With the pending promise of prophetic doom, there always followed
the pending promise of prophetic restoration
In the last article I addressed the Prophetic Judgment of Israel and when I left off the punishment of Israel for the breaking of the covenant was a done deal. God was going to use Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon as the instrument of discipline for Judah. He confirmed this when King Zedekiah sent Melchiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest to inquire of the prophet Jeremiah about Nebuchadnezzar’s bellicose plans toward Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s reply on behalf of God was “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Behold I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, with which you fight against the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who besiege you outside the walls and I will assemble them in the midst of this city. I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger and fury and great wrath. I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast; they shall die of great pestilence. (Jeremiah 21: 2-6).
The Lord goes on to assure that those people left from the famine, pestilence and sword in the city of Jerusalem would be handed over to Nebuchadnezzar and their enemies. He then states, “Behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans shall live and his life shall be as a prize to him.” (vs.8,9). Thus the fate of Judah was sealed and there was no relenting on God’s part, but the good news was that it was not a forever exile. The Lord determined that for 70 years Judah and surrounding nations would serve the king of Babylon, but at the expiration of those years he would also punish the king of Babylon and the nation of Chaldean for their iniquity. (Jeremiah 25: 11-12). He also pronounced a judgment on other nations in Israel’s neighborhood beginning with Egypt and ending with the kings of the north and all the kingdoms of the world. (vs. 15-26).
Although God in his justice chastises Israel, he never completely forsakes them. With the pending promise of prophetic doom, there always followed the pending promise of prophetic restoration. Jeremiah captures this when he is commanded to write of the Lord, “For behold, the days are coming says the Lord, that I will bring back from captivity my people Israel and Judah and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” (Jeremiah 30: 1-3). In verse 11 it states, “For I am with you, says the Lord to save you: Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you, but I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished. There is much that can be discussed in chapter 30 of Jeremiah, but one thing that must be apprehended is that the judgment and restoration of Israel was not a onetime occurrence. It indicates a yet future judgment and restoration beyond the 70 years of Judah in exile. It is a theme that appears again with Jesus when he is talking to his disciples while they are in Jerusalem.
In Luke 21 the disciples remark about how the temple was beautifully adorned with stones and donations. Jesus responded, “As for these things which you see, the days will come in which not one stone shall left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” (vs. 6). The disciples with shock asked, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place.” (vs.7). Jesus goes on to give them a list of signs indicating what is referred to as the end-times or end of the age, but what I want to emphasize is where he says, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near…..For these are the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (vs. 20, 22). “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days, for there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (vs. 23,24).
In the Principle of the Second (The Age To Come), I proposed that in a set of two that which is first represents the flesh or natural and that which is second represents the spirit. I described this age as a natural or fleshly age and it coincides with the times of the Gentiles and the second age as spiritual age which is led by restored spiritual Israel with Jesus as the king over Israel and ruling the nations. What became evident to me after having this verse brought to my attention and some contemplation was that just as in Jeremiah, Judah and Israel is still absent from the land because we are still in the times of the Gentiles. Although we have a people known as the Jews in Israel, it is apparent that their presence did not end the time of the Gentiles and for all practical purposes Jerusalem is still being trampled by Gentiles.
Also, the Jews that rule present day Israel have never been known to have been led away captive into all the nations. So now the question becomes where are the people who experienced the desolation of Jerusalem when the city was razed by the Romans in 70 ad and who eventually of those who were left would be led captive into all nations? This is the question that will be dealt with in future articles because the identification of the people is not just about solving a great mystery, but is germane to the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles and the conclusion of this age.