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BULLETIN TWENTY FOUR
TAKE A LOOK,
AN OVERVIEW OF THE PRECISION OF THE LORD
As in the case of predestination and freewill, so in that of Israel and the Christian Church, it is necessary to look at the various aspects before trying to construct a ground plan of the entirety.
1.Israel was often joyous in the Lord.
2. Yet Israel multiply rebelled in various phases, leading to a crushing culmination (as in Micah, Jeremiah, II Kings 17, II Chronicles 36).
3. Although Israel often became happy in the Lord, as with David, this following a magnificent clash in which that same Lord had delivered them from the mightiest empire in the world, the Exodus its frequently reminded climax, yet they seemed to love to wander. The Psalms, despite the endurance of David through initial persecution, reveal times of joyous stability (Psalm 23, 37, 46 cf. Isaiah 63:9-14), as do the times of revival under such reforming Kings as Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah, and indeed despite the mess from Manasseh, also under his successor Josiah.
4. Yet in idolatrous
excursions aplenty, and revolting lapses,
involving injustice and child sacrifice,
just as in education we are making them now in Australia,
the larger of the two kingdoms into which
Israel had split, that is, "Judah" with its two tribes and the 10,
called by the old name of "Israel" for this purpose,
felt the judgment of the Lord.
Thus the 10 tribes were scattered in divine disgust, without restoration,
and Assyria was the chosen instrument, to do this.
Many of these returned to Judah, so swelling it somewhat,
but on the whole, their doom was given.
Assyria meanwhile, getting over-excited about itself,
felt the lash, and was humbled (cf. Isaiah 36-37).
5. After this, Judah remained (with Benjamin, site for the Messianic incarnation as in Micah 5:1-3's prediction); but its later rejection of the Messiah, who came in His predicted time (Daniel 9 cf. Christ the Citadel Ch. 2), led to its vast dispersion among the nations. The kingdom minus the murdered Messiah became the kingdom minus its terrestrial headquarters also!
6. This Judah was, for its part, prior to the incarnation of the Messiah, given a 70 year exile, but allowed to return to its land, after imitating too much the wayward follies of the now doomed Northern Kingdom, "Israel". Jeremiah 25 foretells this 70 year exile in its case, as also with Micah 5 and Jeremiah 31, the incarnation of the Lord to come to this residual kingdom.
7. Judah, now Israel, was after the 70 year discipline, brought back, and Daniel as in Daniel 7 and 9, is given a brilliantly lit vision showing the order of events right down to the Messiah. After the intervening kingdoms following Babylon (to which this Daniel was taken as a wise cadet), then Medes and Persians, then Greeks (Macedonians) and the fourth, which was Rome, that last of the four, this in various forms was to continued its existence till the end of the Age, and has done so. These have included Roman Empire, Western and Eastern Roman Empire, Holy Roman Empire, the various integrations of Europe and so on. Often enough already there have been ten horns on its heads (as in Daniel 7, Revelation 17). Its current progress is pregnant with coming fulfilments (SMR pp. 918ff., 946-959).
In the midst of the last of the four kingdoms, Daniel 9 shows the Messiah, cut off, and this with such venom, that there is "nothing for Him." As in Isaiah 49:7, He is abhorred by the nation Israel to which He is initially sent. This has huge consequences. But the sway of history is then far from, over, as seen in the predictions of Daniel 9:26-27. The terminal events of Daniel 12 are at that earlier time of the crucifixion, still afar off; but this is no longe the case.
8. So we have two dispersions and returns. First Judah, now the only "Israel" left, came back as in Ezra and Nehemiah, after 70 years, according to divine prophecy and assignment (cf. Daniel 9, Jeremiah 25). Later, it would return "a second time" (Isaiah 11:10) from the long-term results of despatching their Messiah (Micah 5:3, 6-7, Ezekiel 36-39). In this case as in Ezekiel 36-39, what is now called the sacrament of baptismal sprinkling with water is mentioned as in Ezekiel 36:24-25, and the Messiah ruling on the earth is the main characteristic which sums it all up (Ezekiel 37:24 cf. Jeremiah 33:15).
9. In this final return, a New Covenant is unfolded (Jeremiah 31:31ff.) and is used to complete provision in one, entire and free salvation by the Messiah (Isaiah 50-55). Thus is fulfilled the pictured work of salvation through another bearing one's sin, at first in animal sacrifice, now translated into the one death of the ONE Messiah, the word of the ONE God sent to die ONCE (Hebrews 9), and gain everlasting redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
10. Israel (Zechariah 12:10ff.), at last back in their land despite the worldwide dispersion of which they were warned from earliest times (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32-33) for blatant and prolonged rebellion against the Lord and His ways, and then for murder of their own offered Saviour, is not at all to resume in the power of its old covenant of animal sacrifice (Isaiah 30:8ff.). It now comes to the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31ff..
In His kindness (Jeremiah 36:22ff.), though the restored nation is at first still unrepentant of the killing of the Messiah, so minutely and predictively described in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 50-55, God Himself then aids it in its replanted and then repentant condition. In Jeremiah 31:28, amid predictions of this time, God declares that just as (in punishment), He had brought Israel down, step by step, in punishment, now in one move after the other, in return, restoration and relief, He would BUILD her up!
Thus before their largely national conversion to come in a marked, sudden and overwhelming episode as in Zechariah and Romans 11:20ff., God in faithfulness being powerfully with their armies (as in 1948, 1967, 1973), He delivers them from massacre and crushing (Zechariah 12:1ff), in a most staggering fashion (duly now fulfilled).
After all, they having suffered by that time the fruits of their international dispersion, often at the hands of international bullies who have indulged in their gloating and cruelties to the uttermost, in persecutions and pogroms, there is the other consideration. "I will repay," the Lord says, and it is not only Israel which has suffered or will suffer: for the Lord abominates hypocritical and vain gloating, both unrealistic and self-parading! (cf. Romans 11:20-21). There are others.
It is now they, the often heartless aggressors, who will suffer (as in Isaiah 51:21-23), and find for themselves the due fruits of folly (cf. Micah 7). Israel, on the other hand, will not only endure and win acclaim. In its time, but as divinely appointed, it will return in conversion to Christ and be ratified in its site ("its own land"), This comes as a divine vindication of reliability, indication of faithfulness and an exhibit of power divine and undeluded, just and merciful. This the Lord readily shows, even given the magnificence of the freedom made available to man! History exhibits both His power and patience, and man's prodigious liberties, which he entangles in nets and gives away so readily, so often and to such ludicrous false 'lords'.
11. It is in these turmoils that the Messiah comes to their land, in Person, this being the second part of his bipartite action: first to come to suffer and then to rule as in Luke 24:25-26. This latter phase is found in any reasonable survey of the Old Testament, the latter as in Psalm 72, Isaiah 11, 32, 59, 66, Micah 4-7, and such scriptures.
12. Between their ravagement by the fourth Empire of Daniel, Rome, and their return with national repentance to Jesus Christ, their nationally crucified Messiah, comes the Christian Church in its Gospel mission. Israel, the nation, at that time is still unbelieving and having been dispersed before the final recall. Then the power of the Holy Spirit moves in their national midst, and It is only then that once again, it resumes its place as a Holy Nation and a Special People as Peter describes the Christian Church. Into this, Israel the nation in its time, will be recalled as in Romans 11.
THEN this nation in its bulk, becomes a specific element in the Christian Church, which as one whole may be and is so described. In this, Israel in the providence and power of God, also has its specialised contribution to make in teaching both Israel and the nations the meaning of history, and of all that has occurred (cf. Ezekiel 39:22ff.).
13. Thus Israel on its SPIRITUAL return as described in depth in Zechariah 12, in repentance to Christ Jesus the Lord, then becomes part of the Messianic or Christian Church: indeed, it is the branch as in Romans 11, cut off but now regrafted in to the tree of faith. The Christian Church did not replace its promises, place or participation, as if all were forgotten, but did take over its missionary task, and constitute the continuing, ministering body of Christ until the return of Israel ACCORDING TO PROMISE. Thus promises and premisses alike come into being just as predicted, nothing is ruptured, the preparatory culminates and the lapses are overcome. It is a wonderful congregation of events, peoples, and places, in terms of the Gospel and the purpose of God (cf. Ephesians 3 and the end of Romans 11). Nothing is forgotten, whether to the jot or the tittle.
14. God being a Spirit of His word, having magnified this above all His name (cf. Matthew 5:17-20, Psalm 138:2), despite the unfaithfulness of Israel, fulfils His categorical and unqualified promises as made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Genesis 17:7-8) and grants once more to Israel its site (Ezekiel 37:15ff.).
Jerusalem itself, not in dream but detail (Jeremiah 33:12ff.) will be a spiritual locale of great significance, a case of ONE site for the ONE Saviour at once geographically distinctive, and divinely so in that there the Christ in whom the Gospel reposes in His work, was tortured and killed, making the way back to God free. So it is placarded and emphasised that there is ONLY ONE Gospel, just as there was ONLY ONE plan of salvation, with its prelude and performance. There was only one Saviour who was a sacrifice for sin in only one place, in only one episode, and people who prefer vague trottings to distant ideas, can face it as the millenium progresses, adorned with the divine singularity, which unlike the question-begging farce of the coming-from-nowhere Big Bang myth, is a fact indissoluble.
15. In Christ's already depicted rule on earth, called the millenium, the earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11). But this, though a fitting tribute to the faithfulness, reliability and reputability of the Lord, in the fullest measure, is merely an indication and vindication of His control of all things, despite the magnitude of the freedoms granted to mankind: it is not all. In the end as from Christ's lips in Matthew 24:35 and through the apostle Peter, it is shown that there will be a new heavens and a new earth, the old one passing away, whereas the new will endure forever.
16. The resurrection at Christ's return with His saints (Revelation 19, II Thessalonians 3:13) introduces His people, Jew and Gentile, one Gospel, one people, but each with a different historical but identical Gospel exposure in the end (Galatians 3:26-29) to the incorruptibility and the immortality to which our lives have always pointed. This was the yearning (cf. Psalm 20) and its only assignable glorious outcome, where mercy prevailed. Though sin has lynched love in its devices, yet God is not deletable, as the resurrection so prominently displayed, and the accompanying healings signalled.
Just as the two Jewish kingdoms are now ONE, so the Jew and the Gentile in Christ, also, these become ONE, as in Revelation 7, and I Peter 2. The Christian Church, instituted through JEWS from the hand of Christ Jesus, becomes now not only recipient of them, at the more national level, but this occurs as of those who were in the tree of faith before the Gentile era, and are returning home therefore in both senses.
Over whom is this reign of the Messiah as in Isaiah 11, to be ? It is over BOTH Israel and Judah as in Isaiah 11:12. This is explicitly stated. What is left of the one is added to what remains of the other, the main remnant. This jointness will be final and complete: such is the statement of the word of God. BOTH will be one. Judah is part of that unity, the main formally remaining part.
In the end of the Age. WHO is to reign ? It is the son of David, the Lord, who was born in the tribe of Judah, and who will rule over Israel and Judah where BOTH parts are integrated, two sticks made one stick, so that the matter of division will not arise.
Where is this found ? It is in Ezekiel 37:15-22.
Again in Ezekiel 36:8ff., we find God addressing the mountains of Israel, from which His people had been separated by violence. To these, He declares, they will return and never again will there be such separation from this, their homeland's sites. This passage, Ezekiel 36-39,deals with the final earthly outcomes for Israel as the Age ends, and no more will they defile themselves (Ezekiel 36:15,32, 37:23).
Gathered from all the world like dry, scattered bones, they are according to promise, replaced in the land of Israel (Ezekiel 37:12) and the presence of the Messiah in ruling power, will be part of the characteristics of the time, after the initial menace (Ezekiel 37:24, Jeremiah 33:15-16), mercy, victories and triumph for the restored nation. Moreover, the Lord not only declares that He will place them in their own land, but specifies further "they will dwell in the land that I have given Jacob." making both former tribal sections into one; and that land, though now disciplined for so long, will constitute a massif of continuity. But then, that was a transaction as with Abraham, the whole land for his descendants, and it is here even noted.
Further, as in Micah 4:11 - 5:12, Israel in its day. its spiritual day, will become one source for rapid and blessed evangelisation within this world, though this saucy globe waits to the end for its judgment. Nevertheless, "the remnant of Jacob" will bring inordinate blessing to many. Thus Israel, bringing with Gentile Christians (cf. Isaiah 66) a wonder of warning and preaching to various nations will be as dew; and small wonder there is attention to its preaching, for their own deliverance both spiritually and geographically will by then be a notorious theme! Indeed, as in Micah 7:15, the events in their drama will resemble those of the Exodus from Egypt, and their testimony will shake the nations spiritually, just as in His time the Lord will shake this world (Hebrews 12:25-28, Haggai 2:7-8,20-22).