The scattering of the Jews
The descendants of Abraham, particularly the Jews, have more than 2,000 years of experience in listening to God. (the 10 tribes who became Israel had around 800 years less time.)
God had them in Leviticus 26 represented a blessing and a curse. A blessing if they would listen to the Lord and a curse as they would not listen to Him.Leviticus 26:14
"But if you will not listen to me...."verse 32
"I will lay waste the land..."verse 33
"I will scatter you among the nations and.... Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins."
Both the 10 tribes (Israel) and the 2 tribes (Judah) have experienced this. Israel did it so bad with God that the Assyrians took then in exile and they never came back (2 Kings 17:13-18). About 130 years later Judah found the same fate (they went to babylon), but as we've seen before they returned lateron to their country, to Jerusalem.
That people of the Jews was still there at the time of Jesus. God came to earth in person. He spoke to the people of Judah. They heard him, but they didn't listen.
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son."
Jahweh, the Word -who later became known as the Son-, had said "But if you do not listen to me ..... then I will scatter you under the nations."
This is what happened when the Jews rejected Christ.
In 70 AD. the Jews were defeated by the Roman 10th legion. The temple was destroyed as Jesus had prophesied:
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.
2 "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
The people were scattered across the earth, (see also Luke 19:41-44)
THE RETURN OF THE JEWS
In 1948 the Jewish State of Israel was (re)established by the returned Jews. Ezekiel 36:1-8 verse 6 "Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: ....( verse 8) you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. (the home coming of the people of Israel).
The land is prepared for the arrival of the people of Israel. The ten tribes are still "lost", nobody knows for sure who they are and where they are.
The Jews throughout the ages have managed to maintain their identity and part of them have founded in 1948 the state of Israel. I am convinced that God's hand is in that. They prepare the country for the big return of the people of Israel and Jews.
THE RETURN OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
Ezekiel 36:17-28 (please read -->)
"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land."
Ezekiel 37:1-14 (please read -->)
In a vision God shows the resurrection of Israel. Ezekiel saw a valley of bones and they were very dry. The Lord said to the bones that "... you will come to life".
These bones are the bones of the entire house of Israel (verse 11). It is not that these people no longer exists, so that only the bones remain, no, they can still say: 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' For God, they are "slain" (verse 9), but He orders the spirit yo breath in them to revive them, "that they may live."
"'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel."
The graves are the countries where they live. These countries hold them down, consciously or unconsciously, but the Lord will make them rise from their graves and bring to the country of Israel.
Ezekiel 37:15-19 (please read -->)
God shows very clearly that He has a plan with the people of Israel. Not only Judah, but also with the 10 tribes (Israel). They will be one in His hand.
"they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms".
When will that happen?
Jeremiah 3:11-18 (please read -->)
God longs for the return of his people Israel to Him.
"'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,'"
"Only acknowledge your guilt--you have rebelled against the LORD your God."
"...I will choose you--one from a town and two from a clan--and bring you to Zion."
"At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD."
"In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance."
The number of returned Israelis is according to Jeremiah 31:8 b: "a great throng." Yet we read in Jeremiah 3
"I will choose you--one from a town and two from a clan".
This does indicate how the people of Israel are scattered. But it has also to do with the great oppression (the tortured to death).
God will execute these plans in a time when Jerusalem will be called: "The Throne of the LORD." Cf. Zechariah 14:9 "The LORD will be king over the whole earth." That will be as Jesus comes back.
And then God says in Jeremiah 3:18 "In those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land".
It is very clear that God, in this time as well, sees two people where He is developing a plan with. The people of Judah and the people of Israel. In the days when Jesus comes back, the people of Judah (the Jews) will go to the people of Israel and together they will go to the land of Israel. This implies that at that time it is revealed who the Israelites are.
"At that time," declares the LORD, "I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people."
When is that "At that time"? The preceding text indicates that: "...In days to come..." (KJV ...in the latter days...).
The Relation Israel - Church
We have seen that God has given prophecies in which He says that the people of Israel will be His people again. He will establish them, He will bring them into the land of Israel. The prophecy was about the return of all the people of Israel. What we see today in Palestine is only a pre-fulfillment. It is only a small part of the Jews that the state of Israel has founded. The vast majority is still scattered over the world. The ten tribes are not even aware that they are the people of God. They do not yet know that they are Israelites. It will be clear to them at the time Jesus comes back. He will restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel which He has kept. But God's plans are bigger ....
"Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: ...And now the LORD says--he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honured in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength--
"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
The plan to bring back the people of Israel to God is in God's eyes a too small task for the Person who takes that task. The greatness of the "servant of the Lord" goes far beyond the task that is only focussed on the people of Israel.
God sets that "Servant of the Lord ... to a light for the Gentiles, that (says he) you bring my salvation to the end of the earth".
This salvation is in none other than Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:10-12 )
In Romans 11 we read that God's people is fallen and ...
"because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles."
They have rejected Jesus Christ.
"their rejection is the reconciliation of the world". Does this mean that the Church of Jesus, the ones from the Gentiles, is now in the place of Israel?
"If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches".
Not all branches are broken away, or even the entire tree, no, only a few branches are broken away. Paul spoke in Romans 3:3 about "some" who have become unfaithful. Some branches are broken away and we are grafted in among the others. In Ephesians 2 from verse 11 Paul speaks on this topic.
"Therefore, remember (he says) that formerly you who are Gentiles ... you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise."
(verse 13 NLT)"You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.."
God's people are not come close to the converted Gentiles, but through Jesus' sacrifice we, Gentiles, come close to God's people. We are as branches grafted on the same root to which the "faithful" of God's people: Israel, grow.
verse 14 NLT
"He (Jesus) united Jews and Gentiles into one people."
verse 15b NLT
"creating in himself one new people from the two groups."
verse 19 AB
"Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God's own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God's [own] household."
What does this mean? This means that what God had in mind for the people of Israel, now is also available for the true believers from the Gentiles. To mention a few points:
- " Theirs is the adoption as sons." This sonship has now come to us too.
- "Theirs...are the covenants" The covenants who He concluded with them, are now concluded with us too.
- "Theirs...are the promises" The promises that God gave them are extended to us.
We do not belong by natural birth to the people of Israel, but by relying on the promises of God. This applies not only us, believers from the Gentiles, but, says Paul in Romans 9, this also applies to Israel itself.
Romans 9:6b-8 NLT
"not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God's people! 7 Being descendants of Abraham doesn't make them truly Abraham's children. For the Scriptures say, "Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted," though Abraham had other children, too. 8 This means that Abraham's physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham's children."
The Israelites which were not broken away are in that respect twice children of Abraham. By descent and by faith. Faith in the promises of God. With them we are made one. For those who trust in God.
We, who are created one, have been part of the juicy roots of the olive. (Romans 11:17)
In Hebrews we read:
"We have come to share in Christ."
" He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."
This promise of the Spirit came to the first believers on Pentecost. Peter holds a speech to all who were in Jerusalem. Peter quotes, in response to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a prophecy of Joel. We can learn important things through that speech about the relationship that exists between the natural people of Israel and the New Testament church. Peter begins as follows:
""Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you.... this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
"'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"
As already said these words come from Joel. Peter knew the books of the Old Testament. And the Holy Spirit gives Peter in his heart to use this prophecy of Joel to show those who listen what is going on.
If we realize that this prophecy, by the Holy Spirit inspired, is used to explain a very important New Testament truth, we should examine this issue well.
Let us think Joel 2:28-32 over. As Peter says "'In the last days", it is not a literal quotation of Joel 2:28. Joel says (and these are the words of God) ""And afterwards...."
So Peter represents a deduction. He believes that "afterwards" refers to "the last of days". This is right as we will see.
When we read in Joel 2:28 : ""And afterwards...", then something must be happened before.
What will happen then?
"Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness....."
In our Dutch translation it is better translated, you can look for yourself at Strong 04175, possible is also: Teacher of righteousness.
So the text could be also translated as:
"Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for has given you the Teacher of righteousness."
That the children of Zion are the inhabitants of Jerusalem proves the follow verses (verse 27). The Teacher of righteous is Jesus. He is the one who will pour out His Spirit (verse 28). (see also Isaiah 48:17)
Then now verse 27.
"never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed." (see also Ezekiel 37:27-28)
This verse shows, what time is meant. It will be the time that Israel is one nation again, and lives in the country, on the mountains of Israel and the Lord will be their God. (cf. Ezekiel 37:22-23). The prophecy of Joel is about that time, the time of the returned Christ. The time that the people of Israel no longer will be shamed. And then says verse 28:
"And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people."
Can we see now that Jesus has returned and that the people of Israel live in peace under his reign?
Is it true that God has poured out His Spirit on "all flesh"? We can proceed in that way. Is it true that the sun has changed into darkness and the moon into blood?
No, this is all not so, and yet .... Yet the Holy Spirit gives Peter this prophecy to show what is going on: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 120 in the upper room.
Does this quotation from Joel mean that we should take all prophecies that have been expressed for the people of Israel are now for the church?
No, but we can learn from the use of this prophecy. When we compare Acts 2 and Joel 2 it shows that the prophecy of Joel, which clearly speaks of the time the Messiah will reign as king, a kind of pre-fulfillment was at Pentecost as it described in Acts 2.
Joel talks about the outpouring of God's Spirit on all flesh at the time of Jesus' kingdom on earth. Notice also the word 'of' my Spirit.
Acts speaks of an outpouring of God's Spirit upon them who accepted Jesus as King in their hearts. (It is initially only for 120 persons).
There is another prophecy mentioned in the New Testament that makes clear how the case is.
"The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
11 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest."
This prophecy comes from Jeremiah 31:31-34. Again we see that it is a prophecy, which is addressed to Israel and used to make a New Testament truth clear to the church. Again we see that the prophecy originally intended for Israel and especially meant for the time the remnant of Israel will be returned. The whole chapter of Jeremiah 30 and 31 is about this.
When the Messiah will take the government, He will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Verse 34 again makes clear that this refers to a future time. Because it is clear that not everybody knows the Lord (a knowing what comes from learning).
We Christians can say that God is our God and that we are His people. (See also 2 Corinthians 6:16).
We also know that the Lord says to us:
"I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."
But it is just as partially fulfilled the prophecy of Joel.
Both prophecies were originally intended to the last days, in particular that is the time of the return of Jesus, and both have a pre-fullment in the church. Both are meant for those who accept the kingship of Jesus Messiah and they are spoken to his people, the Israelites. But both prophecies are pre-fulfilled in those who accepted the kingship of Jesus in their hearts.
The Kingdom, where Jesus preached about shows -as with many things in the Bible- to be worked out in a duality. God's kingdom in our hearts and God's kingdom at His time on this earth.
What do we mean?
God's plans are, as we have seen before, ever performed in a duality.
For example: The first Adam and second Adam.
God's people Israel and God's people the church.
The earthly and the heavenly promised land.
The earthly and heavenly sacrificial offering. etc. etc.
Under "pre-fulfilled" we mean that if the first part of God's plan is implemented, i.e. the terrestrial part in the above examples, it is a pre-fulfillment of the second part of God's plan, in this case the spiritual part.
Let's see if this theory in the N.T. is confirmed. Hebrews 9 speaks of the sanctuary on earth, and the sanctuary in heaven. Verse 9 says that the earthly sanctuary and everything related was a symbol or a picture for the present time. What God wanted to make clear what in the heavenly sanctuary would happen, He has pre-fulfilled in the earthly sanctuary. Does that mean that the earthly sanctuary had no value for Israel, or that it existed only in their mind? No, of course not. It is indeed true and it had great value, only the ultimate fulfillment of God's plan was much bigger and more ambitious than the pre-fulfillment. Compared to the sacrifice of Jesus any other sacrifice, how much there have been, are insignificance beside.
Also in Hebrews is a story of pre-fulfillment recorded: the entering in the promised land. The promised land is here identified with the peace that God gives. Israel needed rest had after its wanderings through the desert. The promised land would give them that rest.
They could not get into that rest, in that promised land, because they had been disobedient by believing the scouts more than believing God.
This example, this pre-fulfillment, is also for us important as the Hebrews writer says:Hebrews 4:11
"Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no-one will fall by following their example of disobedience."
Our promised land is the heavenly homeland, the place where God lives.
we are "fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household."
When Israel finally entered the promised land they fulfilled at that time God's plan on a earthly level. We Christians fulfill God's plan on a spiritual level, if we be serious about that.
One last example.
Israel should enter the promised land and purify it from the godless people. (Deuteronomy 7:1-6)
We must realize that if we enter the heavenly regions, we have to fight against the forces that are predominant. (FROM Ephesians 6:10-18)
It is not that that duality in God's plans stops. It does not stop at an earthly people as pre-fulfillment of a spiritual people, i.e. Israel-Church. It goes on. In all of God's plans is that example function. We have already looked to the two biblical parts where we saw that the promise was not fully developed.
Peter talked about the outpouring of the Spirit as if it was in detail what God had promised through Joel. But we have already seen that this was not the case. The Spirit of God was not, and still is not poured out on all flesh. Also the second discussed part of Hebrews 8 clearly shows that this prophecy is not fully fulfilled. It is not that everyone knows the Lord, is it?
If we think this all over we see that Israel had an example function to the Christians. God's plans were pre-fulfilled in Israel. From the above texts of Acts 2 and Hebrews 8, we see that we, Christians, on our turn again are a model to a people who later will participate fully in these promises. That people, that will come later, will receive fully the Spirit of God with the corresponding force. They will all know the Lord.
Thus we see that God works out His plans on multiple levels.
- The nation Israel became God's people. It remained an earthly people, and had no part in God's Spirit.
- God's people what actually is of a higher level, are the Christians. They are "in the flesh", just as naturally as the Israelites, but they, the Christians have received God's Spirit and are therefore spiritually, though this spirituality is only partly.
- When Jesus comes back we will all be changed to spiritual beings and be like Him.
- Then, the earthly people of Israel will come at a higher level, but not equal to the church as it is now (on the one hand natural -flesh-, on the other hand limited spiritual), but they will all be full of God's Spirit, and all they will know the Lord. Nobody will need to be taught about the Lord, because even the children will know him. This period lasts at least 1,000 years.