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on Zionism


The Time to Favor
Zion Is Come


''Thou will arise, and have compassion upon Zion; for it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come." Psa. 102.14

History recalls the rise and fall of nations and empires as the tides that ebb and flow. In this ceaseless cycle variations have occurred only in the manner of appearance and disappearance. Whether with great and thunderous breakers or with quiet lapping waves the nations have come and gone. one lone nation arises above history to lift its head from the depths of ages past to live again. It is Israel.

Israel's rise and fall may have been similar to that of other nations in some particulars but in one respect it was without parallel—God dealt in an exclusive way with them. Not that they alone proclaimed Him as their God—others may have made such boast, but the Lord declared Himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the God of Israel. (Exod. 3:15; 5:1; Jer. 28:4) To make this distinction certain the Lord through Amos said, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." (Amos 3:2) Such has been the heritage of Israel.

Rebirth of Israel as a nation is the great phenomenon of our day. our generation was awed in that great moment of history when men touched their feet on the moon—it was thrilling to see—but the rebirth of Israel holds far more significance to those who see this event as a fulfillment of God's word. The rebirth of Israel could never have occurred without the astonishing fact that the people of Israel, who had been scattered throughout the entire earth for nearly 2,000 years, remained a distinct and homogeneous people in the lands of their sojourn. Neither persecution, nor famine, nor fame or fortune was able to cause them to assimilate with the peoples of other lands. Could blood ties alone prevent assimilation? No. It was the Law and the Prophets of Israel which marked them and preserved them with a common hope and faith while in Diaspora.

Now the pattern of history is broken. A nation is reborn and its people are coming home to their native land. Notwithstanding the terrors of pagan Rome, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the ceaseless proselytizing attempts of Christendom and the ever constant stigma for those who spurned the advances of the church-state offer of salvation.

The dispersion of the Jews did not occur by chance. It was carefully planned and executed by the Roman powers who were at an end of their patience with this "troublesome" people. Constant revolt and rebellion on the part of the Israelites caused the Roman powers to devise a scheme more cunning than the Babylonians. The Babylonians took the Israelites captive to Babylon, but did not disperse them further. The Romans knew the Hebrews returned successfully from Babylon and rebuilt their nation. They were determined this would never happen again. They carefully fragmentized the captives and sent them in every direction over the world of that time. The logic was simple. Once fragmented and diffused among the nations they would inevitably be assimilated and lose their identity. With this, their national aspirations would end. Israel's presence again as an independent nation is a testimony of a greater plan than the Romans'. Surely, only the Lord could have preserved this people and brought them again to their homeland. The Lord carefully forecast the scattering and the regathering of His people.

Standing at the threshold of the fulfillment of the Lord's prophecies with respect to His people, at the very dawn of the Lord's appointment, some in Jewry strangely have lost faith in the inspiration of the Torah. Even when the Torah is retained, too often it is viewed for its beauty and history as by distant observers who fail to grasp the living force of events transpiring in the Divine destiny for His people. Even when confronted with rare phenomena of the regathering and rebirth of Israel, somehow Jewry often views each event as an isolated happening rather than as part of a whole program designed for world restoration and blessing.

With all that has happened in the regathering and restoration of Israel, it is often equated as "natural"—the sequel to human discipline and achievement. While the returned citizens of Israel are buoyed up with hope, the unheralded truth is that these people are responding to the magnetic force of the Divine will and the immutable purpose of God for Israel .

Why should the human impression be so great and faith in the divine so small? Israel came to the point in her experience when she learned not to worship heathen images. Is she now to bow before the deity of humanism'? The spirit of unbelief was not the Abrahamic heritage. Abraham believed God and grew great, and when Israel believed their God they prospered. When they disobeyed they failed. Any other view is not in keeping with their history.

A Favored People

Israel is the only nation with a complete record of its past, an accurate prophetic portrayal of its present and a complete description of its destiny among the nations. As a people, they have suffered and endured more than others, yet viewed from the standpoint of God's purpose with his people they have been extremely favored. God's remarkable kindness toward them cannot be appreciated except by considering the prophetic panorama of Israel's birth, growth, decline, fall, exile, return and ultimate role in the Divine Plan of the Ages.

God had something big in mind when he appeared to Father Abraham, saying, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee I will curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:1) Not only did God make this immutable promise to Abraham, but to establish for all time its certainty of fulfillment, he later confirmed it by an oath. Because He could swear by none greater He swore by Himself, "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 22:16-18)

Notice the promise has two parts:

The seed of Abraham is to possess the land forever.

"In thy (Abraham's) seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."

The role of Israel as a nation of blessing does not fit the past. Zechariah said, "And it shall come to pass that, as ye were a curse among other nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing." (Zech. 8: 13) From Zechariah's time to the present this people's role and lot were without means of prolonging God's blessing for themselves — much less other nations. Neither did they have the land for an everlasting possession. God was speaking of greater things which cannot be fit into the difficult past. Even Abraham was given sufficient insights to know that many years would pass before any hope of obtaining the land would be realized. "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years." (Gen. 15:13) Abraham could not foreknow the great span of time that would elapse before God completed his commitments. Standing where we are today, it is apparent God has not been hurried.

The heirs of Abraham all avoided mixing with the world in spite of natural tendency to assimilate with the world. Joseph, when he brought his family to Egypt urged them to separate themselves by telling the Egyptians they were keepers of cattle, for "every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians." (Gen. 46:33, 34) The plan worked. They remained separate. Egyptian bondage ended under the leadership of Moses. With a high hand the Lord brought his people out of Egypt. The deliverance was extraordinary, but as always the responsibilities assumed in dealing with the living God almost turned the deliverance to annihilation. Even before the tables of the Law were delivered, while Moses was in the Mount in face to face communication with the Lord, God interrupted the proceedings to announce his readiness to destroy this people and to make of Moses "a great nation." (Ex. 32:9, 10) Moses' prayer and plea for Israel succeeded in staying the Divine anger and preserved this people.

Moses prevailed in still another great encounter with God. The Divine presence with Israel was becoming a consuming experience. To avoid unnecessary loss of life the Lord offered to send his angel before them into Canaan to secure the land for them, adding, "I will not go up in the midst of thee; lest I consume thee in the way." (Exod. 33:3) in one of Moses' greatest moments he interceded again, saying, "If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein now shall it be known that I have found grace in Thy sight, I and Thy people? is it not in that Thou goest with us, so that we are distinguished, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth? And the Lord said unto Moses, 'I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken.' " This best explains Israel's distinctiveness. It also portends something big.

Under Joshua's leadership the land of promise became a reality. The land was taken and during the favorable period of the judges of Israel they carried on the experiment of living by the Law of Moses—with some success and some failure. There is much to be commended about this period in Israel's history. The most powerful statement is made by the Lord—"I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; afterward thou shalt be called The city of righteousness." (Isa. 1:26) The experiment under the judges emphasized individual responsibility in keeping the Law—the higher form of government, self-government.

The reign of kings was the era of compatibility with the environment. It brought the gains and losses occasioned by centralized government. It tended to the rule of the individual, where power corrupts, and weakened the rule of the Law. But Israel could not escape the consequences of such a system. Every man must bear his own scepter! Why does the human heart seek to avoid its freedom and responsibility to rule? While Israel did rise to prominence among the nations, reaching its zenith of glory under Solomon, yet it was this very moment the Lord committed the nation to a division. (See I Kings I 1: 13) The divine decision to divide the kingdom into two parts led to the decline and fall of this nation. The two-tribe kingdom endured the longer, but it became a vassal state and finally came its dispersion under Rome. All of this had been foretold.

"Her Time of Service is Accomplished"

Israel's history covers two periods of time each of equal length. The first period began at the death of Jacob. Starting there, the people of Israel enjoyed God's favor although mixed with punishment. For 1845 years God blessed them when they served him faithfully. When they sinned and turned toward evil, He punished them. When they repented He once more freely received them. But Jeremiah warned of a time in which they would be punished without national favor. "Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye have not known, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; forasmuch as I will show you no favor." (Jer. 16:13)

This prophecy applied to the time when God's favor did end and they were scattered throughout the earth. It could not apply to the 70 years desolation in Babylon. The scripture says they would be dispersed "into a land that ye have not known, neither ye nor your fathers." Abraham, their father, had come from Ur of Chaldea (Babylonia). His Grandson, Jacob, had come from Syria. (Deut. 26:5) Therefore the Babylonian captivity did not find them in a land unknown to their fathers. Not only is the place of their dispersion different, but the time involved is greater than the 70 years of desolation. Jeremiah says, "I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double (mishneh—repetition, duplicate or second portion)." (Jer. 16:18) The period of disfavor in Diaspora was to be equal to the period of favor before their rejection and desolation as a nation. A careful comparison of this double or "mishneh" reveals that from the death of Jacob to the rejection and desolation of Israel was a period of 1845 years, and from that time they would be without national favors for a similar period of 1845 years.

Projecting to the end of Israel's second period, the one of "no favor," Isaiah said, "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Bid Jerusalem take heart, and proclaim unto her, that her time of service is accomplished, that her guilt is paid off; that she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."—Isa. 40:1.

The first indication of returned favor to Zion took place as early as 1878, 3690 years after the death of Jacob. Not only did their "double" of favor and disfavor end here but the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 about the "valley of dry bones" apparently began to have its fulfillment. Here the dry and withered bones of Israel's hope began to stir. Sinews came on them—giving them cohesion and strength, then flesh—giving them substance, and skin—giving them beauty. In progressive stages they are prepared for the breathing of life into them, when Israel would live as a hole nation and people of God.

In 1878 the Berlin Congress of Nations, under the influence of Lord Beaconsfield (Disraeli), prime minister of England, settled Turkey's affairs so as to preserve her national existence. Provision was made, at the same time, that in the event the Turkish nation was dissolved, the world powers would know which location each could expect. England became the protector of her Asiatic provinces which included the land of Israel. Greater liberties were then accorded these provinces. Thus the Jews enjoyed greater freedom including the right to buy land and colonize in Palestine—a right denied them for centuries.

While the great Christian powers stood by with mail-clad hands to seize the coveted portion of land from the grasp of moribund Turkey, a historic figure stepped forward and said, "The land is mine!" And when the nations looked at the speaker, they recognized Israel, the child of the patriarch Abraham who had lived in Palestine at the first. A wonderful coincidence? No, it was no coincidence! It was God's appointment with His people; again His face was turned toward them and His hands lifted to bless them if they would believe Him now.

It was these favorable conditions that made possible the development of the Zionist hopes. Zionism was as dead as the dry bones Ezekiel saw until Israel’s "time of service" for her sins was accomplished. When the time to favor Zion again came, the Zionist movement emerged. Through this noble appeal of Zionism God called and still calls His erstwhile subjects back to their land.

Many Jewish commentators recognized that Israel's subjection to the Gentile powers was a period of chastening and disfavor. Hosea 3:4, 5 is quoted as proof, "For the children of Israel shall sit solitary many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim; afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall come trembling unto the Lord and to His goodness in the end of days." Seeing the children of Israel returning, is there not good reason to believe we are at "the end of days" of service or punishment?