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03 Israel In Prophecy

by Paul Kitzmiller

(Transcribed from the message presented Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014)

I appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you for your presence and for your participation in these meetings. I want to thank the Sellersburg congregation for hosting these meetings and I especially want to thank them for making a very special effort to get the screen installed in time for these meetings.

Our title is, of course, "Israel in prophecy." But first I want us to consider, just briefly, Israel in the present. I think it is almost impossible for us to think of present day Israel and that region without also associating it with all kinds of warfare and fighting and conflict and endless disputes and international controversy. The reports of violence and death and destruction that come from there seems to come on a very regular basis. Israel's neighbors are very intent on destroying her and they plot against her. Israel hangs in there with determination and tenacity, but every side has a grievance and all the sides have their claims and demands of one another. The so-called experts weigh in with their explanations of the problem and their proposals for peace. But one thing remains constant, the conflict rages on in the Middle East, particularly around Israel.

So what, if anything, are Christians to make of this. Should the developments in the Middle East be of any more importance to us than developments anyplace else in the world? Are these of special interest to us or is it just a matter of concern as we would be concerned about any place of violence or conflict in the world? Is Israel right or wrong in her claims? After all, who does have a right to the land? Or does it matter? Is there a Christian point of view in this? Is there a biblical point of view? Does the Bible have anything to say about this? Well there are many, of course, who say, including some who were in the name of Christ, that Israel has no special purpose or future in God's plan. The Bible has nothing to say about present day Israel. God is through with Israel and that should be enough for us. We should be through with her, too. And it doesn't matter one way the other except that just as she is another nation in the world what happens there.

Well tonight I want to share some Scriptures with you and want you to consider some biblical evidence that God is not finished with Israel, that he has future plans for her and furthermore there are certain developments concerning Israel that are critical signs pointing to the Lord's return for his Church. In other words, what happens to Israel and what happens in Israel should be of keen interest to every Bible believer and everyone who loves the Lord and loves his appearing.

Now there are a few ground rules I want to throw out to you here before we go any further. First of all, the title is, "Israel and Prophecy," but that does not mean all prophecies about Israel. Therefore, to many of them I don't have enough time or, at least, you won't stay till I get done. So I have tried to select some that I believe are very basic and also that, I believe, have a close connection to present world circumstances, world conditions.

Secondly, I am going to be putting some Scriptures on the screen overhead tonight and for practical reasons I will not be always in every case including the entire verse or the entire passage. I want you to know that I am not attempting to manipulate it to deceive you in some way or to misrepresent the meaning of the passage by so doing. In fact, I urge you to read these passages for yourself, to read them in your translation, your favorite translation and read it in context. I want you to read the passages for yourself and check it out. At times we may go rather quickly. You may have trouble keeping up if you are turning in your Bibles. So if you want to jot those down you can check them later. I will have the reference always on the screen.

And thirdly, the prophecies that I intend to look at tonight regarding Israel will not, in my understanding, reach fulfillment until after the Church has been caught up by the Lord, after the Lord has removed his people. However, the generation of the Church at that time could see many of these things we are going to be talking about- and we believe very much that it is our generation and we pray that it is so. We hope for that day. We could see many of these things we are going to be talking about shaping up prior to the Lord's coming to take up the Church even though they will not be fulfilled completely until after we are gone. And I am going to use an example I learned from some of the older preachers, so it must be a pretty old illustration by now. If you look at your calendar you can readily see that in November most calendars will mark the Thanksgiving holiday for you. And you know then if you turn it to December you will find the Christmas holiday. So we know from looking at the calendar first Thanksgiving, then Christmas. But you also well know if you have been around very long
that well before we get to the Thanksgiving holiday we begin to see signs of the approaching Christmas holiday. So it is that though Thanksgiving has not yet come yet, we know Christmas is on the way. Now it is an old illustration and we may need to update that to Labor Day or something, but, anyway, you get the point. And it is that while we are going to be taken out of the way, some of the things that are going to be happening to Israel will be developing even before the Lord takes his Church.

Now let's turn our attention to Israel in prophecy. First of all, a little background if you will. In the closing chapters of the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Old Testament, we can read some of the final words of Moses to the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. They are preparing to enter. He is not going with them, but he addresses the Israelites as they prepare and they stand there at the edge of the Promised Land ready to enter in because of a promise, a promise that was made by God. Long before that day God had made a covenant with Abraham. In fact, that covenant was really an unconditional promise. God says: I will... and named several things that he is going to do. It is first recorded in the book of Genesis chapter 12 in the opening verses. It is restated or expanded at least six more times in the book of Genesis alone and it not only is a covenant with Abraham, but it is a covenant with his descendants, Israel as well. And it is the basis for much of God's dealings with Israel and the basis for his relationship to Israel throughout her history. And it is here in this covenant, in this promise that God promised Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. And we know from the New Testament that is a reference to Jesus Christ and the saving grace that he brought at his first coming. But it is also here in this promise that Abraham is given a promise, a land by God, a territory. And this land was given to him and to his descendants as an everlasting possession. God lifted up his hand in an oath when he gave that land to Abraham. It was a promise that was assured by God's own oath or swearing, if you will.

Now we pause here just long enough to remind you that the descendants of Abraham still hold the title deed to that land today. It has never been revoked. God gave them that land. It is their land and it belongs to Israel today, to the Israelites, to the Jews today. They have not always possessed it as they should as we will see in a moment, but it is theirs by ownership and the United Nations and the Arab world and the Muslim world or any other government of the world cannot undo what God has done, what God promised, what God has declared. It is a finished arrangement, if you will. And so we do not expect such folk to be persuaded by presenting them with the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis. I don't expect to solve the problem in the Middle East by going to the Arabs and saying: Look here. It says here God gave this land to Israel. But that is not the point. The point is that you and I, as those who believe the Word of God, can look at that and we can know what is going on. We can understand it belongs to Israel and where this is going to end up.

Now it is this land, this Promised Land God promised to Abraham and his descendants where Moses and the children of Israel stand at the border as Moses is speaking to them and back now in the book of Deuteronomy. And Moses' words include several warnings. He assured them that if they do not obey the Lord they are going to suffer severe judgment in the land and they are going to be uprooted. You will be uprooted, Moses tells the people, from the land you are entering to possess. Then the Lord will scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other. Now this is before they ever get in the land. He says: God is declaring if you disobey, if you don't do what he says, he will take you out of the land. It is a very dire warning, very severe, and yet it is not enough to keep Israel from disobeying. And, consequently, God did just exactly as he promised through Moses, Israel was driven out of the land. The northern kingdom was taken captive by Assyria in 722 BC. The southern kingdom was carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, 586 BC. Some of those returned and they were only required to be gone for 70 years according to the prophecy. But not all of them returned. Others migrated to Egypt, some to Greece, some to other places so that when we come to the New Testament James writes his epistle, he addresses it to the dispersion or the 12 tribes scattered among the nations. And then, of course, in 70 AD the Roman armies came in and destroyed the temple and the city of Jerusalem and for almost 2000 years Israel, the Jews had no homeland.

However, in that same address when Moses speaks to the Israelites before they enter that Promised Land he warns them if you disobey God is going to uproot you. He also lets them know that that condition would not be permanent. He says in Deuteronomy chapter 30, first of all, verse three, the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your
God has scattered you. And so this is where we get the point that we are soon going to be making here about God re-gathering the people of Israel. That is also a promise that God gives to the people through Moses. Then on at verse five, same chapter, then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed and you shall possess it. All right, that declaration also comes in that address of Moses. And so that brings us to our first group of prophecies we want to note tonight. That is Israel will be re-gathered. That is a promise that God has made. And this re-gathering theme recurs again and again in subsequent Scriptures as we are going to see.

One notable example is found in the book of Ezekiel chapter 37 the first 14 verses. We are not going got read those verses in their entirety, but I selected some verses out. Ezekiel opens his account this way in verse one. The hand of the Lord was upon me and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley. It was full of bones. So this is a vision that God has given to Ezekiel, taken to a valley full of bones. He led me back and forth among them and I saw a great many bones in the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. That would lead us to understand they had been there a long time. These people had been dead a long time. Then Ezekiel is instructed by God to prophecy to the bones, to speak to the bones. And in verse seven he says: So I prophesied as I was commanded and as I was prophesying there was a noise, a rattling sound and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them. But there was no breath in them. So then God has further instructions to Ezekiel and he is told to prophesy to the wind or to the breath, depending on your translation. Verse 10. So I prophesied as he commanded me and breath entered them and they came to life and stood up on their feet, a vast army.

So this is the vision. What does all this mean? Well, we are thankful that God has given us an explanation so we can go on reading going to verse 11 explains: These bones, those dry bones in the valley that Ezekiel had seen and had prophesied to, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Now we know this is a prophecy about the nation of Israel. This is not a prophecy about a future resurrection of saints. It is not even a prophecy about resurrection of individual Jewish people. It is a resurrection about the nation of Israel. And going on to verse 12 he says: I am going to open your grave and bring you up from them. I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And then in verse 14: I will put my Spirit in you and you will live. And I will settle you in your own land.

All right. God is promising with regard to the nation of Israel to bring her back from her scattered condition to a true and faithful relationship with him eventually. And I want you to see here in this vision that Ezekiel has in the prophecy concerning Israel that there are two steps or there are two stages in this. First of all, Ezekiel prophecies, the bones come together, muscles and tendons come on the bodies. The skin is on the body, but the

bodies are lifeless. And then he prophesies again and God puts breath in them, puts his Spirit in them and they come to life. Now, then, this prophecy actually encompasses two things concerning Israel. First of all, the re-gathering of Israel. You will see here in verse 12 he says: I will bring you back. But he also goes on here to speak about that restoration of Israel. He says: I will settle you or it could be literally translated: I will put you at rest in your own land. So this prophecy involves both the re-gathering and the restoration. Both of these words are very closely related in the Scriptures. They are almost synonymous. In some cases they might even be used interchangeably, but they are not identical. And we are going to get to the restoration part just a little bit later on in our lesson, Lord willing. And for now we are going to stick with the re-gathering. But I wanted you to see that while we were there at this particular passage.

Now I want us to look at some of the characteristics of a re-gathered process here that God is going to do with regard to Israel. First of all, they are going to be re-gathered from all the world. Now not all the world is going to be re-gathered, but the Jews, the Israelites are going to come from all the world. And consider a verse from the book of Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 14. I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you says the Lord. I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive. So this promise is encompassing, going to the far ... furthest parts of the earth. I invite you to also consider a verse from Isaiah chapter 43 beginning at verse five. Do not be afraid, the Lord says, for I am with you. I will bring your children from the East and gather you from the West. I will say to the North: Give them up. And to the South do not hold them back. I believe that covers all the directions, doesn't it? I believe God is very thorough in his explanation here and I believe we can't misunderstand that this gathering is going to be from every direction. But wait, there is more. If that is not enough he goes on to say: Bring my sons from afar and bring my daughters from the ends of the earth. God is surely clear enough on this, that he is going to re-gather from all the world those that are of Israel as he brings about the fulfilling of his prophecy concerning her.

All right, secondly we consider that Israel's re-gathering involves all the tribes. And from Isaiah chapter 11 verse 12 we read: He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel and will assemble the gathered people of Judah. And from the four quarters of the earth. So he continues with the thought here of it going to the far reaches of the earth from all over the world, but, moreover, it includes, he specifically identifies both Israel and Judah, the northern tribes, the 10 northern tribes and the southern two tribes. All are going to be involved in this re-gathering.

And then, thirdly, it will involve all the Israelites. I invite you to consider a verse in Ezekiel chapter 39, verse 28. God says: For though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. So when God completes the process of re-gathering Israel, whatever that is on his timetable and however he works that out, all of them are going to have been dealt with. He will not omit any. Now someone may say, may have an objection, may raise a question and say: But didn't the return from Babylon satisfy all these prophecies concerning the re-gathering? And that is the claim that some make. It certainly is true that the return from Babylon was a kind of re-gathering, kind of a small scale version, but it should be obvious, I would think, on the face of it, in light of the foregoing, that the return from the Babylonian exile could not possibly be what is being spoken about here in these prophecies. Consider. Babylon was only one country, not all the world, not every direction, North, South, East and West. Secondly, it was only the southern kingdom that returned. The northern kingdom was not involved in that. And, thirdly, many remained in Babylon. Many did not come back to the land.

So there are a number of things that are involved here that are very different from what God has prophesied.

And then just to be sure we don't miss it, be sure we get the point. Isaiah makes it clear. Chapter 11 verse 11 he says: In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time, a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people. So he distinguishes here, you see, this re-gathering that we have been speaking about is not the one from Babylon.

Now someone else says: But wasn't this re-gathering conditioned upon Israel's repentance? And certainly God desires ... has desired and does to this day their repentance or their change of heart. And ultimately that will be required for her restoration. But the re-gathering is primarily with Israel in unbelief. God does this even though Israel remains unrepentant. From Ezekiel 36 verse 22 it is not ... there we go. It is not for your sake, he
says, oh house of Israel, that I am going to do these things. All right? So it is not dependent upon Israel, upon her obedience or faithfulness or repentance as far as this is concerned. She doesn't have anything to do with this. In fact, if he was going on the basis of what Israel was doing, he wouldn't do it at all. He says it is not for your sake, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. God is going to do it, because he made a promise and God keeps his Word. A holy God must keep his holy Word. And so he is going to do it and it will be done and we can argue till we are blue in the face and we can side with those that oppose, but we can't stop it. God is going to bring it to pass.

And now as we think about these prophecies I want you to consider them just briefly in light of current events as we think about current events. The establishing of the state of Israel in May of 1948, of course, brought these particular prophecies into very sharp focus. I wasn't alive at that time, but some of you were. Some of you may remember that when it happened, but it certainly caused a stir among Bible believing Christians, those who looked to the Word of God as having unfulfilled prophetic passages. They took note
of this. So we are in a better position today to see some of this than we were a couple of generations ago. The re-gathering process appears to be underway. God has started that process. A hundred years ago people could only dream about that or could only go on the basis that was what God had promised. But we are seeing some of that with our own eyes. It is a great time to be a Christian, a great time to be alive. God is fulfilling his Word. And though it is underway, by no means would we suggest that it is fulfilled by and certainly setbacks are possible. But the end is assured. God said he will do it.

The point is it doesn't take a lot of imagination on our part to see that Israel is going to be re-gathered and how this can come to pass quickly. I know it is not Thanksgiving yet, but you can see the signs. Christmas is coming. The Lord hasn't come for his Church yet, but we can see the signs that Israel is being re-gathered. And these are things that must transpire as a part of God's final program of activities. The mere existence of Israel as a nation is a testimony to the faithfulness of God and it is a testimony to the reliability of the Bible and it is a testimony to the nearness of our Lord's return. Now that ought to give us more assurance concerning the rest of God's prophetic Word, because we know he has promised to do it and we are even seeing some of it being

Now in the past God has delivered Israel from some very grave dangers and we can think of instances such as when they were brought out of Egypt, for example. The plagues that were sent as God delivered in a very miraculous and powerful way. Think of crossing through the Red Sea and many, many other examples. But would you believe that his most spectacular and astonishing intervention in Israel's behalf is still to come. We haven't seen the most amazing things yet from the hand of God. And so I invite you, next, to consider with me Israel rescued.

There are two prophecies that I would like for us to give attention to in this section. In both of these the prophet describes the situation in which Israel is on the verge of being destroyed, of being completely overwhelmed and virtually annihilated by the military forces that are coming against her. But God is going to act. God is going to intervene and it is not going to happen. He is going to deliver her from immanent disaster and destruction. Now I need to insert a parenthesis here just for a moment to tell you that the two prophecies I want to look at now, that there are some conservative Bible teachers who believe these are two different prophecies about two different things and some believe they are two prophecies about the same thing. I will not get that sorted out for you tonight, but I am just calling your attention to that. Either way we are going to look at them individually. First of all, we consider Israel rescued and there is a passage, again in Ezekiel, this
time the 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel. Of course we don't have time to look at all that in great detail, but these chapters tell us about a confederacy or a coalition that is going to come against Israel. Israel now re-gathered at the time of the fulfilling of that prophecy. Israel has been brought back together and a coalition of enemies will come against her.

Now I am going to call your attention, first of all, to Ezekiel chapter 38 beginning at verse 15. God speaks to the leader of this enemy and he says: You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. There is going to be a force come against Israel of military might and magnititude and it is described here as one that covers the land. Israel is going to be overwhelmed. There is going to be nothing she can do. She is helpless. She cannot defend herself. And what is the purpose of this coalition, this army, this invasion, if you will, that comes against her? Well, we go again to Ezekiel 38, now verse 11. You will say: I will invade a land of un-walled villages. I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people. And verse 12: I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land. There are just a lot of things in there we would like to explore but there is just not time. I want to call your attention to a few things here. They are coming against her because they see this is an opportune time. It looks like it is going to be easy pickings to go against Israel. She is not in a defense position. She is unsuspecting. They are enjoying peace.

And these people come to overpower and take the resources of Israel. There may be a strain of jealousy that is also hinted at here, because she has it and they don't. And they intend to devastate Israel, to destroy her and take control of the region. Look at this expression here in verse 12 where this NIV translates it: You will turn your hand, or the leader says: I will turn my hand. This has the possibility of being translated: To bring back control. Your intention is to plunder and loot and bring back control of that land. This gives us the thought, the possibility that many who are part of this coalition are some of whom may have once controlled that land and they want to get it back and their intention is to get it back.

Well, what is God going to do? We know he is not going to let her perish this way. We know something is going to happen here and he is going to take action. He is going to put a stop to this. No time to look at the details here. I will just give you some references. In Ezekiel chapter 38 verses 19 through 22 there are at least four things that God spells out he is going to do to these invading forces. There is going to be a great shaking,perhaps an earthquake is the idea. And it will have world wide consequences. I don't know if that means it is going to be felt around the world, but the results of that earthquake will be known around the world. There is going to be confusion and infighting on the part of those armies that come against Israel. They are going to start
killing each other. And there is going to be a deadly pestilence or a plague that God is going to put upon them and he is going to send a flooding rain of great hailstone, fire and brimstone. And the results will be devastating to the enemies of Israel. We are told that the birds of the air and the beast of the field will come and feast on the bodies. It will take seven months to bury all the remaining parts of those bodies. And the weapons that have been left there Israel will use for fuel for seven years thereafter. And what does God accomplish in doing this? Well, of course, he rescues Israel. Immediately the consequence is he delivers her and he judges her oppressors.

But I want you to notice something else. God vindicates himself in doing this. He says in verse 23 of chapter 38: Thus, I will magnify myself and sanctify myself and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord. Sometimes I get the impression that some people don't even like to study about the prophetic word. They deny that it is even true and it is almost as if they are indignant and why do we need all those things and why do these things need to be done this way? God can just solve this. He can snap his fingers and he can wrap everything up. I guess he could if that is what he wanted. But he has chosen to do something else. And one of the reasons why is he has some unfinished business. And one of his purposes is to vindicate his name among those who have denied him and mocked him and made all kinds of ridicule of him down through the ages. And he is going to show who is God and who is in charge. And I suspect he is getting his belly full right now from what is going on in our world and our society.

But, moreover, and perhaps even more important, is something we find in verse 22. He is going to turn Israel's heart back to himself. He says: From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. And that is going to be a great moment for Israel, but it is going to be a great moment for God when at long last Israel will come to him and turn back her heart, to come to acknowledge that he is, indeed, her God. There is going to be something about this miraculous delivery of Israel through these things that God does to destroy those invaders. It is not going to be that a mighty military force has come in and defeated the invader. God is going to do this directly and it will be evident, it will be clear, that God did this. And Israel is going to be moved and touched and changed by that. And so the process of her turning back to him and her repentance is underway.

So who are these invaders is what everybody wants to know. And, of course, Ezekiel gives us their names, doesn't he? Verses 38 in chapter 38 verses two through six he tells us their names. But the problem is their names come from the names of those people in his day and not our day. And so we are left wondering who in the world are these people. And so we have about 10 names to identify here. We can do so partly through the Scriptures and historical records, secular historical records. And not all of the sources are agreed on this, but I do want to share with you just some of the conclusions here. On this map you can see Israel is a little magenta strip right there in the middle of the map. We have several names I will touch on briefly. First of all is Gog and this is not a place. It appears to be a person and one who has his name appears more than any other here in this list. It could possibly be a title like caesar or pharaoh. But in any event this is the prophetic name for the leader of this group. Then we have a group known as Magog. These seem to be identified with the Scythians and their land ... they are identified with the land that today is in central Asia. The ‘istan’ countries, some of which are Kazakhstan, Kurdistan and so on. And there are some of the Scythians that are associated with the territory of Ukraine.

The next name here is one that is a little troubling, a little difficult to know what to do with as far as translation and that is the name of Rosh. Some Bible translations just give us the name Rosh and some Bible translations translate this to chief or head. And so if it is the name Rosh, this is the name associated with some people that would have been living in the territories that today we know as Armenia and Azerbaijan and Georgia down there below the name Rosh. And they eventually migrated and moved on up into the land we know today as Russia. Then there are some other names here. There is Meshech and Tubal. It has long been customary, many well known Bible teachers have said this is Moscow and other Russian cities. But perhaps better research has given us to understand these are probably cities or places in Turkey and I didn't have room to write that answer. Those two dots represent them there.

Then we have Persia mentioned which is modern day Iran, though it was called Persia unti1 1925. And then there is Kush, which is modern day Sudan, although your translation may give you Ethiopia. Sudan is the better location for this. And then there is Put, or Libya, and that is identified with modern day Libya. Then there are two more. There is Gomer and Beth Togarma. Again, probably these are peoples from the land of modern day ... what is today Turkey. Some do identify, have identified these people with Germany and some of the eastern European peoples.

All right. He also says in these verses, chapter 38, many peoples with you. And so it is likely that inside this larger circle there are some other people who are included, but not mentioned by name. Now what about looking at current events in the light of this prophecy? Well, there are many of these who are currently Muslim countries and these Muslim countries look upon Israel as the bane of their existence. She is the focus of a very intense hatred and they would readily seize an opportunity to go against her and bring about her annihilation and drive her into the sea. That is well documented, their desire to do that. For the moment some of them fight among themselves, but it is easy to see how such a plan as this would galvanize them and pull them together and their common hatred for Israel would mean they would gladly come against her. And so even now Israel's neighbors are jealous of her prosperity and her resources and they covet those things as well as they seek control of this very strategically located region that, by the way, in Ezekiel 38 verse 12 can be translated as the center of the center of the earth or the navel of the world.

And, of course, Russia's expansionist tendencies are well documented. She has meddled in the Middle East for a long time and her political clout and so on would give her the ability to organize such a coalition. Given the current political alignments, it is not difficult to see how this could develop. I am not saying everything I have put on this map is exactly the way it is going to be but I am showing you these are nations that are identified with the names that we have from Ezekiel and it certainly looks like today many of these same areas would be very likely to come against Israel if there was an opportunity.

Now let's briefly consider a second account of God's rescue of lsrael. This comes to us from the hook of Zachariah, primarily from chapter 14 and I have entitled that, "The Siege of Jerusalem." I am going to read form chapter 14 verse one. For behold the day of the Lord is coming and your spoil will be divided in your midst, for I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem. The city shall be taken, the houses rifled and the women ravaged. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

We are thankful to note that as God describes this event, that all of Israel is not going to be destroyed. All the Jews will not be killed, but it is going to be a very devastating thing for her. Notice that all the nations, that is their armies, all the nations of the earth come together against Israel. They are confident of victory. They begin to divide the spoil even before the battle is won and Israel is going to suffer very much from this campaign. It is very bleak, very dark and she is on the verge of extinction.

Well, if you read your Bible you know there is good news. There is good news ahead for Israel. God is going to intervene. He is going to rescue Israel. He is going to take action. Going back to chapter 12 of Zachariah verse three on that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her. Skipping to verse nine. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And then we go back to chapter 14 and continue at verse three. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations. As he fights in the day of battle.

Now God has fought for Israel in the past. Sometimes he has done it through miraculous ways, sending plagues upon the enemies and so on. Sometimes he has done it through other means, sometimes through the armies of Israel he has fought for her in the past. But he has never fought for her in the way he is going to do it now. And we can see as we continue reading going on to verse four. He is going to send the Christ to personally intervene. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west. And verse nine. Then the Lord my God will come and all the holy ones with him.

Friends, that is what we are looking forward to: The Lord's coming. This is not for the Church, but the Lord's return to take his rightful throne and place and he is going to do that and in the process part of what he is going to do is intervene for Israel and rescue her and deliver her. I have heard some people say it is so far fetched that the Lord will come back to earth and it is even more far fetched that he would touch down and split a mountain in two. I want to ask you something. Do you believe that God through Moses divided the Red Sea? Well why can't he split a mountain if he can split the sea? It is not a problem. Really. God is going to do what he said and there will be deliverance for Israel and, thus, Israel is rescued and it is a great time of triumph for God and for all those who belong to him.

So as we think about current events in light of this prophecy, you will note that all of the nations are gathered against Israel. There exists a hatred for Jews even among those who are not Arabs and those that are not Muslims. Anti-Semitism has been a problem of long standing in the world. Even in less volatile times there have always been those who are ready to blame the Jews for all of the ills of society. And the Jews have been the objects of slander and, indeed, because of their disobedience God has permitted them to suffer that and experience that. But it is a Jewish state in that the nation of Israel has not changed that. And many consider the existence of Israel in the Middle East to be the cause of so many world problems today. And they will blame all the fighting in the Middle East on Israel and all the terrorism in the world and high oil prices and Palestinian poverty. If you can think of it, you can blame it on Israel, because that is the mindset of the world. And we can not have a lot of problem understanding how a lot of people just wish Israel could just go away, because she seems to be causing so many problems, her existence and her allies are going to be troubled to continue to be her allies and they may well be ready to sell her out so that they can have what they perceive to be peace. It will just simply be too costly, too troublesome for many to stay on her side.

So, again, it is not difficult for us to understand or to imagine all the nations of the world turning against Israel, is it? We see very much of that in our own day. And so for it to be completed is not too far of a stretch in our thinking. But God will not abandon Israel. And so now let's look at a group of prophecies concerning Israel in the first chapter of the book of Acts verse six. The apostles come to Jesus. They ask him this question: Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel? And there are people who immediately begin to ridicule the apostles for asking this question and they charged them with having a false concept of the kingdom and how could they be so foolish and so idiotic and so stupid as to ask a question such as this after they have been with the Lord and on and on and on it goes. How stupid they are. But Jesus has just given them 40 days worth of teaching on the Kingdom of God. And they asked this question not because they misunderstand, but precisely because they do understand and they want to know when it is going to be. And if you don't think that is enough, then look at the answer that Jesus gives found in verse seven, the very next verse. Jesus says: It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority. It does not say: You foolish fellows, after 40 days of special teaching on this you still don't get it. He doesn't say that. He doesn't rebuke them for this. He doesn't ridicule them for this and say: You of little faith and things he said to others. But he says, simply: It is not for you to know the time. But in so doing he actually affirms there is a restoration. He is just not giving the time.

And so please note some passages with me as we draw this to a conclusion, some things concerning the restoration of Israel. Now let it be understood that it is a remnant that is restored. It is a remnant that has been refined, that has turned to God and has accepted her Messiah. She has repented and this remnant is going to be restored. But what is this restoration going to look like? Well, she is going to be restored to her God, Ezekiel chapter 11 verses 19 and 20. And this is concerning Israel. You can determine that from the context. God says: I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them. I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people and I will be their God. I believe God must have surely rejoiced as he was able to speak those words. Though it wasn't true then, it would some day be true and he could be glad to declare that concerning Israel.

What we have here is the restoration of Israel to her God. She will truly be his and he will be hers. These are the dry bones of Ezekiel's vision which have come together and God has put his Spirit in them and they have come to life. And Israel is being restored. This is what Paul was speaking about in Romans chapter 11 and verses 25 and following. He says: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And he says: And so all Israel will be saved. And, indeed, it will be one day true.

Secondly, in this restoration she will be restored to her king. Again, from Ezekiel chapter 37 beginning at verse 21. I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. Now that part sounds like things we have already looked at, the re-gathering. But he continues. I will make them one nation in the land on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them. And they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. And since the days of Ezekiel, the days since he prophesied that, it has never been true for Israel and God has declared it will be true. And some say that must be the Church. And I say: Look at that again. There is no terminology here that suggests the Church. This has to do with physical taking of the land. The Church never was divided into two kingdoms and never had a king such as this. It is described here and so on and so forth. This is about Israel and she is going to be restored to her king. And, of course, this king is Jesus. This is Messiah. She is going to be restored to her king. The kingdom is going to be restored to Israel.

And so we hasten on, a couple of more things here. Restoration means she will be restored to her land. Amos chapter nine verses 14 and 15. God says: I will bring back my exiled people Israel and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine. They will make gardens and eat their fruit. This was given to us in last night’s message. Again we point out. These have to do with physical blessings and so on. And then we notice the next verse. I will plant Israel in her own ... in their own land never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God. Since the days Amos spoke that it has not happened. God still is going to do that.

We began this evening looking at a passage from the book of Deuteronomy which Moses said if you people disobey when you go to this land God is going to uproot you and that arc that began there has come up and come back down to this point here when God in the future will put Israel in the land and she will not be uprooted anymore, because she is now repented and there is no reason for him to uproot her. She has turned to him and he is her God. Her king has been restored and she has been restored to the land.

And, lastly, restoration means she will be restored to her place. There are many passages I could give here. These are just a sample. God has always intended that Israel should be a priestly nation in the world to manifest his glory among the Gentiles. And he is going to put her back to that place. We read from the book of Zachariah chapter eight beginning at verse 22. And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord almighty and to entrust him. In those days 10 men from all languages and nations will take hold of one
Jew by the hem of his robe and say: Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.

All right. I want to summarize all this matter of the restoration with this passage from the book of Zachariah chapter 10 verse six where God says: I will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. And now look at these words. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them. Is that not a marvelous testimony to the grace of God who will deal with these people who have treated him so terribly horribly and disobeyed and refused his advances for so many generations? But he is going to not only re-gather, but restore her and it will be as if he had never rejected her.

Well, as we try to bring this to a conclusion here, certainly as we think about current events in light of these prophecies we know that Israel is not going to be annihilated by her enemies. God still has a purpose and a plan for Israel and her existence and future should matter for us. It should be important to believers to know what God is going to do with Israel. Why? Because it matters to God. And aren't you interested in the things that
God is interested in? We should love the things that God loves and care about the things that God cares about. He cares about Israel and he is concerned about what is going to happen to her and we should be as well.

I am going to conclude. I know I have given you a lot of material and it can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first exposure to it. There is sometimes a temptation for us to give up because we say: I just can't get all this straight. I can't understand all of this. It is too many different moving parts here. And it is just too confusing and too challenging. And so a lot of folks just give up and they say: I am not interested in that and I don't want to know about that and just leave me alone. Let God take care of that. He is going to ... that is his business. He can take care of it and just leave me out of it.

Well, before you draw that conclusion I want to share just a few exhortations with you here. First of all remember in the gospel of Luke the 24th chapter after Jesus had been resurrected he met those two disciples on the road to Emmaus and he had many things to say then, but one of the things he said to them was this. He rebuked them. He said: You are foolish. You are slow of hear to believe all the prophets have spoken. He rebuked them. There were some things they had believed from those Old Testament prophets. And they were ready to accept those. But other things were there, but they had either ignored them or just wouldn't accept them. They would not believe them. And he rebukes them. They should have believed all that the prophets had spoken. Then they would have known that the messiah would suffer first before entering into his glory.

Well we need to apply that admonition to ourselves and that rebuke to our own situation. We need to do as Jesus said - believe all the prophets have spoken. You said: But I can't fit it all together. You don't have to fit it all together. You have to believe it. You don't have to work it all out in every detail. You have to believe it. Even if some things seem improbable, even if some things are difficult to grasp, just believe it. It must have been difficult for those people before Jesus came to understand how there could be such suffering by the Messiah and also such glory. But it is true. Every bit of it was true. And it will still be true the things that are yet unfilled, whether we can work it all out. We don't have to. We have to believe that God is going to do all those things. And the more we believe it, the more we will begin to understand a lot of it.

Secondly, I don't know who said this. I found this statement several places while I was preparing this lesson. It certainly is true, very appropriate. Someone has said: Bible prophecy should not be interpreted in light of current events, but, rather, current events should be interpreted in light of the Bible. I believe that is a very important distinction for us to make, that the Word of God is where we go to first and then we look at the world. Don't look at the world and try to fit it into the Scripture. Go to the Scripture and see where the world, and events in the world fit in.

And then, lastly, I want to share this story with you or illustration. Some years ago my wife and I were living in Saint Petersburg, Russia when we were doing mission work there. It was also a side benefit we had being there that we were able to visit a lot of museums and palaces that had belonged to the czars and so on and those were very great structures architecturally. They had lots of interesting art work and exhibits there, always amazing. And in most of those cases when you go in those large halls, up on the ceiling there would often be paintings up there. It might take in most of the ceiling. There was painting or there would be very exquisite architectural work. And that is in addition to everything that was down at eye level. And so we also had the privilege sometimes to take guests with us and visit those places and I would remind them before we went in. Now when you get in there, be sure to look overhead on the ceiling to see the things up there, because there is a lot of interesting things you won't want to miss. And sure enough we would go into those museums and eventually I would have to tap some of them on the shoulder and I would have to say to them: Remember, look up.

And that is the message we leave with you tonight. Remember to look up. Jesus is coming. Jesus is moving. God is moving and working among his purposes and carrying out his plans. And Jesus is coming for his Church. We want to be ready and I believe we can see some of the signs and the approaching - not Christmas - but the approaching events of the last days and before that happens Jesus is coming to take us home with him.

Bro. Paul Kitzmiller leads "Goin' Fishing" missions ministry and attends Kentucky Avenue Church of Christ in Louisville, KY.

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2 Responses to “03 Israel In Prophecy”

  1. Don McGee says:

    I listened to all the messages on CD and appreciated each one very much. The insight and delivery of those presentations would be a welcomed part of any prophecy conference. Hats off to our Bible teachers!

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