Israel Vivified: A Marvelous Chosen Nation—Its Sad Past and Glorious Future
On one occasion someone twitted the great Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, because he was a Jew. With his brilliant intellect he replied, “My friend need not be so hard on my people. One half of Christendom is following a Jew—and the other half, a Jewess.”
“I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid…God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew…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 Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”—Romans 11:1-2, 25-27.
In this, the second sermon on the general theme, “What will take place when Jesus comes again,” following the message dealing with the translation of the church, I want to speak of the Jewish people and the great part they are to play in the future—and perhaps the not far distant future. The Jew has been called the miracle of history. Undoubtedly his very existence and his history are the strongest possible arguments as to the authenticity of the Scriptures. How any man can doubt the inspiration of God’s Word and know the record of this people is a puzzle to me.
God never made known the history of any other nation before the events had transpired. But the story of the Jewish nation has been pre-written—written before Israel was a nation; written before Jacob himself was born; written before the father of Jacob existed; written before Abraham had a son, even Ishmael. In the fifteenth chapter of Genesis God told Abraham how the future of this people should be characterized for at least 400 years, and He made that declaration before any child had been born to him. God committed Himself. He is not afraid to have any man test the theory of divine revelation. When the sons of Jacob went down into Egypt there were seventy of them, all told. When they left Egypt 400 years later—as God had said they would—we are told there were 600,000 men able to go to war, besides women and children; a great nation. Long before the Babylonian captivity the children of Israel were told that they would be taken into Babylon and that they would remain there for seventy years as captives.
Concluding His earthly ministry, Jesus one day stood on the Mount of Olives and looking over Jerusalem, made this prophecy: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For 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).
Secular history confirms the fact that the judgments uttered concerning Jerusalem have been and are being literally fulfilled. Oh, the sorrow and the suffering through which this nation has passed! Apart from whether we like the Jewish people or not, apart from whether we believe the Bible or not, if we look at Jewish history our hearts will bleed for that people. In this respect “God hath not dealt so with any other nation.” I was looking at a calendar the other day and I found that in about 150 years Jerusalem was besieged twenty-seven times. Seventeen times it was left absolutely desolate. Perhaps forty years after Christ pronounced the woe to which I have just referred, Titus came with his armies and for two years besieged Jerusalem. We are told by Josephus that he crucified so many Jews that there was not room for any more crosses round about the city. After that, there came another Roman conqueror and destroyed the city once more, tore down every stone, leaving not one above another. That very attack had been prophesied in Matthew 24:1-2.
Persecuted by Church and State
In the days of Constantine when he professedly became a Christian and the church was honored, the Jew became a special object of hatred and persecution. Jews were banished from England in the eleventh century and all their property was confiscated. Thousands of them were slain in Germany. At the same time, France treated them with similar contempt. In the year 1492, when America was discovered—this wonderful country that we call the “melting pot” for all nations—about 800,000 Jews were expelled from Spain with nowhere to go. So awful were their privations and their sufferings that they killed their children rather than leave them to the disgrace and horror through which they themselves were passing. In Constantinople 3,000 homes were burned at once and $60,000,000 was plundered from the Jews. How they have suffered in Russia and in Poland only God Almighty knows.
“The wild bird has her nest,
The fox has his cave.
Mankind has his country,
Israel but a grave.”
The Jew has only had the right of citizenship during the last century.
The Glory is Coming
The thing that impressed me in studying this subject is that God tells us that His dealings with this people have been in love and in mercy. We have referred only to the judgments of the Jew. I want you to see something of the blessing that is coming to God’s chosen people. To the very crossing of the “t” and the dotting of the “I” the judgments have been fulfilled in that nation’s history. But there is another line of prophecy concerning their glorious future. If the judgments are literal, why not the blessings?
You say, “How can God love a people that has so dishonored Him?” I can best answer that question for myself by asking, “Why does God love me?” For eighteen years of my life I lived without a thought of God in my heart. Then one day God’s love came to me. Why do I love Him? “Because He first loved me.” “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I can give you two reasons for honoring the Jewish people; two reasons why we should love and pray for them.
First, the Jew has been in a very special sense the depository of divine truth. The Jewish mind has been the channel of God’s revelation to man. All the books of the Bible, with the possible exception of Luke, were written by Jews. Romans 3:1-2.
Second, our Saviour came from the tribe of Judah—“The Lion of the tribe of Judah.” According to the flesh, the Jew gave us Jesus, the Christ. Romans 9:5.
A Touching Story
I think of that touching little story told so effectively by the late Professor Jacobs, once associated with D.L. Moody as a chorister and leader in the famous Fulton Street meetings in New York. It is the story of a little drummer boy in the Civil War. He had been badly wounded and was in the hospital, cared for by a surgeon who was a Jew. An operation was necessary, but the little fellow requested that he be not given an anesthetic, promising the doctor he would not murmur while he removed the limb from his body. Throughout the time of the operation the boy silently prayed. This wonderfully impressed the physician who came to see him day after day.
Finally, as the end drew near, the little fellow ventured to say to the physician, “Do you know, doctor, I love you, and all the time that you were taking off my leg I was praying for you. I have been praying for you ever since.”
“Praying for me?” said the physician. “Why do you pray for me?”
“Because you are a Jew,” replied the boy.
“Because I am a Jew! What difference does that make?”
“Why,” replied the little fellow, “the best friend I ever had was a Jew.”
“Who might he be?” asked the physician.
“It is Jesus,” said the soldier lad.
This irritated the physician somewhat and he made up his mind he would not visit the little patient again. But somehow his heart was drawn to the boy and he found himself returning to his bedside. As the lad lay dying he drew from under his pillow a little Testament and handed it to the doctor, requesting that he return it to his mother.
“You will find her name and address in the front of it,” he said. “She gave this Testament to me when I came away.”
Many years passed by. Then one day in the noonday meeting in Fulton Street, New York, a woman with others stood up to give her testimony. She held in her hand this little Testament and told this story. She related how she had received the book from the doctor and how she had continued to pray that some day the eyes of the physician might be opened and that her boy’s prayer might be answered. To the amazement of all present, an aged gentleman suddenly arose and disclosed to the people that he was that physician, and he told how the prayers of the boy had followed him and how, at last, the scales had fallen from his eyes.
You see, the little drummer boy felt that he was a debtor to the Jew because of Jesus, his Saviour. May God grant that we, too, may realize especially in this closing hour of this dispensation, our great debt to this people and seek to discharge it.
I am glad there is a better day coming for Israel. The “Deliverer is coming out of Zion to turn away the ungodliness of Jacob, and all Israel shall be saved.” That is not my theory. That is what God says, and it is true. I am resting on God’s promise for my eternal salvation, and I believe what He says about the Jews as well as what He says about me.
I honestly believe that the fullness of the Gentiles is just about in and that God is soon to reveal Himself to His people, Israel.
I want you to read Acts 15:13-18. There James announced the divine program for the age in which we are living. “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, said the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”