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Alex's Blog - August 26, 2009 - The Restoration of the Jews (Part 7)
By Alex Dodson
When I was growing up in the southeast, our neighbor across the street was Jewish. She was a widow and along with her daughter were good friends of my parents. Many a day, my mother would visit her Jewish friend across the street and she and her daughter would visit in our home as well. My parents always taught me to respect and be kind to the Jews. There were others in the community that had a different attitude but not my parents. Some of my father's good friends were Jews who lived in our community. They always enjoyed talking to my father because they knew he was their friend. My parents were Christians who had a real heart for the Jews. That should be the attitude of all Christians. Our roots are in Israel and the Jewish people. Without them we would not be Christians.
In today's blog, we finish up our series on the restoration of the Jews. We will look at one final passage in Ezekiel and see how it relates to their future.
Ezekiel 20 also seems to speak about a future restoration of the Jewish people. A time will come when the people of Israel will acknowledge the Lord and serve Him. Ezekiel writes, "I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered - with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath." (verse 34) Notice that the Jews will be brought back from the nations where they have been scattered. This doesn't sound like it refers to the restoration from Babylon, but rather to a future restoration after they had been scattered to many nations which occurred in 70 AD. Ezekiel continues, "I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgement upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord." (verses 35-36) It seems here that the Lord will bring some sort of judgement upon the Jews before they are restored and that it will be in the view of the nations. He goes on to give the reason for the judgement, "I will take not of you as you pass under my staff, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord." (verses 37-38) The reason then for the judgement in the face of the nations was to purge the Jewish people and to bring them to the point where they will acknowledge the Lord.
Ezekiel continues to prophesy about the future restoration of Israel, "'As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land the entire house of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices. I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will show myself holy among you in the sight of the nations." (verses 39-41) A time will come when the whole house of Israel will serve the Lord and be accepted by Him. This seems to point to a time in the future when there will be a great revival among the Jewish people when they will return to the Lord and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Ezekiel writes again, "Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers. There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done. You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name's sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord." (verses 42-44) The Jewish people will remember their sins and rejection of the Lord and they will mourn. The Lord will have mercy upon them for His name's sake and forgive them and will accept them. They will be restored.
Will the temple be rebuilt before this restoration takes place? It could be, although it is not necessary or needed since Jesus has already fulfilled all that the temple stood for. David Brown writes, "Some fancy that they have Scripture warrant for expecting that the nation will not only be resettled in Palestine, with Jerusalem as of old for the metropolis of their nationality, but that they will erect a temple there, and begin to set up the ancient worship, ere (before) they look penitentially upon Him whom their fathers pierced. I confess that I think the evidence for all this slender enough, and some things seem to look quite the opposite way. But even though it were so, this is not the predicted Restoration. The only light in which the eventual Restoration of Israel is held forth in Scripture is as the Divine sequel and public seal of Reconciliation to the now contrite and converted nation." (p. 166 Hal Lindsey & The Restoration of the Jews) What we look for is not a rebuilding of the temple but a conversion of the Jewish people to Christ, their Messiah. When that takes place, Israel will experience true restoration.
What then should our attitude be toward the Jewish people today. We should have the same attitude as Paul when he wrote. "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved." (Romans 10:1) We should pray for the salvation of the Jews. We should pray for Israel. We should also share the gospel with Jews and proclaim the gospel to Israel. Their salvation will come only when they acknowledge and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version unless indicated otherwise.
Schlissel, Steve and Brown, David. Hal Lindsey & the Restoration of the Jews. Still Waters Revival Books, Edmonton, AB Canada, 1990.