by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 476A

Israel, the Chosen People of God, have always held a priority on His favor except for an interval between Jesus’ death and His Second Coming dur­ing which time God “hid his face from them” (Isa. 59:2) and they experienced a period of in­terrupted commu­nion, not severed union. Al­though Jesus’ First Advent on earth was for the purpose of giving Himself “a ransom for all,” He did not come to all; “he came to his own” (John 1:11). When Pilate asked, “Art thou a king?” Jesus answered, “For this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37). He did not say, For this cause came I to the world, for Jesus did not come to the world; “He came to his own” – “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He did not come into the world to be King of the world; He said, “My kingdom is not of this world” – this age, this dispensation (John 18:36). Yet, to be (future) King was the “cause” or reason He came into the world. It is time now for Him to be King, and He is beginning to “set up” His Kingdom – the Kingdom about which His disciples asked, “Wilt thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?”

At Jesus’ First Advent, His Atonement‑sacrifice paid the redemption price for the whole world, yet He demonstrated only a casual interest in the Gentile world, and on one occasion He referred to them as “dogs” and this in contrast to His ref­erence to Israel as “children” (Mark 7:27). And, although the object of His human birth was to “give his flesh for the life of the world,” He “prayed not for the world” nor did He grieve about the world, but He prayed for His “own” and He “wept” over Jerusalem (John 17:9; Luke 19:41). He did not pine to take the world under His wing, but sorrowfully He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her brood under her wing...” (Luke 13:34).

Thus Israel held a priority of favor with God. Never at any time have Gentiles held equal favor with Israel; Gentiles have never had any oracles of God; nor have any of their governments ever been a Divinely sponsored and directed rule as were the kings of Israel and Judah. God has merely permitted Gentile nations to rule the earth during the period of Israel’s “double” of disfavor, but at no time has His blessing been upon their conflicting interests, their inconsistent doctrines and opposing armies. It is only as a few Gentiles have become true Christians that they have come into covenant relationship with God and have become recipients of His favor. Chris­tians should bear in mind that it was not every one of Israel that refused to accept Jesus; a few “received him” (John 1:12), and those who re­ceived Him remained in His favor, others were broken off. Paul, speaking to Gentiles regarding Israel’s family tree, says (Rom. 11:17‑19), “And if some of the branches be broken off [unbeliev­ing Jews], and thou [believing Gentiles], being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them [among believing Jews], partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree! boast not against the [broken off] branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou will say then, Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”

The first point is, only some of the branches were broken off, not all the branches. Another point is, believing Gentiles were grafted “among them,” not instead of them; that is, believing Gentiles were grafted among believing Jews. An­other point is, Gentile believers were simply to become a partaker with Jewish believers. But it appears that Gentiles have tried to be a monopolizer instead of a partaker. They think they have taken the place of the Jew in God’s Divine Plan. No Gentile Christian should “boast over the natural branches; it is not you that bearest the root, but the root thee.” It is through the Jewish “root” that a Gentile Christian receives any blessing at all. It might be well for such to cultivate a little gratitude for undeserved bless­ings flowing through the Jewish channel. Paul anticipated what Gentile “Christians” would say. He says, “Thou wilt say then, branches were bro­ken off that I might be grafted in.” Paul anticipated the error into which “Christian” Gentiles would fall. “Thou wilt say.” Paul does not say, God saith, or I say, or the Lord saith; but he says, “Thou wilt say” – Gentiles will say – “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Paul admits “some branches were broken off,” but the breaking off of the branches was not done for the purpose of grafting Gentiles in, but rather it was an occasion for grafting “a few” (Matt. 7:14) Gentiles in. In other words, the broken off bran­ches were made the occasion, not the cause, of grafting “a little flock” (Luke 12:32) of Christian Gentiles in. What, then, was the cause of some of the branches being broken off: “By unbelief they were broken off” (Rom. 11:20). The branches were not broken off simply to make room for Gentiles. It was the unbelief of the Jews which caused their breaking off from the favor of God, which breaking off occasioned a blessing to “a few” Gentiles.

True Christians, no doubt, understand their relationship to the Jewish national branches as partakers with, not instead of, believing Jews; but “Christians” (so called) appear to regard Jews as altogether cast off, and themselves as having taken the place of the Jew in God’s Divine arrangement. They call themselves “Spiritual Is­rael,” welcoming Gentiles everywhere and ignor­ing Jews. “For I would not, [Gentile] brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceit, that blindness in part hath happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). This shows that the partial blindness of Israel is a revealed mystery and that “ignorance” of this mystery is apt to produce conceit – “lest ye be wise in your own conceit.” Has there been no ignorance on the part of Gentiles of this mystery resulting in Gen­tile conceit and a sense of superiority in their relationship to God? Bear in mind that Israel’s blindness was only “in part” and was to continue only “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Israel’s blindness was not arbitrarily inflicted by God; it had an adequate cause. The blindness is not a cause, but a consequence – a consequence of unbelief. Because of “unbelief” they were “broken off.” Their unbelief was not total, it was only partial – blind “in part” (Rom. 11:25).

Note Acts 15:14‑16 which says: “Simeon hath declared how God... did visit the Gentiles [for a specific purpose] to select out of them a people for his name [Christians]. After this, I will return and build again the Tabernacle of David [the Jewish polity] which is fallen down; I will build again the ruins thereof and set it up that the remainder of men might seek the Lord and all the Gentiles upon whom my name [Christian] is [commonly] called.” It is a common thing for Gentiles to freely and casually call themselves “Christians.”

When God “visited” the Gentiles, He did not visit them to bestow His blessing upon their conflicting interests and opposing armies, but to “take out” (select) a people (True Christians) to bear “his name.” Although Gentile governments have been permitted, temporarily, to exercise rulership over the earth, Gentiles, as nations, are no more in God’s favor than they were at Jesus’ First Advent when He referred to them as “dogs.” It will be “after” the Tabernacle of David has been “set up” that Gentiles “upon whom his name is [falsely] called” will have a universally favor­able opportunity to “seek the Lord.” When Israel shall have received her “double” of punishment; when she has paid for her insufficient faith, the Messiah’s first restoration act will be to “build again” the Jewish polity – the Tabernacle of David and “set it up.” And the security of David’s throne is guaranteed by the oath of God: “I have made a covenant with my Chosen, I have sworn unto David, my servant, thy seed I will establish forever and build up thy throne to all generations... my covenant I will not break nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my Holiness that I will not lie to David. His seed shall endure forever... as the moon – the faithful witness in the sky” (Psa. 89:3,4, 34‑37).

Israel is promised the same restoration com­mon to Gentiles but more in detail. Their polity will be restored; their land will be restored; they will be restored to their land; their “judges and counsellors will be restored as at the first” (Isa. 1:26). The Lord has not, for one moment, turned away from Israel’s family tree – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs and prophets of old, and though, in Jesus’ day, it was found necessary to figuratively break off some of the natural bran­ches, even these He will regather and restore, for they are still “beloved for their fathers’ sakes” (Rom. 11:28).

At Jesus’ First Advent He came as the world’s Redeemer, but he came to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” – God’s Chosen People. He offered them a special favor – the first to accept Him as Messiah and King. If they, as a nation, had had sufficient faith to have accepted Him, it is a logi­cal conclusion that no branches would have been broken off from God’s favor, and thus there would have been no occasion for their house to have been “left desolate” or for a grafting process. The consequences to the Gentiles as regards Israel’s rejection of Jesus was, a fraction of them accepted Him as the Messiah and became true Christians and were grafted into the Jewish family tree and received a blessing. This is in contradistinction to the universal blessing which Israel’s national restoration and conversion will bring to the world – the blessing of “all the families of the earth.” If the national “desolation of Israel’s house” and the temporary “breaking off” and “casting away” brought blessings to a limited number of Gentiles, how much more will their conversion, regathering and the rebuilding of their polity mean to the world? If Israel’s national calamity occasioned a blessing, how much more blessing will their conversion and restora­tion bring? (Rom. 11:15)

Some Gentile “Christians” seem to think they have a point by raising an objection: “But Jews are going back to Israel in unbelief.” We answer, Jews are not going back to Israel in total unbe­lief, only partial unbelief – “blind in part.” But suppose they were going back in total unbelief, would that make a difference with God? Would He change His plans? If His favor has returned to them, would their lack of faith affect the faithfulness of God? Shall their want of faith make His favor of no effect? “What if some did not believe, shall their unbelief make God unfaithful? God forbid” (Rom. 3:3). The unbelief of Jews cannot change, alter nor thwart the purposes of God. His purposes and promises will not be af­fected by Israel’s conduct. “For the gifts and the callings of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). God has not repented, has not changed His mind or rescinded His oath respecting the gift of Palestine or the call of Abraham and his natural descendants to be a blessing to the world. He knew in advance what degree of faith Israel would have, therefore, in view of His foreknowl­edge, a change of plan cannot be necessary with God. Too much stress is placed on the conduct of the Jew as affecting God’s plan. Some people think and talk of God’s dealing as though He were dealing by a rule of chance, and governed entirely by circumstance. Knowing the end from the beginning, God’s plans and purposes are fixed and unalterable.

Again, some Gentile “Christians” tell us that the nation of Israel is composed of atheists. But every Jew knows and every Christian should know that Israel without God cannot be Israel. Israel without God is a contradiction in terms. The meaning of the name and the purpose of the existence of that nation is bound up with God, and Israel will always exist as God’s nation. “Though I make a full end of all nations... I will not make a full end of thee” (Jer. 30:11). Although Israel has been a stubborn and rebellious people, nevertheless, they are a Chosen People, “beloved for their fathers’ sake,” and they are to be the first people upon whom restoration blessings will be poured. “He will save the tents of Judah first” (Zech. 12:7).

Many inconsistent, contradictory and confus­ing doctrines have been taught in Christendom due to the fact that Israel has not been properly recognized in the Divine arrangement. For practically two thousand years, during the period of Israel’s Divine disfavor, Gentiles have had full sway and dominion of earth and have ruled with applause, parade and with no interference. Aside from a very few true Christians, Gentile Babylon has had a field‑day – the heyday of her national existence. For practically two thousand years Jews, because of their offenses against God, have experienced His wrath, and have had to wait until the “set time” for His favor to return. They have waited for the promised restoration of their Holy Land; they have waited for the promised re­building of their Jewish polity that fell down; they have waited for the “ruins” to be “set up” again. There will be a depth of meaning in their words which no other people on earth can feel when, recognizing their Messiah, and having been rehabilitated in their home land, they cry: “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him” (Isa. .25:9).

Jews are going back home; the Lord is building “again” the Tabernacle of David, for the natural descendants of Jacob constitute a Divinely separated and preserved people which have a designated mission of service in the interest of the human race and which no power on earth can annul. “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), which means that universal blessings are destined to come through Israel as the earthly instrumentality, and all the combined powers on earth cannot succeed in preventing nor frustrating. It is Israel’s Divine earthly heritage to hold up the glorious and everlasting torch of peace and truth on earth. It was Jesus who declared, “Salvation is of the Jews.” He did not say for the Jews nor to the Jews but “of the Jews.” Thus, the Divine provision is that “in the times of refreshing that shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19), Israel, recovered from blindness, shall be used as a medium through whom the streams of salvation, issuing from the Messiah, shall flow to “all the families of the earth”; as it is written, “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3).

The time has come, to which holy men of old have looked with longing since the flaming sword barred the first pair from Eden – the time for the “redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:14). The earth, originally given to Adam as his dominion, usurped by Satan, and so long held by man’s mighty foe, has been bought by the great Atonement‑sacrifice of Jesus. All that was lost by transgression has been redeemed by Him who “came to seek and to save that which was lost.” “Thus saith the Lord... that formed the earth and made it, he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited” (Isa. 45:18). God’s original purpose in the creation of the earth will be fulfilled when it is made the eternal abode of the restored race. “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever” (Psa. 37:29).

A fear of making the future inheritance of man seem too material has led many Christians to spiritualize away the very truths which should lead them to look upon the earth as their home. In speaking to Israel of their homeland, the Lord declares, “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shall call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” “They shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat... Mine elect shall long enjoy the works of their hands” (Isa. 60:18; 65:21).

The rebuilt and restored Jerusalem will be the metropolis of the glorified earth, “a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God” (Isa. 62:3). “The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it” (Rev. 21:24). “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people” (Isa. 65:19).

Israel, God’s Chosen People, will soon begin to feel ashamed of the measure of faith they have had in the prophecies, and nothing will humble them more than to realize how limited their acquaintance has been with the Word of God.

While nations are now absorbed in their national problems, alternately moved by hopes and fears, the grand and stately march of Israel’s restoration will progress onward and irresistibly to completion in fulfillment of the Divine purpose. Nations here and there may raise their puny voices as if to stay Israel’s advancement, and arrest the fiat of the Eternal, but they might as well attempt to stay the law which governs the universe. Gentiles had a fixed course to run, as fixed as the stars that dazzle in the blue vault above, and Israel, the bright star in the firmament amongst them, has been, in all its wanderings, true to its course as well. Its mission was foreseen and foretold, and its final restoration to the Holy Land prophesied. This prophecy is being fulfilled now, today. The re‑founding of a nation in the Holy Land once more means the exaltation of Israel, and places them among the nations of earth, and gives them that sovereign right which will, through the Lord’s guiding providence, eventually mean peace and righteousness to all.

It may be said that, geographically speaking, Israel will be too small to exert much influence among the nations of earth. We answer, It will not be the extent or expanse of territory that will make Israel great, but rather it will be the strength of moral power and the power of righteousness that will make Israel renowned among the nations. Knowing this, no one should suffer himself to stand by with folded hands when this new exodus is taking place. Jews have held, for nearly two thousand years, that the consummation of the ages of suffering which they have passed through will be reached only when they again possess the land of their fathers. Is that trust and faith to die now just at the moment when it is being fulfilled? Or was it expected that the return would be brought about by means so miraculous as to be beyond the cooperation of human beings? God’s plans are not above human cooperation and He works His will through the wills of men; and thus it may be expected that the prophecies will be fulfilled largely through human wills and energies.

The inhabitants of Israel, though now under a war cloud, will eventually resume all their ancient territory. The prophecies are clear as day that Jews are destined to repossess Palestine and, indeed, to rule from Lebanon to Euphrates; and that this event is to be the first of a great series of changes leading not only to vast improvement, by God’s guiding providence, in the condition of suffering Jews, but eventually of creation in general. Surely it is the duty of pious and sober men and women to watch precursory signs, and lend their humble cooperation, should so great a privilege be accorded them.

We see the beginning of the return of Divine favor to Israel manifested in the opening up of the Land of Promise and their expulsion from other lands, and also in the returning fruitfulness of the land itself. These outward signs alone, aside from any prophetic dates and times, would be strong evidences that we are living in the close of the “Times of the Gentiles,” and we have the positive assurance of the Scriptures that Israel’s blindness and cast‑off condition would continue only “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).

Thus the gradual closing of Gentile dominion and supremacy quickens the interest of those now waiting for the consolation of Israel. Such will be hungering for whatever information God may have supplied through the prophets, touching the end or closing period of this Gentile Age. In order to appreciate the logic and reasonableness of the prophetic teaching on these interesting subjects, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the object of Jesus’ Second Coming. The object of His Second Coming is to bring into harmony “whosoever will,” of the world, especially through the restored Ancient Worthies – the judges and counsellors of Israel, by a process of ruling, teaching and disciplining in the Kingdom. Thus Jesus’ Second Coming is of paramount importance.

(Chapter Seven of THIS IS THE MILLENNIUM, by Shelah Ben-Hanan)