My Pleasant Plant: Israel
By Noel Chartier
Israel, God's Chosen Nation
In the beginning God created the heavens and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. He created man in his own image and for His glory, for fellowship and communion, that man might delight himself in Him. He also made man with a free will that he might make his own choices, so he gave man one commandment which was of course necessary to give man the ability to exercise his free will to love and serve the Lord. But with a free will to choose comes also the possibility of making bad choices and the risk that man might turn away and forsake his Creator.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:16-17). Unfortunately, man transgressed this one commandment of the Lord and chose not to trust the Word of the Lord concerning the death that would befall him by taking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which he was forbidden.
Satan, the enemy of God and the adversary of Gods people came masquerading as a serpent, tempting man to doubt the very Word of God saying, Yea, hath God said ? Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:1, 4-5). This tragic chapter in the creation of man ends with man choosing to follow the lie of Satan rather than God. They were placed in the midst of God's very good creation, but now they certainly knew evil which was to transgress the commandment of God, and its deadly consequence for sin is the transgression of the law (1John 3:4).
So we are reminded in the New Testament, by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12). Since that time, sin and death has ever been the misery and sorrow of mankind. Because of sin a curse was placed upon the ground (Genesis 3:17-19) and everything since that time breaks down and decays turning back to dust from whence it was made. So the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:22).
Death is now universal and there is not anything in the creation that can escape the pains of death. But would God's creation be left in this state forever? Is this all that man has to look forward to at the end of life is the grave? Is there no hope for a world that has to look death in the eye every waking moment of his life? In those very early chapters we do find such hope. We find God's promise of a Savior who would bring redemption, and reconcile man back to God. He would be the offspring of the woman, and would undo all the tragic effects that sin wrought, when on the cross Jehovah would bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 53:5, 10) and bear the sin of the whole world in His own body on the cross.
He would come into the world to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). The seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) would be God's own Son, God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), who would take away the sins of the world becoming the sinless substitute for man, redeeming him with His precious blood, to pay his debt of sin in full, satisfying the just demands of God.
There was no set time for the arrival of the Messiah in the beginning, but there was the promise that He would become the seed of the woman, through a young virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23), but He would not be born with the sin nature of man, for He would be conceived of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:20).
With the hope of salvation and redemption through the promise of God's Messiah, the population of man began to multiply upon the face of the earth, but because of sin the wickedness of man abounded, and the earth was filled with violence for all flesh had corrupted His way upon the earth (Genesis 6:12).
Satan sought to corrupt all of mankind that the promises of God might not stand true, that there be not any righteous through which the promised seed could come into the world, but one man found grace in the eyes of the Lord and that was Noah. Because mankind had so rebelled against their Creator and corrupted His way upon the earth, God said He would purge the world of all the rebels in a worldwide flood (which evidence thereof remains today in the fossil record around the globe which was the direct result of the sedimentary strata that precipitated out of the worldwide flood, burying all creatures not on the ark in mud layers that subsequently turned to rock).
So God commanded Noah to built an ark for the saving of his house that would carry them over to the post-flood world. This event took place 1600 years after the initial creation of man.
God once again commanded man to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. But sad to say, it was not long before the descendants of Noah united in another great rebellion refusing to fill the face of the earth staying in the plain of Shinar, in the Mesopotamian valley, which is known as ancient Babylon.
This rebellion was only 100 years after the worldwide flood. So God, having promised never to destroy the earth again with a flood (Genesis 9:11), instead confused the language of man (therefore the place was called Babel which means confusion), causing him to be scattered upon the face of the earth producing all the nations of the world in their new tongues. This of course is really what divides man, not skin color but language.
God that made the world and all things therein hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us (Acts 17:24, 26-27).
God's promises would not be undone by evil and the promised Redeemer would yet come through the seed of the woman according to the will of God in His own timing. Although man had rebelled against their Creator at Babel, there was yet a believing remnant. God then chose a man named Abraham, a Hebrew, a faithful believer of God, and made a covenant with him giving him certain unconditional promises.
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).
It was through the offspring of Abraham whom the nation of Israel arose. Through Israel God revealed His Word and gave the Savior, blessing all the families of the earth. Furthermore, God gave unconditional promises regarding the land of Canaan. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates (Genesis 15:18, 17:7-8). God confirmed His promise of the land to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5) and grandson Jacob (Genesis 28:3-4). This was an unconditional covenant based on the sure promises of God although it was not realized in their lifetime.
In the course of time, Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel, Genesis 32:28) had twelve sons whose offspring are called the twelve tribes of Israel. These went favorably into Egypt but in the course of time became slaves for 400 years as the Lord foretold Abraham (Genesis 15:13) but they came out of Egypt with a great deliverance under the hand of Moses to whom God gave His Commandments and Laws (moral, ceremonial and judicial).
Israel then functioned as a nation, first under judges and then under kings. From the tribe of Judah came king David, the psalmist of Israel. To David God promised an everlasting kingdom saying I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever (2Samuel 7:12-13, 16).
This promise was temporarily fulfilled to David and his son Solomon, but ultimately it looked ahead for a great while to come (v. 19), to David's greater son, Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3-4).
But long before Israel came into the Promised Land, it was foretold by Moses that, it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other (Deuteronomy 28:15, 64).
If Israel would turn from the commandments of God, clearly they would be scattered to the nations of the world (which were produced at Babel). And when they were scattered among the nations the Lord said, thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee (Deuteronomy 28:37) and the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations (Numbers 23:9).
In their Diaspora before they were gathered back into the land they were put into ghettos and not allowed to intermarry with the populace thereby keeping their identity for thousands of years while they wandered among the gentile nations. Even today, especially among the Muslim nations, Israel is still not recognized as a sovereign nation.
But the Lord is merciful. He is longsuffering and desires that all come to repentance, so there are many places where the Lord said He would show Himself merciful if the children of Israel would turn again to the Lord, and He would restore them back to the place of blessing and bring them into the land.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God (Leviticus 26:44). While God may chasten Israel for disobedience in the land of their enemies (Jeremiah 30:11), He will never break His promises, nor forget His covenant He made with their forefathers.
And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (FOR THE LORD THY GOD IS A MERCIFUL GOD;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them (Deuteronomy 4:27-31).
Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land (Leviticus 26:42).
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers (Deuteronomy 30:3-5).
These words are repeated time and again throughout all the prophets. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there (Nehemiah 1:8-9).
God has chosen Israel to set His name there forever, specifically in Jerusalem. In many places He repeated this same promise time and again. In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever (2 Kings 21:7). (See also Appendix I)
The Gentiles First
If we look at the history of Israel, we find out that they were a very stiff-necked, hardhearted and rebellious people, even though they are called the elect of God. In their wayward wanderings from God they were compelled many times by Gods messengers to repent, but they would not hearken.
But finally Israel did make it into the Land of Canaan, that land promised to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:7-8) under the leadership of Joshua (1451 BC). This was not before they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness till all those who murmured in unbelief, after witnessing God's mighty hand of deliverance, were overthrown.
Once in the land, the nation operated under judges until the time that they sadly made Saul their king. After Saul, God chose David as king over all Israel (1055 BC). Under David and his son Solomon the kingdom of Israel reached its zenith. Solomon built the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem that the Lord might dwell among them and the glory of the Lord came down and filled the Temple (2Chronicles 5-7).
During Solomon's reign there were even blessings to a degree extended to the nations (As Abraham was foretold in Genesis 12:3, 22:18). Solomon's fame was in all nations round about And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom (1Kings 4:31, 34). The queen of the south came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon (Matthew 12:42). The end of her visit moved her heart saying, Blessed be the name of the LORD thy God (1Kings 10:9).
But as quick as the kingdom was established it was taken away because their hearts had turned from the Lord. First the kingdom was divided between Israel in the north (Samaria: 10 tribes) and Judah in the south (Jerusalem: 2 tribes) after the death of Solomon (975 BC) (1Kings 11-12), then in 721 BC the ten northern tribes were taken away captive by the king of Assyria (2Kings 17).
Finally, because Judah's idolatries were more than (Ezekiel 16:48-51) the northern tribes of Israel, the glory of God departed from the temple in Jerusalem, and the southern tribe of Judah and Benjamin were carried away captive into Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar (606 BC). There they spent 70 years To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years (2Chronicles 36:21).
When Israel had come into the land they were commanded to leave the land fallow to let it rest every seventh year (Leviticus 25:2-5). It was to be a sabbath for the land. But if she failed to hearken unto the Lord she would be scattered among the heathen that the land might enjoy her sabbaths (Leviticus 26:31-35).
From the time that Israel chose her own king (Saul in 1095 BC) until they were led away captive to Babylon (606 BC) there had been 490 years that Israel refused the land her Sabbaths. But now, the land would rest successively those years that were robbed her (490 ÷ 7=70), and they would serve the king of Babylon seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11).
The prophet Daniel was one of those taken captive to Babylon. He determined through reading the book of the prophet Jeremiah that seventy years should be accomplished in the desolations of Jerusalem. Daniel recognized that all these things were brought upon Israel because they rebelled and did wickedly in the sight of God, departing from His precepts, and failing to hearken to His servants the prophets.
He discerned that because of their disobedience the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God (Daniel 9:11). Moses had before spoken in the Law, blessings for obedience as well as curses that would befall the people if they were disobedient.
He foretold it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known (Deuteronomy 28:15, 36). This nation was the Chaldean's of Babylon.
While Daniel was praying and confessing the sin of his people in the land of their captivity, the angel Gabriel came to him to reveal the future concerning his people Israel and the holy city Jerusalem. It was earlier decreed that Jerusalem would be desolate for seventy years, but now Daniel was told it would not be seventy years but rather, Seventy weeks [70x7=490 years] are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city (Daniel 9:24).
Moses decreed as well, that the people Israel, if after being chastened by the Lord, would still not hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God He would punish them seven times more for their sin (Leviticus 26:18).
Daniel said, As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: YET made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth (Daniel 9:13).
Although a remnant did return to Jerusalem after seventy years in Babylon, for the most part the nation was unrepentant and the majority chose to stay in the land of their captivity. Therefore seven times more, another 490 years, were determined upon Jerusalem and the people of Israel. The Lord asked them When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? (Zechariah 7:5) Although they had religious service in the land of their captivity, the Lord was not in it.
Although Daniel was told the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times (Daniel 9:25), the kingdom would not yet be restored, and Jerusalem would remain under Gentile dominion because of their unrepentant hearts, and eventually, the city and the sanctuary would once again be destroyed (v. 26), and they would be carried away as by a flood, overflowing into the nations of the world.
Throughout the Scriptures we have repeated testimony that the Lord would bring His people back into the land, not from Babylon, but from a world wide distribution, even from the four corners of the world.
Even before Israel's first captivity in Babylon the prophet Isaiah foretold, 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, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12).
The first time the Lord gathered the remnant of His people was from Babylon, but the second time, it would be from the four corners of the earth. A remnant of Israel did return after those seventy years in Babylon, but the kingdom was not restored. The Glory of God never did return to the Temple in Jerusalem. At least not until over five hundred years later when a man named Simeon, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel, beheld there in the temple, the Babe Jesus, of whom he said mine eyes have seen thy salvation a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luke 2:30, 32).
The message then to Israel was Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). There can be no kingdom without a king and the Lord of glory (1Corinthians 2:8) was now in their midst.
The events from this time forward are absolutely remarkable. Daniel in His prophecy of Seventy weeks (70x7=490 years) stated that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (in 444 BC, approximately 92 years after Israel's return from Babylon in 536 BC; Nehemiah 2:1-20) until the coming of the promised Messiah, that there would be sixty-nine of these weeks (69 x 7 = 483 years), but then shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself (Daniel 9:26).
(Note: This left seven years (490 483 = 7) that are yet to be determined upon Jerusalem and the people Israel. These seven years are referred to as the Time of Jacobs Trouble, or the Great Tribulation which is still future.)
Israel's Messiah did come in the fullness of time, but the nation had still not repented as a whole. They rejected Jesus Christ as their King nailing Him to the cross of Calvary where He bled and died for the sins of the whole world. Indeed, as Daniel foretold, the Messiah was cut off, but not for himself.
Daniel foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem in His prophecy saying the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed. Jesus knowing all things foretold as well the coming destruction of Jerusalem saying, For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation (Luke 19:43-44). And again, there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down [and] Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the fullness of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:6, 24).
Jesus said, For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled (v. 22). What was written that was still in need of fulfillment? Although there is yet much to be fulfilled in God's prophetic program, Jesus then said, for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall be led away captive into all nations (v. 23-24).
These things were necessary to fulfill what God had long ago foretold concerning His rebellious people Israel, that there would be a day in which He would gather His people back to land He promised Abraham and his descendants, not from Babylon, but from the nations of the whole world in the latter days.
In order for them to be gathered back the second time from the four corners of the earth, they would first have to be scattered there. Jehovah being the Almighty Omniscient God He is (Isaiah 46:9-10), foresaw all these things from eternity and told us through the prophets all that should come to pass.
God also foretold that He would be a light to the Gentiles. It is during this interlude, while Israel is dispersed into the nations of the world, that God would turn to the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. During this time God would elect a new people, not to replace Israel, but rather to be the Bride for His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, which is called the Church.
In many Old Testament Scriptures it was told that God would turn to the Gentiles to be for salvation for all the nations of the world, and not for Israel only.
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6).
And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant [Jesus] to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse [Jesus Christ], which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious (Isaiah 11:10).
The Servant of Jehovah was the ONE who would restore the preserved of Israel. But before Jesus Christ restores Israel, He will take out of the Gentile nations a people for His name. Jesus testified He is the light of the world (John 8:12) and not for Israel only.
We should make a special note at this time what Isaiah says about Jesus. He shall stand for an ensign [Heb. nec] of the people. This same word ensign (Heb. nec) is first mentioned in the book of Numbers and is translated pole.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: [Heb. nec] and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, [Heb. nec] and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived (Numbers 21:8-9).
Jesus quoted these same verses saying as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:14-15). Jesus said, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die (John 12:32-33).
It was on Calvary's cross that Jesus was lifted up high on a pole to stand for an ensign of the people, whereby He would draw all men, not the Jew only, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Notice as well that Moses lifted up the serpent. The serpent no doubt is the author of sin and death. We are told in God's Word that the sting of death is sin (1Corinthians 15:56), and that the devil had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). But Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil as represented by the impaled serpent on a pole. When Jesus was lifted up on the cross He was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
It was on the cross that Christ was impaled for our sins. Through death, Jesus destroyed the works of the devil when He rose triumphantly over the grave. Now, when we look to Jesus and put our faith alone in His substitutionary death for our sins, the deadly sting of the serpent is healed and we are given everlasting life. How great a Savior we have!
Now, getting back, we would like to emphasize again, because Israel rejected and handed over their Messiah to the Gentiles to be crucified, their city and temple were once again destroyed, but this time they were not led away captive into any single nation, but rather they were dispersed to the nations of the world.
During this intermission so to say, God would visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name" , and they would look to Jesus, crucified for their sins, and be saved. When the fullness of the Gentiles come into the sheepfold (John 10:16), God will turn again to the Jew gathering him back to the Promised Land and subsequently restore the kingdom to Israel.
To this agree all the prophets. James quoted the prophet Amos stating After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up (Acts 15:16). The reason given for Israel's fall is so the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things (v. 17). The apostle Paul said For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead (Romans 11:15). Israel has been cast off for a season that the Gentile world might be reconciled to God.
Hosea said, For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days (Hosea 3:4-5).
The prophet Micah said, But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever (Micah 4:1, 6-7).
Zephaniah said, Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD (Zephaniah 3:19-20).
The Fig Tree Buds
Throughout the Scriptures Israel has on various occasions been described as the fig tree (Jeremiah 24:1-8, Hosea 9:10, Luke 13:6-9). It is very significant that during the ministry of Jesus in the days of His flesh, He told several parables about this fig tree. The first parable He told He started off like this, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:5). Although the kingdom of heaven was at hand, they still needed to repent, so He spoke this parable.
A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down (Luke 13:6-9).
His listeners should have recognized this parable from Isaiah 5:1-7. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry (v.7). The Lord looked to His pleasant plant for good fruit but He found none. So the Lord then said He would take away His wall of protection from the vineyard and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it (v.5-6).
His listeners no doubt would have been reminded of their invasion by Assyria and Babylon hundreds of years earlier and the subsequent captivity that followed Isaiah's parable because Israel refused to repent. What they failed to realize, that this was about to happen again to Israel.
Forty-seven years after the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah, the Jews were led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem [was] trodden down of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). In an enigmatic way, history had repeated itself. Like many of the Old Testament prophecies, they had a near and a far fulfillment.
Shortly after this parable, Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem but He was firmly rejected by the chief priests and the scribes. He later went out of the city. Upon returning the next morning He was hungry, And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (Matthew 21:19-20)
Accordingly, after His rejection by the religious leaders, He curses the fig tree symbolizing the terrible fate that awaited the Jews for rejecting God's Son. This would happen soon and the kingdom would be forever taken away from that generation.
This was certainly a significant event for the next morning again when they were entering into the city as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away (Mark 11:19-21).
This lesson might have reminded the disciples of the first curse ever pronounced in this world. After Adam and Eve sinned they tried to cover their iniquity with leaves of a fig tree. But to the One whose eyes are as a flame of fire, this could never hide the shame of their sin and nakedness. The leaves only hid to the natural eye the true barrenness of the fig tree, but Israel could not hide her true state before God.
Upon entering Jerusalem Jesus was again quickly confronted with His adversaries, the chief priests, the elders, the scribes and Pharisees. These were already plotting how they might destroy him so Jesus told them another parable, the parable of the wicked husbandman.
There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons (Matthew 21:33-41).
God was the owner of the vineyard, and Jesus was His Son. The rulers of Israel were the husbandman put in charge to care over the Vineyard (house of Israel), that it might be fruitful, and render unto the owner his portion of fruit in the time of harvest. But when the time of harvest drew near, the Son came to collect the fruit thereof but when the wicked husbandmen saw Him, they caught Him, casting Him out of the vineyard and they slew Him. Jesus then proceeded to foretell what would happen to these wicked men and the resulting fate of the vineyard.
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet (Matthew 21:42-46).
Because the leaders of Israel rejected their Messiah, the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a nation that would bring forth fruits meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8). The kingdom would in fact be delayed and given to a future generation.
This might remind us of Israel's experience 1500 years earlier when God had raised up another deliverer (Moses) and miraculously brought His people Israel out from the bondage of Egypt. God had promised the fathers of Israel the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession and now they were on their way there. But Israel quickly rebelled after leaving Egypt, therefore that whole generation perished in the wilderness. It was not until a later generation before they finally entered the Promised Land and received the promises.
This generation now would face the same fate and miss out on receiving the promises that He so desired to fulfill. The kingdom would not be restored to Israel, at least not yet.
Jesus then immediately continued His teachings by telling them another parable saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city (Matthew 22:1-7).
Israel had killed the Prince of Life. Peter said through ignorance they did this, but God raised Him from the dead vindicating Him. Through His abundant mercy, He would yet call them to repentance, and to partake in the marriage of the Lamb, but they would not come. Jesus therefore spoke again of the looming destruction that lay ahead for Jerusalem because Israel would still not hearken to His invitation. He foretold that their city would be burnt up and this is indeed what happened to that generation in AD 70.
Jesus then proceeded to tell His servants what they must now do. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests (v. 8-10).
This parable revealed how after the destruction of Jerusalem, Gods servants were now to go into the highways and the byways, into the whole world to preach the gospel to every creature, not just to the Jew (good), but to the Gentile (bad) as well.
After Saul of Tarsus was converted, he having a great love for his kinsmen according to the flesh sought also to bring reconciliation between them and God through Jesus Christ. He testified to them that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39). But they would not come to Christ, believing in God for the forgiveness of sins.
The apostle Paul tried again and again to bring to his brethren the good news of Jesus' substitutionary death for sinners and His triumphant resurrection from the dead, and how He fulfilled all these things according to the prophets. But after much opposition and blaspheming from the Jews, he finally stated It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth (Acts 13:46-47).
The early church from its beginning at Pentecost, for approximately the first seven years of its infancy was wholly Jewish. It was not until the house of Cornelius was converted that the middle wall of partition (Ephesians 2:14) between Jew and Gentile was broken down. The church now consists of Jew and Gentile for Jesus Christ has reconciled both unto God in one body by the cross (v. 16).
But nationally speaking, Israel as a whole became steadfast in her rejection of the truth and began to persecute the church. Before they killed Stephen he testified of them Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:51-52).
After Jesus told the parable of the Marriage of the Kings Son, this same day Jesus pronounced His woes on the religious leaders of Israel calling them hypocrites, blind, children of hell, whited sepulchers, serpents and a generation of vipers (Matthew 23).
After this stern rebuke, Jesus departed from the temple, and as He departed some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts but He again turned their attention to the imminent destruction that lay ahead saying, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down (Luke 21:5-6).
When they reached the Mount of Olives His disciples asked Him, When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matthew 24:3) The answers to these three questions can be found in the parallel accounts of Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21.
Concerning the timing of the destruction of the Temple Jesus said, And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:20-24).
When armies surrounded Jerusalem, this was the signal of Jerusalem's immanent destruction along with her magnificent Temple. Jesus added the fact that this people at that time would fall by the edge of the sword and the balance would be led away captive into all nations. Israel's worldwide captivity would now be fulfilled as spoken by the prophets and Jerusalem would remain under Gentile dominion (as it had been since the time of their Babylonian captivity in 606 BC) until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Might we add, that there is a very important word that is often neglected by many scholars who try to spiritualize the Scriptures and strive to cast off Israel from being a nation forever, replacing her with the church (See Appendix II). That is the word until.
Hath God cast away his people? God forbid God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Romans 11:1-2, 25).
Jesus was also asked, What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age? In other words, when would the times of the Gentiles end? Since the kingdom was to be taken from that generation and given to another bringing forth the fruits thereof, when then would Jesus restore again the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6)? Within this discourse Jesus turned them one more time to the fig tree.
He had previously described how He looked to His pleasant plant for fruit but found none. He tried for three years to bring it to fruition, but in the end it was yet barren of any spiritual fruit. Finally the decree was to cut it down and destroy it. But yet it was told that there would be a future generation that would render him the fruits in their seasons. When would this be? Had not all the prophets spoken of a restoration? Did not Micah say, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem (Micah 4:8).
It had already been told that the people of Israel, having rejected her Messiah, would now be scattered throughout all the nations of the world. How and when, then, would Israel inherit all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:8) and become that great nation that so long ago was unconditionally promised to Abraham and his descendants? When then, would the kingdom be restored to Israel if they were to be scattered to the ends of the earth? Jesus now revealed to them when this would be.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it [the Kingdom of God] is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (Matthew 24:32-34).
In other words, when you see the fig tree come alive again, when you see the tender branch being formed and leaves shooting forth, when you see Israel being gathered back into the land as foretold by the prophets, and develop as a nation, the generation that would witness this regathering would be the generation that would witness the fulfillment of those prophecies concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
This is the clearest indicator as to the timing when Christ would return to set up His kingdom. In the parallel passages of Luke, Jesus said, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:31, 28). Although we may not know the day nor the hour of Christ's return, we may know that it is nigh at hand.
There is a generation living today that are eyewitnesses to this amazing prophecy as it came to pass. They have seen how recent events have caused many of the wandering Jews to return back to the land, and saw the children of Israel declare her independence on May 14th 1948 to become a nation. After a 1900-year worldwide dispersion, the fig tree shot forth its first leaves and is now beginning to show an abundance of leaves.
Although we do not see any fruit yet, it will come in its season. The promise is clear from the Scriptures, that when the Lord begins to build up Zion, the Lord shall appear in His glory. Then shall Israel fill the world with fruit! He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:6). (Note: not only shall they produce the fruits of repentance, but also they shall produce an abundance of physical fruit. See Appendix III)
Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come [Heb. acharown; last]: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD (Psalm 102:13-18).
The Disciples of Christ, before His ascension up into heaven asked wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6) But He had only weeks before lamented, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Luke 13:34-35).
What lie ahead for Israel was desolation, which would result in the Jew being scattered to the ends of the earth! However one day they would return as spoken by the prophets, but Jesus Christ, who is the glory of God, would not descend back into their midst till they would repent and proclaim the blessedness of the Lord Jesus Christ, calling upon His name.
Before Pentecost it was unclear for the disciples as to when the Lord would fulfill His promise to restore the kingdom to Israel. After Jesus rose from the dead, before he was taken up (Acts 1:2), He spoke to them of things pertaining to the kingdom of God (v. 3). Then they asked wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (v. 6) Jesus replied, it is not for you to know the times and the seasons (v. 7).
But after Pentecost, after they received the promise of the Spirit to teach [them] all things (John 14:26) and guide [them] into all truth (John 16:13), Peter testified to the people of Israel (Acts 4:10), Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-21).
When Israel repents, only then the times of refreshing shall come and Jesus Christ shall return and restore all things. But after the gospel was preached in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, the Jews responded with continual persecution against the church. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth (Acts 13:46-47).
Paul and Barnabas, as they experienced and beheld Israel's unbelief and steadfast position against Christ and the Church, they realized that now was the time that God was finally moving on with His program to be a light for the Gentiles as foretold in the prophets.
When the Gentiles started partaking of the grace of God, many Jews within the church, who were false brethren (Galatians 2:4), challenged the apostles, saying if the Gentiles were to be saved they had to become a Jew, they needed to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. But the apostles agreed together that the Gentiles in fact, did not have to become Jewish proselytes, rather, God was now setting Israel aside That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called (Acts 15:17).
As time progressed, Gods program for the Jew and Gentile became clearer and clearer. As the Old Testament prophecies began to be unfolded before their eyes, it became apparent that Israel would not repent but stand fast in their determination to fight against God's Anointed. They would not repent!
God gave the disciples the understanding, and they realized that to this agreed all the prophets. God would first take out of the Gentiles a people for His name, then, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up (Acts 15:16). Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Romans 11:25).
Israel was then scattered to the four corners of the world as foretold by all the prophets, but now, Israel is miraculously back in the land after 1900 years in fulfillment of the Word of God. If they would only now repent, God would send Jesus Christ and restore the kingdom to Israel, as He taught them to pray Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Unfortunately, for the most part Israel today is still in unbelief, and it is going to take that refining period known as Jacob's Trouble to bring national repentance.
In fact it will take the armies of the world gathered round about them to destroy them before they will repent and call out to God for salvation. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call (Joel 2:32). In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness (Zechariah 13:1). And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins (Romans 11:26-27).
As we have considered the fig tree, it is amazing and most exciting that we are among the generation that has witnessed the gathering together of Israel back into the land. As in the days of Jesus the fig tree is now lush with leaves but there is yet no fruit.
Before she produces fruit, the Scriptures indicate that Israel will suffer a thorough pruning that will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me (Ezekiel 20:38). (See also Jeremiah 30:4-7, Zechariah 12:10, 13:9, 14:1-11, Malachi 3:1-3, Isaiah 1:25-27, 66:8). This purging will take place when all the armies of the earth gather round about her to destroy her and two thirds shall be cut off.
Today we are seeing the stage set before our very eyes. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee (Psalm 83:2-5).
These enemies of Israel are The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them (Psalm 83:6-8). This ten nation confederacy, for the most part constitute the Muslim nations that now surround Israel, chiefly Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt which are the modern counterparts of those ancient nations mentioned in Psalm 83.
Moab, Edom and Ammon were located in what is now known as Jordan. The Philistines were on the eastern seacoast where the Palestinians are headquartered in the Gaza Strip. Southeast were the Ishmaelites and the Hagarenes and Southwest were the Amalekites, which are partly in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Tyre and Gebal, the Phonecian city-states were located where Lebanon is now situated. And finally Assur, which constitutes modern day Syria, and Iraq. These totally surround what is known as modern-day Israel.
In the parable of the fig tree in Luke, Jesus said, Behold the fig tree, and all the trees (Luke 21:29). Not only has Israel putteth forth leaves in this generation but these ancient peoples have also become nations once again. These have already unsuccessfully waged five major wars against Israel (See Appendix IV), but continue daily to devise acts of terror upon the newly born nation of Israel that almost no day passes without blood being shed.
Are we not seeing today what the apostles and prophets have long ago foretold? Is not Israel back in her land, still in unbelief (Ezekiel 37) with no fruit on her branches? Are not all the Muslim nations confederate round about her saying let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance? Is not anti-Semitism a reality in this world? As we shall see, the hatred towards the Jew will only get worse until the rage reaches apocalyptic proportions, with many more coming against Israel (Ezekiel 38:1-9), but out of the midst of the great tribulation shall Israel be saved.
Daniel said there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered (Daniel 12:1). Jeremiah says Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:7). The Lord tells us For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zechariah 14:2).
In those days, the Lord says, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it (Zechariah 12:2-3).
During Jacob's trouble, two thirds of Israel shall be cut off and die, but the Lord will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God (Zechariah 13:9). When Israel comes to the end of her rope, when she shall be in the siege with all the nations of the world gathered round about her to cut her off from being a nation, finally she will call upon the name of the Lord. They shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. In that day they shall know that Jesus Christ is Lord.
In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:8-9).
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations , as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:3-4). And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:15-16). And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one (Zechariah 14:9).
For the most part, these Scriptures speak for themselves. There is no need for any interpretation. Simply stated, in the last days the Lord will bring His people from their worldwide dispersion back into the land of Israel. At that time Jerusalem shall become a burdensome stone for all people round about her. All nations will eventually turn like a pack of dogs and gather against Jerusalem to battle. But then, Israel shall repent and call upon the name of the Lord and He shall go forth and fight for His people and save them.
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes (Luke 19:41-42).
Jesus was the promised Messiah and He acknowledged this in the clearest terms when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey's colt in fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 21:1-7). But the religious leaders rejected Him and sought out how they might destroy Him.
Destruction was then predicted upon their city because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation (Luke 19:44). It was revealed to Daniel in his prophecy of Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27) the exact timing of the coming Messiah. Other of the prophets spoke as well how they might recognize the time of their visitation. They could have had peace with God through Jesus Christ, but they would not have Him.
Jerusalem knew not the time of their visitation. They were a nation that slumbered and slept so judgment befell them. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider (Isaiah 1:2-3).
This sounds so familiar with another time in history as in the days of Noah when the ungodly sinners knew not until the flood came, and took them all away (Matthew 24:39). Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2Peter 2:5). He preached for 120 years (Genesis 6:3) while he was preparing the ark, but the world ignored his warnings as he tried to turn the people back to God. They knew not the truth of God's Word, they did not believe until judgment befell them but then it was too late.
This is tragically how it will be again in the days before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be(Matthew 24:37-39).
This is a very real danger facing the church of the last days, which is typified by the church at Laodicea. The Lord says I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Revelation 3:16-17). They know not their true state before a Holy God, and therefore they are ripe for judgment. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness (Proverbs 30:12).
In the days when Christ became flesh and dwelt among us, there were many prophetic signs He fulfilled that they might know the time of their visitation. So too, today we are seeing numerous signs that indicate the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (Romans 13:11).
When the Lord comes the second time, He will be coming to judge the world in righteousness and the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds that they do. Although it is for these that He came into the world to save (Romans 5:6), many will not repent and acknowledge their sin and put their trust alone in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
They know not the dangerous state they are in. For those who will not repent and believe the Good News that Christ bore our sin in His own body on the cross, there is only a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries (Hebrews 10:27).
When Christ returns there shall be no escape but for those who are in Christ. He is the only Ark that is able to save them from their sin. Many today have already boarded this Ark for they have believed the Word of God concerning His Son, and have taken heed to the warnings of the coming judgment. But many, as in the days of Noah only mock and scoff not knowing the immanent danger they are in. May God deliver each of us from the tragic ignorance of our desperate need before Him.
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day (2Thessalonians 1:7-10).
Jerusalem: the city of the great King
Why is it that Jerusalem is such a controversy in these last days? The Jew claims it is the center of His religion, and rightly so, but the Muslims also lay claim that it is the third holiest of sights in Islam. The Vatican also lays claim to many of its religious sights. But aside from all this, it is the place where God says He chose to place His name forever, where He will one day sit and reign over His universe. God chose Jerusalem, in particular Mount Moriah, also known as Zion, in the days of Abraham.
Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood (Genesis 22:2, 9).
It was upon this mount Moriah that God told Abraham to offer his only son Isaac for a burnt offering, who was a figure (Hebrews 11:17-20), looking ahead to the fullness of time when God sent His own Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1John 4:10).
Isaac obeyed his father Abraham and went up with him to be offered. This is becoming of the Lord Jesus Christ who came into the world to do His Fathers will, who hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour (Ephesians 5:2). Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us (Galatians 1:4). Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14). Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1 Timothy 2:6). Who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
David purchased this same spot many years later from Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite (2Samuel 24:24-25) and prepared the site to build a house for the Lord. On this mount, Solomon built the great temple for the Lord. Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite (2Chronicles 3:1).
This is also the place where the great King, Jesus Christ shall reign (Psalm 2:6). Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King (Psalm 48:1-2).
Why is there such controversy concerning Jerusalem these days? There are many today who yet say in their heart We will not have this man to reign over us (Luke 19:14). Likewise, there is one who said in his heart many millenniums ago, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High (Isaiah 14:13-14). This is Satan, the great enemy of God and His people, who is working behind the scenes, deceiving the nations, and fighting against God and His purposes. Satan is aggressively seeking to take the throne of Jesus Christ for himself.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him (Psalm 2).
There is an overwhelming movement these days within Christianity that holds the opinion that the Church has replaced Israel. These movements use certain terms to describe their ideology such as Postmillennialism, Preterist View, Covenant Theology, Reconstructionists, Reformed Theology, Kingdom Now Theology, and Replacement Theology. Although all individuals within these movements may not agree, here is a brief outline of what they believe.
Preterist: The view that all prophecy of the Scripture has already been fulfilled. Hence, the kingdom is now and the New Israel (the Church) is now reigning. Their advocate's claim that their view is compatible with the essential beliefs of all Christians, and is already represented in nearly all Protestant denominations and the Roman Church.
Reconstructionism: This is generally the view that the mandate of the church is to reconstruct the social structure and bring to pass a greatly improved world. It will be a world fit to be the one to which Jesus Christ returns.
Kingdom Now Theology: A theological anti-Semitism exists in the Dominionist plan to replace Old Testament Israel with the Church, often called the New Israel (i.e., replacement theology -- the church replaces the Jews as the new or true Israel, and Israel has no future as a distinct nation within God's plan). They believe that Israel does not have a future different from any other nation. Historically, replacement theology has been the theological foundation upon which anti-Semitism has been built within the confines of professing Christianity. While reconstructionists do believe that the individual Jews will be converted to Christ in mass in the future, almost none of them believe that national Israel has a future, and thus, the Church has completely taken over the promises of national Israel. Reconstructionist David Chilton said, ethnic Israel was excommunicated for its apostasy and will never again be God's Kingdom. ... the Bible does not tell of any future plan for Israel as a special nation. Reconstructionists believe that the Church is now that new nation, which is why Christ destroyed the Jewish state. Reconstructionists DeMar and Leithart have said, In destroying Israel, Christ transferred the blessings of the kingdom from Israel to a new people, the church. (Biblical Discernment Ministries)
Replacement Theology: Replacement Theology is a misguided systematic approach to the Bible that has not only led millions of Christians astray over the years but it has, in addition, birthed evil of the most horrific proportions. Replacement Theology played a role in the persecution of Jews by the church through the centuries, including the Holocaust. (Quote by Malcolm Hedding)
Replacement theology is the 'opinion' that Israel, having failed God, has been replaced by the Church. The Church is now seen as spiritual Israel and spiritual Jerusalem. This theology claims that all the promises and blessings, in fact Israel's entire inheritance, now belongs to the Church. (Israel, however, gets to keep the curses.)
We might note that the church today is in total apostasy. If God judged Israel with an overthrow, what do you think He is going to do to the so-called church? The Bible indicates the true believers will be raptured and all others shall face the wrath of God during the Great Tribulation.
Israel becomes like the Garden of Eden
When looking at Israel from the air, its greenness and her surrounding brown borders set the land apart from her neighbors. Today, this tiny country produces a multiple of crop varieties that are so abundant, she provides not only for herself, but exports as well a variety of citrus and other fruits and vegetables.
It is not uncommon to see on the same tract of land sewing, harvesting, plowing and maturing crops, all at the same time. As many as eight crops per year are annually harvested from a single tract of land, compared to other countries who for the most part produce one crop annually. Certainly we are beginning to have a foretaste of what it will be like when Israel is reconciled back to God.
For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody (Isaiah 51:3).
And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited (Ezekiel 36:34-35).
He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:6).
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God (Isaiah 35:1-2).
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper , and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt (Amos 9:13).
Israel shall never be destroyed again!
1948 The War of Independence On May 14, 1948 Israel declared her independence as a sovereign nation. Immediately, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon simultaneously attacked Israel. Despite the Arabs overwhelming superiority in numbers and weapons they were defeated. Israel ended up increasing its original territory by 50% more than had been allotted her by the UN partition.
1956 The Sinai War Egypt attacked again but was quickly defeated in this war.
1967 The Six-Day War Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq were united to wipe Israel off the map. President Aref of Iraq stated We are resolved, determined and united to achieve our clear aim of wiping Israel off the map This is the day to wash away the stain. God willing, we shall meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa. But again they were quickly defeated in this war, and Israel expanded its territory by 200% taking the West Bank area of Jordan, Sinai and the Gaza strip from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. But the most noteworthy event of this war was the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan.
1973 The Yom Kippur War In October, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. This war lasted 19 days with Israel once again prevailing against her enemies.
1982 Lebanon After persistent terrorist attacks by the PLO from their Lebanon headquarters, Israel engaged a massive assault destroying the PLO strongholds.
1990 Iraq & Kuwait Israel was attacked with 39 scud missiles but managed to stay out of this war with the UN coalition eventually defeating the Iraqis.
In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:6).
And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them(Amos 9:14-15).
For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up (Jeremiah 24:6).
Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime (2 Samuel 7:10).
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness (Zechariah 8:2-8).
Last Update: 8/29/2003