Today we look at the process of restoration for Israel. We see how biblical prophecy not only predicts the re-gathering of Israel, but it also gives very accurate pictures of how that re-gathering will be accomplished. What a tremendous teaching.
It’s good to be with you again, as we continue to look together at today’s world from the perspective of God’s purposes. In my talks last week I dealt with the restoration of the church. This week I’m speaking about the restoration of Israel.
Yesterday we looked at the prophecies of Israel’s dispersal. Today we’re going to look at the promises of Israel’s restoration, which are so numerous that we will only have time to glance at a tiny fraction of them.
But first let me establish a point of simple logic. Perhaps I should add that before I became a minister of God’s Word I was a professor of logic. If the prophecies of dispersal, given centuries in advance of the event, have been exactly fulfilled over a period of more than two thousand years, logic would strongly indicate that the prophecies of restoration, given at the same time and from the same source, would also be fulfilled with equal accuracy.
Now let’s look at some of those prophecies. We’ll turn first to Jeremiah 31:7 and 10:
“For thus says the Lord, ‘Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chiefs of the nations; Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O Lord, save Thy people, The remnant of Israel.’’ Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare in the coastlands afar off, And say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’” (NAS)
I want to point out three facts about that prophecy. First of all, it’s a proclamation to be made to all nations. God wants all nations to be faced with the fact that He’s committed to Israel and that He’s going to restore them as He has promised and I believe that, in a certain sense, even in this broadcast today I’m fulfilling that. I’m declaring among the chiefs of the nations that God is going to restore Israel.
Then notice the words which are so short and simple: “He who scattered Israel will gather him...” In the Hebrew language that is just three words. Notice three points: it’s the same God who scattered and who will gather; it’s the same people who were scattered who will be gathered; the scattering took place literally in history, the regather will take place literally in history.
And then notice that God is regathering them to keep them. In other words, He’s going to make permanent provision for their ongoing security and well-being.
Then again in Isaiah 11:11–13:
“Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations, And will assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, And those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, And Judah will not harass Ephraim.” (NAS)
Again, there are three points to notice. Isaiah here speaks about a second regathering. The Lord will do it a second time. This was predicted even before the first dispersal. God looked so far ahead through His prophetic telescope that He saw the second dispersal, the second regathering.
Then it says, “God will regather from the four corners of the earth.” That’s from every quarter of the compass and from every area of the earth’s surface. That was never fulfilled by the return from Babylon.
Then, thirdly, God speaks about Israel being scattered as two opposing kingdoms represented by Ephraim and Judah. But He predicts that they will be regathered again as a single nation. And that has been fulfilled exactly in our time.
Then we look on in Isaiah 43:1 and following:
“But now, thus says the Lord, your creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel... ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west.’ ‘I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth.’” (NAS)
Again, there’s a clear prediction of the regathering of the descendants of Israel from all four points of the compass. But the different words that are used for each point of the compass in regathering are very significant. From the east it is just simply, “I will bring...” No suggestion of much opposition. From the west, “I will gather...”—almost as though it’s something that God has to take the initiative in, and remember “the west” is primarily the United States. But when it comes to the north and the south, there’s a suggestion of strong opposition. God says, “I will say to the north ‘Give them up.’” That is primarily Russia. Of course, that’s exactly the situation today. And to the south, “Do not hold them back.” The south is certain Arab nations. So again we see every detail of these predictions of restoration and regathering being fulfilled in our time.
What a privilege it is to live in the days when the Scripture is being so literally and manifestly fulfilled before our eyes on a worldwide scale.
Now I’m going to read to you two longer passages from the prophet Jeremiah that have the same scene—the regathering and restoration of Israel. The first is Jeremiah 30:1–7. I’m just going to trust that the Holy Spirit will enable you, as I read these words, just to see how very accurate and relevant they are to our present situation in the world today.
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book. ‘For, behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.’’’ Now these are the words which the Lord spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, ‘For thus says the Lord, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace.’ ‘Ask now, and see, If a male can give birth Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale?’’ ‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.’” (NAS)
Just three points. Once more, notice the very clear promise of regathering. “I will restore the fortunes of Israel and Judah, I will bring them back to the land that I gave their forefathers and they shall possess it.” I do not see how language could be clearer. But notice that initially it is not a promise of peace, but a prediction of tremendous trouble and pressure which apparently is going to come to a climax in a period that’s referred to as the time of “Jacob’s distress,” which many interpret as a prophecy to equate also with the Great Tribulation that is referred to in various passages in the New Testament. And finally, notice that ultimately God Himself will intervene on behalf of Israel. It says, “Israel will be saved from this time of distress.” “Saved” is a word that normally represents divine intervention.
And then we look again in Jeremiah 32:37–42:
“Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. And I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. For thus says the Lord, ‘Just as I brought all this calamity on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.’” (NAS)
Again there are three points that I want you to notice. First of all, the restoration will not be merely political, but ultimately it will be also spiritual. God says, “I will give them one heart and one way to fear Me for their own good and they will not turn away from Me again.” The ultimate purpose of God’s dealings with Israel is never merely political, but always spiritual.
Secondly, this regathering is to culminate in a new covenant between God and Israel. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them.” The first covenant God made with Israel was broken. It’s been set aside, in a certain sense. Although God on His part is still faithful, Israel were unfaithful. God promises a new covenant and He promises that this time Israel will not be unfaithful.
And then notice that God commits Himself completely that both the evil and the good predicted for Israel will be fulfilled with equal accuracy and completeness. Verse 42:
“For thus says the Lord, ‘Just as I brought all this calamity on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.’” (NAS)
We have seen the record of the calamity that has come upon them over two thousand years. To my way of thinking, it would be exceedingly illogical not to believe that the good will come just as literally and just as accurately as the calamity.
Let me offer you now one final comment on the prophecies that we’ve been looking at today in connection with the restoration of Israel. I want to say this: the outworking of these promises to Israel in our day is objective, worldwide confirmation that the Bible is a true, relevant, up-to-date book.
Now our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. I’ll be continuing with this theme of Israel’s restoration. Tomorrow I’ll be dealing with the process of restoration.