The Re-Engrafted Olive

 

The sight of a Jew - and where in all the earth do we not behold a Jew? - ought to move a Gentile heart to its depths.  For in every Jew we see a dead branch of the oldest life-stock in the world, that once throbbed, and shall yet throb again, close to the heart of God.  In every Jew we behold a walking sepulchre of privilege.  The synagogue and its ruins are God's object-lesson for the church: "for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will He spare thee" (Rom. 11: 21).  In every Jew we see a soul whom it is more natural to save than it is a Gentile. "Thou " - the Gentile - "wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree."  Every Jew should remind us of the living miracle of our salvation; that the marvel of the ages is not the salvation of the Jew, but my salvation, a hopeless, Godless sinner of the Gentiles.  No peculiar love rested on any but Jewish 'fathers'; none but Jewish hands have offered sacrifices to God since the first paschal lamb; no knowledge of Jehovah for two thousand years saturated any but Jewish hearts: and yet I am saved, and he is lost.  "Branches were broken off, THAT I MIGHT BE GRAFTED IN."

 

All Europe witnessed in 1907 a profoundly suggestive drama.  Two congresses sat side by side at the Hague; a congress of Gentiles, representing forty-seven nations, and a congress of Jews, gathered from all lands ; the Gentile congress to restore peace to the earth, and the Hebrew congress to restore the Jew to the Holy Land.  Among all the forty-seven nations there was not one solitary Jew; for peace to the Jew does not enter into Gentile dreams; and the originator of the Peace Congress was the Tsar Nicholas II., under whom, perhaps, more Jewish blood has been shed than under any sovereign since the fall of Jerusalem.  The incident is singularly dramatic and impressive.

 

The great bulk of Israel - the Broken Branches have, for two thousand years, been found amongst (so-called) Christian nations.  Why?  Because the Jew has been lifted up before the eyes of Christendom as a perpetual warning of Divine severity. "Behold" - says the Holy Ghost - "the severity of God."  It has been severity indeed. Hear the wail of the Jew himself, as voiced by a French Rabbi of the sixteenth century.  He cries:- "To which part of the world shall I turn to find healing for my wound?  Among the riches and enjoyments of happy Asia I find myself a heavy-laden pilgrim.  In sunburnt Africa, rich with gold, I am a wretched, starving exile.  And thou Europe, my hell upon earth, what shall I say of thee?  It is the lot of every creature to experience change; but with Israel it is not so; his misfortune never changes, his sorrow never ends."!  Another witness, Kunz - a famous Jew - says:- "If there are ranks in suffering, Israel takes precedence of all the nations; if the duration of sorrows and the patience with which they are born ennoble, the Jews are among the aristocracy of every land; if a literature is called rich in the possession of a few classic tragedies, what shall we say to a national tragedy lasting 1300 years, in which the poets and the actors are also the heroes?  Now look at the severity a little more in detail  ‘Beginning from Jerusalem’: for as the mercy, so the severity, begins at the Holy City.  During the siege of Jerusalem, by Titus, more than a million Jews perished: those who survived - something like 900,000 - were sold into all lands as slaves, many thousands being sold into Egypt to work in the mines and quarries.  In every city through which Titus passed, on his triumphal return to Rome, hundreds of Jewish youths were compelled, in public shows, to fight with one another, or with wild beasts, until death; and his triumphal car, in Rome itself was drawn by 700 selected youths of Israel.  The holy vessels of the Temple, the golden candlestick, the table of the shewbread and the sacred roll of the law were carried away to Rome: the vessels which once, as Uzzah found, it was death to touch, and before which whole nations trembled, Jehovah had withdrawn for ever.  Judea itself was made into little better than a wilderness: at the yearly market, by Abraham's Oak at Hebron, a Jewish slave fetched no more than the price of a horse: and, perhaps worst of all, a temple to Jupiter arose on Mount Moriah itself, and Jews were forbidden on pain of death to come within sight of the Holy City.  It is computed that two-thirds of the nation were thus cut off: so terribly were our Lord's words fulfilled, - "He sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned their city " (Matt. 22: 7).  Dr. Gaster says: "I went through the pass near Beyrout, called the Naar-el-kelb, the 'dog river,' because the mouth of the river looks like the head of a dog.  On the side of one of these mountains you find inscriptions of all the invaders who passed through Palestine - Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Napoleon. If you close your eyes, and listen to the waters, it is as if you could hear the wailing of our people." "BEHOLD THE SEVERITY OF GOD!"

 

We turn to the Middle Ages: but how impossible to do more than touch upon the mediaeval sufferings of Israel!  A badge of shame was placed upon them; in some lands it was a wheel-shaped patch of red or yellow or many-coloured cloth, worn on the breast; in others, it was a square patch fixed on the shoulder or hat; in others it was a T, or truncated cross.  They were confined, like caged beasts, to a Ghetto, the gates of which were shut every night. Every land shared, sooner or later, in Jew-baiting, in crushing Israel; there is no soil that has not been stained with Jewish blood.  In France 100,000 Jews were exiled at a day's notice, with only the clothes they wore, and one day's provisions; in Switzerland all the Jews on the shores of the Lake of Geneva were burnt alive; in York, England, of a community of 500 not one remained alive - all were massacred - and 16,000 were banished from British shores; in Germany, at Strasbourg 2,O00 souls, the entire Jewish community, were dragged to an immense scaffold, which was then set on fire; in Spain, in the first year of the Inquisition alone, 2,000 Jews were burnt, and ultimately 400,000 were exiled; in Poland 6,000 perished in a day.  And all this befell the Jews, not as rioters, or revolutionists, or as a social peril, but as Jews: throughout the Middle Ages their morality and peaceableness is never impeached, yet as Jews they were given to the gibbet and the stake. "BEHOLD THE SEVERITY OF GOD!"

 

Finally, it is startling to observe that to-day, as for the last nineteen centuries, God's anger - in the words of the Psalmist - still 'smokes' against Israel.  Remembering that half Israel is in Russia, hear this cry of only six years ago. The late Chief Rabbi, Dr. Adler, received this letter from a well-known rabbi in Russia:- "By the blood of 20,000 who have been slain, and of 100,000 who have been wounded and who are hovering between life and death, and by the cry of millions of Jews who have been left helpless, homeless, and in danger of death by starvation, and by our bitter cries for our Holy Torah, we call unto you 'Chiefs of the Jews, kind-hearted as you are, messengers of Providence.  For you have the power to rescue the remnant of the children of Israel from murder, destruction and utter ruin.  You have the power to say to the Destroying Angel, 'Stay thy hand.’"

 

“The patients I found in hospital," Mr. Samuel Wilkinson says, "after the massacre of 1903, were mostly suffering from head wounds inflicted by rough tools in peasant hands; a great number on this occasion were suffering from bullet-wounds, and the wounds in most cases were made by the regulation bullet of the Russian Army." In Roumania a great tract of country has recently been ablaze, and Jews assaulted and their homesteads destroyed: for the first time the masses of the Roumanian peasantry have been successfully stirred up against the Jewish population.  From Podul-lloiae, in Roumania, Jews sent the following telegram to the King:- "With profound grief we implore, the mercy of your Majesty to save our lives.  A peaceful and quiet population has suddenly been reduced to extreme poverty by bands of devastators organized by instigators.  Our property has been destroyed and our lives are in danger."

 

On these fresh outbursts Lord Rosebery wrote :- "Humanity stands appalled by the latest and darkest phase of the long, terrible story of Jewish persecution. For it is, perhaps, in Great Britain alone of all the countries of Europe, that the Jews meet with loyal and equal treatment. Elsewhere they are but tolerated, or lampooned, or degraded, or massacred."  "BEHOLD"- before our eyes to-day - "THE SEVERITY OF GOD!"

 

But why such severity?  The answer is extremely simple.  God said it would happen, if they rejected Him: and it happened. "By their unbelief they were broken off."  The depth of the suffering is some slight guage of the enormity of the sin.  Israel cannot explain how God, in the short seventy years' eclipse in Babylon, gave so brilliant a constellation of prophecy - Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah - while yet, in a nearly two-thousand-year night of hopeless exile, no prophet has been given to Israel, since the grave of Him who wept over Jerusalem was sealed.  "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, that all these curses shall come upon thee.  And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of thy foot: but the Lord shall give thee there A TREMBLING HEART, AND FAILING OF EYES, AND PINING OF SOUL, AND THY LIFE SHALL HANG IN DOUBT BEFORE THEE; AND THOU SHALT FEAR NIGHT AND DAY, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning!" (Deut. 28: 15, 65-67).

 

Nevertheless we Gentiles are but temporarily engrafted branches.  "Some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them; glory not over the branches."  The life-stock is Israel.  All ancient revelation reached the world through Jews; the Root Himself, when He appeared, was a Jew; the Oil of the Olive flowed out into all lands from the upper room of a Jew; and the salvation of the world awaits the re-engrafted branches of the Jew.  "Some of the branches were broken off"; but some were not, for God's Olive is an imperishable evergreen: so today, a Christian, as Lord Beaconsfield said, is a completed Jew; and a converted Jew is only a branch restored to its own life-stock.  "For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and was grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: HOW MUCH MORE SHALL THESE, WHICH ARE THE NATURAL BRANCHES, BE GRAFTED INTO THEIR OWN OLIVE TREE?"

 

So the Broken Branches are to be restored to the Olive Tree at last.  O the depth of the wisdom which can exalt a Gentile over a Jew, and yet so as to humble him for ever; and the depth of the knowledge - which knew how, out of the fall of earth's best, to bring salvation to earth's worst!  In every Jew we see the great mercy of God.  He is the dead branch into whose wounded socket I was planted.  "As ye [Gentiles] in time past were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience, even so have these also now been disobedient, THAT BY THE MERCY SHOWN TO YOU THEY ALSO MAY NOW OBTAIN MERCY."  Amazing truth! it is in the wounds inflicted by sin that God plants the blessings of Heaven.  The rushing river of mercy, finding in its path an immovable rock, only flows off into other lands to make still wealthier reservoirs of blessing.  So at last, from the infidel or apostate Gentile, mercy flows back to Israel.  "As touching the Gospel they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake.  AND SO ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED For God has made Israel the pivot of the salvation of the world.  Whatever happens to the Jew brings blessing to the world.  "For if the casting away of them" - the breaking off of the branches - "is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be" - the re-engrafting of the broken branches - "but LIFE FROM THE DEAD?"  As out of the coffin of the Pharisee sprang the life of the Gentile, so out of the faith of the Ghetto will spring the First Resurrection and the Kingdom.  Well may the devout Jew pray (as he does) daily;- "I believe with a perfect faith, in the coming Messiah, and I will wait for Him."

 

Meanwhile, is not Israel's plight enough to melt a heart of stone?  It is judgment righteously incurred: yet is that not just the spot in which the prodigal is met?  O the pathos of lost Israel!  "Thus saith the Lord, there is none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: all thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not: it is Zion, whom no man seeketh after" (Jer. 30: 13).  A hardening but a hardening only "IN PART" - hath befallen Israel.  A Jew in Dusseldorf was attracted to a meeting by the singing.  It happened to be a Christian gathering on behalf of Jews; and when the Jew saw a whole Christian assembly on its knees in prayer for Israel the truth came home to his heart "That day," he says - revealing the fact for the first time thirty-six years after - "was a Damascus day to me."  One hour's prayer for Israel had changed an Israelite's life for eternity.

 

-------

 

No portents now their foes amaze,

Forsaken Israel wanders lone;

Their fathers would not know Thy ways,

And Thou hast left them to their own.

“But O, when stoops on Judah's path,

In shade or storm, the frequent night,

Be Thou - long-suffering, slow to wrath –

A burning and a shining light.”