THE BENEFITS TO ABRAHAM AND HIS FLESHLY SEED
OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL UNDER THE
COVENANT OF CIRCUMCISION
The Remnant's Return in This Gospel Day
It is a self-evident truth that the predictions of the New Testament concerning the latter days are amplified and illumined in the New Testament. Not a single prophecy can be quoted from the New Testament even from those parts of it which speak specially of God's favor to the Jews (such as Romans chapters 9 to 11), in which there is any mention of a personal return of the Jews to Palestine. Hengstenberg (Christol, 3.64, English translation) owns that:
"It must be conceded that we have no right to appeal to the
letter of the Old Testament in support of such theories as the
return of the Jews to Canaan; a practice which is the more
indefensible, as the New Testament is altogether silent on
the subject of any such return."
This would be unaccountable, if God had designed such a return. The prophecies of Holy Scripture become clear and clearer as they advance from the domain of the Old Testament into the New. And if such a return were intended in the Old Testament, and were yet to be expected, it is certain that we should have distinct predictions of it in the New Testament. But not only is the New Testament silent as to any such return, but it even looks with an air of indifference on the local Jerusalem of the future. Our Lord Himself classes it with Gerizim (John 4:21). This would be unaccountable if such results as a literal return of all the Jews to Jerusalem, as their religious centre, were to be expected. When the New Testament was written, the meaning or these prophecies, as far as they were to be understood literally, had received a subordinate accomplishment in the return of the Jews from Babylon under Zerubabbel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, aided by the prophets, Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi. If that restoration .was not complete, the fault was in Israel itself. Henceforth these predictions were to be understood in their higher and larger sense; in a spiritual and more permanent meaning; and the New Testament takes up these prophecies, and enhances their beauty, and sheds new light upon them.
The return from Babylon, fulfilling the prophecy of Isa. 11:10-16 to the seed of Abraham after the flesh, in their deliverance from a national and temporal captivity, foreshadowed these gospel times in which we live. Acts 3: 24 -- "Yet, and ALL the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of THESE days." This is seen in the prophet's reference to "that day" (Isa. 11:10, 11; 12:1, 4), in which a "root of Jesse shall stand for an ensign of the people". The prophet Isaiah gave hope to the elect who were of faith within the nation of the coming of the Messiah "whose rest shall be glorious" (Isa. 11:10).
The New Testament explains and applies the prophecies of Israel's restoration from captivity to these gospel times, or day of grace in which we live (Isa. 52:11; Jer. 30:18-24; compare 2 Cor. 6:17, 18). The former restoration of Israel from Egypt, and the latter from Babylon are typical of the return of the elect among the Jews to Jesus Christ their Messiah in this day of salvation and that from their personal and spiritual captivity to sin and to Satan (John 8:34-36; 2 Tim. 2:26; Acts. 26:18). And all such, not only from the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah, but also from the Gentile nations, find in Jesus Christ a "rest" that is glorious. Matthew 11:28 -- "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." When the election of grace from among the Jews (Acts 2: 39) and the Gentiles (Acts 13:48) are effectually called by the Holy Spirit to faith in Christ Jesus, neither the one nor the other care about any earthly inheritance. They confess that they are "strangers and pilgrims" in the is world ( 1 Pet. 2:11), having here "no continuing city" but rather that they "seek one to come" (Heb. 13: 14).
The real and spiritual intent of the prophecy of Isaiah 11:11, especially in that aspect that speaks of the Lord setting "his hand AGAIN the SECOND time to recover the remnant of his people" in the times of the Messiah is beautifully expounded by Christian Wordsworth in a note on this passage.
"The prophecy of Isaiah 11:11 began to be fulfilled on the Day
of Pentecost, when 'Jews, devout men out of every nation under
heaven,' who had come up to Jerusalem to the Feast, were
evangelized by St. Peter and the other Apostles, filled with the
Holy Ghost, and were received by baptism into Christ's Church,
and so RETURNED HOME to God in Christ, THE MIGHTY
GOD (Isa 10:20,21). This beginning of the fulfillment of the
prophecy is marked by the names of the nations from which
they came, as enumerated in the history of that great RETURN
of Israel, in the Acts of the Apostles (see on Acts 2:8), which
corresponds nearly to their names here. ASSYRIA, the great
worldly enemy of Judah, is placed first; then PATHROS, Upper
Egypt; CUSH, Ethiopia; ELAM, Elymais, in southern Media;
SHINAR, the land on the Euphrates and Tigris; HAMATH, in
Syria, at the northern foot of Lebanon; THE ISLANDS OF THE
SEA (see Gen. 10:5); Italy, Greece, and other lands on the coast
of the Mediterranean, and in the far West ... Compare St. Peter's
words to the dispersed of Israel in his first Epistle, where he
evidently regards the conversion of the Jews to Christianity, and
their reception as God's peculiar people into Christ's Church
(with a hope of passing from it to the eternal inheritance of the
heavenly Canaan), as their RETURN to-their HOME (1 Pet. 1:4;
2:9). 1 Peter 2 :25 -- "For ye WERE as sheep going astray, but
are NOW RETURNED to the Shepherd and Bishop of your
souls." St. John confirms this spiritual interpretation of' these
prophecies when he speaks of' Christ as not only dying for the
nation (of the Jews), but as gathering together into one the
children of God that were scattered abroad (John 11:52)."
Thus Isaiah 11:11 prophesies the return of a remnant from Babylon, and the recovery of a remnant throughout this gospel era to faith in Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah. Dr. B. H. Carroll says in his volume on The Acts, page 306·:
"The New Testament shows that the restoration of the Jews is
the conversion of the Jews; that it is a spiritual restoration, and
that the Jerusalem they come into is the heavenly Jerusalem,
and not the earthly Jerusalem, and that the old Jewish polity
will never be set up."
We here quote John Calvin on Isaiah 11:14:
"The Jews, who dream of an earthly kingdom of Christ
interpret all this in a carnal sense, and apply it to I know
not what external power; but they ought rather to judge
it according to the nature of Christ's kingdom. Partly, no
doubt, the accomplishment of this prediction was seen
when the Jews returned from captivity, and God brought
them into moderate prosperity, contrary to the wish and
in spite of the opposition of all neighbouring nations; but
believers were led to expect a more splendid victory,
which they at length obtained through the preaching of
the Gospe1. "
It is admitted by those who teach a distinct hope for the Jewish nation apart from the "one hope" of the gospel, that there is nothing in the New Testament to support that doctrine. It is acknowledged that the New Testament will be searched in vain for any statement to the effect that, when the day of grace is ended and the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven in flaming fire, He will convert the whole Jewish nation then on earth, and re-establish them in Palestine. This admission that the doctrine we are discussing is not found in the New Te3tament is fatal to it. If the national restoration of the earthly Israel were part of' the program of the Second Advent, Paul would surely have proclaimed it when put on trial as to his teaching CONCERNING THIS VERY MATTER, first before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, and then successively before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. On all these four occasions the apostle maintained, and at the peril of his life, that the "hope of Israel" was A RADICALLY DIFFERENT THING from what the Jewish leaders supposed. The doctrine of national restoration for the Jewish nation at the beginning of the next dispensation, is DIRECTLY CONTRARY to the plain teaching of the New Testament as a whole, and consequently must be contrary to the Old Testament also; since there can be no disagreement between the two. Philip Mauro in his book The Hope of Israel shows that the one and only gospel, with its "one hope" for all mankind is the one and only hope of Israel.
''We affirm with all possible emphasis that for those who now
reject the offer of God's mercy in the gospel of His grace there
is NO SECOND CHANCE. This is the truth of God as revealed
in every part of the New Testament. It applies to Jews and
Gentiles alike; for there is absolutely "no difference" of any
sort, kind, or description. All are in precisely the same
condemnation; and likewise, to each and all, the gospel of
Christ offers precisely the same salvation, with PRECISELY
THE SAME ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES FOR ALL WHO
REFUSE IT. "For," says the apostle," we have before proved
BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES that they are all UNDER SIN"
(Rom. 3:9) and from that starting point of perfect equality in
guilt ("ALL THE WORLD guilty before God") he proceeds to
declare the ONE GROUND of pardon FOR ALL, "the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus", and the ONE CONDITION
upon which it is bestowed, "through faith in His blood" (Rom.