Monday, July 6, 2015

The Future of Israel- Part 2

  I realized, soon after deciding to name this  series "The Future of Israel" that I was going to have to spend a fair amount of time  discussing their past.  In Part 1, I barely scratched the surface of the promise of the land God gave to Abraham and tried to make the case that the land grant promise is still on the books just waiting for  a generation of Abrahams descendants to  claim it. I think prophecy  speaks plainly about that as-yet unrevealed generation, and to reassign that promise to  a group of people not descended from Abraham Isaac and Jacob is to commit a fundamental error.
  It clear from the Bible that  while the  land grant is unconditional, possession of the land is not and is predicated upon obedience. If they obey, they can live there, if they disobey God will expel them, and once they've decided  to obey, he will regather them.Over and over again the cycle of expulsion and regathering is played out in Israel's past, with the latest expulsion happening in  AD 70.  I intend to show from scripture that this cycle will repeat itself at least once more in the future. But let's look at the particulars of Gods promises in this area of regathering.
The Regathering

   In Deuteronomy 28 and 29, God lays out the particular provisional of  living in the land.  in Deutreonomy 30, he continues on saying "And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee.  And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.  If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:   And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed , and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good , and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."
  It behooves us to examine this passage very closely. Though this passage  is partially fulfilled in the  various expulsions in Israels past, a careful reading  shows that  the past expulsions didn't completely fulfill the promise.  God is speaking  of a generation of Abrahamic descendants who, after having rejected God would be driven out of the land and  into multiple "nations", not just Egypt, or not just Babylon or not just Chaldea. Lest any  " replacement theologian" tries to insert himself into that promise, the text states that the land they were being  removed from  is the one promised to their "fathers"  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob  God states that upon their obedience he would bring them back. Nehemiah claims that promise in Nehemiah 1, and God certainly honored the spirit of that promise with the rebuilding of Jerusalem. However the passage doesn't promise just  regathering; the passage promises  a seemingly permanent change in the very heart of the people.  The nation returned from captivity, but their heart did not change with the proof being their subsequent relapses into idolatry. God promises them they will love him someday, and I submit to you that love has not  yet happened.  Furthermore, as of the time of this writing, God has not multiplied them above their fathers.  This promise sits  there in your Bible, only partially fulfilled at best.
  That promise is restated in various places in the Bible. For example, Jeremiah 29:14 says "And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity  , and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive"  To put it bluntly, that promise cannot possibly be  twisted to  somehow include a New Testament saved Gentile. we were captives of sin, not captives of the Assyrians. The turning away of our captivity has already been accomplished according to John 8:36 and we have no land that we were taken captive from to be returned to.  But the Bible doesn't stop there. In Jeremiah 31, it says "Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say , He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he."  In the previous  9 verses of that chapter, God refers to Israel  or Jacob by name at least  half a dozen times, and mentions specific  geographic  features in the land as reference points.  There is no intellectually honest way that a man could make that promise apply to anyone else, and certainly no way   it could include  saved Gentiles from every nation under earth adopted into the family of God by faith in the Son of God. Things that are different are not the same.
  But wait, there's more. Jeremiah 32 is written in the midst of the approach of Nebuchadnezzars army, and it says "Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good ; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." Over and over again , God refers to "them" and "they".  He speaks of a group of people that are leaving the land that Jeremiah is standing on  and whose children will be returned to that same place, but with a changed heart and with an everlasting covenant, never to leave again.  I would challenge the 'replacement theology' crowd to explain how that passage could possibly  apply to the church of the living God.
  Ezekiel 11 says "Therefore say , Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come . Therefore say , Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered , and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."  I am  well aware that for  decades, preachers have misapplied this passage, particularly in regards the "stony heart"  but I beseech you, brethren to take the  verse as it lies in its context and explain to me exactly when  God cast out his church among the heathen.  When were we scattered among the countries  and why  on earth would he give us the land of Israel instead of giving it to the people it was actually promised to?
  Jeremiah 23 says "And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase "  That verse remains unfulfilled, and.when it finally does happen , God promises in  Isaiah 43, "Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;  I will say to the north, Give up ; and to the south, Keep not back : bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;" This will be  Israels permanent state according to Isaiah 54 which  says "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with   everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer" God promises to regather the "outcasts of Israel" in  Isaiah 56 and in Isaiah 60 announces "Lift up thine eyes round about, and see : all they gather themselves together , they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side"
  Look carefully at Ezekiel 36 which reads "Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went ."  Read the rest of the chapter and honestly ask yourself how a saved  New testament Christian, who was made clean not by water, but  by the blood of Christ and who has the Holy Spirit indwelling him right now as we speak, would have any need for anything promised in that  passage?  Are we supposed to believe that God gave us an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled so that we can  spend our eternity tending fruit trees and  rebuilding abandoned houses?  Do yourself a favor and count, in Ezekiel 36 alone how many times God refers to Israel or Jacob and then consider the very real possibility that God meant "Israel"  and "Jacob".  Jump ahead one chapter to Ezekiel 37 and read "And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned , and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.  And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd : they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt ; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever."  The two nations are obviously Israel and Judah, and  only a dishonest man or a Biblical novice could make it mean anything different than what it says.
  Hosea 8 says " Israel is swallowed up : now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.  Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes."  This regathering is spelled out in Joel 2 and Micah 2. Its mentioned in Micah 4, 5 and 7  and Zephaniah chapters 2, 3 and 10. Psalm 147  refers to it as well as Isaiah 16, 27, 56, Zephaniah 2, 3, and 8 all mention it.  Frankly, I am at a loss as to how a man without an agenda could miss the  very specific nature of these unfulfilled  promises, and I marvel at the pretzel logic that somehow lands them on the shoulders of the church of the living God.
  Having  pummeled the dead horse for some time now, the next logical question is when does this  great promised regathering happen? The sequence of events is laid out in Isaiah 11, which saysAnd there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.   And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed ; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.  And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek : and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left , from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.  And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."  The timetable is clear; Isaiah is prophesying the events of Rev 19 and 20 and it is  equally clear that one of the many events surrounding the  return of Jesus Christ is the return of Jacob from the nations of the world to the land promised to their fathers.
  Stay tuned for Part 3 where we will cover  the sequence of events and  world conditions that prompt this great regathering. 
 




 


 
 

 
  
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