Whither Israel?

That Israel as a nation will eventually be restored to her true place or earthly supremacy is positively asserted in the Scriptures. The question “Hath God cast away his people?”, Rom 11. 1, is unequivocably answered in the words “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew”, v. 2.

God’s sovereign dealings with Israel are traced out in those important chapters 9 to 11 of Romans, where the past, present and future history of His chosen earthly people is the subject of this dispensational division of the Roman Epistle.

In the doctrinal section of Romans (chapters 1 to 8), the impartiality of God. as expressed in the Gospel of His grace, is developed. This is followed by the implications of the special promises that God made to Israel. He chose Israel for blessing from among earth’s nations, not because of any particular merit on her part, but purely on the principle of divine sovereignty. And who is there in the created universe who has the right to question the actings of a Creator-God, who works all things in accordance with His divine will!

Thus God, in His sovereignty, made choice of Isaac and not Ishmael, and then of Jacob and not Esau. It pleased the Lord to do so; and the nation’s past history can be rationalized in no other way apart from divine sovereignty.

The same principle relates to God’s present dealings with Israel. On account of their sinfulness and rejection of Messiah, the Prince of Peace, God has set aside Israel nationally for the time being, and is now acting towards the Gentiles on a different basis altogether - on the principle of sovereign grace. Even so, God has a remnant among the Jews during this present dispensation of grace. Individual members of Israel who. coming on the same terms of unmerited favour as Gentile sinners do, and who exercise faith in a crucified Saviour, are incorporated in the Church, the mystical body of Christ, Becoming Christians, they lose their national identity, and receive individual salvation and spiritual blessing.

Israel nationally, however, in the purposes of God, has a wonderful future ahead. She will be restored by God to her appointed place of favour and glory, and be made the foremost of earth’s nations, and the earthly hub of the administration in the kingdom age. The long centuries of Gentile domination will be brought to an abrupt end at Armageddon - and a repentant Israel, pardoned of all her sins, will mediate blessing and prosperity to the Gentile nations of the millennial earth.

In the present period, it is true, she has been cut out of the olive tree as a result of her departure from God, but the day is coming when she will be grafted in again, “And so all Israel shall be saved” (that is, all who are truly of Israel), Rom. 11. 25, 26. God will honour His unconditional promises to Abraham, which were later confirmed to Isaac, Gen. 12. 3; 13. 15; 15. 18. These unconditional promises, moreover, were given before the institution of the law, which therefore can in no way annul them.

So, Scripture makes it clear that, although there is no possibility of recovery for apostate Christendom, the purpose of God has made full provision for the restoration of a defecting Israel.

Now, the national dissolution of the entire house of Israel is graphically depicted in the valley of dry bones, spoken of in Ezekiel 37. 1. This, indeed, is how God regards the nation in the present period. “Death” is figuratively used here to describe the national state of God’s chosen earthly people. Note, it is not in this passage the resurrection of physically dead men that is in view. All must surely concede that there are various usages of the term “death” in the Bible, namely,

  1. It is employed figuratively to denote the spiritual condition of the unsaved, Eph. 2. 1.
  2. It is used to describe the separation of soul and body.
  3. The final fate of the ungodly is spoken of as the “second death”. Rev. 20. 14.
  4. And as in Ezekiel 37. 1-14; Isaiah 26. 13, 14, 19, “death”, employed figuratively. refers to the national dissolution of Israel

Reverting to the setting aside by God, and the historical break-up of the nation of Israel, Scripture records that it occurred in two parts, with an interval of some 130 years between them. In B.C. 721 the expulsion from Canaan of the ten tribes (the Northern Kingdom) took place. Because of their idolatry and sinful ways, God permitted them to be carried into captivity by the kings of Assyria. At a later date (B.C 587) the remaining two tribes of Judah and Benjamin were carried off into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.

When considering the Palestinian question, it must be borne in mind that the ten tribes never returned to the promised land from their captivity. At present they are largely dispersed among the nations, and will remain so until the appearing of Messiah in power and glory. God alone is aware of their present whereabouts. For New Testament times, see Acts 26. 7; James 1. 1; Luke 2. 36.

A remnant of the two tribes taken to Babylon did return to Palestine after a period of 70 years there in captivity, but the history of this remnant since their rejection and murder of their King is not the subject of divine notice. All we gather from the Scripture record is the prophetic reference to members of the remnant (that is, of Judah and Benjamin) being in the land of Palestine during the earth-shaking events of the last “week” of Gentile predominance.

The faithful remnant will be delivered from their enemies by the personal intervention of the Son of man appearing in glory on the clouds of heaven, Matt. 24. 29-31. Armageddon in all its aspects will pave the way for this dramatic deliverance.

Shortly after, the trumpet call will set in motion the return of the ten vanished tribes from their present grave among the nations, Ezek. 37. 16-28. What a glorious reunion that will be! - a nation “scattered and peeled”. Isa. 18. 2, 7, reborn and reunited in the acknowledgment of their true King and promised Messiah, none other than the One whom the Jews crucified at His first advent. Since the days of Jeroboam, Israel has never been a united nation. The cleavage has remained since that evil king brought about the break away, when he severed the allegiance of the ten tribes from the house of David, 1 Kings 11. 12.

But, before the predicted restoration of the nation can take place, there must be a weeding out of the rebels, and only those who remain will inherit the promises From Zechariah 13. 8, 9, we learn that of the two tribes in the land at the end of the age, only one third will emerge from the tribulation and judgment. and move on to enjoy the blessings of the millennial reign.

The ten tribes scattered throughout the nations will also be whittled down. They will pass under the rod of Jehovah in the wilderness, and there the rebels among them will be eliminated. The remainder will then be brought into the land of Palestine, to be united with the remnant of Judah and Benjamin already there. Together they will constitute, once again, a twelve-tribed nation under the sway of Messiah their King, Ezek. 37 15-22.

Hath, then, God cast away His people? By no means! Israel’s destiny is assured until the end of time. Raised to the supreme place amongst earth’s nations in the kingdom age, her capital city Jerusalem will be not only the geographical centre, but also the political and religious centre of the millennial earth, at which time the name of that city will be “Jehovah Shammah” - “Jehovah is there”, Ezek. 48. 35.

(In view of a misunderstanding prevalent to-day, it might be advisable to add a rider to what has been said in this article. For it is important to observe that the Jews who are returning to Palestine at the present time are not moving back to that land under God’s initiation. They are returning still in unbelief. As yet, Immanuel’s land is not rightly theirs.

The fulfilment of prophecy in respect of Israel is in the meantime in suspense, pending the removal of the Church to heaven (which event may take place at any moment). After this, God will resume His direct dealings with His earthly people Israel. Only when the true Heir in David’s line is enthroned in their midst, will the land in its fullest extent become indisputably theirs by right.

Isaiah 18 may intimate the premature enterprise of a maritime nation to repatriate the Jews to Palestine. But although God takes note of this project providentially, He does not sanction it officially.)

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