Online Text Sermon - The Future Conversion of the Jews, Romans ch.11 vv.1-36
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Future Conversion of the Jews|
|Text||Romans ch.11 vv.1-36 |
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Now the subject then that I have is the future conversion of the Jewish people to a faith in the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. With Romans chapter 11 open in front of you, I shall make reference to this because this chapter is the key chapter on this subject in the Bible. Our reference is, in the Old Testament as well as in the New, to the future conversion of the Jews. And this chapter 11 is especially devoted to this remarkable subject.
Now somebody who knows more about the Jews and their evangelisation than most is Mike Moore who works with CWI (Christian Witness to Israel) and very recently Mike Moore has said this: "Many Jews and Christians do not suspect that there are more Jews who believe in Jesus today than at any time in history; so many in fact that Rabbi Tovia Singer (that's a conservative Jewish rabbi in America) asked the question why more Jews have become Christians in the last twenty years than in the last two thousand years." And that appears to be one of the remarkable phenomena in the world today, that now, at this junction, more Jews are turning to Christ and becoming Christians than ever before since the days of the apostles. And the importance of that, I believe, and hope to show you, is that scripture is going to be fulfilled, and possibly soon fulfilled, in which the Jews as a people will turn to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is all the more remarkable because for about two thousand years they have been, for the most part, fervently anti-Christian, and two generations ago if you were to speak to a Jew about the Lord Jesus Christ and believing in Him, many a time they would spit in your face or wish to do. But today there is a change amongst Jewish people, and especially amongst the young and rising generation of Jews, and Mike Moore is able to tell us from experience the things that I have just quoted to you.
All right. What are we talking about? Well the history of the world according to the Bible can be divided into three periods. The first period of the history of the world according to the purposes of God is from Abraham to the Day of Pentecost - I'm just leaving aside now before Abraham; that doesn't enter into my thinking - but from Abraham to the Day of Pentecost it was almost exclusively Jews who were being saved and brought to faith in God. All the other nations are referred to, as you know, as being the Gentiles or the heathen. So for roughly two thousand years, from Abraham to Christ and the Day of Pentecost, for those two thousand years almost nobody was going to get to heaven; almost nobody was being forgiven their sins apart from the Jewish race - and not all of them either. Amongst the Jews, some were unbelievers even in the Old Testament, and some were believers. There was the odd Gentile here and there who came to faith in the true God. Rahab the harlot was a case in point in the Book of Joshua; and Ruth the Moabitess is another case in point, and a book of the Bible is written after her name, as you know; and some others. But the number of Gentiles who were converted in that first period of history is extremely few; almost everyone who was being saved and going to heaven were Jews.
Now the second period of history in the purposes of God is between the Day of Pentecost and some future date - which we do not know exactly when - in which during that period mainly Gentiles are being saved but very few Jews are being saved. So the second period of history, from Pentecost onwards to a future date that I'm going to talk about in a moment, in this present period in which you and I are living, this second period of world history, very few Jews have been saved; it's nearly all Gentiles who are being saved. And in this period God predicted that he would carry the gospel to all the nations. Christ, you remember, said this as he was about to ascend to heaven, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit", and that is true today, and it has been true for a number of years. As far as Japan to the east, America to the west, the gospel has been preached and is available and is known, and there are Bibles in these languages and the intervening languages of course. North and south the same, from Greenland in the north down to Australia and so on in the south, the gospel is being preached and churches are being set up and people are being saved from their sin, through faith in Christ who died for us upon the cross.
Now that second period of history will be finished when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled - that is a beautiful expression: "when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled". Christ refers to it in Luke 21 and the apostle Paul refers to it in this chapter 11 of Romans. So there's going to be a future date, not yet happened, in which something will occur which will bring the Jews to God again, after these two thousand years in which they have been cast off. The technical word for being cast off is apostasy. They are in a state of apostasy from God.
Then what about the third period of history, from that date to the end of the world? Well, in that third period of history, both Jews and Gentiles will be saved, and the church of Jesus Christ will consist of both - not just Jews as in the first period, not just Gentiles as in the second period for the most part, but both - both will have a high and honoured place, and the Jews especially will have a place of great respect and love and honour because they by that date will have repented nationally of their unbelief and they will embrace Christ as their Saviour and their Messiah.
My concern is with the way we are to think, then, about the conversion of the Jews. Now very quickly I'll touch on one or two critical points which we must understand. There are people who are called "dispensationalists" in the churches - not our church but in some churches - especially Plymouth Brethren. And the dispensationalists have the idea that Israel and the Church are totally separate. They have nothing whatever in common, so obviously they don't understand Romans 11. Many Baptists - not all of them but many Baptists - subscribe to what is called "replacement theology", and they are of the opinion that the New Testament church is the New Testament Israel, that Israel now - that's to say the Jewish people - have no significance any more in Scotland or China, Hong Kong, anywhere; they regard the Jews as having lost all significance in the purposes of God; because the church, they say, is the New Testament Israel. I should say that although many Baptists have that view in replacement theology, the greatest Baptist of all, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, did not have that view. He had the view which I'm going to advance and propound to you tonight, and this is it: that Israel - that's to say the Jewish people - had a special place in the purposes of God which temporarily they have lost through unbelief, because they rejected Christ and they crucified him, and for two thousand years, for the most part, they have been cast off. But in the counsels and purposes of God they have not lost their importance, and one day God will bring them back again.
Now this brings me to say a few things about Romans 11. If you want to glance at these verses, you are very welcome to do so. I shall mention the verse and then give you a comment on it. Romans 11, 11, Paul is writing, "Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy." (Romans 11, 11) Now that's a very important verse. Have they, the Jews, stumbled that they should fall? Now the picture is an interesting one. Let's imagine a man walking down a street. Perhaps he's a bit elderly, and as he walks along he catches his heel, let us say, on a paving stone which is not quite even, and he stumbles. And for a moment he loses his balance and staggers about. But thankfully he recovers his balance without falling and he goes on his way. Now that's the picture here. The Jews are, in this illustration, like the old man who strikes his heel on a paving stone and for a time loses his equilibrium, his balance, but after a time he regains it and goes on his way. Have they stumbled that they should fall? In other words, has God allowed the Jews to fall flat on their faces so that they will never again come to the knowledge of salvation? God forbid: but rather through their fall (that's to say their being unbelieving for a time) salvation has come to the Gentiles. So that in the end the conversion of the Gentiles will be a means of provoking the Jewish nation all throughout the world to come to faith in Christ. Note that.
Now verse 12 - notice this: "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?" (Romans 11, 12) What is he saying here? Well Paul is saying this: that the consequence of the Jews stumbling and entering into a state of an apostasy, as now they have done, has been for a purpose. It is to bring in the Gentile world. The fall of them is the riches of the world, the Gentile world. The diminishing of them - so that there are hardly any Jews converted today - has as its consequence the enrichment of all the Gentile world. Now you might say: How did that come about? The answer is: Through the wise counsels of God. When the apostles preached the gospel of Christ two thousand years ago, wherever they went they found the Jews for the most part wouldn't listen, they blasphemed, because of course they were the ones who had crucified our Lord, and they rejected the testimony of Jesus Christ which was condemning their hypocrisy. They had become proud, haughty, high minded; their religion consisted very much of human tradition; they had departed from the Word of God, the Bible, and God therefore took away from them the spirit of understanding, so they were left like a man in darkness. And sadly that's been the condition of the Jews now for all these centuries - they've been in darkness. And in the period of their darkness God has been carrying the gospel to all the nations in the Gentile world. But now, when they come in, when the Jews come in again, their fullness - when God brings them in again - it will be much more of a blessing to the Gentile world. Paul makes the point, and it's a very important point: If the casting away of the Jews has been the enrichment of the Gentiles, he says, how much more, when they are brought in again, will that be an even greater enrichment of the Gentile world? What we call an argument a fortiori: if God can do a great thing he can certainly do a lesser thing. And that's the argument Paul brings.
Now in verse 15 he says the same thing in a stronger way, I would say: "If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Romans 11, 15) What does that mean? Well he means: If the casting away of the Jews by God, two thousand years ago, because of their unbelief when they rejected the gospel of Christ, when they refused the overtures of Christ's love towards them and when they blasphemed his name and would not accept the gospel message that he brought - well, says Paul, if the casting away of the Jews has had the consequence that the Gentile world have been reconciled to God, that is to say brought into a state of salvation with God, brought to faith in God, had their sins forgiven - which is indeed the case; that's exactly what's happened - then, says Paul, he argues like this in verse 15: "What shall the receiving of them [the Jews] be but life from the dead?" - another argument a fortiori - from the greater to the lesser. If the consequence of the Jews being cast off had amazing blessing in store for the Gentiles, for us, how much more will there be a blessing for us when the Jews come back in again? What shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead? Now that's interesting: "life from the dead". It more than hints at the thought that when this conversion of Israel occurs, at some point in time in the future, it will find the churches of the Gentile world very dead; and that's exactly what we see today. The deadness of the church in this country, vis a vis what it was even fifty years ago is, in incredible. The way in which churchgoing has declined in Britain is unbelievable. If you could be transported, let us say, to the 1950s to the city of Inverness or Glasgow, or Edinburgh, or London...
Dr Llloyd-Jones would have put it like this (he would say about London, where he was the most famous preacher of all in his day); he would say that in the 1920s and 30s there were so many preachers in London whom you really wanted to hear, they were great preachers. But he would say in the 1960s at the end of his ministry that there's hardly anyone now. "Is there anyone at all" he would say "you want to go to hear, or who is worth hearing?" Now that is reflected all throughout this country. We had lovely evangelical people in the congregation worshipping with us a few days ago - they've gone back now to London - but they were saying to me: "We haven't got a minister, and there are four evangelical churches like ourselves in the district, in our part of London, and you just can't get ministers whom you would want, because they're not preaching the truth." And that is symptomatic of the tremendous decay. And that's true all over Europe - tremendous decay. So that is one of the things Paul says. And what he means to say is this: When the Jews are brought in again, it will be life, for the churches, from the dead - this deadness, this decay, this decadence. This spirituality which has been so much lost will be rekindled and revived.
Now at verses 16-18 Paul gives us a most interesting illustration. Let me show you. He says: "If the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee." (Romans 11, 16-18) And so on. Now what's he talking about? Well he's using an illustration, clearly, and it's an illustration which is very important to understand in connection with the subject: the future conversion of the Jews. Let me open out the illustration. He's comparing the people of God all through history to a tree - it's quite a frequent illustration in scripture: either a fig tree or an olive tree or a fruit tree of some kind - because the church brings forth fruit to the glory of God. So on this occasion the apostle Paul compares the people of God in all generations to an olive tree (indeed Mr Macleod in prayer referred to it in his prayer - very appropriate itself). Now why is the church of God of all ages compared to an olive tree? Well there are three parts to a tree. The first part is the root - clearly that's in the ground. Then secondly you have the trunk which, in a fruit tree, is not usually very fat, it's usually quite slender - that's the second bit. And then the third part of the tree is where it branches out. Now, pay attention to that because it's very important to see what he's talking about. The three things of the tree are the root, second the trunk which is narrow, thirdly the branches which come out of the top, and give the fruit obviously.
Now what's he talking about by the illustration? Well it's this. By the root he means the great, old patriarchs who were the foundation of the church - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brethren; and these are all Jewish of course, and they're all spoken about at great length in the Old Testament - Genesis especially but they are referred to countless times in the rest of the Bible. These are the root, because these are the ones upon whom God, if you like, began to build his church; these were the early men whom God chose to be the root of the church of Christ.
Now the second phase of the church is the trunk, and what's that? Well it's the narrow church of Israel in the Old Testament. It's a narrow thing because the gospel in the Old Testament, as we said, was confined entirely to the Jews. Hardly anyone had any gospel in Old Testament times apart from the Jews - I say it with tears in my eyes. My friends, the people who live in Scotland, and England, and Wales, and Australia, and America, and Canada, and Russia, and India, they lived and died in their sins and they're in hell now, as we deserve to be ourselves. And why then a change? A change came when God in his goodness began to take the gospel to our forefathers two thousand or whatever it was years ago. And this is what it was what drove, for instance William Carey, to take the gospel to India in the late eighteenth century. It is worth my mentioning how he did it. He was an Englishman and he was a schoolteacher as well as a devout Christian of course, and he was teaching his boys in the class, in his schoolroom, about the countries of the world and he was saying, "Boys, on the map here's America, and here's Europe boys, and here's Russia boys, and here's India." And then he put his hand on his face, "and they're all pagan!" he said "these people in Asia, they're all heathen, they don't know the gospel." And the boys with wide eyes looked at the teacher showing his tears down his face, at the burden he had for the unconverted in China and India and all these places. And he went himself of course at great personal sacrifice to preach the gospel and to translate the Bible into all these languages. And he did so. He and his friends translated the Bible - the New Testament anyway - into 36 languages of India - one man did that with the help of his friends.
Now you see, that shows us that in the Old Testament the only people that had the gospel were the Jews. But now, when the Day of Pentecost came, the Spirit came upon the apostles and they preached the gospel to all the nations, in all the different languages. But wait a minute, two things happened. First of all, for the most part the Jews wouldn't accept it. So in the illustration Paul is saying this is what God did. He took the pruner's knife and he chopped out the Jewish branches and set them aside, and in the place left by the missing branches he grafted in Gentile branches, and that is our privilege, we're grafted into the privileges that the Jews had in the Old Testament and which we did not have in the Old Testament period. And these Jewish branches have been cut out. We are the wild olive tree grafted into the good olive tree.
Now there are a lot of lessons to learn from that. One of them is this: We should love the Jews as love our elder brother, and we should realise their terrible plight and ignorance, and we should also plead with God that he will bring them back in again. That's why Paul writes these things so that Christians may never hate the Jews. There's a terrible thing in the world called "anti-Semitism" and it's done a tremendous lot of evil. Even some well-meaning Christians have spoken very unkind and nasty things about the Jews. But that is what we must never do. We are to love our elder brother, the Jew, and plead with God to bring him back into the house again. It's like the parable of the prodigal son. We are the younger son, we were so wayward, we've been brought in, but the elder brother - as in the parable of the prodigal son - he's self-righteous, he doesn't think he needs any salvation. And he needs to have his eyes opened to see his need of Christ and forgiveness and the grace of God. So that's the illustration then that Paul gives at that point there.
Now I want you to notice a word that is to be found in what I've just read to you. It is "graft them in again" - verses 17-21: "If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." (Romans 11, 17-21) And he has given us therefore this warning, you see. In verse 23, notice that "they also [that's the Jews], if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again." Now that word "again" is extremely important, because it answers the people that I talked about at the beginning, the dispensationalists and these 'replacement theology' people who don't believe that the Jews are going to be brought in again into the Christian church and don't see that, but they can't explain this word "again". And the word "again" is here with great importance. It means that these branches that were cut out of the olive tree God is able to put them back in again in the future - again, notice. And if God were not going to do that then the word "again" here would have no meaning; it would be an irrelevant word to use. But Paul is making it clear it's going to happen again, their grafting into their own olive tree.
Now at this point Paul comes to a revelation. You see this in verses 25 and 26: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved." (Romans 11, 25-26) Now that's a tremendous phrase. I have to explain to you in verse 25 what's meant by a "mystery". "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery." Now a mystery in the New Testament is something that you could never know without divine supernatural revelation - that is to say unless God were to tell us this in the Bible we couldn't know it. Now there are some things that we can know without a Bible. For instance, just to take a simple example, we can all know without a Bible that there is a God; there is a supreme Being and a Creator. How do I know that? Well I don't need a Bible to tell me that. I simply have to look at my hands - wonderfully constructed in order to hold things and look after my body, and look after other people. And then I look at my feet - marvellously shaped and with musculature so I can move along. And these things called eyes - who put those there? Wonderfully made! So, I can see things here, I can hear things here, I can eat... Obviously my body was designed; it didn't just come about by accident. Charles Darwin, by the way, who was the father of that evolutionary theory, he hated the human eye because he couldn't explain the human eye and he realised the human eye was such a marvellous instrument. It didn't fit in with his theory of natural selection. But you see, if you think seriously about anything in the world, who on earth gave birds wings to fly and feathers to fly? And fish, how do they manage to breathe in the water? Well they've got very special bodies. And everything is designed. And the simple answer is, you can't have design unless you have a designer - it doesn't happen. You don't get design by dropping a bomb on a junkyard and then expecting to see a jumbo jet suddenly rolling out - it doesn't happen by accident; it has to be designed. Now the universe is designed and we're designed within it. And I'm simply saying these things because you don't need the Bible to tell you that. Intelligence tells you that, although sadly a lot of people don't use their intelligence. But they should, and we'll be answerable to God for how we use our intelligence.
But there are some things that intelligence cannot tell you, and that's what's meant by a mystery. A mystery is something we could not know if God had not told us. If you like, it's a sort of divine secret that God tells us in the Bible and it's only as we learn and understand the Bible we know these secrets and these mysteries. And there are several of them. I haven't time to deal with that in any detail, but the mystery here is this. Here it is in verse 25: "that blindness in part is happened to Israel [the Jews], until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" - that's the mystery. Put that in other words and Paul is saying this: The Jewish nation for the most part has been blinded; they can't understand the gospel; they can't understand Jesus died for our sins upon the cross. They don't want to hear that; they don't like to hear that; they don't believe that; they don't want to know that. And if you tell them, for the most part they'll scoff at you, they'll laugh at you. They don't accept it because blindness has come upon their minds, but only in part and only for a time. There are some Jews who believe, as I mentioned at the beginning. And more and more are beginning to believe. And so what is happening is this: the blindness is one day going to be taken away, and the Jews as a whole will no longer continue in their blindness. And when will this blindness be removed? See the word "until"? The blindness will continue, in part, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. What's that? It's the end of this second period of history I mentioned. I'm going to explain just a little bit more about it in a moment, but that will be the event when the Jews as a nation will be brought in again into the Christian faith. But that's what he's talking about. And that's what he goes on to explain in verse 26: "And so all Israel shall be saved." Now that's a wonderful future event, and it's something we could not know, dear friends, if God had not revealed it to us. I should just say briefly in the passing that there are other parts of the Bible that do deal with this, but not in such fullness as you have it dealt with here.
Right. That brings us then to the question: What will happen to bring the Jews into the Christian church? How will it happen, because things don't happen without an effective cause, do they? Look at the lights in this room. They didn't just go on of their own volition; somebody switched a switch on and they came on. And the windows, they don't just open of their own free will; somebody has to turn the handle. There has to be an efficient cause before anything happens. And what's the efficient cause that's going to bring the Jews into the Christian faith again? The answer is to be found in verse 26: "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." Notice the word "Deliverer" there has a capital 'D' because it is a person; it's not an influence or some sort of impersonal factor like electricity; it's not something like fate or chance or luck. The Deliverer needs now to be understood. What is meant by that phrase, "the Deliverer"? Well there are two answers that could be given. The first one is wrong and yet is believed, I'm afraid, by many Christians, but it is wrong I believe. And the second one therefore I believe is the correct one.
The Deliverer is not the Lord Jesus Christ coming again for the second time. Now I have to explain to you, the Bible does teach that Jesus Christ will come again at the end of the world; he will come the second time in all his glory. Christ came the first time to be born as a baby, to die for us on the cross, and he rose and went to heaven. He will come again the second time at the end of the world in all his glory to judge you and me and all mankind. Now there are some Christians who take the view that that's what's meant: that when Christ returns all of a sudden the Jews worldwide will become Christians. The answer to that is no, because when Christ comes back that is the end of the world. There will be no more time. Time is up, time is over; the clocks will stop. Eternity will begin, the judgement then will be held. Christ does not come to convert the Jews at his second coming - no, no, no, he comes at the end of the world to put to an end to history and to judge the world, you and me and all others. So the Deliverer in verse 26 is not the Lord Jesus Christ. Who then is it? And the answer is: It is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the blessed Godhead. You will notice that verse 26 says: "as it is written..." The question is: Where is it written? And the answer is: It is written in the last few verses of Isaiah's prophecy, chapter 59. And the reference there - you can look at it at home and you'll see - is specifically to the Spirit: "the Spirit of God will come upon them."
So the explanation that Paul is giving is this: The day will come when there will be a second Pentecost, if you like. Now you remember what happened in Acts chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost? They were all in prayer, and as they were in prayer suddenly there was a mighty rushing wind and the Spirit of God came with power upon them and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and tremendous authority and power in preaching. And Peter stood up and preached and 3,000 people were converted on the spot, you could say. And the Spirit of God was the agent, the effectual agent, behind that event. Now, what is being said in verse 26 is that when God's time comes, when the hour strikes that God has in his purposes for the Jews, the Holy Spirit will come again, not in exactly the same way as on Pentecost because on Pentecost he came to open the door of faith to the Gentiles, to begin the second phase of history. But when he comes again it will be specifically for Israel, for the Jews. And all over the world Jews will have their eyes opened to recognise Christ as their Messiah whom they have rejected all these two thousand years. Now I believe Mr Alistair Macleod referred to this in prayer - rightly so. And there's a verse in the Old Testament which describes what will happen. God says he will pour upon them the Spirit of grace and supplications - that's upon the Jews - and they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, in other words by faith, not literally but by faith. They will understand as a nation, by their hundreds and by their thousands, why Jesus died. It was to be the substitute for our sins. He died an atoning, propitiatory death, shedding his precious blood, so that he would take the penalty for my guilt and yours, and that of the Jews. And when they have the Spirit come upon them in that way then they shall believe, and they shall be filled with a profound repentance - so much so, says the Book of Zechariah chapter 12 that I'm quoting, that they shall be so filled as a nation when that happens that they shan't be able to talk to their wives. They'll go into their own rooms and the wives shall have their rooms - they can't face one another. And they'll shed tears copiously to realise that all these centuries their forefathers have been blinded as to who Christ really is. And then of course they will come to redemption, to salvation, and they'll be grafted in again, wonderfully.
Here's my dream. I've prayed for this for years to happen and I pray on and you should pray too, dear friends. Now this is my dream: just before I leave this world I would love to hear something, I'd love to switch on the radio or the 8 o'clock news in the morning, and this is what I want to hear one day: "This is the BBC Radio 4 [or something]. Ladies and gentlemen, we have to tell you though we can't explain it, all over the world Jewish people are weeping their eyes out and saying 'Our fathers were wrong, that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah'." Now when I hear that I should like to say with Simeon, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," because that day, I'm certain, is predicted here in these very words, the day when the Jews will come back again. And when that happens, says Paul, it will be life from the dead to us. Britain again will become a deeply spiritual, Christian country, and all the nations in the world. And I can't say this with dogmatism but I rather suspect - this is really me theorising, I'm not propounding this with absolute dogmatism - but I rather suspect that all religions will vanish apart from the true one... but no, no, I'm saying too much because Roman Catholicism and the papacy they will still survive. It's only at the second coming of Christ that the papacy will be destroyed, which is a form of antichrist according to the Word of God. I've said too much. But what I've said I justify to this extent anyway, that I think when the Jews are brought to Christ a lot of false religion in the world - and there's plenty of it - will simply pass away and multitudes will become at least nominal Christians. And many, many of course will become true Christians.
Well now, I really have to finish and give you a chance to speak if you wish. Just one point before I close, and here it is. I'm of the opinion that the day of the Jewish conversion is drawing near, and I think we should realise there are good reasons for believing it. Let me give you some reasons for thinking so. In 1948 the State of Israel was formed and the Jews, who for two thousand years had been scattered all over the world, came back to their own ancestral nation - 1948. The very next day after they had their land given to them - it was the British who did that for them; we had what was called the British Mandate, but that mandate ended on the 14th May 1948 when I was a boy of 10. And the very next day all the Arab nations round about made war on Israel. Now there were thousands and thousands of Arabs in these nations, and by rights - if you go by numbers - Israel should have been wiped off the face of the map in a matter of hours... but they weren't. Somehow - only the Providence of God explains it - the Jews defended themselves successfully, and they enlarged their territory. Since that date there have been numerous wars - 1956 the Suez War, 1967 the Six Day War and I remember it, 1973 the Yom Kippur War, 1982 the Lebanon War, and a few weeks ago of course there was the Gaza Strip War - it's going on and on and on and on. And on every occasion Israel has flattened their enemies on every side. I'm not saying this now because I'm a Jewish nationalist, and I'm not trying to defend everything Israel has done - I'm sure they've done some wrong things, we're all sinners - but I say this for one reason. To me it's a sign that God is beginning to turn towards them again. And the thing that really matters for me, the only thing that really matters for me is, surely this is a pointer to us that the day is drawing near in which the Holy Spirit will come upon them and their eyes shall be opened.
Are there any other signs? Yes. The population of Israel is growing at a tremendous rate. What have I got here? In 1948 when the State of Israel was formed there were 700,000 people who were citizens. In 1996 there were 5.5 million, which is the size of Scotland in population. And they've grown since then. Their economy is coming up all the time. Hebrew is the only language I believe which died for centuries and was revived to become a spoken, everyday language. That's not an accident.
Well now, one thing in conclusion and then your questions if you have any. My dear friends, what Paul is telling us in chapter 11 here should be an inspiration to us to pray continually that God will hasten this day, because our nation is bankrupt, and America is becoming bankrupt - morally, spiritually, economically. The Gentile world as a whole is becoming dead. We are needing - and I think every Christian knows it - we are needing somebody to come down from heaven to lift the nation back to where it ought to be, and only the Holy Spirit can do that. So Paul says in this mystery, "Blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in," and it'll be life, he says, from the dead.
I'll leave it there and I'll try to field any questions that you may wish to put. Who's going to start?
"Thank you very much. You've spoken about the anti-Semitism. I think there is a lot of this nowadays in the media and all over. Do you say it is a devil's way, the devil hating the people of Israel, knowing that if the blessing comes to the people of Israel many will be saved?"
Yes I do. There was a holocaust in AD70 when Jerusalem was destroyed. Well over a million Jews were put to death in Jerusalem. The Romans of course were the ones that did it. But the Jews are their own worst enemies. They hated one another and they killed one another. It was a terrible time. AD70 was a holocaust. Then they had their two thousand years of blindness for the Jewish nation until we come to 1943/4/5 when they had another holocaust. And the second holocaust was in Germany, and then at that time when lots of lots of Jews were put to death, as you know, six million Jews were put to death - six million Jews. Many little babies were thrown into the fire, like that; gas chambers; shot through the head - unspeakable cruelty. But to me that was the beginning and the end of this period of Jewish abandonment, and ever since that time, since 1948, Jews have been coming back. And the BBC being the organisation that is terribly secular and terribly anti-evangelical, they are not ashamed to be manifestly, overtly anti-Jewish, and of course they are very critical of Mr Bush who was the president of the United States, because he had a policy of supporting the Jews and they can't say enough bad about Mr Bush. That's all part of it. I agree with you.
Another question? Yes?
"Before Christ was lifted up on the cross He said 'When I be lifted up I will draw all men to me.' That is the all-encompassing promise of Christ to gather in His people in the earth."
Yes, it is. Quite right, thank you. He will draw all the nations to himself and of course eventually that would mean the Jews. It's very interesting what Jesus says in Luke 21. He said, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." And then on another occasion Jesus says, in speaking of the Jewish persecution that would come in AD70, he said, "Your house is left unto you desolate, and I say unto you, you will see me no more until you say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" - Baruch haba b'Shem Adonai - the name of the Lord. And the Jews will say that when the Spirit comes upon them and they see Christ by faith. They will then say that - those very words - Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord - the Holy Spirit in other words, as the Redeemer.
Next? Take one more?
"What significance would you attach to the return of the Jewish people to their land in 1948? Would you see that as a fulfilment of biblical prophecy?"
Yes, I would, definitely, I would. I put the two texts together - the one I've just quoted in Luke 21:14, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," and then this other text here that you get, in which it is said that in Romans 11:25, "... until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." I think those two statements are referring to the same event and that the coming back to the land is the necessary precursor to the pouring out of the Spirit. We cannot of course fix dates for these things, but the one is, if you like, a divine pointer to the other. I believe that is the case.
There's a Hebrew word "aliyah" which is used extensively today. It means "immigration". And all over the world Jews are coming back to their own land. In 1948 there were Jews who came from a hundred countries to Israel, and it's been happening ever since. And there are Christian organisations, and many of them are Pentecostals and Charismatics, and they have organisations called Exodus in which they are paying money to fly poor Jews from Russia and other countries of the world, and when they come home to Israel they give them clothes and food and homes and they pay for them... And Christians are doing that. And that's one way, I think, in which we are provoking the Jew to jealousy. We are showing him how we love him and how through the kindness we show him for the gospel's sake we want him to be blessed again. So I believe the two are connected in that way.
All right. Well I must observe the time, so thank you for your questions.
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