Recently, we have enjoyed a fruitful discussion on Prophecy, especially concerning the Jews and the Church. (Start here) The focus of the discussion thus far is the return of the Jews to Israel, or rather in Covenant with God. (Has it been fulfilled?)As we know, the dispersion of the Jews happened in two phases. First, the northern Kingdom (Israel or Ephraim) was dispersed by the Assyrians while some time later, the Babylonians conquered the southern Kingdom (Judah – and Benjamin).
Let’s first examine a few of the prophetic cues to the regathering of Israel,
“For thus says the Lord GOD: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. (Ezekiel 34:11-13 NKJV)
Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:5 NKJV)
In 1948, the modern state of Israel was born, which has excited evangelicals to no end; yet, this is not the restoration of Israel, for several reasons.
- The prophecies of Israel’s regathering are quoted in the New Testament by the apostles and are said to be fulfilled in Christ through the gospel. Compare: Hosea 1:9, 10; 2:23; with Romans 9:25, 26; 1 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 10:20–23 with Romans 9:27, 28
- Sitivina Rabuka cites Jeremiah 31:10, as proof that God would protect Israel from those who would attack them and seek to destroy them. However, he overlooks the fact that God promised that Israel would never be attacked or have their land threatened on any of the three annual feast days. (Exod. 34:23) Yet, Israel was attacked on Yom Kippur, 1973. In the Bible, each time ancient Israel was attacked on a feast day, it was proof that Israel had broken the covenant. Don K. Preston of Preterist Research Institute in Israel 1948, Countdown to Nowhere, argues that Josephus (first century Jewish Historian and other Jewish sources) cite that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem during the feast of Pentecost in 586 BC., (p. 26)Preston also points out that according to Josephus, an eyewitness of the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem took place during Pentecost, one of Israel’s three special feast days for disobedience to the covenant, Matthew 23–24). Modern Israel was attacked on the Passover on 3/27/2002. Each time in the past Biblical History, Israel is attacked on the feast days for disobedience to to the covenant.Thus, rather than proving Israel’s protection, an attack on the feast days proves that God is in disfavor with God.
- Through Christ, God created a new nation of Israel, i.e. descendants of Abraham through faith, not flesh, (Gal.
3:26–29).Romans 2:28–29, speaks of those who are Jews inwardly, versus according to the flesh. Later Paul says those of the flesh are not counted as the seed of Abraham, Rom. 9:5–6, but that Christians, comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles, are the new Israel of God, Gal. 6:16.
- As a direct result of their unbelief and disobedience the Jewish nation would be cast off forever from God’s
presence and covenant people. (Gal. 4:26) This means that modern Israel, unless they are believers in Christ, are not the people of God.Moses prophesied that all who would not hear the Christ would be cut off from Israel, (Acts 3:22, 23).
- All Old Testament prophecy has now been fulfilled. According to Luke 21:20–22, Jesus said the A.D. 70, destruction of Jerusalem was God’s vengeance upon the nation for crucifying Christ and his followers.
One of the things that we must look at is what the Apostles thought. James, the bishop of Jerusalem (Acts 15), quoted Amos who had centuries earlier written,
On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and rebuild the ruins of it, and will set up the parts thereof that have been broken down, and will build it up as in the ancient days: that the remnant of men, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, may earnestly seek me, saith the Lord who does all these things. (Amos 9:11-12 LXX)
The Lord is clear: In that day God would again raise the tabernacle of David for the remnant of men (Jewish) and for the Gentiles called by His name that both, as one would earnestly seek Him. James understood ‘that day’ to be the day of the Church.
Further, we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then there would not have been a constant searching for a second. For finding fault with the people, He says: Behold! The days are coming, says the LORD, then I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand, to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt because they did not continue in my covenant, and I neglected them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will draw-up with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws into their minds and inscribe them in their hearts; I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people. And by no means will they teach their neighbor, saying: Learn from me about the LORD; for all will come to know me by acquaintance, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness; their sins and their iniquities will I remember anymore. When the LORD says ‘new’, he has made the first old, and what is declared obsolete and grows aged, is read to be abolished. (Hebrews 8:7-13 CTV)
And if you go back to the reference in Jeremiah from which this is taken, you discover that it is actually PART of a prophecy dealing with regathering Israel after their scattering!
At that time I will be the God of all the family groups of Israel and they will be my people. I, the Lord, affirm it.” The Lord says, “The people of Israel who survived death at the hands of the enemy will find favor in the wilderness as they journey to find rest for themselves. In a far-off land the Lord will manifest himself to them. He will say to them, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you. I will rebuild you, my dear children, Israel, so that you will once again be built up. Once again you will take up the tambourine and join in the happy throng of dancers. Once again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria. And those who plant them will once again enjoy their fruit. Yes, a time is coming when watchmen will call out on the mountains of Ephraim, “Come! Let us go to Zion to worship the Lord our God.”‘” Moreover, the Lord says, “Sing for joy for the descendants of Jacob. Raise glad shouts for that foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard. Then say, ‘Lord, rescue your people. Deliver those of Israel who remain alive.’ And I will reply, ‘I will bring them back from the land of the north. I will gather them in from the distant parts of the earth. Blind and lame people will come with them. And so will pregnant women and women about to give birth. A vast throng of people will come back here. They will come back shedding tears of contrition. I will bring them back praying prayers of repentance. I will lead them besides streams of water, along smooth paths where they will never stumble. I will do this because I am Israel’s father; Ephraim is my first born son.’” Hear what the Lord has to say, O nations. And proclaim it in the faraway lands along the sea. Say, “The one who scattered Israel will regather them. He will watch over his people like a shepherd watches over his flock.” (Jeremiah 31:1-10 NET)
Indeed, the people of Israel are my dear children. They are the children I take delight in. For even though I must often speak against them, I still remember them with fondness. So I am deeply moved with pity for them and will surely have compassion on them. I, the Lord, affirm it. I will say, ‘My dear children of Israel, keep in mind the road you took when you were carried off. Mark off in your minds the landmarks. Make a mental note of telltale signs marking the way back. Return, my dear children of Israel. Return to these cities of yours. (Jeremiah 31:20-21 NET)
And here is the passage Hebrews 8 quotes:
“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and Judah. It will not be like the old agreement that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. For they violated that agreement, even though I was a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. “But I will make a new agreement with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. And I will be their God and they will be my people. “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. That is because all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “All of this is based on the fact that I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NET)
And in this manner we continue and read that God will remember Israel forever, as follows immediately after these verses above:
The Lord has made a promise to Israel. He promises it as the one who provides for the fixed ordering of the sun to give light by day and the moon and stars to give light by night. He promises it as the one who stirs up the sea so that its waves roll. He promises it as the one who is known as the Lord who rules over all. The Lord affirms, “The descendants of Israel will by no means cease forever to be a nation in my sight. That could only happen if the fixed ordering of the heavenly lights were to cease to operate before me.” The Lord says, “I will by no means reject all the descendants of Israel because of all that they have done. That could only happen if the heavens above could be measured or the foundations of the earth below could all be explored,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:35-37 NET)
There is indeed an regathering of Israel, but it has happened through the Church and can only happen through the Church – as we have the word of the Apostles. It is a regathering through the cross. Our Apostolic foundation of epistles have already give us the correct interpretation as our covenant and our day . The day of Pentecost, the inauguration of the regathering as well as the ingathering of the Gentiles, is the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel, and to the Gentiles (Amos).
We have to remember as well, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, in which he says,
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh–who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands– that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13 NKJV)
Paul takes ‘Israel’ to a spiritual level, and claims that all those with Christ are not part of Israel. It is important to note that from the destruction of the southern Kingdom, Judah, Israel had no King from the Davidic line – not until Jesus Christ was raised up.
Let us discuss this, so that we may not leave or seclude any from among us, or err in the way of false doctrines.