Jewish Hopes and Prospects
Chapter 3: The Time To Favor Zion
"Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof. So the Gentiles shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory" (Psa. 102:13-16).
NOT only is there a great Creator, but He is definite and orderly in His dealings with humanity and in His shaping of earth's affairs. For instance, our text mentions the time, yea, the set time, for the return of Divine favor to Zion. God has a due time for everything. In His due time David, Solomon and others represented Him in the kingdom of Israel and "sat on the throne of the LORD" (1 Chro. 29:23). Later the kingdom was taken from Zedekiah, the last of the line of David to sit upon the throne of God's typical kingdom. Of him we read, "And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end … Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same. … I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it … until he [Messiah] come whose right it is; and I will give it [unto] him" (Ezek. 21:25-27).
God's promise to David—"The sure mercies of David"—was that of the fruit of his loins one would sit on the throne of the LORD forever (2 Sam. 7:12-16). The real purport of this promise was that Messiah, the long-promised King of Israel, would be the root and offshoot of the Davidic line and blessed of the LORD (Isa. 11:10); His Kingdom would not come to an end like the typical kingdom, but would be everlasting, fully competent to fulfill all of the Divine promises made to Abraham—"In thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3; 22:18).
When the dominion was taken from Zedekiah, the Gentile governments were recognized, but not in the same manner as was Israel. None of them was designated the Kingdom of God, nor given perpetual rule. But they were promised a lease of power during the period when Israel was to be cast off from God's favor. At the appointed time their lease of earthly power was to terminate, and God's original provision for Israel to represent His Kingdom in the world, was to return. This is the set time referred to in our text.
THE VISION OF GENTILE DOMINION
At the time of Zedekiah's overthrow, God gave the lease of earthly power to Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, as is related in Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 2). Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, but could not remember his vision. Daniel the prophet, who had been made prisoner at an earlier date, was, by Divine providence, introduced to the king as the one person in all the world able to rehearse the king's dream and to give its interpretation, and his power so to do is declared to have been of God (v. 28). The vision (Dan. 2:31-45) was of a stupendous image. Its head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar's Empire—Babylon. Its breast and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire. Its belly and thighs of brass represented the Grecian Empire. Its strong legs of iron represented the Roman Empire, East and West. Its feet of iron and clay represented Papal Rome. The iron continues to represent civil governments, and the miry clay, making them appear like stone, represents ecclesiasticism as it is now mixed up with the politics of the ten language nations of Europe.
The whole period of time in which these various Gentile governments were to dominate the world was to last until Messiah's promised Kingdom. And this period is symbolically stated to be "seven times"; that is, seven years—evidently not literal years, but symbolic years. At its end the lease of earthly power of Gentile governments was to terminate in the great Time of Trouble foretold by Daniel (12:1). Then Messiah was to stand up in the sense of assuming control of earth's affairs, and the Gentile governments were to be overthrown, for all nations are to serve and obey Messiah. Then God's Chosen People, Israel, were to come to the front in the world's affairs, because they were to become the representatives and instruments among men of Messiah's Kingdom, which will be spiritual and invisible, as is the kingdom of the Prince of this world, the Prince of darkness, whom Messiah binds or restrains at the beginning of the thousand years of His reign of righteousness, and destroys at its conclusion, when He shall deliver the Kingdom of the earth over to the Father. Mankind will then be perfect, because all wilful sinners will be destroyed in the Second Death (Psa. 145:20). Meantime, Messiah's reign will not only bless and uplift Israel, but through Israel the blessing will extend to every nation, people, kindred and tongue in full accord with the Divine promise and oath made to Abraham many centuries ago (Gen. 12:3; 22:18).
MESSIAH’S KINGDOM IN THE VISION
All this is briefly and beautifully represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, as explained by Daniel (2:34-45). He saw a stone taken from the mountain without human aid. He watched and saw the stone smite the image on its feet and beheld, as the result, the complete demolishment of the image. This smiting of the image in the feet symbolically represents Divine power breaking into pieces present Gentile systems and institutions preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom of God in their stead. Then Messiah's Kingdom, symbolized by the stone, is represented as not only filling the place where the image stood, but gradually increasing and filling the whole earth. From this standpoint, it is not difficult for us to believe the words of our text, that there is a time for God's regathering Zion, yea, a set time—fixed and unalterable. Elsewhere the Scriptures indicate more exactly when this set time was to arrive.
ISRAEL'S SEVEN TIMES OF PUNISHMENT
In Lev. 26:14-45 we have a remarkable prophecy of the punishments that God forecast as coming upon Israel for their violations of His Covenant. In vs. 14-17 their transgressions and consequent punishments during the times of the judges and kings are set forth. Then, they still not amending, v. 18 threatens them with seven times of punishment. Vs. 19, 20 go back and treat again prophetically of the punishments of the times of the judges and kings, which not sufficing, a second time the threat of seven times of punishment is made in v. 21, where the word "more" should not be in the text, for not seven times more plagues were threatened there. The same thing is repeated a third time in vs. 22-24. This is done a fourth and final time in vs. 25, 28. All this is done for emphasis.
Since we see that four times stress is laid on the punishments of the judges' and kings' times, what is meant by the added seven times of punishment following the punishments of the day of the judges and kings? We understand it to refer to seven symbolic years, i.e., 7 x 360 years; for 360 years are a symbolic year in prophecy. This we see from the 70, 69 and 62 symbolic weeks of Dan. 9:24-27 and from the seven literal times or years fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:23; 12:7, 11, 12; Rev. 12:14; 11:2, 3), as typing seven symbolic times or years. Seven symbolic years are 7 x 360, or 2520 years. Since we see that a symbolic week is seven years (a day for a year) and a symbolic month is 30 years (30 years being a month of symbolic days), a symbolic year is thus 360 years.
GENTILES TIMES ENDED IN 1914
This enables us to see that by the term, Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24), the prophecy pointed out the 2520 years from the Fall of 607 B.C. (when the "seven times" of Gentile domination began, with the overthrow of Zedekiah and the desolation of the land by Nebuchadnezzar) to the Fall of 1914 A.D. (when the trench warfare of the World War began, by which Satan began the antitypical depopulation of Christendom); for from 607 B.C. to 1914 A.D. Israel was to receive special punishment for violating the Law Covenant by being trodden under foot of the Gentiles. Thus we see that the 2520 years of the Gentile lease of power ended in the Fall of 1914, at which time Messiah began to dispossess the Gentile powers in the great Time of Trouble (Dan. 12:1; Psa. 46:6-10; 110:2, 5, 6). Since the Fall of 1914, when the time of wrath began, both Jew and Gentile suffer for sins as humans, apart from any covenant. Israel's share in this latter suffering is part of the first phase of the experience called "Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:5-7), since the first part began in 1881. Its second part, still future, is described in Ezek. 38 and 39.
ISRAEL AFTER ZEDEKIAH'S OVERTHROW
We pick up the thread of Israel's history at the time (607 B.C.) that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, uncrowned king Zedekiah, took him and the people into captivity in Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and desolated the land, thus fulfilling the words of the prophets (Ezek. 21:25-27; Jer. 25:9-11; 2 Chro. 36:17-21). The prophecy had given also the length of the desolation of the land, i.e., seventy years; and this also was fulfilled. Cyrus, king of Persia, conquered Babylon; and in his first year, which marked the end of these seventy years, he made a proclamation which not only granted permission to the Israelites to return to the land and rebuild Jerusalem, but also favored them in doing so (2 Chro. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1). Accordingly, many of the Israelites returned, as stated in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Though Jerusalem was then rebuilt, and the captives returned, Isreal was not granted full independence. Though restored to their land and to personal liberty by Cyrus, they as a nation, were subject successively to the Medo-Persians, Grecians and Romans.
DANIEL'S PROPHECY OF 70 WEEKS
The prophet Daniel had prophesied a period of 70 weeks (Dan. 9:24-27), 69 of which were to reach from the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem to Messiah the Prince (v. 25). Taking the key of a day for a year (Ezek. 4:6), seventy weeks would be 490 symbolic years; and 69 symbolic weeks (483 years) would reach from Nehemiah's commission (Neh. 2:3-8; 6:15; 7:1) in 454 B.C. to A.D. 29, when Israel's Messiah the Prince was manifested. In the midst of the 70th week Israel's Messiah was to be cut off, but not for Himself (v. 26); and it was just 3½ years (one half of a symbolic week) after the Fall of A.D. 29, in the Spring of A.D. 33, that Israel's Messiah was crucified. Because of the Jews' rejection of their Messiah, the period of their special favor as a nation ended in A.D. 33, though special favor to individual Jews continued until the end of the 70th week (v. 27), A.D. 36, when the favor began to go out to the Gentiles, Cornelius being the first (Acts 10). The desolation of the city and the sanctuary is foretold also (vs. 26, 27); this was accomplished when the Roman prince—Titus—and his army destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70-73. The Jews' great sufferings at that time and their consequent dispersion among all nations are foretold in Luke 21:20-24.
Their dispersion throughout the Gospel Age in many lands is forecast in many other prophecies, e.g., Isa. 43:5, 6; Jer. 16:13-16; 23:7, 8; 29:14; 30:11; 32:37. Other Scriptures also forecast the desolation of their land and their cities, e.g., Deut. 29:22-24, 27; Isa. 17:4-6; Jer. 4:20, 26-28; 12:4, 7, 10-13; 19:8; Amos 3:14; 5:3, 5; 7:8, 9; Micah 1:6; Matt. 11:20-24.
ISRAEL'S RETURN TO GOD'S FAVOR AND LAND
It will be noted that in connection with almost all of these prophecies of disfavor and woe upon the Jews and their land, cities and towns, God promises the restoration of Israel to His favor and to the Holy Land, and of the land to more than its former fertility and the rebuilding of their waste cities and towns. Thus God did not forsake them forever. And before our very eyes we see the beginnings of the fulfillment of these prophecies. The following are a few of those that predict their return to His favor: Lev. 26:40-45; Psa. 102:13-17; Isa. 40:1, 2; Ezek. 16:60-63; Rom. 11:25-27. They fell into partial disfavor because of their violations of the Law Covenant (their iniquities, Psa. 107:17), and fell into full disfavor for rejecting Messiah (their transgression, Psa. 107:17). St. Paul (Rom. 11:25) assures us that this full disfavor would rest upon them until the fullness of the Gentiles (the full number of the Gentile elect) would come in (enter into the Body of Christ). Such a coming into the Body of Christ by the full number of the Gentile elect had a twofold fulfillment: (1) a probationary one, which occurred Passover, 1878, and a final one, which occurred by Oct., 1914. Accordingly, Fleshly Israel was to remain in blindness as long as the Gospel-Age election was in process. It will be noted that they fell into disfavor as a nation the day that Christ pronounced blindness upon them—Nisan 10, 33 A.D.—the day He entered Jerusalem (Luke 19:42). Two days later Jesus said that they were already a desolate and blinded people (Matt. 23:37-39). Hence the day of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem their blindness began, which, according to Zech. 9:9-12, began what Zechariah calls their double. Jeremiah (16:18) tells us how long their punishment would last—a period that he also calls a double. Isa. 40:2 tells us that after they suffered their appointed time (see the margin), which is called her double, God's favor would begin to return to them and that as a result they would be comforted.
ISRAEL'S KEPHEL AND MISHNEH
Summing up: Rom. 11:25 tells us that they would be in full disfavor (hence their double would last) as long as the Gospel Age would last in its selection of the full number of the Gentile elect. The Hebrew word kephel, translated double in Isa. 40:2, means a page folded upon itself, the fold beginning at its exact middle. The Hebrew word used in Zech. 9:12 and Jer. 16:18 is mishneh, which, among other things, means an exact repetition in time and general character. Zech. 9:12 tells us that the double began in its second part the day of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem, Nisan 10, 33 A.D. We note that according to the Bible chronology Jacob, the head of Fleshly Israel, died and thus the Jewish Age, as distinct from the Patriarchal Age, which ended at Jacob's death, began April, 1813 B.C., while Jesus, the Head of Spiritual Israel, died April, 33 A.D., exactly 1845 years after Jacob's death. We know that in April, 1878, exactly 1845 years after Jesus' death, the first two expressions of God's returning favor came upon Israel: (1) Franz Delitzsch began preparations to circulate the edition of his Hebrew New Testament, and (2) the Concert of Europe began preparations for the convening of the Berlin Conference, which in June, 1878, the same time as Delitzsch began the general circulation of his Hebrew Testament, decreed certain ameliorations of restrictions on the resident Jews in Palestine and on the return of other Jews to Palestine. Thus the facts prove that the second part of the double ended in 1878—1845 years after Jesus' death (when the second part of the double began). And since Jacob died and the Jewish Age began 1845 years before Jesus' death, the first part of the double began at Jacob's death and was just as long as the Jewish Age, which ended at Jesus' death. In other words, they were to have as a nation God's disfavor just as long as they as a nation had His favor. Hence the Jewish and Gospel Ages in their first ends are exactly of the same length; and, singularly enough, as it was 36½ years later than April, 33 A.D. that the surrounding of Jerusalem from afar set in, Oct., 69 A.D., when the Jewish Harvest ended, so it was 36½ years after April, 1878, that trench warfare (by which Christendom's devastation started) in the World War set in, Oct., 1914, when the Gospel Harvest and Israel's seven times, 2520 years from Oct., 607 B.C., ended.
THE BEGINNING OF THE FULFILMENT
Accordingly, we should see Israel's blindness and prejudice against Jesus (Rom. 11:25) passing away. And what do we see? This: Whereas in April, 1878, Israel's blindness and prejudice were as dense as for centuries, beginning with that date, slowly and gradually these are disappearing, e.g., now most Jews think very favorably of Jesus, calling Him the greatest of Israel's prophets, a Holy Man and a most marvelous Reformer, e.g., Rabbi Stephen Wise, who for years was America's most prominent rabbi and Jewish leader, in his sermons warmly recommended to his congregation to welcome the Gospels to their homes and to study them; and many other Jewish pulpits echo the same sentiments. Again, some Jewish authors have written commendatory lives of Christ, e.g., Dr. Joseph Klausner, an able Jewish Hebrew scholar, has written a life of Jesus in very complimentary terms, though, of course, he does not accept Him as the Messiah. Like leaders, like led! Delitzsch's Hebrew Testament and that of Ginsburg, as also translations of it into Yiddish, are widely read in Jewish circles and are removing Israel's blindness and prejudice slowly, but surely. We are not to expect their full deliverance from their Gospel-Age blindness and prejudice, until after the completion of Jacob's Trouble, but the work now going on is clearing the ground for that glorious result.
The other form of God's returning favor to Israel is their return to the Holy Land and its prospering under their care by God's blessing. This is forecast in very many Scriptures, of which we will cite a few: Jer. 16:14-18; 30:4-8, 18-22; 31:4-14, 21, 23-25, 27, 28, 35-40; 32:36, 37; 33:7, 10, 11; Ezek. 36:1-15, 24-38; 37:1-28; Hos. 3:4, 5. These Scriptures cannot refer to their return from Babylon; for they call it the return from the north country (Russia, which is north of Palestine, while Babylon is east of Palestine) and all the other countries where they were scattered, countries that neither they nor their fathers knew (Jer. 15:4, 14; 16:13), whereas Abraham came from Chaldean Babylon, and whereas Babylon was but one country, though made up of several states. Hence the return spoken of in these passages is from their second exile. Shortly after the Berlin Congress, June, 1878, removed the disabilities on Israelites' return and stay in Palestine, they began at first in small, then in increasing numbers, to return, until today there are over 6,000,000 Jews in Israel and the country is prospering marvelously under its own independent government and polity. It is the one nation that stands out above all others as a twentieth-century miracle.
As our text prophesies, God has come to the aid of His Israel and is showing mercy to Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, has come. And through Abraham's seed soon all nations shall be blessed. Soon the Gentiles shall reverence the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth shall see His glory: for "when the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory." And as truly as God lives, "all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD" (Num. 14:21).
"At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart" (Jer. 3:17).
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