiah 51:22, 23). “Thus says … Jehovah … your God Who contends for His people … I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling; The chalice of My anger; you will never drink it again. I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, Lie down that we may walk over you. You have even made your back like the ground and like the street for those who walk over it” (NASU).
In the Messianic Kingdom, “ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:23). As the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image represent the Gentile powers, so the same Gentile powers will come to the Jew to be taught of God, and Israel will be the instrument used to bring “light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6).
After the “Times of the Gentiles”
During World War I, the Balfour Declaration expressed the intention of the British Government to create a Jewish State. What amazing timing! The God of Israel, in His infinite wisdom and power to orchestrate providence, allowed the Jewish chemist Chaim Weizmann to synthesize an explosive ingredient essential to the British war effort. With profound gratitude, the British government took an unprecedented action. Lord Balfour (Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary) revealed the new policy to Lord Rothschild in November 1917, asking him to inform the Zionist Federation:
(1) Editor’s Note: Smiting Nebuchadnezzar’s image in 1914 does not necessarily correspond to slaying the beast of Daniel 7:11. “This beast, or Roman Empire, in its horns or divisions … will be slain by the rising up of the masses of the people, and the overthrow of governments, in the ‘Day of the Lord,’ preparatory to the recognition of the heavenly rulership” (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 1, page 259).
(2) Editor’s Note: Perhaps setting up God’s kingdom “in the days of these kings” refers to the calling out of the saints during the Gospel Age before 1914.
“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”
This was followed by numerous Arab riots and terrorism, instigated by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, al-Husseini, who collaborated with the Nazis and Fascists during World War II. Immediately upon the creation of the Jewish State on May 15, 1948, five Arab armies attacked Israel. In 1956 the Sinai/Suez War occurred after Egypt violated international law. In 1959, Yasser Arafat formed Fatah to conduct continuous guerilla warfare against Israel. In June, 1967, despite Israel’s appeal to Jordan to stay out of the war, Jordanian forces fired artillery barrages at Jerusalem. When Jordan occupied UN headquarters in Jerusalem, Israeli forces retook eastern Jerusalem within two days. On June 7 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) advanced through the Old City toward the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, bringing Jerusalem’s holiest site under Jewish control for the first time in 1900 years. This fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy, Jerusalem became “a burdensome stone for all people … Jerusalem became “inhabited again in her own place” (Zechariah 12:3,6).
Following the Yom Kippur War 1973) and the Lebanon War (1982-85), the “First Intifada” (Palestinian Uprising) began in 1987. After the Persian Gulf War (1991), in spite of the Oslo Peace Accord, the first suicide bombing occurred (1994). Since then, suicide bombings by Arab “militants” have continued relentlessly.
Restoration — a Painful Process
Jeremiah (30:3) prophesied the return of God’s People to the land of Israel saying, “I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah … I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers.” However, Israel’s restoration has been a painful process. Jeremiah foretold that it would be a time “of trembling, of fear, and not of peace” (Jeremiah 30:5). He graphically illustrated the time as a birthing process, saying, “every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail.” He then summarized by saying, “It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:6,7).
In 1895 Pastor Russell noted that we “are in the time of Jacob’s trouble” and that it might reach such intensity as to expel Jews from Austria, Germany, and France (R1898). His expectation eventually occurred in the 1930s and 1940s. Even in 1910 he expressed compassion for Israel, saying, “our heart went out in sympathy for the Jewish people” with their house being “left desolate. … We specially rejoiced to think that the time of Jacob’s trouble will soon be over” (R4610). Though Israel has experienced great turmoil since its rebirth, the invasion by Gog of Magog (Ezekiel 38) will be the last birth pang of Jacob’s trouble.
At the end of the age, God sent the “many fishers” of Zionism to lure Jews back to the Land, then the relentless “hunters” of the pogroms.3 However, due to the increased sin of failing to return to the Land, the Holocaust, as the “cruel one,” brought new suffering when there was no help from her “lovers” of the world (Jeremiah 16:14-16, 30:14).
However, the prophecy concludes on a positive note. “He [Israel] shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:6,7). Since being able to return to the Land, spasms of trouble interspersed with some measure of peace have continued. The travail continues today. The final blast of trouble will climax in the deliverance of Israel.
Ezekiel (37:1-14) predicted a gradual process of regathering and restoring the “whole house of Israel” as scattered “bones” with “shaking.” After the “shaking” (“rattling,” NASB) “bones” come together, connecting “sinews” are added. Next “skin” covers this regathered people of God. Adding “skin” perhaps signifies Israel becoming a nation in 1948. One final step remains: giving “breath” is future, when Israel will be the first to receive of the Spirit to be poured out on “all flesh” (Zechariah 12:10, Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17).
Today, even before acknowledging Jesus as Messiah, Israel is called “My people” (Isaiah 58:1, Jeremiah 30:3, 50:6, Zechariah 8:7,8, Amos 9:14, etc.) who are being planted in “My land” (Ezekiel 38:16, Joel 1:6). After Israel is directed to recognize their Messiah, then Israel will become the conduit of healing and blessing “all the families of the earth” as the “sand of the seashore,” the earthly part of the one seed of father Abraham (Genesis 22:17).
(3) Editor’s Note: This passage may also apply to Roman times with the beginning of Israel’s period of disfavor as suggested in verse 17 where God says, “neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.”
Israel Today in a Blessing Mode
In a limited way, the tiny nation of Israel already helps the peoples of earth. Within days of the 2013 Philippine typhoon, Israel set up field hospitals and treated 2600 victims. Care assisted in the birth of 12 babies, three were premature, needing emergency care.
Within 48 hours of the massive Haitian earthquake, Israel dispatched an emergency task force of 230 workers, including medical personnel. Their field hospital (the first to be operational) treated more than 1100 patients pulled from the rubble in 20 days of operation. In 2011 a similar response team assisted after an earthquake struck Moslem Turkey.
Israel’s “Save a Child’s Heart” (SACH) — a Medical Center near Tel Aviv — provides free life-saving heart surgery to children from other countries. Founded in 1996, their mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries. More than half of those treated have been Arab Palestinian children.
New Covenant with Israel to Write Law in Heart
When the Gospel Age work of gathering spiritual Israel is complete, God will “make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” He will write His law “in their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:31-33, He- brews 10:16). Then “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6).
“Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise” (Isaiah 60:18).
“Jehovah shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3).
Jerusalem, as the “throne of the LORD,” will be the earthly capital of Christ’s Kingdom (Jeremiah 3:17). The people of Earth will learn about “the God of Jacob” and “walk in His paths” (Isaiah 2:3).
The huge “Isaiah Wall” monument in New York, across the street from the United Nations building, is etched with words from Isaiah 2:4. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
This is a partial quote from Isaiah. Omitted are the wonderful words, of the preceding verses. “In the last days … the mountain [kingdom] of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion [the spiritual phase] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem [Natural Israel]” (Isaiah 2:2,3).
The nations will come to Israel to be taught. “Zion,” spiritual Israel, will use natural Israel, led by the Ancient Worthies, to teach mankind how to live in peace. They will work hand-in-glove with spiritual Zion. The resources of nations previously used for war can be diverted to feeding and healing a peaceful world.
“The Chariot of Israel and Horsemen Thereof”
How ironic that today, at the climax of this old order, anti-Semitism is growing! Many of the troubles in the world are blamed on Jews and on Israel itself. A media war against Israel continues as the “new anti-Semitism.” Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Spiritual Israel should have a very sympathetic heart for natural Israel because Israel will receive the mercy from God through the work of the Deliverer (Romans 11:26, 31).
When Elijah, picturing the Church at the end of the age, ascended into heaven by a whirlwind, his companion Elisha cried, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!” (2 Kings 2:12). Chariots and horsemen were synonymous with military power and strength (1 Kings 10:26, 1 Chronicles 18:4, Daniel 11:40, etc.). So why is the Church at the end of the age associated with “the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof?” When Elijah was taken up, his mantle fell to his successor Elisha. Years later, as Elisha himself was about to die, King Joash similarly exclaimed, “the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof ” (2 Kings 13:14). Elijah and Elisha did more to support and defend Israel than their kings or armies.
In these days of increasing global turmoil, the Church is to encourage Israel by pointing them to the prophecies, urging faith in God, and expressing sympathy for them.
The Restoration of Israel and the Times of Restitution
As Jesus was about to ascend to heaven, the Apostles asked a relevant question: “Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6)? Jesus simply answered, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). The Greek word for “restore” (Strongs 600) is a verb and the root word from which the noun “restitution,” in Acts 3:21, is taken. (See Strongs 605.) This suggests a vital connection between these two works.
Jesus has returned with regal authority. Daniel (12:1) speaks of Jesus restoring the fortunes of Israel preparatory to their role in the kingdom of God when they become “a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6,7). Knowing God’s intent, we should “comfort” His people (Isaiah 40:1, 2), trusting God’s power and timing to accomplish His work. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4 NAS).
Categories: 2014 Issues, 2014-July/August
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