When the Lord Jesus was here as a minister of the circumcision, sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He often warned them of what would be the result of their perverseness and unbelief. One such occasion is narrated in Matthew 8:5-13 when a Roman centurion came to Him on behalf of his servant who was ill. This Gentile showed such faith as to Jesus’ person and power that the Lord was filled with wonder. We read: “When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said unto them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” The Gentiles mentioned here are not any Gentiles saved in the present dispensation of grace who become members of the Body of Christ, for their hope is not to sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When the gospel of the kingdom is again preached, as by the 144,000 in the tribulation, a great multitude of Gentiles will be saved out of all nations, and these will indeed come from the east and the west and will sit down with Israel in the kingdom. Having mentioned these Gentiles the Lord continued to speak and foretold the judgment that was to be visited on the favored nation when He said, “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Cast out into darkness is the spiritual condition of Israel today. Is this to be permanent? Some would say yes, in spite of the fact there are scores of Scripture passages which state clearly and plainly the regathering and restoration of Israel to a future far more glorious than anything ever enjoyed in their past. The blindness, and the darkness, is only for a season and the cry will soon go out, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee”(Isaiah 60:1). In Romans 11:1 the question is asked: “Hath God cast away his people?” and the answer is given, “God forbid.” These two words ought to settle it.True, the once favored nation is now the forsaken nation. True, Israel is now Loammi, not acknowledged by God as being His people. True, they are scattered among all the nations of the world, and the few who have a toe-hold in Palestine are surrounded by their enemies, while they talk about peace when there is no peace. But all this is to end. Israel’s banishment and fall began with the ushering in of the dispensation of grace. When this dispensation is concluded with the Church raptured home to glory, God will begin again to deal with Israel. “And 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” … “And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me” (Isaiah 11:11 and 12:1).
In the contest with Pharaoh, when God was to bring His people out of thehouse of bondage, He said, “That ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” (Exodus 11:7) and all during Israel’s history in the Old Testament God continued to put a difference between them and the other nations. If Gentiles desired the knowledge and blessing of God they had to come to Israel and become proselytes, or Jews by religion. That difference was still there in the New Testament when Jesus of Nazareth was here in Israel’s midst. There was certainly a difference when a Greek woman came pleading for her demon-possessed daughter and Jesus told her, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs” (Mark 7:27). There was surely a difference when He told the Samaritan woman, “Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), and there was still a difference when He sent forth the twelve apostles and instructed them, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6). This was all changed, though, when God raised up the Apostle Paul and brought in the dispensation of grace. For many years there had been a difference between Jew and Gentile, but no longer. Paul wrote: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:12-13). That grand word “whosoever” takes everybody in, and any person regardless of place or race, realizing their sin and their need, has only to call upon the name of the Lord and He will hear and answer and meet their need.
During the past centuries Israel has been in disfavor with God. Soon, however, God will have completed His purpose in the present dispensation, the Church will have been raptured home to glory, and God will begin working toward the restoration of Israel to its former place of ascendancy. Before the nation assumes this role there must be a period of preparation. In the passage in Ezekiel 22:17-22 God charges the nation with having become dross and declares it will be put in the fire and melted down. A like passage in Zechariah 13:9 reads: “And I 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.” Israel will be put in the fire during the time of their trouble, the Great Tribulation; the rebels will be purged, and out of it shall come an elect, select, and purified remnant who will govern the nations in the kingdom.
A preacher once told of getting off a train at a station in Maryland and his curiosity was aroused when he saw them taking a large basket of birds from the express car. He went over and observed the express agent and his helper making a record of the time; then they opened the basket and released about fifty pigeons. The birds rose into the air, circled round and round, and then, as if by common consent, started in a straight line for home. The agent said they came from a point in New Jersey exactly one hundred miles away and it would take three or four hours to get there. Israel is a nation of homing pigeons. They have been scattered for years but the day is coming when the world will be amazed to see them heading for home and they will have to acknowledge this is the hand of God. God has promised such a homecoming. He said, “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again into this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely” (Jeremiah 32:37); and again, “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:24-26).
The nation will be born again, born of water and of the Spirit. God’s Word cannot fail. Viewing Israel today all must acknowledge that the scattering of the nation was actual and literal, and most certainly their regathering will be just as actual and literal.
The prophet Ezekiel had a vision which graphically pictures the present condition of the Jewish nation and then also their future. In the opening verses of the 37th chapter of his prophecy we read: “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about; and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.” Get the picture: a valley full of old, dried-up bones. This is certainly descriptive of Israel today, a nation devoid of spiritual life and their national hopes dried up. But something happened to those bones in Ezekiel’s vision, and that which happened portrays that which will happen in the future to Israel. In verses 7-10, as the prophet watched, the bones came together, sinews and flesh came up upon them, and skin covered them. Then breath, or the spirit of life, came into them and there was a resurrection; they lived, and became an exceeding great army. What a picture of Israel’s future. Israel is now dead and lifeless insofar as God is concerned but there will be a resurrection, life from the dead, and in the hand of God they will be an exceeding great army to bring all nations to the feet of King Jesus. Many other passages could be quoted which speak of the restoration and blessed future of Abraham’s seed, the nation Israel. A most beautiful passage is Isaiah 62:1-4, which reads: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, unto the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”
God’s purpose for the nation Israel was, and is, that they should be blessed and then in turn become a channel of blessing to all the world. This was inheritent in the covenant God made with Abraham concerning him and his seed. Peter referred to this in his message in Acts 3:25-26, “Yes are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Israel was to be the channel through which the blessing would flow out to others, but the channel is blocked because of Israel’s sin and unbelief. The day is coming, though, when the channel will be cleared, when Israel will again be blessed of God and the means through which the other nations will be blessed. Meanwhile God has opened a new channel through which His blessings flow out to all mankind; that channel is His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The blessings we enjoy today as members of the Church, the Body of Christ, do not come to us on the basis of any covenant. The covenants belong to Israel (Romans 9:4) and we are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise. Our blessings come freely from God’s throne of grace and they come from the One who is Head of the Church, His Body, even our Lord Jesus Christ. We have been “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” and we stand before God complete, accepted, and perfect in HIM.
One purpose of these lessons has been to show it is of the utmost importance to rightly divide the Word of truth. The various portions of Scripture are like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and it is only when we get each piece in its proper place in relation to the others that we see the beautiful picture; God’s perfect plan of the ages and where we fit into the picture. The following quotation is from the book, How to Study the Bible, written by Dr. I. M. Haldeman. He was a great man of God, a devoted servant of Christ, and for nearly fifty years pastor of a great soulwinning church in New York City. He wrote: “No matter what may be the equipment of the Christian, no matter what intellectual, moral, or spiritual endowment he may have, unless he understands dispensational truth he will never fully lay hold of Bible doctrine; while many of the wondrous testimonies of the Word will be unto him but as the tangled threads in endless labyrinth.”
Our attention has been called to the fact that Israel had a commission but failed to obey it and the result was disastrous for them. What about our commission as members of the Church of this dispensation of grace? We have been commissioned as ambassadors for Christ, sent to a world lost in sin with a message from the court of heaven. We are not to settle down at ease as if this world was our home. We are here as pilgrims and strangers and we are to deliver the message. We are to preach the Word, not just to members of the household of faith, for our main message is to the worldlings around us. We are to go to them with the gospel of Christ, warning them to flee from the wrath to come, pointing them to the Saviour who died to save them from their sins. We are to be instant in season, out of season, beseeching men to be reconciled to God. This is our commission. One may give much time to community service or to civic affairs, which may be good, but if that one has not been making the gospel known to others they have not obeyed their commission.
We close with another quote from Dr. Haldeman in which he refers to the Apostle Paul, of whom he writes: “In dealing with the world’s evil he relied wholly on the gospel. He did not stand on the public corners and arraign the municipal corruption of Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, or Rome. He did not take the field for clearer and more popular government. He neither acted the part of a secret detective nor a political partisan. He saw the whole world given over to sin. He saw vice in its most tempting form; he saw it in statues, sculptured in marble, and painted on canvas. He knew that virtue was the exception and vice the rule. Lasciviousness and wantonness touched him on every side, yet he never thought of lifting a crusade against them. Whether it was corruption in office, the squandering of the people’s money, or the shameless, open sin in temples of Venus, he did one thing, and one thing only; he preached the Gospel of Christ, declared that it was the power of God unto salvation, and by it ploughed the furrows of truth so deep that the temples of sin fell into them, were buried, and forgotten.” Would that all of us, like Paul, would be found faithfully preaching the Gospel of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and beseeching men to be reconciled to God.
Israel's Past - John D. LaVier
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How God Saves Men
Believing Christ DIED, that’s HISTORY.
Believing Christ DIED for YOU SINS and Rose again that’s SALVATION.
ead Acts 16L31 Romans 1:16, and 1. Corinthians 15:1-4
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