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- THE TRAGEDY, THE VICTORY and THE TRIUMPH
Jerusalem is now set to become a super-metropolis, with towns on the West of it, to be annexed, but those on the East merely to receive municipal services. Outrage! comes the response from the U.S. and the Arab voice. But why?
Because the Jews who, unlike the Arabs, lost around half of their world population in the World War II, have now a narrow-necked piece of real estate, laughable, entirely laughable in terms of the size of surrounding Moslem and Arab real estate; they have indeed a land all but indefensible, pressed and in peril enough, as Nasser and Co. showed when the declared aim was to push the Jews into the sea! (You may remember how at that time, the UN forces of peace judiciously withdrew, and Nasser had an open road, apart from the amazing provision of the Almighty, and what He chose to use to fulfil His purposes, stated, as we shall note, for a few thousand years, in this matter).
What then are we finding now that
the one appointed in the Old Testament under the command of God... (cf. SMR pp. 822-829, 874ff.).
Is it then this that we now read of? Is it that each nationality, or race or entity with historic roots is to have its "go", its opportunity, not oppressed out of existence? Is this the current international rationale? Is this what occupies the minds of the international power pundits at this time, does then this appeal to the U.N. for example?
If so, it is not noticeably enforced in this case, but the powers that be - in terms of what is being done at least - seem intent on HELPING Israel's dissolution, or at last throwing the balance of power in the direction of those whose religion and race is AMPLY and even ABUNDANTLY provided for in the many other lands about, with territories abundant.
Why is this new oppression of the Jewish State proceeding? It is true that a group of Palestinians whose historic roots go back to leaving, at least substantially of their own accord in 1948 (and Israel vociferously protests that they were not MADE to leave, it was just that their kin and Israel's enemies were intent on Israel's destruction at that time, and it appears they were not 'interned' as were some Germans in Britain in World War II for example...): were in major substance, merely free to leave, and present in a war zone.
It is true that their Moslem friends with a huge amount of land and many nations do not see fit to absorb them. They are not all poor, having contributing to the change of the U.S. from being the world's greatest creditor nation, to the one - in bulk amount - the largest debtor in some 10 years during the balmy operations of the Middle East oil cartel in the 1980's. While perhaps billions were spent in the Iran-Iraq war, it is still true that there is some money available in the area...
It is also the case that 'Palestinian' non-identification at least on a substantial scale, with the Jewish people at the time when Israel's existence was under explicit, martial and ruinous threat, is scarcely in question. Unless they identified with the Israeli desire and design for a homeland in that historic place, then they were contrary then, and showed it to no small extent, in no small number at least, in leaving. The war zone threatened, the Jews were naturally enough very militant and active for their work, and when - or if - the Arabs won, then all would be available.
At that, is England to be condemned for interning Germans? Perhaps, and perhaps not; but Israel is scarcely to be condemned for having doubts about the current concept of provision ex gratia of a State, especially one including their historic capital, Jerusalem, within their minute midst, to those whose ambitions do not, now at least, include the welfare of Israel as an independent, sovereign and defensible State, with enough room to grow.
This is not to say that one has no sympathy for the Arabs. Certainly as often shown in this Web Page, the Moslem religion does not have the advantage of being in tune with the word of God, infallibly expressed in writing in the Bible and in life in Jesus Christ. But then, neither does the Jewish State have this advantage.
That, in fact, is precisely what is back of the hubbub, the divinely ensured current hubbub in the Middle East. Would it not be terrible if the U.S. were to revert to something more akin to the policy of Reagan, with obvious concern for the rational provision of means to help the Jews continue in their State, without becoming any nation's puppet, or that of any group of nations! The fact is that it is predicted in the word of God that Jerusalem be a "burdensome stone" to those who attack it in the time of the Jewish return, prior to their repentance and accepting Christ. That of course is the post-crucifixion return (of necessity, for you cannot repent of what has not yet been done) of the Jews to their land, which historically is, and is only, that which became formal in 1948.
Burdensome stones tend to cut and crush. They do not make for a peaceable life-style, to use the chic terminology of what normally has a polluted application! At least it will be understood... But that is not all.
Zechariah 12:1-3, where this prediction is found, just before the reference, in 12:10, to the Jewish people having an enormous restoration of far more significance than that to their land, when they shall "look upon ME whom they have pierced", with repentance: this first part of Zechariah 12 also speaks of this Jerusalem as a "cup of trembling to all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem."
A cup of trembling reminds the Bible reader of Jeremiah 25, where as the king of Babylon was preparing to invade and ruin (in prophetic terms) the nation of the Jews, an invasion allowed and indeed explicitly sanctioned by the Almighty because of their astounding record of rebellion against Him (Isaiah 30:7-10 speaks of the latter), a certain symbolic ceremony was envisaged.
It was, as shown by Jeremiah, as if the Lord were giving 'cups' of wine to the nations, and insisting that they take them. These represented the 'gift' of the Lord to these who had asked for His judgments, and the wine was rather a wine of wrath than of joy!
So the "cup of
trembling" means that
All efforts to surround, to lay siege, to assault this people, so returned, would be non-triumphant. We have in SMR Ch. 9 discussed these things at length. Our present purpose is to note the ineffectuality of the U.S. and U.N. policies in this regard. They are merely stirring the waters, and 'taking on' the Almighty when they seek to de-constitute the reliable freedom of Israel and its national independence, by any kind of international sanction. This, then, is NOT because the Jewish people are all saints; it is NOT because religiously they are right and the Arabs are wrong. It is because although BOTH are religiously wrong (NOT the Jewish race, but the Jewish NATION which has formal policies and approaches and ethos - that of Jewish people, racially, depends of course on the particular person in view): both those who oppress, connive, assault and seek to infiltrate or change Israel to be some sort of synthesis with their utterly different selves, and the Jewish NATION itself.
No, dear political zealots, and more reasonable people alike, this is nothing to do with race at that level. It is to do with the promises of God to a particular people whom He once exalted when they did His will and whom - according to an explicit COVENANT AGREED on by the Jews, but one not subject to change or negotiation for all that - He would punish in certain ways for breach of contract and bless for its keeping.
The dispersion was expressly part of the penalty of breach (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 29-33), and so has been the mockery of the Jew (SMR Index) , an unhappy malady with many misguided persecutors, but nevertheless an historical fact. Part of that doubtless arises from their once amazing eminence and divine protection and their current situation! That of course is the result, as the Bible explicitly affirms, of breach of contract. It is more lofty than a normal contract, being called a covenant; but it is not less. That is what the Bible teaches and it is useless to be ignorant. It is simply a fact.
While then, the nations, as was the case with the U.N. partition plan of 1947 which amazingly had the gall to suggest Jerusalem as an international city (try international London! Why they don't even like a European monetary unit! and one does not blame them! unity is good, but it depends entirely on this: with what!) - while they undermine the integrity of the Jewish nation, Israel, as if its solidity and strength were really a bit much, there is no hope of peace.
Nor for that matter, is there any hope of peace until the Jews, as Zechariah 12 makes clear is to come, repent of the crucifixion of Christ. This is not a political thing; but it does have political results in this setting. The reason includes this: God is BOTH protecting and empowering them as promised so dramatically in the Bible prophecies of Zechariah for this period (cf. SMR Appendix A), AND not granting them peace, for there is no peace without an abiding one found only in Christ, the only Saviour, who in turn is Jehovah of the Jews, in the flesh, Jesus the Christ (Philippians 2, Isaiah 45:17-23, SMR Ch.7, Section 4). God in flesh, crucified to cover sin, He is also Lord (see Peter's speech in Acts 2!).
None of this is new, for it has been out in Zechariah for around 2500 years, and in Christ, for many thousands (see The Everlasting Gospel, in Barbs, Arrows and Balms, and SMR Ch.9) in germ, for 3000 in detail, and for some 2700 years in fine detail; and indeed, it is some 2000 since He actually arrived in fleshly format to do His strange work (Isaiah 28-29), His crucifixion to be followed by resurrection and eventual return to rule, and to rule not least in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14, Psalm 72, 2, 45, Zephaniah 3:8-20; and *1, *2 below). The informed among us will realise that this is precisely where, according to divine plan (Isaiah 52-53 focusses it, as do Daniel 9, Acts 2:21-31) He was murdered by a combination of Jewish and Gentile power. While it is true that some of the Jewish people, notably the Establishment of Temple Officers and religious zealots - CALLED for His crucifixion, it is not less true that a GENTILE Governor of the then dominant Gentile power, the Roman Empire, SANCTIONED, PROTECTED AND PURSUED IT!
So let us avoid the foolish selectivity! It is of course also true that the Jewish people gathered asked for His blood to be on them and on their children (Matthew 27:24-25), that He was to be THEIR PRINCE, and that now He will be PRINCE for ALL NATIONS who are part of HIS COMMONWEALTH (Philippians 3:20-21, Isaiah 49:6), when He returns so that "the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" - Habakkuk 2:14, cf. Isaiah 65, Revelation 20, and cf. SMR pp. 502ff.).
"You would not!" As Jesus said, "But you were not willing!" (Matthew 23:37), and again, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hidden from your eyes!" - and it proceeds to what we now have all seen to happen!
Palestinians, like the Jews, have hope ONLY in the same Christ, who apportions land as He will, and in this season of our history, according to His word (Ezekiel 34-39) is making the point that what He provided for the Jews, however they may have managed to - and in fact did - fail Him, is His affair. He maintains what He will, and when He apportions history by declaration and affirmation without reservation as He has here done (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28-32, Isaiah 37:20-28), all that He has said occurs. It is not only that He is intensely faithful, as is the case; utterly reliable in all things. It is also one of His ways of showing the truth to the hard-hearted and strong-willed. He ALWAYS does it.
Thus, although the Jews have not yet AS A NATION returned to the crucified Saviour whom God provided for them as for us who are Gentiles, they are nonetheless subject to His rules, as are all nations, and this their land is the one He has defined for their return, even the One where He was crucified. It is indeed this one where He will make clear His OWN RETURN! (Zechariah 14).
HE will keep His word WHOEVER does not! At present in the nations involved, that seems almost EVERYBODY!
Such a situation is rather like a cauldron; and when you add to it the specific warning noted earlier, in Zechariah 12, about the cup of trembling to THOSE ROUND ABOUT, and to those laying siege to Jerusalem (and the verbal counts here, it is part of the force spectrum involved), and about the burdensome stone ... the fire is evidently well-supplied with fuel!
Small wonder then we read in the Australian article noted, these words:
The Jews have been evacuated from the land, for a reason and for judgment and returned for a reason and for covenantal faithfulness to exalt the Lord and help the nations to look for Him who is true. Neither could be prevented once the word was expressed, though the Lord waited long before expressing it, and warned from the outset.
Try and cry who will, the Lord will return for His people, and in the meantime, Jerusalem is simply not available for domination and control by outside powers. There will be trouble enough for those who try, the word of God shows.
WHEN He, the Lord, HAS Himself returned and taken His people, He will THEN re-visit the scene of His crucifixion, that is, the city, but as King (Zechariah 14, Psalm 72, 2, 45, Zephaniah 3:8-20). This time none will be able to betray Him, for He is manifest in power (Psalm 2, Isaiah 24:23, Psalm 2, 110). HIS PEOPLE, as He has made very clear for very long (Isaiah 65:10-13, 66, 24:16-23, Psalm 45:10-11) will then be the Messiah-people, comprising those from every nation.
Some will have Jewish roots, some other, but all will find in the New Covenant, the everlasting covenant of Christ, the fulfilment of the patterns, and all will see in all that God does, the fulfilment of ALL His words, even every one, whether general or specific, to some or to all ; and ALL will have but ONE GOSPEL with ONE LORD and ONE GOD and ONE BODY and ONE FAITH, in Christ the Messiah (Isaiah 65-66, Colossians 2:9-11, Hebrews 12:22-13:8, Ephesians 1:10, 2:11-15, 4:4, Colossians ; and so it will be till the earth departs and the heavens like smoke, the LORD and HIS righteousness remaining, yes and HIS SALVATION (Isaiah 51:6). For in Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:33); and He has spoken, and His is eternity and it is for those who are His.
But let us revert to Jerusalem NOW! and the current status of Israel and ... the others interesting themselves in its status, from outside it!
Let us be clear: this is not only tragedy and victory, it is triumph; the first pair are particularly grave in their impacts and results; and the third is superb in its wonder.
It is tragedy that the Jewish people have so suffered; but it was a suffering that could have been avoided (cf. Isaiah 30 as quoted earlier). It is tragedy that the Gentiles so suffer, and their day is coming and in no small measure has come, as in sophisticated ways, the nations turn their backs with increasing certainty on the Gospel and the God who gave it, showing in their conduct the code of their hearts with increasing infelicity, and profound results.
It was VICTORY which as Zechariah predicted, would be astonishing in its magnitude, as if GOD HIMSELF were fighting, when the Jewish nation was attacked by MANY NATIONS on their return form the divinely appointed disperson. That incidentally is on a larger scale what happened earlier when they had their preliminary dispersion to Babylon, and returned after the 70 years' exile, as appointed in the word of God through Jeremiah. THEN there were enemies who tried to stop them rebuild (Ezra and Nehemiah give the details), but GOD helped them and they rebuild.
Now it is more complex but simple enough for us all. They are back and guaranteed, and have already in ways the world has noted clearly, been astonishing in their making of the desert blossom like the rose as in their military exploits (SMR pp. 776ff. and 790-802 ). However they are NOT YET (as shown clearly in the parable in Ezekiel 37, would happened - SMR pp. 1009ff. ) - not yet back to the faith which God has provided (as many will be - Jeremiah 23:6-8, Zechariah 12:10ff.).. Hence they are both victorious and tragic, both a burdensome stone and a place of peril. That is how it is defined, and that of course, that being so, is precisely how it is found.
Their enemies find their bruises strong. The Jews find their peace obstructed and have tension. That is how it must be till they find the ground of their support, the Rock from which they have hewed, nationally, again.
The world finds itself disturbed, and senses (rightly) that the Middle East is a cauldron. It is. The fires under it guarantee it likely; the word of God guarantees it certain.
Constructive? Yes there is something very constructive.
REPENT, whether you be Jew or Gentile, if you have not already done so, and RECEIVE the peace which comes from God only - it is His, and cannot be obtained elsewhere. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ, the great God, God sent to man as man, and the only Saviour, for there is no other name given under heaven among men by which they must be saved (Acts 4:11-12, Isaiah 65:10-13, 52:13-55:4, 40:10, 43:10).
THEN show the love and peace of God in your ways: strong and fearless for the faith, doing good to all men, never avenging yourself, clear on the Gospel, gracious in your personal ways and tender-hearted. But the Gospel being the ONLY WAY (John 14:6, and Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17), believe it. If in the name of 'peace', you suffer its pollution, then you are like a doctor in a civic hospital, calmly watching the pollution and misuse of essential anti-biotics, while patients die: for this, you feel, is the only way to keep ... the Establishment happy.
One doubts that, in the
end, your patients would justly admire you or your character, your courage or
even your - professional reliability!
*1 As shown in these places, God is not to be placed into some 'corner' by pushers. He both will keep what He SAID and DO it ... whether concerning Israel, the people once called, claimed and once used with éclat internationally as a moral, spiritual and sacrificial testimony, supplied with a Temple showing the significance of the Lord's own sacrifice to come; or whether it concern His other thoughts and declarations.
In fact, He will therefore also keep what He said concerning their land, His defence of it when, after due international dispersion, the time comes, and concerning His Son, the sacrifice itself, and His return.
"Rightly dividing" the word of God (II Timothy 2:13) does NOT mean dividing it into two parts: the parts we will let Him do, and the parts we do not want and so dismiss. The whole counsel of God on all matters will be done; that is the assurance of Jesus Christ, the testimony of history and the necessity of reason itself, so long as it can be at all! (SMR Chs.1,3,5,10). He has kept His word concerning the fulfilment of the Old Covenant ceremonial provisions and patterns in the substance and reality in Christ, in the New; as He keeps it and will keep it, also concerning all other matters.
The inter-relations of the Jews-to-come to Christ and the Gentiles who have come and will come, IN Him (Ephesians 1:10) involves, then, the singular and single everlasting covenant - there being but one; the geographical features of the unconditional blessing to Abraham; the careful exegesis of each Bible passage as it comes, without pugilistic suppression in favour of some philosophy or other; the acceptance of Biblical definition of terms in each passage; and above all, simple faith in His fidelity in what He says, and of His principles in understanding it. This done, it is found as indicated in Proverbs 8: 8, in those main essentials which here concern us and are our due concern in Christian Apologetics.