God has said He would gather Israel back to their land and the nations can either be part of blessing them or suffer the consequences. The nations determine their destiny by how they respond to the restoration of God’s people. You cannot have a neutral attitude. Get in line with what God is doing and pray for and bless Israel.
It’s good to be with you again as we draw near to the close of another week. All through this week we have continued with our theme, “Facing the Future.”
Yesterday I outlined God’s purpose clearly unfolded in Scripture to restore Israel. A restoration that is initially political, but will ultimately be spiritual also. Today I’m going to explain how we need to align ourselves with the restoration of Israel.
Let me go back to a scripture that I quoted earlier in these messages in Isaiah 11:11-12. In these verses God says that the regathering of Israel is a banner lifted up to all nations. In other words, when He regathers Israel, He calls the attention of all nations to what He’s doing and He shows them that it aligns with the prophecies that He’s given many, many centuries ago through His prophets. Listen to this in Isaiah 11:11-12:
“In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.”
We could pause for a moment to look at what those countries are: Assyria is essentially Iraq; lower and upper Egypt we know; Cush is possibly Ethiopia; Elam is Persia or Iran; Babylonia is in the area between Iraq and Iran; Hamath is Syria; and the islands of the sea would be all the other continents and lands. So this is the regathering we’ve seen taking place in our days with our own eyes.
Then in connection with this regathering, the prophet continues in verse 12:
“He [that is, the Lord] will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah [and Judah is the word that gives rise to the name Jew, He will assemble the scattered Jewish people] from the four quarters of the earth.”
So this regathering of Israel is a banner lifted up by God Himself to attract the attention of all nations.
And then in Jeremiah 31:10, the Lord orders His messengers to make a proclamation to all the nations in regard to this regathering of Israel. In other words, it’s not just something that’s been done very secretly and quietly but it’s something that God wants to attract the attention of the whole earth to.
I’ve spent a good deal of time recently in Israel with my wife and one of the amazing things is that that tiny little nation of 3 million people is almost never out of the headlines of world news. Far larger nations carry on from year to year and you hardly ever hear about them but everything that happens in Israel is news today on all the media. And there’s a reason for that. The reason is that God is attracting the attention of the whole world to what He is doing for Israel. This is the proclamation in Jeremiah 31:10:
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare in the coastlands [or the continents] afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’”
So God’s message to the whole earth, to all nations, is that the same God who scattered Israel will gather him. And just as the scattering is a fulfilled event of human history, so the regathering will also take place on the same stage of human history, before the eyes of all nations. It’s a proclamation to be made to all nations.
Now, let me go back for a moment to God’s original promise to Abraham when He called him to leave Ur of the Chaldees and to go to another land which he would later receive for an inheritance. This promise of God to Abraham is stated in Genesis 12:2-3, and it’s a very beautifully complete promise. It has seven distinct sections to it, as follows:
“I will make you into a great nation I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, whoever curses you I will curse; all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
That’s the sevenfold promise of blessing to Abraham. The fifth and sixth promises are particularly important and relevant to our present subject. “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse.” So in a certain sense, the destiny of all nations will ultimately be settled by their attitude to Abraham and his descendants. Those who bless Abraham and his descendants God will bless; but whoever curses Abraham and his descendants God will curse. So, Abraham and his descendants are the touchstone by which all other nations are going to be judged.
In Matthew 25, in a parable or a discourse of Jesus, we find a picture of the final outworking of this principle that all nations will be judged by their attitude and their dealings with Abraham and his descendants. Matthew 25:31-34:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”
So all nations are going to be divided into two groups: sheep on the right, goats on the left; sheep to be accepted and blessed, goats to be rejected and cursed. And then, this is the promise, first to the sheep, verse 34:
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”
Later in verse 41, we get His words to the goat nations:
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels...’”
A totally different destiny. One is blessed, the other is cursed. I want you to notice that word “curse”. Because God said to Abraham, “Whoever curses you I will curse.”
Now, notice the principle of judgment which separates the nations. First of all, the principle on which nations are accepted, Matthew 25:40:
“The King will answer and say [to these accepted nations], ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
And then, the principle on which the nations are rejected:
“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these [and that’s My brothers], you did not do it to Me.’”
So, all nations are going to be judged by the way that they treat and relate to the brothers of Jesus. And remember, Jesus is a Jew and the Jewish people, even in their rejection by God and their disobedience, are still the brothers of Jesus. So, the dividing point between the nations, the sheep who are accepted, the goats that are rejected, will be the way they have dealt with Jesus’ brothers, with Abraham and his descendants. Those who bless them will be blessed, and those who curse them will be cursed.
To reinforce the message of this picture of the end time judgment of the nations, I want to give you some specific warnings and a specific promise of blessing and I want to leave them with you. First of all, two specific warnings to the nations on the way that they relate to God’s purposes for Israel, for the land, for the city of Jerusalem. Psalm 129:5:
“May all who hate Zion, be put to shame and turned backward...”
Ultimately, any nation that opposes God’s purpose for the restoration of Zion will be put to shame and turned backward. That’s the everlasting Word of God. It’s not dependent on the amount of oil or armaments or these other factors that politicians take into account. This is an eternal statement of God’s divine purpose and judgment. “May all who hate Zion, be put to shame and turned backward.” The nations need to give heed to that warning.
And then, in Isaiah 60:12, that’s a promise of the restoration of Zion, and of God’s people, and in the 12th verse God gives this warning:
“For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.”
The nations determine their destiny by how they respond to the restoration of God’s people. Now, let’s turn to a beautiful and familiar promise of blessing for those who align themselves with God’s purposes, for Jerusalem, for Israel, for God’s people. Psalm 122:6:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”
We cannot merely take a neutral attitude and say, “Let’s see what will happen.” We’ve got to actively identify ourselves with what God is saying in His Word and doing in history and the basic way, the primary way that we identify with what God is doing, is through our prayers. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem. For the restoration of Jerusalem. For Jerusalem to become all that God has declared in the Scriptures that Jerusalem shall be. And for those that pray and are concerned, this is the promise: “They shall prosper that love thee.”
That Hebrew word that’s translated “prosper” doesn’t mean primarily financial prosperity, it means they shall be at ease, they shall have rest, they shall have peace. You see, there’s an inner rest and peace that comes to those in the midst of all the turmoil of this world who associate themselves actively with God’s purposes of restoration for His people.
Well, our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. Next week I’ll continue with this theme, “Facing the Future.” I’ll be speaking about God’s purpose to restore the church and how we can align ourselves with that.
This week I’m making a special offer of my book, From Jordan to Pentecost. This book deals with certain key experiences of vital importance for all believers. It will help you to understand and to enter into God’s provision for a life of security and victory. Also, my complete series of messages this week on “Facing the Future, Part 3” is available in a single, carefully edited cassette. Stay tuned for details.