April 22nd, 1956 @ 8:15 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-22-56 8:15 a.m.
The subject of the message this morning is The Jews, the chosen people of God, Israel. Of what shall happen to the other nations of the world, no man can predict; it is not revealed, but what shall happen to the Jewish people can be read easily and plainly on the sacred page of the sacred Word. For remember out of the passage that we read just now for our unison Scripture, Luke 21:32, "Verily I say unto you, This genus, this kind, this species, this race, this generation, the Jew shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." He will be here clear until the end, which is one of the most astounding of all of the prophecies in the Bible, and which is one of the most phenomenal developments in all the history of the human race. The Jewish people are somewhat like four thousand years old; and they are still distinct and separate and apart, and have been, though they have been oppressed, and decimated, and persecuted, and carried into captivity and scattered all over the earth. Like the Gulf Stream is separate and apart as it goes its way through the vast expanse of the ocean, so the Jewish nation, having their own law and their own habits and their own distinct customs, remain separate and unassimilated among all the families and nations of the world.
Hundreds and hundreds of years before the halcyon days of Greece, of Rome, were the golden days of Israel. Hundreds and hundreds of years before Herodotus wrote history, the first historian, this people had a literature. Long before most nations even had letters, the Jewish people had a wonderfully inspiring and God-breathed literature. They have produced the greatest men of all the ages and of all time. Abraham, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul; so many of the names by which we name our children, our boys and our girls, are taken from the names of the Holy Scriptures. Their contribution to the world has been incomparably great and blessed. No nation has ever become monotheistic that has not been taught and touched by the Jewish people. The institution of the synagogue, of the church, is a gift of the Jewish people. Our week of seven days and one day for rest and worship is a gift of the Jewish people. And the Scriptures that I hold in my hand, this Bible, this Bible is a gift of the Jewish people; both the Old Testament and the New. And our Savior is a gift of God’s chosen people; as Jesus Himself said to the woman of Samaria, "Salvation is of the Jews" [John 4:22].
Now in the little brief space of time this morning hour, I am going to review briefly the history of the Jewish nation. Then we are going to pick up our Bible and read of their future clear to the end of time. Just in round numbers that we might remember them the better, about 2000 BC God called Abram [Genesis 12:1], who later became Abraham, the son of an idolater of Ur of Chaldea named Terah [Genesis 11:27; Joshua 24:2]. He called Abram to get out from his family, and his kindred, and his people, and to go into a land that he should afterward receive for an inheritance [Genesis 12:1-7]. Abram was sixty years old when that call came from God. He tarried in Haran up to the north for fifteen years [Genesis 12:4], until his father – who was an idolater, Terah – died [Genesis 12:4; Acts 7:4]. Then Abraham with his family went down into the Promised Land that he should afterward receive for an inheritance. And the Lord God promised to him and to his seed unconditionally, that that land should be his and his families forever and forever [Genesis 12:1-7]; and that promise has never been revoked.
So Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan, and the promise to him was reiterated and confirmed to Isaac his son, and to Jacob his grandson, and then to the tribes of the father patriarch Israel [Genesis 13:14-18; Psalm 105:8-11]. When they were numbered about seventy [Genesis 46:26-27], down into the land of Egypt did they go, following Joseph, who was second to Pharaoh [Genesis 40-44]; and in the providence of God, they were changed there from a nomadic people to a nation [Genesis 47:27]. And they were segregated there in order that they might not intermarry with the other Semites and Canaanites in the land. God believes, you see, in the purity of the race. So they were kept there, and they were guided there, as they grew into a great people [Exodus 1:9].
Now about 1500 [BC] God gave to them a great lawgiver and leader whose name was Moses [Exodus 3:1-15].
· And through the hands of Moses, the Law and the Ten Commandments, the oracles of God, were given to the chosen people [Exodus 20:1-31:18].
· Then about 1000, five hundred years later, about 1000 BC there comes the great King David [2 Samuel 5:3-5] and his son Solomon [1 Kings 1:39]; and that’s the golden age of the story of Israel.
· In 722 BC, the Assyrians come and take away and destroy forever the Northern Kingdom [2 Kings 17:8].
· And in 606 BC, up until 587 BC [Jeremiah 39:1-10, 52:4-30; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21], the Babylonians come under Nebuchadnezzar and destroy Judah, the Southern Kingdom [2 Kings 25:8-21].
· But according to the prophet Jeremiah, seventy years later, said Jeremiah, they will be privileged to come back and inhabit the land [Jeremiah 29:10].
· Six hundred and six BC, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar came and carried them away the first time [Daniel 1:3-6];
· 536 BC, exactly seventy years, according to the prophet Jeremiah [Jeremiah 29:10], Cyrus gave the decree for them to return back home and to build the temple [Ezra 1:1-2:64].
· So in 536 BC, they came back. And in about, oh, twenty years, they rebuilt the temple [Ezra 6:14-15].
· And then in about seventy years, they rebuilt the wall [Nehemiah 6:15]. And that was in the days of Zerubbabel and Ezra and Nehemiah [Nehemiah 7:7].
· Then you have the last and final prophets, closing with Malachi, who lived about 440 BC.
· In 166 BC, the Jewish people under the Maccabees won their independence.
· And they kept it until 63 BC, when the Roman general Pompey won the land and made it a part, a provincial part of the Roman Empire.
· In 30 AD, they crucified their Lord and King and Messiah [Matthew 27:32-50], who died praying for His people [Luke 23:34].
· According to the word and the prophecy of the Son of God [Mark 13:2], in 66 [AD], Vespasian and his son Titus were sent to Galilee and to Palestine in order to quell a rebellion of the Jews. The northern Galilean army was led by a famous historian named Flavius Josephus, and Vespasian and his son Titus soon overwhelmed the Galilean army under Josephus. Then Nero, the emperor, died, and Vespasian was called back to Rome in order to be made emperor of the Roman Empire; and he left the task for the subjugation of Jerusalem and Judah in the hands of his son Titus.
· In April, 70 AD, Titus with one hundred thousand legionnaires began the siege of Jerusalem. It lasted four months.
· And on the fifth day of August, 70 AD, they made the breech in the wall; they burned the city, they burned the temple, they destroyed the nation, and they carried the finest among the Jewish people captive to Rome in order that they might grace the triumph of Titus, the conquering general.
Their story thereafter has been one of incomparable hurt, and sorrow, and disaster, and persecution. For example, in 1096 AD, the Holy War began; that is, the days of the Crusades. And that day of the Crusade began with an edict that every Jew in Europe who would not be baptized must be murdered, must be slain. In our own forbearing country of England, that edict was carried out. Typical of their suffering, in the city of York, the chief rabbi of York and five hundred of his followers were besieged in the Tower of York. When those Jewish people saw that there was no hope and no escape, they slew one another; and last of all, the rabbi set the group on fire, a heap of slain bodies as on a sacrificial altar, and then himself took his own life. And when the mob of English people outside broke in, there was nothing but a great heap, like sacrificial victims. And for more than four hundred years, there was not a single Jew in all the British Isles.
That same story of persecution went on in France. That same story went on in Spain. The Spanish Inquisition was not just against the Protestant people; it was also for the decimation and slaughter of the Jewish people. And the same thing went on in Germany. A typical thing in Germany would be this: in Salzburg, there was a community of about two thousand Jews. The Christian people of Salzburg said, of Strasbourg, the Christian people of Strasbourg said, "These Jewish people kidnap Christian children and sacrifice them for Passover lambs." So they took all of the community of the two thousand Jews and heaped them up on an enormous wooden scaffold and set it afire. All of that is but typical of the terrible ravaging, decimating sufferings of the Jewish people through all the centuries past.
Funny thing, in a book that I read this week, the author said, "And all of these are of yesterday; but the Jewish people today enjoy great prosperity and great affinity with the peoples of the land into which they have gone." He didn’t write before Hitler. He didn’t write in our day. He wrote, oh, way back there in the 1920s and the early – the 1920s, I think, when that book was written. But we have lived to see the day when we know what it is to see a nation overcome by violent anti-Semitism. Hitler destroyed – and I’ve been there and have seen the gas chambers in which they were killed, and the slaughter rooms in which their teeth were knocked out in order the gold could be retrieved, and then the great furnaces where they were burned and burned and burned by the thousands, and the thousands, and the thousands. We have seen that in our day and in our generation. And the end is not yet. According to the Word of God in Hosea 3:4, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim." And once again, according to the Word of the Lord, "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," Luke 21:24. And once again, Romans 11:25, "I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in." Well evidently then, there’s another story, there’s another chapter, there’s something that lies ahead for the chosen people of God. So having made a brief resume of their history, let us now, according to the Word of God, let us look forward to the Jewish nation, according to the revelation of the Scriptures.
First: there will be a restoration of Israel to their Holy Land, to the land God promised them. That is according to the immutable, unconditional, categorical word of the living God. Listen to the word of the Lord: in Isaiah 11:11, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time"; we’ve had it one time from the Babylonian captivity, God bared His arm, and Israel went back to Palestine [Ezra 1:1-2:64]; "It shall come to pass, saith the Lord, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people" [Isaiah 11:11] – they’ll be in Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, the isles of the sea," all over this world. Listen to the Word of the Lord: "Therefore," and this is in Jeremiah 16:14-15:
Therefore, behold, the day comes, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But – they will say – The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
They will no more say, "Way back yonder in the days of the Passover, way back yonder in the days of Moses," but they will say then, "This glorious day, when the Lord God brought us again to the land from all of the lands of the earth" [Jeremiah 16:14-15].
And again, in Ezekiel 37 – wish I had time for these things, but it’d take hours if you had the time – the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel is the story of the valley of the dry bones. And the valley of the dry bones is a picture of Israel, buried among all the nations of the world; says so in the [eleventh] verse, "These bones are the whole house of Israel" [Ezekiel 37:11]. They’re not buried in the ground; they’re just scattered and dead in the graveyards of the nations of the world. And after that vision, when God says He will bring Israel to life again as a nation, and resurrect them from among all the peoples of the earth, after that He says to Ezekiel, "Ezekiel, take a stick, take a stick, and write on that stick the name of Judah and the people of Judah. Now take another stick," said God – this is in the [sixteenth] verse – "And write on the name of that stick Joseph, Ephraim, and all the house of Israel. So he took them and wrote Judah here and Israel there" [Ezekiel 37:15-16]. Now Israel was destroyed in 722 BC by the Assyrian armies [2 Kings 17:18]. Judah was destroyed in 606 [Daniel 1:3-6], and 587 BC [Jeremiah 39:1-10, 52:4-30], by the Babylonian armies. "Write here Israel, write here Judah [Ezekiel 37:16]. Now," says God, in the next verse, "Join them into one stick, join them into one stick; and so he put them together that they might be one stick [Ezekiel 37:17]. Thus saith the Lord God, I will take the stick of Joseph, Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel," you think they’re lost? No sir, they’re here to the end of time, all twelve of the tribes, the tribes of Israel:
and put them with him: even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in Mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, the nations, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation,
They’re not going to be two anymore; Rehoboam up there, Jeroboam down there, not going to be two anymore, not going to be an Israel and a Judah. They’ll be one people of God, His chosen. "And one king shall be king to them all. And there shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms anymore at all" [Ezekiel 37:22].
Now we turn again to,oh, we’ll skip that one. Turn again to Amos – this last one – in the ninth chapter of the Book of Amos, the eleventh, the fourteenth, and the fifteenth verses, "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old [Amos 9:11]: And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel" [Amos 9:14], and the last verse, "And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given unto them, saith the Lord God" [Amos 9:15]. This second time when Israel goes back to their homeland, they’re going back forever and forever! "I will never pull them up again, saith the Lord God" [Amos 9:15].
All right, they’re going back then. God’s Book says they are going back. God’s Scriptures say they are returning home. Now God’s Book also says they will return unconverted; they will return in unbelief. Isn’t this an amazing thing? These prophecies that I am reading of the people of God were written five hundred, seven hundred, eight hundred years before Christ; and I’m seeing them come to pass today with mine own eyes. Twice have I been in Israel, and twice have I looked upon the Israeli republic. Once have I talked to David Ben-Gurion, their prime minister. I am seeing this thing come to pass, prophesied eight hundred years before Christ. Listen to the Word of the Lord: they will return unconverted, in unbelief. Ezekiel 22:17 and following:
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Son of man, the house of Israel is to Me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem –
Dross, I am going to gather you there in Palestine –
As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it –
I will raise up Nasser in Egypt, I will raise up Saudi in Arabia, I will raise up the Hashmonite kingdom across Jordan, and I will blow on it with arms from Czechoslovakia, and I will blow on it with technicians from Russia –
so will I gather you in Mine anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you –
unconverted Israel –
Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of My wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.
As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof –
Yeah, in Palestine, there’ll be a fury and a fire from God upon unconverted Israel –
And ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out My fury upon you."
Just once again, in the thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel:
For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land –
and then, when I have got you there in Palestine –
then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I clean you.
And a new heart will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you.
. . .
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.
Now this last, so briefly: and Israel some day will be converted – all Israel, as a nation, someday, according to Isaiah 66, "a nation shall be born in a day" [Isaiah 66:8]; they’ll be converted in a day. The whole nation there shall be saved; they’ll be converted, and that will be when the Lord comes again. "And in that day," according to Zechariah 13, and – according to Zechariah , "And in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" [Zechariah 13:1].
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins
And sinners –
including the nation of Israel –
plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains
["There is a Fountain Filled with Blood, William Cowper]
In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David –
and again –
And one shall say unto Him –
when the Lord cometh –
what are these wounds in Thy hands? Then shall He answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends
[Zechariah 13:1, 6]
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh . . .
And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west; there shall be a very great valley; and half the mountain shall remove to the north, and half of it toward the south.
. . .
And the Lord thy God shall come and all His saints with Him. And it shall come to pass that at evening time, it shall be light.
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half to the former sea, half to the hinder sea: in summer and winter.
And the Lord shall be King over all the earth . . .
[Zechariah 14:1, 4-9]
And my last: in the eleventh of the Book of Romans, "I say then," says Paul, "Hath God cast away His people?" [Romans 11:1]. Is God done with the Jew? Are they no more precious in His sight? He answers it in the second verse: "God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew" [Romans 11:2]. Then in the eleventh chapter of Romans, he describes what God shall do with the Jewish nation, and then he concludes like this:
I would not have you without knowledge, brethren, concerning the mystery; blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved – and so all Israel shall be saved – as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as concerning the election, the choice of God, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance!
God does not change! [Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8]. He doesn’t say, "Yesterday I loved Abraham, but today I hate him." He said, "Abraham, I loved you yesterday, I loved you today, I am your Friend forever!" That’s the kind of a God we serve: without shadow cast by turning; the immutable, unvarying promises of the living God.
Would you think I’ve been preaching thirty minutes? I don’t know where the time goes.
We sing our song. Somebody you, give your heart to God, to the promises of the Lord. Put your life in the church. In this little brief moment while we sing one stanza, would you come? Would you come? While I stand, would you come and stand by me? Anywhere, somebody you, while we stand and sing.