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, sharing with you out of truths that life has taught me, truths that have made the difference between success and failure in my life and can do the same for you.
All this week I’m sharing with you on the theme of Israel’s restoration. Yesterday we looked at just a few of the many prophetic passages which predict that, as this age comes to its close, God will regather and restore Israel as a nation.
Today we will go one step further and look at the process of restoration. We will see that biblical prophecy not merely predicts the regathering of Israel, it actually gives very clear and accurate pictures of just how and by what means that regathering will be accomplished. Let me turn for you to Zechariah 2:6:
“‘Ho there! Flee from the land of the north,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens,’ declares the Lord.” (NAS)
We notice that this is given at a time that relates to a situation in which Israel has been dispersed to all the corners of the earth, the four winds of heaven. And there’s an urgent warning to flee from the land of the north. We need to bear in mind that in the Bible, when the points of the compass are given, they always relate to the land of Israel. “North” is north of Israel, “east” is east of Israel, and so on. So the land of the north essentially would be such countries as Germany, Poland and Russia.
And then in Jeremiah 3:12 and 14 we have another prediction that relates toward the land of the north:
“Go, and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not be angry forever.’ ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the Lord; ‘For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.’” (NAS)
Notice again the emphasis on the land of the north—areas such as Germany, Poland and Russia. Very, very urgent call to the descendant of Israel to escape from those lands while it is still possible. One of the tragedies of Jewish history is that the Jewish people as a whole were not aware that these prophecies related to them at this time and they did not act on the urgent warning of God. And who knows how many lives could have been saved if Israel at that time had understood and acted on these prophecies.
At the close of World War II, I was myself resident in the land of Israel and I witnessed the exact fulfillment of what God says in Jeremiah: “One from a city and two from a family...” Time and time again we saw that out of a whole family of maybe scores or maybe even a hundred members, only two would have escaped. And they came, each from a different city and were reunited in Israel. So I want you to see how very, very exact the predictions of Scripture are.
Then let’s look in Jeremiah 16:14–16 where there is another picture of the process by which the Lord will regather Israel.
“‘Therefore, behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.’” (NAS)
Notice that the exodus of Israel from Egypt, which is the historic real basis of their national history, celebrated each year at Passover, is going to be much less significant than this final regathering. So that no longer will the Jewish people speak about their deliverance out of Egypt but they will talk about their deliverance from the land of the north and from all countries where God had banished them.
Notice again the special emphasis on the land of the north—Germany, Poland and Russia. And then in the next verse the Lord describes how He is going to achieve His objective:
“‘Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,’ declares the Lord, ‘and they will fish for them; and afterwards I shall send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and from the clefts of the rocks.’” (NAS)
Notice the difference between fishers and hunters. Fishers draw their prey toward them with a bait that attracts them. But hunters drive them from behind with fear. And in the years before World War II, both the fishers and the hunters were at work. The fishers were the Zionists pleading with the Jewish people in Europe to escape to a land of freedom before it was too late. The hunters then followed, the Nazis, literally driving them from every mountain and every hill, from clefts of the rocks. God does exactly what He says. When He sets His hand to accomplish something, He’ll do it and He’ll do it the way that He says. Again and again this is the lesson that we learn from studying God’s dealings with Israel and His predictions concerning them.
For our next picture of God’s way of regathering Israel, we are going to look in Jeremiah 18:1–6. The comparison here is that of a potter shaping his vessel on a potter’s wheel.
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.’ Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.” (NAS)
I’ve watched a potter at work in the land of Israel on a potter’s wheel just like one that would be used in the Bible. Fascinating! The wheel spins so fast. The potter holds the moist clay in his hand and he shapes the vessel by pressing it against the spinning wheel. Let’s see how this applies. First of all, Israel was spoiled the first time in the Lord’s hands. He did not throw them away and reject them. He simply stated that He would remake them. That’s exactly what He’s doing now, He’s remolding them.
And notice the method. It’s applied pressure. That’s how the potter shapes his vessel. How is God shaping Israel as a nation at this time? By applied pressure. They’re under continuous pressure from all sorts of different sources, different kinds of pressure—military, economic, and so on. But in the midst of all that, God is shaping them again into the kind of vessel that He wants them to be.
Now in closing, let’s look at one more picture in Ezekiel 36, beginning at verse 22:
“Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,’’ declares the Lord God, when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight, For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (NAS)
Some very important points to notice there. First of all, the regathering of the restoration is not on account of Israel’s righteousness. God says, “Not for your sake but for My holy name’s sake.” The motive is God’s glory. It’s to be a demonstration of God’s covenant-keeping faithfulness even when Israel has not been faithful.
Secondly, notice that Israel are to be gathered still in spiritual uncleanness. This has been a problem for many Christians who have said, “Well, Israel is not obeying God, not believing their prophets, not acknowledging their Messiah.” That’s true. But God said that He would regather them still in their spiritual uncleanness and that He would cleanse them in the land.
In a certain sense I believe it’s true and there’s only one place on the surface of the earth where God will deal with Israel as a nation; that is, in the land that He gave them.
Thirdly, God predicts that after regathering, they will be cleansed. “He will sprinkle clean water upon them and they will be clean.” The sprinkling of clean water is type from the Mosaic sacrifices and ceremonials. It represents spiritual cleansing by spiritual means. The result will be inward spiritual renewal. God says He will give them a new heart and a new spirit. And that new heart and new spirit will respond to God’s Spirit and will so enable them to keep His laws and His statutes and in this way they will be restored to God and they will be again the people whom God acknowledges and His own and God will be their God. That is a very clear prediction of the process of regathering, the order in which events will take place, and once again, we have to acknowledge that God is doing it exactly the way He said He would.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll again take one step further with this theme of Israel’s regathering. I’ll be speaking on the purpose of regathering.