THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL TO THE LAND

Volume 26 New Series July 1965 Number 3

Though one may frequently hear expressed the opinion of students and expounders of prophetic interpretation, by word of mouth or in writing, that Israel is to return to the Land of Palestine 'in unbelief,' nowhere in the Scriptures is it so stated, in Old or New Testament, either directly or implied. Inference, it is true, has been drawn from certain passages that they are to do so, but these passages have been misunderstood by failure to grasp certain sequences of the events prophesied and also to differentiate properly between God's several ways of dealing with mankind, of distinguishing between administrations or dispensations.

In this way it must be remembered that the hope of the church which is the body of Christ must not be mixed up with the hope of Israel. The realization by the church, His body, of their hope will end this day of reigning grace. It will remove the knowledge of saving grace through faith from the Earth, leaving behind formal agnostic religion in the ecclesiastical sphere and atheism in the political world.

Prophetic pronouncements connected with this church age are those in 1. Timothy 4:1-3; 2. Timothy 3:1-9, and 4:3,4.

The termination of the present administration is referred to in Romans 11:25, "Until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." We are told that the sequel is "the insensitiveness in part (which) is happened to Israel" will be conditionally removed.

Deut. 29:4 states, "yet the Lord hath not given you (Israel) an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day." That condition had been brought about by their breaking of the First Sinai Covenant in the worshipping of the golden calf. That condition continued throughout the history of Israel, as is shown by such passages as Isaiah 6:9 and 10; Matt. 13:14 and 15; John 12:39 and 40; Acts 28:26 and 27.

The fate of the Children of Israel after that act of idolatry, worshipping the golden calf, would have been complete destruction, apart from the intercession of Moses (Exodus 32:11-13; 31-33. c.f. Ezek. 20:17). Moses made some very remarkable and full prophecies concerning the Children of Israel, and if these are carefully collated, certain definite fundamental facts emerge. The passages are Deut.4:25-31; 28:63-68; 30:1-10. Alongside these Lev. 26:33-42 should be examined.

One cannot get away from the fact, as stated in these passages, that Israel's return to the Land is entirely dependent upon a national repentance and turning to their Lord God. When this takes place, wherever they may be on the Earth's surface, and they prostrate themselves in contrition for their sins and the sins of their fathers, God will turn toward them. Is not this in belief? It is not belief in Christ, as we know it, certainly; but they are going to be brought back under bondage to the Law and under the Covenant of Circumcision. Ezek. 20:37.

The events that have taken place in the first half of this century have brought about the return of a couple of million Jews to a part of the Land which was originally occupied by their fathers under the leadership of Joshua. They call themselves Israel and their country Erets Israel, but they are not in that country because their Lord God has brought them back there according to the prophecies quoted earlier, or any other prophecy of the Scriptures. They are there largely on account of the Zionist Movement, and the Balfour Declaration; but they, are there also by their own efforts (and magnificent these have been), established and maintained by force of arms. They are there in the character of Jacob, the 'Supplanter' or 'Heel,' the one who acquired by his own shrewdness and guile—one might term them 'Jacob-ites.'

It is not here said that God has had no hand in bringing the Jews back to the Land in the past decades, or in bringing about the momentous events and situations in the world today, marshalling the nations into groups; but it is maintained, none the less, that all this movement is not the fulfilment of Scripture prophecy, however much it may look like it and however much it be proclaimed. It IS the setting of the stage ready for those prophetic utterances to be fulfilled AFTER the church, His body is completed. Thus will all restraining Christian influence be taken from the earth. This will release the forces of evil, that we see marshalling themselves today, to take the initiative. The Leader of these forces, following the example of every aspirant to world power, will move his armies strike against Palestine and the neighbouring countries border to gain control of the Isthmus between Asia and Africaand to disrupt the communications of any countries opposing him. The Jews, though well armed, equipped and organised to fight for their Land, are dwelling in completely open cities and villages, such as in Ezek. 38:11, and although put up a wonderful fight against Egypt a few years ago, whilst holding off the other countries around about them, they would be no match for an united attack from all sides, backed by invading army of "volunteers" (or, perhaps, not so "volunteer") from Communist countries, with the support of the might of Russian resources. The Republic of Israel, for all its efforts would be driven into the sea, wiped out as a sovereign State, their cities rased to the ground, their vineyards and orange groves devastated and their industries destroyed.

With the change of ‘dispensation’ having taken place, and the fulfillment of prophecy having reopened, one might be tempted to interpret Ezek. 38 and 39 of this time, the first invasion of Gog from the land of Magog with his allies.

Will this prodigious calamity, in so far as the Jewish hope is concerned, lead the people to hearken to the messenger of God to repent and "return unto the Lord thy God," as did Jacob when he had passed his families, servants and goods, over ford Jabbock (meaning pouring out or emptying)? Will this catastrophe have the effect of bringing all the Jews of the world, the whole possible 20 millions of them, to their knees, crying aloud to the Lord their God and confessing their sins and the God of their Fathers, even as Daniel did in Dan. 9:3-19 (c.f. Jer. 3:12-14).

With the foregoing remarks in mind read again Deut.30:1-10, and may the Word be received with all readiness of mind, as did the Bereans of old, searching the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. May the result be the same-"therefore many of them believed."

The Scriptures give no direction to us, the church, as to when our hope will be fulfilled. To the believers in Israel towards the drawing together of the end of the age—the SUNTELEIA, there is given the parable of the "fig tree. . . putting forth its leaves," an indication for them to take note of the approaching end, with its trials and tribulation, as foretold in Matt. 24 and 25. That age or aeon does not begin until the church of today has been completed.

The Feasts of the Lord of Lev.23 have yet to come into operation and to be fulfilled in Israel's 'greater' exodus from the Nations "whither the Lord their God hath scattered them," of which the Exodus from Egypt is but the type. (c.f. Jer. 23:7, 8 and Ezek. 20:33-38. 41,42).

The Passover 'Lamb of God' has been slain and the Wave Sheaf has been offered, we know, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ; the former at His crucifixion and the latter after His resurrection; but the Feast of Unleavened Bread will be kept again on their leaving the Nations "whither the Lord their God hath scattered them." Pentecost will take place when God pours out His Spirit upon the Nation in the Land of their Fathers, after their return, according to Isaiah 32:15-20; Ezek. 39:25-29; Joel 2:28,29. Then there is a long gap before the Feast of Trumpets, which is followed ten days later by the Day of Atonement and on the fifth day ensuing the Feast of Tabernacles begins and lasts eight days.

These Feasts of the Lord have, under the Sinaitic Law, had their memorial significance, some have had their fulfilment in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, others have had partial performance in contemporary history of that time; but the "Feast of Ingathering (Ex.23:16), in the end of the year" has had no fulfilment, either partial or complete. In fact, this fulfilment is elaborated in Matt. 13:24-30, and the interpretation of that parable in verses 36-43 and in Matt. 24:29-31. In the last passage it will be seen that the harvest, carried out by the Angels, is after the Great Tribulation, which is illustrated in connection with the presence of the tares in the midst of the good corn.

It is more than of interest to note that in the LXX, the word translated "ingathering" is the Greek word SUNTELEIA, and in Matt.13:39, 40, the words 'the end of the world' are the translation of SUNTELEIA TOU AIONOS, the together-gathering of the end of the aeon or age.

This same phrase occurs again in verse 49, Matt. 28:20; 24:3, and with 'ages' instead of 'age' in Heb. 9:26. This 'Harvest,' referred to in the New Testament, carried out by the Angels, after the Great Tribulation, coincides with the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Earth in the Day of the Lord. 1.Cor.10:11, referring to the historical events of the Exodus, constrains us to conclude that these Feasts typify the Prophetic History of Israel.

Another matter of interest in this Ex. 23:16 sentence that has been quoted is that it states that it is "the end" of the year, but the last day of the final feast is on the 22nd day of the Seventh month. There are five more months to run (or six when there is an intercalary month every third year) before the commencement of the following year. One might understand the passage as being: "And the Feast of ingathering, at the end of the year" (as far as the Feasts of the Lord are concerned), "when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field." Still another point of interest is the word translated 'end' in the LXX. It is the Greek word EXODOS. There is no need to labour its first use in connection with Israel; in the N.T. it is used in this way in Heb.11:22, translated 'departing' of the children of Israel, but in two other places it is translated 'decease,' 2Pet. 1:15, and Luke 9:31, the former of Peter and the latter of our Lord, when He was on the Mount of Transfiguration. In all these cases the word indicates the termination of an existing condition with a change and a new condition in view. The Hebrew word here translated EXODUS is YATSA, used in Ex.12:41, and 14:8 among many passages concerning this event. If the conclusion that has been drawn from 1. Cor.10:11 is correct, then it would appear that the EXODUS of the year, represented by the Harvest gathering in, is the end of the bondage of Israel their being a 'stiff-necked' generation, their "looking upon Him Whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10) and entering into their Milliennial blessings, ruling over the Nations.

A further conclusion that can be come to from the examination of this Jewish Calendar and Feasts of the Lord is drawn attention to by the words of Ex.12:2 "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." Under the old calendar it was the Seventh month. It remained the Seventh Month to the Nations, so that the Seventh month of Israel's calendar was the First Month of the Nations. This indicates commencement of the redemption of the Nations under the tuition of Israel, and their becoming subject to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, during the Millennium.

Attention has already been drawn to Jer. 23:7,8. Here, in the plain words of prophecy, is the anti-type of which the exodus from Egypt was the type. A careful examination of the plain words of the prophetic Scriptures emphatically indicate that exactly as Ex. 10:26 stated that "there shall not an hoof be left behind" in addition to the whole of Israel partaking in the Exodus, so will it be in days to come, even to the rebels (see also: Ezek. 20:33-38).

In the face of these words (and many others which corroborate them), how can it be stated that the present occupation of the Land is the fulfilment of Scripture Prophecy? The present inhabitants of the Land are mainly materialistic and many are rebellious. But we are distinctly told that the rebels are to be purged out and not allowed to enter the Land, neither will they be permitted to return to the lands whence they came out. Like the rebels of Moses' day they will be dealt with summarily (Ex. 32:27; Num. 15:32-26; Num. 16:1-35, also Num. 16:26-37).

The failure of the children of Israel after the Exodus stems from their open rebellion, in worshipping the golden calf. Ex.19 to 32. This is the Covenant of Jer. 31:32, "The Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring out of the land of Egypt; which my Covenant they brake, as though I was an husband unto them."

This Covenant was given with a certain purpose in view, which purpose, because the Covenant was broken, was not carried out. This FIRST Covenant, standing by itself, is of such importance that it is well worth a closer study.

If one is to take notice of a principle exemplified in the life of Abram, when he returned from his declension in Egypt, in that "Abram went up out of Egypt. . . . into the South (the Negev) . . . . and he went on his journeys from the South (the Negev) even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the Name of the Lord"(Gen. 13:1-4), one cannot fail to conclude that God brings His People back to the point whence they departed from the right course in His purposes for them. There they start afresh.

The SECOND, the replacement tables of stone given to Moses, do not represent the FIRST Covenant, but an altogeter distinct Covenant, embodying the laws of the first, with many additions to meet the changed relationship between Israel and God. This Covenant was the "yoke," referred to by Peter, "which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear" (Acts 15:10; Gal.5:1-3). The purpose of this SECOND Covenant of Sinai, containing the Law under which Israel has ever since been in bondage, until they were scattered, is contained in Galatians 3:19-24, c.f. 4:21-26.

It is most important for students to distinguish between these two Covenants. The former was broken and finished with as far as that and succeeding generations were concerned. The latter was introduced for the carrying out of God's purposes in the Nation, not because of them, but "I wrought for My Name's sake, that it should not be polluted" (Ezek. 20:14).

This digression has been made because it is believed that in the future return of Israel from the countries wherein they have been scattered) before they go into the Land, God will again put His people under the Covenant of bondage. That Covenant will be the re-introduction of the second Sinai Covenant, which ties them down to strict obedience, until after they have arrived in the Land (Ezek.20:35-38), when another Covenant will be made with them later—a covenant of peace (34:25; 37:26,—not the New Covenant. "And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there I will plead with you face to face. Like I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt,.And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond" (Hebrew-MASORETH), the only occurrence of the word, binding obligation, which indicates ratification "of the Covenant."

The sequel is given in verse 40; "For in My holy mountain. . shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: There will I accept them, and there I will require your offerings . . with all your holy things."

At the end of the age, when the apostate leaders of the People will make a Covenant with the man of sin, the temple is in being and the sacrifices are being carried out daily (Dan. 9:27). This will be under the Levitical priesthood. From this it is clear that after the return Israel will still be worshipping Jehovah right through to the end, and that they will not be what we term Christian.

And so Levitical ceremonial will continue to the end. Nevertheless, as in the early days, which had the character of the latter days, many of Israel will believe and will form themselves into assemblies, who at first will be strong and Spirit filled, but who will decline in their loyalty, as we are told in their description in the first chapters of the book of Revelation. There they are called back to their first love and to repent, endure and overcome, in order to obtain the reward that will be theirs in doing so. These believers in Jesus as the crucified Messiah will be persecuted, not only by the Nations, but by their own brethren according to the flesh, as were the saints of Judaea in the first century and like them will be "zealous for the law," having received the gospel of the circumcision.

These things cannot take place in this present period while the church of God is Christ's body. As it is prophesied that they are to take place (and must take place before the second coming of Christ), then they must take place subsequent to the completion of the church His body. They will require considerably more time for fulfilment than is usually allowed. In fact, in this connection, considerable reconsideration must be given to the interpretation of Dan. 9:24-27 and a good many other passages besides. J.G.H.S.