Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 11, Part 3

Chapter XI
Part 3
Israel's Second Recovery
     The prophecy of Isaiah 11:11 seems to refer to a recovery of a remnant of His people in the days of the Messiah in the light of the context (verse 10); the first recovery being their deliverance from the Babylonian cap­tivity. If' this is the correct interpretation of Isaiah 11: 11 how shall we understand the second recovery in the days of the Messiah? It is generally held by dispensat­ionalists that Israel will return to their own land in unbelief in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies such as this one in Isaiah 11:11. They will rebuild their temple in Jerusalem and re-establish their system of animal sacrifices. They will be converted as a nation, accepting Christ en masse when they see Him coming in glory. At His coming Jesus will establish them in world supremacy and as their Davidic sovereign, will exercise his Messianic reign over the earth through a universal Jewish hegemony of the nations. These ideas are all related. They stem from the same basic concept: viz., that Israel still occupies the position of a favored nation with God, and that God deals with them on differ­ent terms from other peoples. In spite of its current popularity, God's Word teaches no such program for the future of Israel. The Bible makes it plain that while under the Old Covenant Israel was indeed a chosen nation, and stood in peculiar relation to God, yet this Old Covenant was done away in Christ (2 Cor. 3), who intro­duced a New Covenant, based on an entirely different principle, that of universal love and grace. Today God recognizes no special nation above others, but deals with all on equal and the same terms. He deals with men on the basis of faith, not nationality (Rom. 3:29, 30). In this fact lies the whole meaning of the New Testament, the basic difference between the two covenants. It is true that under the New Covenant God has a people peculi­arly His own, but it is the church of Christ; a nation born not of blood but of the Spirit, including represen­tatives of every nationality under the sun (1 Peter 2:9, 10).
     What has become, then, of the nation that formerly was the people of God? God has rejected that people from their proud position. First, because of their national unbelief and unfaithfulness; and second, because of their national rejection of God's Son, their Messiah (Matt. 23: 37, 38). Our Lord told the haughty rulers the parable of the wicked husbandmen and their rejection from the husbandry of God's vineyard. Read Matthew 21:33-45 and note the application of the parable in verse 43: "Therefore the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." What is this new, fruit-bearing nation of God, that has now become the custodian of the kingdom vineyard, if it is not the Christian brotherhood of born again ones? Mark the words in this parable "last of all" (Matt. 21:37). That was the last thing the Lord of the vineyard could do for that people, as a people. When they rejected His Son, He could do no more for the vineyard. Nothing could more plainly show that in the rejection of Christ the Jewish nation filled up the cup of its iniquity. Christ's parable is the counterpart of Isaiah 5: 1-7 where Isaiah records the song "touching his vineyard". In this song the Lord asks, "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I
have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes , brought it forth wild grapes?" This has been characteristic of Israel's national history throughout (2 01ronicles 36:14-16). The last thing God could do was to send them His Son, but they killed Him, and when they did this, He could do no more. And now, says the Lord of the vineyard, I will tell you what I wi11 do: I will "take away the hedge," "break down the wall," let it be "trodden down," "lay it waste," permit "briers and thorns" to come up upon it, and "rain no rain upon it." This language means utter rejection, and it applies when the Son had been cast out of the vineyard and slain. The Jewish nation will never again be God's people, that is, AS A NATION. For the Jewish nation to be restored, there would have to be another God, for the God of heaven acknowledged that He had done all He could; He could do no more! (Isa. 5:4-6). Hence, the popular program for the future of Israel is contrary to the whole spirit and meaning of the New Testament and must be rejected, re­gardless of how many specious arguments or what multitude of proof-texts may be offered in its behalf. Quoting a thousand proof-texts, if that were possible, could not establish a point that is out of harmony with the whole spirit of Christianity. Thus the above mentioned program of the dispensationalists for the future of Israel rests upon a flimsy foundation, and does not reflect the prophetic Word of God but the carnal expectations of apostate Jews. Israel no longer occupies the position of a "favored nation" with God. Her career as the chosen people is a drama on which the curtain has been rung down forever. By demolishing the root of the system we very effectively dispose of the tree. Therefore, the second recovery of a remnant in the days of the Messiah must be fulfilled while the Old Covenant still stood, or else some other explanation must be given it and kindred Old Testament prophecies.
     Moses had forewarned Israel of the consequences of disobedience: Deut. 8:18-20 -- "As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish, be­cause ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God." Joshua repeated this warning and added a pro­phecy of its fulfillment in Joshua 23:15, 16 -- "Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you; so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you. When you have transgressed the coven­ant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them: then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you." Israel failed to keep these warnings and the Lord cried out against them through Jeremiah the Prophet (Jeremiah 19:1-12). Jeremiah 19:11, 12 -- "Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, and shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts (let the preacher of the restora­tion of the Jewish nation note particularly the language): Even so will I BREAK this PEOPLE, and this CITY, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, THAT CANNOT BE MADE WHOLE AGAIN... Thus will I do unto this place ... and to the in­habitants thereof." That is the language of finality: "EVEN SO (as Jeremiah had broken the bottle, and we can well imagine he made a good job of it) will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again." It was the kind of break that cannot be mended. The Jews' returning to Palestine now will not mend the potter's vessel; nor will it be mended by the improvement of the land of Palestine; nor even by their present form of government. This pro­phecy teaches in the most striking and emphatic way that the Jewish nation AS A NATION, will never be restored to God's favor, that David's literal throne will never be re-established in old Jerusalem. We are truly living in the last days, and there are many signs of Christ's Second Advent; but the Zionist movement and the gathering of some Jews to Palestine should be looked upon by the believer in the Second Advent of Christ, as one of Satan's false signs. It is Satan's work to deceive.
     Prior to and during the captivity, various prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others -- prophesied of a gracious return from that captivity. God would give Israel another opportunity to comply with the conditions He had laid down in Moses' day, when He had brought them out of the land of Egypt. But this was to be the last chance for that people, AS A NATION. The Israelites were given a time limit. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people," is the word of prophecy (Daniel 9:24). Seventy prophetic weeks were allotted to that nation, to fulfill their part of their agreement with the Lord that they would obey Him. Now instead of their complying with all the conditions that God had laid down, what did Israel do? That nation went so far from God that it re­jected Christ and his gospel, and brought about his crucifixion (Acts 3:13-15; 7:52), and thereby filled up the cup of its iniquity; and that nation was rejected for­ever as the people of God. The apostle Paul, speaking of the Jews, says: -- "Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they PLEASE NOT GOD, and are contrary, to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, TO FILL UP THEIR SINS ALWAY: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thess. 2:15, 16). They "cut off" their Messiah, and God cut them off as a nation and ter­minated the Old Covenant which was the only basis of such a relationship.
     Cecil J. Lowry in his booklet entitled 'Whither Israeli?" says:
     "The year 70 A.D. saw the 'rejected Stone' fall upon Mosaic
     Israel and grind her Old Covenant political and religious
     economy to powder (Matt. 21 :44). There is no indication
     that the Almighty intended a future restoration of the
     'powder' of temporal Israel. Spiritually, temporal Israel was
     as barren as the fig-tree {Matt. 21:19). The Old Covenant
     economy died from its roots never to bring forth fruit
     'henceforth FOR EVER' (Matt. 21:19). This does not sound
     as if God intended to make Mosaic Israel a fruitful tree at
     some future date. It was because Old Covenant Israel was a
     'lifeless carcass,' dead morally, spiritually, and judicially,
     that Jesus consigned it to the ·'beaks and claws of the Roman
     eagles' (Matt. 24:28). At the time of the writing of the book
     of Hebrews, the writer knew that the 'carcass' of the Old
     Covenant economy would so on vanish before the Roman
     army (Heb. C:13); he did not anticipate its reoccurrence
     under Divine guidance either in whole or in part."
Therefore, there seems no escaping the conclusion of Philip Mauro, in his book entitled "The Hope of Israel: What is it?", pp. 141, 1,4,2 where he states:
     "When we have set aside, FIRST, all the Old Testa­ment
     prophecies concerning Israel that have already been fulfilled;
     SECOND, all that were conditional in character and hence
     have become null and void for failure by the Jews to perform
     the conditions on which they were based; and THIRD, those
     that belong to 'the Israel or God,' there remains for the natural
     Israel no promise of blessing except 'the common salvation'
     which is proclaimed by the gospel of Christ, and which God
     bestows freely upon all - - Jews and Gentiles - - who fulfill
     the simple conditions of 'repentance toward God and faith
     toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

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