An excellent article dealing with the place of the nation of Israel in a coming age.
The yearning for a golden age has been part and parcel of the aspiration of the nations of antiquity. It has often featured in the predictions of the prophets of the heathen and been idealized in the literature of their poets. Whether one considers the Latin poet Virgil who in his fourth Eclogue describes the coming idyllic state or the writings of Zoroaster who predicts the arrival of one, Saoshyans, who will introduce universal peace and plenty, the writings of the ancients are liberally sprinkled with hopes of an ideal age. These have, of course, long since evaporated and come to nothing. However, there is a nation which holds amongst its treasures of inspired Scripture, promises of a coming era of Eden-like excellence and paradisiacal prosperity. Not only do these promises predict world prosperity but a very real part of the glowing picture concerns the destiny of the nation of Israel, whose patriarchs and prophet-sons became the recipients of the promises.
What this coming age of Messianic and Millennial bliss will mean for Israel is a subject filling many pages of the Old Testament – far too numerous and complex to be enumerated here, much less considered. As a focus for this article we will use the writing of the weeping prophet as our primary text and briefly refer to others along the way.
A careful reader of Jeremiah will already have noted the recurrence of the expression the days come. This particular expression occurs 21 times in the whole of the Old Testament but remarkably 15 of these are in the prophecy of Jeremiah. Often this time formula is employed in the context of judgment but in the central portion of Jeremiahs work it denotes times of great blessing. It carries a ring of certainty in its emphasis and reminds us that the days come, and come they most certainly will! The nation wasted by centuries of wandering, weariness, and warfare will realize her God-appointed destiny and enjoy her rightful possessions and position at last. Seven of the occurrences of this expression are located in Jeremiah 23 and in what has been called Jeremiahs book of Comfort – chapters 31-33. A reading of these chapters gives an overview of many features of Israels millennial hope and we will summarize what that era will mean for that nation under the following ten headings:
It is divine grace which will deliver a remnant from their wilderness experience as Jer 31:2 assures us: The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel. This grace of restoration flows from the love and kindness of Jehovah as v 3 assures us, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. This loving kindness is the much loved Hebrew term chesedwhich implies mercy shown in loyalty to the covenant. God will graciously fulfill to the nation those promises of a land promised unconditionally under the covenant with Abraham and will also give her the true king on the throne of David so as to perform the sure mercies of David.
The coming kingdom will also mean great days of regathering for the nation of Israel. For decades now thousands of national Jews have been relocating in the land. They are still in unbelief but in that day there will be a divine operation to reassemble the nation to the land of their fathers. It will be a marked reversal of the dispersions and scattering which have marked so much of their previous history. Indeed, Jeremiah 31:10 pledges, He that scattered Israel will gather him. Just as God employed Gentile nations in their scattering so will they be employed in the repatriation of the nation to their true home. In this re-gathering of the nation will be included its reunification. According to Isaiah 11:13, Ephraim shall not vex Judah and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. Ezekiel 37:17 assures us that the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph shall become one. Not only will the deep division which has existed since the days of Rehoboam be healed but those ancient tribal jealousies, which marred the early history of the nation and often broke out into civil strife, will totally disappear. In a similar vein, Jeremiah 31:31 reminds us of that new covenant which will be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
It will also be for the united nation a time of unparalleled and unprecedented glory. Jeremiah predicts, I will also glorify them (30:19). After the dark days of shame and depression which have shadowed much of her sorrowful past, what a millennial dawning is predicted by Isaiah when he calls, Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is rise upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Isa 60:1-2)! In the final chapters of his prophecy, Ezekiel reminds us of the majestic return of that Shekinah glory which he had observed in its reluctant departure earlier in his book. The returning King will bring a radiance to the restored nation, filling the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and the land with His glory.
Scarcely a nation has known so many tears in her history as Israel. When one thinks of the persecution and pogroms together with her many dispersions it is no surprise that the wailing wall has become a focal point of her national heritage. The sorrows of the past will be more than reversed by the exuberant joy of the millennial age. Jeremiah 31:13 is only one of many prophetic passages which join to describe the superlative elation of that age: Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: For I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. Again, in chapter 33:11, he lets us hear the streets of restored Jerusalem vibrate with sounds of celebration. All ages and classes will be included in the exhilaration of those balmy days.
To be continued.