Israel’s Future Inheritance
“For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34, NASB). (Scriptural passages are taken from the Revised Standard Version.)
After the long period of Israel’s disfavor, the earliest signs of God’s return of favor began in 1878 with the establishment of the settlement of Petah Tikvah. This revealed the end of God’s “double for all her sins” punishment of Israel (Isaiah 40:2). This regathering of the Jews to Israel picked up momentum with the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and Jews purchasing land in Israel. Still, the majority of the Jews did not go back. The persecution in Germany, starting in the early 1930’s and culminating in 1938 with Kristallnacht, should have been a final warning for the Jews to leave for Israel (Jeremiah 16:16).
However, millions of European Jews did not heed the warning and lost their lives in the Holocaust. Many who survived World War II emigrated to Israel. The regathering continued with Jews expelled from Arab countries in 1948, emigration from Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the 1985 airlift of the Ethiopian Jews from Sudan (Operation Moses), and from Ethiopia in 1991 (Operation Solomon).
As the “Arab Spring” unfolded, infighting between Arab factions (radical Islamists, Sunnis, Shiites, and Alawites) has significantly weakened Israel’s enemies around them. This includes Assad’s Syrian army, Lebanon’s Hezbollah army due to its involvement in Syria, Islamists in northern Sinai fighting the Egyptian army, and lack of support for Hamas in the Gaza strip by the Arab countries during their August 2014 war with Israel.
The battle for control of Jerusalem among Jews, Muslims and Christians will be “a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about” and make “Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples” coming against it (Zechariah 12:2,3). Some Jews and Christians wish to pray on the Temple Mount which Muslims violently oppose. We anticipate another war between Israel and the Arabs prior to the invasion of Gog and Magog, and it may start over Jerusalem.
Many Old Testament scriptures speak of the past, present and future re-gatherings of the Jews from around the world and both the present and greater future blessings to Israel (followed by the rest mankind). We will focus on three passages in the Old Testament that discuss this future inheritance. Then we will consider the New Testament passages in Hebrews, Acts, and Romans.
Placed in the Land, Future Prosperity (Ezekiel 34:11-31)
Most of Ezekiel 34 covers the time from the regathering of Israel (starting in 1878) to their prosperity in their land in the Kingdom. “I seek out my sheep… will bring them into their own land” (verses 12-13) shows that God will be seeking out the Jews from all over the world prior to Armageddon. This is the promise to bring Israel back to their land (Jeremiah 30:3).
Verse 14 (“on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel”) seems to be after Armageddon. Good pasture is normally found in the flat lands or plains, but mountains will also be a “fat” pasture in the Kingdom. “I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak” (verse 16) suggests only the humble will be delivered out of Jacob’s Trouble. Those who consider themselves strong and self-sufficient are not the humble ones for whom the Lord is looking.
“I judge between sheep and sheep, rams and he-goats” (verses 17-19) contrasts the weak and the strong in the Lord. This references the gathering after Jacob’s Trouble of the Holy Remnant of Israel. The result of the judging of who will be in the remnant during the Time of Trouble is also discussed in Isaiah 4:2-4, “he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy … recorded for life in Jerusalem.”
Verse 23-24 describes the restoration of Israel performed by the great shepherd and prince, Jesus Christ. Then verse 25 mentions the covenant of peace [New Covenant] to be made with Israel. The wild beasts, if considered to be symbolic, would be their surrounding enemies. Other scriptures talk about the wolf lying down with the lamb, if the “beasts” are taken literally.
“I will send down showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing” (verse 26) and “trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase” (verse 27). Thus rain will be a special blessing causing more blossoming of the land and deserts.
Finally, verse 30 says, “And they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people.” This is amplified in Isaiah Chapters 11 and 35 which speak of these Kingdom blessings which will be extended to the rest of the nations if they accept God’s blessings of Israel (“ten men from the nations … shall take hold of the robe of a Jew. Saying Let us go with you,” Zechariah 8:23). The New Covenant will likely be similar to the Law Covenant in that blessings will come forth if Israel [and the rest of mankind] are obedient to God’s law.
Regathering Israel, New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:1-40)
This chapter speaks of the regathering of Israel from all parts of the world beginning at the end of the Gospel Age and extending into the Kingdom. The regathering started in 1878 and is continuing on a smaller scale (but could rapidly increase with an economic downturn). There will be a second emigration after Jacob’s Trouble, “till there is no room for them” (Zechariah 10:10). “At that time, says Jehovah, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people” (verse 1). This seems to set the time as being after Armageddon. It means that all the families of Israel are his people [not just from Judah and Benjamin] and is further confirmed in verses 6 and 9.
Verse 6 shows that Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. In the kingdom, the Church will be in the heavenly realm and the Ancient Worthies (Patriarchs) and Holy Remnant (after Armageddon) will be on the earth (Isaiah 4:2-4, Ezekiel 20:37-38).
“I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth” (verse 8) suggests this is a second wave of returning Jews from Russia and from other countries around the world. These will likely outnumber those of the Holy Remnant left after Armageddon and will include the 10 tribes taken by Assyria and the 2 tribes taken to Babylon.
Verse 9 says, “for I am the father of Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born.” Ephraim was the ruling tribe of the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel and as such represents the 10-tribe kingdom. Jeremiah ministered to both Judah and the 10-tribe kingdom. Isaiah 11:12-13 (“Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim”) speaks of the animosity between the 10-tribe and 2-tribe kingdoms disappearing and never returning.
Verse 10 shows that God did the scattering and is also doing the regathering. Jacob is ransomed from Gog when the Lord miraculously saves the Holy Remnant of Israel during Armageddon (verse 11).
Verses 15 and 16 speak of “Rachel weeping for her children,” because they are dead. Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Verse 15 is quoted in Matthew 2:17-18 with verse 16 describing the resurrection of the dead, “back from the land of the enemy” [death]. Ephraim becomes a dear son when he repents and God has mercy on him and remembers him again (verse 20).
“Every one shall die for his own sin; each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge” (verse 30) describes the Kingdom, when the sins of the fathers [Adam] will no longer pass on to their children. Instead, those who sin will be responsible and punished for their sins alone. This also shows that there will be death [second death] in the Kingdom.
“I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (verse 31) reveals the New Covenant is to be made with Judah and the 10-tribe kingdom [“Israel”] and replaces the old Law Covenant. It is called an “Everlasting Covenant” since there will be no end to it, unlike the Law Covenant. Christ will be the mediator of the New Covenant for 1000 years until he turns the Kingdom over to his Father. The Church or Little Flock will be the ministers of the New Covenant. All the blessings will go first to Israel. The rest of the nations of the world will be blessed as “daughters” to Israel (Ezekiel 16:61).
Verse 33 shows the New Covenant to be more comprehensive than the Law Covenant. It will be so ingrained into their minds that it will not be forgotten. Ezekiel 36:25-27 uses similar language including “a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.” The world will also have to follow Israel’s example.
“No longer shall each man teach his neighbor … saying ‘Know the Lord’ for they shall all know me” (verse 34) not only applies to Israel but to all mankind. Everyone will see the effects of Christ’s reign, restitution, and resurrection in the Kingdom. Isaiah 11:9 says, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.” There will be no excuse for sins committed in the Kingdom because of the increased knowledge of the Lord and the binding of Satan.
In verses 35-37, God compares his control of nature to his control of what happens to Israel. If he cannot control the sun, moon, stars, and the sea, “then shall the descendants of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” Israel will not cease to be a nation because God is in control of nature.
Finally, verses 38-40 speak about Jerusalem being rebuilt after Armageddon. Jerusalem will never again be “uprooted or overthrown any more forever.”
Future Boundaries of Israel (Ezekiel 47:13-21)
The future boundaries of Israel are discussed in Ezekiel 47:13-21. The northern boundary is described in verses 15-17: “The boundary shall run from the sea [Mediterranean] to Hazar-e’non [between Damascus and Palmyra], which is on the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north.” Hamath [limit of Joshua’s conquest of Lebanon and under Solomon’s rule] is the modern city Hama. It is located 120 miles north of Damascus and 50 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea, in West Central Syria. It was called Epiphania during Greek and Roman times. Palmyra is about 130 miles northeast of Damascus.
The eastern boundary “shall run from Hazar-e’non [between Damascus and Palmyra] between Hauran [near Damascus and Yarmuk] and Damascus, along the Jordan between Gilead [area east of the Jordan River] and the land of Israel; to the eastern [Dead] sea and as far as Tamar [about 20 miles south-southwest of the Dead Sea]” (verse 18). At some point in the future, “Damascus will cease to be a city, and will become a heap of ruins” and “will be for flocks” (Isaiah 17:1-2). The current area of Yarmuk near Damascus and some parts of Damascus are currently under siege by the Syrian government and are slowly being destroyed.
The southern boundary “shall run from Tamar [S-SW of the Dead Sea] as far as the waters of Meribath-ka’desh [Northern Sinai], thence along the Brook of Egypt [Northern Sinai] to the Great [Mediterranean] Sea” (verse 19). The small section of northern Sinai south to the Brook of Egypt and Meribath-ka’desh is currently controlled by Egypt. Recently, it has been the scene of rebellion by radical Islamists, killing many Egyptian soldiers and police.
The western boundary is to be “the Great Sea … to a point opposite the entrance of Hamath” (verse 20). This is the territory west from south Gaza along the Mediterranean coast up to an alignment in latitude with Hama. This area currently includes territory controlled by Hamas and Hezbollah, both hostile to Israel.
It seems that the cities at the future boundaries of Israel are currently, or will be destroyed in the future prior to the expansion of Israel’s borders: Hama, Yarmuk, and Damascus by the Syrian government; Gaza strip by Israel in their fight against Hamas; Western Jordan (Gilead) possibly by the struggle for control of Jerusalem and the right to pray on the Temple Mount; and the part of northern Sinai by the Egyptian Army against radical Islamists.
Other scriptures, like Genesis 15:18, describe Israel’s [plus the Arabs’]
inheritance as far north as the Euphrates river. Isaiah 19:23-24 says, “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria … Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria.” This describes a path or highway between Syria and Egypt through Israel. Does this demarcate the extent of the land promised to Abraham for Israel plus the Arabs? Perhaps!
Restoration of Israel in the New Testament
The restoration of natural Israel is also mentioned in Hebrews, Acts, and Romans. This restoration is followed by the restitution of the rest of mankind on the earth as discussed in Revelation 21:1,2 which describes a “new heaven and a new earth” and “new Jerusalem.”
“Therefore he is the mediator of the new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:15). This verse is primarily addressed to the Jews who will be recipients of the New Covenant. A mediator acts as a “gobetween” to mediate a covenant or contract between two differing parties and to reconcile them. The two parties are Israel and God.
Jesus had to die in order to become this mediator because the death of a perfect man had to atone for the sin of a perfect man [Adam]. The first covenant was the Law Covenant given to Israel, which they could not keep. In the next [Kingdom or Millennial] age, the call will be to Israel and then everyone else to gain everlasting life on the earth through obedience to God under the New Covenant.
“After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen … I will set it up that the rest of men may seek the Lord” (Acts 15:16-17). Here, the apostle James quotes from Amos 9:11,12. After the Church, the Bride class, has been selected and completed, Israel will be rebuilt under the New Covenant and Jerusalem will become the capital of the world. Following this, the opportunity will be given to the rest of mankind to come into harmony with God if they obey His laws.
The apostle Paul writes, “A hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved … this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25- 27). These verses are similar to Acts 15:16-17 in that only after the “full number of Gentiles come in,” or when the Church is complete, can the New Covenant be established with natural Israel. Right now, the majority of Israel is very secular and questions whether God has been active in their restoration. Their acceptance of Him will only come during Armageddon by a Holy Remnant, and then afterwards, by the whole nation.
The gradual restoration of Israel and restitution of the barren land started in 1878 and is still continuing. There will be further trials for Israel until their surrounding enemies are defeated. After one more great holocaust when Gog and Magog invade, the Kingdom will be established, the Third Temple built and Jerusalem re-built from the destruction of Armageddon. Blessings will flow outward to the nations that recognize the new world capital in Jerusalem and God’s ultimate authority.
Then, mankind will be on trial with everlasting life being the reward, and any unrepentant being permanently destroyed in the second death.