ISRAEL and the
By Jack W. Langford
The future of the nation of Israel and the hope of true Christianity are vital themes in the thinking of many people in these very crucial days. The minds of the general public, however, are often blighted by the dilemma of world conditions, and then soothed by the proud, boastful dreams of religiopolitical leaders who seek a utopia without the God of the Bible. May this brief message, which reflects upon past and future Biblical prophecy, be the answer to the inquiry of honest hearts.
The Scriptures abound in prophecies about two separate and distinct aspects of the work of the promised Redeemer Messiah: (1) His coming to suffer as "The Lamb of God" for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 53; John 1:29); (2) His coming as "The Lion of Judah" to rule in great power and glory over regathered Israel and the world (Isaiah 9:6, 7; Rev. 5:5). Regardless of how one interprets these two lines of Messianic prophecy, they still exist boldly on the pages of Holy Scripture.
Sometimes these two aspects of prophecy are found in the same sentence—as in Isaiah 61:1-3. One day Jesus stood and read publicly in the synagogue of Nazareth the first part of this prophecy:
Jesus stopped in the middle of that sentence and, we are told, "He closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And he began to say to them, 'This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.' " (Luke 4:16-21). That audience was frozen in rapt attention as they listened to that lowly carpenter speak with beauty and authority. However, because of his lack of clerical prestige and his persistent probing of their hypocrisies, they became very offended by him."The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He bath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, TO PREACH THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF
THE LARD—" (Isa. 61:1, 2)
A great controversy ensued concerning this Jesus called Christ (Messiah), and concerning these two aspects of prophecy. Most failed to understand the sufferings of Messiah, and thought that all which was prophesied of him would somehow occur simultaneously. The High Priest, himself, finally dispelled the quibbling among the religious leaders when he sternly proclaimed in the midst of one debate, "Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one should die for the people . . . BUT that also he should gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad (i.e. regather the Jews of the dispersion)." (John 11:49-52).
In the main, that generation refused Christ the throne room of their hearts and he was delivered to the Roman tormentors who gave him a crown of thorns instead. He voluntarily was hung between heaven and earth upon the cross—his time had come to die for the penalty of the sins of the world. In God's overruling providence and design, Christ gloriously arose from death to give new life and power to all those who put their trust in him.
Amazing as it may seem, this whole episode was beautifully prefigured centuries before in the life of Joseph, the beloved son of Jacob (Genesis 37:1-20). Joseph, you may remember, was sent to seek the welfare of his brethren, but was instead hated because of his princely dreams of ruling over them, and because of his reporting their evil deeds. They said, "shalt thou indeed reign over us?"—as did those of Jesus' day (Luke 19:14). Both were raised from the pit of death and then given to the Gentile people where they achieved a unique place of prominence. And like Joseph, Christ remains unrecognized by his brethren UNTIL the time he will again be shockingly revealed to those who at the first rejected Him (Genesis 45:1-5; Zech. 12:9-13:1).
Over 1900 years have passed since Jesus made his first appeal to the world, and yet mankind goes carelessly on their way, blindly ignorant of the fact that the remainder of that prophecy of Isaiah 61 looms on the horizon to be fulfilled—
Oh, please do not be so stupid, my friend, as to think that the latter part of this prophecy will not be fulfilled literally, just as certainly as was the first part."—AND THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD ... and to appoint
unto them that mourn in Zion, TO GIVE THEM BEAUTY FOR ASHES . "
(Isaiah 61:2, 3)
Since his death, the ascended Christ has been building his church, which is as wholly unworldly and misunderstood as was he himself. Therefore, do not confuse it with man-made "Church-anity" such as — Catholicism, Protestantism or Cultism. The one is Divine and real, the other is devilish and veneer. The one includes all true heart believers the world over, whereas the other is sectarian. The one worships God in Spirit and truth, but the other is often heathenish and idolatrous. (Sad to say, in these days of apostasy, the vast majority of the true church is carnally mixed within the counterfeit.) But, the one true church, which Christ is building, is composed of both Jews and Gentiles who are saved and spiritually baptized into one body — "the church which is Christ's body." This dispensation of time is called a "mystery," not prophesied in past ages (Eph. 3:1-9).
The Pharisees and Sadducees of modern "Christendom" have made the very same blunder all over again, as did those clerics of old in failing to "rightly divide the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15). Many of today's religious teachers have tried in vain to rob Israel of any real future hope. These would argue that all of the prophecies and promises in the Bible to Israel actually refer to "their Church" instead. This is nothing but butchering the Bible, and theoretical "Hocus-pocus." There is a vast difference between making spiritual applications of prophecies and the literal fulfillment of Bible prophecies.
Having confused, on the one hand, God's promises to the nation of Israel with God's promises to the one true church, it is no wonder these clerics then fail to understand and distinguish between: ( I ) Christ's "mystery" coming to gather ("rapture") the true church out of this world to himself (1 Cor. 15:51; I Thess. 4:13-17); and (2) the well known prophesied coming of Christ in fiery judgment to rule this earth in great power (Isaiah 11:4-12; Matt. 25:31-34; II Thess. 1:7, 8). In between these two separate events is a brief period of time called in the Bible "The Great Tribulation" (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 2:22). It is during this time that apostate "Christendom" will be destroyed as was ancient Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Rev. Chapter 17, 18).
A prominent ex-Pharisee named Paul (The Apostle of Jesus Christ) carefully explained another "mystery" which most modern clerics stumble over, but which surely settles any and all arguments to the contrary —
"For I would not, brethren, that you 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 fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, 'The Redeemer shall come to Zion .....(Rom. 11:25-27; Isa. 59:20, 21).
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