Lecture 10

(Read Isaiah 1)
Israel’s Restoration and Earthly Blessing
Some passages of Scripture on the destiny of the Jews, which at our last meeting there was not time to quote, will terminate our sketch of historical prophecy concerning this people; I say historical, because prophecy is the history which God has given us of futurity.
I would again remind you of that important fact, that Jewish history is especially the manifestation of the glory of Jehovah. To ask, In what does this history concern us? is to say, Of what use is it that I should know what my Father is about to do for my brethren and the manifestation of His character in His acts?
It is evident, from the place which the subject occupies in His Word, that their affairs are very dear to our God and Father, if they be not to us. It is in this people, by the ways of God revealed to them, that the character of Jehovah is fully revealed, that the nations will know Jehovah, and that we shall ourselves learn to know Him.
The same person may be king of a country, and father of a family, and this is the difference between God’s actings towards us and the Jews. Towards the Church, it is the character of Father; towards the Jews, it is the character of Jehovah, the King. His faithfulness, unchangeableness, His almighty power, His government of the whole earth — all this is revealed in His relationship towards Israel; it is in this way that the history of this people lets us into the character of Jehovah.
Psalm 126. “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion ... then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.” See, on the same subject, Ezekiel 39:6, 76And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord. 7So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. (Ezekiel 39:6‑7): “And I will send a fire on Magog, on them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord. So will I make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let them pollute My holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord [Jehovah], the Holy One in Israel.” Verse 28: “Then shall they know that I am the Lord [Jehovah] their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.” This is the way in which Jehovah reveals Himself. The Father reveals Himself to our souls by the gospel, by the spirit of adoption, but Jehovah makes Himself known by His judgments —by the exercise of His power on the earth. I have said that the Father reveals Himself by the gospel, because the gospel is a system of pure grace — a system which teaches us to act towards others on the principle of pure grace, as we have been acted on by the Father. It is not “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”; it is not what justice requires, the law of retaliation, or equity, but a principle according to which I ought to be perfect, “as your Father ... is perfect.” But it will not be mere grace that is suffering evil and doing good, in the government of Jehovah. Jehovah, without doubt, will bless the nations, but the character of His kingdom is that “judgment shall return unto righteousness” (Psalm 94:1515But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it. (Psalm 94:15)). At the first coming of Jesus Christ, judgment was with Pilate, and righteousness with Jesus, but when Jesus shall return, judgment shall be united to righteousness. The people of Christ now, the children of God, ought to follow the example of the Saviour (that is, not expect or wish that judgment should be in the rigor of righteousness; but they should be gentle and humble in the midst of all the wrongs which they suffer on the part of man). United to Christ, they are indemnified for all their wrongs in the strength of His intimate love, which comforts them by the consolations of the presence of His Spirit, and, more than this, by the hopes of the heavenly glory. On the other hand, Jehovah will console His people by the direct acting of His righteousness in their favor (see Psalm 65:55By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea: (Psalm 65:5)), and by re-establishing them in earthly glory. The Jews, then, are the people by whom, and in whom, God sustains His name of Jehovah, and His character of judgment and righteousness. The Church consists of the people in whom, as in His family, the Father reveals His character of goodness and love.
Prophecies of the Restoration of Israel
We have already touched on the events which will happen to the Jews in the last time, by the quotations from Jeremiah, chapters 30 to 33, and from Ezekiel 36 to 39. I will now cite a few other passages to the same effect, following the order of the prophets.
There are a few remarkable traits in this prophecy. First, God in His power, by the ministry of Michael, is to stand up for the children of Daniel’s people, and it is to be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. In this we have a clue to Matthew 24 and Mark 13:1919For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. (Mark 13:19).
The resurrection (Dan. 12:22And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)) applies to the Jews. “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” You find the same expression in Isaiah 26: “Thy dead men shall live,” and in Ezekiel 37:1212Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12). It is a figurative resurrection of the people, buried as a nation among the Gentiles. In this revival it is said of those who rise, “Some to shame and everlasting contempt.” This is what will happen to the Jews. Of those brought out from among the nations, some shall enjoy eternal life, but some shall be subject to shame and everlasting contempt (Isaiah 66:2424And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24)). At the time of the accomplishment of this prophecy all of Daniel’s people are not brought up from among the nations. In a word, on the one hand, God standing up for His people in a time of distress, and, on the other, a remnant delivered — such is a summary of Daniel 12.
In Hosea 2:1414Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (Hosea 2:14) to the end, we see that the Lord will receive Israel, will bring her into the land, after having humbled her, but having spoken to her also after His own heart, and will make her such as she was in the days of her youth. Jehovah will make a covenant with her, and bless her in every kind of way on this earth, and will betroth her unto Himself forever.
But more. There is an uninterrupted chain of blessings from Jehovah Himself, down to the earthly blessings poured out in abundance on Israel, who is the seed of God (for this is the force of the word ‘Jezreel’). On this account there is added, “I will sow her unto Me in the earth.” v. 23. For Israel will become the instrument of blessing to the earth, as life from among the dead. At this time all is hindered by sin; spiritual wickedness is now “in high [heavenly] places” (Eph. 6:1212For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)), and every description of misery abounds, accompanied though it be with many blessings (for God makes “all things work together for good to them that love [Him]”), but at that time there will be a fulness of earthly blessing.
Hosea 3:4, 54For 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: 5Afterward 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). “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.” They shall have neither the true God nor a false god (so it is with them now), but after that they shall seek Jehovah and David — the well-beloved, or Christ.
Amos 9:14, 1514And 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. 15And 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 9:14‑15). “And I will bring again the captivity of My people ... and I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up.” This is not yet accomplished. Verses 11 and 12 of this chapter are quoted in Acts 15, not for the purpose of showing that the prophecy had then come to pass, but to prove that God had all along determined on having a people from out of the Gentiles, and that, therefore, the language of the prophets agreed with that which Simon Peter had been relating of what God had done in his days. It is not the accomplishment of a prophecy, but the establishing of a principle by the mouth of the prophets, as well as by the word of the Spirit through Simon Peter.
Micah 4:1-81But 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. 2And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. 5For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. 6In 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; 7And 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. 8And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1‑8). Nor is this yet brought to pass. It is, so to speak, a topographical description of Jerusalem, when her first dominion is restored. In chapter 5:4, 7, 8, the name of Christ is respected and great to the ends of the earth, Israel everywhere the dew of divine blessing, and coming off victorious against all who oppose her. With regard to Micah, you will remark (as was observed in a former lecture) how, in chapter 7:19, 20, the Spirit adverts to the promises made to the fathers without condition.
Zephaniah 3:1212I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:12) to the end. What language is this? God is said to be “silent [see margin] in His love”; He is so moved that He is “silent”. On whom does He lavish all this? Read verse 13: “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” Jehovah is in the midst of them, and nothing can disturb them.
Zechariah 1:15, 17-2115And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. (Zechariah 1:15)
17Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem. 18Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. 19And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. 20And the Lord showed me four carpenters. 21Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it. (Zechariah 1:17‑21)
. Mention is here made of the four monarchies who scattered Israel, as themselves scattered by the force of the judgments of God. Chapter 9:9 to the end. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” This, you will assert, is already accomplished. No; only in part. The Holy Spirit, in the New Testament (John 12:1515Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. (John 12:15)), cites this passage but with the omission of the words, “He is just, and having salvation [saving Himself, margin]”. Jesus, in fact, cared not for Himself. When they said to Him, mocking Him, “If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross,” He took no notice. He hid not Himself from grief; far from saving Himself, He saved us; He spared not Himself that we might be spared. Chapter 10:6 to the end. When was it that Israel had been as though the Lord “had not cast them off”? Never.
Only a Remnant Will Be Preserved
Let us now turn to some passages which will show that, though the people of Israel will be restored in their land, there will only be a remnant saved. Zechariah 12:22Behold, 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. (Zechariah 12:2) mentions a time of war, even of all the people round about, the people of the earth, against Jerusalem, but God will defend the city and its inhabitants in a miraculous manner, and the nations will be destroyed (v. 9). The spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured out on the remnant of Israel —“all the families that remain,” and “they shall look upon [Him] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn.”
Isaiah 18. Whatever critical difficulties exist in this chapter, its great object is too evident to be obscured by any rendering whatever. The rivers of Cush are the Nile and Euphrates. The enemies of Israel, in the biblical part of their history, were situated on these two rivers. There is, in this prophecy, a call made to a country which is beyond them, to a distant land, which had never, at the time of the prophecy, come into association with Israel. The prophet has then in his view some country which would later come on the scene. Verse 3: God bids all the inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, to take cognizance. The nations are to have their eyes on Israel; they are summoned by God to pay attention to what was taking place as to Jerusalem; they are all interested in her fate. The world is invited to watch the judgments about to take place. In the meanwhile (v. 4), God takes His rest, and lets the nations act of themselves; Israel has returned into her land (vv. 5, 6).
It is a description of Israel returning into Judea by the help of some nation at a distance from the scene itself, which is neither Babylon nor Egypt, nor other nations who meddled in their affairs of old. We say not that it is France, or Russia, or England. The Israelites return to their land, but God takes no notice of them. Israel is abandoned to the nations, and when everything would appear as if it were going to bear fruit anew (v. 5), behold the sprigs and branches cut down, and left to the fowls of the air to summer on, and to the beasts of the field to winter on (which terms are designations of the Gentiles). Nevertheless, at that time a present of this people shall be brought to the Lord of hosts, and from this people “to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.”
The Return of the Two Tribes and the Ten Tribes
Psalm 126:44Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. (Psalm 126:4). “Turn again our captivity, O Lord.” Zion and Judah will be first brought back. The captives of Zion were already brought back when this prayer was presented to God (v. 1); they are but the earnest of what God will do in the restoration of all Israel.
But it is fitting, here, to touch on the manner of God’s dealing with the houses of Judah and Israel in their judgment and dispersion. The first to be gathered are those who rejected Jesus, those who were guilty of His death. The ten tribes, as such, were not guilty of this crime; the ten tribes were dispersed before the introduction of the four monarchies into the rule of the world. It was the Assyrians who led captive the ten tribes, before Babylon had existence as an empire. A circumstance relating to a Jewish family or tribe (Jer. 35:1-101The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, 2Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. 3Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; 4And I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door: 5And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine. 6But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: 7Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. 8Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; 9Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: 10But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. (Jeremiah 35:1‑10)), found living in the midst of the Arabs, is related of Mr. Wolff, who visited it of late years. These Jews say of themselves that they are descended from some who refused to return to Judea with Ezra, because they knew that those who returned with Ezra would put the Messiah to death, and for this reason they remained where they were. Even though this be false, the existence of such a tradition is not a little wonderful. One thing is evident that those who rejected the Christ will be subjected to the Antichrist; they will make “a covenant with death, and with hell” (Isa. 28:1515Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: (Isaiah 28:15)), but their covenant will destroy all their hopes; having united themselves to Antichrist, they will undergo the consequence of this alliance, and at last will be destroyed. Two thirds of the inhabitants will be cut off in the country of Israel itself after their return (Zech. 13:8, 98And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9And 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. (Zechariah 13:8‑9)).
But with the ten tribes the occurrences are different, as we know from Ezekiel 20:32-3932And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. 33As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: 34And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. 37And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 38And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. 39As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols. (Ezekiel 20:32‑39). Instead of two parts cut off in the land, the rebels — that is, the disobedient and rebellious ones among them — will not enter at all into Canaan. God does with them, as He did with Israel on their rebellion after their coming out from Egypt: He destroys them without their even seeing it.
Thus there are two classes, so to speak, of Jews, in this return. First, the Jewish nation, properly speaking — namely, Judah, and those allied with her in the rejection of the true Christ; they will be in connection with the Antichrist, and of them two thirds will be cut off in the land. Secondly, those of the ten tribes coming up, of whom some will be cut off in the wilderness on their way into the land.
Matthew 23:37-3937O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:37‑39). This prediction, delivered by Jesus Himself, gives us the assurance of the coming of Christ to restore Israel, and reign in her midst: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets. ... Your house is left unto you desolate ... till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Israel will see Jesus, but it will be when this word of Psalm 118:2626Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. (Psalm 118:26) shall go out of her mouth. The psalm itself gives a happy picture of her joy at that time, and out of it the Saviour drew the announcement of the judgment which He pronounced against the Jewish rulers on their rejection of Him: “The stone which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner.” Out of this psalm, also, is drawn the joyful salutation with which the little children welcomed Him in the temple with Hosannahs — fit precursors of those who, in happier times yet to come, will receive the hearts of little children, and will confess that Saviour formerly rejected by their fathers! It is this psalm which celebrates the exaltation and blessing of Israel — that blessing due to the faithfulness of Jehovah alone, while it points out the sin of the nation in rejecting “the stone” which was to become the foundation of God in Zion, but which was also, by the unbelief of that nation, the “stone of stumbling” and of judgment.
We subjoin two principles, very simple and clear, which distinguish all preceding blessings (as, for instance, the return from Babylon) from the accomplishment of the prophecies of which we have been speaking.
These two principles are: firstly, the blessings flow from the presence of Christ, Son of David. Secondly, they are a consequence of the new covenant. Neither one nor the other of these conditions was fulfilled at the return from Babylon, nor has it been since. The gospel does not occupy itself with the earthly blessings of the Jews, which is the matter of these prophecies.