The Beginning And The End Of Israel
February 23rd, 1986 @ 10:50 AM
THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF ISRAEL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-23-86 10:50 a.m.
It is a joy for us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas to welcome the multitudes of you who share this hour on radio and on television. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Beginning and the End of Israel. I have prepared nine messages around the theme, the beginning and the end: The Beginning and End of the World, of Sorrows, of Death, of Satan, of Grace. Next Sunday, The Beginning and the End of the Church, and the last of the messages, The Beginning and the End of the Golden Millennium. And today, The Beginning and End of Israel.
As a background text, let us turn to Jeremiah, the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 30. Jeremiah chapter 30, and let us read out loud and together verses 7 through 11 [Jeremiah 30:7-11]. Jeremiah chapter 30, right in the middle of your Bible. And I want you to notice when you come to it where the Lord says: “Though I make a full end of the nations of the world… yet will I not make a full end of thee” [Jeremiah 30:11]. Do we have it? Jeremiah chapter 30, beginning at verse 7 reading to verse 11. Ready. Now together:
Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him:
But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
Therefore, fear thou not, O My servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
In the most solemn and sacred of all ancient rituals, God and Abraham took a heifer, sacrificed it, divided it in two and placed one half of it on one side and one half on the other side. God and Abraham then took a she-goat, sacrificed it, then divided it in two and placed half of it on one side and half of it on other side. Then God and Abraham took a ram, sacrificed it and place half of it on one side and half of it on the other side. Then God and Abraham took a turtledove, placed it on one side and a pigeon and placed it on the other side [Genesis 15:9-10]. Then according to that ancient ritual the two, God and Abraham, should have walked down between those severed parts.
The covenant was, if one or the other broke that sacred oath, then his blood would be shed and his limbs severed according as they had sacrificed those animals. But in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, when that solemn, sacred sacrifice was made, God having said to Abraham: “You will have a seed and a people after thee forever [Genesis 12:2, 7]. And they will number like the stars in the sky for multitude” [Genesis 15:4-5], when the two of them should have walked between that sacred sacrifice, the Lord God Jehovah walked alone [Genesis 15:17]. The oath and the covenant does not depend upon the man. It lies in the purview and faithfulness of Almighty God. There will be a nation of the seed of Abraham forever and ever [Exodus 32:13].
When I think of the beginning of Israel, and that incomparable promise, I am astonished at its course of fulfillment in the story and history of mankind. As it began in Genesis, it is not Ishmael, it is Isaac [Genesis 17:18-19]. As the story continues in Genesis, it is not Esau, it is Jacob [Genesis 27]. That is, it is Israel and not Edom, and for four thousand years, that promise has been faithfully fulfilled. I’ve never seen an Edomite. I’ve never seen a Girgashite . I’ve never seen a Jebusite. I’ve never seen an Ammonite. They have disappeared from the face of the earth thousands of years ago. But the Jew is with us today. I’ve seen him in almost every great city of the world. And there are a throng of them in our queenly city of Dallas.
God says: “Though I make a full end of all the nations of the world, yet I will never make a full end of thee” [Jeremiah 30:11]. They are distinct people with a separate and unusual history. Like the Gulf Stream finds its course through the vast Atlantic Ocean, a great river fifty miles wide and one mile deep, so this stream of the history of Israel has continued in every nation. Whatever the culture, whatever the persecution, whatever the peoples, they have remained unique before the Lord God. They are the bush that Moses saw that burned unconsumed [Exodus 3:2].
In the thirty-first chapter, in the next chapter of this Book of Jeremiah, the Lord God says, “As long as the ordinance—My ordinance—of the sun that shall shine by day and My ordinance of the moon that shall shine by night, just as long as those two ordinances of the day and the night remain before Me, so shall the seed of Israel be a nation in My sight” [Jeremiah 31:35-36].
It is a remarkable story. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years before the halcyon days of Greece and of Rome, we have in the Bible the golden era of Israel under David and under Solomon. And hundreds and hundreds of years before the first historian Herodotus wrote history, we have the recording of the development of this nation of Israel. Not only the nation, but God hath promised them a homeland. There is a place in this earth that God hath forever set aside for them [Deuteronomy 11:23-24].
Now the Lord said to Abram: “Get thee out. Blessing, I will bless thee, make of thee a great nation” [Genesis 12:1-2]. And the Lord appeared unto Abram and said: “Unto thy seed will I give this land” [Genesis 12:7], and the Lord God said unto Abraham:
Lift up thine eyes, look from the place where thou stand, northward, southward, eastward, and westward:
For all the land which thou seest, that will I give thee, and to thy seed for ever.
I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed be numbered.
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I have given it unto thee.
And in the 105th Psalm:
God hath remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.
Which covenant he made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac;
And confirmed the same unto Jacob . . . and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.
Forever and forever that land belongs to Israel. When Joseph died in Egypt, he took an oath of his brethren saying: “You will take my embalmed body back to Canaan, the Promised Land” [Genesis 50:24-25].
It is one of the most unusual phenomena you’ll see in the world today, the Jew in his homeland. Several times I visited with David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of the modern nation of Israel. He was a farmer; he was a farmer in Beer-sheba. In Israel, the Jew is a farmer. Some of them, some of the choicest of them were settled in southern Argentina, in the richest land in the South American continent. It was not long until they gradually emigrated back to the city, to Buenos Aires and all those great other cities of South America.
I never saw a Jewish farmer in my life until I went to Israel. In our city and all the other cities of the world where they have been scattered, the Jew is a banker, he’s a merchandiser, he’s a corporate leader, he’s a physician, he’s a lawyer, he’s a professional man. But in Israel, he’s a farmer. If you have been to Israel, you have been in the kibbutzim, and where they live is the green line. The land before them has been turned into desert. The land under their guiding hands is verdant and beautiful and prolific and productive. He belongs to the land, and the land belongs to him.
In the beginning, the nation; and in the beginning, their allotted inheritance in the earth. And in the beginning, they have and forever a king.
And when thy days, David, shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy body, and I will establish his kingdom.
And thine house and thine kingdom shall be established for ever . . . thy throne shall be established for ever.
[2 Samuel 7:12, 16]
And in the eighty-ninth Psalm:
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.
Once I have sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David.
His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me.
It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.
There shall always be a king to sit upon the throne of David. And Pilate came and said to Jesus: “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” [John 18:33]. And He made the most definite affirmation that the Greek language can present: “Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” [John 18:37]. He was born a King. “And there came Magi from the East saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:1, 2]. He was born a King. He died a King. And they placed this superscription over His cross: “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS” [Matthew 27:37].
And the elders came to Pilate and said: “Do not write, ‘He is a King.’ Write, ‘He said He was a King’” [John 19:21]. And Pilate answered: “Gegrapha, gegrapha.” An unusually effective Greek word: “What I have written I have written” [John 19:22].
He died a King, and He entered into glory in the triumphal march of a King. In Ephesians 4: “He ascended up on high, and led captivity captive” [Ephesians 4:8]. The Lord God of the whole world, the King of the Jews [Matthew 27:37]. This is the beginning of Israel as a nation in a land, and with a forever King.
The end of Israel; in the Book of Romans, chapters 9, 10, and 11 [Romans 9-11] are reserved for a discussion of God’s covenant people. The Book of Romans is a doctrinal dissertation. As you might go to the library and check out, or as you might buy a book of systematic theology, so the Book of Romans is a systematic doctrinal dissertation. And in that doctrinal dissertation, 9, 10, and 11 of the chapters are dedicated to the discussion of God’s covenant with Israel. In chapter 11, verse 1: “Hath God cast away His people?” [Romans 11:1] Verse 2: “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” [Romans 11:2].
In the great apocalyptic discourse of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 24, the Lord says: “This genea shall not pass away.” Genea, our word “genealogy,” our word “generation”; genea, this race, this kind; “This people, this Jew shall not pass away, not until all of God’s purpose is fulfilled [Matthew 24:34]. He will be here when I come back.” He is here. He’ll be here when the Lord returns. And the Lord will settle Israel finally and forever in their Promise Land.
The Book of Amos closes; the ninth chapter closes with these words and promise:
I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards… and eat of the fruit thereof; They shall make gardens, and enjoy them.
I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.
[Amos 9:14, 15]
Israel will be brought back into her promised and covenant land, there to live forever and forever.
And in the [thirty-first] chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, the great prophet says: “And in that land Hebrew will be yet spoken again” [Jeremiah 31:23]. In 587 BC, the nation was carried into captivity into Babylon [Jeremiah 39:1-10; 52:4-30; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21]. And there they forgot their language. They spoke Aramaic. When they returned to Judah, they spoke Aramaic. When Jesus lived, He spoke Aramaic.
Since 587 BC, Hebrew has been a dead, unspoken, and forgotten language. But Jeremiah said these people shall return to their promised and covenant land, and they will speak in that land the language of Hebrew. And if you go to Israel today, and I pray many of you will—the orchestra and the choir and I will be going to Israel this coming June—if you go to Israel today, the language you will hear is the language of the Bible. It’s the language of ancient Hebrew, just as Jeremiah the prophet said: “In this land, they will yet speak Hebrew again” [Jeremiah 31:23].
And the people when they return will return in unbelief. They will return unconverted. If you go to Israel, to your amazement, you will see that the ordinary Jew there is an atheist. There is an infinitesimally small group of ultra-Orthodox Jews, but the rest of them are unbelievers. They are atheists, one of the most remarkable phenomenon of our age. They will return in unbelief.
The thirty-sixth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, describing their return in unbelief [Ezekiel 36:24]; then he says, verse 25:
Then after they have returned in unbelief, then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will clean you from all your filthiness.
A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I place within you: I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh . . .
I will put My Spirit within you, and I will cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
In the land, in the land, when the people have returned to the land in unbelief, unconverted, there the Lord is going to bring to pass an unbelievable and unimaginable miracle. All Israel is going to be changed. They’re going to be saved. They’re going to be converted. As Isaiah 66 says, a nation is going to be born in a day [Isaiah 66:8]. How could such a thing be? The prophet Zechariah describes it. In chapters 12, and 13, and 14 [Zechariah 12-14], the great prophet says:
I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Me as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
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… And they shall say: What are these wounds in Thy hands?
And He will answer: These are the wounds I received in the house of My people.
[Zechariah 13:1, 6]
And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem, and the great mount… shall cleave from the east to the west…
And the Lord shall be King over the all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord and one God and one people.
What an amazing unbelievable prophecy. In that day, in that day, at the consummation of history, when those people are gathered back in their Promised Land, the Lord King of glory will appear unto them and show them the scars in His hands, and a fountain of cleansing shall be opened. And they will be converted, changed, saved, and receive and accept their Lord God Messiah [Romans 11:26]. I can hardly believe such a thing. I can hardly imagine such a thing.
Did you notice in the passages that we read together: “There shall be a time of Jacob’s trouble”? [Jeremiah 30:7]. Jacob’s trouble; it is Daniel’s seventieth week; in the midst of the week, where they had made a covenant with Antichrist, Antichrist breaks it, and then follows three and one-half years of tribulation [Daniel 9:27], called he thlipsis he megalé, “the tribulation, the great” [Revelation 7:14].
What an amazing thing! For every day that His people rejected their Lord King Messiah, three and one-half years—for every day they suffer in that great tribulation [Daniel 9:27]. And at the end of Jacob’s trouble [Jeremiah 30:7], at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week, at the end of the great tribulation, the Lord Christ appears, “and they look upon Him whom they pierced” [Zechariah 12:10], and they are filled with sorrow and repentance and confession [Zechariah 12:12-13].
Let me show you little things in the Bible confirming that. You remember the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; Paul describes these who have accepted the Lord, and then he says: “And I also, as one born out of due time” [1 Corinthians 15:8]—that’s the way it is translated in the King James Version—“I also came to believe in the Lord Jesus,” to accept the Lord Jesus, “as one born out of due time” [1 Corinthians 15:8].
That’s a translation of ektrōma, ektrōma. I came to accept the Lord as one “before the time.” That is, a birth before the regular time of the birth. Well, what does he mean, ektrōma, “as one born before I should have been born”? He’s referring to that day when all Israel will accept the Lord [Romans 11:25, 26], and he accepted the Lord before that day.
Oh, what a promise! What an incomparable word God says to us. In that dissertation in Romans, he closes it with these words: “I would not, my brethren, that ye be without knowledge of this mystery”—a secret God has kept in His heart—“lest you be wise in your own conceits, you Gentiles, that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the plerōma, the full number of the Gentiles be come in” [Romans 11:25]; until that last Gentile comes down that aisle, giving his heart to the Lord. And then when that last Gentile is brought into the kingdom, then shall all Israel be saved [Romans 11:26].
As it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins. Concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes;
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, without turning, without changing.
Isn’t that the way we began this message? In a holy covenant, just God walked through that sacrifice [Genesis 15:17]. The covenant, the oath of God is not dependent upon man. It depends on His faithfulness.
And Paul says here the calling, and the election, and the oath, and the covenant, and the promises of God are without change. They are without turning. They are without repentance [Romans 11:29]. And God will keep His promise to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to Israel, and every word that He said, He will faithfully keep [Romans 11:27-29]. What an amazing Lord God!
I could not help but think of the prayer of my sweet assistant and yokefellow, Ed Poole. We have a prayer meeting before we come into the service here. He prayed; he was here at the 8:15 service, of course, and heard me expound this Word of the Lord. And he said, “Thank God for Your faithfulness, because if You keep your promise to Abraham, You will keep your promise to me and to us. If You were to break your promise to Abraham, how would I know but that you’d break your promise to me?” It’s a faithful God who according to His great mercy works out for us full redemption [Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19].
I have to close. May I close, not only with the nation, and not only with their being in the land and wonderfully their converted, may I close also with the coming King? Their coming King; He is our Lord and our Savior [2 Peter 3:18]. After the tribulation and after all of those tragedies that overwhelm the people who have repudiated and denounced and rejected their Lord and Savior, then you come to the climactic part of the Apocalypse, at the appearing of our Lord from heaven. And in that nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, before we have the new heaven and the new earth, is that incomparable, incomparable scene:
I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was Faithful and True . . .
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns . . .
He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God…
And on His vesture and on His thigh were written, THE KING OF KINGS, AND THE LORD OF LORDS.
[Revelation 19:11-13, 16]
When Jesus comes back again.
I was a guest in the home of a godly deacon in Oslo, Norway. He had lived through the Nazi occupation of his beautiful country. And he told me meticulously how they lived through those days. There came Prince Carl Haakon, 1905 to 1957, their beloved and honored king. In 1940, when Quisling delivered the government and the nation to Hitler, King Haakon went into exile. He went into England. He had married the daughter of the king of England. And for five years during that terrible occupation, the king was in exile.
And that godly deacon said, “From time to time, there would fly over planes coming from England. And they would pour out upon our capital city of Oslo pamphlets. And they were from him. On pain of death, we picked them up and we would take them home, pull the shades down, and in the semi-darkness we would read those pamphlets dropped out and down from the sky.”
He said, “They were from our king, King Haakon. And the king was saying to his dear people in Norway, don’t be discouraged and don’t lose heart, I’ll be back. I am coming again. We’ll win the victory. It belongs to us. Lift up your hearts and your spirits. I will be back.”
And we were down where the harbor and its water lave the pavement on the city. We were standing there. And he said, “See that place? See that place?” He said, “In 1945, the ship came in. And our King Haakon stepped on our shore right there.”
And he said, “When we saw him and he stepped on our shore,” he said, “I cannot describe the ecstatic scene. We shouted, we clapped our hands. We threw our hats up in the air. We cried, we wept, we hugged one another, we rejoiced, our king had come! We were free and at liberty and delivered, and our king had come back.”
In that very place on the Mount of Olives, His feet shall touch this earth [Zechariah 14:4, 9]. And the whole earth will rise to meet His coming. Shouting and rejoicing and gladness and victory: no more death; no more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain: these former things are all passed away [Revelation 21:4].
All hail the power of Jesus’ name.
Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem
And crown Him Lord of all.
Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race.
Ye ransomed from the fall.
Hail Him who saves you by His grace.
And crown Him Lord of all.
[“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” Edward Perronet]
Even so, come, blessed Lord Jesus [Revelation 22:20], King of glory! If we know our hearts, we are ready. Come and welcome. Now may we bow in prayer?
Our Lord, whatever the providences of life that may overwhelm us, may we lift up our faces; our redemption draweth nigh [Luke 21:28]; as the beautiful song of our sweet singer, “Our Redemtion Draweth Nigh.” It is just tomorrow, and He brings with Him every continuing triumph; O Lord God, when death is conquered and the grave is no longer victorious [1 Corinthians 15:55]; when our life in Thee immortal shall have no end and we shall be at peace and at home in a new and resurrected body [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52], to love God and serve Thee forever and ever [Revelation 22:3-5], world without end, O glory, O prospect of hope! Lord, bless our people as we work, and as we prepare, and as we serve, until that ultimate and final and triumphant day.
In a moment we shall stand and sing our invitation hymn, and while we sing that song, somebody you: “Pastor, today I have decided for Christ, and here I stand” [Romans 10:8-13]. A family you, to come into the fellowship of our dear church [Hebrews 10:24-25]; or to answer a call of God in your heart, make the decision now, and when we stand to sing the song, on the first note of the first stanza, welcome. Down one of those stairways in the balcony, down one of these aisles, in the press of people on this lower floor, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and I am coming.” Thank You, Lord, for the sweet harvest You give us, in Thy saving name, amen.