Israel's Future: No. 1

Genesis 12:2-4
It is proposed in these short papers to examine what the scriptures teach as to the future history of the children of Israel. And we would approach this subject with the firm conviction that whatever God has spoken must come to pass. God said to Abram, " 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." (Gen. 12:2-42And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:2‑4).) Though this unconditional promise has not been fulfilled in its full extent, yet it is obvious it must be, as it is absolutely God's engagement with Abram.
After this, God gives an express promise as to the land of Canaan. He said to Abram, " 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," &c. (Gen. 13:14-1714And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16And 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. 17Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. (Genesis 13:14‑17).) This promise of God to Abram is repeated: " I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land" (Chap. xv. 7.) "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; and I will be their God." (Gen. 17:88And 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; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:8).)
Then, further, after the offering up of Isaac, we have both the oath and promise of God: " That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore: and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 22:16, 1716And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (Genesis 22:16‑17).)
Truly this is that promise of God which was confirmed in Christ four hundred and thirty years after the law. Head carefully Gal. 3:1618. Now then, if we Gentiles, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; if we, in the rich mercy of God, have been made to share the great consolation of the oath and promise of God, confirmed in Christ; is it not a strange thing to turn round after this, and deny the promise to the natural seed of Abraham?
Certainly it is of the utmost moment that we believe not only the promise and oath of God, in contrast with the covenant of works as given at Sinai: but more, the promise is fulfilled, or confirmed, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the true Isaac. The law cannot disannul what has been confirmed in Christ. But then, are not both of these two things equally sure by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Our inheritance, our eternal salvation depends solely on the oath and promise of God, not on our engagement, as Israel, at Sinai. And also the future kingdom and blessing of Israel, as the nation to whom the promise is thus confirmed by the same resurrection of Christ, the Seed, from the dead.
Let it be granted that for the present Israel is set aside, and also that Abraham has never yet enjoyed the promised inheritance of the land—no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet He promised that He would give it to him for a possession. (See Acts 7:55And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. (Acts 7:5).) Is it possible that the Gentile professing church has concluded for centuries that God never intends to keep His word and promise to Abraham? The Spirit of God, foreseeing this, spake by the apostle: " 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 fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." (Rom. 11)
There are these two thoughts or purposes of God in scripture. The church for the heavens, and Israel for the earth. Let us not forget that during this unmeasured period of grace, God is, by the Holy Ghost, gathering out the joint-heirs of Christ, the one body, destined to be the heavenly bride of the Lamb. But then let us not, in vain conceit, suppose that God has forgotten His promise of the land to Abraham and his seed.
In being guided by scripture on this subject, no doubt we shall have to give up a vast amount of modern error, if we believe what God teaches in His word. Take that grave error of a general resurrection at the coming of Christ at the end of the world, as tradition says. Of course, if that were true, then Abraham would not be raised until the end of the world, and therefore the promise of God to him never could be fulfilled. It is clear he never has had so much as a foot of it yet. But did not God tell him he should have it? And how distinctly this is repeated to Isaac and Jacob! God said to Isaac, " Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee: for unto thee and unto thy seed I will give all these countries.... And will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations be blessed." (Gen. 20 vi. 3,4.) The same promise is repeated to Jacob. (Chap, 28:13.) Oh, tell us, Is God a man that He should lie? Again, "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.יי (Deut. 32:88When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:8).) Yes, as to this earth, Israel is the center of God's thoughts.
Is not the history of the Old Testament, from the call of Abram, for the most part, the history of that people? Was not David their inspired psalmist? Is it not of their Messiah he speaks and sings, reigning in mount Zion? He speaks, indeed, of His sufferings and death, but it is for that nation. The church is never his theme; it was not then revealed.
The hatred and rejection of men is foretold: " Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." Then the heathen will be given unto Him, and the uttermost parts of the earth for possession. And mark, this not in the way of grace, or during this time of grace, but for judgment. " Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." (Psalm 2) The least attention to these statements in the Psalm and the prophets, will prove the gross-ness of the error of applying them to the gospel or the church. You notice the above is in direct contrast with the present work of unbounded grace. And when the death of Messiah is foretold in the Psalms, whilst we have been brought into much higher blessing through that death, yet the direct application of blessing from that death is not in the Psalm to the church of God now, but to the future kingdom of God on earth. " All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the nations." (Psalm 22)
Now read the psalm of Messiah's reign (72). Is not every verse in contrast with this present state of confusion and rejection of Christ? During these times of the Gentiles Messiah is cut off, and has nothing; but then God will give Him His judgment—He will judge the people, He will break in pieces the oppressor. In His days shall the righteous flourish: now they are slandered, hated, persecuted, and sometimes killed. Now Satan rules over the darkness of this world, then Christ shall have dominion from the river unto the ends of the earth. As a rule now all kings and nations reject Him, then all shall serve Him. Is it not sad to pervert the psalms which describe the future glory of the kingdom promised to Israel on earth, as though they described the church?
And now we come to the prophets. Did they prophesy concerning the church, or the future kingdom and glory of Israel? The Spirit of God anticipates and answers the question. There is the greatest care to show that the future time of blessing to Israel, and to all nations, will not be brought about by the gospel, but by judgment. " Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness: and the destruction of the transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed." (Isa. 1:27, 2827Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. 28And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed. (Isaiah 1:27‑28).)
"The word that Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw concerning (not the church, but) Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it," &c. (Chap. 2:1-4.) Has this been fulfilled, or can it be during the times of the Gentiles; during which Jerusalem is trodden down of the Gentiles, and the Jews scattered among all nations? Modern traditions make of none effect the word of God. God gives a prophecy concerning Jerusalem. Tradition says, No, it is concerning the church. Now read Isa. 9:6, 76For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6‑7). The child has been born unto them; but is the government yet upon His shoulder? Does He yet sit on the throne of David?
It is remarkable how the church was hidden. Think of these words—" For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,', and, between that word and the next, eighteen hundred years at least have taken place; for the remaining words have not yet been fulfilled: " And the government shall be upon his shoulder," &c. Has that great mystery, the incarnation of the Son of God, taken place? and shall not He also sit on the throne of David? Yes, and " of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end." The same thing may be observed in chapter 11. The Spirit of the Lord did rest upon the holy Jesus, the Messiah. Verses 1-3 have been fulfilled, but 4 to 12 have not. Between 3 and 4 the period of the church has taken place, but not a word concerning it in the chapter. Not a line, from verse 4 to 12, has yet been fulfilled. "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." How very important to see the order of the word of God. First, there is the Spirit of the Lord on Messiah; then, the present interval being omitted, His judgment of the wicked (one); then, the blessing of His kingdom on earth, when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. He stands as the ensign of the people: " To it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious." Then the Lord Himself gathers the remnant of His people, the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah, from the four corners of the earth. Do not you see, then, how God will thus fulfill His promise to Abraham, though blindness in part has happened unto Israel during this gospel interval?
There is the same order everywhere: we will, however, turn to one instance where the Lord Jesus marked the present interval in prophecy. In Isa. 61., the first verse describes His living ministry in incarnation, a The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," &c. If you turn to Luke 4:1717And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (Luke 4:17), you will find the book of the prophet Esaias was delivered to Him in the synagogue. He read these words, until He came to the sentence, " to preach the acceptable year of the Lord," and, at that point, "He closed the book, and gave it to the minister, and sat down; and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Now turn back to Isa. 61. In this (ver. 2) the first clause only was then fulfilled, Jesus announcing the acceptable year of the Lord to Judah. Then, before the next sentence, He has been rejected, and has nothing; Israel as a nation is cut off for more than eighteen hundred years, at the close of which unnoticed period of the church, the day of vengeance comes—the time of the great tribulation. Then read the description of the kingdom on earth. Surely it is the violation of all sense and scripture to apply this to the church. "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations." Can there be a question that this is in the land of Israel, as promised to Abraham? " Therefore in their land they shall possess the double; everlasting joy shall be unto them." Thus we have the same order -the living ministry of Messiah, then the book is shut, and an interval before the day of vengeance: then follows the kingdom of Messiah on earth. What a description of the kingdom is chapter 60! Oh, what brightness and glory shall burst upon that nation at the coming of the Lord! But more in our next paper.