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THE LITTLE MATTER OF ISRAEL
AND THE LARGE MATTER OF THIS WORLD
THE COVENANT AND COMMISSION
Israel was a covenantally bound, freely trusting body appointed by God to secure and present His praise, His recognition, attest His majesty and invite to the basis of the praise due to Him. It sinned in steps, leading first to an exile of some 70 years and then to a dispersion of nearly 2000 years, ended as promised and premised from the first, in a divinely empowered restoration to the land, with indeed, a salvation gained now in the completed covenant, the New Covenant available as foretold, to Jew and to Gentile alike.
Thus when we read certain things promised to Israel in its normal work for the Lord, they are in principle at the spiritual level, likely to be applicable to the Christian Church, since as in Romans 11, Israel was cut out of its own testimonial place in the tree of faith, and the Church was put in. This however as Paul declares, not permanent, and Israel would be regrafted when, as in Romans 11:25, the time came by divine appointment. Then the restoration in the newly expanded and completed covenant of grace would regale many with delight as in Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7.
However this measure of temporary transferability of the mission and commission of Israel spiritually, is explicitly a temporary thing as far as Israel is concerned, for its rengacy will conclude and its re-acceptance on the full New Covenant basis will not merely be episodic (the early Church itself was far more than an episode, a s thousands were added time and again, to it, from the Jews, the apostles being Jews). It is not that the Church is temporary, but that Israel's exclusion at the national level is temporary, ending with faith and repentance as specified in Zechariah 11, for their specific physical impaling of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
In spiritual mission, then, for a time, the Church - whether composed of Jews as at the first, or Jew and Gentile individuals as now, did replace Israel. THEN Israel the nation, so long so recalcitrant, is restored, amid a vast divine climax of dealing with its enemies to which it was exposed because of cutting the communication line with its Maker, the Saviour who came. Those who used the change to become incandescently invasive and assertive against Israel will receive their counter-charge from God Himself, as they continue their self-assertiveness, judgmentalism and fraudulent hypocrisy, such nations being like hyenas, and themselves unbelieving in the face of the light, as is Israel now, as a nation.
FACTS AND FUNCTIONS
So far from the Church, given the spiritual mission alone for a time, becoming Israel altogether, rather than in a limited but crucial sense, it has nothing whatever to do with the national resurgence, recovery and renewal in Israel.
Indeed, great is the cost to the Gentile usurpers, who imagine that God has left Israel altogether, and having lost for a predicted time, its spiritual mission, that it was a mere carcase, irrelevant, reducible, a target for the mighty, a butt for the bullies of this world. Such are they who love to humble holy things, or invent them, and rejoice at the chance, amid the confusion which they promulgate while they may. Gloating or grabbing what seem open chances to despoil, scintillating opportunities to seize, it is they who will receive overthrow and retaliation, for attacking the nation which God Himself disciplined. Heartless and self-indulgent, their end is fitting for the long-term offence in which they are involved (Isaiah 51:20-23).
Moreover, Jerusalem, capital and caption for Israel often enough, can be used as the heavenly Jerusalem in Hebrews 12:22, or the Jerusalem which is above as in Galatians 4:26, and the metaphorical point, giving the word for one thing as an index to another, and capturing the point and flavour of it in the process; and Israel itself can be used to designate the body in temporary replacement before the unison, as in Galatians 6:14, giving it the distinction of using two metaphorical expressions with a Jewish base, in one book! It is often so in the figure of metonymy.
Metaphors, however, USE what is KNOWN, and are not an invention of system. Metaphors do not marginalise meaning, but paint it in literary colour. The colour is to adorn, and not to replace the base. In theology alone, one must not indulge in a merging of metaphors into metaphysics, or artistry into the machinery of thought.
Israel, thus, at first under spiritual commission, and losing it after some 2000 years, for some 2000 years, has the commission for a time replaced entirely outside itself NATIONALLY, the Christian Church taking this over pending its restoration. Of this, the physical part (the State of Israel back as such in 1948, on the very day the British officially left their mandate) is already accomplished. Jerusalem is once more inhabited by Israel as Christ foretold (Luke 21:24). He was not mistaken. The facts shout, even come near to impaling the ear.
Israel indeed is a monument to news, a maestro in events, a cynosure as Zechariah indicated (Zechariah 12:2). God further undertook that all the nations who would harass, heave it away will be cut in pieces before they could take over and rule Jerusalem again, the judgment itself impending. It is just as in Jeremiah 33:19-26,as in Micah 7, when the long excluded nation would again come back to its heritage with vast divine power confirming His own promises and premises.
One can only be sad for those wanting to "heave it away" like Iraq from the mouth of Saddam Hussein, and the leaders of Iran, who really work at it, reminding also of the predictions of Ezekiel 38-39.
What we currently find, then, accordingly, is that just as foretold, amid the successful wars against vastly superior antagonistic forces predicted in Zechariah 12:4-6, Israel is back, still unconverted as a nation, with its capital called Jerusalem; and it is engaging in miraculously successful wars against the enemies. as the rightful owner of the name, Jerusalem and its place is deemed Judah (12:1-9), with vast thrusts at the political and military, national level. Precisely as it was to be, it is.
It is not until Zechariah 12:10 that the conversion of 'Israel' occurs. Jerusalem, the Lord assures the reader or hearer, "shall be inhabited again in her own place - Jerusalem," 12:6, as if to reassure doubters, the prophetic Thomases, that when He says Jerusalem will be back in its own place, He actually does mean it, as He declares a second time, "- Jerusalem."
This is done before the conversion, or any relationship to Christianity whatever, in an explicitly unconverted Jerusalem.
What then ? Israel, thus, at first under spiritual commission, and losing it after some 2000 years, for some 2000 years, has the commission for a time replaced entirely outside itself NATIONALLY, the Christian Church taking this over pending its restoration. Of this, the physical part (the State of Israel back as such in 1948, on the very day the British officially left their mandate) is already accomplished, amid the successful wars against vastly superior antagonistic forces as foretold in Zechariah 12, when it is back with its capital and centre Jerusalem, as the rightful owner of that name. It is an unconverted Jerusalem, its coming conversion narrated after a significant period of tempestuous history back in its place, in Jerusalem.
Try making red black, unconversion to be conversion, a non-Christian place the very symbol of the Church, and you might as well try anything - capitalistic communism, sick health, glowing sadness, zero equals one. Turn this Jerusalem into the Church, and there is no limit, equating the most substantial change available to man, with its absence.
But no! This ultra-emphatic depiction, of what Christ indicated in Luke 21:24, is excruciatingly clear. The name 'Jerusalem' is repeatedly applied, with relish and aplomb, before a detailed exposure of the conversion that came later: it is this that is presented.
Because of a wandering confusion which periodically afflicts some theologians, let us be emphatic. This is done in terms of a restored Jerusalem, so named and vigorously active (Zechariah 12:1-9)
before the conversion to Christ - specific in the later Zechariah 12:10,
or any relationship to Christianity whatever,
except that of being NOT THAT!
The conversion as Paul notes in Romans 11, comes when their blindness in God's plan is lifted; and not before, and not never. History is as it is; prophecy is as it is; and they match. And that is the way it is with the Lord who speaks, communicating how He will of His sovereign purposes, and fulfilling them before our eyes; though shutting them is pandemic.
What follows this conversion to be so conspicuous in Israel, when it changes not its name but its national religious fervour back to Christ ?
CONSUMMATION AND INFORMATION
Then one church in one New Covenant continues, and history continues, the invasive forces on Israel being fully dealt with (Micah 7, Ezekiel 36-39, Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 59:15-21, 66:15-16). The pagan world which remains outside the now bipartisan but unified Church, and the rebellion once wrought by Israel the nation, is now convulsed by the Gentile and any Jewish residue left. .Its pressures mount as in Revelation 13 and 17, being economic and spiritual at once, involving as in the Roman Empire early AD days, a pagan and spurious but compulsory worship of the national and international glut of godlessness which turns itself into a mighty supranational power, with many dying for the faith.
This increasing, hostile, tyrannical dominion proceeds as it may (cf. Revelation 12:11), till this also is confronted with overwhelming, holy power of judgment (Revelation 19, II Thessalonians 1), just as grace and power was given for the earlier conversion and deliverance of Israel. It was that step which leads on to the early advent of Lord's own return with no more sustained scope given to the delusive dignities of the arrogant and haughty powers of this world, and its boss (cf. Revelation 19).
Then is this world transformed so that the earth will be filled with the righteousness of God as the waters cover the sea, and "they shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain," as in Isaiah 11 and Habakkuk 2:14, in Isaiah 65;20-25, and Psalm 72, in Psalm 110 and Isaiah 32.
In review, with Israel as predicted, in its time, largely converted, the interweaving of the spiritual mission of converted Gentiles and that of the Israel at last brought back to the same Christ which it had crucified, is scarcely difficult to comprehend (Zechariah 12, Isaiah 66). The mission and the message they are then jointly used to broadcast together. The remnant of each body comes to compose the Christian Church, while Israel the nation, now equipped with faith, is restored and maintained in its place by the divine power with which it was first established, a living testimonial to the faithfulness of God (Ezekiel 39:21-27). God drives the evil forces of prey far from her, in utter humiliation, just as He drives the point home: Israel fell through its sin and is restored through His mercy. Micah 7 and Deuteronomy 32 chime in like the bells of Big Ben.
Indeed, the Lord even makes it clear that it would be quite unthinkable and contrary to His divine nature for Him to surrender Israel at length, for whom He had paid in the exodus from Egypt. His love refused to be withdrawn, but rather is implemented in their late-time restoration through Christian conversion.
To reneg ? His love is not like that (Ezekiel 36:22, Jeremiah 31:18-22), and it would be abhorrent to Him so to act. His very NAME is FAITHFUL (Revelation 19:11-16). is the sharply defined Israel, the unique nation*1, moved to complete the prophetically declared testimony concerning her as in Ezekiel 36-39 for example. Of this singularly certified situation you have an exact and even exquisite parallel in Isaiah 42:14-25, 49:14-26, where what has become blind and deaf, the contrary to what is in the light, is led back to its own land and its own place, where the light will at last find it, at its large-scale conversion (as in Zechariah 12).
So does the love from God act towards Israel, fulfulling His every word in their double restoration, to their base, and then to their role when the Spirit is poured out upon them (Zech. 12, Isaiah 32:15-20). It is then that "the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever," just as in Isaiah 27:1-5, the challenge comes for the period of blessing, "let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me, and he shall make peace with Me." So is Israel restored to its State and to its city, Jerusalem, as a base and basis. Both as to site first (as in Ezekiel 37 so markedly), and then as to spirit, as base for sending, and then the state of heart, as sent people (cf. Isaiah 66:16-21). Both phases as to Abraham are completed with an integrity that blazes in righteousness like the sun (Genesis 12:1-3, 17:7-8, Micah 7:15-20).
God does not sink at scintillas, but sees everything with the importance it in fact has, and His word, that it be kept, is of a profundity of importance (Ezekiel 36:22-23, Psalm 138:2). He love enough to warrant it, and having warranted, to do it, not like a scheming politician, but as He whose heart brings more and not less, faithful for ever, reliable in all things, champion of truth, His deeds undivorceable from His word.
This is the comprehensive love which He has, and which has paid in the coin of ransom, not just for Israel in Exodus from Egypt, but for any who receive Him, from eternal death. This it is His pleasure to do, and He has done, for all that is redeemable, that is in His image, in both heaven and the earth, as in Colossians 1:19ff., and John 3.
As eternal, the nature of this gift is memorialised vividly in Romans 8:32-36. HIS SHEEP, once entered into the fold by faith, HIS fold, of which HE is the only Saviour, and for which He alone is the Master (Isaiah 43:10-11, John 10:9), each one of them, is under His eternal care (John 10:27-28), and every effort to subdue, inter, squash, squelch or sever them from Himself is in vain.
As with Israel long-term, so with the Christian in this world, over the years, there is no possible way any who took, rather than merely tasting in an experimental or non-believing way, His salvation by faith without any additives, from Himself can be restored to alienation, whether by devil, or world, or culture, or force, or subtlety or psychological manipulation or by social cultural concepts, by duplicity, by betrayal or by sheer effrontery. If God be for us, who shall be against us!
So the parallel has its teaching force; but the elements are very straightforward, and to fail to realise this is a great failure, like a tuberculosis of the spirit, as God unwinds history, year by year, in dramatic form.
The events moved
v from General Allenby's retaking of Jerusalem by the British in 1917,
so that Jerusalem COULD once more, being free, show repentance,
to the 1917 Balfour Declaration of Britain, later
supported by the League of Nations,
making Palestine (Israel now has a tiny part of this left to it, which many try still further
to reduce, in brazen defiance of the former international apportionment),
through the British repudiation, when it handed over power
to the Arab Legion
as it finished its mandate in 1948, blocking many Jews left over
from the European Holocaust in World War II, from return,
v to the 1948 Declaration of the formation of the Jewish State,
to the amazing wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973 as forecast,
on a massive scale, despite one occasion when Israel w as caught by surprise,
for the Lord was with this fulfilment of His word, and ensured that it happened,
without giving glory to any, but deliverance to many,
to the aggregation of haughty and intrusive, even invasive
powers since then,
to the approaching climax as in Micah 7 and the other prophecies,
when stage one of judgment comes with the divine assault
on the incorrigible assailants of Israel, as it comes back in faith in Christ,
repenting of the crucifixion at the State level, of A.D. 30,
itself the predicted date for it from Daniel
(as in The Christian Prescription, Ch. 2, for example).
Those six steps have now only one to go, and when this is done, there is a coming phase.
The international complex and rebuke to follow is another part of the entire program, with the two-pronged but once founded Christian Church continuing till its removal as in Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 4, with II Thess. 2, from the satanic surrounds, and this world, unrepentant as was Israel for some 2000 years, goes to its judgment, with no more space to repent, for there is an end (Matthew 24:14, Revelation 19-20, I Thessalonians 3:13).
Through all these components and crises, there is one God, one Lord, one Saviour, one Gospel in bud or bloom, one divine work, one divine program, one scenario, one fulfilment, one vast aim to redeem what may be redeemed among mankind for love, with justice, by pardon, for freedom in the Lord, to escape judgment, of which the flood was a good example, while the believers in every age were selected and sealed and prepared for glory; for before the shame of many becomes permanent (Daniel 12), the glory of God finds it own, aggregates them, like the grain from a crop (Matthew 24:30, 13:24-30) and secures them from this world (Revelation 19:8ff., I Thessalonians 3:13), indeed with them taking this world, till it goes and God makes a new heaven and earth (II Peter 3), for which righteousness in freedom is a criterion, and love and mercy the sublime character, truth the inevacuable reality*1.
WHAT OTHER NATION...!
It is a
beautiful drama, really, that of
slavery after being promised a land, out of
miraculously preserved in the desert while discipline mixed with faithfulness deals with a tragic lapse in faith at the very portals of the promised land,
arising in lustre with David, the King, type of the Messiah,
languishing in the foulest of misdeeds among Gentile nations, as if she were one of them,
disciplined to the loss of her northern member entirely,
delivered in Jerusalem in Hezekiah's day, by a miracle parallel to that in Egypt,
lapsing so utterly that exile to Babylon ensues,
delivered with purged and purified people, a remnant of passion, who rebuild,
drifting into subtleties and misprogramming wiles after the days of the Maccabees' victories,
murdering the Christ their peace,
finding the loss of peace ever since,
evacuating their homeland as they evacuated their Messiah,
despised by those who see them suffer for it according to promise,
acclaimed for their brilliance, hated by many,
murdered to nearly one half by Hitler,
but first acclaimed for a homeland by England who with the League of Nations provided Palestine for the purpose,
while the 'international community' gave most of it away to other states, and now wants still more returned.
There is none like it, and when it is not in metaphorical use, with imagery constraint made clear in context, there is no substitute or replacement. Nothing else can seize this description, curriculum vitae; for it is uniquely original, gigantically blessed, summarily cursed in its time as foretold from Moses, and not only comes from darkness to light, in its original call, but from light to darkness in its revolt and discipline, and then back to light in its repentance. Efforts to wed this with any other body are mere languid slackness.
There are however some deep relationships.
The New Testament Church carried on the Gospel part of its commission, but as in Romans 11, Israel is to be restored to the missionary place with the Gentiles. The two do not merge because one in God-revealing mission replaces the other in its supreme time of rebellion, but the Gospel forces indeed merge when first the Gentiles and then Israel, that is, the 'nations' and then the originally chosen missionary body, Israel, come both in remnant to the Lord. With Israel, it is a magnificent moment, as Paul puts it, "life from the dead," when this happens (Romans 11).
The joint works for Christ, with Israel and the nations in their joint Christian residues are celebrated in the prophetic Isaiah 66 Chapter.
Similarly, the vast tenderness, utter faithfulness and resounding love of God toward an Israel who is to return (cf. Jeremiah 31:18-20,23:5, Isaiah 41) is not to any one race in KIND, but as this is the character and divine nature of the Most Blessed, so does He bless those who love Him and wait upon Him, of any race.