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ISRAEL THE FIG TREE    MM#14    Original print 1977  –  This edition  May 2009 

 

 

“Behold the fig tree, and all the trees:

as soon as they put forth leaves ...

summer is near...

recognise that the kingdom of God is near.”

 

(Luke 21:29-31)

 

By   DON  E. STANTON

 
 
The Lord Jesus Christ, Y’shua the Messiah, gave a pro­phetic message to His disciples in the form of a parable. It has perplex­ed many since that time. A parable is a story with a moral or spiritual mean­ing, and as this one is very important, I want all my readers to understand it clearly.
 
Read the parable in Luke 21:29-32:
And He told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; when they put forth leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is now near. Likewise, when you see these things happening, recognise that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.”
 
The “Fig Tree” is a symbol of the nation, Israel. In Jer­emiah 24, the Israelites are likened to good and bad figs. Con­cerning the latter we read:
“But like the bad figs which cannot be eaten due to rottenness — for thus says YHWH* — so I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a terror and an evil for all the kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I shall banish them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their forefathers.” (Jeremiah 24: 8-10) 
 
(*YHWH – Yahweh – the Eternal One)
 
Again in chapter 29, we read:
“Thus says YHWH of hosts, ‘Behold, I am sending upon them the sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like split-open figs that cannot be eaten due to rottenness. I will pursue them with the sword, with famine and with pestilence; and I will make them a terror, to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and a horror and a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have banished them, because they have not listened to My words,’ declares YHWH, ‘which I sent to them again and again by My servants, the prophets; but you did not listen,’ declares YHWH.”  (Jeremiah 29: 17-19)
 

THE TREE WITHOUT FRUIT

Now you may remember that Jesus the Messiah once cursed a certain tree because it had no fruit, and immediately the tree withered up. Do you remember what type of tree it was?  Yes, a fig tree.
 
But don’t you think that was a strange thing for the Master to do - to curse a tree? Was this a fit of temper of the Lord? Was it an odd case of lack of self-control? Did the Messiah ever curse people - even His enemies?  Never!  Did He ever kick a dog? No!  Did He ever harm anyone?  No!  Always His actions were kind and loving. Only once He became angry - when thieves were turning the temple into a market-place. And He drove them out. That was divine indig­nation. But the Lord never displayed hatred or malice of any kind. Then why did He curse a poor, innocent fig tree?  Why?  It was not even the time for fruit-bearing!  Look at the account:
 
Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. Seeing a certain fig tree, by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves. Then He said to it, ‘Never again will there be fruit from you.’ And immediately the fig tree withered away. Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, ‘How did the fig tree wither away so quickly?’ ”  (Matthew 21:18-20)
 
Only a few days later, the Master taught the parable. You see, when Y’shua cursed that fig tree, he was prophesying. He was giving a very important lesson, and illustrating it in a very striking way.  No, it was not temper or spite, but the Master, as always, was illustrating His teaching.
 

That barren fig tree was a picture of the nation of Israel. God had created the nation, as He has created every individual, to bring forth good fruit - the fruit of righteousness, of which we read in particular, in Scripture:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful­ness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

 

But Israel, in the days of the Master was not bringing forth godly fruit! It was barren - spiritually barren and had indeed, placed itself under the curse of God. Had not God said:

“If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. Truly, the mouth of YHWH has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:19-20) ?

That warning has been fulfilled in Israel’s history, not once, but twice, thrice; yes, four, five, a dozen times.

During the Lord’s ministry in AD 30, Israel was barren. It was religious but not righteous. It was captive to the Roman Empire, but its greater captivity was to unbelief, apostasy and hypocrisy.

John the Baptist had come, calling the nation to repent­ance and to righteousness. But how many repented? A small minority! Many, of course, followed the Lord Jesus, but as He Himself said, they came to see the miracles, and because they were given a free meal, rather than to hear the message of God. And when the Master started to teach deeper truths, even some of His disciples left Him.

One would think that with the very Son of God in flesh and blood in their midst, this divinely-chosen nation, would have experienced a most remarkable spiritual revival. But no! The Lord wept and said, “I would have gathered you like a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you would not ...you would not come to Me that you might have life.”

The religious rulers plotted against Him, and said, “We will not have this man to reign over us! Crucify Him.” And they did.

After Pentecost there were thousands who turned to the Saviour, but they were always a minority. Twenty years later, believers amongst Jews in Israel were few - for they were scattered abroad - and the nation was more apostate than ever.

The fig tree was barren, and its spiritual life had withered up. And very soon Israel would be cut off as a nation.

 

JERUSALEM WILL BE TRAMPLED DOWN

Most of Luke 21 is from the Master’s great prophecy given to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, only a few days before His crucifixion. The same prophecy is given in Matthew 24, but there are differences in these two parallel passages. They are not contradictory, but are presented from different angles. Matthew is particularly concerned with the end years of the Jewish age, while Luke presents a panorama of the Gentile age.

The prophecy came as a response to the comments and queries of the disciples who were with the Master in the Great Temple in Jerusalem. This was the second temple. The original temple built by Solomon had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in BC 586. After 70 years of captivity, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem, and Zerubbabel then built the second temple. Later on, this temple was extended and greatly embellished by King Herod “the Great.” Herod’s work on the temple had taken 46 years (John 2:20), and it is said that this temple was the most beautiful building east of Rome. (Of course, neither the Taj Mahal nor the Sydney Opera House was standing at that time!)

Well, the temple certainly looked impressive to the fisher­men from Galilee. The Master’s comment, however, was:

“As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon an­other which will not be torn down.” (Luke 21:6)

 

A MODEL OF HEROD’S TEMPLE  (but this does not show the real beauty)

This aroused the curiosity of the disciples. They had already learnt quite a lot about prophecy and the kingdom of God. Y’shua had told them He was going away, and would come again, so they put their questions to Him, “Lord, tell us more. What will be the sign of Your coming? When will the Temple be destroyed? When will You establish Your kingdom? And what about the end of the age? “

So the Lord explains.  Before the end, there would be false christs, great wars, earthquakes, plagues and famines, and also terrors and signs in the heavens.

“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, handing you over to the syna­gogues and prisons, and bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake.” (Luke 21:12)

Concerning Jerusalem, He says:

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled. What agony there will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress upon the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be taken as captives into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24)

John the Baptist had also warned:

“And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)

The axe fell in AD 70 - just 40 years after the Messiah prophesied the withering up of “the tree”, and the destruction of Jerusalem.

The number “40” in Scripture speaks of probation, or testing. So those 40 years were a final period of testing for Israel. But no! Israel did not repent! And so the axe fell. The nation was devoured by the sword, even as Y’shua had warned.

THE SCATTERING OF ISRAEL          

In AD 70, the Roman General Titus led his armies into Israel, to quell a rebellion and to destroy the nation. The population was about six million. Truly these were “days of venge­ance.”

The Romans assaulted Jerus­alem, but as they began to scale    

the walls, the Jews poured boiling oil over them.

The Romans retaliated by crucifying hundreds of the Jewish prisoners they had taken, within sight of the city walls, and by cruelly mutilating others and sending them back to Jerusalem with demands for surrender lest such a fate befall the defenders of the city.

In its history, Jerusalem has been besieged 46 times; par­tially destroyed 13 times, completely 17; and has changed hands 25 times.

The siege of the city lasted for 4 months and the condition of the city became desperate. Unburied corpses lay in the streets. Diseases spread. Many starving people ate the flesh of their own children. Finally the Romans battered down the gates, and began a ruthless slaughter and destruction. Thousands of babies were thrown from high buildings to the streets below. Flames began to envelop the temple and the city.

How accurately the Messiah’s prophecy was fulfilled. After the fire had gutted the temple, the Romans began tearing the massive stones apart, to collect the gold which had melted and solidified between the rocks. Thus not one stone remained upon another.

One million people perished by the sword or by crucifixion. 2 million were dragged off in chains to become slaves through­out the Roman Empire.

Resistance to the Romans continued in some areas, until only the mountain fortress of Masada, 1500 ft. above the Dead Sea, remained. After holding out for two years, and as the Romans were making their final assault, the commander of the doomed fortress led his men in a death pact. 966 people perished, as the men first killed their wives and children, and then themselves. The fall of Masada brought the nation to a complete end in AD 73.

Thus the Messiah’s prophecy, (and John’s), concerning the destruction of Israel was fulfilled. The fig tree was cut down, and barely a stump remained. Oh the accuracy of Bible pro­phecies! Oh the warnings of God! Had He not said, “If you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’’

The Master’s reference to the “days of vengeance” is a link to Isaiah:

“I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger, and trampled them in My wrath; And their life blood is sprinkled on My garments, and I have stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and the year of redemption for My redeemed has come . . . I have trampled down the peoples in My anger and in My wrath I made them drunk, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” (Isaiah 63:3, 4 & 6)

Does it seem terrible to you, that here God is pictured as One who tramples upon His own people? Is God One who delights in pouring out blood upon the earth?

Of course not! He is indeed a holy, righteous sin-hating God. But He is also a loving, gracious God, who delights in mercy. Look at the next few verses:

“I shall make mention of the loving-kindnesses of YHWH, the praises of YHWH, according to all that YHWH has granted us. And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion, and according to the multitude of His loving-kindnesses.

“For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.’ So He became their Saviour. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:7-9)

This is the true nature of God, and how His heart goes out to those who go astray. And His chastisements and judg­ments are always intended to draw His people back to His lov­ing arms. See the next verses:

“But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses.” (Isaiah 63:10, 11)

My reader, do you sometimes feel that God has been cruel to you? Sometimes you feel you are in the midst of a fiery furnace. Beloved — Jesus walks in the furnace with you. Just turn your eyes upon Him. He also went through the “wine­press.” His soul was crushed there on the cross, because He loves you. And He is afflicted in all your afflictions. Do not rebel, my friend, whatever the circumstance, but praise the Eternal One, for His thoughts are always good towards you.

TRAGEDY — THEY WOULD NOT!

As I reflect on the thousands of Jews crucified around Jerusalem in AD 70, I think, what a tragedy! There was no need for such a massacre. The only crucifixion that was needed was that of the Son of God, who was crucified 40 years earlier. He died that these unfortunate Jews might be saved — but they would not. If the Jewish nation had received and trusted the Messiah, they would never have been routed from their land. The great armies of the Romans would have been as grasshoppers, had the Holy One of Israel been enthroned in their midst. But they would not have Him to reign over them.

And what of my reader today? Will you have the Lord Jesus reign over you today? Have you enthroned Him in your midst, in your heart? Or do you, like the Jews say: “Away with Him”? Or maybe, you seek to walk a middle path and give lip service to the Son of God, and not your heart. It will never do! Beware lest you also should feel the heel of the wrath of God, and you perish in the midst of the way.

The temple destroyed in AD 70 has never been rebuilt. In subsequent invasions and pillages, not only Jerusalem, but practically the whole country of Israel was destroyed. The hills were deliberately denuded, and left to corrode.

After some time, Jews began to trickle back to Jerusalem. In AD 132, a Jew named Simon Bar Kochba led a successful revolt against the Roman garrison. He retook the city and possessed it for 3 years until the Romans came in great force and completely destroyed Jerusalem in AD 135. To remove all trace of the Jewish city, the Romans plowed it over and then built a Roman city upon the site. A temple to Zeus was built on the temple mount and the city was called Aelia Capitolina. Jews were forbidden to enter the city for centuries.

The Land of Israel, or “Palestrina” as the Romans renamed it, was, in following centuries, conquered and re-conquered time after time, and it passed from ruler to ruler.

During the reign of the “Christian” Roman Emperor, Constantine, new attention was paid to Jerusalem. Pagan temples were replaced by Christian churches and the city became a pilgrimage centre, until the Moslem Caliph, Omar, captured the city in AD 638.

In 691, Abdul Malik, fifth Caliph of the Ummayyad dynasty, built and dedicated a mosque over the “Rock of Foundation,” which is believed to have been in the centre of the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple, and the same rock upon which Abraham had offered his son, Isaac; hence the name, Dome of the Rock. In the Islamic tradition, this is the spot from which the Prophet Mohammed ascended to Heaven. Because of this tradition, the Moslems regard Jerusa­lem as their third holiest city — after Mecca and Medina.

After the Arabs, came the Seljuks, then the Crusaders, the Egyptian Mamluks, and in 1517, the Turks. (The Turk, Suleiman the Great, built the modern walls and gates of Jerusalem.)

Next, in 1917, the British captured the city and administered it until May 1948. Transjordan then possessed the old city and held it until 1967, when finally Israel captured and controlled it for the first time in 1,832 years.

Thus from AD 70 to the present generation, Jerusalem has been trodden down by the Gentiles.

JERUSALEM, DOMINATED BY THE DOME OF THE ROCK, TODAY

 

THE WANDERING JEW

             

 

God had clearly warned Israel at the dedication of the first temple:

“But if you or your sons shall indeed turn away from following Me, and shall not keep My Com­mandments and My statutes which I have set before you and shall go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consec­rated for My Name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a by­word among all peoples. And this House will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has YHWH done thus to this land and to this House?’ And they will say, ‘because they forsook YHWH their God, who brought their fathers out the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore YHWH has brought all this adversity on them’.” (I Kings 9:6-9)

It happened once, it happened twice. They became a byword, a vagabond, hounded from country to country, persecuted wherever they went. Why? Because they rejected and crucified, the Holy One of God. Had they not said, “Let His blood be upon us, and upon our children”? Had they not profaned the Name of Christ more than any other people? Having the written oracles of God in their hands, and having read the Scriptures which speak of the Son of God every Sabbath, they failed to recognise Him. Because of the tradi­tions of men they hardened their hearts, and became blind to the truth of God, and deaf to the voice of God.

The LORD Yahweh explains:

“I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. Also I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them. When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy Name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of YHWH; yet they have come out of His land’.”  (Ezekiel 36:18-20)

God had given a warning to Israel as early as BC 1450, before the nation entered the promised land a warning that the nation would be scattered all over the earth if they dis­obeyed His Word.

“If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this Book, to fear this honored and awesome Name, YHWH your God, then YHWH will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sick­nesses.

“Moreover, YHWH will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. And among those nations you shall find no rest, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there  YHWH will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.” (Deuteronomy 28:58-59, 64-65)

The warning clearly shows that the Jews would not be totally absorbed into the nations, but would become a persecuted and restless people.

The Jews throughout the nations became known as money-lenders, epitomized as shrewd, ruthless exploiters, and characterized by the merciless Shylock in Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” - “I vill ‘ave my pound of flesh.”

Although the majority of Jews have never engaged in money-lending, the stigma is still attached to the race today. The Rothschilds of Europe - one of the biggest inter­national banking dynasties in the world are Jews, as are the Warburgs, the Kuhn-Loebs, Schiffs and many other financial leaders in America.

Golda Meir went to the USA, in early 1948, and raised $10 million from Jewish businessmen in ONE day.

That Jewish finance in America has tremendous influence on US policies is a well established fact. And that Israel will continue to bear a stigma until she repents and receives her Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), is a fact written in her own Scriptures.

 

THE REGATHERING OF ISRAEL 

Look again at the parable-prophecy.

“Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that the summer is now near.” (Luke 21:29-30)

The Messiah is saying that Israel would once more blossom.  The nation would come to life again at the end of the age, when the “times of the Gentiles” were fulfilled.

“The times of the gentiles” is now almost finished — but not quite. The Gentile age will end when God completes His work of calling and saving a vast remnant from the Gentile world - that is, the “Church” or the “Body of Christ” — a company of believers in Y’shua, the Lord Jesus, saved by His blood, from every nation.

The Saviour is now giving His last call and the last chance for lost men and women to be saved. We know this present Gentile age is almost over because:

1.   THE ENDTIME SIGNS & CONDITIONS ARE HAPPENING RAPIDLY

Many false christs, and false prophets; World Wars, in­crease of great earthquakes, cyclones, plagues, famines, pestilences, diseases, violence, and crime. There’s the moral breakdown, the breakdown of marriages, the breakup of homes and of family relationships. There’s the flood of pornography, the spate of drug addiction and the advent of unabashed Satanism. There’s the buildup of armaments and nuclear weapons, also of national debts. There’s the evolving of a One-World Government, and a One-World religion, a global monet­ary system and a new world order. All these things must take place.

2.   THE FIG TREE IS BUDDING     

God is once again taking up His program with Israel. Jews from all over the world have been gathered to their ancient homeland. The Jewish State has recaptured, after 19 centuries, the old city of Jerusalem (although it is still being, partly, “trampled underfoot” by Gentiles).

The orthodox Jews are preparing to rebuild the temple. The Rabbinical order have already selected and trained Jews of the Tribe of Levi as priests, ready to reinstitute the Aaronic system, including animal sacrifices.

The Lord Jesus said the fig tree would shoot forth new leaves. The nation of Israel would be restored, and Jerusalem would once again be given into the hands of the Jewish people.

Jeremiah had also prophesied of Israel’s regathering:

“For I am with you, declares YHWH, to save you. For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely, but I will chasten you justly, and will by no means leave you unpunished. For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds, declares YHWH, because they have called you an outcast, saying: ‘It is Zion; no one cares for her.’

“Thus says YHWH, ‘Because, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwelling places; and the city shall be rebuilt on its ruins, and the palace shall stand on its rightful place.’ And you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”  (Jeremiah 30:11,17, 18, 22)

Amidst the promise of restoration however, there was the surety that God will purge His people in the last days:

“Behold, the tempest of YHWH! Wrath has gone forth; a sweeping tempest; it will burst on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of YHWH will not turn back until He has performed, and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart. In the latter days you will understand this.” (Jeremiah 30:23, 34)

Isaiah prophesied specifically about the SECOND re-gathering of Israel:

“Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with  His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”  (Isaiah 11:11-12)

Ezekiel also prophesied of the restored Israel:

“Therefore, say to the House of Israel, ‘Thus says the Sovereign Master YHWH: It is not for your sake, O House of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great Name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am YHWH,’ declares the Sovereign Master YHWH, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

‘Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people and I will be your God’.”  (Ezekiel 36:22-28)

Did you note that? It is because of god’s holy name that He would restore Israel. He would not cast off His people for ever. He would chasten them, yes, even for 1900 years, but He would not forget them, nor leave them.

Can’t you hear the taunts of the nations? — “Who is Yahweh, the God of the Jews? Who is the God of Elijah, of Moses, of David? In which way is He God, that He should allow His possession to be scattered for ever? And what is His land that it should be a perpetual desert?”

Has God said, and shall He not do it? Has He promised and shall He not make it good? He certainly will, and just at the right time.

If, one hundred and fifty years ago, you met a man who spoke of a nation Israel, situated in the Turkish-controlled land of Palestine, with its own Parliament, and flourishing like a watered garden, you would automatically think that he was a type of Rip Van Winkle and had been asleep for the last 2,500 years, or, that he was an illusionist who has somehow managed to escape from an asylum. Or just per chance, he could be either a Christian prophecy student, or a highly hopeful Jewish Zionist.

One hundred and fifty years ago, there were barely 10,000 Jews in Palestine. And who wanted the land then? It was a desert. And deserts go very cheaply (unless there are proven oil reserves under the sand). And certainly Palestine was not gushing forth with liquid gold.

Millions of Jews had migrated to the USA - this, to them, was “the land of promise, flowing with milk and honey.”

But God had said. And God moved! In about the year 1880, Russia expelled large numbers of Jews, and thousands of these displaced people found their way to Palestine.

In 1897, through the vision of Dr. Theodor Herzl, the Zionist Movement began, with the aim of working for a restor­ed homeland in the region of Palestine, for the displaced Jewish people, and for a revival of Judaism. (Zion is another name for Jerusalem).

                                                                   THEODOR HERZL    

The first Zionist Congress met in Aug. 29-31 that year (1897) in Basle (Switzerland). 197 dele­gates, mostly from Europe, attended. Dr. Herzl had a charismatic and dynamic leadership and his strenuous work on behalf of Zionism led him to an early death in 1904, at 44 years of age.

In his diary a few days after the first congress, Herzl wrote: “In Basle I founded the Jewish state. If I said this today in public, I would be met with universal derision. In five years perhaps, but in any case in fifty, everybody will understand this.”

In was exactly fifty years later - 31st Aug. 1947, that the UN Special Commission for Palestine recommended the establishment of a Jewish state.

 

THE VALLEY OF DRY BONES  

                                              

25 centuries before Israel’s resurrection, a prophet named Ezekiel had a vision of a restored Israel.

“The hand of YHWH was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of YHWH and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. And He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me. ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered. ‘O Sovereign Master, YHWH, You know? Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, dry bones, hear the word of YHWH. Thus says the Sovereign Master YHWH to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. And I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am YHWH.’

“So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

“Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man and say to the breath, Thus says the Sovereign Master, YHWH, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.’

“So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Sovereign Master YHWH, Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am YHWH, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, YHWH have spoken and done it, declares YHWH.” (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

In this vision we see that the restoration of Israel is in two stages. First there would be a physical return to the land, signified by the bones coming together. Second, there would be a spiritual return to the Lord — the bodies receiving breath.

The physical return commenced slowly after 1880, and gradually gained momentum until the State of Israel was formed in 1948.

In was a mammoth task, at first, to convince the Jewish people throughout the nations that such a homeland was possible, or even desirable. But such was the determination, and the vision, and the urgency of Herzl that slowly, support for the movement was given.

God was moving His reluctant people. Like trying to move a stubborn mule, He had to put a carrot in front of their noses, and a spur behind their tails.

The carrot was Zionist money to help willing Jews buy a piece of the ancient homeland. The spur was the severe persecution that erupted in Europe and Russia. In Russia there were large concentrations of Jews. These people were made scape-goats for vicious politics and power-mongering. The Jews were rounded up into “pales” or ghettos. These areas became virtual concentration camps.

At intervals, Russian Cossacks would raid and plunder the pales, leaving the hopeless people wounded and dying in their brutal paths. These types of incidents spurred the Jews to set their sights on Zion, and to make a run for the ancient homeland.

Two by two, many returned to the land they had never seen. When they reached Palestine, however, they were so often discouraged. So often, the only land they could buy was swamps. Often it was rocks. Sometimes it took two years to prepare a patch of land for planting. When a crop was ripe, it was often raided by roaming Bedouins or Turks.

Many discouraged Jews left Palestine, to seek a new home in more hospitable environs. It looked like the Zionist vision was an unrealistic mirage. It seemed that Herzl’s efforts would all be in vain.

But God had promised, and for His own Name’s sake, He had to act. Severe persecution of Jews abroad, forced many more to brave the rigors of the ancient homeland. It was becoming more evident that the wandering Jew would never find rest amongst the nations. Yesterday the persecution of Jews was in Spain and France. Today it is in Russia. Tomor­row it would be Germany and Poland; the day after that, possibly UK and America also.  No!  The Jew would never be safe until he regained his homeland and became a free, independent and powerful nation in its own right.

So the second Exodus began; this time, not merely from Egypt or from Babylon, but from ALL the nations in the world; just as God had said long before:

“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24)

From the I6th century to 1917 AD, Palestine was in the hands of the Turkish Ottoman Empire which controlled most of the Middle East. In 1870, the Turks gave permission for Jews to buy land in Palestine, and thus small colonies were established. By 1900, there were about 40,000 Jews in the land.

 

THE BALFOUR DECLARATION      DR CHAIM WEIZMANN

In the early 1900’s, Britain, being the leading world empire, proposed that world Jewry should be given a national home in Africa - the area now known as Uganda.

In 1906 a Russian-born chemist, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, visited Britain to protest against the proposal. Representing the Zionist movement, he stressed to the British Govt., that any country other than Palestine would be entirely unaccept­able to the Zionists.

By 1914, the number of Jews in Palestine had doubled to 80,000.

Then the First World War began - the war which many prophecy teachers believe, signalled “the beginning of the end.”  It certainly led to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

During the war, when Britain and the allies were critically short of explosives, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who was now a Bri­tish subject; presented the British Government with the formula for TNT, which saved the allies from almost certain defeat.

In recognition of his services, the British suggested a royal honour. Weizmann politely refused. “There is nothing I want for myself,” he said. “I would like you to do something for my people.” And as he had in 1906, Weizmann once again explained the Zionist vision, and the desire to make Palestine a Jewish homeland. The result was that on 2nd. Nov. 1917, British Foreign Secretary, Arthur J. Balfour, made the fol­lowing declaration, in the form of a letter to Lord Rothschild.

This became known as the Balfour Declaration. Dr. Weizmann was appointed as leader of a commission to plan the implementation of the Declaration.

Jews all over the world were delighted. The Zionist dream now seemed feasible. The Arabs, however, reacted bitterly to this new development, and riots broke out in Palestine.

On 11 Dec. 1917, the British commander, Field Marshall Edmund Allenby led his troops into Jerusalem and captured the city without a shot being fired.

In early 1919, Dr. Weizmann, after personal negotiations in Palestine, signed an agreement with Emir Feisal, who became King of Iraq the next year. This agreement envisaged:

1.      an Arab state and Palestine.

2.      the immigration of Jews to Palestine in large numbers.

3.      the protection of, and assistance  to, Arab peasants and farmers in Palestine.

4.      Zionist assistance to the Arab state for its economic development.

5.      Islamic holy places under Moslem control.

6.      Complete co-operation, good-will and harmony between the Jews and Arabs.

King Feisal then wrote in March 1919:

“We feel that the Arabs and the Jews are cousins in race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first steps toward the attainment of their national ideals together. We Arabs especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement.

“Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organis­ation to the Peace Conference. We will do our best to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home. Dr. Weizmann has been a great helper in our cause, and I hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to make the Jews some return for their kindness.”

 

But subsequent developments led to a change in the Arab attitude.

THE McMAHON AGREEMENT

During the world war, the British had entered into an agreement with Feisal’s father, the Emir Hussein of Mecca, the Arab leader of the Hashemite kingdom, to mutually fight against the Turks. The Arabs were promised, as well as cash, political independence of their countries after the war.

The Emir envisaged the revival of a great Arab empire, including Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Palestine. And so the Balfour Declaration to the Jews seemed quite contrary to the McMahon agreement with the Arabs.

After the war, the Ottoman Turkey in the Middle East was carved up into the new independent states of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt. Palestine, the British explained, was not included in the McMahon agree­ment; but nevertheless the sector east of the Jordan River, was sliced off to form the new nation of Transjordan, which was given to Abdullah (brother of Feisal, and son of Emir Hussein) as a reward for the help against the Turks.

The rest of Palestine was declared a mandated territory by the newly-formed League of Nations, and was to be administered by Great Britain. The mandate incorporated the ideas of the Balfour Declaration, encouraging the establishment of a homeland for the Jews.

This opened the way for greater numbers of Jews to settle in Palestine. Coming from Europe in particular, these people brought both determination and technical know-how. Through hard work and assistance from the Zionist Organisation, Jewish settlements began to flourish.  

The Arabs in the land, on the other hand, were living in abject poverty under the feudal system that had kept them poor through the centuries. As the Jews multiplied and prospered, the animosity of the Arabs exploded into open conflict. Faced with the threat of being outnumbered, and outdone, the Arabs began to attack the Jewish settlements.

Later, Britain declared that it was not the intention of the Balfour Declaration to create a Jewish state, but to provide simply a homeland for the Jews.

In the 1930’s, anti-semitism was instigated by Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who sought to sabotage the establishment of the Jewish homeland.

In 1937 the British Peel Commission reported that “an irrepressible conflict has arisen between national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country. About one million Arabs are in strife, open or latent, with some 400,000 Jews.”  This report also recommended the partition of Palestine between the two communities.

Due to Arab oil pressure, Britain in 1939 abandoned the Balfour Declaration, and issued a “White Paper” which stated that a Jewish state in Palestine was contrary to Britain’s obligations to the Arabs, and that Jewish immigration would be restricted to 15,000 a year for the next five years.

HITLER        THE HOLOCAUST YEARS 

Just before World War 2 broke out, the Grand Mufti entered into a secret alliance with Adolph Hitler, promising Arab support in return for weapons. He himself fled to Germany as the war broke out.

By this time there were more than 500,000 Jews in Palestine. The Jews fought along with Britain in the War, and indeed most of their warfare training was received in those years.

During the war years (1940-45) Hitler exterminated more than six million Jews. After the war, tens of thousands of the Jews who had escaped, were languishing in terrible conditions in refugee camps throughout Europe. They looked longingly towards Palestine — but the doors were closed to them because a committee set up by Britain in 1945 stated that “Palestine is not, and never could be, a purely Jewish land. It lies at the cross­roads of the Arab world; its Arab population having descended from longtime inhabitants of the area, rightly look upon Palestine as their homeland.”

American President, Harry Truman sent a strong plea to admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, but Britain refused, and instead, stopped Jewish immigration altogether. This in­humane decision at a time when the world was beginning to comprehend the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews, was a dark blot upon the history of Great Britain. Was it that decision and its actions over the next three years that caused Britain to lose its title “Great”?

The Jewish Agency and Underground bought old ships in Europe and sought to smuggle refugees into Palestine. Some of the ships reached safely, but the British Navy set up a blockade along the coast. Refugee ships caught were then escorted to Cyprus where the Jews were placed behind barbed wire. Tens of thousands of them, having escaped the Nazi death camps of Belsen, Dachau and Treblinka, now languished in refugee prison camps for several years, at the hands of the British.

What irony that the nation which has befriended the Jews, and from whose ranks rose one of Britain’s greatest statesmen, Benjamin Disraeli — the nation who was most responsible for the Jewish homeland in Palestine, was now the Jews’ chief enemy.

Some Jewish ships, packed with refugees and seeking to beat the blockade, were rammed and sunk with terrible loss of life within sight of the Holy Land.

         Oh Britain! Into what category do you fall ? —

“I will bless them that bless you” or “I will curse him who curses you.” (Genesis 12:3)

In Palestine itself, waves of terrorism and destruction spread over the country, in a double conflict between Arabs and Jews, and the British and Jews.

A former renowned Israeli Premier, Menachem Begin, was in those years, the leader of the Irgun - a Jewish organisation that continually terrorized the British as well as their Arab enemies. The regular Jewish forces commanded by David Ben Gurion was called the Hagana.

Palestine became a nightmare for Britain. World sympathy for the Jewish people was increasing (because of the 6 million lives that were lost in Hitler’s gas chambers and lime pits). Britain had backed away from the Balfour Declaration, and was now hedged in between world sympathy, the moral implications, Arab hostility, and their own costly involvement in the land. By 1947, Britain had had enough and called upon the United Nations to take a decision on the conflict in the land. The UN debated the issue, and sent a Special Committee to Palestine to thoroughly investigate the conditions and problems. Eventually, in giving its report, the committee recommended the termination of the mandate, the internationalisation of Jerusalem under UN trusteeship, the partition of Palestine and the creation of separate Arab and Jewish slates.

The Zionist dream was now within reach, but the Arab nations, with their centuries-long hatred of the seed of Jacob, were adamant. They would not tolerate a Jewish state in their midst, but would destroy the Jews as soon as the British left.

The decision to partition, or not to partition, was for the United Nations General Assembly to make. To partition, two-thirds majority was needed. Tremendous manoeuvering and pressure was exerted on all sides. But behind the politi­cal-economic lobbying, God was at work, for He had promised long before:

“And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms.” (Ezekiel 37:22)

When the UN vote was taken, “Partition” won by a slender 2/3rds majority. It was November 1947. There were six months left for the British mandate to end. Those months were a period of intense activity, and a build-up of arma­ments, not only in Palestine but also in the surrounding Arab nations. The British tried to prevent arms entering the former, but the Jews were busy in Europe and America buying weapons, to have ready to airlift to the new state as soon as the British left.

                                                                                                               

      DAVID BEN GURION        THE STATE OF ISRAEL 

On May 14, 1948, the world waited for the announcement that David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli Premier, made on radio — The Declaration of Independence, and the naming of the new state – “Israel.” He then declared, that the state of Israel will be open to Jewish immigration and the in­gathering of the exiles.”

David Ben Gurion, himself was born in Poland and migrated to Palestine as a young man in 1906. When Jewish labour began to organise itself, he became a member of the editorial board of a newspaper called Ha’ahdut  (The Unity) in 1910.

Dr. Chaim Weizmann was summoned to be the nation’s first President.

 

Jewish planes and ships were already landing, bringing supplies. Within hours, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt launched attacks on the new state. Israel’s first Sabbath was shattered by an Egyptian air raid on Tel Aviv. In Cairo, Arab leaders announced, “This will be a war of extermination, and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

Immediately the nation was locked in a struggle for survival. Egyptian tanks swept through the Negev towards Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In the north, Syrian and Lebanese troops attacked the Jewish settlements in Galilee. Jordanian and Iraqi forces attacked from the east.

The massacre of a half million Jews, and the utter destruction of their settlements, was expected. The Jews, although they were determined to resist to the end, were so outmanned and so outgunned, that they had little chance of surviving - unless some miracles took place. And they did!

As the war continued, the UN which had voted for partition, remained quite. No western nation lifted a finger to help. The strongest voice raised in Israel’s defence, ironically, was Andrei Gromyko’s — the Russian Foreign Minister.

The Jewish Hagana, Palmach and Irgun merged to become the Israel Defence Forces. Israel’s air force began with a small flying club plane. Her navy consisted of a converted ice-breaker, equipped with two 20 MM aircraft cannon which were disguised with papier-mache to look like 6 inch guns. This single ship set the Egyptian fleet in hasty retreat.

The Israelis took heavy losses, but they stopped the invas­ion from the North, East and South. The most intense fighting was for Jerusalem, where countless lives were lost. But even there, the total massacre of the Jews was miraculously averted.

The war raged for 27 days, until the UN called for a cease-fire. Although Israel had halted the Arab advances on all sides, its ammunition and supplies were almost exhausted and Jerusalem was critically besieged.

After a few days, when no agreement could be reached, the fighting resumed, and continued for the rest of the year. Finally, an armistice was signed by Egypt and Israel on 24 Feb. 1949.  Syria, Jordan and Lebanon also signed a little later.

                                                           

JORDAN’S JUDGMENT 

According to the Armistice agreement, the old city would remain under Jordanian control, but there was provision for free access by Israelis to the places of worship, and to the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. However, Jordan soon cut off East Jerusalem by “The Wall” to Israelis, and then embarked on a program of desecration and destruction. Ancient synagogues and their precious scrolls were destroyed. Jewish graves were ripped open and bones scattered.

The “West Bank” was quickly annexed by King Abdullah (great-grandfather of the present Jordanian king, Abdullah II) after the partition and his expanded kingdom was renamed simply Jordan. (Abdullah was assassinated on the Temple Mount in 1951.)

The annexation by Jordan (Edom) had been specifically foretold by Ezekiel long before:

“Therefore, thus says the Sovereign Master YHWH; ‘Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and with scorn of soul, to drive it out for a prey’.”  (Ezekiel 36:5)

The desolation of Jordan has also been prophesied, and I can­not find much hope in Scripture for this kingdom, the descend­ants of the birthright-despising Esau (Edom). Three prophets deal with the judgment of this once thriving nation - Ezekiel, Isaiah and Obadiah.  Ezekiel says:

“And I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation, and I will cut off from it the one who passes through and returns. I will make you an everlasting desolation, and your cities will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am YHWH.”

      (Ezekiel 35:7, 9)

Mt. Seir is the section of Jordan, south-east of the Dead Sea, where its ancient capital, the mountain fortress of Petra, was situated. Today it is nothing more than a tourist attraction – a very fascinating desolation.

Isaiah prophesied:

“For My sword is satiated in heaven, Behold it shall descend for judgment upon Edom, and upon the people whom I have devoted to destruct­ion.” (Isaiah 34.5)

Obadiah strongly indicts Edom.

“Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off for ever. On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem - you too were as one of them . . . For the day of YHWH draws near on all the nations.

As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head . . . Then the House of Jacob will be a fire and the House of Joseph will be a flame; but the House of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the House of Esau, for YHWH has spoken.” (Obadiah 10, 11, 15 & 18)

The next verse is partly fulfilled at this time; the rest will be fulfilled at some future date.

“Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah the Philistine Plain. Also, they will possess the territory of Ephraim and the and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead.”  (Obadiah 19)

You can work it out. The Negev, the Shephelah and Benjamin are the Israelis; the Palestinian Plain is the Gaza Strip; Ephraim and Samaria are the West Bank; the mountain of Esau is southern Jordan; and Gilead is northern Jordan.

All of this area was indeed included in the Promised Land, and was ruled over by David and Solomon. Modern Israel knows well that at this time, it is possessing only a portion of its original territory.

The carving up of Palestine by the British and the United Nations must yet be accounted for. God has declared:

“I will gather all the nations, and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat (on the east side of Jerusalem), then I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of My people and My in heritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nat­ions; and THEY HAVE DIVIDED UP MY LAND.” (Joel 3:2)

THE  FIG  TREE  BLOSSOMS      

After the Armistice in 1949, the new nation had a chance to consolidate and develop. In the first 18 months, more than 350,000 Jews poured in from all over the world. 45,000 came from Yemen; 130,000 from Iraq; 33,000 from Turkey; 20,000 from Czechoslovakia; 36,000 from Bulgaria; 7,000 from Yugoslavia; 28,000 from Poland, 35,000 from North Africa; 5,000 from China; a mass exodus from India and hundreds from other countries.

The Fig Tree was now shooting forth new leaves and new branches. The deserts were being reclaimed and the land was becoming productive. The Israelis began the planting of trees by the millions. New roadways, airstrips, and ports were built and industries of all kind were begun.

It is interesting to note the leaves shooting upwards on the Israeli nat­ional emblem along with the 7-branched candlestick. Israel even refers to itself as the Fig Tree.

Old Testament scriptures came alive as the prophecies were fulfilled.

“The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom, like the crocus.” (Isaiah 35:1)

“In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout; and they will fill the whole world with fruit.” (Isaiah 27:6)

The Negev, the southern desert, began to blossom, as agricultural settlements multiplied in the area. The Israelis established dozens of citrus fruit plantations, and fruit began to fill not only Israel, but also the markets of Europe. Soon citrus fruit had become one of Israel’s biggest exports, and Jaffa oranges were on sale on the other side of the world.

Ezekiel prophesied both the desolation of the mountains of Israel, and their re-afforestation:

“And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of YHWH. Thus says the Sovereign Master YHWH, Because the enemy has spoken against you, “Aha!” and “the everlasting heights have become our possession,” therefore, prophesy and say, Thus says the Sovereign Master YHWH: For good cause they have made you deso­late and crushed you from every side, that you should become a possession of the rest of the nations, and you have been taken up in the talk and the whispering of the people.

‘There­fore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Master YHWH. Thus says the Sovereign Master YHWH to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the rest of the nations which are round about …

“But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be cultivated and sown. And I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt’.” (Ezekiel 36:1-4, 8-10)

During the 1800 years of Israel’s scattering, the land of Israel passed from hand to hand. Many of its conquerors were filled with hatred for the Jewish people, and were determined to make an end to their land. The mountains of Israel were deliberately denuded of trees, and as a result, became eroded and barren. Once fertile valleys, such as the Plain of Jezreel, became malaria-infested swamps. The rich pasture lands of the Negev where the Patriarchs grazed their vast flocks, became a desert.

But the mountains would put forth branches again. How this prophecy has been fulfilled this past century, especially over the past 60 years! What a transformation as the nation has undertaken a vast program of clothing the hills. More than 200,000,000 trees have been planted, and still the work goes on. A tourist to Israel, today, may personally join in a tree-planting ceremony.

The hills of Galilee today are “cultivated and sown,” as well as the “ravines and valleys.” Israel’s crops are contin­ually multiplying, as soil reclamation and irrigation expands. Wheat, cotton, ground nuts, pineapples, tomatoes, strawber­ries, as well as citrus fruit, are all finding a ready market throughout Europe. Also expanding is Israel’s export meat market.

In the development of modern Israel, the people have been helped and guided by the Bible, whose recorded ancient history gives information as to the type of trees and crops that were grown in various areas. It tells where the Patriarchs were successful in digging wells, etc.

For example, Abraham first planted a Tamarisk tree in Beersheba. The modern Jews have followed his example, and have planted millions of them in that area of the Negev, which has caused it to blossom.

Such is the emphasis on the soil and productivity, in modern Israel, that another prophecy, by Isaiah, is surely beginning to be fulfilled:

“It will no longer be said to you, ‘Forsaken,’ nor to your LAND will it any longer be said, ‘Desolate.’ But you will be called ‘My delight is in her,’ and your LAND, ‘married’ for YHWH delights in you, and to Him your land will be married.” (Isaiah 62:4)

Of course, Israel has a long way to go before Yahweh can truly delight over the nation. It has seven years of Tribulation to endure before it will be truly designated ‘‘Blessed.”

REBUILDING THE CITIES

Amos prophesied concerning the rebuilding of Israel’s cities:

“Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land. And they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them, says YHWH your God.” (Amos 9:14-15)

The prophet Ezekiel foretold the restoration of Sodom, Samaria and Jerusalem in particular:

“Nevertheless, I will restore their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and along with them your own captivity.” (Ezekiel 16:53)

After the division of Israel into two kingdoms (that is, after the reign of Solomon), Samaria became the capital of northern Israel, and Jerusalem remained as the capital of Judah. These two cities were destroyed, by Assyria and Babylon, respectively. Both cities have been restored in modern times. Samaria is now called Nablus.

Sodom is the ancient city which was destroyed by fire and brimstone in the time of Lot. 4000 years after its destruction, Ezekiel’s prophecy has been fulfilled. Sodom has been rebuilt, and has become an important mining town on the edge of the Dead Sea. Chemical works there are extracting Potash, Chloride and Bromide and other minerals to export to the world’s markets.

MANY MORE STILL TO RETURN

The regathering of Israel at this present time is by no means complete. About 50% of  Jews are still living overseas. The Israeli Ministry of Absorption has indicated that the country needs a population of 10 million, and the government is wooing Jews from abroad through its overseas agencies. Israel desperately needs a greater population to reinforce its military reserves and work force.

Worldwide Jewish pressure caused Moscow to permit tens of thousands of Jews to leave Russia, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, about one million Jews from Soviet lands have migrated to Israel.  Another prophecy has been fulfilled:

“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.”                                                                                                                                 (Isaiah 43:6)

America still has 6 million Jews; life there is too comfortable for them to be willing for the rigors of small, war-pressed, highly-taxed Israel. But things are changing. With the deteriorating economic conditions in the US, more Jews are joining the migration to Israel.

The immigration to Israel still continues but it has its ups and downs. Accommodation is one of the biggest problems to absorption, but construction of settlements and apartments is going on continuously, and is one of Israel’s top priorities.

Immigrants willing to settle in areas like the Negev are provided with a house, a plot of land and some animals, and some farming training. Others are given suitable employment in the cities or settlements.

The regathering will continue in the years ahead - es­pecially early in the Tribulation when peace will be “secured” and the country will appear to be safe and prosperous.

During the purging time of the Tribulation, the nation will receive her Messiah, and He will pour out His Spirit of blessing upon them. Eventually, the overseas remnant of Jews will be gathered back to Israel, and they will become a blessing to the whole earth during the Millennial Kingdom.

“Then they will know that I am YHWH their God be­cause I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. And I will not hide My Face from them any longer, for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the House of Israel, declares the Sovereign Master YHWH.” (Ezekiel 39:28-29)

THE REVIVAL OF HEBREW      

One of the most fascinating miracles in connection with the restoration of Israel, has been the revival of its ancient language in spoken form, after centuries of non-usage.

Hebrew is the only language ever to be successfully revived in spoken form, after it had ceased to be spoken.

Hebrew is the original language of the Bible’s Old Testa­ment and is one of the oldest languages in the world. Its history spans 3,300 years — from ancient Canaan to the present. Dr. Chaim Rabin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says; “It is likely that Abraham and his descendants learnt to speak Hebrew while sojourning in Canaan.”

During the Babylonian Captivity, and over the following 400 years, Hebrew declined as the spoken language of Israel, and Aramaic and Greek took its place. In their writings, Hebrew was still used, but the Jews were already translating the Old Testament and other literary works into both Aramaic and Greek.

When Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70, and the people were scat­tered abroad, the Jews employed the languages of the people wherever they lived. In the Middle Ages, in countries where Islamic culture prevailed, Arabic was used. In Europe, two main Jewish languages developed — Yiddish, based on German, and Ladino based on Spanish.

Hebrew lived on in Jewish writings, and to some extent it was clumsily used as the lingua franca  for Jewish businessmen travelling between various countries.

By the 19th century there was fear that Hebrew would become extinct. Certainly the language lagged so far behind the rapid intellectual development of the late 1800’s, that it was considered unfit for modern times.

The man most responsible for the revival of Hebrew was Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who with great foresight, in 1879 publish­ed an article proposing that Hebrew should be the language of the future Jewish state in Palestine. Ben-Yehuda’s son was the first child in modern times to be brought up with Hebrew as his mother tongue.

A few years later, in 1888, a school in Jerusalem began to teach all subjects in Hebrew. In 1904, a Jewish Language Council was formed, to promote the usage of the language. In 1954 this Council became the “Academy of the Hebrew Language.”

The Jews coming back to Israel spoke a hundred languages, and not one of those languages — not even English — could claim to be a majority language. So in a sense, Hebrew was the natural choice for a national language, even though, virtually every Jew had to learn it from scratch.

Hebrew was taught therefore, in the schools of Israel, and immigrants were, and still are, given intensive courses to learn the language. Some newspapers and books are printed using a simple basic 1000-word vocabulary, for newcomers.

That revival of Hebrew was certainly not a simple task. One problem was to make Hebrew a practical and technologic­al language suitable for the 20th century. How could a bril­liant Jewish scientist progress in a 1000 BC language? The Bible language, although very rich, provided a vocabulary of’ only 7,704 words. It was the work of the Language Council to devise new Hebrew words for technical requirements, and to expand the language for modern usage. In the first 50 years of its activity, the Language Council fixed the meaning and usage of some 30,000 words, and it is constantly producing new dictionaries for all sections of society. The language has thus become both rich and extensive, and is developing more and more.

An amazing aspect is that although there has been such tremendous expansion of the language, it is still very close to the Bible language of 3,000 years ago — much closer than English is, to its form, even 600 years ago.

A prophet looked over the centuries, over the cessation and revival of Hebrew, and by revelation of God, said:

“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of YHWH, to serve Him with one consent.” (Zephaniah 3:9)

THE DAY OF JACOB’S TROUBLE   

To gather the displaced people is one thing; to fill them with the Breath of God is another. To produce citrus oranges is one thing, to bear spiritual fruit is another. And to turn Israel from unbelief to embrace Jesus the Messiah, Yahweh must purge His people. Daniel has prophesied at the end time “many will be purged, purified, and refined.” (Daniel 12:10)

Malachi also prophesied, that Yahweh the Holy One would purge His people:

“Behold I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Sovereign Master whom you seek, will sud­denly come to His temple; and the messenger of the Covenant, in whom you delight, behold He is coming, says the YHWH of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to YHWH offerings in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:1-3)

That purging time is coming soon. It is called the Day of Jacob’s Trouble in Jeremiah 30:7, and everything happening in Israel since it became a nation, is a preparation for this trial. War will be the scourge.

“For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.” (Zechariah 14:2)

During this fearful time, Israel will experience a new massacre that will cause its people to rue the day that modern Israel was born. Zechariah says:

“And it will come about in all the land, declares YHWH, that two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire; refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My Name, and I will answer them; I will say, They are My people, and they will say, YHWH is My God.” (Zechariah 13:8-9)

 

At the end of that fearful “night”, the “Sun of Righteous­ness will arise with healing in its wings,” for those of Israel who fear the LORD. (Malachi. 4:2)

“And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me Whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.” (Zechariah 12:9-10)

Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Paul:

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION; HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB, AND THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” (Romans 11:25-27)

That will truly be the fullness of Israel, when the saved remnant will welcome the Lord of Glory — the very One their forefathers pierced. At that time, the prophecies which tell of ultimate blessing for Israel will be fulfilled.

“Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:6)

At that time, the name of Israel will be changed. Israel means “One who strives with God,” for Jacob strove with God at the brook Jabbok. Israel today, is still striving with God — and God is still striving with Israel.

When the Sun breaks forth after the tragic “night,” however, all striving will cease, and “God’s land” will be called BEULAH and the saved of Jacob’s tribe will be renamed HEPZIBAH.

“And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of YHWH will designate. You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of YHWH, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

“It will no longer be said to you, ‘Forsaken,’ nor to your land will it any longer be said, ‘Desolate,’ but you will be called, ‘My delight is in her’, (Hepzibah), and your land, ‘Married’; (Beulah); for YHWH delights in you, and to Him your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you. And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.”                                                                                                    (Isaiah 62:2-5)

The name of Jerusalem will also be changed to YAHWEH SHAMMAH (“The LORD is there”), according to Ezekiel 48:35.

Not only Israel, but a remnant of all nations will be saved and blessed. Even from Israel’s natural enemies, a remnant will come into blessing:

“In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom YHWH of Hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance’.”                                                                                                                            (Isaiah 19.24-25)

SEE THE NATIONS

Let us look back now at the Messiah’s parable, “Behold the fig tree, and ALL THE TREES.”

The Fig Tree is Israel. What are the other trees? Obvious­ly, they are other nations - other nations that shoot forth leaves about the same time as Israel. It speaks of national resurgence.

Have not the last sixty years been a period of nation build­ing? Colonialism has been cast off, as country after country has fought for its independence and nationhood. In 1947, India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, became sovereign nations. Then followed Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Chad, Zaire, and so on, until now more than 200 na­tions take their place in the comity of nations. Is it coincidence that all this resurgence has taken place, at the same time as the Fig Tree budding ? Not at all! It is a further sign that the king­dom of God is very near. It all points to the thrilling fact that the Y’shua the Messiah is soon to fulfil His promise to His people;

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)

THE KINGDOM TO COME

Y’shua, the Lord Jesus said, “When you see the Fig Tree shooting forth new leaves, you will know the kingdom of God is near.” He is referring to His second coming and to the time when, in power and great glory, He will establish His Kingdom upon earth. It is the time when the LORD of Lords will reign in righteousness, and when Paradise will be restored.

It is for this kingdom, and for a new Jerusalem which has foundations, “whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10), that the Patriarchs of Israel were looking.  It is this kingdom that would fulfil the promises of God to Abraham and to Jacob. It is of this kingdom that Isaiah so profusely prophesied.

This is the kingdom that according to Daniel’s prophecy, the Ancient of Days would give to “the Son of Man” and to His saints. (Daniel 7:13, 14, 22). The Lord Jesus confirmed when He said, “My Father has granted Me a kingdom” (Luke 22:29). This is the kingdom the Master told us to pray for: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

The kingdom is future, but it is near, for we now see the Fig Tree profusely shooting forth leaves. And yet, before the kingdom is established, the Land and the People must be purged and prepared.

The soon-coming of the Lord then, will not be a thrilling fact to those who do not know the Saviour. To them it will be a tragic and terrifying fact, as the writers of Hebrews and Thessalonians say:

“But a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE AD­VERSARIES.... FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.” (Hebrews 10:27, 37)

“Only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9)

 

THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS AWAY

Look at the last part of the Messiah’s parable — the part that seems so much a mystery.

“Truly I say, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.”                                                                                                             (Luke 21:33)

This statement has caused many a graying head to shake with uncertainty. At first glance it seems to be suggesting that the generation of Peter, James and John would see the coming of the kingdom of God. So some have suggested the kingdom of God came at Pentecost. But clearly, “all things” were not fulfilled in the first century.

Some theologians have suggested the word “generation” can mean “race” and thus Y’shua was saying that Israel would not pass away until all things take place. That explana­tion doesn’t add up, for of course, Israel would not pass away - she is involved in the “all things,” so why would the Master suggest Israel will pass away?

Other professors have suggested the word “generation” can mean “age”, and thus the age would not pass away till all the prophecies were fulfilled. Big deal! That’s what you might call profundity. I think the Lord was meaning something a bit deeper than the fact that the prophecies would take place in this age.

Take the Greek word for “generation” – genea. This word means generation exactly what it means in English. In Matthew 1:17, you read, from Abraham to David there were 14 generations – 14 genea.  It’s the same word the Master used to say, ‘‘this gener­ation will not pass away till all things take place.”

A generation is roughly a period of 30 years - the span between a father and his son. After 30 years another generation is on the way. And there are always three generations living at all times – even while a fourth (the oldest) generation is fast passing away.

Any­one knows that if he is above 30 years, he is no longer in the young generation. And if he is above 60, he is no longer in the middle generation. And should he be over 90, he’s got to be a great grandfather.

But how long can any generation live before it passes away? Well some people live up to 100+ years, but very few live beyond 100 years. So we can say each generation exists for about one hundred years.

But there is a good reason to believe that a Biblical generation is 70 years, as after the flood, this is man’s allotted life span.  (Psalm 90:10)

WHICH GENERATION?

Now the question is; if it wasn’t the disciple’s generation, then to which generation was Y’shua referring? If you look closely at the Master’s words, it becomes clear; “when YOU see these things happening ...” Oh, there it is – it’s the people, the generation, that sees the Fig Tree and all the trees putting forth new leaves!

I believe the generation that saw the restoration of modern Israel in 1948 – the fig tree shooting forth leaves - is the generation that will not pass away before the coming of the Lord. It’s the sunset generation living at the present time - 2009.

The youngest of this generation who were born in 1948 are now 61 years. And the generation that saw the Fig Tree come to life are now aged between 61 and 91. They are the generation, I believe, who “will not pass away until all things take place.”

Already much of this generation has passed away. But the surviving remnant of this sunset generation can surely expect to see the end of age prophecies being fulfilled. Born-again believers of this age group, especially, know that the Rapture is near.

This means that all believers living today, unless they die, can soon expect to hear the trumpet sound, and the voice of the archangel  – “Come up.”

The Lord Jesus, the Messiah, promised to keep His people from the “hour of trial” that is coming upon the whole world. (Revelation 3:10).

And as Paul says, “God has not appointed us (those who are “in Christ’’) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

How will He deliver His people from the coming Tribulation? Paul explains:

“For the Master Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Master in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”                                                                                           (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

To be included in this blessed, saved company, we must be “in Christ”; that is, we must belong to Jesus Christ, and He must be living in us. We must have His seal upon us.

God does not ask us to do penance, or to do great works, or to give Him money. All He asks is that we genuinely confess and trust in Christ as our Saviour, and receive His forgiveness and cleaning; for it is Y’shua the Messiah who died on the cross of Calvary and paid the penalty of our sins. And He did that because He loves us and has a blessed plan for us.

But the tragedy is that all unbelievers of the present time are heading fast towards the Great Tribulation begin.

My dear friend, if you have not believed in, and declared your faith in Y’shua as your Saviour, this is the issue you must settle. Today is the day of salvation! Tomorrow may be too late.

And if there is one lesson we must learn from the Fig Tree, from the nation Israel, it is this: Unbelief and hardness of heart is tragic. Religion will not save any one. We must welcome the Messiah as our personal Saviour. If we reject Him, we reject salvation and life itself. And should we succeed in resisting the Holy Spirit of God who is striving with us, our success would be our greatest tragedy. 

But to receive the salvation of the Heavenly Master will be our greatest joy.

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