THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL
The Re-establishment of Israel in Palestine, an Event to be Expected Within This Harvest Period--How, and to What Extent, and With What Class, We Should Expect This Restoration--Date of its Beginning, and Evidences of its Actual Progress Since--Why Millennial Blessings, Intended for All Mankind, Will Reach and Revive the Jew First--The Revival of Jewish Hopes--Observations of Leading Jewish and Gentile Writers--The Harmony of These with Prophecy--Israel's Blindness Respecting Christ Already Turning Away--The Spread and Momentum of the Movement--God Will Help Them.
"In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. 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. 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." Amos 9:11,14,15
AMONG the relics of antiquity that have come down to our day, there is no other object of so great interest as the Jewish people. The searchers after ancient lore have untiringly questioned every inanimate object that could give a mite of historic or scientific information. Monuments, altars, tombs, relics of public and private edifices, paintings, sculptures, hieroglyphics and dead languages have all been appealed to; and some have even endeavored patiently to discover the line of actual truth which probably inspired the many fanciful traditions, legends, songs, etc., that have come floating down the centuries, in order to learn all that [C244] it is possible to know of human origin, history and destiny. But the most interesting relic, and the one whose history can be most easily deciphered and understood is the Jewish people. In them we have a monument of antiquity of inestimable value, upon which are recorded, in clearly legible characters, the origin, progress and final destiny of the whole human race--a living and intelligent witness of the gradual outworking of a wonderful purpose in human affairs, in exact conformity with the predictions of their divinely inspired prophets and seers.
As a people, they are marked as distinct and peculiar by every circumstance of their history and by their common religious faith, as well as by every element of their national character, and even by their physiognomy and their manners and customs. The national characteristics of many centuries ago are still prominent, even to their fondness for the leeks and onions and garlic of Egypt, and their stiffnecked obstinacy. As a people, they truly had much advantage every way, in having committed unto them the oracles of God, developing among them poets, lawyers, statesmen and philosophers, and leading them up step by step from being a nation of slaves to be--as in the time of Solomon, the zenith of their glory--a people distinguished and honored among the nations, attracting the wonder and admiration of the world. Rom. 3:1,2; 1 Kings 4:30-34; 10:1-29
That the re-establishment of Israel in the land of Palestine is one of the events to be expected in this Day of the Lord, we are fully assured by the above expression of the prophet. Notice, particularly, that the prophecy cannot be interpreted in any symbolic sense. It is not a Canaan in heaven to which they are appointed, but a Canaan on earth. They are to be planted upon "their land," the land which God says he had given them, the land which he promised [C245] to Abraham, saying, "Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land WHICH THOU SEEST, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. [An intimation of a then far distant period, giving ample time for such a multiplication of his seed.] Arise, walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee." "And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger-- all the land of Canaan, for an EVERLASTING POSSESSION." (Gen. 13:14-17; 17:8) It is a land into which they were once privileged to enter, and in which they dwelt for centuries. But during that time they were many times plucked up and carried into captivity in other lands, while strangers wasted their cities, drank the wine of their vineyards, and ate the fruit of their gardens. And finally they were completely rooted out, their cities laid waste and desolate, and they were driven as wanderers and exiles from country to country the world over. But when replanted in their land according to this promise, "they shall no more be pulled up out of their land," which God gave them; and "they shall build the waste cities [cities in which they had formerly lived], and inhabit them." A scattered, homeless, desolate and persecuted people, they are still a distinct and homogeneous people. United by the strong ties of blood relationship, by common hopes inspired by a common faith in the wonderful promises of God, though they have but dimly comprehended those promises, and still further bound together by the bond of sympathy growing out of their common sufferings and privations as exiles, they, to this day, look and long for the hope of Israel. [C246]
As a people they still have faith in God, though in their blindness and pride of heart they have stumbled over the humility of God's appointed messenger for the world's salvation; so that, instead of receiving him, they crucified the Savior, the Lord of glory. And yet the apostles and prophets show us that even this flagrant crime, to which their pride and self-will drove them, was not one which could never be forgiven them. Because of it, they have been punished, and that severely. When they condemned the Just One and said, "His blood be upon us and upon our children," they little expected the fearful recompense which followed.
The terrible trouble and loss of life, the destruction of their holy city and temple, the full end of their national existence, and the scattering of the surviving remnant as exiles into all nations, completed the work of their harvest period. It began in factious civil strife and was completed by an invading Roman army. Fire, sword and famine accomplished upon them a fearful recompense.
And since that time Israel has truly been a nation scattered and peeled. Driven as exiles from country to country, and from province to province, they have been deprived of almost every right and privilege which other men enjoyed. Rejecting Christianity, as well in its corrupted as in its pure form, they became the objects of the contempt and relentless persecution of the Church of Rome. Says the historian:
"In Germany, France, England and Italy, they were circumscribed in their rights by decrees and laws of the ecclesiastical as well as the civil powers, excluded from all honorable occupations, driven from place to place, compelled to subsist almost entirely by mercantile occupations and usury, overtaxed and degraded in the cities, kept in narrow quarters, and marked in their dress with signs of contempt, plundered by lawless barons and penniless princes, an easy prey to all parties during the civil feuds, again and again robbed of their pecuniary claims, owned [C247] and sold as serfs by the emperors, butchered by mobs and revolted peasants, chased by monks, and finally burned in thousands by the crusaders, who also burned their brethren at Jerusalem in their synagogues, or tormented them by ridicule, abusive sermons, monstrous accusations and trials, threats and experiments of conversion....They could own no land, belong to no guild of mechanics and engage in no form of art; they were shut up almost exclusively to trading. And, finding all mankind at war with them, their national pride and arrogance were by no means softened, and the breach consequently widened between the Jews and their Gentile neighbors everywhere."
Thus estranged from God and from their fellowmen of every nation, sad and pitiable indeed has been their miserable condition. During the relentless Papal persecutions, they have suffered in common with the saints and martyrs of Jesus--the Christian for his rejection of Antichrist, the Jew for his rejection of both Christ and Antichrist. While God has permitted these afflictions and persecutions to come as a penalty for their national crime of rejection of the gospel and crucifixion of the Redeemer, he will nevertheless in due time reward the constancy of their faith in his promises, to which they have so long and so perseveringly held. God foreknew their pride and hardness of heart, and foretold it as well as the evils which have come upon them; and no less pointedly has he foretold a departing of their blindness and the ultimate fulfilment to them of all the earthly promises declared long ago to Abraham and repeated by one after another of the holy prophets.
As the time for the promised restoration of God's favor to Israel draws on, we see a preparation being made for it. Within the present century a sifting and separating process is manifest among them, dividing them into two classes, the Orthodox and the Non-orthodox Jews. The former still hold to the promises of God, and still hope that God's set [C248] time to favor Zion may soon come. The latter are losing faith in a personal God, as well as in the Abrahamic promises, and are drifting toward liberalism, rationalism, infidelity. The Orthodox include most of the poor, oppressed Jews, as well as some of the wealthy and learned, and are vastly more numerous than the Non-orthodox; though the latter are by far the more influential and respected, often merchants, bankers, editors, etc.
The following is a brief summary of the faith of the Orthodox Jews:
"I believe with a true and perfect faith (1) that God is the creator, governor and maker of all creatures, and that he hath wrought all things; (2) that the Creator is one, and that he alone hath been our God, is, and forever shall be; (3) that the Creator is not corporeal, not to be comprehended with any bodily properties, and that there is no bodily essence that can be likened unto him; (4) that nothing was before him, and that he shall abide forever; (5) that he is to be worshiped and none else; (6) that all the words of the prophets are true; (7) that the prophecies of Moses were true; that he was chief of all wise men that lived before him or ever shall live after him; [We may consider them somewhat excusable for this overestimate of such a noble and worthy character.] (8) that all the law which at this day is found in our hands was delivered by God himself to our master, Moses; (9) that the same law is never to be changed, nor any other to be given us of God; (10) that God understandeth all the thoughts and works of men, as it is written in the prophets--'He fashioneth their hearts alike, he understandeth all their works'; (11) that God will recompense good to them that keep his commandments, and will punish them who transgress them; (12) that the Messiah is yet to come; and, although he retard his coming, yet 'I will wait for him till he come'; (13) that the dead shall be restored to life when it shall seem fit unto God, the Creator, whose name be blessed and memory celebrated without end. Amen." [C249]
Since the destruction of their temple and their dispersion, the sacrifices have been discontinued; but in all other respects the Mosaic requirements are still observed among the Orthodox Jews. Their worship, as of old, consists in the reading of the Scriptures, prayer and praise. On the second day of their feast of trumpets they read the account of Abraham's offering of his son Isaac and God's blessing on him and his seed. Then they blow the trumpet and pray that God would bring them to Jerusalem.
The Non-orthodox or Reformed Jews, "Radicals," differ widely from the Orthodox: many of them are avowed atheists, denying a personal God. They deny that any Messiah is to come; and if they do not deny prophecy entirely, they explain that the Jewish nation is itself the Messiah and is reforming the world gradually, and that the sufferings predicted of Messiah are fulfilled in their persecutions and sufferings as a people. Others of them declare that civilization is the only Savior of the world they expect.
It will be the former class, no doubt, that will be regathered and blessed when Messiah comes a second time, in glory and power; who will say, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." (Isa. 25:9) And in the clearer light of Messiah's teaching, all faith in the vain traditions which they still hold as valuable additions to the law of God will vanish away. The time is fast approaching when God will speak peace to Israel and comfort them and fully turn away their blindness. We do not by this mean to intimate that those who have wandered far off into infidelity will never have their blindness removed. God forbid. The blind eyes of all, and of every nationality, will be opened; and all the deaf ears will be unstopped. But no special favor will come to these infidel Jews at the time of the returning favor; for "he is not a Jew, [C250] who is one outwardly"--merely by family relationship and facial expression. The Jews recognized by God as children of Abraham are those who hold to the faith of Abraham and trust in the divine promises.
And here we must express our dissent from the views of those who claim that the Anglo-Saxons are the Israel of promise, in the Scriptures. Briefly stated, they claim that the Anglo-Saxons, the people of the United States, etc., are the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel which separated from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, after Solomon's death, and which are often termed "the ten lost tribes"; because, after the captivity (of the entire twelve tribes) in Babylon, the ten tribes never re-established themselves in the land of Canaan, as "Israel," but became scattered as tribes and as individuals among the various nations. Those whose theory we criticize claim that they can trace their journey toward Great Britain, and that the greatness and influence of the English speaking peoples of the world are traceable to the fact that they belong to Israel, and are inheriting the promises made to Israel.
To this we answer: Some of the evidences offered in proof that they are of the "lost tribes" seem far from strong; but if we should admit all they claim in this, it would not prove their position, that the greatness and influence of the Anglo-Saxon race are attributable to their being Israelites by natural generation, any more than to their being "lost." Their greatness is attributable to their freedom and intelligence, which are traceable, not to their being lost, nor to their being born Israelites according to the flesh, but to the doctrines of Christ--to the light which some of the spiritual seed of Abraham let shine among them.
The fact that the ten tribes strayed away from the two is [C251] not to their credit, but otherwise. It is an evidence that they were disposed to reject God's promises; it is a sign of infidelity, of unbelief; for they well knew that God had predicted that the Lawgiver, the Savior, the Deliverer, the King, in whom and by whom the promises were to be fulfilled, was to come out of Judah. The tribe of Benjamin was the only tribe, therefore, aside from Judah, which, at the time of the revolt, manifested faith in God's promises. But at the time of the return from the Babylonian captivity, though those who showed their continued faith in God and his promises, by returning to the land of Canaan, were mostly of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, yet all who came back were not of these two tribes. Among them were some from the various tribes, who loved the Lord and sought him with repentance, still relying upon his promises. However, the vast majority of the ten tribes, as well as of the two tribes, did not avail themselves of the opportunity to return to the land of promise, preferring Babylon and other lands, many among them having fallen into idolatry and lost their respect for God's promises.
We must remember that but a few of those who returned to their land under the lead of Ezra and none of those who returned under Nehemiah were of those who had been taken captive, the vast majority having died years before in Babylon. These were their children, in whose hearts the faith of their fathers still burned, who still hoped for the blessings and honors promised to Abraham's seed. Thus the returning little band of less than fifty thousand were all the Israelites then remaining, of all the tribes, who by the act of returning to the land of promise showed that they still held to the faith of Abraham. It was to the descendents of these fittest ones, sifted out of all the tribes of Israel-- though principally of the two tribes, and all called Jews, after the royal and predominating tribe--that our Lord presented [C252] himself and the Kingdom at the first advent, as representing the holy nation, Israel entire.
Our Lord referred to them as Israel, and not as a part of Israel, not as Judah merely. He speaks of even those who had clung to the promises, and to each other, as the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," in that they had wandered far from the truth, after the traditions of false shepherds who had led them in their own way and not as God directed. He says: "I am not sent save [except] to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." To the house of Israel consequently his ministry was confined, in harmony with the foregoing, showing that the Jews of his day were the only recognized representatives of the "house of Israel," as the terms, "all Israel," "our twelve tribes constantly serving God," and many similar expressions of our Lord and the apostles indicate. And it will be remembered that our Lord, in connection with this statement, that his ministry was to Israel, forbade his disciples going to any outside the Jews of Palestine. Matt. 10:5,6; 15:24
Notice also how the apostles used the word "Israel," and not "Judah," when speaking of those who were living at that time in Palestine (Acts 2:22; 3:12; 5:35; 13:16; 21:28), and how they apply the words of Isaiah concerning the remnant of Israel to the comparatively few who received the gospel (Rom. 9:4,27,29,31-33; 10:1-4; 11:1,7-14,25,26,31), and speak of all the rest as stumbling and being blinded. So, then, even if it could be demonstrated that the Anglo-Saxon peoples were part of "the ten lost tribes," we see clearly that no favor could have come to them upon that score, under that covenant; for they deserted the Israelitish covenant and became idolaters, unbelievers, and practically Gentiles. Besides, as already noted,* all recognized as the natural seed of [C253] Abraham, who would continue to reject Christ, were cast off from all favor from the time of Christ's death to the year 1878, when, chronologically, divine favor was due to return to them, and their blindness to begin to be removed. Consequently, the prominence of the Anglo-Saxons for the past centuries could in no sense have been Israel's returning favor. Those from whom the favor was taken for the rejection and crucifixion of the Lord are the ones to whom the favor is to return now. At that time, and ever since, Israel has been represented by "the Jew" (Rom. 2:9,10), and it is the Jew that will now be restored to favor as the natural "seed of Abraham." These, with the spiritual "seed" (selected during the Gospel age--a remnant from Israel, Jews, and the remainder gathered from the Gentiles), are to be God's agencies for blessing all the families of the earth.
*Vol. II, Chapter vii.
Nor will the coming favor to Israel be exclusive. All believers in the covenant promises may share those returning favors with the natural seed, just as during the Gospel age any Jew who accepted Christ was eligible to all the spiritual blessings and advantages offered during the Gospel age. As only a small remnant believed in and accepted the gospel favors at the beginning, so, aside from the Jews, only a small number of mankind will be ready for the new laws and conditions of the Millennial age, under the righteous administration of the glorified Lord and his glorified Church; and hence, at first, few but Jews will be blessed under it.
The Jew, long accustomed to striving to do, and to trusting to works of obedience to the Law to secure for him the divine blessing, stumbled over the first feature of the Gospel dispensation--the remission of sins, without works, to every one that believeth in Jesus' perfect work and all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. But the Jew's respect for the Law will turn to his advantage in the dawn of the Millennial age, and [C254] none will be more ready for the strict requirements and laws of that age than he, after his blindness, relative to Christ and the value of his sacrifice for sins, shall have passed away; for works are required after faith in Christ, though not accepted before. And the Jew, in accepting the love and favor of God in Christ, will not be so inclined to lose sight of God's justice as are many others of today. Others, on the contrary, will be blinded for a time and unready to recognize the rules of the Kingdom, in which justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet.
As the Jew was blinded by a false view of the Law, which was made void through false teachings, so now, many Gentiles will be hindered from taking hold of the conditions of favor during the Millennial age, by reason of the false presentation of the doctrine of grace in the forgiveness of sin, made by false teachers of the present time, who make void the gos