Jewish Hopes and Prospects
Chapter 1: “Comfort Ye My People”
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortingly to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her appointed time [margin] is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:1, 2).
THERE can be no doubt that the words of this text apply, not to Spiritual Israel and the heavenly Jerusalem, but to the Seed of Jacob, for many centuries travailing in pain—a nation without a land, people possessing most wonderful promises, yet enjoying very few of these—a people scattered among all other peoples; yet, in harmony with the Divine promise made at the beginning of their organization (Lev. 26:44), they have been preserved separate and distinct from all other nations! The Jews are a miracle in themselves. They witness to the civilized world God's promises and the power thereof in the human mind. As foretold in the Scriptures, for many centuries they have had no Prophet, no Priest, no ephod, no vision from God, no revelation (Hosea 3:4). The people to whom at one time belonged the honor of being the only people to whom the Divine purposes were revealed have for more than eighteen centuries been left destitute of any evidence of Divine favor, except in this one fact: their solidarity as a people has been preserved.
We are not of those who rail against the Jew; who cry out, "Christ-killers; the vengeance of God is upon you, and what you have suffered is only a foretaste of more awful sufferings for all eternity!" Thank God, No! We have no such evil sentiment in our heart. We have nothing but sympathy for the Jew, even while in him, as in others of Adam's children, we may see much to reprehend; nevertheless, we see also his commendable qualities. Among others, we see the quality which God so greatly appreciated in Abraham, viz., faith in his God and in the Divine promises. Such a faith has inspired "God's Chosen People" to wait for His promised Messianic Kingdom, lo, these many centuries—through all kinds of adverse experiences.
ISRAEL, THE CHANNEL OF BLESSING
The long-promised time of Israel's exaltation as the channel of Messianic blessing to mankind is near—it hastens greatly. What though there shall be another and great spasm of tribulation in conjunction with the birth of the New Order of things! Beyond the sighing and the crying, the morning dawns—the glorious day in which the Sun of Righteousness shall chase from the world all the shadows of death and despair, which sin and its penalty have brought upon mankind (Psa. 30:5; Mal. 4:2; Isa. 35:10). What though the Scriptures tell us that Israel is yet to have "The time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7) in connection with the world's great Time of Trouble now upon us! None of these things shall hinder us from rejoicing in the New Heavens and the New Earth, which God declares He is about to create—"Be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create" (Isa. 65:17, 18; 66:22).
The New Heavens and the New Earth are but symbolical terms for that New Era in which there will be a new social order, as well as a new ecclesiastical system, eternal in the heavens. The time has come when our text is having its fulfillment. The shining of the lamp of Truth upon the prophetic page shows us that the great clock of the Universe is marking the hour when He whose right it is shall take to Himself His great power and reign (Ezek. 21:27). Ah, yes! We remember that it is written that then the nations shall be angry, and God's wrath shall be manifest (Psa. 110:5, 6; Mal. 4:1), and then the time shall come for the judgment of the dead and the reward of all, both small and great (Dan. 7:9, 10). We are glad indeed that the "times of the Gentiles" have ended and the time of Messiah's government is at hand—For He must reign until He shall have put down all unrighteousness and insubordination, until He shall have caused every knee to bow and every tongue to confess to the glory of God the Father (Isa. 45:22-25).
First in order of the Kingdom work is the binding of Satan—the work of a heavenly, and not of an earthly king. Gradually, in the judgments, decrees, rewards and punishments of mankind and the banishing of sin and death, the great King of Glory will reveal His own gracious character and the Father's righteousness to the children of men. Gradually all will have the eyes of their understanding opened to see, not only the Father of all in His true character, but also the Son in His glorious majesty—the Conqueror, the Messiah, who faithfully suffered for us, as prophesied, e.g., in Psa. 22 and Isa. 53, and hence is now exalted (Isa. 52:13-15) at the right hand of Divine majesty, being entrusted with the pouring out of the Divine blessing upon Israel, and, through Israel, extending that blessing to every nation.
This fleeing away of earth's shadows and the coming blessing of Israel and all the nations of the earth by the once despised Messiah now exalted, has for centuries been longed for by devout Jews, as evidenced by the following passage in the prayers for the first day of Passover, where the Messiah of Isaiah 53 is referred to:
[It is translated: "Fly, my beloved, until the end of the vision. Speak. Hasten that the shadows may flee away. Let him be exalted, and extolled, and high, that is now despised. Let him deal prudently and reprove, and sprinkle many nations."]
ONE KING, BUT TWO KINGDOMS
Careful students of the Scriptures have come to see that the Divine promise to Abraham is to be fulfilled through two Seeds—one a heavenly class, the other an earthly class, with Messiah the Head over all. For more than eighteen centuries God favored the Seed of Abraham, the nation of Israel. They had chastisements and reproofs in righteousness; yet in all that time they had Divine favor also, as represented in their Law and in the prophecies and in the privileges which came to them under the Law Covenant, in that they had an annual Atonement Day, which continued to them Divine favor. That period of favor, explain it how we may, ended about the time of Jesus' death. Then a little later came the desolation of their land by the Roman army, A.D. 69. Now a parallel time has been reached, as stated in our text. Hence it is time for the return of God's favor, and it has already begun.
The Jew has not been so comfortable, nor so favorably fixed as he is today, in more than eighteen centuries. But his blessing is only beginning. Shortly Divine favor, in God's due time, will accomplish for His Chosen People the fulfillment of all the precious promises of the Law and of the Prophets. Already the Jew is awakening to a realization of this great truth.
Zionism, started as a political movement, is beginning to blossom into a religious movement, and the blessing of Divine providence will so order their affairs. The words of the Book, the words of Divine promise, so long read ignorantly and blindly, are about to become luminous and constitute the light which will direct them in the ways of the LORD—leading onward in the rehabilitation of their promised land and in the attainment of loftier ideals among them.
JEWS TO REMAIN JEWS
A voice is sounding from the wilderness, and the Jews everywhere are hearkening to it. It does not call them to become Christians, but to remain Jews and to realize, as Jews, the ideals set before them by the Lord in the Law and in the Prophets. To all those rightly exercised thereby a great blessing is near, which will more than compensate for the sorrows of the past. Neither by sword, nor guns, nor dreadnaughts, neither by airplanes, nor torpedoes, nor atom bombs, will Israel's great victory be won; neither by money power and worshiping of the golden calf of finance, nor by trusting in the arm of flesh, but by looking to the Lord, from whom will come their help (Psa. 121:1, 2).
Messiah's Spiritual Empire, about to be established, will bind Satan, restrain every evil and lift up a standard for the people (Isa. 49:22; 62:10), blessing Israel and establishing with them the New (Law) Covenant instead of the Old Law Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:36-40)—under the better Mediator, still more capable than the great Moses (Deut. 18:15, 18, 19); under the greater King, still more wise than Solomon and still more beloved of God than David. This great Celestial Empire will be established with great authority in the world in a time of trouble, a time of earthly distress, which the prophecies picture as terrible (Dan. 12:1; Jer. 25:29-33; Zeph. 3:8, 9). Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, are responsible for bringing to pass this awful trouble, by reason of the selfishness which at present is governing the world and which will be used of the Lord to wreck our present grand civilization—grand at least on its surface.
A Socialistic artillery of words and ecclesiastical bombs of similar nature will only aggravate the strife. Financial weights and levers have had and will have much to do with the great crash of the forces of civilization in this Time of Trouble, in which the reign of sin, iniquity, injustice and selfishness, will forever fall, to rise no more; and the present religious systems also will be found wanting and pass away. For these old systems, symbolically called the "heavens and earth" of the present time, will be substituted "the New Heavens and the New Earth" (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). The great Messiah and society on earth reorganized, will constitute the New Heavens and the New Earth, wherein will dwell righteousness. The transition will be but a momentary ordeal, as compared with the glorious eternity of blessing under Messiah's righteous supervision. "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth" (Psa. 46:9).
ISRAEL'S HOPE—WHY SO LONG DELAYED?
The perplexing thought with our Jewish friends, as well as with Christians, is, If these things be so; if Messiah's Kingdom is yet to be established, as the Jews contemplated, only on a spiritual plane instead of an earthly one; and if God's purpose is to use those anciently favored people as the channels of His blessing in the future, why has there been such a long delay? We answer, This is what the Scriptures term The Mystery—the matter which God did not reveal directly, either to Abraham or through any of the Prophets. Indirectly He hinted at it, saying to Abraham, "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore" (Gen. 22:16-18). But Abraham did not discern, nor did others, that these two illustrations belonged, not to the same people, but to two different Israels. The earthly promises belonged to natural Israel. Eventually all mankind, blessed under the Messianic reign, will become Israelites—of the Seed of Abraham in the widest sense (Gal. 3:7).
Thus Abraham's Seed shall be as the sand of the seashore for multitude. And they must all have the faith and obedience of Abraham before they can reach perfection as members of his Seed. First in the order of blessing will come the Ancient Worthies—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the Prophets and holy ones of the past. These will be raised from the dead by the power of God—not imperfect and fallen, but perfect: fully up to all the glorious ideals of their minds aforetime. This will be their Millennial reward for having walked by faith and not by sight. Thus we read, Instead of being the fathers, they will be the children, whom Messiah will make princes in all the earth—His representatives in power, in rulership, in authority (Psa. 45:16). At that time the blessing that has been taken from Israel for many centuries will return to them.
CRIMES COMMITTED IN JESUS' NAME
With shame true Christians must admit that most atrocious crimes were committed in the name of Jesus during the "Dark Ages." Worse than that! The horrible misrepresentation of all that the name of Jesus stands for still continues. Not only were injustices practiced in the name of Christianity against the Jew in Russia in years past, and in various other nations in remoter times, but within our generation the so-called Christians of Germany, Poland, Romania, etc., have acted like veritable demons toward the Jewish people. Well authenticated accounts tell that Jewish cemeteries were despoiled. Many of those buried within the two preceding months were dug up and the putrid and mangled corpses thrown on the steps and in the dooryards of their families. In the World War, Phase 1, as the Russian soldiers went into battle, they drove Jewish women and their children ahead of them to absorb the bullets. In Russia, Poland and other so-called Christian countries thousands of Jews were burned in pogroms. In the World War, Phase 2, Hitler, after receiving the pope's blessing, reportedly slaughtered millions of Jews and turned their bodies into fertilizer. Can we wonder that in many cases the Jew has developed a hatred for the word Christian and for the name Jesus?
The name Jesus, as is well known, is but another form for Joshua, or Jehoshua (Num. 13:16), which signifies Jehovah's Deliverer. The name Christ is derived from the Greek equivalent for the name Messiah. Every Jew, rightly informed respecting the character and the teachings of Jesus, is bound to respect Him and His immediate followers as among the grandest Jews that ever lived. They must not be judged according to the perversion of their teachings, so common among many so-called Christians. And it should not be forgotten that while the masses of Christendom have misrepresented their teachings, doctrines and practices, there have been throughout the entire Age a saintly few who have closely followed in the footsteps of Jesus.
JEWS SOON TO RECOGNIZE THEIR MESSIAH
In our preaching we do not urge upon the Jews to become Christians; but we seek to hold forth the Divine standard for them and to assist them to get ready for the fulfillment of the glorious promises which are theirs. That the due time for the fulfillment of these is at hand, is the comfort we offer them, in harmony with our text. The Prophet declares that it will be after their return to their own land, and after the great Time of Trouble which is now upon Christendom, that the Jew will recognize that the great Messiah of glory, the great Michael of Daniel 12:1, for whose Kingdom they have been waiting, is none other than one of their own race (Isa. 7:14; 9:6, 7)—the "man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:5, 6), now exalted at the right hand of God (Psa. 110:1). God will then blessedly open their eyes of understanding. As the Prophet declares, "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10); they will then see the identity between the Jesus who was sacrificed for the sins of Israel and the world, and the Messiah of Glory.
Meantime, what has God wrought? Ah, this, again, we say is the Mystery! Here and there from Jew and Gentile, saintly characters have been sought and found by the preaching of the message of Christ, even though that message frequently was dimmed by earthly imperfections and blemishes and by erroneous representations. Those saintly ones share with Messiah in Divine blessings on the spirit plane, mentioned to Abraham under the figure that his "Seed shall be as the stars of heaven."
But under what conditions do these attain a spiritual inheritance like unto the angels and far above them? We answer that the spirit nature is the Divine reward of a special obedience. Our race was not created on the heavenly plane nor for a heavenly nature, but of the earth earthy. And its salvation from sin will bring it to the full perfection of human nature and to the full enjoyment of a world-wide Eden. The Spiritual Seed of Abraham is primarily the Messiah and the Elect Little Flock of saintly footstep followers. The price of their exaltation is their consecration unto death and faithfulness to that Vow. These are the Jewels mentioned by the Lord to the Prophet—"Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice"; "They shall be mine, … in that day when I make up my jewels" (Psa. 50:5; Mal. 3:17).
Then "in that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: that they may possess the remnant of Edom [the residue of men], and [even] of all the Gentiles, upon whom my name [my character] is called [impressed], saith the LORD that doeth this" (Amos 9:11, 12; see also Acts 15:16). Thus God will again raise up the fallen house of David, which has long been in a state of decay. "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD [the capital of the earthly phase of His kingdom]; and all nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the imagination [stubbornness] of their evil heart" (Jer. 3:17; see also Zeph. 3:14-20). Indeed, God is now beginning His great work of delivering Israel, and the world stands amazed at this modern miracle. It is to be an everlasting deliverance; and soon through Abraham's Seed all the families of the earth will receive the promised blessing.
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