Taken from a work by Adolph Saphir ”
“Wherever faith takes up its position it beholds the eternal counsel of the Most High, which must stand for ever. It develops; it unfolds; and nothing is able to withstand its progress. The very unbelief of Israel, and their very chastisement and dispersion among the nations of the earth, cannot make the promises of God of none effect. The Lord has chosen Israel, and this choice of Israel is rooted in the everlasting counsel of God, of which Jesus is the centre.”
When we believe this, we who know Jesus as the centre cannot place the centre anywhere else but where God has placed it. Round Jesus are the people of Israel. That is the circle immediately round Jesus; and Jesus and Israel are perfectly inseparable. There we have election, God’s own will to manifest His glory; and while the purpose of God is the manifestation of His glory, the inside of that purpose is nothing else but love. It is His glory that He wishes to manifest Himself to all the ends of the earth. It is this election which is its own force and its own motive—out of which comes the whole history of Israel, and out of which comes the whole history of the Church. Your salvation and the election of Israel are inseparably connected; and because God chose Israel, therefore He called Abraham, and therefore He made a covenant with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob—an unconditional covenant. Mark this, because upon this rests the whole Gospel.
This covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which embraced the Messiah, our Lord Jesus, the nation Israel, and the land of Palestine, is a covenant which depends exclusively upon the faithfulness of God—not upon our faithfulness; not upon our works. It is an absolute election of grace. It is quite true that when Israel is unfaithful she is chastised and punished, just as we are chastised and punished when we depart from our Lord Jesus Christ. But the counsel of God, the plan of God, the thoughts of God, the election of God, cannot be altered. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29). He may suffer them to be afflicted for four hundred years in Egypt, but He will bring them out on account of the covenant. He may send them to Babylon for seventy years, but He will bring them back on account of the covenant. He has punished them for nearly 2,000 years on account of their rejection of Jesus, but He will bring them back because the covenant is unconditional, and His purpose is unchangeable.
Unconditional is the covenant, and the counterpart of that is the doctrine of grace. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His own purpose and according to His infinite love, has He given us salvation in Christ. With regard to this covenant which the Lord God has made with Israel, and of which our blessed Savior Jesus Christ is the centre, in the whole history of God in all His dealings with Israel, He has continually to go back to His love, else He would have to give them up altogether; and so we find that to reveal Himself to Israel and to carry out His great promises, there appeared among the people of God two things, which do not appear among the other nations, and which are a great stumbling-block to all unbelief. Why do people find such great difficulty in accepting the Bible? There are two things which they do not like. The first is prophecy, and the second is miracle—prophecy and miracle. And when I speak of unbelief I am sorry to say that I have to include a great many people who think themselves Christians and Christian theologians. But faith they have not, whatever else they may have.
God does not care for numbers; God does not care for outward power. On the contrary, He must make it perfectly plain that His is the power, and that ours is only weakness. Now look at the people of Israel. How many entered into the promised land? None but Joshua and Caleb. Look at Gideon. Thirty-two thousand were ready to go forth into battle, but God said, “I do not care for thirty-two thousand. They must be real godly ones that trust in Me, and who know that I am with them and in them.” And the thirty-two thousand were reduced to three hundred. Oh, how different God is from us! We want to force everybody into the Church to make them Christians, whether they like it or not—to call them or label them Christians, although they do not believe, because we want to bring in, as it were, the whole nation into the Church. God’s plan is to winnow, to sift—to separate the chaff from the wheat. Three hundred out of the thirty-two thousand! Look at the time of David. Who was it that acknowledged David when he was persecuted? Saul was a tall man, and had all the splendid and regal qualities that made him to be estimated a powerful and suitable leader. But it was a poor and despised people who flocked round David.
But God has not totally rejected His people, and the conversion of even one Jew—so Paul argues—is a proof of it. This then is how faith beholds Israel now, in the apostasy. Great is that apostasy. They have crucified Jesus.
Jesus said that the temple would be destroyed, and all the prophets announced the judgment that would come upon Israel. And God fulfilled it. And just as we believe the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgments which have come upon Israel because God foretold them, so do we believe the restoration of Israel simply because God has told us—because it is written.
Our hope is built upon nothing less than the Word of God. It will require the omnipotence of God to raise the dead out of their graves. But so it is written in the Prophet Ezekiel that the dead bones shall live. It will require all the attributes of Deity to bring about the wonderful things which God has promised to us in the Scriptures. But God will do it. In the Word of God the restoration of Israel is always based upon the power and love and the unchanging character of the promises of the everlasting God. And just as God says, “I, even I, have created the world; I, even I, have redeemed sinners”—so it is only God who Himself is able to restore His people Israel. “For My own Name’s sake I will do it.” And how will the Lord do it? The Lord is an holy God; and Israel having departed from God there are these two principles which seem to be conflicting—the holiness of God and the sin of Israel. But God is able to subdue their iniquities and forgive all their sins, and renew their hearts, and to put a right spirit within them. Do not imagine that any temporal glory or power will be entrusted by God to Israel as an unconverted nation. That would not be for the glory of God, nor would it be for the welfare of Israel and the world. They must be led through deep waters. They must be brought through fearful judgments. They must experience the wrath and the indignation of the Lord. They must be led into the valley of humiliation. Then will the Lord appear unto them, even as Joseph appeared unto his brethren, and the spirit of grace and of supplication will be poured out upon them; and there will be weeping such as this world has never heard; and there will be repenting and contrition more profound than the angels have ever witnessed upon earth, for they shall mourn over Him as over their only child; and then God, having cast them into the fire of His indignation, and having by the Holy Ghost worked in them repentance and granted to them the remission of sin, shall fit them for the wonderful work that is before them in the future; for a nation that has come through such repentance and through such faith—a nation that has so tasted the bitterness of sin, and the sweetness of the infinite love of God, which is stronger than death—will then go on for a thousand years without ever looking back. In the Old Testament you always read, “Oh, backsliding Israel.” They are always backsliders; they have always to be restored. But there are so many passages in the Prophets which tell us that after Israel has been brought back the second time they will never look back. There will be no backsliding any more; but for a thousand years Israel shall go on in the fear of the Lord, and in the love of the Lord, and from Israel shall flow forth blessings in all the world.
Notice this. It is nowhere said that Jesus died for any nation, except for the Jewish nation. He died for that nation, and for that nation only. He died that all the children of God should be gathered in: but you see there is a difference. He died for the nation, and He died for the rest as individuals. It is nowhere said in the Bible that any nation will exist for ever; but it is said of the Jewish nation that they will exist for ever. This nation has God chosen, and when He divided the world unto mankind, it is written in the Book of Deuteronomy that He planned it all in relation to the central nation of Israel, who are to be the point from which all His blessings will radiate. And therefore this is the remarkable thing about Israel. “All Israel shall be saved” (Rom 11:26)—the nation as a nation, that is to say, that godly remnant that shall be left after all the judgments which shall come upon Israel; and then they shall be a blessing to all the world.
(The usurping nature of man to want to do this without Israel is pride, hidden in “just Jesus” talk that puts our ministry at the forefront and writes off Israel. Arrogance it is called and arrogance it is, disguised as “Jesus is everything, Israel is past and gone.”)
Oh, we pray every day, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And this is what I hope, and what every Christian must hope—that, through the intervention of Jesus Himself, and through the mediation of the Jewish nation, there is a time coming when God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Talk of drunkenness; talk of profligacy; talk of all the crimes and vices which now pollute the earth: they shall be done away. But that is only the negative side of it. How is God’s will done in heaven? There is no drunkenness there; there is no profligacy there; there is no war and bloodshed there. True; but how is God’s will done? It will be an angelic world. As the angels above, so will men be here upon the earth, “for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Then the promise, “In Thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blest” (Gen 22:18), shall be fulfilled, and the Son of David shall rule over all the world, and righteousness shall flow as a river, and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover all the earth as the waters cover the sea. That is what we hope about Israel, and all because of Jesus.
Remember how God loves Israel; and, here again, I wish to appeal to your experience. You read such passages as “I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. The mountains may depart and the hills be moved: but My lovingkindness shall not depart. My thoughts are thoughts of peace concerning you.” And you apply them to yourself. Why do you apply that to yourself? You are quite right to apply it; but why? What right have you? Oh, these promises were given to Israel. Now, listen to me. God says to Israel, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Although the mountains depart I cannot change My love to you. I will plant you in your own land.” With My whole heart and with My whole soul; and even during the time of their banishment and captivity He calls them “the beloved of My soul.” If God does not mean this to Israel, how much less does He mean it to you! You apply the assurances of love which God has given to Israel, and argue by analogy that the Lord will also be faithful and loving and forgiving to you. Ah! therefore you must believe the first to be true. Oh, God loves Israel! Jesus loves Israel, and wept over Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul loved Israel, although he had thousands of converts among the Gentile nations. Love Israel, because God loves Jesus, and because Jesus loves Israel.”