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THE ARGUMENT, ARGUMENTATION,
THE ARGUMENTATIVE AND
CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS
AND BRINGING EVERY TH0UGHT INTO CAPTIVITY TO CHRIST
There is a modern trend to despise reason, while pretending to use it, and so to be self-contradictory. As one often points out, if you contradict yourself, there is no need for anyone else to do so. You are invalidated at the outset.
But that is only one of the features of nihilism and all its atheistic, irrationalist, subjectivistic brethren.
Just as you get nowhere starting with nothing, since nothing has neither potential nor power, future nor past, scope nor strength, but is vacuity, far below mere nebulosity,
so you can get nowhere without grounds,
and if grounds interest you, it is mere confusion to bring them up at SOME stage while denying their schema from the first.
But if you DO not deny it at the first, then you need something there at the first, since having nowhere to come from and nothing to provide it, has no scope. Not only must what is adequate be there, but here eternally, since if at any time there were absolutely nothing, there would be absolutely nothing for a future, which is contrary to fact. This IS the future from a past, and there IS something now for which to give account.
Paul did not despise reason. Indeed we find in Acts 17:2, he reasoned habitually in one missionary journey at the synagogue level, that Jesus was the Christ, and that involved argumentation, even amid no small stir; and as if this were not enough, he indicated that one of his tasks was
imaginations and bringing every thought into
captivity to Christ,"
II Corinthians 10:5.
Nor is this less than what faithful pastors should be willing to do, each as in Titus 1:9, are
"holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convict those who contradict,"
while rejoicing when instead people who
"received the word of God which you heard from us, welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe,"
I Thessalonians 2:13.
So also he pursues the theme in Philippians 1:7, the theme of his expectation of their triumph in Christ, saying that this is so
"just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel you are partakers with me of grace."
Indeed, when anything against the word of God is presented or pushed, one has for some 64 years, both as a student in various colleges and tertiary places, in various lands, found it right both to answer in one's own mind any aspersions or assaults on the word of God, and at open doors, to challenge, often strongly seeking and finding opportunity, so that my conscience might be satisfied, in duty towards the God of the Bible, Lord of creation, and source for my soul, using the power of God as needed for this task, which is simply what one has to do in part of one's calling.
It is no matter of personal kind in itself, but like cleaning up in a dairy farm structure's floor after milking: it is something one has to do to keep things clean and sweet. It is no use shirking it, deeming it beneath one, being revolted by it, for soldiers of Christ are not mere disobedient rabble. Applying the point of the image, not only is the pastor to deal thus with assault on the faith, from within and relevantly from outside when pushed with evil intent, but also he is to answer likewise those who actually ask for a reason for the faith (I Peter 3:15), and ponder realism not mere comfort in being equipped as in Ephesians 6, and acting if need be, as at a national level, so at an ecclesiastical one, as in Numbers 16:16-24.
What do we learn from that case, the rebellion of the sons of Korah in the day of the Exodus tramp from Egypt and all that followed in train. There was here a flagrant departure from the character of their mission and a counter-authority to that current, namely through Moses as mediator, and in this, so like liberalism and neo-orthodoxy of yesterday, and much neo-evangelicalism of today. There is a departure from keeping to the word of God, sometimes surrounded with reasons for rebellion, a sop to satisfaction of those following another guide, not what is laid down in commandments but a new, sovereign selectivity, a guide and grant of man, implying another God, and another vision.
It then becomes as if the one God could be dissociated and rejoined in different ways with omissions and additives, like someone drugged. But it is not so. Look at the case in another time, but this same world before its God and only Saviour.
And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up! Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!” Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.”
And Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the Lord—you and they, as well as Aaron. Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.”
So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation. And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?” So the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’ ”
It was well they did so, as God personally dissociated them both from Israel and buried them in another medium, the earth. So for those who come and then go and yet remain, there is challenge to come clean in vision and mission; and if it becomes (as it often does), a new desire to be subversive, then separation becomes a new result. You do not need a roaring bull on a rowing eight, for company. This is a spiritual association with the Lord, and outside theocracy, it is one to be breached if subversively, then ALSO openly. If that leads to theological deals, then that must be severed or left.
In the New Testament,
provision is made tersely in Romans 16:17, AVOID those who depart from the
doctrine of the apostles (cf. I Thessalonians 2:13). You have to be clear about
the issue, but it is not a matter of taking years to be clear. That can be mere
equivocation and procrastination.
For all these things there must be clarification, argumentation where contest, but cleanness of mind in not being swayed by obvious departure from the word of God, despite many excuses that are still rejections. The WHOLE word of God must be preserved intact. It is impossible to dismember the word of God, without having author's rights, and as to other authors, let us see them and hear them, and hear their testimony and see their fruits. There is is none in works even close to contesting the matter of the words and works of the Lord and Saviour (cf. SMR, TMR and The gods of naturalism have no go!, Repent or Perish Ch. 2, Ch. 7, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, for example.
At the personal level one has taken on this necessity of being ardent for and faithful to the Lord and His word (as in John 17:7-11), for the past 64 or so years, and it has led in persecutions and results to ministry in four nations, and attacks and slanders aplenty; but to take up one's cross and continue in the battle, with the superb power of the God who never fails, has been at once a privilege and a responsibility. Though personalities can enter in as different ones breathe fire like dragons as I have found in nation after nation, they are not the point of the matter; but what it is, is the truth, the divine truth which must never be allowed to be whittled or wined and dined, as if it were a human ingredient, and the part of Christ's ministers were simply to look on.
Now take a case. In any milieu, culture, condition, situation in a given land and church or even majority of churches, there is likely to be a degree of accommodation for many with that culture, secular and foolish though it be, that is in ascendency in that place. In one way, this is like a rather loose woman, and indeed Ezekiel in particular; but Hosea not a little compares various idolatries, mixed or foreign worships such as occur when God is given up to doctrinal mutation: for His mouth is His own only, and infinitely disparate from milling human mouths as in Isaiah 55:8ff.). Maintaining that difference would be a good crusading cry!
In my time in various lands and seminaries, I have found first in one large seminary in St Louis, a decided and talented premillenial presentation, one Professor having written even an Encyclopedia on biblical prophecy, one of considerable depth and scope. Verse by verse, you can look up statements and fulfilments. He however died in an accident and now the amillenial (or when last I looked) seemed to hold sway. Much the same has happened in Australia.
One of the possible and often actual outcomes of such changes is this. Ignoring the plainest teaching of the Bible in multiple presentations and direct statements of indubitable, objective context (apart from the vagaries of text-free and context despising imagination), a denomination as in the US in a Presbyterian case, can not only remain blind to God's long stated intention concerning Israel, and His highly explicit covenant, promises in Zechariah, Jeremiah 31,33, Ezekiel 36-39, Deuteronomy 32, Micah 7, Luke 21:24, Romans 11, but all the others, and even generate a sense of man-made rejection of any relevance of current Israel to ancient prophecy! It reminds one not a little of Luke 24:25-26, and this adds a sense of poignancy and sorrow as one regards His words then!
In fact, Israel's
current history includes doings precisely and in order, incorporating nearly all
predicted, so assiduously land so long by so many prophets.
A PROFOUND ANOMALY
BASED ON BATTERING INSTEAD OF BELIEF
Attack in ignorance may even institute a commercial assault, even some churches joining in the drive and war against Israel, looking for its denudation, even seeking dictatorial direction over its buildings or actions, following its fulfilment in divine flourish, of the predictions about its victories over overwhelming odds and many nations. These attackers join the throng of those whose hatred or enmity or "ignorance" (contrary to the apostle's jurisdictive announcement in Romans 11:25), leads on to malevolence or a place to persecute even further, the remnant of Israel. In this, they inherit the warnings of Isaiah 51:21-23, Zechariah 12:2. God notes and notices such things both generic as in Genesis 12, and particular as in Ezekiel 38:22, 39:23 and spreads them out before men, whether they be blind or not. This is often seen with a profound patience not to be confused with indifference or lack of zeal, energy or determination concerning what must and will be, as He continues to perform His word just as He has said, not only in due time but in sure course.
The fact that the essential Jew is the one with the faith of Abraham, does not remove the character of either of the promises, just as it does not bring to heaven ANY unbeliever, Jew or Gentile. NOTHING else brings to heaven, but the Christ foretold for the New Covenant. NOTHING less than the two promises, equally, is their fulfilment. They were specific, clear, divinely generated, authorised and made a basis for much action at the earthly level.
Thus when it comes to the first-born essence of the covenant, which had two main features, possession of the land (subject to temporary dispersion if disobedient became chronic infestation), together with spiritual hope in the blessing to come, through Israel, there is neither truncation nor evasion. The blessing part is expansively defined in multitudes of sequential biblical sites, in the Messiah. His loving work and sacrificial day is given its operative basis in Daniel 9:25-27, the grand spiritual liberation in the vicinity of A.D. 30 in our day (cf. Christ the Citadel Ch. 2).
As to the site for the citadel, the earthly grave yard for Christ's body before it was raised, as for His crucifixion, God has added these features to the promise, but His delight in subtracting from what He has said is like delight in a toothache, a mere folly of words. He DETESTS it (Deuteronomy 4 and 12), and forbids it. It is presumption, not exposition, and involves here contradiction, not consummation. The Israel that is blind and brought back again (Isaiah 42:18-25). It is NOT the Christian Church, this being the opposite as the light of the world in its testimony of Christ and His word (Isaiah 49, John 9); the desolated Israel, smitten for sin and to be returned to its former place (Jeremiah 33), is not the prisoners of sin set free merely, but a smitten and rebellious people at the national level, whose repentance is still awaited.
Confusion of terms, contradiction of meaning, is NOT exegesis but eisegesis, not bringing out what is there but putting in what is not, at a whim, or for a confusion. It is like countersigning a cheque, while saying that the first signature is not there. It is simply contrary to fact. Clarity not confusion, not ambiguity, definition of terms in context, these are divine feature of speech not obscured (Proverbs 8:8) in fairyland musings, but declared in practical dimensions, words the basis for actions, travellings, attestations; for God is not only faithful but more so than any and the very source of such, to the jot and to the tittle as Christ attested (Matthew 5:17-19). It is not a question of imaging in such cases but imagination, depth but denial. God is responsible for what He says, not for what others without warrant and contrary to context, axe or add. What is warranted as the Westminster Confession rightly says, is secure to teach, not other doctrine.
In the end of this Chapter, a few of the Chapters from the
on this site on Israel and related matters, will be cited for swift address, but in the meantime, let us take the case of Romans 11. (Site: http://webwitness.org.au).
In Romans 9 and 10, we are given highly specific definition of what is here meant by the term "Israel", in a closely reasoned section of Romans. It is as John Murray points out in his two-volume Epistle of Romans, an ethnic matter,iron cast in categorical and continuing contrast with Gentile nations.
It is, moreover, not an Israel imaginatively grouped together in (our) minds, though never found again as a nation. So far from a transmutation in kind, being in view, there is an enormous emphasis on this concept and consideration:
what it was, so it is to resume,
what was its eviction, so is its inheritance,
what it lost, so it gains,
what was the losing entity, so is the regaining entity,
and in dealing with Israel as such an ethnic entity, regaining all lost in its milieu of misery, it is hard to have it when it is not there, no longer exists as an entity, with an internationalised Jerusalem, which very nearly happened when the UN offered just this to Jew and Gentile (Arab) alike. The Arabs refused it. Israel was willing to receive it. God did not permit this sodden alternative to ooze into existence.
And now ? after
failure to push Israel into the sea, as with Colonel Nasser, or into terror as
with thousands of missiles directed undiscriminatingly at its people, or into
defeat as in the statedly continuing war against it, from Iraq and Hussein ?
then ? It stands because God as promised for its return in Zechariah, has made it stand; it is His pleasure in mercy to do so, and in power to make it happen.
Now, there is no rest BECAUSE firstly many surrounding peoples want Israel NOT THERE (i.e. genocide) and the USA expects it to REASON and negotiate with such! as if to hold a conversation with someone sticking a knife at the back of your neck. To nations thinking like this, small wonder that Israel in general and Jerusalem is such a "burden", to use the word in the biblical prediction in Zechariah 12. If only the Secretary of State would read what is written and act on it, much would be spared. As to the word of God, whether in creation or history, it never fails to happen, which is more than be said for any other discipline, amid those of man's construction.
Secondly, UNTIL Israel returns AS A NATION to the Lord, as predicted in Romans 11, so very clearly, there is a continuing breach of relationship with Him on Israel's part, whose power alone once made Israel great, the nation being a missionary base, and site for the Messiah, who coming, incidentally, on prophesied time (cf. Christ the Prescription Ch. 2). like an express train, showed His power over man's mortal enemy, death, the track unmoved and the train of events fulfilled to the uttermost.
But this comes, and
He holds the earth, as in Isaiah 32:15ff. (cf. Isaiah 11) where in terms of
Messianic coming, there is a time set for blessing and the translation of
desolation to jubilation in the land of sorrow. This must wait
"until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,"
as in Zechariah 12:10. It is a time of divine choice as paralleled in Psalm 102,
and it is not for us to know its date this time! (Acts 1). That contrasts with
the case of the cross, where the time for Christ's sacrifice was heralded with
many details and much data. Now is a test, and blessed we read from the lips of
the Lord, is the servant now to be found faithful, when He comes. Faithfulness
is prized by the Lord; for HE is faithful, and what honesty is in integrity, and
what joy in its settled features.
TRANSFORMATION, TRIUMPH AND RESCUE
Thus instead of Israel, returned, being swallowed up by its uncompaniable surrounds and interfering nations, there will be not only return, but restoration, and even more important, transformation with repentance, even concerning the cross. Even amid assault, there is no abandonment. Israel was to be back as Christ declared, no more trampled by nations, and back it was to come spiritually also as in Ezekiel 36-37 and Zechariah 12. Indeed, Zechariah 12:10ff., shows categorically and definitively that Jerusalem in this leading context concerns unconverted people with a long past. That then changes in a Jerusalem already back and established, as in Ezekiel. The Lord first saving a marked multitude of these, in and of the nation, the prophet makes manifest, it is the Lord Himself who comes to exercise His wonderful rule in His Messianic Person.
This restoration of the nation to its place is made indeed a sign. It is near to Christ's own return as in Psalm 102, as in Luke 21:28. Indeed, when the listed features on earth COME then not only is His return near. Even when they 'BEGIN' to happen, it is so. There are no centuries of waiting. Moreover there is no time for some shoved in millenium for the Church to use to extinguish the evil of the nations, for it is IMMEDIATELY after the tribulation of these days, inclusive of the Jerusalem feature, that Christ sends His angels for the elect (Matthew 24:29), just as is the case of judgment supervening the activity in strength of the evil powers, without pause or any intermission, in Daniel 7:23ff..
It must be realised, let it be said again, that not only is God the ONLY author of creation, of salvation by grace through faith, for there is no other payor, redeemer or author of the one or the other (Acts 4:11). Indeed, just as these two apply, so does the rescue, the escape when the time of man's testimony of the Gospel and teaching of ALL the commandments of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) is completed on the earth (Matthew 24:14). This fulfilled, the time of Christ's return comes blazing forth for HIM to perform as in Revelation 19, II Thessalonians 1. Man is neither creator nor saviour nor world subduer, and must abide till his own appointed work is done, not invent further and contrary features to his regimen. What God gives, man takes, not something else; but if he does, it is not his work and brings only pain, needless suffering and trouble. Man does not create peace on earth, but ministers in the Gospel its ways.
His thrusts have cited purposes, not vague additives from man.
On the contrary, Romans 9:25-27 quotes from Hosea showing that when those who had been called NOT MY PEOPLE are revived and restored, this will happen.
"And it will
come to pass that in the place where it was said to them,
You are not My people,
shall be called sons of God."
One can read the term "in the
place", and note the parallel, for
it is this.
Where ONCE desolate, deprived, destroyed to within a small
they experienced no more the grandeur and temple access
and profundity of divine direction as a people, which had been the case
(various dips apart), THERE in that place, something will happen.
What then is that ? It is this. There will now be more than a rejuvenation: it will be a restoration of the most natural kind (Hosea 2:16ff.), on the basis of supernatural work.
There will be a sense of rejoinder, restitution,
reconstitution, parallel ingrafting,
rejoicing to match the grief and national status, to replicate the former, and fulfil the unlimited promise concerning the land as in Genesis 17:7-8.
To be sure, this is THEIR way to the one Gospel, that of the Messiah whom they AS A NATION had stricken, than whom there is no other name (cf. Psalm 72, Acts 4), and by whom ALL (as any) MUST be saved: yet this not in commanding glory (Ezekiel 36:22) but in abashed repentance (Zechariah 12:10ff.). They will regard with massive mortification "Him whom they had pierced" in personal vehement address to the God of pity and grace for this national failure. Such is this epochal action, as in Jeremiah 33. To this end, the spirit of grace and supplication is, in the time chosen, to be poured out upon them. And indeed, as in Jeremiah 33:10ff., moreover:
those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David,
A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment
and righteousness in the earth,"
as in Isaiah 11. This duplicates the Matthew 24 teaching. Indeed, this (cf. Jeremiah 31:32) is on the way to the crescendo of passionate divine emphasis on the restoration of the fallen nation, rigorously defined.
All this we read from texts written some two and and half thousand years ago, before even the crucifixion, here pronouncedly predicted!
ALL of Israel are then to be back, so that "all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26), for as Paul proceeds to exhibit, "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." These come, PLUS those won by Christ who is also predicted as a "light to the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6) in a spiritual whole (Galatians 3), and the site of the slaughter of the Son of God will then, on Christ's return as in Zechariah 14 ( which has some symbolism as a mode of expression of the data) be blazoned as in Isaiah 2, Micah 4, because of the then ruling Messiah (as in Isaiah 9,11,32 and Psalm 72).
Let no one therefore attempt to re-write what is written with cacophonous clashes, but abide in His word, if obedience be the criterion and the clarity of divine diction.
A PURIFYING PERSPECTIVE
Extended and Reviewed
In Romans 11, then, concerning the Gentiles in the context of Israel's demise and restoration, in the tree-branch imagery ? As was their removal, cutting off, so is their restoration; as was their 'death' so is their life, even like life from the dead, we read. It has just that continuity as with Lazarus which death to life indicates, for it was not some other body that was raised; and just as was their desolation, and where, so is their promised site; and as God said, so He does. As He promised, so He performs, not substituting for land, the sky or any other phenomenon, but honouring His undertaking, while yet abashing Israel for its profound failure; and with all this, rejoicing, and blessing it anew in that unfailing and honourable love which is His.
This is no mere emotion, but a devotion of depth which the Christian knows to be infallible and immeasurable and sealed with the word of God (Ephesians 1:5,11, 13). As human fraud is unreliable as a vehicle for salvation (as in Hebrews 6), now as it was in the Old Testament (cf. Deuteronomy 29), so ecclesiastical presumption. His gifts and calling, note again, are without repentance, for He does not rescind an unlimited promise.
He is faithful, not perfidious; without iniquity, not insidious. So does He declare and so does He show Himself to be, careful of His name, on which many depend (cf. Ezekiel 36:31ff.).
Yes, He pursues it in Ezekiel 39, WHEN He has acted against the crusading invaders of Israel in their predicted massed attack on that restored (Ezekiel 37:1-14,21-25) nation, THEN this is what will be realised: it was for their SINS they were severed from their appointed place in His presence, and for HIS MERCY that they are now restored to it in the inviolable purity of His promise (Ezekiel 39:23-29). That is His declaration. That is what will occur, as stated.
That the Lord has both spoken it and performed it will make them KNOW why they have had this history, and where they return will attest their defiled but regenerated condition. Facts speak. So will they do in this case.
Such is the prediction for this series and situation. Then as in Ezekiel 37:24, in that grand predictive chapter of the two-part restoration of Israel, first it is a case of coming back to its land as of dead bones restored from all around the world, to the site of its dispersal; and then in spirit the return is to the Lord in a separate command, with the description of the nature of the situation to follow in this total setting and divine divulgement. What are these ?
We find that it will be associated with a departure from defilements, as had happened so often before, and furthermore, there will be a residential presence of the Messiah, the son of David, as in Ezekiel 37:24, and the nations will surely know that it is the Lord who sanctifies Israel (37:26). Nor will they return to their wicked ways which severed their standing as a people; for they shall have One Shepherd, transforming their lives.
Indeed, when the transaction is complete, and the ravaging nations are ruined in their unruly and inveterate assault on Israel, the nations
"will know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies and they fell by the sword... "
"shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer, and I will not hide My face from them any more."
Let us hear it as in Ezekiel 37:10-14 (it. added).
prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them,
and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say,
‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’
"Therefore prophesy and say to them,
"Thus says the Lord God:
O My people, I will open your graves and cause you
to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves,
O My people, and brought you up from your graves.
I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live,
and I will place you in your own land.
Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,”
says the Lord.’ ”
As to the LAND from which they were removed: so it is to the LAND, they are restored (Ezekiel 37:10-14, 36:6-15). That is one point made. It is dramatic, it is almost ecstatic, it is reciprocal, balanced, so that as He acted to discipline, so in like manner He will act to resume on the same Messianic basis as they tore at Calvary. If God cannot speak, what is the use of using His name! As He can, who made man's mind and tongue, what is the use of abusing His words with enfranchised imagination, making man joint author! WHEN they at last ARE BACK, then Christ will soon join them as Lord of this world as in Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:24, Ezekiel 37:24. Is there some objection ?
Is it as at some Presbytery meeting when all is agreed, and someone then brings in an irrelevant contradiction, as if dreaming, or too preoccupied to listen? We find that in His coming, Christ is consummating the wonder (as in Psalm 73), restoring the situation, applying the covenant, in the way He chooses, of which He has so often spoken, fulfilling the unqualified promise both in land and love, contradicting only those who have issue with His word, whether admittedly, not liking it, or subversively, simply not following it
As to obstruction for the national return and safety, He will remove it; as to salvation, it is available till the judgment. The word of God is not made null, in part or whole, because some part of it offends some tradition, or track of thought. The path is like a four-lane highway in directness, basis and context, eminently clear concerning who does what and what the Lord is about to do.
Those sent out in the Lord's fury from His gracious presence, because they had joined with the idolatries of the other nations, these will be restored to their mountains and to their place, and to their position. It is not to the Old Testament regimen of rules and procedures, to be sure, for as the Lord so often declaimed, it is to be a new covenant, for this too is predicted and in due course becomes applicable. It is this wonder in the Lord, into which their very hearts are to be poured (as in Jeremiah 31:31ff.). And where ? It is to the promised premises from which, for sin against Him their Lord, they left (as in Micah 5:1-3). The promised premises are not an alternative to the premissed promises; for both are predicted, and the former precedes the latter in the text.
To their distinctive difference in site, so misused, in mercy they return. Sent as a nation for sin, from land and Lord, they are received for demonstration of the mind of the Lord, and His plan, even in His pity for His name (Ezekiel 36:22), which is one of fidelity and mercy, uncompromising power, reliability and prodigious precision (Matthew 5:17-20), unchangeable in depth as in detail unmatched in efficacy. He will rebuild with the same assiduity as He broke down (Jeremiah 31:28). WHAT He restores is what He broke down; just as HOW He restores is as He broke down (Jer. 31:28), just as moreover, what He restores is what He so dramatically defends when it is back in place both in site and sight (Micah 7, Zechariah 14, Deuteronomy 32).
From this, against their wills, but for their follies, they were taken; to this, despite their sins, for His faithfulness they are returned, very much like lost luggage, restored from another airport to the place and site of original (and in this case, persistently promised) destination as intended.
What then ?
THEN you will know, He declares to Jew and Gentile, the perspective. Just as, from the land, they went for sin, to it they come to teach many things to many, and this, in a mercy not only precise and powerful, but just and adjusted to His word, which He has set above all His name (Psalm 138). How MANY times do we have to read that it is to the land as well as to the promises of spiritual premises that they are to be restored.
Is not once enough ? Is this not multiplied both directly and indirectly many times, both in sustained contexts of overall review of the unique position of Israel, and in eschatological application of what is stated to be determined in the mind of God, to happen, its point and substance proclaimed as well!
Such unified and consistent predictions are capable of adjustment only IF the one seeking to change them can reorganise the heavens, the Lord advises; and the Lord commends the wisdom of not attempting to make such changes to His stated intentions concerning the repeatedly precisely defined Israel, unless one is thus master of the heavens, lord of the universe. Some do not seem to heed this. So do we find repeated even, in Jeremiah 31 and 33, as in a two-engined warplane, sent with a mission of peace with the words for surrender: these are theirs to utter, not any from the Lord! His conditions do not alter in kind.
Let us be very sure: when one contests with the Lord, there is no peace, even in needless ignorance (Luke 24, Romans 11:25).
The place of Israel, its restoration, is signifying the near return of Christ, its coming conversion as a major sign to the world and indeed, its national restoration to its so long enemy occupied place, this likewise as Christ directly declared (Luke 21:24) tells us, Christ's coming is near! and that tell us much more. What do such things mean ?
They mean this. If these things specific to Israel be denied, then is the word of God denied (not the word of men, remember Paul in I Thessalonians 2:13); and the pastor must insist, lest the people be deprived of prophetic encouragement, wisdom and perspective, vision and awareness in this profound style of the divine faithfulness being incorruptible. Thus so he must preach and teach with all the word of God. In so preaching, and with all due argumentation, he needs to point out that this is what is divinely declared. In the end, unless the listener be ready to study the case and avoid or cease from being an agitator, there is separation.
So is Israel back, and this is news for grand rejoicing amid biblical Christians, for it was predicted, has occurred and is listed by Christ Himself in His own words, saying this of their capital. The trampling of Israel was to cease, Gentiles no longer controlling it. This has happened. THEN His return comes, when people are not looking for it! It is a warning like an air-raid warning, and thus the wail of the siren is heard more than once, as one seeks to restore wanderers from the truth to the available place of divine reassurance.
Jerusalem will no more be so treated to Gentile boots, for the age of its oppressors over, this is then finished. Moreover, not only is it back in its land, as shown so often in other prophecies, but THIS section of the multiply brilliant Gospel has its own part to play even for others, for all; for here is a signal.
after some 1900 years) it becomes a visible datum (not an opinion)
that Israel is back in its land with its Jerusalem
(as in Zechariah 12:6, so emphatically),
the people back where they came from,
right back there ("their own place - Jerusalem"),
text declares (and they have NO other place specifically
their own place), so that
repenting are IN PLACE, and repent nationally,
specifically of their piercing the Saviour (as in 12:1ff.), so that
who had been IN and then OUT of divine favour,
are now discovered BACK in their place, "their own place"
as vacated in desolation,
this being as fitting to the entire context where they are unique, which is invoked:
another RETURN is defined as "NEAR."
Alas for closed eyes. What in the world is their own place to which they are restored, from which they were for stated reasons expelled, and to which by name they are carried back from the whole international body, to mean, if it is no particular place, and why emphasise that it is not only their own place but in repetition, specify it as Jerusalem. The mutual translation, IN, OUT and IN AGAIN, for Israel, is specified, emphasised, repeated, made distinctively diverse from anything else by name, site, situation and characterisability of a unique kind, again and again; and yet the fog confuses as in the day of Christ concerning His first coming; for alas the eyes of many to this day, also appear to be shut. But the word of God is not shut.
So after Israel is back where it came from, in terms of a covenant sustained despite their unworthiness (Ezekiel 36-37, Genesis 17:7-8), brought back from world-wide dispersion like dead bones reassembled in their Israel site physically, the very same Israel, dispersed both from the land and from closeness to the Lord for folly and now restored to closeness for mercy (Ezekiel 37): then too there is another to come.
It is another who comes just as He left (as noted in Acts 1:7ff.), and that in His case, was as in a cloud: and so He comes again, the same Jesus in like manner (cf. Mark 14:62). He came as a child, He comes as a King; it both cases He comes as stated, not from the luxury of the imagination of men, but according to the word of God. If indeed you had to change things according to the thoughts of men (Isaiah 55), where would the Gospel be! Thus a child does not mean a university professor, and Bethlehem does not mean New York or Rome, for that matter.
Moreover as we learn in both Matthew 24:29 and Daniel 7:23ff. this is "immediately" after all the sorrows and trials of the tribulation. It is not for us if following the word of God, to decide that the incarnation was not this or that (it was to happen and did, with a BABE! in a stated Bethlehem), or to decide concerning things eschatological, to scorn any part of his announced program as too this or that. What is given exclusion in principle, this is one thing; what is not, that is another. When dealing with God, it is always needful to realise that you are being dealt with, and to LEARN. If His feet this time are to touch the Mount of Olives, as the babe was to touch Bethlehem, who is this that re-writes the irony or the tenderness or both, in the divine ascription!
Do not all the squalid separations, so often made from part of the word of God here or there, teach us to realise that every jot and is meaningful and applicable in the divine diction (Matthew 5:17-20), and that WE are not the perfect precisionists, whom He made, who aspire even to correct God when His speech is so governed (cf. I Corinthians 2:9ff.)! When will these things sink in to much in theology, where simple little affairs like metaphors and allegorical pieces are treated as if the Author were a child, context apart, and we are grand old scholars, so that we cannot hope to teach Him the meaning of speech and how to make oneself clear ?
When it does, that would be a glad day and it will come, just as in multiplied references to the early church, so it is shown much of it came in the first centuries. He means what He says within the sanctions of contextual clarity, and therefore His word is CLEAR and not contrived, as Proverbs 8:8 reminds us all.
Thus as that verse declares, it is all clear to him who understands. You can wander about in His words, but when you take it to give what is utterly clear, and do not remove or add to fit your level of understanding, then the clarity becomes both overwhelming and beautiful, as with mist diffusing away.
Thus, the "NEAR" time for Christ's personal return comes after the Israel restoration, and the restoration of Jerusalem, rescued by divine deliverance and rendered back to the Jews (Micah 7, Zechariah 12). They need to be there in order to have a capital, and how enthusiastically the Lord speaks in lively imagery of their being BROUGHT BACK to their land from the dispersion which carried them far from it. It proceeds with the simplicity of a child unbent by the unpopularity of those who are too easily diverted, whether by tradition (Mark 7:7) or otherwise. You are back; He calls His own and He is back, and they with Him.
Thus it is with His own, He returns from heaven (I Thessalonians 3:13), making two returns! COMING for them, His angels sent to gather, and arriving WITH all His saints as stated. Now, following His return, they find in their repentance a resident Prince (as in Ezekiel 37, Jeremiah 23, Isaiah 11).
Thus that to which we are NOW drawing near is not unclear. Near to what ? Why, as in Matthew 24, to the terminus of the tribulation of the saints, who are "reaped" from the earth and taken to the Lord, each one, as also in I Thessalonians 4. He comes, even He, with "all His saints" after the wedding of Revelation 19:8, all things in the divine order as in an operation; and this IS the great operation at its finale stage.
As to millenium, to try to make some period of this world's known past history as now known, into that is like trying to make black, white, or felicity out of duplicity: or ferocity out of faithfulness - or rather just the reverse! To insert such a period before Christ's return, when the emphasis is present on His coming IMMEDIATELY following the rigours of the tribulation, His coming with the sending for the elect of God, to remove them to Him, exiting the tribulation, what is this ? It is a work likewise merely of undisciplined imagination.
The TEXT is eminently clear. Only by contradiction or excision or both, can another scenario be produced, in which Israel does not come back to its land, where this is not a sign that the coming back of Christ is near, or where this is not a signal for the early reaping of the elect. FROM the tribulations impressed with such unholy grandeur. As in Revelation and Daniel in particular, the reaping of the elect, the divine intervention comes amid the rigours of the terrible. Otherwise "immediately" is no more so, but something else.
Fantasies need avoidance. The script of the scripture, the word of God written may be avoided, or the eyes averted if rebellion is desired.
To TEACH against these things presumes another Bible, another scenario, another doctrine, and to assume the saints conquer the world, and Christ arrives to say thank you is just as unscriptural as having man participate in his own salvation. Whether the rescue be in salvation or in deliverance, it is wrought by GOD through His own direct power; and whatever He chooses to use, so He uses it, but it is His in the end. His own power does not equal human power, utilise it how He will. Salvation like evacuation, is of the Lord; and the same applies to Israel; for it is when He sees that their strength is gone (as in Deuteronomy 32), that He acts with a wonderful work which shatters the world's presumptuous arrogance (cf. Micah 7), as is its due. It is then the tables are turned, the antichrist is overturned, his rancorously preyed on peoples freed.
Thus this rescue is not something for an entity called a church, which has its own spiritual mission as in Matthew 28. It does not rightly meddle with the power politics of man, as Peter began to do, before the profound rebuke of Christ Himself (Matthew 26:52ff.). Pilate too was taught otherwise (John 18:36). It is scarcely of Christ if a religious body in its prognostications, so riotously departs from His own word, and from those statements of His prophets alike, like a car trying to mount a hill for a view, and not using the engine. It is God who delivers, while man is weak, He ALONE gains glory in that day (Isaiah 2:17).
This collection, then, defence of the Gospel, confirmation of it, casting down imaginations, watching for wolves (Acts 20:29) is but one of the duties of pastors, a prescription to perform or at least arrange, and has in type as little to do with the merely personal as has the atomic bomb with hair oil.
SOME MORE RECENT
CHAPTERS ON ISRAEL
WITH REFERENCE TO THIS CONTEXT
The five volume work on Israel is found in the text above.
A major contributor is found in SMR Appendix A.
The four in view are:
World Amiss.. Ch. 8, Ch. 9, Department of Bible ... Vol. 11, Ch. 16,
Mercy Outdistances Judgment Ch. 9,