ISRAEL FULFILLING PROPHECY
What is happening with the Israelites today is an evidence that we are living at the end of the age.
For many centuries the Jewish people have been scattered throughout the earth. They have not existed continuously as a nation, but as a people they could not be destroyed. In many instances they have been tolerated among the nations rather than loved. Moses prophesied, "Thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee." —#De 28:37
The Jews are witnesses of God throughout all the ages, because everything that he has said about them has been fulfilled, is in the course of fulfillment, or will be fulfilled in the future. What is happening with the Israelites today is an evidence that we are living at the end of an age, when the Lord is about to manifest his kingdom authority and glory to all the nations, both Jew and Gentile.
In #Hos 9:10 Israel is likened to a fig tree. As one of the signs of the end of the age and the time of his second presence, Jesus gave a parable concerning the fig tree. We quote, "When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye see all these things, know that it [the messianic kingdom] is near, even at the doors."-#Mt 24:32, 33
"... and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it and performed it ..."# Eze 37:14
The fig tree is Israel, and Israel today is revived. Israel now has a part among the nations of the world—a free part. She has ambassadors in the capitals of the world, and most nations of the world have their envoys in Israel. She is no more crushed as a vassal nation, but is accepted as a free nations among the nations.
In #Eze 37 we are given a prophecy of the restoration of Israel to the Promised Land and to favor with the Lord. Here "the whole house of Israel" is likened to a valley of dry bones. (#Eze 37:11) These bones are seen to come together, to be covered with flesh and skin, and finally to receive the Spirit of God, the spirit of life.
In this prophecy, the different lands, or nations, in which the Jews have lived in their dispersion, are referred to as "graves." (#Eze 37:12) This expression cannot be taken literally. If they were literal graves then one could not see the "bones" in them. Graves symbolize death, and the national hopes of the Jews in their dispersion were dead, and remained so until the Lord’s due time came for their restoration.
Now many of their national "graves" have been opened. More than two million Jews have already left these graves" and have returned to the Promised Land. Up to this time, however, only a few recognize the meaning of what is really happening. They do not know that the hand of the Lord is directing their destiny.
However, eventually they will know this. The prophecy declares, "I ... shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord." (#Eze 37:13, 14) But before the people of Israel do receive the Spirit of the Lord they must go through a period of much tribulation.
This time of great trouble is described in the 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel. In the 38th chapter we are given a description of an attack upon Israel from the "north," which is led by "God." With "Gog" are allies described as Persia, Ethiopia, Phut, Gomer, and Togarmah. (#Eze 38:5, 6 margin) It may not be possible to identify exactly who are represented by these names, but this is not necessary in order to understand the point of the prophecy.
BROUGHT BACK FROM THE SWORD
According to #Eze 38:8, this attack from the "north" (#Eze 38:15) takes place after Israel has been "brought back from the sword" and is dwelling safely in the land. This is still future. Israel is not yet recovered from the "sword." The Israelites have possessed the land by means of their military strength. Today they are depending upon the same source of security as the other nations of the earth, which is the power of the sword.
Because of this, Israel is not now dwelling "safely." The people are in constant fear of being attacked. Just what developments will occur in the international picture to change this, we will know only when they occur. But the prophecy reveals clearly that when they do dwell "safely" a vicious attack will be made upon them from under the leadership of God from the "north." (#Eze 38:14-16)
"... Neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel." #Eze 39:29
This will be a great time of trouble for Israel: perhaps the worst she has ever experienced. But the Lord will intervene on her behalf. He has promised, "I will call for a sword against him [Gog] throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword will be against his brother." (#Eze 38:21) We already see the confused intentions of the various nations of the earth, and these seemingly will increase in connection with the final effort to exploit the people of Israel.
#Eze 38:22-23 read, "And I will plead against him [Gog] with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, ... an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord." It would be unwise to attempt to interpret in advance these symbols of trouble which will come upon Israel’s enemies, but the prophecy is clear that God will intervene in favor of his people.
This attack upon Israel will take place when they are unable to protect themselves, when the overwhelming power of their enemies would dislodge them from their position in the Promised Land. And it will be through the miracle working power of God on behalf of Israel that the eyes of many nations, even their enemies, will be opened. And Israel also will then know that God is for them, and has delivered them. We read, "So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name anymore: and the heathen [the Gentiles] shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel." -#Eze 39:7
The Israelites will then also know that it was the Lord that "gathered them unto their own land." The Lord further promised, "Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel." (#Eze 39:28, 29) Through another of his holy prophets, the Lord assures us that he will pour out his Spirit "upon all flesh." -#Joel 2:28-32
SPIRIT POURED OUT
On the Day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel and indicated that, beginning then, the Lord’s Spirit was being poured out upon his "servants and on his hand maidens." (#Ac 2:18) These "servants" are the ones reached by the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the Gospel Age. Through the Gospel, the Lord has called these from among both Jews and Gentiles, and they will be associated with Jesus in the spiritual, or invisible, phase of his kingdom. The Bible assures us that these will be raised from the dead in the "first resurrection" to live and reign with Christ a thousand years.-#Re 20:6
Prior to the Gospel Age the Lord was selecting and preparing a class to be the human representatives of the kingdom. These were almost exclusively Israelites by birth. They proved their loyalty to Jehovah and, when raised from the dead as perfect humans, will be the glory of Israel and the "princes" of Israel and the whole world. -#Heb 11$; #Ps 45:16
NOT IN HEAVEN
Jesus prophesied: "Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of heaven." (#Mt 8:11; #Lu 13:28, 29) This "kingdom of heaven" will not be in heaven, but is so designated to emphasize that it is not a man made government, but is of heavenly origin, a kingdom that is established by "the God of heaven." -#Da 2:44
This kingdom of the Lord is pictured in the Bible as a great "mountain" that fills the whole earth. We read that "in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines, on the lees well refined .... He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces." -#Isa 25:6-8
These wonderful blessings of plenty, of health, and of everlasting life will flow out first to the Israelites, who have returned to their Promised Land, and also will be made available to the people of the whole earth. The promise God made to Abraham was that through his "Seed" ALL the families, or nations, of the earth would be blessed. The fulfillment of prophecy in the affairs of Israel today is a strong proof that these promised blessings are near.
Isaiah wrote that death would be swallowed up in victory. (#Isa 25:6-8) This will be true in the most absolute sense, for even those who have died will be restored to life-both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus gave his life "a ransom for all," and the Prophet Isaiah wrote that "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, ... with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." -#1Ti 2:4-6; #Isa 35:10
TO BE A BLESSING
In another prophecy the Lord says of Israel, "It shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen [the Gentiles] ... so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing." Then the Lord outlines what the Israelites are to do in order to be a blessing to others. We quote: "These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: and let none of you imagine evil in his heart against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these things that I hate, saith the Lord." -#Zec 8:13, 16, 17
There is no doubt that the Israelites, under the leadership of their Ancient Worthies, raised from the dead, will learn and practice these ways of righteousness and thus become an example which will lead to the blessing of others. Gentiles also, as the blessings of the kingdom are extended, will learn to know and serve the truth God. The promise is that then the Lord will "turn to the people" a pure "language," or message of truth and righteousness, "that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."- #Zeph 3:9
Instead of fearing the future, therefore, let us look ahead with confidence, even with joy, that the world’s tomorrow will be a glorious one because it will be God’s tomorrow. "Tomorrow never comes," they say, but God’s tomorrow will come. His integrity and almighty power give us this assurance, and in this assurance may we continue to rejoice, and as time, means, health, and strength afford, tell the whole wolrd these blessed tidings!
These are the good things for which the noble minded of all races have striven throughout the ages but failed to attain. Nor will they now be realized through human efforts. These are the blessings provided by our loving Creator, the true God of heaven and earth, and they will reach the people through agencies provided and empowered by Him-the agencies of Messiah’s kingdom.