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''Thou will arise, and have compassion upon Zion; for it is
time to be gracious unto her,
for the appointed time is come." Psa. 102.14
History recalls the rise and fall of nations and empires as the tides that ebb and flow. In this ceaseless cycle variations have occurred only in the manner of appearance and disappearance. Whether with great and thunderous breakers or with quiet lapping waves the nations have come and gone. one lone nation arises above history to lift its head from the depths of ages past to live again. It is Israel.
Israel's rise and fall may have been similar to that of other nations in some particulars but in one respect it was without parallel—God dealt in an exclusive way with them. Not that they alone proclaimed Him as their God—others may have made such boast, but the Lord declared Himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the God of Israel. (Exod. 3:15; 5:1; Jer. 28:4) To make this distinction certain the Lord through Amos said, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." (Amos 3:2) Such has been the heritage of Israel.
Rebirth of Israel as a nation is the great phenomenon of our day. our generation was awed in that great moment of history when men touched their feet on the moon—it was thrilling to see—but the rebirth of Israel holds far more significance to those who see this event as a fulfillment of God's word. The rebirth of Israel could never have occurred without the astonishing fact that the people of Israel, who had been scattered throughout the entire earth for nearly 2,000 years, remained a distinct and homogeneous people in the lands of their sojourn. Neither persecution, nor famine, nor fame or fortune was able to cause them to assimilate with the peoples of other lands. Could blood ties alone prevent assimilation? No. It was the Law and the Prophets of Israel which marked them and preserved them with a common hope and faith while in Diaspora.
Now the pattern of history is broken. A nation is reborn and its people are coming home to their native land. Notwithstanding the terrors of pagan Rome, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the ceaseless proselytizing attempts of Christendom and the ever constant stigma for those who spurned the advances of the church-state offer of salvation.
The dispersion of the Jews did not occur by chance. It was carefully planned and executed by the Roman powers who were at an end of their patience with this "troublesome" people. Constant revolt and rebellion on the part of the Israelites caused the Roman powers to devise a scheme more cunning than the Babylonians. The Babylonians took the Israelites captive to Babylon, but did not disperse them further. The Romans knew the Hebrews returned successfully from Babylon and rebuilt their nation. They were determined this would never happen again. They carefully fragmentized the captives and sent them in every direction over the world of that time. The logic was simple. Once fragmented and diffused among the nations they would inevitably be assimilated and lose their identity. With this, their national aspirations would end. Israel's pres-ence again as an independent nation is a testimony of a greater plan than the Romans'. Surely, only the Lord could have preserved this people and brought them again to their homeland. The Lord carefully forecast the scattering and the regathering of His people.
Standing at the threshold of the fulfillment of the Lord's prophecies with respect to His people, at the very dawn of the Lord's appointment, some in Jewry strangely have lost faith in the inspiration of the Torah. Even when the Torah is retained, too often it is viewed for its beauty and history as by distant observers who fail to grasp the living force of events transpiring in the Divine destiny for His people. Even when confronted with rare phenomena of the regathering and rebirth of Israel, somehow Jewry often views each event as an isolated happening rather than as part of a whole program designed for world restoration and blessing.
With all that has happened in the regathering and restoration of Israel, it is often equated as "natural"—the sequel to human discipline and achievement. While the returned citizens of Israel are buoyed up with hope, the unheralded truth is that these people are responding to the magnetic force of the Divine will and the immutable purpose of God for Israel.
Why should the human impression be so great and faith in the divine so small? Israel came to the point in her experience when she learned not to worship heathen images. Is she now to bow before the deity of humanism'? The spirit of unbelief was not the Abrahamic heritage. Abraham believed God and grew great, and when Israel believed their God they prospered. When they disobeyed they failed. Any other view is not in keeping with their history.
Israel is the only nation with a complete record of its past, an accurate prophetic portrayal of its present and a complete description of its destiny among the nations. As a people, they have suffered and endured more than others, yet viewed from the standpoint of God's purpose with his people they have been extremely favored. God's remarkable kindness toward them cannot be appreciated except by considering the prophetic panorama of Israel's birth, growth, decline, fall, exile, return and ultimate role in the Divine Plan of the Ages.
God had something big in mind when he appeared to Father Abraham, saying, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee I will curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:1) Not only did God make this immutable promise to Abraham, but to establish for all time its certainty of fulfillment, he later confirmed it by an oath. Because He could swear by none greater He swore by Himself, "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 22:16-18)
Notice the promise has two parts:
The role of Israel as a nation of blessing does not fit the past. Zechariah said, "And it shall come to pass that, as ye were a curse among other nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing." (Zech. 8: 13) From Zechariah's time to the present this people's role and lot were without means of prolonging God's blessing for themselves -- much less other nations. Neither did they have the land for an everlasting possession. God was speaking of greater things which cannot be fit into the difficult past. Even Abraham was given sufficient insights to know that many years would pass before any hope of obtaining the land would be realized. "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years." (Gen. 15:13) Abraham could not foreknow the great span of time that would elapse before God completed his commitments. Standing where we are today, it is apparent God has not been hurried.
The heirs of Abraham all avoided mixing with the world in spite of natural tendency to assimilate with the world. Joseph, when he brought his family to Egypt urged them to separate themselves by telling the Egyptians they were keepers of cattle, for "every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians." (Gen. 46:33, 34) The plan worked. They remained separate. Egyptian bondage ended under the leadership of Moses. With a high hand the Lord brought his people out of Egypt. The deliverance was extraordinary, but as always the responsibilities as-sumed in dealing with the living God almost turned the deliverance to annihilation. Even before the tables of the Law were delivered, while Moses was in the Mount in face to face communication with the Lord, God interrupted the proceedings to announce his readiness to destroy this people and to make of Moses "a great nation." (Ex. 32:9, 10) Moses' prayer and plea for Israel succeeded in staying the Divine anger and preserved this people.
Moses prevailed in still another great encounter with God. The Divine presence with Israel was becoming a consuming experience. To avoid unnecessary loss of life the Lord offered to send his angel before them into Canaan to secure the land for them, adding, "I will not go up in the midst of thee; lest I consume thee in the way." (Exod. 33:3) in one of Moses' greatest moments he interceded again, saying, "If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein now shall it be known that I have found grace in Thy sight, I and Thy people? is it not in that Thou goest with us, so that we are distinguished, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth? And the Lord said unto Moses, 'I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken.' " This best explains Israel's distinctiveness. It also portends something big.
Under Joshua's leadership the land of promise became a reality. The land was taken and during the favorable period of the judges of Israel they carried on the experiment of living by the Law of Moses—with some success and some failure. There is much to be commended about this period in Israel's history. The most powerful statement is made by the Lord—"I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; afterward thou shalt be called The city of right-eousness." (Isa. 1:26) The experiment under the judges emphasized individual responsibility in keeping the Law —the higher form of government, self-government.
The reign of kings was the era of compatibility with the environment. It brought the gains and losses occasioned by centralized government. It tended to the rule of the individual, where power corrupts, and weakened the rule of the Law. But Israel could not escape the consequences of such a system. Every man must bear his own scepter! Why does the human heart seek to avoid its freedom and responsibility to rule? While Israel did rise to prominence among the nations, reaching its zenith of glory under Solomon, yet it was this very moment the Lord committed the nation to a division. (See I Kings I 1: 13) The divine decision to divide the kingdom into two parts led to the decline and fall of this nation. The two-tribe kingdom endured the longer, but it became a vassal state and finally came its dispersion under Rome. All of this had been foretold.
Israel's history covers two periods of time each of equal length. The first period began at the death of Jacob. Starting there, the people of Israel enjoyed God's favor although mixed with punishment. For 1845 years God blessed them when they served him faithfully. When they sinned and turned toward evil, He punished them. When they repented He once more freely received them. But Jeremiah warned of a time in which they would be punished without national favor. "Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye have not known, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; forasmuch as I will show you no favor." (Jer. 16:13) This prophecy applied to the time when God's favor did end and they were scattered throughout the earth. It could not apply to the 70 years desolation in Babylon. The scripture says they would be dispersed "into a land that ye have not known, neither ye nor your fathers." Abraham, their father, had come from Ur of Chaldea (Babylonia). His Grandson, Jacob, had come from Syria. (Deut. 26:5) Therefore the Babylonian captivity did not find them in a land unknown to their fathers. Not only is the place of their dispersion different, but the time involved is greater than the 70 years of desolation. Jeremiah says, "I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double (mishneh—repetition, duplicate or second portion)." (Jer. 16:18) The period of disfavor in Diaspora was to be equal to the period of favor before their rejection and desolation as a nation. A careful comparison of this double or "mishneh" reveals that from the death of Jacob to the rejection and desolation of Israel was a period of 1845 years, and from that time they would be without national favors for a similar period of 1845 years.
Projecting to the end of Israel's second period, the one of "no favor," Isaiah said, "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Bid Jerusalem take heart, and proclaim unto her, that her time of service is accomplished, that her guilt is paid off; that she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."—Isa. 40:1.
The first indication of returned favor to Zion took place as early as 1878, 3690 years after the death of Jacob. Not only did their "double" of favor and disfavor end here but the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 about the "valley of dry bones" apparently began to have its fulfillment. Here the dry and withered bones of Israel's hope began to stir. Sinews came on them—giving them cohesion and strength, then flesh—giving them substance, and skin—giving them beauty. In progressive stages they are prepared for the breathing of life into them, when Israel would live as a hole nation and people of God.
In 1878 the Berlin Congress of Nations, under the influence of Lord Beaconsfield (Disraeli), prime minister of England, settled Turkey's affairs so as to preserve her national existence. Provision was made, at the same time, that in the event the Turkish nation was dissolved, the world powers would know which location each could expect. England became the protector of her Asiatic provinces which included the land of Israel. Greater liberties were then accorded these provinces. Thus the Jews enjoyed greater freedom including the right to buy land and colonize in Palestine—a right denied them for centuries.
While the great Christian powers stood by with mail-clad hands to seize the coveted portion of land from the grasp of moribund Turkey, a historic figure stepped forward and said, "The land is mine!" And when the nations looked at the speaker, they recognized Israel, the child of the patriarch Abraham who had lived in Palestine at the first. A wonderful coincidence? No, it was no coincidence! It was God's appointment with His people; again His face was turned toward them and His hands lifted to bless them if they would believe Him now.
It was these favorable conditions that made possible the development of the Zionist hopes. Zionism was as dead as the dry bones Ezekiel saw until Israel’s "time of service" for her sins was accomplished. When the time to favor Zion again came, the Zionist movement emerged. Through this noble appeal of Zionism God called and still calls His erstwhile subjects back to their land.
Many Jewish commentators recognized that Israel's subjection to the Gentile powers was a period of chastening and disfavor. Hosea 3:4, 5 is quoted as proof, "For the children of Israel shall sit solitary many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim; afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall come trembling unto the Lord and to His goodness in the end of days." Seeing the children of Israel returning, is there not good reason to believe we are at "the end of days" of service or punishment?
The Berlin Congress of Nations gave to Zionists the first genuine opportunity to go about with a sparkle in their eyes. It made possible land purchase in their homeland. This signal awakened Jewish minds to Divine Providence working on behalf of His people. One of those great men of vision was Theodore Herzl, whose name stands as a monument of Zionism.
In 1896 Herzl presented a booklet entitled, "The Jewish State." He appealed to rich Jews to call a congress of Jews and begin laying the ground for Zionist activities. The book was a success. An unexpected success in the wrong quarter. He thought the rich Jews would spearhead the movement. He was wrong. The poor and oppressed Jews all over Europe and Russia arose to the appeal. Zionism came to bloom.
When the Kishinev pogrom and severe persecution meant thousands of Jews had to flee with no place to go that was friendly, Herzl was ready to accept the British offer of land in Uganda. It was practical salvation for the Jews who faced death—humanitarian ideals led him to accept even this land to save his people. Herzl's face turned white when the sixth Zionist Congress said no to Uganda. The lives of some of his kinsmen could not supersede the Divine Destiny and it was then he realized with all those there assembled, that Zionism was linked in-separably with Palestine. There could be no alternative.
Herzl lighted the Zionist torch and carried it high and magnificently, but it remained for Chaim Weizmann to plant the torch in Palestine and gain the international recognition of the rights of the Jewish people to their former homeland. Chaim Weizmann, by the providence of God, secured for his people the Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917.
One development whose crucial character remains beyond question was the . . . Balfour Declaration. This was indeed an event of paramount national, international and historic significance. The promise it held out went far beyond the formal undertaking of the British Government to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine: implicit in this Declaration and herein lies its deeper import—was the promise of a general international recognition of the historic rights of the Jewish people in Palestine, a recognition to be realized a few years later in a decision of the League of Nations.
David Ben-Gurion was aware of one important fact overlooked generally by Jewry. In an article on the Balfour Declaration, published November 14 in "Der Yiddish Kampfer," the organ of the Poale Zion movement in America, he said:
A miracle happened and the broken vessel was made whole again.... England has not restored our land to us. Precisely now at this moment of triumph, it should be emphatically stated: it is nor in England's power to return our land to us. Not because the land is not, or not yet, in her possession. After the entire country, from Beersheba to Dan, is conquered by the British, it will not be ours even with their consent, and even if all the nations of the world agree to it. No people can establish title to a land except through its own toil, creative effort and settlement.
England has done a great thing: it has recognized our existence as a political entity and acknowledged our right to the Land. But the Hebrew people itself must transform this into a living fact. Through its own efforts of body, soul and material assets it must set up its national home and complete its national redemption.
The American Zionists did not receive Ben-Gurion's words favorably. To many in Jewry the Balfour Declaration was the end of the matter, the Balfour Declaration was eternal, and whenever any Hebrew felt dis-posed to go back to his homeland the opportunity would be there with iron-clad guarantee.
The British were the first to observe that the Jewish people were not in a hurry to return. Aryeh Pincus, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive observed: "Between 1917 and the Churchill White Paper of 1922—severing Transjordan from the Jewish National Home—there was abundant room for fast and widespread colonization. But aliya came in trickles, and the small numbers spread out over the years could not prevent the consolidation of Arab complicity. This failure made it easy for the British to high-light the fact that Transjordan was not essential to Jewish national aspirations."
Lord Arthur James Balfour told Dr. Weizmann after the approval of the Balfour Declaration and the decision on the British Mandate at the San Remo Conference: "Now you have got the signal to start, but you yourself will have to do the running." Failure on the part of Jewry the world over to press into the land shows that few of them were in touch with reality. While those in Russia were sealed within the Bolshevik bastion, those elsewhere—free to return—found it difficult to be more than spectators and were unprepared to "run" to the land of promise.
The Balfour Declaration did start a small return of Jewry to Palestine and the work of rehabilitation and reclaiming the land was under way. "For who hath despised the day of small things." (Zech. 4:10) Ironically, the Nazi persecution, which was bent on destroying world Jewry and came near to its goals in Europe, became the very force that guaranteed the survival of Israel. Ben-Gurion said,* "Jews from Germany provided the country with know-how, ability, capital and initiative." David Ben-Gurion also observed that in 1933, immigrations "rose to 30,377, in 1934, to 42,259, and in 1935, 62,000." This fact reminds us of Psalm 76:11: "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; the residue of wrath shalt Thou gird upon Thee."
Those living in the new state of Israel need no convincing of the importance of the Balfour Declaration. It was the only constructive outcome of World War 1. The Balfour Declaration was overshadowed by the Bolshevik Revolution, but often truly great events go unheralded. The violent always captures world recognition.
The Balfour Declaration was made November 2, 1917. It was not a world-shaking event, but a small political concession at a time when the world was on fire. It excited no one except a few men with Zionistic hopes. But even here, it was only a conversation piece, because few Jews took seriously any thought of returning to Palestine. However, per-secuted Jewry in Russia was coming to the end of its rope. The plight of the Jews in Russia was the main argument by which the faint heart of the British were finally persuaded to give the Jew his homeland. The war had brought an end to the emigration of Jews from Russia to other lands and in view of their pitiful plight, the British gave their consent for a homeland in Palestine.
November 7, 1917, five days later, the Bolshevik Revolution erupted and invalidated the main argument of the Balfour Declaration. The Revolution sealed the Jewish population within Russia where they remain until this time. Needless to say, despite the claims of com-radship, the Jews are still identified as Jews in Russia and they are discriminated against. Zionists in Russia must wait until the Lord fulfills His promise to bring them "from the land of the north." (Jer. 16:15) The important thing is that the Russian Revolution came five days too late to prevent the Balfour Declaration. Nor can the children of Abraham be detained within the boundaries of Russia very much longer. The Lord will regather His people from the land of the "north."
The Bolshevik Revolution unleashed a force in the world that will help bring the nations to an end, while Israel rises to shine. A destructive force is at one hand and a building force at the other. We are living at this transition time. At ancient Israel's decline, the Gentile powers, by divine grant, were given dominion. The Babylonian captivity ended God's kingdom nation and gave rise to universal Gentile dominion. Daniel's concern was for his people. Daniel saw Babylon devour his nation. He then saw Babylon fall and Medes and Persians assume dominion. He knew Israel must wait. His interpretation of Nebuchad-nezzar's dream indicates that four successive empires would hold world dominion. As long as the Gentiles held dominion it would not be Israel's. But there was hope. Summing up the vision, Daniel said: "And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; nor shall the kingdom be left to another people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, but it shall stand for ever." - Dan. 2:44
"7 Times" (Years) — There is a scriptural parallel in Israel's punishment and Nebuchadezzar's madness both involve "7 times." The Lord punished Nebuchadnezzar with madness 7 literal years for his pride and failure to acknowledge His sovereignty. (See Dan. 4:16, 23, 25, 32; in Masoretic Dan. 4:13, 20, 22, 29) God threatened Israel with "7 times'' of punishment if they disobeyed Him. (Lev. 26:21, 24) What meaning is there in these time parallels'? in Ezekiel 4:6 is found the basis for figuring time: "forty days, each day for a year, have I appointed it unto thee.''
The degradation of Nebuchadnezzar was typical of human degrada-tion under the four beastly governments during seven symbolic "times" or years - a year for a day, 2520 (7 x 360 = 2520) literal years. It is interesting to note that this time period parallels the period when the crown was taken away from Israel and it ceased to be an independent kingdom nation. The last king of the two-tribe kingdom of Judah was Zedekiah. Upon removing him the Lord said: "O wicked one, that art to be slain, the prince of Israel, whose day is come, in the time of iniquity of the end; thus saith the Lord God: The mitre shall be removed, and the crown taken old: this shall be no more the same: that which is low shall be exalted. and that which is high abased. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin, will I make it; this also shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him." Ezek. 21:25-27
The removal of the crown marked the end of a kingdom nation identified with God. This was forecast at the very outset when God outlined the possibility of blessing and the alternative of cursing that might befall His people. In Leviticus 26, after speaking of the possible blessings, God warned: "And if ye will not yet for these things hearken unto Me, then I will chastise you seven times more for your sins." In vs. 21 and 24 the Lord repeats the same threat of 7 times of punishment for sin. If the clue of Ezekiel is followed, the 7 symbolic times (7 x 360 = 2520) comes to 2520 actual years. The period of Gentile rule is depicted by Nebuchadnezzar's madness, the time also of Israel's punishment and humiliation. Gentile dominion starting with Babylonian conquest of Israel under Nebuchadnezzar to World War I measures 2520 years. The figures being correct, we could expect 1914 to be the beginning or the end of Gentile dominion and the beginning of Israel's ascent. And so it was As the Gentile dominion crumbled with all its ruling houses of splendor, so the Balfour Declaration lighted the star of David in Palestine. The Bolshevik Revolution guaranteed the continued consumption of Gentile power.
World War 11 ended with the atomic holocaust, leaving the world frightened as it looked on the awesome powers poised to destroy the human race. The second war brought the world into an inescapable whirlpool drawing them to Armageddon. The only good that came of the World War 11 debacle was the subsequent partition of the land of Palestine and the birth of Israel in 1948. For the rest of the world the loss was staggering and ended forever the dream of returning to the status quo. The consuming process will continue upon the Gentile powers. The nation of Israel can only ascend in influence. In Jeremiah 30:11 the Lord's intentions concerning Israel are declared as well as his intentions concerning those nations wherein His people have been dispersed: "For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end Of thee; for I will correct thee in measure, and will not utterly destroy thee."
The Balfour Declaration and the Bolshevik seizure of power, dis-similar though they were, have special lessons for world Jewry today. Joel Carmichael, in an article in the Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 1967, said:
"In terms of human material the kinship between the Russian revolutionaries and the Zionist activists was striking . . . The relationship between movements, was, indeed, a sort of intellectual rivalry. This was heightened all the more because of the great preponderance of Jews in the Russian revolutionary movement, at least before 1905. Restless Jewish youths, infected by enlightenment and wide open to all the ideas of world reform currently corroding traditional society, very naturally tended to slip into the Russian movement. Since traditional Jewish society was also being attacked by the new ideas, any Jew abandoning traditional Jewish values without becoming assimilated had a very natural set of alternatives—socialism, or the new Jewish nationalism called Zionism.... The tug of war between cosmopolitan socialism— which gradually came to be predominantly Marxism—and Zionism for the souls of Jewish youth was thus a very natural, as it were organic, development. It was also a tug of war in which the major forces appeared to be on the side of the socialists, or more particularly the Marxists.... Yet it was intellectually often difficult for Zionist debaters to withstand the sweeping claims made by socialists and especially by Marxists. The Marxists, who after all took all human society and all human history as their arena, naturally tended to look down on Zionists. ... it required great character and devotion for early Zionists, the debates that raged between the two movements for so many decades, to insist on the really quite simple-minded proposition that they chose to remain Jews.... Zionism in its essence really did no more than proclaim the fact of Jewish identity, the significance of Jewish continuity, and the determination to restore that identity and continuity in a certain way in a certain place. One can easily visualize the painful condescension the early Zionists had to put up with from their Marxist adversaries...."
He goes on to observe the contrast in results: Marxism, on the other hand, which in its prostate days did have valuable things to say, has been simplified, institutionalized and dogmatized, i.e., made compulsory. It has been, in fact magicalized, and its magic has been made an accessory of sanctified authority....
"It is probably Zionism and its offspring, the State of Israel, that now provide ... the sole rallying-point for the whole of the Communist world, now divided on so many other issues. It must be deeply embittering for the many Jews living in Israel to be forced to contemplate the perversion of all the ideals of the Russian Revolution, forced to witness not merely the anti-Israel political tactics of the Soviet Government but the recrudescence of vulgar anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union itself. It may be a consolation for them to reflect that many of the ideals of the Russian revolutionary movement, what may in fact be called its human core, have been transplanted to the soil of Israel."
The Jewish people have always been amenable to ideals, high ideals, but all too often they have been trying to give themselves to the world, thinking it too parochial to give themselves to Zionism and its embodi-ment—the State of Israel. They overlook the fact that the more they have tried to give themselves to the world the less they have endeared themselves with the world and, in the end, the more they have contrib-uted to the suffering of their kinsmen.
Their heritage is a parochial one. Abraham, their father, was the heir of a parochial promise—"in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." The end result would embrace all men, the promise was parochial only in designating the seed.
Abraham forsook Ur of the Chaldees for the parochial promise of God. Moses forsook the world embodied in Egypt and chose to identify with the descendants of Abraham. These did not give themselves to the world, but through God's providence, they gave the world some of its great treasures. In like manner, all who are of the line of Abraham, marked with the pen of Moses, need not give themselves to the world— but the world shall seek them. "Ten men 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."—Zech. 8:23
While the day has not yet come when the world seeks Israel, neither has the day come when Israel's people seek the Lord with all their heart. But, the day of God's favor has already dawned upon this nation. The fulfillment of prophecy is unfolding before our eyes—moving progres-sively toward the fulfillment of God's promise to bless all the families of earth.
"Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion; for it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come." (Psa. 102:14) There is a visible scale of observation in our time on which we may begin to measure the fulfillment of prophecy.
(I) The Ingathering of the Exiles. Isaiah 43:5, 6 is one of many prophecies that foretells the regathering of the Jewish people to the promised land. It reads: "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 end of the earth." The Jewish people have been gathered from the four corners of the earth. Nearly 3 millions are assembled in the land of their fathers, coming from 75 different countries. Still the work continues. For God said: "As the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the countries whither He had driven them; and I will bring them back into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks."—Jer. 16:15, 16.
The Zionist movement compares to the fishing method of gathering. The Zionist activities provided the land with a vital nucleus of people that enabled it to become the new state of Israel. The "many hunters" would be those persecuting forces that led the Jews to face the necessity of return to Palestine. The early persecutions of the Jews in Russia and Europe served to turn many faces toward the homeland. The early Nazi persecution forced a considerable number of educated and talented Jews to Palestine. These brought the necessary technology and human re-sources to prosper Israel. In that the fishing and hunting referred to by Jeremiah was with the view to bringing the children of Israel home, did the later Nazi persecution also fit this purpose? It was more than persecution. It was a diabolical attempt to destroy the "seed of Abra-ham" and to make void the promise of God. Even the Nazi attempt to drive eastward in Africa to take the Holy Land indicates that a superhuman attempt was being made to frustrate the Divine Plan. It is clear the Nazi's plan was to annihilate the whole race of Jews, not after they conquered the world, but while they were engaged in doing so. Even when they knew the war was lost, they kept the incinerators going until the last moment of defeat. The failure of the Christian churches to protest and their willingness to cooperate with the Nazi insanity has raised many eyebrows. How could Christian nations look the other way while the slaughter went on? The scripture still has not lost its meaning: "I will bless them that bless you and I will curse them that curse you." (Gen. 12:3) God is a God of judgment. (I Sam. 2:3) This is one truth the modern generation will not own. The time of reckoning is here.
(2) The Reclamation of the Land. Amos 9:14 describes the work of the regathered people in their land—"they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them: and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them."
In 1905 the Prime Minister of the Netherlands observed, "The Jews have come in vain. Only God can check the blight of the inrushing desert." A miracle has happened. Miles of malaria-infested "no-man's land" have been drained; deserts have been irrigated and the land is being transformed into an Eden of citrus-bearing trees. The barren hillsides and the dried-up desert wastes are taking on new life, returning to the fertility of old. The work goes steadily on.
The land reclamation is an observable feature as the beginning of the fulfillment of prophecy, a small beginning, but one that shall grow and "fill the whole earth."
We bypass the opportunity to mention the many and varied accom-plishments in Israel because of lack of space. But since the 1967 war an especially interesting beginning of fulfillment focuses on Isaiah 35:1, 2. The prophet here said that the "Arava will rejoice and blossom as the rose." The "Arava" is not "wilderness" in general, but that specific desert valley that lies between the Dead Sea and Eilat. Drilling in the Arava has brought in artesian wells flowing with sufficient quantities of good water to irrigate large fields. Through the season vegetables now grown in the Arava are flown regularly to Europe, and the quantity is expected to increase so much that vegetables shall be shipped by refrigerated ships, while the strawberries and roses will be Gown out as exports. Truly, the Arava is blossoming as the rose, as prophecy marks its beginning of fulfillment.
(3) "And Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem" (Zech. 12:6). Up until the victory of 1967 the Jerusalem that belonged to Israel was the new part of the city. True to this prophecy, the Lord did not intend to divide the city of Jerusalem, but his intention was that Jerusalem would again be in its own "place, even in Jerusalem." Here is an almost incredible fulfillment.
The context of Zechariah's prophecy indicates the role Jerusalem shall play as the nations "burden" themselves with the Holy City. The Lord says, "I will make Jerusalem a stone of burden for all the peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it." (Zech. 12:3) That Jerusalem should come into the hands of the Israeli has been an embarrassment even to those sympathetic with the cause of Israel. The nations are burdened with this problem. Instead of accepting this matter as the Lord's doing the nations are intent upon getting involved. Yet Jerusalem's destiny is certain. Though the nations gather against it, they only stand to be wounded in the process. They cannot remove Jerusalem from its rightful owners nor the owners from their rightful possession. Powerful kings and popes have long coveted the Holy City, sending Crusades one after another to take the city. They always failed. These world leaders were prepared to make enormous sacrifices to get this city. If they could have fulfilled their purpose they would have made its streets of gold and its gates of pearl. If they could have possessed this city, how it would have strengthened their claims to be the Kingdom of God. However, with all the power and wealth these world leaders were mocked in all their claims to be the Kingdom of God. Why? Because who does not know that when God's kingdom is established, "Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isa. 2:2, 3) The kingdom of God will be Israelitish. Jerusalem will be its seat of government.
(4) Return of People to God. The turning of the hearts of the Jewish people to their God is somewhat lacking. Oh, yes, there are many who believe in God, but who have not the faith of Abraham who believed God. Religious Zionism was not the main incentive for the great regathering. Political Zionism, practical Zionism and persecution provided the main motivations for the present exodus. But this is in itself a (fulfillment of prophecy. Political and practical Zionism will yet develop religious roots. Ezekiel 20:32-37, specially directed toward the assimilationist Jew, reads: "that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all; in that ye say: we will be as the nations, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand . . . and with fury poured out, . . . will I . . . gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, . . . and there will I plead with you face to face.... And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant." The Lord says he would "plead" with the people during the regathering—it is a "face to face" encounter, indicating the Lord's face is upon them. The purpose is to reach the heart of his people. The work of cleansing shall however be accomplished after the regathering into the land.
In Ezekiel 36:24-28 God says: "I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; . . . A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep Mine ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God." Such being the case, we need not look askance at those returning to the Holy Land in an unclean state of heart. It is after the regathering that the Lord has promised to "sprinkle clean water upon" them.
Man has a capacity for law. Where man is there is law. His progress and advancement are in direct relation to his capacity to understand and abide by law. No one has given to the world a greater legacy than did Moses when he gave Israel and the world the Law of God. Nothing has contributed more to human dignity and honor than the Law of Moses— both for Israel and, to the extent it was copied, the civilized world. Particularly in this civilized world of the present time there is a great, an almost uncontrolled passion, for remedying all the problems of men on all levels. Yet strangely men find it increasingly difficult to remedy world problems while living under the noblest of laws.
When law ceases to be a high standard, and when men need not stand on tiptoe to reach it, it ceases to serve man's greatest need. Man's course tends downward. Nobility comes by guided discipline and conscious endeavor and not by abandonment. Much of the present study and research on man is based on observing him as he is -- whereas the real need is to know what man must be. What man must be is not observable, however. The scientific method has nothing to conclude when it has nothing to observe. Moses gave Israel and the world something that science could never give. He gave them God's law, the standard, and since that day till now it has been a light in the world.
Moses reminded Israel of how God "afflicted thee, and suffered you to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every thing that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live." (Deut. 8:3) Man may choose to live by the word of men—such is their privilege. However, they cannot escape from the consequences of their choice.
When Israel received the law of God from Moses it was immediately apparent to them that it was worthy of their highest commitment. They said: "All the words which the Lord hath spoken will we do." (Exod. 23:4) Now, centuries later, it is quite discernible that the promise was not in line with the performance. Yet, despite repeated failure at keeping the law, the decision was a good one, lifting this people and nation above others in many ways and underscoring their failures. In their successes and failures the great value of the law was in its ability to teach the needs of men as well as the consequences of yielding to the inner weaknesses.
In addition to the moral aspect of the Torah, there were the ordinances of worship. The Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Passover, the new moons, etc., synchronize with the agricultural cycles of the land of Israel. Consequently, the centuries of daily prayers uttered by the Jews in Diaspora are only made meaningful by one place on earth—Eretz Israel with its uniquely interwoven harvests and lunar cycles. The Torah molded the Israelites to the land. The Torah made the land of Canaan Eretz Israel. The Torah gave Israel deep abiding roots in the land that date back over 35 centuries. The Torah was and is Israel's heritage in Eretz Israel. That is why, after the current regathering, Ezekiel (36:24-28) reveals that God will "cause you (Israel) to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My ordinances and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers: and ye shall be My people and I will be your God." This is the hand of Divine Providence, before which all other claims to the land must bow.
Jordan seized the West Bank, including Jerusalem, in the '48 War. But in 1967 the people of the Bible obtained their historic territories, Judea and Samaria. All during Jordan's 19 year occupation there was not one Arab cry for a Palestinian State on the West Bank. Instead the cry was for a Palestinian State on the ruins of the Israeli State. But once Israel occupied the West Bank there was a united Arab demand for a Palestinian State on the West Bank.
Over the years millions of dollars have been spent in a P.L.O. propaganda campaign which is changing the tide of world opinion. The Arabs' "moral right to a Palestinian State" is fast becoming a majority concept. But both the Bible and history confirm the shallow roots of the Palestinians.
During the "double" of disfavor, Divine Providence kept-the land desolate of man and beast until God's appointed time to "favor Zion." (Isa. 40:1, 2; Psa. 102:13) Many scriptures foretold this desolation. Why? So that there would be ample room for the mass return of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel. Isaiah speaks of repairing "the waste cities, the desolations of many generations."—Isaiah 61:4; Amos 9:14; Ezekiel 36:33-35
From 1200 CE to 1917 CE there was uninterrupted Moslem rule in Palestine. For over 600 years Arabs had free access to Palestine; yet Philip Hitti, the noted Arab historian, observed that the total population of Palestine in the 1840s was less than 180,000. This included Arabs, Turks, Christians and Jews. This shows that Arab families did not develop roots in Pales-tine. They did not for the most part remain in Palestine generation after generation. Rather, Palestine was always considered undesirable. It was a place Arabs wandered in and out of according to economic need—but not to settle and develop a continuity of family roots that span the centuries. By Divine intent the Arab population in the 1840s was both meager and shallow rooted so that there would be ample room for a mass return of the children of Israel "to the land that I gave to their fathers."—Jer. 30:3
When the return of the exiles began in the 1870s the economy of the land took an upswing. Arabs followed the Jews to Eretz Israel to enjoy the new prosperity. One of the most important books in recent years on the Arab-Israeli conflict is entitled From Time Immemorial by Joan Das Peters. Peters proves that Arabs did not live in western Palestine from time immemorial, but moved there only after Jews had settled and devel-oped the area. For example between 1933 and 1936, over 30,000 Arabs left Iraq, Syria and Trans-Jordan for "the better life" in Palestine. In 1946 Bartley C. Crum, a United States Government observer, noted that tens of thousands of Arabs had entered Palestine because of this better life and they were still coming. Most of the Palestinian refugees are the Arabs or descendants of Arabs who entered Palestine since the 1880s.
The "refugee problem" should have been solved in 1948 when it began. Approximately 600,000 Arabs were displaced in that war. What is not as well known is that 600,000 Jews who were living in Arab nations had to flee for their lives because of Arab hatred. The solution to this double refugee problem was simple—an even exchange. The Israelis opened up their arms and absorbed the 600,000 Jewish refugees. The Arab nations refused to absorb the Arab refugees. Instead, they placed them in refugee camps which became showplaces of hate and misery that turned world opinion against Israel. Less than one percent of one year's Arab oil in-come could comfortably settle the so-called "Palestinian refugees" in Arab lands.
The current struggle between Arabs and Jews to territorial rights in the Middle East dates back to the breaking up of the Turkish Empire by the Allies at the end of World War 1. Both Arabs and Jews requested in-dependent states in this vast territory. The world powers were generous in the extreme to the Arabs by granting them 21 independent Arab states so that they now enjoy sovereignty over 1,250,000 square miles. The Jews asked for only three percent of this vast territory for a national home in Palestine. The Allied powers agreed. In 1922 the League of Nations recognized the legal, moral and historic right of the Jewish people to a national home in Palestine, including the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Then vast oil reserves were discovered in Arab lands. Consequently, when Israel was finally granted independence in 1948, international intrigue resulted in Israel receiving less than one-half of one percent of the territory given to Arab states. Since then, the worsening oil crisis has caused world powers to become progressively more supportive of the Arab nations.
If the Jews had a right to the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1922, that right is valid today.
Psalm 83 describes the determination of the Arabs to destroy Israel. However, Isaiah 11:14 shows that Israel will finally gain a decisive victory over the Arabs. And thus the Arab-Israeli conflict will finally be resolved and peace will finally be achieved.
Genesis 15:18 shows that the ultimate boundaries of Israel will be from the river of Egypt unto the Euphrates River. More specifically, Zech. 10:9-10, Micah 7:14 and Zech. 12:6 prophesied that Israel would acquire the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights (Bashan) and even the East Bank (Gilead) during the current Israeli-Arab conflict. Therefore, ac-cording to Scriptural and historical roots, not only the West Bank, but the East Bank as well belongs to Israel.
Since 1922 Zionist leaders have time and again been willing to accept territorial compromise. However, Divine Providence has had a way of over-ruling these compromises. If, for the sake of peace, Israel surrenders portions of the West Bank, Golan Heights or Jerusalem, the above scriptures indicate Israel will once again acquire these territories before her final victory over the Arabs (Isaiah 11:14).
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered." (Dan. 12:1 ) Daniel's burden and prayer was for Israel. The answer Daniel gives points to the Messiah as "Michael." It is He, "the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people" (the descendants of Israel). Who can observe events surrounding the restoration of Israel, at the right time in the right place, without a sense of awe and wonderment? Surely there is One standing for the "children of thy people." It is equally true that the regathering and restoration of this people to their homeland has taken place in the most troublesome time in human history. The time of trouble is upon us. who can deny in the face of two world wars, in the face of thermonuclear war with guided missiles capable of being delivered anywhere, that we are in the day spoken of by Daniel.
In Israel, the day before Independence Day is a Memorial day to those who died in order to secure the independence. In 1968, at the memorial service in Ashkelon, one of the speakers, moved by the successes of the 1967 war as well as other events said: "Look, the Old City of Jerusalem is now in Israel. The Western Wall and the Temple area are in our hands. Think! This can only mean one thing. Either the Messiah is coming very soon, or he is here already." Not all are prepared to receive a personal Messiah, as the "prince" who stands for Israel. Some are inclined to think of Israel itself as the Messiah.
While Israel is still flushed with its military successes, it is only natural for it to trust to its internal and material capabilities. But these shall fail! Israel's extremity will become God's opportunity to manifest His power. Ezekiel 38:1-13 gives a detailed prophecy of this event. Some apply this to the Hitler massacre, overlooking that it applies at a time Israel is dwelling safely in the land. He describes the enemies of God's people, called "Gog"—a representative force of all nations—and shows how they will come against the "unwalled" or relatively defenseless people of Israel to despoil them. These invasion forces will include some of the major world powers. Israel will be helpless in its own power. Those Israelites who trust in the "arm of flesh" will go forth, only to fall before the enemy. The concept that Israel itself is the Messiah will fall with them. But those who believe God and trust in the "arm of the Lord" will see the glory of God when he fights for his people as he did in the day of battle. The formidable forces of Gog will be destroyed by Divine power. (Zech. 14:2, 3; Isa. 28:21; Jer. 31:7-9) of this time the Prophet says; "They shall know that I am the Lord their God, . . . neither will I hide My face any more from them; for I have poured out My spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." (Ezek. 39:28, 29) Then Israel will realize their Messiah is a powerful spirit being, and that it is He that has been standing on their behalf through the return of favor to Zion, through the regathering process, through establishment in the homeland, and finally the deliverance of this nation from the forces of Gog and Magog. Then not only shall Israel know, but the nations shall learn their needed lessons. Zechariah (14:16) speaks concerning the people left after Gog is destroyed: "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles."
We have followed the events from the first step in the return of favor to Zion in the Berlin Congress of Nations, the Balfour Declaration, the regathering and rebirth of the nation and on into Gog's invasion and God's intervention on Israel's behalf. These events must be viewed as progressive steps in God's purpose if we are to possess or be possessed by the hope this holds for those waiting for the consolation of Israel and the world.
The days when God is removed from men are ending. Not only are the forces of Gog to be defeated, but the way they are defeated will be a revelation to the world. "Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself, and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I am the Lord." (Ezek. 38:23) Even the burial goof this mighty force serves to remind the world of God's stately inter-vention. "There shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it "the valley of Hamongog." (Ezek. 39:11) Hamon means "multi-tude" or the "multitude of Gog." But it may also be a play on words, a reminder of Haman who would have Mordecai destroyed only to be destroyed on his own gallows—Haman-Gog. The Lord will manifest his hand to Israel and to the world.
The Psalmist depicts this time saying: "Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who hath made desolations in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder: He burneth the chariots in the fire. 'Let be, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.' The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our high tower." -Psa. 46:8- 12.
Daniel was told "go thou thy way till the end be and thou shalt rest, and shall stand up to thy lot, at the end or the days." (Dan. 12: 13) This must mean Daniel himself will again appear on the scene, resurrected and invested with princely power, to stand as a ruler in Israel. What about Abraham'? Did not the lord promise him the land of Israel for an everlasting possession'? Yet he received not a foot of it in his lifetime! This can only mean that Abraham must return as heir to the land—the title to the land belongs to him first and to Israel second. God must fulfill His promise to Abraham. Did not Job share the view of the resurrection from the dead when he said, "Oh that thou wouldest hide me in the nether-world, that Thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! . . . Thou wouldest call, and I would answer Thee"?—Job 14:13-15
God never ceased to be identified with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob even though they were dead. He identified himself to Moses, saying: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob . ." (Exod. 3: 15) Surely the end of the days are nearing when Daniel and all the heroes of faith of Israel past will "stand on their lot." This should not seem an extravagant hope when the promise is made that "Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate." (Ezek. 16:53-63) Rachel, weeping for her children was promised, "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for thy future, saith the Lord; and thy children shall return to their own border." (Jer. 31:16, 17) Surely, the hope of resurrection is abundant; it includes those of the inner circle of God's favor and those estranged from Him.
In that the arabah is already beginning to blossom as the rose, it is only reasonable to look for the fulfillment of the whole of Isaiah 35: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; . . . and a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; . . . the redeemed shall walk there; and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." With such promises as these before Israel and the world, let none fail to recognize God's kingdom which will grow and fill the whole earth. (Dan. 2:35, 44)
God's immutable promise to bless "all the families of the earth" is in the dawn of fulfillment. This promise will result in the grandest reconciliation between God and men. "And in this mountain will the Lord of hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day: 'Lo, this is our God, for whom we waited, that He might save us; this is the Lord for whom we waited, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.' "—Isa. 25:6-9
The present, however, remains a critical time in Israel's history. Having emerged from the uncomforted mourning and suffering of her dispersion, emerging as a nation under the shadow of 6,000,000 tormented and slaughtered Jews, standing alone among hostile neighbors, Israel stands now to be divided between those who trust in the arm of flesh and those who trust in the arm of Jehovah. Israel's history teaches that it can only prosper when it serves its Lord God with all its heart and soul and strength. It is only those who believe God, as did Abraham of old, who will remain the children of Abraham and worthy to inherit the land as an everlasting inheritance—becoming the nation of blessing to all the families of the earth. For the Jews the wages of unbelief have been costly and terrible beyond description, and yet even now nation al pride stands ready to envelop them. Will they remember that as a nation they can know no life divided from God? In no part of Israel's history has she been blessed and had rest except when she abode "under the shadow of the Almighty."
Israel's hopes center in God's immutable choice and election of this nation to be his own. God's gifts and callings are not in vain, nor will they fail. Israel is the elect nation of God—to be the blesser nation of earth. But this does not mean an individual election. No indeed. Each individual Israelite will have to demonstrate his worthiness to be a part Of this "holy nation." So may every Israelite settle it now, settle it forever, his place is with his God. There is his hope, his life, his eternity. His is the promise of a new and better covenant that will bring the ultimate blessing - even life evermore under the light of God's countenance.