God’s principles are always the same. He is going to re-gather Israel based on a covenant. The covenant will establish a new relationship of God to Israel as a husband. And it will bring Israel into a direct personal relationship with God where no mediator is needed.
It’s good to be with you again today, as we continue to look together at the outworking of God’s end time purpose of restoration for His people. Yesterday we looked at the process of restoration. Today I’m going to take one step further in our examination of this subject. I’m going to speak about the purpose of regathering.
The purpose of God’s regathering at this time is in full harmony with the purpose of His original redemption of Israel from Egypt under Moses. At that time He states His purpose this way in Exodus 19:4–5:
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine...” (NAS)
I want to emphasize two points there. First of all, God says primarily, “I have brought you to Myself.” God’s primary purpose was not to give them a law or to give them a land, but to bring them into a direct personal relationship with Himself. That is always the primary purpose of God’s dealings with man. It’s a personal relationship that God wants to establish. It seems to me to be one of the tragedies of Israel’s history that really they never seemed to appreciate was that their personal relationship with God was primary to everything else—the law, or their inheritance in the land, or all the other blessings and provisions of God.
The second point is that the relationship was to be based upon a covenant. God says, “If you will keep My covenant, then the relationship between you and Me will be established.” These two are interconnected. That’s the relationship with God and the covenant, because in the Bible the only basis of a permanent relationship with God at any time is a covenant.
Now I want you to see the same principles reaffirmed in the prophecies of restoration. First of all, we’ll look in Jeremiah 50:4–5:
“‘In those days, at that time,’ declares the Lord, he people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.” (NIV)
Now the Hebrew in its original form indicates this: that the way to Zion is to be joined to the Lord in an everlasting covenant. So the only way of full and complete and lasting restoration is the restoration of a covenant relationship between the Lord and Israel. And that’s precisely what He declares He will do.
Let’s look in Jeremiah 31:31–34 where this is stated more fully:
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord. ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. ‘And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’” (NAS)
Now these are the points that I want to bring out in connection with that prophecy. We need to notice, first of all, that the first covenant made God a husband to Israel. When God entered into covenant with them at Mount Sinai, He accepted the relationship and responsibility of a husband toward Israel. And the language of Scripture is consistent with that from that point on. However, by their unfaithfulness Israel broke this relationship by which God was their husband. When God restores Israel then He will make a new covenant with them which will reestablish this relationship. But this new covenant will be forever. It will never be broken. And it will have certain distinctive features that make it different from the first covenant at Sinai. First of all, God’s law will be internal. They will not merely look at it written on tablets of stone, but it will be written on their hearts. It will be a very part of their inward being.
Secondly, every Israelite will have a direct personal relationship with the Lord. No one will need to say to another Israelite, “Know the Lord,” for they will all know Him directly, intimately, and personally, for that’s the purpose of a covenant. And interestingly enough, it says, “from the least to the greatest,” not from the greatest to the least. It seems that it may begin with those who are more humble and less reputed to be spiritual.
The third feature of this new covenant is that God says, “Israel’s sin and rebellion against Me will be permanently blotted out. They will not be remembered any more.”
Now we are going to look at another prophecy in which God speaks about making a covenant with Israel as He regathers them and entering again into the relationship of a husband to them. This prophecy is found in the second chapter of Hosea. First of all, I’ll read from verses 14–16:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, [It is God speaking concerning Israel] Bring her into the wilderness, And speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of Achor [which is trouble] as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. ‘And it will come about in that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali.’” (NAS)
Now both Ishi and Baali mean “my husband,” but they are on a different level. And the modern Hebrew word for “husband” is no longer Baali but Ishi. It describes a new kind of husband relationship.
Now I’ll go on in the same chapter of Hosea verses 18–20:
“In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky, And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. ‘And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.’” (NAS)
Now let’s look at some of the things that are predicted there. First of all, God has an appointment with Israel in the wilderness. It’s my conviction that God will deal directly and personally with Israel as a nation. There will be no intervening persons. There will be no preachers. It will be a direct personal confrontation between the Lord and Israel and He has the time and the place set. It’ll be somewhere in the wilderness.
Secondly, God will lead Israel through the valley of Achor (that is, trouble) into their inheritance. Surely that is the way they are going right now through the “valley of trouble.”
Thirdly, the husband relationship of God to Israel will be reestablished but on a new level. The word used of the old relationship that sprang from the covenant of Sinai was Baal. But the word used in this new relationship is Ish, which means husband on a higher level.
Then again, this new relationship will be based on a covenant. We see that God never has a permanent relationship without a covenant. This new relationship will be, in a sense, a marriage covenant. Out of this new relationship, Israel will again come to know real peace. The bow and the sword and the war will be abolished from the land.
And then again, God uses the word “betroth” which is in agreement with what we have already said, the establishment of a new marriage relationship between God and Israel.
And then also, in full accord with the other Scriptures that we’ve looked at, God says to Israel in the last statement, “Then you will know the Lord.” In other words, then you will have a direct personal relationship with God.
So the principles are always the same. God is going to regather Israel. It will be based on a covenant. The covenant will establish a new relationship of God to Israel as a husband. It will bring Israel into a direct personal relationship with God. They will need no mediator. No one will be between them and the Lord. They will not need to say to one another, “Know the Lord,” for each of them out of this new covenant will come to know the Lord directly and in a personal way.
So that’s an overall picture of the purpose for which God is regathering Israel. As I’ve said already, in previous talks, the initial aspect of the regathering is political and geographical. But always the ultimate purpose of God is spiritual. God’s ultimate purpose with all humanity, Jew or Gentile, whoever you may be or wherever you may be from, is to establish a direct, intimate, personal relationship with you. And that relationship can only be based upon a covenant. The covenant upon which that relationship is based today is the covenant made by the blood of Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior, the one who came to save both Israel and all nations.
Well, our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow will be my last talk on this theme of Israel’s restoration. I’ll be asking, and answering, a very important and practical question: What should be our response to the outworking of God’s purpose to restore Israel?