April 30, 2021 E-Letter
There are two items of great interest to me when it comes to God’s Chosen People. One is God preserving His people for the last two-thousand years while they are scattered to many nations in the world. During their exile they were killed and deprived of basic liberty almost everywhere. Anti-Semitism has a much deeper motivation of evil. It started when God identified His people and thus Satan knew that is where he would attack.
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Second, when God chose the land of promise for Abraham and his descendants, He chose the center of the earth. Look at a map of the world and you will see that Israel is in the center of world geography. Also, if you consider that this land would become what I call “the world’s roundabout” you must realize that for Israel to survive there they would have to be protected by God.
For example, how would the Babylonian Empire be able to attack the Egyptians? Or, the Greeks attack the Persians? Or, Rome attack the Parthians? They would all have to come through Israel. That made Canaan a rough neighborhood.
When we visited the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2015 our tour guide was pointing something out on a map of the Middle East. I made the comment that for Israel to exist in Canaan they would have to be obedient to God or they would be overrun by the various empires that rose and fell around them. Only God could protect them there. Our tour guide gave me a look of “I never thought of that before.”
There is a short video (20 minutes) on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xr2CtmpKU6A) that depicts in an animated map the ancient empires of the ancient Middle East.
But the preservation of the Jews as a people and their restoration as a nation was prophesied many times in the Old Testament.
… Behold, I will take the children of Israel from the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land.Ezekiel 37:21-22
Another key prophecy, especially for our day, is Ezekiel 36-39. Through these four chapters Ezekiel sees the return of the Jews to Israel but still in unbelief, and their standing up as a nation, with a mighty army. Then Ezekiel sees the invasion of Israel by Gog and Magog and the nations allied with them and God’s miraculous deliverance.
That the Bible predicts the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland, and the rebirth of their nation was plainly seen by many scholars who read the Biblical text for its plain meaning.
One such man was J. C. Ryle, the Anglican bishop of Liverpool from 1880 to 1900:
… however great the difficulties surrounding many parts of unfulfilled prophecy, two points appear to my own mind to stand out as plainly as if written by a sunbeam. One of these points is the second personal advent of our Lord Jesus Christ before the Millennium. The other of these points is the future literal gathering of the Jewish nation and their restoration to their own land.Scattered Israel to Be Gathered, J. C. Ryle, 1879
In the 1890’s the Christian evangelist, William Blackstone, advocated strongly among Christian leaders, businessmen, and government officials for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. He saw prophesied in the Old Testament that the Jews would return to their homeland. He also saw from the persecution of the Jews in Russia by the Tsar that a nation of their own was a necessity for their own safety in the world. Through his efforts, a resolution was adopted that was signed by a cross section of American leaders that became known as The Blackstone Memorial. It reads in part:
Why shall not the powers which under the treaty of Berlin, in 1878, gave Bulgaria to the Bulgarians and Servia to the Servians now give Palestine back to the Jews …? These provinces, as well as Romania, Montenegro, and Greece, were wrested from the Turks and given to their natural owners. Does not Palestine as rightfully belong to the Jews?The Blackstone Memorial
William Blackstone became very influential among Jewish leaders and contributed a great deal to their own movement toward a homeland. Some of the prophecies Blackstone studied that led to his conviction about a nation for the Jews were these four chapters in Ezekiel.
In Ezekiel 36:6-12 God tells Ezekiel to prophesy that the land will become fertile again and God’s people will again inhabit it. This passage says in part:
For, behold, I am for you [the land], and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded.Ezekiel 36:9-10
The Prophet Hosea said the same thing:
For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince [no State of their own], without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols [separated from their sacred sites]. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God [religious restoration] and David their king [political restoration]; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.Hosea 3:4-5 (NASB)
And again, Ezekiel, a captive in Babylon, said:
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 [plural, not just Babylon], yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come [God’s preserving Hand]. 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.Ezekiel 11:16-17
Zechariah picks up this prophetic theme AFTER the return of the Jews from Babylon. There are only two returns from exile so this is the return that we have seen in our time. The return of the Jews from Egypt under Moses was not an exile. It is called a sojourn. They voluntarily went to Egypt as a family and left as a nation.
I will whistle for them to gather them together, For I have redeemed them; And they will be as numerous as they were before. When I scatter them among the peoples they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back. I will bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon until no room can be found for them.Zechariah 10:8-10 (NASB)
Isaiah also repeated the promise of God to restore His people from around the world, from the North, East, West and South.
And it shall come to pass in that day [the day of the Lord’s wrath], that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time [the first return was from Babylon] 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.Isaiah 11:11-12
Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, do not hold them back, bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth. Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made”.Isaiah 43:5-7 (NASB)
I finish this post with an inspiring YouTube video by Kippalive, and men’s acapella group in Israel, singing about their return “home” after 2000 years.
To be continued …
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