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MAN'S WORKS AND THE WORK OF GOD
We have moved in Ch. 9 through the power of God, to Ch. 10 in the will of man, and Ch. 11 to the point that the power of God flows through the word of God. Today, our concern is to consider the wisdom of God, His plans and performances, faithfulness and reliability, disdain of corrupted misconceptions joined to human will and the openness of vision when one's mind lies in the bosom of His word, and one waits for Him to act (Isaiah 64:5).
In reading The Abandonment of the Jews, by David S. Wyman, an extraordinarily detailed account of official movements, and non-movements, by the British, European and US bodies during World War II, to remedy the increasingly attested and exposed Nazi genocide bent and intent against the Jews,
its treatment of children,
the failure of the papacy to make any
announcement on the topic,
the callow if not callous endeavour, squirmings, secret agreements, even
the disruptions of presidential orders in one notorious case, by a Department in the US:
in intensive coverage of these things: what is the flavour ?
It is one of so many highly placed people and bodies
deliberately seeking to AVOID
upsetting the electorate or the Arabs or
the Palestinian 'question' or
the significant measure of anti-Semitism in parts of the USA.
It includes blow by blow description
of such tricky little ways, subtle devices and schemings with the death of perhaps hundreds of thousands of Jews under Hitler the price cumulatively of all this ménage
of the avoidance of bombing for example the railways to death camps, to the extermination quarters,
of the escape from the offer to have many thousands of Jews freely exported from Europe in one case - answer, not enough ships:
and all this, with such a look of prevarication and evasion, that one can but shudder at such exposures.
It is not that some good things were not done, some yieldings, some provisions, arrangements, but that this appears as a relatively small concern with rather limited scope, left over after in such cases, overcoming in general, such acute resistances, delays, equivocations, misleading statements, that it is like an early dawn: some light is there, but the strength with light is yet to come. Certainly the war was a huge limit; but the testimony is not about what threatened, but what compromised massive efforts by some, by means so devious, distant, undesired, that not lack in power but purpose appears with heavy evidencing.
When the bombing of at least access to death camps in Germany was mooted, appealed for by many, with enormous testimonies over time, the answer was at first that the air force could not bother about 'refugees' when a war had to be won, and a rather irrelevant seeming citation about the distance for aerial work of this kind from Britain was prohibitive.
There were far nearer fields. However as is pointed out in no small detail, even when the actual bombing for strategic reasons, such as devastation of oil production, brought the air force to within a small number of miles of the rail and other works of the Satanic camps, they STILL did not accommodate the work of a tiny piece of separating ground and time. No doubt there was some point in some excuses at some times; but the overwhelming accumulation is of such a shirking and series of avoidance techniques from so many in so many ways and often with some show of an almost artistic finesse in the process of circumvention, that we see indeed, if not the genesis, then at least the exodus phase of a reversed Jewish deliverance. Marvellous were the ways of NOT granting exit, when opportunity came, and points were mooted.
Over the years 1942 - 1945, many could not find a country to take them, immigration policies were even left void, in that immigration quotas available were left UNFILLED in multiplied thousands, though the scope granted was not very large, and Palestine was virtually off limits despite minor concessions, not least through British sensitivities. Here lie some of the bases for the squalid assaults on the minimised residue of the Palestine given as a homeland to the Jews by the League of Nations and Great Britain in the period 1917-1920.
Here is seen for an appearance of continuity, the endeavour by some, such as currently the USA (formerly a bastion for Israel under such as Reagan and Nixon), to strip from the small fragment of Palestine (that was appointed homeland for Israel) even more of the mean part still left to Israel after Jordan was given most. This was in the interests of some supposed peace, though what happened in the Gaza Strip, which it donated to its enemies, is notorious. When it was given, as a peace incentive. it became a source for scandalous bombardment, just as was the case when Jordan (holding much of the former Palestine in its enlarged scope) offered citizenship to Arabs displaced, only to have itself used as a base for more bombardment of Israel, leading to a near civil war, and loss of this privilege to the Arabs who left Israel! In general terms, what better and more just place for them to go, since their promised homeland had lost most of its area to Jordan, to have THIS their place to go.
But this ? not enough; the free return to Egypt in Sinai, not enough; the Gaza strip thrown in, not enough, dealing with those who did not even recognise the State of Israel in an exacting states of excited belligerence to its very existence, not enough; the stopping of new building in the areas won when an exterminative war against it had been waged, along with several others, the same. Nothing was enough.
Many Arabs and their allies made it clear that the clear-cut objective was total removal of Israel. With this stated end, and atomic weapons near to available, in a studied case of a nation, Iran, almost toying with its program as it neared completion, the US having assured Israel that it would act, so that Israel did not, there is still MORE PRESSURE to give up MORE usage of the tiny sliver still remaining. There is, it seems, a certain continuity of abandonment of Israel, which despite the vast and marvellous US help some decades ago from the USA, now comes to the surface, like a relapsing into a former disease.
The above is considered because it amply attests the exceedingly ramifying nature of dismissal of earnest regard, or at least renewal of dismal concern for the genocidally threatened Israel and its residual status. God has delivered her as He said He would, but the land has been betrayed in so many ways, so often, with such subterfuges, as during the war, so in recent times, that one must be reminded of the days when multitudes of selectively and purposefully Jews were subject to specialised extermination, and some nations insisted that, as if forgetful of this, they could not give any special help to the Jews amid their pits and slits. They were systematically removed over a period of time including vast exposure of the Nazi actions, over murderous years for the unspeakable deaths of millions, while to say no more, sluggish efforts were made by many, and strong ones by few, for their deliverance.
It is true that the British Parliament stood for two minutes of silence for these atrocities, a grand act if in practice too largely merely symbolic, but it is also true that the Vatican refused to do anything, even such as this (op. cit. p. 159), as a direct and telling testimony. Only GENERAL comments could be made about persecution, it indicated, such as were applicable to any and to all! However the systematic murder of a people was not applicable to all; nor the mode of it!
Increasingly, the modern thrust on Israel to yield more in action and territory is in line with the work of many others earlier, the suppression of facts, or the avoidance of their impact, even the denial of their relevance, though this had been traceable in so many ways for so long that it is like an odyssey of shame. The Bible indicates that at His time, in the arena surrounding their coming conversion in large measure as a nation, to Christ, God will act and lamentation will be there, but different, while those delivered first from sin's reign and then from the wrath of insatiable enemies, will rejoice at His power, in parallel with the Exodus. Meanwhile, however, in this as in much, great are both the tests and the opportunities for many.
IF people WILL not make common cause fearlessly with things of this type, then the effect tends to be cumulative, each shrinking of some leading to far more in consort with their ilk, so that one by one, all tend to accumulate like a blockage; and feisty powers that are ambivalent, feel justified in still sheering away.
To revert to the World War II situation, with increasing current parallel, when information concerning the holocaust later became more and more unavoidable, then various efforts, a little here, more there, frequently involving internal or crafty resistance to deliverance of the Jews, being slaughtered meanwhile in the millions, is evidenced as persisting on the part of many, had its cumulative consequences. It was not policy but probity which was the clear call, as the tens of thousands went to the gas, teeth stripped of gold, in many cases graves dug by those about to be slain, children in writhing masses, not in singles or hundreds, to fulfil the entire modern, industrialised horror of death as a smart business. It is so like the prediction of Revelation 6:4-6, where death becomes almost an international passion, and hunger an arrangement, that it makes one sad for those who are beguiled.
Anti-semitism and self-interest, whether for watchful politicians or parties, pre-occupation and apprehension, canny concerns about possible difficulties, artful delays on various pretexts, all repetitively were massively apparent, leaving the fulfilment of the prophecies on the time for Israel on its return, precisely as Zechariah 12 predicted it would. A neo-abandonment, a new thrust in this same almost oblivious sort of distortion, seems now to be gathering momentum.
CALAMITOUS CONTINUITY OF
THE URBANE AMIDST THE ANNIHILATIVE,
WHERE DEFENCE BECOMES HORROR,
AND RETENTION A CRIME
However, there is an end, both to this availability of Israel for such purposes, as in Ezekiel 38ff., as to the whole Gentile era itself as Christ declared. As it approaches, many are tested not only in this but in multitudes of ways. Even some, having done, by comparison startlingly well earlier, like Britain, in this case of Israel, especially in World War I, when it actually delivered Jerusalem from an acutely hostile regime, have changed. Alas, once more as in earlier times before World War II, it began to behave shamelessly, quite formally in terms of a political Minister, favouring Arabs for oily purposes, in fact, opposing and even obstructing major Jewish return to Israel, despite the death camps, the enormities, the devilries extended like acid rain, became for some years, a British phenomenon. .
It has been much the same in many churches, great ones falling so far from the Bible in the last century, that cover up and avoidance techniques of their shame became almost a passion. People had to be kept asleep, and as an index, one remembers one theological student in a liberal seminary (from which the author was cast out in making an answer to a direct challenge about the Bible), making a superior pronouncement.
The people, he averred, were not yet ready for this (sophisticated and gnostic, this irrational) approach to religion, and so could not yet, not then be told about it. That had to be kept secret. This was sinister, subversive, surreptitious and unfaithful. To be sure, by the great power and pity of the Lord, I was re-instated after some ten years, in which teaching was used in waiting and scholarship was engaged in, but that was HIS testimony. At that time, He arranged for remarkable steps, so that the vociferous many who sought exclusion still, were handsomely defeated in the national Assembly. Praise God. This is no time for easy slippage, but for a telling testimony such as might be fitting to be recorded when judgment comes. It is a thing fitting and pleasant to have the Lord singularly honoured amidst sloughing dishonour; as it is to be watchful of alliances whether with peoples or themes; for deception is rife.
However, our main concern at the moment is Israel, this heavily documented enlargement of suppressive attitudes and deceit ("The Abandonment of the Jews,"), at this time showing more and more that it is one of a TYPE of approach. A book like Hosmer's Story of the Jews, gives a longer term coverage of types of shame not dissimilar.
Now in more recent times, in the Nazi case, it led on directly to the infamous and inhuman killing machines that betoken the more than substantial indifference to, or even contempt for Israel ready to explode with little provocation. This, in its rash superficiality relative to history, is seen recently in increased measure in Australia, where blighting and unbalanced attitudes are allowed even at the University level, even in terms of international scholarship towards a race notable and distinguished for humanitarian actions internationally, despite being so tiny in national area, and so bombarded and exposed to genocidal declarations by not a few! With those so averse, some seem to expect Israel to negotiate even with religious enforcers, openly seeking its demolition.
What is it like ? It is as if someone pointing a gun at you, and declaring that his desire is your physical annihilation, expected you to work out business arrangements with him! Yet the US in particular pushes Israel the diminished, to give up more and increase its risks from declared genocidists! If the past were then followed, it would have similarities to offering a deadly, mortal enemy more sites for cannonades, rockets, subversives.
Despite what Nixon and Reagan did,
and this must not be forgotten, the last few years have been astonishingly laden
with strong-arm treatment from an alleged friend of Israel.
BODY SLAIN, WAS RESURRECTED,
ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURE;
ISRAEL ALSO HAS A PROGRAM
Why is this being done, is this exposed ? It is because God, having rebuked Israel, and shown what happens when it docks its Redeemer, and divorces from its slain Messiah, has nevertheless not forgotten them, or His promise to Abraham. God does not jilt anyone, though here it is in the face of the most monumental lèse-majesté shown to Him at Calvary, even to the point of murder, one reflected not a little in the murderous assault of Nazi Germany. This world is well-equipped with evil, and if you step into it in flagrant rebellion against God, then you are rather like a leaf stepping forth (starting to drop) bravely into a tempest (cf. Psalm 1:4ff.).
But God having made promises irrevocable (Genesis 17:7-8), specialised, specific, with components incapable of ambiguity for both participants, makes it clear He intends to fulfil them, whatever the grounds that might be adduced for His not doing so - and they were vast, virtually infinite in the treatment of Jesus Christ AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL. He still INSISTS on carrying out this distinctive promises on indisputable premises, as in Ezekiel 36:22. It is for His name's sake, we read, that He is so resolute. It is NOT AT ALL for merit on the part of Israel that He so insists; it is DESPITE the shame; but HE WILL DO IT.
Indeed, in this passage and that in Ezekiel 37, we see a two phase restoration of Israel, first to its land, and then to its Lord.
In Ezekiel 36, is seen overall in terms of indicative of the water sprinkling of baptism as the change restoration occurs. In Ezekiel 37, it is seen in restoration from other lands where their deaths appear as scattered dry bones, and Israel is returned, and then in the return from another spirit, life and way, to the Lord. It is in one command that the dry bones are returned to the land of Israel, and it is in a separate command that the vision of the prophet sees LIFE being given to the bones. This in the directly visionary context, means spiritual life, just as the re-assembled bones brought back to Israel mean people, though still dead in sins, relative to Jesus Christ back in the land from which they were scattered to so many nations for so long.
The Lord has said, concerning the historically identified and specifically rebuked body of Israel. The Lord has also in phase one, DONE IT. It is like following a science handbook concerning an experiment: when you have done all these things, you will find this result and sometimes the reason may also be noted. God gives reason in terms of covenants, the path of mercy, its assault, and the continuation of His love and faithfulness to promises as premises. He gives reason and revelation to say in detail the things that are to characterise His actions, and they happen precisely, in detail, in terms of the historical emphasis and the promise stresses made in His speech to the parties concerned. In verification*V, as He said, so it has happened in this my own generation, as if it were a divine demonstration to educate the ignorant. But they will not listen! One is reminded of Matthew 7:13-14. In this also, He word is fulfilled. It never fails, just as He never fails (Zephaniah 3:5).
Israel is back, as Christ also predicted, no more under the feet of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24), the land of the Jews is restored, Jerusalem they again have, while unconverted still as a nation, squalling enemies they have also: but they DO have their land. This is as in Jeremiah 23:5-8, for example, and it is by all signals, near to the coming of Christ as King - seen in Jeremiah 23:5 in place, when despite their highly national and specific sins as in Jeremiah 23:9ff., this part of the eschatological scenario is unfolding like a black rose: black for the dead, and a rose because it is refreshing to find such divine love so faithfully sustained for so long, despite wrongs aplenty.
What was to be, in nearly every component, is; and what is to be is in the sequence of events, as if in chemistry, a solution was prescribed to turn yellow, pink, red and then opaque white, in a series, and we were currently at red, with the first beginnings of white. The meaning of God is attested in words, confirmed in works. Just as Christ in His day was the focus, as predicted en bloc, and yet they STILL would not believe, though He raised the dead and drew milling crowds and rebuked anti-biblical fraud, continually reminding of the truth and accuracy of the word of God which He was and is, and as which He came; so now, there are many who are equally ill-prepared for His return over the most monumental mass of testings over time, and preludes to this event (cf. SMR Chs. 8 - 9, Answers to Questions Ch. 5). It is the way of the world, and one crass reason for its coming condemnation, removal and final replacement with a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (James 4:4, John 14:30, II Peter 3:10-13).
The 'replacement theology' which wants to make a multiply defined Israel into a clearly defined Christian Church as if in Isaiah 66, it were the Church (Zion) which begot the Church, a nonsense distortion of the defining context, is a figment of denial like that of Christ by the Pharisees, so knowledgeable that they could not get focus on the truth. The real replacement theology, if you want to use such a term, is the replacement of the old man, or nature, with the new by regeneration, and the replacement of the kingdoms of this world by the kingdom of Christ (Revelation 11:15) and in its time, the replacement of these heavens and this earth with a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness, tests past, dwells, a post-graduate world, where tests for orientation and fealty are past; and without force, now you have scope for the kingdom of heaven without admixture with seeds (as In Matthew 13:36-43).
Now in particular, we come to
God is not subject to peer pressure; for in Himself, He has no peers. Man can do what he will as far as power permits and liberties allow, but God as He deems good, according to His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:9), is not swayed by the cunning of man, his deviations (cf. Galatians 1:9-10) or his declinations (Jeremiah 7:9-10). Indeed, in the form of man, as the Son of man, incarnate from celestial eternity, as Jesus the Christ, He condemns all such things vigorously as did the scriptures before Him, which foretold His advent (Matthew 23, Jeremiah 7, Malachi, Isaiah 9:6-7, Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 16,22, 40, 72).
Now often, as just noted, when we come to the divine declarations about the restoration of Israel, we find people who want to make it refer to something else, some to the Christian Church. These errors have been disposed of in such sites as SMR Appendix A*1.
In all intelligent language, if you mean something other than what you ostensibly say, there needs to be some index; and this is the more impelling when the facilities of face and feature are not present, that is, in written work. If you INSIST on making one thing stated mean another in the work of someone else, then you must, to make yourself less than a subordinate author, you work without the permission of or the submission to the piece of writing, unless you can provide provide irrefutable evidence. It may be subtle or blatant, it may require understanding at some depth, or be entirely superficial, but it must be incontestable. Otherwise, you do not leave it to the author concerned to make clear what he means and does not mean, being not yourself the author, and having an imagination quite distinctively different from his or hers. Indeed, in that case you became a co-author, capable of completely nullifying what the writing says, and as in the case of the word of God, nullifying by your tradition the counsel of God (Mark 7:7 shows the biting exposure of this sink-hole for all seasons).
When entire faithfulness at any cost to a promise to a person is made by some body, then within the limits of the power of that body, it is expected EITHER that the promise will be kept, or else, broken. When the Being making the promise has no shortage of power in anything, then you expect that the promise will be kept if that Being is faithful. If as God the Lord, He even bears the name of FAITHFUL (Revelation 19:11), and has earned it always, If it meant something else, this must be demonstrable. If indeed, it means divorce from the actual context of the promise made, this requires enormous evidence, for otherwise it is a matter of subverting the Bible while seeming to interpret it, something which can lead to obnoxious traditions as noted not only in Mark 7:7ff., Matthew 23:13, and in Isaiah 29:11-24, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. This is hated by Christ as seen in the ironies of Isaiah and the zeal of condemnation in Matthew.
One is reminded of Gilbert and Sullivan, when the Judge attempts to speak to the court, and such is the hubbub and commotion, such the apparent dignity of the court which is keen to repeat his instructions rather than listen, that it is almost impossible, judge though he be, to make himself heard. So with the doctors who doctor the word of God, adding their thoughts to the thoughts of God and removing the contextual force which underlies His emphasis, they can make not a new world, but a new scripture, obedient like some small pet dog, to their hand.
it, as Christ declared. Hence fidelity to His word must not be imagined
to equate to the work of the 'sanctified', with some authority to ignore what it says, invent the
context, abandon its moorings or make some philosophical conception NOT
the word of God, its basis! We need to revert to reality as it declares it. The
word of God is inviolable in much and in little, like a vast aircraft engine,
but vastly more so. Fooling about with some aspect can readily lead to
corruption, if not of the text, then of its advice, orders, perspective and
Whatever the motives of various authorities and expositors, it is what is done that is crucial here. Their intents may vary; the results of this kind of action are of one kind.
When God promised to Abraham, the conditions were clear, the two beings were incomparably clear, the topic was stipulated, relevant, personal, not unduly profound in statement, though of profound importance. Stepping aside from such a thing say in the case of insurance, would incalculably ruin the reputation of that company who later did so.
Accordingly, not only do we find precisely this insistence on the part of God in Ezekiel 36:22, that despite ALL that He COULD cite against Israel, that nation of which uniquely so much is said, yet for His name's own sake, taking pity on His name, He will nevertheless restore that self-same and liberally defined nation to its own place, and have the Messiah enthroned in this milieu of time (Ezekiel 37:5). The tension and the triumph of His faithfulness is executing His word, is eminently clear in this passage of Ezekiel.
It is equally noted, that not long after its restoration in this setting (Ezekiel 38:8), in the "mountains of Israel which long had been desolate", specified foreign nations will act. That will seek to destroy that self-same rebuked Israel, is also clear in Ezekiel 38-39 as in Zechariah 12, where Israel so-named is predicted to be back in its own land, in Jerusalem indeed, and at that still unconverted - not a good aim to make this mean in some perverse way, 'the Christian Church' ! Such a clash with proposed meaning is intensive and extensive alike. When an interpretation contradicts the core of the words used, it is the most flagrant possible abortion of truth in such a case, to try to force that meaning on the words in view.
In parallel also, in Micah 7, in the context of the poignancy of spiritual review of Israel in its long sojourn in spiritual darkness, we come to the work of God in a stringently physical power (as in Isaiah 24) to humble the nations, with the production force of the historical Exodus (Micah 7:15). Such in that context is the fate of the fast and the furious, who do not wait upon the Lord for His will. This wrathful divine action on those chronically averse to Israel, will disperse their armies and destroy their physical power, granting to Israel (as in Isaiah 51:22-23) a complete reversal of the callous subjugations by imperial power of so many for so long. At this point, the relevance as always, of the evangelical thrust, the Gospel is made very clear (Micah 7:18-19), and the sworn mercy to Abraham is thus realised, as directly stated.
The mercy is, as it always was (Genesis 3:15, 12:1ff., 15:12-21, 17:1-18, 22:5-18), two-sided, Gospel-Messiah in general type on the one hand, and land and generation assurance on the other (within the confines of Leviticus 26, which indicated that a period of exile from their land could arise if disobedience were chronic). Even this was not permanent (Leviticus 26:44-45), indeed far from it (Deuteronomy 32:18-43).
Indeed, to this nation which is reviewed in Deuteronomy historically, who forgot the Rock which begot them (Deuteronomy 32:15,18), there is to come such a liberating divine dynamic, wrought in martial power, in invasion of invaders, in irresistible might, with fury and decisiveness as to execute vengeance. Taunting Israel for its trust in its own power (32:36-37), that Israel whose flamboyant departure from the faith is essential as an ingredient of the scenario, the Lord deals with its assailants.
As it was to be, already as in Zechariah 12, and 14, much of the detail of the impending drama has been acted out already; and the consummation is almost demanded by the verbalised slaughter of Israel (endless reference to the 'catastrophe' of its return, and genocidal declarations of a nation drawing nearer to arming itself with atomic weaponry), and impelling murders from beyond its bounds, even from some of the lands restored to the roistering neighbours, with such anti-God religious cries (cf. Matthew 24:24), the God of the Bible. It is He who acts; as always in the end. It is His word, His world and His promises. Leaving Him out, and twisting His word has a horrible suggestion of the treatment accorded the author of the word of God, the Eternal Word of God, when He came to earth to bring salvation from sin.
With this preparation, now we look in particular in Isaiah 66:6, we have a crucial item in this scenario.
Here we learn, as we found in the case of the atomic bomb when it exploded BOTH into the atmosphere and into the press in words, that there is a very definite combination.
Those trembling at the word of God, in a clearly designated case of the land called Israel (66:1-4), with its modes and manners and history (which is unique), now no more authorised to continue animal sacrifice (because of Isaiah 53's depiction) are going to find a remedy for their condition, and removal of the plight in which they are placed, as in Micah 7. Hated and cast out from Israel, from their brethren, they are going to see an overturning of this belligerent exclusion. It is certainly not the case that the Church which cast them out for not believing (though it would not even let them in), would repent of having excluded unbelievers; but the LAND and NATION of Israel which cast out the Christians.
That is something memorialised by Saul who changed his name when he changed his ways upon his conversion, to Paul. Now this nation of Israel will receive such back, whom they repelled and condemned, because NOW such disbelievers in Christ will no more hold the reins of government, and coming back to the Lord as in Ezekiel 37 and Zechariah 12:1- 13:1, to the resident the Lord Himself, as in Ezekiel 37:24ff., Jeremiah 23:5, Psalm 72, those suddenly converted (12:10) will take those reins, for the government will be upon His shoulder (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Consider the ludicrous character of the results when contrary to available meaning and absence of ground for making the words mean what they do not say, in an unwarranted imagery invasion, some sought to assimilate this generic 'Israel'-means-Church idea into this context (in fact there is considerable scope for imagination and this aspect is noted in Department of Bible ... Vol.2, Ch. 6, but imagination does not rule the text, but divinely supplied evidence).
Then we would have this. In an evangelical impact (in which in a battle situation, the 'slain of the Lord' are taken by some to refer to beneficial spiritual experience on entry into the family of Christ, when in fact the tide and temper in context is rebuke, wrath and derogation, a contrary to context case - Isaiah 66:15-16, what would we have what in Isaiah 66:6? In this imagined birth of the Church (in fact of the restored Israel as per normal in many contexts), there is on that model to be a vast, supernaturally induced work of suddenness, contrary to all expectation. It is to be exceptional and staggering in its suddenness to the uttermost for the defined nation. In fact, the text is talking about Israel and its often indicated restoration, here suddenly as was in fact the case in May, 1948. Prophecies are confirmed in what happens, not in what did not happen, and would be contrary to the biblical themes.
As far as the Christian Church is concerned, however, voiding the context to bring it into play, its birth followed that of Christ, in Bethlehem, of Him who was predicted to die in what is now A.D. 30*2, and which is in the context of what Paul calls the "fulness of times" (in Galatians 4:4), all organised, much predicted, all in order, anything but scripturally unexpected. It is the OPPOSITE of this noted: "before her time came, she gave birth," Isaiah 66:7. In the case of Israel, just as there WAS a predicted time for the death of Christ on earth, so there is NOT even permission to KNOW the time of His coming (Acts 1). But in that day, the time for the eruption of the Church was decisively dedicated to the time of the death of Him whose death was the ground and cause of such liberation (Isaiah 49-55).
But the suddenness of these preludes to the return of Christ, not in secret but across the heavens made manifest, is as stated, the context giving the understanding.
Let us then return to Isaiah 66:6. Supposing contrary to context, interpretation integrity and care, that this is all turned to what does not fit, to the Christian Church, right up to having Israel back in Jerusalem, so named in Zechariah, explicitly before they are converted to Christ, so preventing perversion of context, then we find a total abuse of terms consigned to flutter and fidget from one 'meaning' to another as in a cogitational fibrillation! Then in the midst of this apparently hallowed, pardoning, peaceable, gracious, encouraging, comforting flow, as in conversion and pardon, instead we find instead the direct opposite. What is it ? It is "the sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! It is the voice of the Lord who fully repays His enemies." That is the text in Isaiah for this nation born in a day! It is like talking in medical terms about a complex operation, and in the midst of it wandering thus: "You now take the mini-robotic device, and adjusting the current flow appropriately probe the wound, set about making any concurrent jazz music fit for your dancing steps!" It becomes alas, ridiculous so to mingle opposites; it is not merely the lack of the apposite, it is the government by what is opposite.
What then have we here ? It is non-repayment which is thematic in the Gospel, not squashing of those who threaten, let alone by such summary and physical means as here noted, in parallel contexts (as in Micah 7). Even amid the 'birth' of the nation (Isaiah 66:7-8). Indeed, to make clarity obstructive even to the uncertain, God continues: "For behold the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fir." That this does not resemble Gospel presentation, peace from the war of sin, but the result of its betrayal, judgment from the rejected God of the Bible, is obstructively apparent. Here the Lord, we learn, will JUDGE ALL FLESH (Isaiah 66:16) as in Micah, where its arrogance is replaced by what is contemptible. Now a furiously angry judgment of all flesh is not an accompaniment of a gracious work of the Spirit in bringing people back to the Lord. One is JUDGMENT on the world, the other is the foregoing of judgment on the converts.
If however you adhere to the context, then in this case, as in Zechariah 12, you have in the very midst of a vast deliverance for Israel the nation, now reborn for some little time, a rebuke to the forces trying to annihilate, eliminate it and refusing to acknowledge it as from the Lord even now! It is as in Deuteronomy 32, where the Lord indicates that He will "make My arrows drunk with blood," rather than cover the sins of shame with His blood. Vengeance and vicarious atonement differ...
There are limits to caricature, and this is well past them. In view is Israel, long unconverted, suddenly renewed as in a moment contrary to any natural expectation (many in 1948 had written them off as 7 nations invaded and sought to drive them into the sea, but God had written and ordained otherwise, showing the result in history in that period! in a spectacular manner.
What then do we have here ? It is this. Then at last coming back to the Lord as explicit in Zechariah 12, they find that HE acts as in the Exodus (where He repelled the national force of Pharaoh against the nation), now repelling and disgracing the national Gentile forces as such. Which ? It is even those which seek to eliminate Israel. One action in the two compared (Micah 7:15) was to enable commencement in moving to the Promised Land. This action, however, compared in character to that so long ago, comes after commencement for an Israel long absent from its land (Ezekiel 38:8), after in fact millenia of absence from their land, and for what end is this ? It is to enable continuation of the newly returned nation, and indeed, their use as a platform once more, this time for the very Gospel of the Christ whom formerly they as a nation, had murdered (as in Isaiah 66 as it moves towards its end).
Again, we must be realistic. In Isaiah 66, ZION is said to be giving birth to the nation, but if the imaginative suffusion of trying to turn the nation into the Christian Church here, were to be followed, the Christian Church (ZION ?) would be giving birth to the Christian Church. This reminds one of naturalism, where nature that is not there, gives birth to nature. In context, the case is that those (the Christians) whom the nation (theocratic) did not recognise, and instead cast out as evil, would now be recognised by that now changed and largely converted nation. It is as in Micah 7, their time having come, their exclusion becoming inclusion, the hostility gone (Isaiah 66:5,12), great will be the mutual tenderness, the division healed in Christ, the nation at last restored. So does the remnant of Israel come to the remnant of the Christian Church, itself greatly chastened as many have sought to bring it, it also, downwards to disaster (II Peter 2:1ff., Revelation 11, II Timothy 3-4).
Just as for the turning of a context into imagery, you need evidence, so for turning it even into a wholly diverse finding you need unequivocal warrant, . Yet when the result is as ill-fitting as the clothes of Charles Chaplin in his famous clown adventures, there is a profundity of impropriety, a direct and threefold clash with the word of God. It is not this which will be broken.
Indeed, the context in Isaiah 66 proceeds from nation and its characteristic faults, to eschatological confrontation with unbroken continuity. It is mere rupture to consider Jerusalem giving birth to children on the Christian Church readout for it, for then , as for example at Pentecost, for in that case, this great divine action would be the the creation of this 'Zion' of imagery, whereas in fact Zion is the base (Isaiah 66:8), not the result. What is born is a nation restored, a gap replenished, a slot in the nations refilled, a wonder to all, and the manner of it a marvel, against all human odds to the uttermost, precisely as predicted in Zechariah 14, a thing of wonder, where the very power of God seems apparent, as He travails to fulfil promise. It is this, with all the due solemnity of the word of God containing, controlling and drafting history to meet its predictive specifications (in turn wrought with the truth installed), that has happened, notoriously, staggeringly to the secular imagination (as shown in LIFE magazine full edition concerning the 1967 war), confirmatory as always, to the word of God written.
After the conversion which comes after a considerable, but not vast time following this national restoration, then those formerly cast out for their faith in Jesus the Christ, will be most acceptable, and there will be a harmony and a mutual joy as the second step in Ezekiel 37's account takes place; for when that development occurs, there is a grand completion. Then with all this done, at His time is the Christ Himself, to rule on this earth (Ezekiel 37:24-25). Then it is into new Zion, now doubly new, in national birth and in the midst of a huge swath of conversion, into a transformed Zion, one rejoicing in those it had formerly cast out, that the issue, the spiritual offspring of those formerly cast out, now come.
History with these things is doubly pregnant, and as in Romans 11, vast is the wisdom of the God who knows how to restore Israel to its former place as a people, one characterisable as in Christ.
In the USA in the nineteenth century (as to no small extent in the eighteenth), there have been revivals which could stop towns in their tracks, transform multitudes, reach headlines, shake the nation. While the secular society has indeed taken over a fallen nation in this twenty first century, at the spiritual level (despite what may be millions of Christians enmeshed in its current non-Christian status, as announced by the President, still in office), this downgrade is in acute contrast to those days. Scotland has likewise been deeply moved towards Christianity in its day, the whole nation coming close to a political, Westminster Confession orientation. In the case of Israel, long predicted, in detail foretold, in precise script and in poignant scenes exhibited, there is to be such a transformation as Zechariah 12, having located its place for a then unconverted Israel as that where Jerusalem lives and where Jewry is found, in such detail and constraining context, predicts. The result of this dynamic, the divine spiritual dynamic within Israel, placed clearly in Gospel terms amid the harrowing happenings simultaneous and challenging, is moving. There is to be an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to these developments, to this restoration, one delighted in by Gentile Christians as in Deuteronomy 32 and Micah 5 with Isaiah 66.
Indeed, in Micah 5:5-8. after bringing in the wonder of the Messiah and Israel's rejection of Him by smiting Him with a rod upon the cheek (literally fulfilled, for after all, the context is very practical), you see this national-spiritual deliverance moving on to Messianic Jews becoming a blessing, even as missions move. Similarly in Isaiah 66:19ff., you see a joint co-operative zeal in such labours, in terms totally in line with Paul's expression of wonder at the WISDOM of the Lord who in grace could and would bring about such a reconciliation to Him and to each other through His own one Gospel as to institute such a scene, from such a scenario (Romans 11:26-36). There, in a context of terms involving Jew, Israel, and Gentile, distinctively for exposition, we find that the part called Israel will ALL be saved when this comes, so that what was lacking will be so no more. Not only will what was not the Lord's people, the Gentile crew, be now His people, but the alienated Israel will now render its contingent as in Romans 11:26).
So in one as in all, all is fulfilled. That is the way with the Lord. He shows the scope of His meaning in any given place with care, and applies it, and needs no help with unwarranted intrusion of human imagination, but delights in its use, when it is governed and guided, constrained and constituted in terms of His own word, leaving no room for difference (Proverbs 8:8).
See for example SMR Chs. 8 and 9,
Red Alert Ch. 10.
On specification and fulfilment, allegories and actualities,
meaning and consequence concerning Israel ...
See on this topic:
Department of Bible ... Vol.2, Ch. 6 (foundational),
Vol. 2, Ch. 1, Appendix,
Vol. 4, 10,
Vol. 3, 10
Department of Bible ... Vol. 5, Ch. 4, Ch. 5, and Vol. 1, Ch. 10,
Why Not Believe the Lord's Christ! Ch. 5,
SMR Appendix A,
Galloping Events Ch. 8, *2,
Bay of Retractable Islands ... Chs. 19, 18
( in this case, the almost equally deplorable dispensationalistic extreme is exposed,
as in Biblical Blessings Ch. 3, for example),
Red Alert Ch. 10,
Things Idly Lost, Divinely Found ... Ch. 2,
Pilgrims and Strangers ... Ch. 3.
See for example The Christian Prescription Ch. 2, Christ the Citadel Ch. 2.