Monday, 18 August 2014

As the World Turns Against Israel and the Jews, the Hope of Israel is Considered


As the World Turns Against Israel and the Jews, the Hope of Israel is Considered


At the beginning of June in 1967 Israel was surrounded by a hostile ring of Arab forces, armed to the teeth by the then Soviet Union. These nations were bent on the destruction of the Jewish state. Egypt had blocked the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, creating a stranglehold. Early in the morning of June 5th Israel moved against the armies of Egypt and Syria. By the next morning the whole of the Gaza strip (as well as many other areas), were in Israel's hands. By the end of the "Six Day War", all of the Sinai peninsula, the old city of Jerusalem and the whole area up until the Jordan river and the Golan Heights were in Israeli hands. Many in the world rejoiced in Israel's victory against the much larger forces of the Arab armies. Bible students were thrilled to see prophecy fulfilling as Israel captured all of Jerusalem and the rest of the Biblical heartland of Israel - the hill country of Judah and Samaria.

In July of 1967, H.P. Mansfield, a Christadelphian Bible student was speaking at a large Bible School in North America on the subject of "Ezekiel's Prophecies of Restoration". He opened his talks with some very pertinent words for then and maybe even more so for today. These opening remarks convey the excitement that was felt among these Bible students as Israel marched on to victory - the atmosphere was electric. Bible believers had been waiting for these days for hundreds of years.

"We have seen the hand of God revealed, in the events that have taken place in the Middle East. And it seems to me as though in these events we hear the words of the Lord Jesus Christ warning the ecclesia of this day; a warning that issues forth not only for the ecclesias but to us personally, that we might put our house in order. In the book of Revelation, there are personal messages from the Lord Jesus Christ to the ecclesias of every age and in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation and verse 15 we have the words of the Lord to this generation and he says there, "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." And that is the message of Christ to ourselves today. It is a message that does not apply to any other generation than the present generation of Christadelphians. And there is another saying of the Lord Jesus Christ to which I would direct you. It is contained in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel according to Matthew and in verses 16 and 17 of that particular chapter, the Lord speaking to his disciples said, "...blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For truly I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." And though these words apply primarily to the apostles, they have an application to ourselves. We are hearing things today that the prophets and righteous men of previous generations would have loved to have heard. We are seeing things in the earth today that the prophets and righteous men of previous generations would have delighted to have seen. And we need to be impressed with these things and recognize that we are a people who are blessed. Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear. But you know brethren and sisters there is a very very palpable danger associated with this matter.

"We have been lifted up by the events that have taken place in recent weeks. There has been an excitement about it, as we have seen Israel march on to victory and as far as the world is concerned, to glory. But we must recognize this fact, that the scriptures imply that these things will recede, the indication of scripture is that the Lord Jesus Christ will return not when the brotherhood is lifted up with excitement at the possibilities of his return, but when they are taken off their guard. And so the Lord said in one place, "In an hour ye think not the Son of man will come." And again, "as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man." And he issued a parable, in which he declared that the servants would be found saying, "My Lord delayeth his coming". Now this is all the indications of scripture, that the Lord Jesus Christ will return at a time when people are not looking for him. We need to bear this well in mind brethren and sisters. And as far as we ourselves are concerned, if this Bible School is going to mean anything to us, we must not only rededicate ourselves in the service of the Master, but we must be determined that the things that we have seen in recent weeks will never be allowed to recede from our mind, but we will always capture that thrill of excitement that was ours as we listened to the fact that Russia, the western world and Israel were involved in a crisis in the Middle East. We must not allow that to fade from our mind."

After hearing these words from almost 50 years ago we must ask ourselves: Have we allowed these things to fade from our memory? Are we watching and waiting for the coming of the Lord, or could we be caught off our guard? Do we feel blessed today as we watch events take place in Israel? Have we been guilty of thinking, "My Lord delayeth his coming"?

In 1967 Israel took the Gaza strip in a day. Today Israel is still dealing with terror attacks and rocket fire from the same area. We have all just watched as Israel has gone to war once again in Gaza. However, today the world is very different. Israel is a maligned state, hated by many nations of the world and portrayed poorly in the media. There are fresh waves of antisemitism and boycotts of Israel sweeping the globe. Today it is a liability to stand with Israel and very few do, an exception being Canada's prime-minister Stephen Harper. We must ask ourselves if we are willing to be associated with the Jewish State by stating that we believe in the Hope of Israel and the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. As much of the media makes Israel out to be the aggressor and the occupier and as universities throughout the Western world have "Israel apartheid" weeks, it becomes more of a challenge to feel the excitement felt in June 1967 and to speak the truth about Israel. It is also critical as the true "Hope of Israel" becomes even more unpopular in the world around us, we must speak more about the coming kingdom and not less.

The coming kingdom of God on earth, is to be the kingdom of Israel restored. The ancient kingdom of Israel was the kingdom of God. 1 Chronicles 29:23 tells us how Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh. "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him." This echos the words of king David in 1 Chronicles 28:5 where he says,  "And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel." It is clear that David and Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh over the Kingdom of Yahweh, even Israel.

Over time the kings of Israel and Judah became wicked and did not follow in the ways of God. The prophecy of Ezekiel had an important message for the last king of Israel, in Ezekiel 21:25-27 "And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him." The throne of Israel was to be overturned, until the Messiah would come, who would be the heir to and have the right to sit upon the throne as King of Israel.

When the angel Gabriel visited Mary, he had some important words for her regarding the Messiah which was to be her son. This is recorded in Luke 1:31-33, "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

The words of this great angel regarding the grand destiny of Jesus are very plain and very clear. Jesus was to sit upon the throne of David over the house of Jacob. Both the throne and the house of Jacob are literal, real and clearly defined in the Hebrew scriptures. We have just considered the throne of David and the house of Jacob is the Jewish people, the twelve tribes of Israel - this cannot be disputed. When Jesus came "preaching the gospel of the kingdom", it was the good news of the restoration of the kingdom of Israel as the kingdom of God upon earth. This was the hope of the Jewish nation. Throughout the ministry of Christ and even after his resurrection this remained the central theme of his message. For his last time with his disciples he focused upon this. Acts 1:3 "To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" So much so that at the end of this time his disciples asked him, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). This continued to be a central element of the Apostles preaching, that Christ would be raised up to sit on David's throne (Acts 2:30), and that the restoration of Israel as spoken by the Hebrew prophets would be accomplished (Acts 3:21). The Apostle Paul confirms that his hope, was one and the same to which the twelve tribes of Israel hoped to come (Acts 26:6), and that it was for the "hope of Israel" that he was bound with chains (Acts 28:20).

It is imposible for the kingdom of God to be restored without the Jewish people. When the kingdom of Israel is restored, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be ruling upon David's throne in Jerusalem, the faithful will have been raised from the dead and will rule with him over the twelve tribes of Israel (including the twelve apostles - Matthew 19:28), living upon the promised land of Israel. This is the restored kingdom of God. Any fanciful ideas of any church or group of believers in some way being the kingdom of God now, are apostasy. So long as the Jews are being harassed and persecuted, Jesus has not returned and the faithful remain in the graves, the kingdom has not been restored. To omit the message of the restoration of the kingdom of Israel from our preaching, is to cease preaching the gospel itself.

What of Israel then today? It is a modern state of the Jewish people who have been regathered from the four corners of the globe, which is clearly a fulfillment of Bible prophecy - but this is not the kingdom of God. The state of Israel must be transformed into the kingdom of Israel. This is a work of the Lord Jesus Christ and his saints. Daniel 7:18, "But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever." Until the saints of the most High take the kingdom and possess it, it has not been restored.

Today, many nations and religions view the state of Israel as an illegal occupier of Arab land. Due to this mistaken belief, whatever Israel does is viewed as wrong - they are the occupier. This anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitude is exactly what we would expect from Bible prophecy. In Revelation 16, right before the coming of Christ we are told about "frog like" teachings that will go out into the world to gather the nations to "a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon". These teachings come from the religious and political powers who trace their roots to the Roman Empire - the EU, Russia and the Roman Catholic Church. Today messages are delivered through the media. So messages in the media that would turn people and nations against Israel are a fulfillment of prophecy.

These ideas however are directly opposed to the Bible believer who sees the returned Jews as a clear fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is the God of Israel who has brought the Jews back, so to work to remove them from the land is to work against God. To hinder their return is to work against God. To believe, that for the Jews to be in the land of Israel is some kind of an injustice - is to believe that God is unjust for bringing them there.

In light of these facts we should be wary of the mainstream media. Having a read on a website such as honestreporting.com, may help enlighten us to how the media can distort and manipulate the message. Most importantly we should be speaking about the coming kingdom of God, which is Israel restored - preaching this gospel of good news to the world.