Jesus is seated at the right hand of God in the heavenlies as King of the universe; far above all rule and authority and dominion. We have been raised up and seated with Him there and we must learn to rule with Him. This is what He wants for us and has made available!
It’s good to be with you again as we continue to study together our exciting theme, “Facing the Future.”
In my talks this week I’ve shared with you various ways in which we see events in the world around us building to a climax. I’ve also shared with you the key to both survival and success. It is to align yourself with God’s purposes.
Yesterday I explained more fully the nature of God’s purposes at this time in the earth.
Today I’m going to share with you in greater detail concerning God’s purpose to restore Israel. I believe when we understand this in the light of the Scriptures, it gives us a much better grasp on all that’s going on in the world today.
First of all, we need to see that right from the time that God created the nations and provided the earth for them to dwell in, His plan for all nations centered around Israel. This is stated in Deuteronomy 32:8-9:
“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind [notice this is all mankind], he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.”
It’s very important we see that. There are certain elements of national pride and prejudice in most of us that would reject the fact that God made His plan for all nations center around Israel, but that’s what it says. I’ll read it again:
“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.”
In other words, Israel were allotted their inheritance and all other nations were allotted their inheritance in relationship to the inheritance of Israel. So that the inheritance and well being and blessing of all nations ultimately revolves around Israel. And when Israel are out of their place, then all other nations are in some measure also out of order.
Let me give you a very simple example, a very down to earth example. Suppose you have a garment that has buttons down the front, maybe six or seven buttons down the front, a jacket or a sweater, and you start buttoning it up but, by accident, you get the wrong button in the wrong hole right at the top. What will happen? Every other button that you place in its hole will be in the wrong hole. Once you get one button out of place, all the rest will be out of place and then you get down to the bottom and there’s something wrong. That is, of course, if you button your jacket from the top to the bottom, as I do, not from the bottom to the top. That’s just by the way. Well, that’s how it is with Israel. They’re the first button to be placed in the hole. And, if that button is in the wrong hole, then all the other nations must, inevitably in some way, be out of order. They cannot be fully in their right place because it all hinges around Israel. So all other nations really need to understand that the restoration of Israel is for the good of all nations. In fact, the well being of all nations ultimately depends on the destiny of Israel. God, in many, many passages of Scripture, unfolds in precise detail the way that He’s going to restore Israel. I do not have time to give you more than just a few quotations but I want you to see how very precise these predictions are and also how very exactly they are being fulfilled before our eyes today.
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: [And notice, He is the God of Israel] I will surely gather them [that’s Israel] from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land [that’s the land of Israel] with all my heart and soul.”
Let me comment that when God plants something with all His heart and soul, there is no power in the universe that can uproot what God has planted. Then the closing verse is very significant, verse 42:
“This is what the Lord says, ‘As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.’”
There’s a very clear, specific, down to earth parallel. As God brought upon Israel all the judgments, the dispersal, the agony, the exile, everything that they’ve suffered for nearly two thousand years, just as real as that is, and history gives us many details, just so real will be God’s restoration of prosperity to Israel. It’s impossible to spiritualize the one. If the one happened in history and was exactly fulfilled, then the other is going to happen in history and it’s going to be equally exactly fulfilled. God says, “I’m going to change them, I’m going to inspire them with a heart that will delight to do my will and keep my laws, I will bless them, I will never stop doing them good.”
We need to understand that though this restoration initially is mainly political, ultimately it’s going to be very, very spiritual indeed.
A little further on in Jeremiah 33:7-8, God says:
“I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.”
Notice the order. God says, “First of all, I will bring them back to their land; secondly, I will rebuild them; thirdly, I will cleanse them and forgive them.” The spiritual restoration is the climax. It’s the ultimate, it’s the objective, but it does not come first. We are seeing at present the first part of that promise fulfilled, the second is sure to follow. I want to turn to one other very clear, prophetic picture of Israel’s restoration which is given in Ezekiel 36. The reason why I emphasize this particular picture is that it makes it so clear that the restoration will, first of all, be political and then spiritual. That’s God’s appointed order. And we see exactly what’s written in these words being fulfilled before our eyes today. Ezekiel 36:22-28:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.’”
It’s important to see that Israel do not deserve God’s blessing and God’s mercy. No more does the church, let me emphasize that. Both Israel and the church are totally dependent on God’s free, sovereign grace. It’s not desserts, it’s not justice, it’s grace we’re talking about in both cases. God says, “I’m not doing it for your sake, I’m doing it for my name’s sake. You’ve profaned my name; I want to restore the honor of my name in you.” He goes on:
“I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. [Now, in the past fifty years or so we have seen that statement being exactly fulfilled.] I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. [Notice, they’re regathered in spiritual uncleanness; the process of cleansing them and sanctifying them takes place after the initial regathering.] I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stones and give you a heart of flesh.”
I have many close and beautiful relationships with Jewish people and my observation is that that statement of God is being fulfilled today. He’s taking away the heart of stone and giving back a heart of flesh that is capable of responding to His word and to His spirit. And I venture to predict to you that we’re going to see the dramatic spiritual renewal amongst God’s people Israel within the near future. God goes on:
“I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
You see, it’s so important. Neither Jew nor Gentile can do God’s will apart from the Holy Spirit. It’s only when God puts the Holy Spirit in that anyone can do the will of God.
“You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”
That’s being fulfilled. Every Christian that reads those words or hears them should rejoice. It’s a testimony of God’s covenant-keeping faithfulness to His people. It’s a testimony of the absolute accuracy of the Bible. It’s today an up to date message that’s being fulfilled before our eyes.
Well, our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be explaining how God requires us to align ourselves with His purpose in restoring Israel.