We are living in a world which is politically unstable, economically struggling, spiritually deceived and morally confused. Frequent calls are made for drastic changes which will pave the way towards a new world order of peace, prosperity and unity. A humanistic model for a new world order is propagated in which a very inferior role is assigned to Israel and evangelical Christianity, apparently in the hope that they will soon vanish from the scene. The reason for the growing rejection of Israel and evangelical Christianity is due to the fact that they are too exclusive and biblical, and therefore cannot conform to the demands of an inclusive and egalitarian new world order. The values of spiritually committed Jews and Christians are non-negotiable and entirely incompatible with those of the secular world.
Contrary to the antichristian reforms of the world, is the biblical promise of a Christian new world order in which Jesus Christ will rule over the world from the restored throne of David in Jerusalem (Acts 15:16-17). He will govern in close association with His true church (evangelical Christianity) and the spiritually restored people of Israel, and righteousness will be established (Rev. 5:9-10; Isa. 62:1-4). Prosperity and peace will prevail everywhere; Israel and all the servants of the Lord will be highly esteemed, and people will endeavour to please the Lord (Isa. 2:2-4; Jer. 3:17).
The present partial restoration of Israel is firm evidence that the prophesied divine intervention is imminent. But prior to this will be the dark period of the seven-year rule of the Antichrist when all people on earth, including most of the Israeli’s, will regard and follow him as the true Messiah (Rev. 13:3). When the true Christ comes a few years later, the kingdom of Satan will be destroyed and the kingdom of God will be established in its place (Rev. 11:15).
Are you prepared for the far-reaching changes that will occur shortly on earth? If we wish to have the correct perspective on the problems of our time and pursue the only feasible solution to the problems which confront us, we should make a study of biblical prophecies. Great blessings are in store for the righteous, but severe judgements will be poured out upon the wicked. By means of biblical prophecies the Lord has clearly informed us about major eschatological events: “We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as to a light that shines in a dark place” (2 Pet. 1:19).
One of the most significant prophecies concerning the last days was fulfilled before our eyes during the past few decades: the restoration of Israel in the land which the Lord had promised in an oath to their fathers. In this way, the reliability and literal fulfilment of God’s promises to Israel have been confirmed beyond any doubt, thereby additionally validating the absolute credibility of the entire Bible as the Lord’s inspired Word. Simultaneously, the restoration of Israel, and specifically the restoration of Jerusalem as their capital, is a sure indication to us that the church dispensation is drawing to a close, and that we are on the threshold of the establishment of Israel’s Messianic kingdom (Luke 21:24; Zech. 8:22-23).
It is imperative to have the correct biblical understanding of Israel as God’s people, to bless them by recognising their biblical claim to their land and capital, Jerusalem, and also to support them in various ways in their struggle for national survival. So doing, we will secure the Lord’s blessings upon ourselves. Conversely, nations and individuals subject themselves to a curse when they curse, imprecate and persecute Israel, and try to drive them from their land (Gen. 12:3; Joel 3:2). The spirit which instils in people a hatred for Jews is the spirit of the Antichrist as it is opposed to everything which, from God’s perspective, is good, honourable and constructive. During the coming tribulation period, this demonic spirit will be occupied with instigating all nations against Israel and will be trying to destroy them (Zech. 12:2-3).
A study of Israel is also important in assisting every Christian to learn from their mistakes and to enable them to assess their own spiritual dedication and commitment to the calling of the Lord. The experiences of Israel are a mirror in which we can see ourselves, knowing that the same dire consequences will follow if we do not serve the Lord wholeheartedly. In this regard Israel is an example to us from which we can learn various religious lessons (1 Cor. 10:1-12), but we will only be able to do so if we are well acquainted with the salient aspects of their history and 4 spiritual experiences: “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. ... Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:5, 11).
A long interruption
When considering Israel from the perspective of biblical prophecy, we should certainly not make the mistake of regarding them as being of solely historical and Old Testament significance because of the long interruption in their divine history as God’s special people – that was only a temporary phase in their long history. During the course of this interruption Israel was temporarily set aside as the Lord’s chosen representatives in order that He could show His mercy to the entire world. Throughout this time He offers to all people of all racial and cultural affiliations the opportunity to come into the right relationship with Him and serve Him as His own. In the church dispensation His disciples are not members of a chosen people, but believers from all nations – including those from dispersed Israel.
Referring to the times of the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus said: “And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). The Bible clearly distinguishes between Israel and the Gentiles. These nations are described in Hebrew as goyim (sing. goy) and in Greek as ethne (sing. ethnos). That means “ethnic groups”, “peoples”, “nations” or “heathens” since, in Old Testament times, all nations or peoples outside Israel were heathens (or pagans) who did not know the true God of Israel and were consequently hostile towards Israel.
In His prophecy in Luke 21:24, the Lord Jesus did not announce the beginning of the times of the Gentiles but rather its further continuation and ultimate conclusion. The beginning of Israel’s domination by heathen nations was during the Babylonian exile of Judah, and it still continues. During the time of Christ’s earthly ministry Israel was subjected to the rule of the Roman Empire, and a Roman governor with executive powers was stationed in Jerusalem.
In his Reference Bible (p. 1345) C.I. Scofield says: “The Times of the Gentiles is that long period beginning with the Babylonian captivity of Judah, under Nebuchadnezzar, and to be brought to an end by the destruction of Gentile world-power by the ‘stone cut out without hands’ (Dan. 2:34, 35, 44), i.e. the coming of the Lord in glory (Rev. 19:11-21), until which time Jerusalem is politically subject to Gentile rule (Luke 21:24).”
J. Dwight Pentecost (1985:1329) agrees with this statement: “With the incursion by Nebuchadnezzar an important prophetic time period – the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) – began. The times of the Gentiles is that extended period of time in which the land given in covenant by God to Abraham and his descendants is occupied by Gentile powers and the Davidic throne is empty of any rightful heir in the Davidic line. The times of the Gentiles, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem in 605 BC, will continue till the Messiah returns. Then Christ will subdue the nations, deliver the land of Israel from its Gentile occupants, and bring the nation Israel into her covenanted blessings in the millennial kingdom.”
The events described in Daniel 1 mark the beginning of Israel’s Babylonian exile, and were therefore a defining moment in the history of Israel as an independent covenant people of God in their own land with Jerusalem as their capital. This was the beginning of the times of the Gentiles in which pagan kingdoms ruled over Israel, pagan cultures and religious practices were imposed upon them, and in which the reckoning of time was done in terms of non-Jewish calendars, often with reference to pagan kings’ periods of rule.
After the fall of Jerusalem and the termination of Israel’s royal dynasty, the royal house of David would no longer be the representative of God’s kingdom on earth, as pagan kings would enforce their authority in the Middle East as well as the rest of the world. Even after Israel’s restoration from their Babylonian captivity they were still subject to the supreme authority of pagan world empires as the times of the Gentiles took its further course. During the entire New Testament period, Jerusalem was trampled by Gentiles, while the gospel that went out from Jerusalem, was proclaimed throughout the earth.
God’s kingdom will only be manifested again as a visible reality on earth after Israel and Jerusalem have been fully restored and Jesus Christ rules from the throne of David. Before the birth of Jesus the angel Gabriel said to Mary, with regard to her firstborn Son: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32). At His first coming Jesus was the suffering Messiah who laid down His life for the sins of the whole world, but at His second coming He will come as King who will also restore the fallen throne of David.
All efforts by dominionists, who are intent on visibly revealing God’s kingdom on earth without a fully restored Israel and Jerusalem, are deceptive and unbiblical and are in effect used by the Antichrist to establish a humanistic and multireligious kingdom on earth in which Israel does not play the leading role. True children of God are still sojourners and pilgrims in a world which lies in the sway of the evil one (1 Pet. 2:11; 1 John 5:19). The purpose of the gospel is to save people from “the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4), and not to transform the entire world into a Christian world in an effort to manifest God’s kingdom on earth. That will only happen after the King has come, who alone can restore the throne of David in Jerusalem.
We are living in a very important phase of world history, in which Jerusalem and Israel are increasingly being restored in anticipation of the coming of the King. In June 1967, Jerusalem was fully liberated from Jordanian control by Israel, and in August 1980 it was declared to be their eternal and indivisible capital. For the first time since the Babylonian exile of Israel, in 1980 Jerusalem was again returned to the status it had – i.e. the capital of an independent Israel, but still without a king.
Since the Babylonian exile there has never been a successor to David on the royal throne in Jerusalem – neither will there be one until the Messiah comes. In the religious sphere it is particularly evident that the trampling of Jerusalem still continues since the Temple Mount is controlled and trampled by pagans who worship their false gods in the very heart of Jerusalem. This situation will only change when Israel’s Messiah-King comes, as He will crush Gentile rule (Rev. 19:19-20) and also “cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered” (Zech. 13:2).
We are rapidly approaching the time when David’s throne will be restored, after which Jerusalem will, with even greater splendour than during the days of David and Solomon, be the centre of world events. A precondition for the dawning of this blessed time is that the spiritual problems of Israel first be addressed and eliminated. The nation should repent by receiving the Messiah as their Saviour, after which the Lord will respond by giving them a new heart (Ezek. 36:24-28).
Because Israel as a nation still refuses to recognise Jesus Christ as Messiah, the partially restored Jerusalem will again be surrendered to Gentile control during the coming tribulation. These events will be reminiscent of the Babylonian exile of Israel – albeit for a much shorter period of time, but nevertheless even more severe. Jesus warned Israel that they would accept the wrong messiah (John 5:43), that this impostor would desecrate the temple in Jerusalem (Matt. 24:15), and that Jerusalem would be invaded by its enemies and be partially destroyed by them (Zech. 14:2). Many Jews will have to flee the city in great haste in order to survive (Matt. 24:15-21). At the end of the tribulation period, Jesus the Messiah will suddenly descend upon the Mount of Olives, destroy the enemy forces, save the remnant of Israel, and establish His kingdom in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:4-9).
At this juncture, the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled and Israel will be reinstated as the head of the nations. Times of refreshing will come to them from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
This book commences with Israel’s calling as the people of God, and the concluding of an eternal covenant between Him and His people. Subsequently, we review the events which took place during the dark times of apostasy and immorality of this people, and also take note of the perilous consequences of their disobedience. We devote much attention to the first and second comings of the Messiah. During His first coming He was rejected by the great majority of Jews, which resulted in severe judgements being brought upon them. But at the second coming of Christ He will be welcomed and accepted as the Blessed of the Lord (Matt. 23:37-39; Zech.12:10).
Jesus Christ wishes to make all of us part of His eternal and imperishable kingdom. We are currently living in the time in which His grace is being proclaimed to all nations on earth. However, this time will soon expire and will be followed by the time of assessing and judgement. If we abide in Christ, we will not place ourselves under judgement because we have passed from death into life (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1).
Those who do not take the prophecies regarding the end-time restoration of Israel in the land of their fathers into consideration, lack a biblical perspective on what God is presently doing in the world in preparation for the second coming of Christ. As was the case with the foolish virgins, these people are running the risk of disconnecting themselves from the real world. They are also neglecting to make preparations to meet the heavenly Bridegroom, who will come at on hour when nobody expects Him. The spiritual sleep to which they have succumbed prohibits them from being witnesses for Christ in the world; neither can they be a blessing to Israel by leading them back to the Messiah.
May this book contribute towards the spiritual awakening of Christians, to work while it is still day, and to provoke Israel to jealousy by the way in which they love and serve the Messiah (Rom. 11:11).