THE DRAMA OF ISRAEL*

 

By D. M. PANTON

 

[*Mr. Pantonís tract was written in September, 1948.]

 

 

THE extraordinary manner in which Palestine - as none of us would have thought possible in our day - fills the horizon of the world, makes it wise for us to master Israel's history, past and to come, so that we may pray aright, speak aright, and act aright concerning the only nation God has ever taken to His heart a nation (Amos 3: 2), and whom He addresses in the Old Testament His Bride yet to be.

 

Zionism

 

Zionism is an urge of nationalism that is sweeping through the Jews of the world. In 1827 there were 500 Jews in Palestine - even that was probably the largest number since Hadrian exiled all Jews from Palestine in the second century: in 1918 there were 50,000; to-day* there are 600,000. Utterances of the Rabbis in the Holy Land reflect this passionate longing for return. "The very air of Palestine,Ē says one Rabbi, ďmakes one wise: to live in Palestine is equal to the observance of all the commandmentsIn the third and fourth centuries they taught that "he that dwelleth in Palestine is without sin." Most terrible of all, the Talmud itself says :- "He that hath his permanent abode in Palestine is sure of the life to come."

 

Godless Israel

 

Jehovah pictures the modern Jew in one of the most terrible parables in the Bible. "The valley was full of bones" - bones dry and scattered, picked clean by vultures; "and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry" (Ezek. 37: 1): "then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel" (ver. 11). For eighteen centuries, Israel has been a fruitless figtree. God said:- "I will even give them up to be tossed to and fro among all the kingdoms of the earth for evil; to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them" (Jer. 24 : 9). Our Lord expresses the truth in the most awful words of all. To the Church in Smyrna He says:- "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan" (Rev. 2 : 9). The Zionists endorse godlessness to the full. A converted Rabbi (Mr. Bergman) says : "I came in contact with many of them - often men of culture - and when I asked them if they thought they were employing the right means, their answer was - 'We have Dr. Herzl, he will lead us.' 'No,' said I, 'let us see what God says,' but their reply was - 'We have nothing to do with God.' One of these rich men told me he was a banker, and had to deal with money day by day. He asked me if I could spell God; and when I did so, he said 'NO, G 0 L D, that is the god I worship.' Such are the leaders of the Zionist movement!" It is a Jew who has created the mightiest anti-God movement on earth, a creed which threatens to swamp the world - KARL MARX.

 

A Forfeited Land

 

The inevitable consequence is rarely seen, even in the Church of God. The returning Jew has forfeited all right to the Holy Land. The Old Testament prophets, from Jeremiah onward, are one increasing protest and warning to Israel that their continued apostasy from Jehovah could have but one result - a total loss of the Holy Land. Their crucifixion of Messiah was the final crash. Calvary was a joint action of Jew and Gentile; but to place it on the Scribes and Pharisees alone, and not on Israel as a whole, is merely an escape from the truth. "All the People answered and said, His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matt. 27: 25). So far from the present return to Palestine being a re-call of God, a restoration of the Holy Land to the Jew, two-thirds of the entire population are yet to be wiped out by the sword (Zech. 13: 8) - an end impossible to a nation brought back by God; and we have already seen in the last few years actually half the race - six millions - blotted out of existence.

 

A Remnant

 

So a critical question at once confronts us. Spiritually, is Israel totally destroyed? Paul answers. "Did God cast off his people? God forbid. At this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom. 11: 1, 5). It is estimated that during the nineteenth century about 224,000 Jews accepted the Christian Faith; and since the first World War 60,000 in Russia, 40,000 in Poland, and 97,000 in Hungary, have come to know their Messiah.

 

Regenerate

 

But the most wonderful development of all remains, God Himself laying down the challenge. After the coming extermination in Palestine, He asks:- "Son of man, can these dead bones live?" (Ezek. 37: 3). God Himself alone can answer the question. "Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live ; and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army" (verses 5, 10). But this is a bodily restoration first. "Lo, there were sinews upon them, and flesh came up, and skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them" (ver. 8). The restoration (as Hengstenberg says) is first an external, political one: all Israel is gathered again into the Holy Land - "the bones came together, bone to his bone : I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, 0 my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel" (verses 7, 12). And Jehovah says He speaks it Of THE WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.

 

All Israel Saved

 

But the physical restoration is to be followed, later, by a spiritual restoration no less complete. The trial of the last days will shock them into repentance. "I will being the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, the Lord is my God" (Zech. 13: 9). The Holy Spirit is the oxygen of man, without which he is a walking corpse: so Jehovah says of the dead bones, - "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes; and ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers" (Ezek. 36 : 27). Or, as Paul puts it, "ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED" (Rom. 11: 26). "It shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people" - the present Zionists - "it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God" (Hos. 1 : 10).

The Greatest Nation

 

It is most remarkable that the Holy Land, as a country and a nation, is to have its prophecies and promises fulfilled as; it has never known them: Jehovah's forecast for Israel is vaster than Israel has ever received. The promise given to Abraham (Genesis 15 : 18) and the boundaries foretold in Ezekiel cover a territory which includes the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, a territory of 1,000,000 square miles - and, in that day, "The desert shall blossom like the rose" (Isaiah 35 : 1) - an area more than sufficient to include England Scotland, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. Palestine, Syria and Transjordania are all in it. Ultimate extension of the boundaries was promised to Moses three times over:- "The Lord thy God shall enlarge thy borders as He said unto thee" - "from the river of Egypt to the uttermost sea shall your coast be." It seems certain that in the coming [millennial] Kingdom, Israel will be the most powerful of all the nations on earth.

 

A Missionary Nation

 

Most wonderful of all is the coming mission of Israel to the world. "Israel," says Isaiah 27 : 6, "shall blossom, and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit." Paul's prophecy is amazing. "If the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but LIFE FROM THE DEAD?" (Rom. 11: 15). Many years ago Edward Bickersteth wrote on a slip of paper "Eight million Jews, eight hundred million heathen, which of these is the more important?" Charles Simeon turned it over, and wrote on the other side - "If the eight million Jews are to be as 'life from the dead' to the eight hundred millions, what then?"The Scripture reveals. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." (Zech. 8 : 23).

 

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FOOTNOTE.

 

Very just is the comment of The Flame. "... men of the world, who do not pose as Christians, have a far clearer insight into the alarming state of the world than the most professing Christians. It is high time for the Church of God to awaken to the fact that the end of the age is upon us, and that the second coming of Christ is at hand."

 

To recognize the approach of the "day of the Lord" is expected of ALL believers. Just as certainly they are warned that they will not know the day or the hour. The good effect of this expectation is illustrated by the aged man who, when asked as to what value his belief in Christís soon coming was in his life, said, "Iím sitting with my feet untangled."

 

From the Mount of Olives comes the clear challenge "Go ye [disciples] into all the world and preach the Gospel ... This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness."