(Isaiah 65-66; 2 Thessalonians 1)
To anyone who believes that God is finished with Israel, I say that you need to read your Bible through a different lens. The popular misconception – willingly construed, it seems, in many instances – is that because Israel was complicit in the death of Jesus, God finally had enough of His Chosen People and unchose them. Among other things, this leads many to reinterpret the Old Testament by declaring that every reference to the nation of Israel is actually to the future New Testament church. Talk about anti-Semitism! This is about as wrong a way of understanding God and the overall Biblical narrative as any ever concocted.
We have only to consider the history of Israel to see the truth. Yes, Israel was rebellious and disobedient throughout her history. Yes, God gave her over to her iniquities time and again to bring judgment upon her. But He also continually promised to restore her. The questions are: Did God restore Israel during the Church Age? Will He bring about a final restoration? To that, we can respond Yes and Yes.
In all of human history, no nation that had been completely destroyed and its people scattered has ever come back into existence. Yet, Israel did. In fact, the reestablishment of her as a nation was an absolute miracle of God. He foretold it, and He brought that prophecy to fulfillment. Isaiah 66:7-9 states:
“Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?’ says the Lord; ‘shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?’ says your God.”
Can anyone dispute that this passage speaks about the rebirth of Israel that miraculously occurred on May 14, 1948? Of course, it’s evident to most of us that this resulting nation is secular, yet God intends to turn the hearts of the people to Him. Among other passages, Zechariah 13:8-9 speaks of this time of redemption that happens at the end of the Tribulation:
“In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.'”
Is God through with Israel? Well, if you can read, it should be evident that the answer is a resounding No!
Let’s return to Isaiah above for what I’d like to convey and analogize in this essay.
The passage speaks of the birth process. In Israel’s case, that had actually occurred over a number of years. God had to shape the circumstances in the world to bring all the necessary pieces of the puzzle into alignment for this one-day fulfillment. World War 1 resulted in the Balfour Declaration. World War 2 resulted in the extreme persecution of the Jews. These events led to the sentiment that Jews needed their own homeland and that it should be where it had historically been in OT times. During these years, many Jews had also returned to that God-forsaken piece of real estate that Mark Twain in his book, Innocents Abroad (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004SQTBKC/) declared:
“The further we went, the hotter the sun got, and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became…. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
“Many are Israel’s forsaken places, and great is the desecration. The more sacred the place, the greater the devastation it has suffered. Jerusalem is the most desolate place of all.”
These returning Jews had a lot of work to do because God had cursed Israel for a time so that no other people would find it a pleasant place to settle.
All this set the stage. The labor of a woman for Israel’s rebirth was the analogy God used. Birth pains had been growing, increasing in intensity. Suddenly, on a single day, through a miraculous set of circumstances, Israel was born on May 14, 1948. God said He would do it, and He did. He did it for a purpose because He wasn’t finished with Israel as a nation. The church was the church; Israel was Israel. Biblically, although there is a joining of believers in faith in Jesus Christ, each is dealt with separately.
Now, consider again what God said in Isaiah 66:9:
“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?’ says the Lord; ‘shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?’ says your God.”
This is a critical point in understanding Bible prophecy. In fact, it is vital for us to realize that when God begins the birth process, He will bring it to completion.
What is the nature of that process? For a woman, when the birth pains begin, they signal the impending event of delivery. The contractions grow closer together and increase in intensity. Eventually, the pain is overwhelming, and birth quickly happens. Once labor begins, it doesn’t stop. A woman does not go into labor and then go out of it. It’s a forward-moving process that must be completed.
Why do I bring this up? How did Jesus describe what would happen at the time of His return? In the Olivet Discourse, He explains the various signs that will take place prior to His coming. In Matthew 24:8, Jesus says:
“All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
All that happens in the run-up to Jesus’ reappearing and inserting Himself again into human history He likens to the birth process. Again, what is that like? As I noted above:
For a woman, when the birth pains begin, they signal the impending event of delivery. The contractions grow closer together and increase in intensity. Eventually, the pain is overwhelming, and birth quickly happens.
When the process begins, there is no stopping it. Times will grow worse; the world will become darker. All necessary circumstances contributing to Jesus’ return will intensify and grow closer together, and they will not relent.
What this means is that there will be no Nineveh revival. There will be no Great Awakening. This side of the Tribulation, there will be nothing that changes the hearts of men in any universal manner. Will there be pockets of people turning to faith in Christ between now and the Rapture? Absolutely. But no worldwide resurgence of belief will halt the inevitable march toward God’s judgment upon this world, i.e., the culmination of birth pains and the delivery of God’s wrath.
Before that happens, the Lord has promised to remove His true church, the Bride of Christ, from this hour of trial that is coming (Revelation 3:10).
This is our blessed hope. Nothing will delay these things because the birth process is in play. The signs are evident and available to all with eyes to see and ears to hear. Soon, and very soon, Jesus will bring us home!
Note: The Lord put it on my heart this year to write a daily essay relating to my practice of Reading Through the Bible in a Year. Last year, that resulted in my producing the Awaken Bible Study Notes, a 4-volume set correlating with each quarter’s readings. This year in my writings, truly through the grace of God, I’m producing the 4-volume Awaken Bible Commentary and Reflections series. Volume 1, which covers January – March (Genesis 1 – Judges 5; Matthew 1 – Luke 7), is now available on Amazon in both paper and Kindle e-book formats at this link:
If these daily writings have been a blessing to you, I hope that you’ll acquire this first book and the subsequent ones as I finish editing them. My intent in all I write is to bring God the glory and to make His people think.
As in the Study Notes from last year, the Commentary and Reflections delve into the prophetic and supernatural nature of God’s Word, a combination you simply won’t find elsewhere. They attempt to show the parallels to our times and the peril from the past when God’s people turn away from Him and His commands. Scripture is very much a blueprint for today.
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is a Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has written many other Christian thrillers that will challenge you, and which you can learn about at his website:www.GaryRitter.com.
Recently, Gary wrote a novella for the new Kindle Vella platform called Tribulation Rising: Seal Judgments – The Coming Apocalypse. This seven-part short work can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z462WD. You can also watch Gary’s video Bible teachings on Rumble at his Awaken Bible Prophecy channel: https://rumble.com/c/c-783217.