The Hurdle To Israel's Restoration

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The Hurdle To Israel's Restoration

 

God has promised Israel that she will be restored to the land and will inherit all that God has promised her. Though Israel has at times possessed the land, yet not one of those possessions could be called a complete possession. Israel will never know a full restoration to her land until there is a full restoration of her heart toward God. It is for this reason that we know that God’s promise of a full or complete restoration is yet future. 

In the present period of Israel’s history, known as the Times of the Gentiles (Lk. 21:24), God is pouring out continual chastisement on Israel in order to bring Israel to repentance and a restored relationship with Him. This chastisement has been manifested in the form of Gentile persecution and separation from the land of Canaan. This is born out In Daniel’s 70 week prophecy which covers the time frame of the Times of the Gentiles leading up to the future Kingdom of Christ. As Daniel begins to reveal his prophecy, he shares God’s redeeming purpose in subjecting Israel to the domination of the Gentile people. 

Dan. 9:24, “"Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” NKJV

God makes it clear that He has a twofold purpose for this period of chastisement. His first purpose is to restore the hearts of the Jewish people to Himself and the second to usher in the Kingdom of the Most Holy One, Jesus Christ. His purpose must be fulfilled in that order.

Daniel’s prophecy covers a 490 year period that is divided into two periods. The first covers 483 years concluding with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ (Dan. 9:25). After the resurrection of Christ and His ascension into Heaven, there would be an intervening period of time in which Rome would come and destroy Jerusalem and the temple. The length of this period is defined by the statement “till the end of the war of desolations are determined” (Dan. 9:26). The remaining 7 years would begin almost immediately after these events if Israel as a nation is ready to accept Jesus as their Messiah/King. To put it another way Israel was within approximately 50 years of possessing the Millennial Kingdom.

It is for this reason that God ended the Old Testament Scriptures by giving Israel a sign to watch for. This sign would mark the next major event in God’s redemption of His people. Elijah would be sent ahead of the Messiah in order to get the people’s hearts ready to receive their Messiah/King (Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6). However, God knowing that Israel would refuse the first offer of the Messiah/King and His Kingdom, sent a forerunner in the spirit of Elijah, John the Baptist (Lk. 1:15-17). Jesus confirmed this when he stated that if the people had been willing to heed the message of John, John would have been Elijah.

Mt 11:7-15, “As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.' "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” NKJV

Mt 17:10-13, “And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” NKJV

Because the Jewish people were not willing to receive their Messiah, Elijah would have to come in the future to prepare the hearts of the people prior to the Second Coming of the Messiah/King. This statement comes on the heels of the first mention of a future Church Age (Matt. 16:18) and is one of the first indications that the last week of Daniel’s prophecy will be postponed even further than originally offered.

The offer of the Kingdom continued on during the early years of the Church and was continued until around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod in 70 AD. This is testified in the words of Peter on the Day after Pentecost as he preached to the Jews who had come from many Gentile nations to worship in Jerusalem. 

Acts 3:17-26, “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." NKJV

That which our Lord alludes to in Matt. 11 & 17 became a reality as the final week of Daniel’s prophecy of the times of the Gentiles was postponed for 2000+ years. This is reflected in the word of Paul at the end of Acts, after meeting with the Jewish leaders of the city of Rome.

Ac 28:24-29, “And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, 'Go to this people and say: 'Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them."' "Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" NKJV

The fact that Israel is once again a nation and has returned to the land has lead many Christians to conclude that the work of God’s chastisement is almost completed. The concluding moments of this chastisement will be announced with the rapture of the church and the initiation of Daniel’s last week, the seven year period known as the Tribulation. It will be at the end of the Tribulation, as the Antichrist marshals together the armies of the world to annihilate Israel and destroy the forces of heaven, that Israel will finally call upon her Messiah and God to save her. With this great universal revival, her Messiah will come and establish the promised Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 19:11-20:6). 

It is therefore clear that for Israel to possess her future Millennial Kingdom, the Jewish people must be born again. This is reflected in the question of Nicodemus when he came to Jesus at night. Though his question is not recorded, it is implied by Jesus’ response in John 3:3. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Israel’s heart must be turned to her Lord and Savior if she ever has a hope of receiving her Kingdom and complete restoration to the land. Thanks be to God that this great revival is not left in the hands of the Jewish people but in the hands of a Sovereign God!