This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tape No. I-4381Page
Now we’re going to do what we usually do, make a proclamation, and then I’m going to bring you a word. The proclamation is directly related to the word that I’m going to bring. It’s taken from Psalm 33:8–12:
“Let all the earth fear the Lord. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him; for He spoke and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast. The Lord brings the council of the nations to nothing, He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The council of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nations whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance.”
And that is the theme of my message this morning, the people whom God chose as His own inheritance. I’m going to speak about the place of Israel in God’s purposes. I believe this is a message which is of vital concern for everybody, believer or non believer. Unfortunately perhaps, many non believers will not hear the message. I pray that it will come to the heart of those who are believers in the Bible and in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I speak about Israel I’m talking about the nation that was descended from Abraham through Isaac and through Jacob, later also called the Jews. Just to give you some idea of the significance of Israel in the purposes of God, let me give you a few statistics. The name Israel or Israelite occurs in the Old Testament more than 2,500 times. In the New Testament it occurs 79 times and never to describe the church. Israel is one thing, the church is another. I have a little book here which I want to make known to you because it deals with this issue. It’s called Prophetic Destinies. That wasn’t the original title but the people who published it in the United States changed it. The original title was The Destiny of Israel and the Church. I’m holding it up because there are 79 places in the New Testament where the word Israel or Israelite occurs. Never once is it used to describe the church.
This is an error that has crept into the church that has caused endless confusion and misunderstanding and turned some people aside from the purposes of God.
The word Jew occurs 84 times in the Old Testament and 192 times in the New Testament. By contrast, the word Christian occurs only 3 times in the New Testament.
Now, if the name America or Britain occurred more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament and 79 times in the New Testament, I think we would all accept it as an obvious fact that we will never fully understand the Bible unless we understand what God means by America or Britain or, in this case, Israel. I believe an understanding of the place of Israel in God’s purposes is absolutely essential for every Christian who wants to be aligned with the purposes of God and wants to understand what’s going on in the world today. Because, after being off stage for many centuries, Israel has now become center stage and the focus of world attention. There’s a reason for that and through it God is working out His purposes as I seek to explain to you.
Let me first of all give you a few passages of scripture that establish the fact that Israel is a unique nation. There is no other nation like Israel. Let me say in case any of you should misunderstand me, I am not Jewish, I am very much a Gentile. In 1 Chronicles 17:21 David is praying to the Lord and he says:
“And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people?”
In other words, there is only one nation on the earth that God went to redeem as a nation for Himself. And that nation is Israel.
Earlier when God brought the Jewish people Israel out of Egypt and brought them to the foot of Mt. Sinai and gave them the ten commandments and the law, He told them through Moses His purposes for them. In Exodus 19:5–6 He says to Israel:
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
There are three purposes stated there for Israel: a special treasure above all nations of the earth, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
I don’t believe those purposes have yet been fulfilled but I believe that the devil can delay the fulfillment of God’s purposes but he can never ultimately prevent it. I believe that every purpose of God stated in the scriptures for Israel will be exactly and completely fulfilled.
In the New Testament in the epistle to the Romans, Paul gives a number of features that distinguish the Jewish people from all others. In Romans 3:1–2 he says:
“What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision [the mark of the Jewish people]? Much in every way, chiefly because to them were committed the oracles [or the words] of God.”
And that is a fact about the Jewish people which makes them unique. The entire revelation of God in the scriptures has come to us only through one people, the Jewish people. Without the Jewish people we would have no written revelation of God whatever.
I don’t believe that God intended the Jewish people simply to possess the scriptures. I believe He intended them to be stewards of the scriptures, to receive them and hold them and transmit them for all other nations.
There was one Jew who recognized his stewardship and that was the apostle Paul. He said in Romans 1:14–15:
“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise, so as much as is in me I’m really to preach the gospel to you who are at Rome also.”
Paul understood, as many of his brethren did not understand, that he had received the Word of God as a stewardship and that he was accountable for what he did with that stewardship. He said, “I am a debtor to all nations, and I’m really to bring the Word of God to all nations so far as I am able.”
Then in Romans 9 Paul states eight unique features of the Jewish people. Romans 9:4–5:
“Who are Israelites [speaking about his brothers]? To whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God and the promises...”
Six things that were granted only to the Jewish people. And then he goes on with two further distinguishing features:
“...of whom are the fathers [the patriarchs], and from whom according to the flesh Christ the Messiah came.”
So there are eight features that distinguish the Jewish people from all other peoples. To them belongs the adoption as God’s people; the glory, the manifest presence of God; the covenants that God made; the giving of the law; the priestly service of God; and the promises of God. And then in addition from them came the patriarchs and, above all, from them came the Messiah.
Sometimes we imagine, I think, that Jesus became a Jew just for 33 years. But that’s not true. He is eternally and uniquely identified with the Jewish people. In Revelation 5 John the revelator was weeping because no one was found to open the book of Revelation. But it says in verse 5:
“One of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seals.’”
So, in eternity long after His earthly life had finished Jesus is known as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In a special way He is eternally identified with the Jewish people.
And then one final statement from the lips of Jesus Himself to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:22:
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We Jews know what we worship; for salvation is from the Jews.”
Five words charged with incredible revelation: salvation is from the Jews. If there had never been a Jewish people there would never be any patriarchs, there would never be any apostles, there would never be any prophets, there would never be any New Testament, and most important of all, there would never be a Savior. So, everything comprehended in salvation comes to us through one people only, the Jewish people. All other nations including the Americans, the British and the others, owe to the Jewish people a debt which we can never calculate and we can never repay.
But the great tragedy of history is that so far from repaying the debt we have compounded it countless times over. And for many centuries, from about the 4th century until the present day, the professing church, those who call ourselves Christians, have been the main instigators of anti-Semitism. If you talk to a Jew somewhere and you don’t know the background and he seems reserved about the claims of Christianity, you need to know that he has a memory of sixteen centuries of cruel, vicious, prejudice, religious anti-Semitism which is responsible for the death, the torture, the humiliation of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people. Just bear that in mind.
I’ve said in one of my books the church sowed the seeds of anti-Semitism, the Nazis reaped it. That’s an historical fact. The anti-Semitism of the Nazis, their deep hatred of the Jews, could never have come about if the seeds had not been sown in Europe for many centuries. And unfortunately—and I say this with regret—one of the leading anti-Semites was Martin Luther. When I wrote my book, The Last Word on the Middle East, I wanted to quote some of his statements about the Jews but they were so horrible, so vulgar, that I refused to put them in print.
So, we owe a debt which we have compounded many, many, many times over. In the last 40 or 50 years since the establishment of the state of Israel, I believe God has been giving the Gentile nations an opportunity to do something toward repaying that debt. And unfortunately, very few nations have availed themselves of that opportunity. I’ll deal with that a little later on.
Now I want to point out another unique feature of the Jewish people which sets them apart from all other nations, totally and completely. It is this, that their whole history was foretold in prophecy before the events ever happened. I’m going to list altogether sixteen prophecies concerning the destiny and the future of Israel. I’m going to point out that thirteen of those prophecies have already been fulfilled. That only leaves three to be fulfilled.
Now, some people have the attitude that if we believe in the destiny of Israel we’re fanatics, illogical or unreasonable. I don’t see it that way. If thirteen out of sixteen prophecies have been fulfilled, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate the fulfillment of the remaining three. I don’t feel in any way intellectually inferior to people who refuse to believe the destiny of Israel. I believe that logic is on the side of their destiny.
I’ll list these prophetic events and I will mention in passing the place where you can find them but we will not turn to them for sake of time.
First of all, their enslavement in Egypt was prophesied to Abraham in Genesis 15.
Likewise, at the same situation their deliverance from Egypt with great wealth was predicted.
Third, God predicted to Abraham at the same time that his descendants would take possession of the land of Canaan. All those are predicted in Genesis 15, all have been exactly fulfilled.
In Deuteronomy 32 Moses predicted that when they came into the land they would turn to idolatry. Exactly fulfilled.
He also predicted that a center of worship would be established in Jerusalem. Exactly fulfilled.
The prophet Amos, amongst others, predicted that the northern kingdom of Israel would go into captivity, enslaved by Assyria. It was exactly fulfilled.
Jeremiah and other prophets predicted that the southern kingdom, or Judah, would be taken captive by Babylon. Exactly fulfilled.
Solomon and others predicted the destruction of the first temple, the temple that he himself had built. Exactly fulfilled.
Isaiah and others predicted the return of a small remnant of Jewish exiles from Babylon. Exactly fulfilled.
In Matthew 24 and Luke 19 Jesus predicted the absolute destruction of the second temple. Exactly fulfilled in 70 A.D.
In Leviticus and Ezekiel and other passages the prophets predicted that the Jewish people would be scattered among all nations. Exactly fulfilled.
They predicted that during the time of their scattering they would be persecuted and oppressed. Exactly fulfilled.
They also predicted that they would be regathered again from all nations. In this century Jewish people from well over 100 different nations have been regathered again in the land that God gave to Abraham and his descendants.
I don’t believe our minds can really conceive the magnitude of the miracle that’s involved. They were scattered for nineteen centuries under every kind of pressure to give up their identity and they refused. My first wife was Danish and she said more than once, if you were to scatter the Danes amongst all the nations of the earth and come back 200 years later you wouldn’t find a single Dane anywhere, they would all have been assimilated. Yet the Jews were scattered for nineteen centuries and never gave up their identity—though it cost them in many cases everything they had.
Now let’s look at three prophecies still to be fulfilled. The gathering of all nations against Jerusalem. I think perhaps we’d better look at the scripture there in Zechariah 12:2–3. The Lord is speaking and He says:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.”
What kind of people are all the people that surround Israel? Arabs.
“And it shall happen in that day I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples...”
Now it extends beyond the Arabs to all peoples.
“...all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”
And that could easily happen, it could happen in a few months. There’s still a decision on the statute books of the United Nations to make Jerusalem an international city. At any time they could decide to carry out that and enforce it by arms.
And then in Zechariah 14 the Lord says concerning Jerusalem:
“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses rifled, the women raped. After the city will go into captivity but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”
The existence of an organization such as the United Nations which really claims to represent all nations and it makes it very easy for those words to be fulfilled.
And then the next great event predicted and not yet fulfilled is the supernatural revelation of the Messiah to the Jewish people. It’s stated in one verse in Zechariah 12:10:
“I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication. Then they will look on me whom they have pierced...”
And that’s an amazing scripture because it’s God who is speaking and it says “they will look on me, God, whom they have pierced.”
“...and they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
God says that there will come a point in history when by supernatural revelation the Holy Spirit will reveal to the Jewish people the identity of their Messiah whom they have rejected for nineteen centuries.
And then one further unfulfilled scripture, the return of the Messiah in glory in Zechariah 14:3–5:
“Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle...”
That is the nations that are gathered together around Jerusalem.
“...and in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west, making a very large valley. Half of the mountain shall move toward the north, half of it toward the south.”
I spent my last year of military service with the British Army in that very location. To me it’s so vivid, I can see every detail. The terrain exactly answers to that description.
Then it goes on:
“Then you shall flee through my mountain valley; for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal; yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah; thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with you.”
So that predicts the coming of the Lord Jesus in visible glory and power with all His saints, and it declares that His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which is east of the temple area. When His feet stand on the Mount it will be rent by an earthquake. Half of it will move toward the north, that’s Mount Scopus; half of it toward the south, the Mount of Olives; and there will be a very great valley extending eastward from the city of Jerusalem.
That is so exact to the topography that it’s impossible to spiritualize that or make it apply to anything other than what it says. You remember the angels who spoke to the disciples after they had watched Jesus ascend into heaven and be taken up in a cloud, they said, “This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as you saw Him go.” He went in the clouds, He’ll return with the clouds. He went from the Mount of Olives, He’ll return to the Mount of Olives.
So there are three prophecies that are not yet fulfilled out of sixteen. That means according to my mathematics 81 percent of the prophecies given concerning Israel have already been exactly fulfilled. I don’t think it’s fanaticism to believe that the remaining 19 percent will also be fulfilled. I for one believe it with all my heart.
Now let’s talk for a little about God’s plan for the land of Israel, which is probably the most controversial single area of territory on the earth today. That’s no accident. God is behind it. In Genesis 17:7–8 the Lord appeared to Abraham and made a covenant with him. He said this:
“I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and your descendants after you.”
Notice it’s an everlasting covenant, it’s a covenant that will never be abolished.
Then He goes on to say:
“Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
So it’s an everlasting covenant granting to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the land of Canaan now called Israel, the West Bank and Jordan—granting it to them as an everlasting possession. Either it’s going to happen or the Bible is an unreliable book, there is no third possibility. I believe it’s going to happen. I don’t lose sleep at night worrying about it because God said it would happen.
Now, in Psalm 105 the psalmist returns to this theme with some of the most emphatic language ever to be found anywhere in scripture. In fact, I don’t know of any other passage in the Bible where God takes so much trouble to use so many words to emphasize his intention. Psalm 105:7:
“He is the Lord our God, His judgments are in all the earth.”
In other words, God’s judgments apply everywhere. He’s not just a little tribal god, He’s the God of (unintelligible).
“He has remembered His covenant forever; the word which He commanded for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham and His oath to Isaac and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant.”
And notice the descent is clearly stated. It’s Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It sets aside Ishmael and it sets aside Esau. That’s the chosen line of descent.
Think of the words that are used there. Every one of those words indicates a solemn declaration of God. There is no other place in scripture where I know so many of the words are put together in such a short space. It used the word covenant, the Word of God, the commandment of God, the oath of God, a statute of God and finally, an everlasting covenant. Let me just repeat those words because it is staggering that God took so much trouble to assert His unqualified commitment in such powerful words. The words that are used are covenant, word, command, oath, statute and finally, everlasting covenant.
You may well ask what is God so concerned about? What is the subject of this covenant? What is it all about? The answer is truly amazing. I tell people if you’ve never been amazed you’ve never read the Bible because it’s an amazing book. The focus of this whole covenant is a little strip of territory at the east end of the Mediterranean no larger than the state of New Jersey or the nation of Wales in Britain. Let’s read it—and this is the culmination of the covenant:
“...saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.’”
It’s given by an everlasting covenant as an everlasting possession. I think if you have spiritual insight you can begin to understand why it’s the subject of such intense controversy. Actually, the return of the Lord Jesus depends on the fulfillment of this covenant because He’s only coming back to one place, the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem. If the devil can prevent or create a situation to which He cannot return then he can prevent the return of the Lord. The devil knows full well that the return of the Lord spells the end of his function as the god of this age. So he has the strongest motivation imaginable for opposing the fulfillment of this covenant. He will use every kind of force—natural, supernatural, demonic, political, whatever it may be—to oppose the fulfillment of this word, because it means the end of his reign over the nations.
I want to speak briefly about the period in which we are living because this is the period in which these events that have been predicted are being fulfilled. I actually have had the rather unusual privilege of being an eyewitness of the fulfillment of the (unintelligible). I first went to Jerusalem in 1942. I lived in what was then Palestine and is now Israel from 1944 through 1948. I witnessed at very close quarters, about less than half a mile from the front line, the fighting that led to the establishment of the state of Israel. I had an ongoing connection with events in that part of the world ever since. I would like to say as a matter of my personal observation when the state of Israel came into being in 1948 there were 600,000 Jews opposed by 40 million Arabs with six modern armies. The Jews had virtually no military equipment of any significance whatever. And, they won! In my way of thinking that is as great a miracle as some of the miraculous victories described in the Old Testament. And as I say, I watched it. We spent weeks living in the laundry room of our house which, if those of you who know Jerusalem, was on the corner of King George and Agroddon (phonetic) Street. When we emerged there were about 100 spent bullets on the floor of our living room. This was not theory. I mean, I can say in a way I feel rather strongly about it because it really happened and I was there!
Now we’ll turn to Jeremiah 30 and see what he has to say about the period of the return of the Jewish people to their land. Beginning at verse 3:
“For behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will bring back from captivity [or from exile] my people Israel and Judah, says the Lord. I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.”
Now anybody who has even a moderate knowledge of scripture knows there is only one land that answers to that description “the land I gave to their fathers.” Originally known as the land of Canaan, subsequently in the Bible known as the land of Israel—and in the Bible never called Palestine. Palestine is a very unfortunate name because it means the land of the Philistines and was a name given by the Romans after they had destroyed Jerusalem for the second time to obliterate any association of the Jewish people with that land. They deliberately gave it the name Palestine. I personally, if I can ever help it, will not use the name Palestine. In the New Testament twice it is still called the land of Israel.
So, God says through Jeremiah:
“I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah at this time. For thus says the Lord, We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not peace, and ask now and see whether a male is ever in labor with child. So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale?”
Speaking about a time of such terrible fear that men behave like women in labor. All faces are turned pale.
And then it says:
“Alas, for that day is great so that none is like it, and it is the time of Jacob’s Trouble. But, he shall be saved out of it.”
Not from it but out of it. I heard a well known British preacher, and if I gave you his name many of you would know him, who said the return of the Jews to that country at this time can’t possibly be of God because if it was of God there would be peace. Well, you see, unfortunately like many preachers he spoke out of ignorance of the prophets because God said, “I will bring them back and there will be a time of agonizing trouble such as has never been experienced up to this time.” Which is we have seen in a little part the greatest is yet to come.
And then at the end of that chapter which goes on with the same theme, in one last sentence Jeremiah says:
“In the latter days you will consider it.”
So only in the latter days at the close of the age will we be in a position to see how exactly it applies.
Now I want to go very quickly through a small part of Ezekiel 36 and point out to you that the return of the Jewish people in these days to that land has been predicted step by step with the utmost accuracy by Ezekiel in chapter 36. I’m going to go fairly quickly but if you want to get a tape or something like that you can follow it more exactly. I’m going to start with Ezekiel 36:16:
“Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land they defiled it by their own ways and deeds.’”
Then he goes on:
“Therefore I have poured out my fury on them for the blood they had shed in the land and for their idols with which they have defiled it.”
In other words, they had defiled the land by their wicked conduct. Verse 19:
“So I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the countries. I judged them according to their ways and their deeds.”
The scattering of the Jewish people was a judgment of God.
“When they came to the nations wherever they went they profaned my holy name when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord and yet they have gone out of His land.’”
So God says, “I was embarrassed by the way my honor was affected by the Jewish people during their dispersal.” See, one thing you have to admit about the prophets of Israel, they were not nationalistic, they did not gloss over the sins of their own people. I’ve heard a few Christian attempts to point out that the Jews don’t deserve to get back to the land but their language pales by comparison with the language of Israel’s own prophets. You read Isaiah 59 some time and consider if you could ever add to the list of condemnation that’s found in that chapter. So God is not blind nor were the prophets blind to the sins of Israel.
God goes on, verse 21:
“But I had concern for my holy name which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.”
God is intervening not because the Jews deserve it but to retrieve the glory of His name. If you don’t understand that you’ll be in a fog.
“Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name’s sake which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.’”
God’s motive is not the deserves of Israel, it’s concern for the glory of His name.
“I will sanctify my great name which has been profaned among the nations which you have profaned in their midst, and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when I am sanctified in you before their eyes.”
God is going to do something that will be a revelation of His glory and His holiness to all nations.
Now, here are the successive simple steps. Verse 24:
“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.”
In this century that has been exactly fulfilled. Not metaphorically but exactly.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”
A lot of Christian commentators have said, “Well, if the Jews are ever to come back, first of all they have to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and then come back.” But God says it will be in a different order. First they’ll come back and then “I will cleanse them from all their filthiness.” Notice they are to come back in a condition which God describes as filthy, not deserving His blessing.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
That’s a heart transplant! The implication is that for the most part over many centuries the Jewish people have had a heart of stone. That is, a heart that was incapable of responding to the Holy Spirit. But God says, “I’m going to do a miracle. I’m going to take the heart of stone out, I’m going to replace it with a heart of flesh which can respond to my Spirit.”
I believe myself there was a specific time when God began to do that, it was in 1967, the time of the Six Day War when the Jewish people regained control of the Old City of Jerusalem. I have been associated with Jewish people off and on through those years. I remember once I spoke in 1948 to a Jewish man, telling him I believed Jesus was the Messiah. He turned and spat at the name of Jesus. That was his reaction. That attitude still prevails among many Jews but there has been since 1967 a remarkable change in their attitude. A professor in a university in Israel who teaches theology—that’s every kind of theology—said, “Years ago my students when I taught about Christianity were interested in the theological issues. Now they’re interested in the person of Jesus.” That especially is true among the younger people. It’s still by no means popular to proclaim the name of Jesus but there is a very different type of response amongst many Jewish people.
Because we built a house in Jerusalem, and let me say once is enough to build a house in Jerusalem, Ruth and I have dealt with a number of secular Jews in rather respected positions: lawyers, engineers and so on. And what always surprised us was they would come in to talk business and we’d offer them a cup of coffee. They would just sit and wait and we’d think what are they waiting for? But we learned they were waiting for us to tell them some of the miracles that God had done in our lives. The moment you talk to Jews about miracles that had been done through prayer, they will sit and listen as long as you’re willing to talk. They’re a very practical minded people, they want something that works.
I don’t really have time to tell you this but I think I’ll try. The engineer that oversaw the construction of our house, I have to be careful because he’s well known by name, came to see us after we’d moved into the house to see how we were getting on and he said, “I’m very busy, I can’t give you more than ten minutes.” We didn’t try to hold him. He said, “Oh, I have such a pain in my back.” So my wife said to him, “Well, my husband has something for back pains.” He said, “You do?” I said, “Yes, I do.” I said, “It’s a little unusual but if you want I’ll make you sit down in that chair and I’ll check your legs. If they’re unequal the short leg will grow out and then you’ll know that God has touched you.” He sat down and it all worked, the short leg grew out and he stayed at least a half an hour after he had said he could only stay ten minutes.
About two weeks later he came back and Ruth said, “How is your back?” He said, “It’s fine. Does your husband have anything for shoulders?” She said, “Yes, he does.” I said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. If you’ll stand up straight with your feet together, put your arms out to the side with the palms to the front, then swing them together in front of your nose and keep them where you come. If one arm is shorter than the other, I’ll pray and it will grow out.” Well, one arm was at least I would say an inch and a half shorter than the other and it grew out instantly. It was hot weather and he was wearing a short sleeved shirt and all the hairs on his arm were standing right up! He said, “What’s that?” I said, “It’s the power of God.” We didn’t get too excited, you know, this is one of the things that happens... He said, “You could have a line in the street outside your house if you wanted to do this.”
He didn’t make any confession of Jesus and we didn’t ask him for it. He later told a friend of ours who knows him, he said, “I believe Jesus is the Messiah.” Now, please understand he’s born again because with many Jewish people first of all there’s an intellectual conviction before there’s a change of heart.
But that’s just an example of how interested they are when they find something that works. I’ve told Jewish people, “As a Gentile we really owe you an apology for ever asking you to believe a gospel that was not supernaturally attested because it’s contrary to all your own scriptural background.”
So there we are. Now where am I going from now? That’s the new heart but that’s not all. Verse 27, going on in Ezekiel 36, God says:
“I will put my Spirit [the Holy Spirit] within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.”
First of all, there’s a change from a stony heart to a heart of flesh that can respond to the Holy Spirit. Then God says:
“I will put my Spirit in you [the Holy Spirit], and you will walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments...”
How many of you know that none of us, either Jew or Gentile, can ever obey God apart from the Holy Spirit? That’s essential no matter what your national background. I was brought up as an Anglican in the British church. At the age of 15 I was confirmed by none other than the Bishop of Oxford. I went through it all and I thought, “I probably need this.” I said everything, did everything and nothing happened. So, after awhile I said to myself, “This thing may work for some people but it doesn’t work for me.” I decided I probably ought to be a lot better than I was so for the next ten years I tried to be better and failed miserably. Then God filled me with the Holy Spirit and for the first time I could do with joy the things that God commanded. It takes the Holy Spirit in you to make you a joyful, obedient servant of God.
Now we come to the climax of this process in verse 28:
“Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers. You shall be my people and I will be your God.”
Be patient with the Lord, He’s working to a specific end and that’s it. But He hasn’t gotten there yet, there are three simple statements. “You shall dwell in the land, you shall be my people and I will be your God.” That is the ultimate purpose of God in all that He’s doing with the Jewish people and in the Middle East. It’s that He may again be their God.
There’s a number of other promises that follow, I won’t read them but let me just point out to you that in verses 23–30 of that chapter in the Hebrew—and it doesn’t come out exactly the same in the English—God says “I will” eighteen times. What does that mean? It means that this is a sovereign determination of God, it’s something that God has made up His mind to do. It’s not going to happen because the Jews deserve it. It’s not even going to happen primarily because the church prays. It’s going to happen because God said it will happen.
Most of us in the kind of movement we’re in today have a very limited view of the sovereignty of God. Until you understand the sovereignty of God you really don’t understand God, you don’t understand the Bible and you don’t understand history. The ultimate reason why God does things is because He’s made up His mind to do them. We can’t go into that because that’s one of the main theological controversies. Let me just say I believe in the sovereignty of God and I believe in the free will of man. I see no contradiction between the two. God knows exactly what you will do but He doesn’t make you do it. His knowledge is not compulsion. I better stop t here because otherwise we’ll never get back.
Now we need to say a couple of other things about the restoration of Israel. In Romans 9:27 Paul quotes Isaiah and he says:
“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved.”
Not a remnant but the remnant. What remnant? Sorry to come back to this but the remnant that God foreknew and chose. They will be saved. That’s not all Israel as Israel is today but it’s all Israel as they will emerge from the processes of history.
And let me add, incidentally, I personally believe the same is exactly true of the church. It’s only a remnant that will make it through. A majority of the church as it is today will not make it through. Jesus said, “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” You’re saved now but if you want to remain saved you have to endure. And in that chapter which is Matthew 24, He indicated that a lot of very difficult things would have to be endured.
So now we go on to the next stage of this promise which is in Romans 11:25–26 and Paul is writing at this point specifically to believers who are from a Gentile background and he says:
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion [or conceited].”
What’s the mystery?
“That hardening in part has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”
Notice it’s never total hardening. Through every century and every generation there have been Jews who have acknowledged Jesus as Messiah. But the majority of the nations for a long while has been hardened. Every time God speaks about what He’s going to do about disciplining Israel in scattering them, in judging them, whatever it may be, you’ll always find that after that there’s a word like the word until, it’s not going to be permanent.
So he says here:
“Hardening in part has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. Then all Israel will be saved.”
All Israel will be the remnant but it will be the whole nation at that time. Israel is the only nation in the Bible concerning which God has said that the whole nation will be saved.
It’s important to understand that because those of you who are working and praying for the salvation of the Gentiles, whether you know it or not, you’re also working for the salvation of Israel because only when the full number of the Gentiles has come in will all Israel be saved.
I think these words of Jesus apply, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” The Jewish people were the first, they became the last, but ultimately the last will be the first again. So I have a passionate conviction that is our obligation to preach this gospel of the kingdom to every nation. But I’m aware that while we’re doing it we are preparing the way for the salvation of Israel.
Here in Fort Lauderdale some years ago a married couple wanted to talk to Ruth and me. He was a Christian, a Gentile; she was Jewish and not a Christian. They wanted to know how we understood Romans 11:25–26. And so I said to her, “This is what I believe. First of all, the Gentiles have to come in and then the Jewish people will be saved.” She looked at me and said, “I wish you’d hurry up and get on with the job!” She was a perceptive woman.
Let in closing quickly point out to you some of the significance of the regathering of Israel. In Isaiah 11 God predicts a second regathering of Israel. It’s going beyond the regathering from Babylon, it’s the one that’s taking place now, and He says in Isaiah 11:11–12:
“It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands or coastlands of the sea.”
That has been fulfilled and is being fulfilled.
“He will set up a banner for the nations and will assemble the outcasts [or the exiles] of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
Bear in mind that in the days in which we live those words have been fulfilled and are being exactly fulfilled. But what I want to point out to you is the regathering of Israel is called a banner for the nations. What is a banner? It’s usually something that’s attached to a pole and held up or fixed up so that it’s conspicuous, everybody can see it from all around. And most banners have a few words on them. I would like to suggest to you the words on this banner, the banner of regathered Israel, the words are, “God keeps His covenants.” Four thousand years ago He made a covenant with Israel. People have forgotten it, many Jewish people are unaware of it, but God has never forgotten it. Right now at this time the banner says, “God keeps His covenants.”
We all need to know that because our relationship with God depends on a covenant, too. If God were to break one covenant why would He not break another? But He never will break His covenant.
And then a little further on in Isaiah 60, a very solemn statement which may shock some of you. But I say if you’ve never been shocked you’ve never read the Bible. This chapter predicts the restoration of the Jewish people and the gathering of the Gentiles to them. You have to take that for granted. Then it says in verse 12 concerning the Jewish people and their regathering:
“For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish. Those nations shall be utterly ruined.”
What a warning to the nations. Any nation that will not fit in with God’s purposes for the restoration of the Jewish people will perish—no matter how strong, no matter how wealthy.
You see, I’m British by background. I can remember the days when Britain was the mandatory power responsible for ruling what was called Palestine. I recall, first of all, that Britain received the mandate to provide a national home for the Jewish people. About two years later they assigned 76 percent of that area to a totally Arab nation called Trans-Jordan, now called Jordan—where no Jew is permitted to live. That left 24 percent. And in 1947 the United Nations divided up the remaining 24 percent. The British representatives in Palestine, that’s not necessarily the whole British people, in 1947–48 did everything they could short of open war to prevent the restoration of the state of Israel. Israel was a tiny, insignificant, little group of people 600,000 strong. The British Empire was the most powerful empire in the world that had emerged undefeated from two World Wars. And do you know what happened? The nation of Israel was established and the British Empire fell apart.
I say that to people in America because the American government is in great danger of making precisely the same mistake. Using nice words, using political manipulation, but in actual fact taking the side of the Arabs because of their supplies of oil. If it happened to Britain, my dear American brothers and sisters, it will happen to America. Any nation that will not serve the purposes of God for Israel will be ruined.
This is just a personal comment. I could foresee the ruin of America before the end of this millennium. And when it happens there are many reasons but one primary reason would be that America has reneged on her commitment to the Jewish people. This has been a land where the Jewish people have been favored and prospered, and America has prospered. Many people don’t see the connection between those two but there is a close connection. And if the United States turns against Israel in all the usual manipulative, political moves that are indulged in, it will be ruined. I didn’t say that, God said it.
There are two more passages.
“For behold, in those days and at that time when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem...”
Notice again this is one of countless different scriptures that refers to the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem.
“The Lord says, ‘I will also gather all nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there...’”
That’s all nations, all Gentiles. What is the basis of God’s judgment?
“...on account of my people, my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have also divided up my land.”
So the two bases on which God will judge the nations are their treatment of the Jewish people and their dealings with the land which God calls “my land” but which He gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That’s a very, very solemn thought.
And finally in Matthew 25—we will not read the passage, it’s familiar to many of you, I’m sure. It’s the passage of the sheep and the goat nations. It’s a direct carry on from Joel 3. It’s the New Testament outworking. It says in verse 31:
“When the Son of man comes in His glory with all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory and all nations will be gathered before Him.”
It’s exactly the same scene as Joel 3:1–2.
And then it describes the basis on which the Lord will judge the nations.
“He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on His right hand, the goats on His left. Then He will say to the sheep, ‘Enter into the kingdom prepared for you by my Father.’ And then He will say to the goat nations, ‘Depart from me you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”
Notice the everlasting fire was never prepared for human beings. Human beings have choice, the devil and his angels have no choice. Human beings who make the wrong choice will end up with the devil and his angels. Some of the most powerful words ever spoken by the Lord, “Depart from me you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
What was the basis of the separation? Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did not do it to me. And the judgment is a judgment of the nations so when Jesus is speaking about His brethren He’s speaking about the Jewish people. The nations will be judged by the way that they have dealt with the Jewish people. Each one of us individually will be dealt. Those that have shown love and kindness will be accepted by God. And the only basis ultimately for doing that is a belief in the scriptures. And those that have refused love and kindness will be totally and finally and eternally rejected by God.
This is not a little matter. I’ve taken a good deal of time, you’ve been very patient, but I have not stopped short because I want you to see how central this issue is to your personal destiny, to the destiny of the church, to the destiny of all nations. Amen.