This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Now, we're going to try something ambitious this evening. We're going to give you a scripture quotation which is the whole of Psalm 124.
“‘Unless the LORD had been on our side,’
Let Israel now say—
‘Unless the LORD had been on our side
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
Then the swollen waters
Would have swept over our soul.’
Blessed by the LORD,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.”
Now, with due respect to the people who say Don’t confuse me with the facts, I want to give you a series of facts about Israel. First of all, Israel is the name for the nation descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And later on they were called Jews. So really Jews and Israel today are more or less synonymous. They were not always.
The name Israel or Israelite occurs in the Old Testament more than two thousand five hundred times. Now if the name England or Scotland or Wales or Ireland had occurred that many times in the Bible, we would all be quite sure that you really couldn’t fully understand the Bible unless you knew something about England or Scotland or Wales or Ireland. The same applies to Israel. You cannot fully understand the Bible unless you know something about Israel. And if you’re confused about Israel, you’re confused about the Bible.
In the New Testament it occurs seventy-nine times. My book lists seventy-seven, but somebody went through it with a computer and one of those things you scan it and found two more that I’d missed. But it doesn’t change the conclusion, and it never, never describes the Church. Let me say that again. The name Israel occurs seventy-nine times in the New Testament and never once is a description of the Church.
The word Jew occurs eighty-four times in the Old Testament and one hundred ninety-two times in the New Testament. On the other hand the word a Christian occurs only three times in the New Testament.
Now I want to emphasize that Israel is a unique people. There is no one else like Israel. Let me add that I am not Jewish so far as I know. If I were it wouldn’t embarrass me, but I don’t believe I am. I want to point out first of all the uniqueness of Israel stated by David in 1 Chronicles 17 verse 21. David is praying to the Lord and he says,
“Who is like Your people Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people—to make for Yourself a name by great and awesome deeds, by driving out nations from before Your people whom You redeemed from Egypt?”
David is saying there is no other nation whom God set out to redeem as a nation from other nations. This is an unchallengable fact. It’s there. It’s unique.
Then in Exodus 19 we have the promise that God gave to Israel while they were gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai before He had given them the law and the commandments. And He says to Moses tell them this: Exodus 19 verse 6,
“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
There’s no other nation to whom God has ever spoken those words. And then in Romans 9 verses 4 and 5, Paul lists a number of distinctive features which apply only to Israel and to the Jews. Romans 9:4 and 5, he’s speaking about his kinsmen whom he says are Israelites and then he says,
“To whom pertain the adoption, [God adopted them as a nation as His people] the glory, [that is the manifest supernatural presence of God which was with Israel as long they walked in obedience] the covenants, [all the covenants in the Bible are made with Israel except the ones made before Israel was a nation] the giving of the law, [the law was given only to Israel] the priestly service of God [was given only to Israel], and the promises; [only to Israel. And then He says,] of whom are the fathers [and remember all the patriarchs are from that stock, not from any other stock but that. And finally] of whom, according to the flesh, Messiah, Christ, came.”
That again is the most distinctive of all the distinctive features—it was through the Jewish people, through Israel that the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus Christ came to the world. Not through any other people.
And then there’s a remarkable word in Revelations 5 verse 5, which in a way is so exciting that I...it almost takes my breath away, if you can understand why I’m excited. This is a scene in heaven when John is there and a scroll is presented and it’s sealed with seven seals. And no one is able to take the scroll and open the seals and John, the Revelator, began to weep bitterly because he so longed to know what was inside that sealed scroll.
“And then 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 seven seals.’”
I don’t want to go into the details of the scroll, but I just want to point out to you that title. Who was the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Jesus. Now this was many years after His death and resurrection. And He’s still called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. It is from Judah that the word Jew comes.
I want to point out to you that the identification of Jesus with the Jewish people was not temporary. It was not just for the few years of His earthly life and ministry. But it was eternal. Many years later in heaven after His resurrection and ascension, He’s still called the Lion of the tribe of Judah! Not only was He a Jew, He still is a Jew. To me that’s breathtaking. That’s astounding. And you see we need to remember there is a Lion up there, and He’s a Jew. And one day that Lion is going to roar, and woe to the enemies of the Jewish people when the Lion of the tribe of Judah roars. I wouldn’t want to be against Him for anything at that time.
And one final, and I think perhaps the most important statement made about the Jewish people is in John chapter 4 and verse 22, where Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman and He says to this Samaritan woman:
“You [Samaritans] worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”
That’s five words isn’t it? Salvation is of the Jews. Five breathtaking words. Where did salvation come from? From the Jews. No Jews, no salvation. Now I am Gentile, but I want to tell you that my whole spiritual inheritance, every spiritual blessing I’ve ever enjoyed, I owe to one people—the Jewish people. Without them no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible, and no Savior. How much salvation would you or I have without those five things? Salvation is of the Jews. We better remember that, dear brothers and sisters. We’d better conduct ourselves accordingly. Every one of us who’s blessed in Jesus Christ owes all our spiritual blessings to one nation—the Jewish people. And the terrible fact of history is that for many, many centuries—seventeen centuries maybe—rather than humbling ourselves and acknowledging our debt to the Jewish people basically the Christian Church—I wouldn’t say true Christians—but the Christian Church has opposed, persecuted, made ridicule of the Jewish people, the people through whom our salvation came. It is monstrous. There’s hardly any words that I can find to describe how awful that situation is. We owe our whole salvation.
We British and let me say if anybody here is British, I’m British, as British as the flag, and we British tend to be rather proud. Did you ever discover that? I think some of us have forgotten we don’t have an empire any longer. I was an Empire builder. Believe me. Every male member of my family that I’ve ever known was an empire builder. An officer in the British Army serving in India. And we need to humble ourselves, we British. We need to say to the Jews, “Sorry. We haven’t appreciated you. We haven’t all been openly anti-Semitic, but there’s been an under current of anti-Semitism in this nation. And there have been periods in the history of this nation when it was openly anti-Semitic. And there are cities in this nations, York, Bristol, others where there were open violent persecution of the Jewish people, and many lost their lives. We need to humble ourselves. We need to repent. We need to take a fresh view of history and see what really happened.
Now I’m going to point out to you another unique fact about the Jewish people, absolutely unique. Their whole history was foretold in prophecy. That’s not true of any other nation, but the whole history of the Jewish people from Abraham onward was foretold in prophecy in the Bible. And I’m going to give you altogether sixteen stages in the outworking of prophecy which are predicted concerning Israel.
Number 1, and I could give you a Scripture reference for each one of these but time would not really permit. The first three were all given to Abraham. The prediction of their enslavement in Egypt, No. 1. No. 2 – Their deliverance with wealth from Egypt, and remember Abraham was told they’ll come out with much possession. They’d been slaves and in one night, one period of twenty-four hours, they became wealthy with the wealth of the Egyptians. A remarkable fact predicted before. No. 3 Their possession of the Land of Canaan was predicted to Abraham.
And then we go on to Deuteronomy and other books, No. 4 – That they would turn to idolatry in the Promised Land was clearly predicted and certainly fulfilled. No. 5 – That God would establish a center of worship in Jerusalem. No. 6 – That the Northern Kingdom, called Israel, would be carried into captivity in Assyria. No. 7 – That the Southern Kingdom, called Judah, would be carried into captivity in Babylon. No. 8 – The destruction of the first temple, that was the one built by Solomon, was predicted in detail. No. 9 – The return of a small remnant from Babylon was predicted. No. 10 – The destruction of the second temple, the one that stood in the day of Jesus—He Himself predicted in detail. And it’s interesting. You go to Jerusalem today and the Jewish guides will lead you round the temple area and they will show you stones that are just standing on their own, and they’ll say you see it was predicted that every stone would be thrown down. Not one stone would be left standing upon another. I tell you our Jewish guides believe a lot more about the Bible than some Christian preachers.
All right. No. 11 – It was predicted, Leviticus 26 and elsewhere, many other places, that because of disobedience they would be scattered among the nations, the Gentiles. No. 12 – That they would endure persecution and oppression among the Gentiles. That certainly has been fulfilled. No. 13 – That they would be ed from all nations. That is being fulfilled before our eyes and it’s important that we see that.
So thirteen of the predictions have been fulfilled. There remain three more, as I see it, that are still to be fulfilled. The gathering of all nations against Jerusalem in war No. 14. No. 15 – The supernatural revelation of Messiah to His people. No. 16 – The coming of Messiah in glory and power to establish His Kingdom on earth.
So out of sixteen predictions, thirteen have been fulfilled. According to my mathematics, and I’m not very strong on mathematics, but I think that’s about eighty-one percent. Now I would have to say I don’t think that we’re crazy fanatics if we believe that the remaining three predictions will be fulfilled. People look at us strangely as if we believe strange things. But to me, and I was a professional logician before I became a preacher, to me it’s logical to believe that if a book can predict thirteen events in advance with correctness and accuracy, any other predictions that book gives should be taken pretty seriously.
Now I want to come to possibly the most controversial topic in contemporary politics which is God’s plan for the land of Israel, mistakenly called Palestine. Let me point out to you that is totally contrary to Biblical truth to call it Palestine. Palestine means the Land of the Philistines. And it was never used until the Romans had conquered and destroyed the first temple. Then they used the name Palestine to assert that the Jews no longer had any claims to it. I mean it was a deliberately chosen anti-Semitic word. Ruth’s hair begins to turn up on end when I begin to talk about Palestine. She says, “Never call it Palestine.” Well I say sometimes you have to say Palestine because people are so ignorant they don’t know what you’re talking about if you don’t say anything else. God forgive their ignorance.
But let’s talk about God’s plan for that land. Biblically it was called the Land of Canaan and in the New Testament you know what it’s called? The Land of Israel. In the first two chapters of Matthew it’s twice called the Land of Israel. That’s the Biblical name for that land.
Now let’s see what God had to say about it. In Genesis 17 verses 7 and 8 God appeared to Abraham and He made a covenant with him—totally sovereign. I mean Abraham had nothing to do with it. God just decided and this is what God said to Abraham in Genesis 17 verses 7 and 8.
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God of you and your descendants after you. 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 there’s no dispute as about to whom the land belongs if you believe the Bible whether Israel are in it or outside of it. It makes no difference. God has given it to them as an everlasting possession.
And then there’s a remarkable passage in Psalm 105, one of the most remarkable passages, I think, in the Bible. Psalm 105—we’ll begin verse 7. It’s interesting in my Bible because I get to the bottom of the page and then I have to turn over to find out what the next verse says and it’s a remarkable turning point. This is a statement about God’s plan for a land and in it are used more words describing God’s total commitment than any other passage in the Bible I know of. Psalm 105 verse 7.
“He is the LORD our God;
His judgments are in all the earth. [In other words what God decrees applies in every part of the earth.]
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”
In those four verses God uses more words to describe His total commitment to something than anywhere else in the Bible. You cannot find another passage in the Bible. Let me just list the words—covenant, word, command, oath, statute, and everlasting covenant. Now the interesting thing is, to what is God making such a total authoritative unreserved commitment and I have to turn the page in my Bible because I got to the bottom of the page. And my breath is taken away when I discover what it is.
“Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance’”
So all those words, covenant, word, command, oath, statute, and everlasting covenant are all applied to God’s giving all the land of Canaan. Now I think anybody goes against that is going against God.
Then in Jeremiah chapter 30 we have the prediction, one out of countless passages predicting the return of the Jewish people to their inheritance in the last days. Jeremiah chapter 30 beginning at verse 3.
“‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’”
I think anybody with a moderate knowledge of the Bible knows what is the land that God gave to Abraham and his descendants. The land of Canaan, the land of Israel and the land we call today the Holy Land. God says, “When the time comes I’ll bring back the descendants of Israel and Judah from their captivity, to the land that I gave to their fathers.”
And then God gives a warning... You see I have a friend—I haven’t known him for quite a while, but he’s a British preacher and somebody asked him once, “Do you think the return of the Jews to that land is a work of God?” God bless him, he said, “If it were a work of God there would be peace.” He didn’t know his Bible. Now this is what God says about the return of the Jews to that land.
“For thus says the LORD:
‘We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man 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?’”
That’s a description of tremendous terror, oppression, opposition.
“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.”
So the return of the Jewish people to the land is not immediately going to produce peace. On the contrary it’s going to climax in a time of trouble such as they’ve never experienced before. But the promise is they shall be saved out of it. Not from it, but out of it.
And then if you look to the last words of Jeremiah chapter 30, it’s a kind of little summary, it says.
“In the latter days you will consider it.”
So this is a prediction concerning the restoration of the Jewish people to their own land in the latter days. And the prediction says, “There will not immediately be peace.” On the contrary the conflict will heat up and it is heating up and it will heat up.
Now, I want to turn to one of the most exciting chapters for me in the Bible and that’s Ezekiel chapter 36. Here is a brief stage by stage description of the return of the Jewish people to their own land. Beginning in Ezekiel 36 verse 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; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. [Notice it was their own land but they defiled it by their sin. So God goes on to say,] Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it.’”
So God brought judgment on the people while still in the land for their sin and their idolatry. And the next stage of God’s dealings is in the next verse.
“So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds.”
So the next judgment was to be dispersed from the land. And then God says, “They embarrassed me when they came to the other nations.”
“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 the Lord said, “I was embarrassed by the behavior of the people who were scattered out of the land because they didn’t behave like my people at all. Now the next verse is very significant, because you will never understand God’s dealings with Israel until you understand His primary motive. 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 not doing it for the sake of the Jewish people. He’s doing it for the sake of His name. If you don’t understand that you will not be able to follow what follows in the events of history. God has intervened for the glory of His name. Now God says this is the way I’m going to deal with them. And now, it’s very interesting, it’s very simple. It’s a stage by stage depiction of the restoration of Jewish people to their land and to their God. You might say, “Well, God, why did you do it that way. I think they ought to have repented first and then come back to the land.” Well you’ll have to argue that out with God, because God says it’s not going to happen that way. They’re going to come back to the land and then they’re going to repent. I’ve heard many Christians say, “Well, I could believe in the restoration of the Jewish people if they’d repented and acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah.” Well, you’ll have to argue that out with God, because God had arranged it a different way. He says verse 22,
“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. [Then the next verse] And 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 hallowed in you before their eyes.’’”
“I am going to reclaim the glory of My name by what I do for you and in you.” And then He goes on a few simple steps being exactly fulfilled in our day. The next step, verse 24.
“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land."
Whose land? Your own land. Whether they were in it or not, it was always their land because God gave it to them by an everlasting covenant. But they’d been out of it. But he says, “Now,” God says, “I will take you from among the nations, gather you our of all countries, and bring you into your own land.”
I’ve been a student in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I sat in a class of about thirty people and they came from at least ten different nations. And it’s estimated all together the Jews have been ed from more than one hundred nations of the earth in this century. That is an amazing miracle. In my opinion it is possibly greater than the miracle of the deliverance from Egypt.
My first wife as some of you know was Danish. And she used to say, “If you took the Danes and dispersed them among all nations after two hundred years when you came back you wouldn’t find a single Dane anywhere. They would have merged with the nation.” But the Jewish people have been scattered basically, how many years? I can’t believe it. Two thousand years. I mean surely I must be exaggerating, but I’m not. And they’re still an identifiable separate group. That’s a miracle. Furthermore to that number of people from that number of nations is in itself a miraculous intervention of God.
I was in Israel at the end of World War II and I heard some of the testimonies of Jewish people as they said where they’d been gathered from and what had happened. I’d have to say in many ways in my eyes the total scenario represents a greater miracle than the exodus from Egypt. And it’s a miracle. It could not have happened unless God made it happen. And God said, “I will do it.” I want to read that again.
“I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. [Now the next verse.] 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.”
Notice they are to be regathered still unclean. That upset some people’s theology. I can’t help it. It’s just the way it is. You’ll have to clear that with God. God says, “When I’ve got them back in the land, then I will deal with them. I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you will be clean from all your uncleanness.”
In the prophet Hosea it says to them, “In the place where it was said to you ‘Not My people,’ there it shall be said to you, ‘You are My people and I am your God.’” So God had to bring them back to the place where they were originally scattered from to deal with them to restore them. Very logical in my opinion.
So the first thing that the Lord is going to do is sprinkle clean water. Now this is—I really think the clean water is the word of God. I think that the Jewish people are being just sprinkled, not deluged, but sprinkled with the word of God. You have to know that in many ways the history of the Jewish people is like the history of the Catholic Church. Of course there are many differences. But basically in the Catholic Church the priest was the one who knew the Bible, he was supposed to know the Bible. People didn’t read for themselves. They believed what the priest told them. And to a certain extent that was true of the Jewish people. The Rabbi was the one who knew the answers. They didn’t have to think for themselves. They just had to do what the Rabbi told them. But now they are being sprinkled with clean water—the word of God is coming to them. This is in an ever increasing way. I mean, the increase in the number of congregations of Jewish people believing in Jesus as the Messiah is growing with amazing rapidity.
I can remember when I was in Jerusalem in 1948. If you met one Jewish believer in a year that was exciting. Now every time you turn around there’s a new Jewish believer. I forget how many Hebrew speaking congregations there are in Jerusalem. I think it’s about eighteen. Eighteen Hebrew speaking Jewish congregations in Jerusalem. That’s happened in the last few years. God is sprinkling clean water upon them—the clean water of the word of God.
Then He says in the next verse:
“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.”
So during the centuries of the dispersion the Jewish people had a heart of stone, the judgment of God. A heart of stone cannot respond to the Holy Spirit. They were incapable of responding. They were always the exceptions. Now God is taking away the heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh. And one of the exciting changes is in their attitude toward Yeshua, toward Jesus.
I remember in 1947 or 48, I was speaking to a Jewish man and I said to him, “I believe Jesus is the Messiah.” And he turned around and spat on the ground. That was his reaction to the name of Jesus. A professor of religion in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem made this comment a few years ago. He said, “Sometime back my students all wanted to know about theological arguments. Now they all want to know about Jesus.” See, there’s a change, a very significant change coming. God said it would come. “I will give you a new heart, put a new spirit within you, I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh.” Next verse.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
Then, God says, “Not only will I put a new Spirit within you,” – that’s the rebirth – “but I will put My Spirit within you.” For me that’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And then God says, “Now you’ll be able to keep My commandments.” How many of you know that without the Holy Spirit you cannot keep God’s commandments.
I remember as a boy at Eton, 1932, I was “confirmed”. You know what confirmed is? As a matter of fact I really didn’t want to be confirmed. So they appealed to my father as to whether I should be confirmed and my father was serving in India at the time. He wrote back and said, “All the boys of your age are being confirmed. You will be confirmed.” So confirmed I was. Well before I was confirmed I was a sinner, and after I was confirmed I was a confirmed sinner. I don’t say that to belittle anything, it just the way it was. Almost exactly ten years later God filled me with the Holy Spirit and for the first time I could obey God joyfully. It wasn’t a struggle. That’s how it’s going to be with the Jewish people. God says, “I will put My Spirit within you, then you will walk in my statutes and keep my laws.”
We come to the last verse of this particular section. 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.”
You have to look to the end, you see. All these are stages, but the climax is “You shall be My people and I will be your God.” And God has described very simply the various main stages through which He will lead them to bring them to that place. So if you’re rather critical of the Jewish people, and that’s not difficult. In fact the ones who are most critical of the Jewish people are the Jewish people themselves. But just bear in mind, be patient. God is at work. He’s doing something. He’s outlined in advance many centuries ago the way He was going to deal with them. He’s doing it step by step. It’s being fulfilled before our eyes. It’s exciting, at least to me. And if I can be excited, almost anybody can be excited. Now that’s not only the truth. It used to be true, but I’ve changed a lot.
Now I just want to point out if you read this passage in Hebrew, between verse 23 of Ezekiel 36 and verse 30, God says, “I will” eighteen times. You understand? We’re dealing with a Sovereign God. We’re not dealing with a God that needs our approval, or doesn’t know what He’s going to do. He’s got it all worked out, and He says eighteen times, “I will, I will, I will, I will... Do you believe in the sovereignty of God? I certainly do. It doesn’t make me a Calvinist, but my definition of God’s sovereignty is this: God does what He wants, the way He wants, when He wants, and He asks no ones permission. Not even mine. Some people think God has to have their permission before He’ll do it, but that’s not so.
Now, all this has a very important application to you and me. If you’ll turn to Isaiah chapter 11 God says what the significance of the restoration of Israel is to be for other nations. Isaiah 11 verses 11 and 12.
“It shall come to pass in that day [and that day in Isaiah and other prophets is usually the end time. Not always, but usually.]
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 Pathos and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the islands of the sea”
So Isaiah predicts there’s going to be a second re-gathering. This is a remarkable fact about the Bible because the first re-gathering had not yet taken place, but God looks beyond that. The first re-gathering was a brief partial re-gathering after the Babylonian captivity. But God says there will be a second re-gathering and this re-gathering will be worldwide, not just be from the few areas to which the Jews were dispersed in the Babylonian captivity, but it will be worldwide. “I will set My hand the second time to re-gather the remnant of My people.” Now if God sets His hand to do something, He’s going to do it. Woe to the person who gets in His way. Now this is such a vivid description to me. What is the significance of it?
“He will set up a banner for the nations,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.”
Notice, this is to be a worldwide ingathering. The re-gathering from Babylon was partial, limited to certain areas. This one is worldwide. And it’s been exactly fulfilled. There are more than a hundred nations from which the Jewish people have been gathered. You cannot find any area of the earth from which the Jewish people have not been re-gathered. But it was all predicted before the first scattering and the first gathering.
And then God says and this has become so vivid to me, ”He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel,” The nations is the other nations, the Gentiles. So the re-gathering of Israel to their own land is God’s banner to the nations. We better give heed.
Now what is a banner? This is my simple definition. A banner is usually some kind of something like a flag or something like that, that is put on something that lifts it up and makes it visible to a long distance and usually it has a few simple words on it. So that’s how I understand the re-gathering of the Jewish people. It’s God’s banner lifted up for all the nations to see. And you see all the nations do see because you never open your newspaper for a week without getting news about Israel. I mean it’s amazing when you think it’s a nation of less than six million people with a tiny little strip of territory less than the principality of Wales. And it’s on the news week, by week, by week. Why? Because it’s God’s banner He wants all the nations to see it. It’s lifted up.
What are the words on the banner? Now this is just my own personal interpretation. But for me what God says through that banner is this, GOD KEEPS HIS COVENANTS. How many years ago? About three thousand eight hundred years ago God made a covenant with Abraham. He said, “I’ll give this land to you and your descendants.” Most people forgot it. Most Israelites forgot it. People thought it was buried in their past. There’s one person who never forgot. God. He said, “I’m keeping My covenant.” How important that is for all of us to know. God keeps His covenants. It’s very important for us as Christians because our relationship with God is based on the covenant made through the blood of Jesus. If God could break His covenant with Israel, why shouldn’t He break His covenant with the Church? But He won’t. He’s not a covenant breaker. He made a covenant and He’s keeping a covenant. And that’s good news. It’s exciting.
I remember we were in Jerusalem, my first wife and I and our family in 29th of November 1947 when the United Nations voted to partition this little strip of territory and give Israel just a little strip. And down in the center of Jerusalem the young Jewish people, the boys and the girls linked arms and danced the Hora around the Zion Square almost all night. Why were they so excited? Because God was keeping His covenant. Oh, how wonderful He is.
Now this has a solemn message for the nations. Not least for Britain, in fact in many ways first and foremost for Britain, because Britain played a special role in all of this. Turning to Joel chapter 3 verses 1 and 2.
“For behold in those days and at that time, [this is God who’s speaking]
When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, [so it’s the time of the restoration of the Jewish people]
I will also gather all nations, [that’s all Gentiles]And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; [and Jehoshaphat as a name means the Lord judges]
And I will enter into judgment with them there [that’s all nations]
On account of My people, My heritage Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also divided up My land.”
Before it was Israel’s land it was God’s land. God gave it to Israel. What’s the modern political word for dividing up the land? Partition. That’s right. So God is going to judge the nations that have partitioned His land. Top of the list is Britain.
At the end of World War I the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to administer the Holy Land, this land. And their specific mandate was to create a national home for the Jewish people. That was about 1919. In 1922 Winston Churchill, who was then Home Secretary, with one stroke of the British pen created an Arab nation which was called then Trans Jordan, it’s now called Jordan, by which he assigned approximately seventy-five percent of the total area allotted to Israel. And in that land of Jordan no Jew is permitted to live. Whereas in the land assigned to Israel every Arab is perfectly free to live if he wants. So here is the Jewish people ending up with twenty-five percent approximately of what was supposed to be assigned to them.
Then after World War II the United Nations voted to partition and they took approximately twelve percent, I mean a further twelve percent, and gave it to Israel. Instead of getting a hundred percent they ended up with twelve percent. Who was responsibility? Britain. Now after that, as you know, the United Nations voted to give Israel a State of their own. I was an eye witness. I was living there in that time. I was British. I’d been discharged from the British Forces. I had access to a certain amount of information. Now the British did not openly defy the United Nations, but they decided to play the game their way. And they did everything short of open conflict to frustrate the creation of the State of Israel.
Now I’m speaking – I was there. I saw it with my own eyes. And they ridiculed the idea of the Jews ever having a State of their own. “These Jews know nothing about farming. All they know about is making money.” That was their comment. So there was a time of tremendous danger for the Jewish people and Lydia and I were in the middle of it. We were living in the middle of Jewish Jerusalem. And what was the result? This is very important. First of all the State of Israel came into being. Number two, the British Empire fell apart. And that’s the reason why it fell apart, because they went against God’s purposes for Israel. And woe to any nation and any government that goes against God’s purposes for Israel.
I hope we’ve learned our lesson. I believe as a nation we need to humble ourselves before God and confess this as a sin. Say, “We resisted your purposes. We belittled your people.” There were all sorts of anti-Semitic jibes that were made about the Jewish people at that time. But you see no nation, no matter how powerful, how wealthy, can go against God’s purposes and prosper. And I see very much the same thing happening to the United States of America. I see the same kind of political language. Saying nice things, but at the same time taking it away. And I personally believe that President Clinton will crash. That’s my personal opinion because he’s wrongly related to God’s purposes for Israel. You can talk like a friend of Israel and be nice and say all sorts of politically correct things, but inwardly you know what they’re concerned about in one simple word? Oil. That’s what concerns, that’s what motivates the super powers. That’s what motivates the European Union. Oil. Israel has no oil to offer apparently. So we’ll say nice things. We’ll talk politically correct. We’ll have used democratic language, but at the same time let’s take care of our pocketbooks. Well, that’s the way it’s been.
Now one final fact about this situation which is very, very critical is what is the real issue behind it all? I mean it is absurd – approximately half the resolutions of the United Nations have been made about Israel. You couldn’t imagine anything less appropriate or more ridiculous. There must be a reason. Why is it that every time you open your newspaper or turn on your television there’s something about this little strip of territory that contains about six million people? A drop in the bucket of the world. What is the reason for the pressure, for the opposition, for the conflict? I’ll try to tell you.
Let me turn to Matthew chapter 23, the last words of the chapter, very sad words, verses 37, 38 and 39. Now this is the farewell of Jesus to Jerusalem. It’s a very sad and tragic farewell.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! [And it’s plural. There is a certain collective will of the Jewish people. They, as a people were not willing. Then He says,] See! Your house is left to you desolate;”
When He says your house it means the temple because they called it habiat, the house. And true enough. Within a generation it was totally desolated. Then He goes on the last verse.
“...for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’”
Now this is plural. You plural. It’s not Jerusalem. It’s you Jewish people. “...you will not see me again until you Jewish people say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.’” That’s the standard Hebrew greeting. ___________________________ [Hebrew greeting] Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.
So He says, “I’m not going to come back until you are ready to welcome Me. So He’s got to have the heart of the Jewish people prepared before He will return. And if you turn to Zechariah the 12th chapter you find the final filling in of this picture. Zechariah 12 verse 10. Zechariah chapters 12, 13 and 14 all do deal with the situation in the land of Israel at the close of this age. And the Lord is speaking and He says,
“And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplications; [Notice you cannot supplicate unless God gives you the Spirit of grace. When He gives you the Spirit of grace you can respond with supplication.] then they will look on Me whom they have pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
Now it is the Lord who is speaking and He says, “They will look on Me whom they, the Jewish people, have pierced.” It is the most astonishing thing that they can read that without knowing what it means, because it is the clearest statement anywhere in Scripture that they will crucify the Lord. “They will look on Me whom they have pierced.”
And then it says, “They will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieves for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” So there’s going to come a revelation of Jesus to His own people, the Jewish people, by the Holy Spirit as to who He really is. And then there will be a mourning as has never been experienced in the history of Israel. For the first time they’ll realize, “We crucified our Messiah. We rejected our God.” Then it goes on.
“In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David...”
I want you to see if you put together Matthew and Zechariah before the Lord returns certain things have to be established. The Jewish people have to be reestablished in Jerusalem and in the land because the Lord Jesus is not coming back until they are. Then there has to be a supernatural revelation of Jesus which will turn the hearts of the people to Himself.
Now what do you think Satan, the god of this age, fears most? What is the one thing that he’s most upset about? I would say the return of Jesus. Because until Jesus comes back he may lose a lot of battles but he will never lose the war. He may lose a lot of souls but he’d still be the god of this age. That will not change until Jesus returns in person. So what does the devil fear most? The return of Jesus. What does he oppose the most? The setting up of the situation which will prepare the way for Jesus to return. The Jewish people have to be in Jerusalem as their city and they have to be occupying the land before Jesus will come back. See. So this is what’s behind all the uproar and all the fuss. Satan is doing everything he can to prevent the setting up of the scenario which will bring back the Lord. And there’s where all nations are involved, because He’s going to gather all nations, and He’s going to judge them on the basis of how they’ve responded to His claim for the land for Israel. Isn’t that amazing? It’s also frightening.
I pray for this nation, Britain, that Britain will not be aligned on the wrong side. I can’t guarantee it, but I pray it. You see it’s tragic because in a way the British people, British Christians, opened the way for the reestablishment of Israel as a nation. You may not be aware of it, but the at the close of the last century there was a small but very influential group of British Christians who prayed and agitated and worked for the restoration of the Jewish people to their land. The first Zionists were not Jewish. They were British and in that period God blessed Britain. Britain truly was great. You couldn’t say much about Britain being great today. But when Britain had a Queen who loved the Jewish people... One Prime Minister who was a committed Christian and another who was a Jew by background, they were on the winning team. You see your relationship with God is what really determines whether you’ll be successful or not.
Ruth and I worship in a church in Jerusalem which was established I think in 1840, the first Protestant Church in the Middle East. It is the product of the efforts and the giving and the praying of British Zionists. And it’s purpose was to have a place of witness ready for the Jewish people when they returned. So they knew from the Scriptures the Jewish people were coming back and they had the foresight to say, “We need to have a witness.” And this particular church is not built like an ordinary church. Most ordinary churches would offend Jewish people the moment you walked in. But this church, although it’s truly Christian, is designed in such a way that a Jewish person can feel at home there. And after the church was first established the first Bishop was a former Rabbi. And there was a revival amongst the Jewish people. And then Satan got in and they became more interested in the Arabs than the Jews. God bless the Arabs. Every Arab has a soul that needs to be saved. But the Jews are the key to history.
So I suggest that we British – I’m so glad that I can say “we”, I don’t have to say you as you might object if I did. But we British really need to think about our relationship with God. I think that it would be appropriate we close this meeting tonight by confessing our sins to Almighty God. That we have stood in the way of His purposes. We have belittled, maligned His people, we have been very unethical in our whole conduct with regard to the land of Israel. Now I don’t feel I’m the person to make this confession.
I would ask that the leadership of Barnabas come up and join me on the platform. I would ask all you people who are truly British, believe in the Lord, to make this a significant moment, because it can really help to change the destiny of Israel, of Britain.
So I want to ask you to be prompted by the Lord and make an honest confession on behalf of the British people of the way we have sinned against God, and sinned against the Jewish people, and sinned against the State of Israel, and tell Him we’re sorry, and will He forgive us. Amen.
[Another man speaking]
I think it would be good to stand together please in the presence of the Lord. I do believe before we begin to pray that there are people here in this room... This isn’t about appeals or people coming forward or putting up their hands or anything. That’s not part of it. But there are people here in this room who have absorbed into their hearts that is called replacement theology. That which says that we are the Israel of God and that Israel has no place. I believe that until you put that right and until you’re prepared to admit the truth of God’s word as we’ve heard it tonight, there’s actually no point in your praying because you’re deluded. I believe it’s a strong delusion from Satan. I would just ask those people, we’re just going to pause for a moment. I’m not going to ask you to pray aloud, I’m not going to pray, but I’m going to ask you to confess that sin before the Lord and ask God for repentance, well you repent, but ask God to take that from you that you might be able to pray and act and understand aright the things of God.
Father God, we Your people have trampled upon Israel as we trampled upon Your word. Lord we as a nation have ignored the truth of Your word for the sake of our own gain, for the pride of our heart, for the vain imagination of the mind. Lord we have been careless of the suffering of the Jewish people. We have joined hands with those who would seek their destruction. We have been silent when we should have spoken out. Father God, we have acted unjustly. We have acted in self-righteousness, we have neglected mercy and grace, and Father, we stand as a nation, Lord, as it were on a knife edge of Your judgment. Father, as representatives of Your people in this nation we to confess that we, Your Church, have neglected Your people, have neglected Your promises that, Lord, we’ve been more concerned with the building up of our own empires than in the return of the Jewish people to the nation and in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and in glory. Father Lord, we ask tonight Your forgiveness. We repent of that which is dishonoring to Your purposes. We ask, Father God, that you would gird our heart, Lord, that you will gird our hearts to stand with Your people. We ask Lord that you would gird our hearts that we will be free of the snare of men that we would speak concerning Your people in this nation. Lord, that you would give us boldness. Lord, that in our churches we would raise up a prayer for Your chosen people. Lord, that we hear Your heart and we would be obedient to that which You call each person in this room to do in that process. Father God, that You might be exalted, Lord that You might be raised up. In the name of Jesus we ask, Amen.