15 Feb 2021

A Remarkable Story

Isaiah 11:11-12 is an astonishing passage, because in it, God lays out in some detail what He will do for the Jewish people at a pivot moment in history.

In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.

He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.

A second time.

I once debated a preterist on this and other points, regarding the relevance of modern Jews to their ancient history and their future history. So many people want to miss the significance of Jews in history.

I am convinced—and have been for some time—that many modern American professing Christians despise the Jews and Israel. Some are indifferent, which is almost worse. They have been taught from the seminaries and pulpits that the Exodus was Hebrew legend. Or that Abraham was a mythical figure. Or that the promises God made to the Jews in the Old Testament have in fact been transferred to Christian gentiles, due to the Jews’ collective rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.

But nowhere in Scripture do you find any such transfer of promises. You do find it in the hearts of professing Christians that loathe Jews. I’ve seen it countless times, perceived it from conversations, read about it. I’ve had many, many conversations with people that say they have theological problems with “Christian Zionism.”

In fact, I believe in every instance that they simply do not like Jews or the Jewish state.

It’s pretty clear from Scripture that the return of the Babylonian exiles in the sixth century B.C. was not the great end times regathering that soaks through every page of the Old Testament. That was the first return, and a very partial one at that. Not even all the Jewish captives returned after 70 years in Babylon. It was only in the last half century that most of Iraq’s Jews were expelled.

What do we make of Jeremiah 31:8?

See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth.

What we make of it is the same thing we make of Isaiah 11. God fully intended and intends to gather His Chosen in a great, dramatic last days return to the land of their forefathers. He does this for many reasons, not the least of which is found in Ezekiel 39:6—

 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.

The reason is to magnify His own precious name. To show the world that yes, the Creator God exists and still acts in the affairs of men.

Perhaps Deuteronomy 30:1-3 is the most epic statement of all:

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.

This is extraordinary! Here God is telling the Jewish people under the leadership of Moses what will happen to them far into the future!

He is calling something out far ahead of its due date.

A modern story I love involves the great “shootout” football game of 1969 between unbeaten Arkansas and Texas. The winner would be named national champion.

Near the end, with Arkansas up 14-8 on their own field, Texas faced a fourth down, in their own side of the field. Primarily a running (wishbone) team, Texas rarely threw the ball. Everyone in the stadium expected All-American fullback Steve Worster to get the ball right up the middle.

So head coach Darrell Royal called a deep pass to his tight end! Quarterback James Street faked to Worster, then dropped back to throw. He hit Randy Peschel far downfield and Texas scored two plays later to win.

In the chaotic locker room later, someone asked Royal who called the dramatic fourth-down play.

“I called it, and I called it long,” Royal said.

I love it. The wily old coach wanted everyone to know he had done something literally no one would have expected, on the biggest stage. Even Street, on his way back to the huddle after a timeout to confer about the epic call, stopped halfway and turned to Royal: “Are you sure, coach?” Royal waved him on.

On an infinitely bigger stage, God has done the same thing. He has literally called prophecy “long,” because some of the fulfillment was intended for thousands of years into the future. After “many days” as Ezekiel recorded.

The remarkable story of the ingathering of Jewish exiles in our day signals that we are in the last days, and I would say this is the primary reason I believe we are in that time. All other things aside.

You live in the time that the Jews have re-entered history! This should give you great confidence and peace, especially in our time.

Rest in this marvelous truth.