The Coming Kingdom 031

Andy Woods

The Coming Kingdom

1-17-18          Jeremiah 30:7           Lesson 31

Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the Book of Jeremiah, chapter 30 and verse 7.  As you know, we’ve been studying the kingdom, and we’re talking about what does the Bible say about the kingdom.  I don’t have time to go through the whole thing every week unfortunately, but this slide just kind of tells you where we’ve been.  We’ve been talking about the kingdom, how the kingdom is very well developed in the Old Testament as a literal time; to me it’s a wonderful time, a time of peace and prosperity headquartered through Israel  over planet earth.  So it’s very earthly in nature and it’s also a time of righteousness.

And that whole package, when you get to number 8 was offered to Israel on a silver platter in what’s called the offer of the kingdom.  Tragically the nation of Israel turned down that offer, there on number 9, and as you know that occurred in Matthew 12. And the moment that happened, and the Gospels trace this, Matthew’s gospel specifically, but the moment that happened the offer was withdrawn, not cancelled permanently but was withdrawn.  So currently the nation of Israel and the kingdom is not in a state of cancellation but in a state of postponement.

And because the Lord never leaves the earth without a witness of Himself He brought forth an interim program that we’ve been living in for the last 2,000 years, consisting of the kingdom mysteries, Matthew 13, and the church; the church would be us right.  And the kingdom mysteries really go from the rejection of the offer until the Second Advent and the church, which is what we’re in, is within that group but it’s a little tighter bracket.  So the church started in Acts 2 and will end with the rapture.  And we’ve carefully gone through that interim program and I’ve tried to show you, the best I know how, that that interim program represents the work of God but it does not represent the kingdom.

So God is clearly working today, it’s just not what is predicted concerning the kingdom.  But one  of these days the interim age will be over; the age of the church will end with which event?  The rapture, and God will bring His kingdom, His long awaited kingdom to the earth.  The instrument that He is going to use to bring His kingdom to the earth is the nation of Israel.  So in Israel’s covenant, that we’ve studied very carefully, the kingdom can’t come to the earth until Israel responds to her Messiah.  You see that at Mount Sinai, in the Mosaic Covenant; the Mosaic Covenant points towards Jesus as  you know, and you see that if/then language, if you do this then God will do this which is the manifestation of the kingdom.

And even beyond that in Matthew 23 Jesus said the same thing at the end of the chapter, speaking  to Jerusalem He says, “‘You will not see me again until,” see the condition there, “until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”  So as we have studied what’s holding up the  whole kingdom program is the response of Israel to her Messiah.  Therefore you can’t really understand how God is going to bring His kingdom to the earth unless we get a handle on His work with Israel.

To sort of help us understand that we’re in the section now, and I think this is chapter 12 of my book if you’re interested in reading that, but it’s all about Israel’s discipline and restoration.  Israel becomes a big deal because that’s the tool that God will use to bring His kingdom to the earth.  This has four parts to it, we’ve covered parts 1 and 2 last week and tonight we’re going to cover parts 3 and 4.  But we have, number 1, Israel in the Diaspora.  Anybody remember what Diaspora means?  Dispersion. Israel went into worldwide dispersion because that’s what the Mosaic Covenant, given all the way back at Mount Sinai said.  Israel was given blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience in that covenant.

And one of those curses, at the height of Israel’s disobedience a pagan power… and you see this in Deuteronomy 28:49-50, these are the cycles of discipline that God very well spelled out in advance for Israel, a pagan power whose language that they wouldn’t understand would come and push them out of their land.  [Deuteronomy 28:49, “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,  [50] a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.”]

And this actually happened multiple times in Israel’s history.  The Assyrians scattered the north;  the Babylonians took the southern tribes into captivity.  And when Israel finally went back into their land in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah she was in that land for 400 years and Jesus showed up at the end of that 400 year time period with all of the regal pedigree and Messianic credentials and presented Himself to the nation of Israel as their king.  As we know from the gospels Israel rejected that offer.  And so now, as Yogi Berra said, it’s de javu all over again; the cycles of discipline that Moses said would happen all the way back at Mount Sinai recycle.

So forty years after the time of Christ God uses the Romans, just like He used the Assyrians and the Babylonians in the Old Testament, this time forty years after the time of Christ He’s using the Romans who would come and push Israel out of her land.  Jesus is weeping over that prospect in the triumphal entry, Luke 19:41-44, and Moses said this would happen.  [Luke 19:41-44, “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, [42] saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. [43] For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, [44] and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”]

He said in Deuteronomy 28:64, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other.  [Deuteronomy 38:64, “Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.”]  And that’s exactly what happened.  That’s what’s been going on for the last 2,000 years.  So that’s a time period in Israel’s history called the Diaspora, when she’s in worldwide dispersion outside of her land.  The second part of this, what we covered last time, is the Bible predicts that just as literally as Israel would be scattered into the whole world she would be regathered from all of the nations and she would be recycled into her own land in unbelief.  And we went through last time many passages that reveal this.

And we went through this chart last time so I won’t go through it again but we believe, based on  the study of the Bible, that there are two end time regatherings for Israel; once in unbelief in preparation for the tribulation period.  During that tribulation period she’ll be persecuted by the antichrist so when she’s finally in belief at the end of the tribulation period she’ll be regathered in belief, so once in unbelief in preparation for discipline.  I would say that process is happening right now before our eyes.

And then a second time in faith in preparation for kingdom blessing.  And I showed you the passage from Isaiah 11:11-12 which talks about the regathering in belief would be a regathering for the second time.   [Isaiah 11:11-12, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand.  The remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.  [12] And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”]

So that takes us to part 3, now that Israel is regathered in unbelief in preparation for the tribulation period what is God going to do?  And the answer is part 3, she will be converted but only through a time of distress.  That period of distress is the great tribulation period.   That’s probably, besides God bringing judgment to the earth, probably the greatest purpose in the tribulation period is to bring unbelieving Israel to a place of faith.  And some theology that I’ve tried to teach here at different times, and the guy who led me to Christ taught me this, and I think it’s excellent what he taught me, he made this simple statement, he said, “God knocks us down so we” what? “look up.”

So if we’re honest with ourselves this is how God works in all of our lives.  He puts us in places of crises so we don’t have anything but to trust in but Him.  And He uses that to bring us to faith many times; He uses that to grow us up in Him many times.  And that is the whole program for Israel which has been regathered but currently in unbelief.  The question is, how is God going to get them from unbelief to belief so that the kingdom can come through them to the earth?  And it’s many, many predictions in the Bible about Israel’s conversion through distress.

So all the way back at Mount Sinai, Deuteronomy, written forty years after Mount Sinai to the second generation about to enter Canaan, God revealed this concept.  He said in Deuteronomy 4:30, “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you,” look at this, “in the latter days” so He’s talking about a time period in the distant future, “you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. [31, “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”] So notice that they’re not going to return to the Lord their God and listen to His voice until distress comes upon them. So distress is the tool that He’s going to use to empty them of themselves and bring them to an awareness of their need for God.

Joel 3:1-2 says, “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, [2] I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.  Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the” what? “the nations;” so that’s a prediction there of the Diaspora, worldwide dispersion; and then it says, “And they have divided up My land.”

So you’ll notice the beginning there what I have underlined, God is going to “restore the fortunes  of Judah and Jerusalem” but it’s not going to come until they have been gathered from “all the nations” and they are put through a time of distress by the rest of the nations of the earth, and God  is going to be so upset at these nations that have mistreated Israel that He’s actually going to bring them into judgment at the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and bring judgment against them for their mistreatment of Israel.

One of the things God is very upset with the nations about is the division of the land of Israel.    And they’re going to coerce Israel into further dividing her land.  And that’s what’s going to bring the judgment of God on these nations.  So that is sort of a spooky thing when you think about it because that’s the whole name of the game in the world community, right?  I mean, Israel needs     to give up land in exchange for peace.  That’s what we’re told over and over again, called the two state solution.  That’s what the United Nations wants; it’s what the Obama administration wanted,  it seems like Israel has gotten a little bit of reprieve from that mentality with the current administra­tion but the world as a whole thinks that this is going to solve all the Middle East problem.  And if I’m understanding my Bible correctly that coercion of Israel into the division of her land is actually what’s going to bring the judgment of God to the earth.

So what is going to bring the wrath of God to planet earth?  Is it going to be homosexuality?  Is it going to be abortion?  Is it going to be the fact that we teach evolution in the schools?  I mean, all of those things probably play a role.  Is it the fact that we don’t allow Bible reading and prayer in schools anymore?  Is that’s what’s going to bring God’s judgment?   All of those things play a role, and I don’t mean to under value them or undersell those things but when you look at your Bible very carefully you discover that THE thing that’s going to bring the judgment of God on the nations of the earth is the deliberate intention by the nations of the earth to divide Israel’s land, exactly what Joel says.

So the nations will do this and God will judge the nations and yet when you look at this prophecy very carefully this actually is the tool, this time of distress, that God is going to use to, verse 1, “restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.”  So Israel is to be converted through a time of distress.  See that?  And that’s why I had you turn to Jeremiah 30:7, there isn’t a clearer verse in the Bible that reveals this clearer than Jeremiah 30:7.  Jeremiah the prophet says, “’Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s” what? “distress, But” and I’m glad there’s a conjunction there because it would be kind of depressing if the sentence just stopped, “but he” that’s Jacob, “will be” what? “saved from it.”

So let’s break this verse down a little bit, shall we?  The first thing you notice here is the reference to Jacob.  Who is Jacob in the Bible?   The nation of Israel.  Jacob’s name, remember it was Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, let me give you two verses, in Genesis 32:28 and Genesis 35:10.  [Genesis 32:28, “He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.’”   Genesis 35:10, “God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel.’”]

So if you know your Bible there’s no doubt who Jacob it; it’s not New  York City, or San Francisco, or the Italians or…and I love the Italians, I love their spaghetti and their pizza, but it’s not talking about any other people group; it’s talking about the Jewish people, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Jacob equals Israel in the Bible.  And then it says, “Alas for that day is great, there is none like it.”  So it’s talking about a time of distress that is unequaled, unparalleled.  And there are only three other times in the Bible that I know where this time of distress is mentioned in these terms.  One of them is Jeremiah 30:7. [Jeremiah 30:7, “’Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s distress, but he will be saved from it.”]  You see that right there on the screen.

Let me give you the other addresses, Joel 2:2 you’ll see it.  Daniel 12:1  you’ll see it, I won’t read Daniel 12:1 now because we’ll get there at some point Sunday mornings.  So two other Old Testament passages besides Jeremiah 30, Joel 2:2, Daniel 12:1.  [Joel 2:2, “A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.”  Daniel 12:1, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”

And the last place in the Bible that mentions it is Jesus.  Jesus mentions it in Matthew 24:21 in the Olivet Discourse.  Jesus says, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”  And then He says, [22] “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect” now who would “the elect” be in the Olivet Discourse?  The Jews.  “but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”  In other words, Jesus is saying if this time of distress was allowed to continue on unhindered it would destroy all life on the earth, even all Jewish life, which God can’t allow to happen because He’s got to bring these people to conversion.

So this is not just some kind of garden variety ordinary trial; this is something of a magnitude and of a level that Israel or the planet earth has never experienced.  And there’s a lot of people that will try to fit this back into the first century; that’s called preterism.  Of course that doesn’t work, does it?  They try to make it sound like this is A.D.  70.  A. D. 70 was bad but it wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to the Jews or the world.  Probably about a million, a million and a half Jews were killed in A. D.  70.  That was a terrible time but it wasn’t THE ultimate worst time because Hitler killed how many?  Six million.  So this is something that goes way beyond the first century or anything that’s ever happened before.  And if you want an in depth description of it you’d read the Book of Revelation, chapters 6-19 is a description of that time period.

So this time of distress is coming for Jacob “but he will be” what? “saved from it,” he’s going to be converted.  It’s a terrible time but God takes lemons and makes them into what?  Lemonade, something good is going to happen which is the conversion of the nation.  So you see Jeremiah clearly unfolding this time period.

And when  you back up from verse 7 in the same chapter, and you got back to verse 3 it reveals their conversion.  Verse 3 says, “For behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.”  [Jeremiah 30:3]

And so we read that and we say thumbs up, that’s cool, God’s going to do that.  But then you get down to verse 7 and you learn the tool He’s going to use, which is this time of unequalled, unparalleled distress.  [Jeremiah 30:7, “’Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.”]  So verse 3, the result, is followed by verse 7 which is the tool that God is going to use.

And if you have been tracking with us on Sunday morning you know about the Seventy Week prophecy, amen.  Does anybody recall that?  The seventy weeks prophecy, the seventieth week is also a description of this unparalleled time of distress, Daniel 9:27, a seven year tribulation period.  [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]

See all of these passages are talking about the same period.  And yet verse 27 in the seventy weeks prophecy is preceded by verse 24. Verse 24 is the result, verse 27 is the tool.  See that.  Verse 24 says, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.”

Now Sunday mornings we’ve gone through all that and I showed you the six clauses there and all  of those refer to the physical and spiritual restoration of the Jewish nation, which is a necessary prerequisite to bring the kingdom to the earth.  Verse 24 is the result; verse 27, the seven year tribulation period yet future, is the tool that God is going to use.

So when we study Israel we learn: number  1, about Israel in the Diaspora beginning in A.D. 70.  Number 2, we learn about Israel’s regathering in unbelief.  Number 3, we learn about Israel’s conversion through distress.  And then the last thing to look at here is Israel’s final restoration, what’s the end product going to look like?  And even before we look at that end product, I didn’t have this in my notes but you might want to jump over to Zechariah chapter 13 for a moment, verses 8 and 9.

God says of this time of distress, He says, “‘It will come about in all the land’ declares the LORD, ‘That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it.  [9] “And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.”  What’s the end result of all of this?  “They will call on My name, and I will answer them;” see their conversion there, “I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”   So again the result is at the end of verse 9, the tool is the time of distress and Zechariah is very specific in his prophecy; what is going to have to happen is two-thirds of the nation is going to have to be purged or killed in the judgment of God, two-thirds!  And the only thing left is a third and they’re refined as fire refines a piece of metal, fire applied to a piece of metal purifies it, and they will pass through the tribulation period and yet at that final third is the group that God is going to fulfill His covenant through.

Now you talk like this to a Jewish person, and Anne and I were on an Israel trip, remember that when we sat across from the Jewish lady, I forgot her name, but we started talking like this, somehow the conversation went this direction and she didn’t want to hear this at all because to the Jew their slogan is never again!  Right, Hitler and the holocaust didn’t kill two-thirds, he killed one-third.  And if I’m understanding my Bible correctly the worst holocaust is yet future for Israel where not a third will be killed but two-thirds will be killed.  And this doesn’t sell well with people that say never again, this will never happen again.  In fact, it not only will happen again it’s going to be worse.  And I wish there was a nicer way to say it but that’s what these prophecies, in my humble opinion, are revealing.

And yet, through it all you’re going to have number 4, a completely restored Israel.  So what will the restored Israel look like?  Well, there are five major verses that talk about it.  Deuteronomy 30:3, Jeremiah 16:14-15, Ezekiel 36:24-28, Zechariah 8:7-8, Amos 9:14-15.

[Deuteronomy 30:3, “then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.”  Jeremiah 16:14-15, “Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ [15] but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.”

Ezekiel 36:24-28, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.  [25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. [26] Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [27] I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.  [28] You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.”

Zechariah 8:7-8, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west;  [8] and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’”

Amos 9:14-15, “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.  [15] I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.”]

And actually I fibbed a little bit there, there’s a lot more verses that talk about it but I figured you guys wanted to go home before the ice got refrozen and you couldn’t drive because of a lack of safety so I cut the list down.  But you’ll notice that these come from the Law, the Major Prophets, the Minor Prophets and then very fast I’ll give you a conclusion at the end.

But the very prophets that predict the scattering and the distress also very clearly predict Israel’s conversion.  So all the way back at Mount Sinai, about a year or so after the Exodus, actually in this case it would be forty years after the Exodus because it’s in Deuteronomy, given to the second generation about to enter Canaan, Moses said, Deuteronomy 30:3, “then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.”  So just as the scattering actually happened, A.D. 70, the regathering and the restoration will happen as well.  And it’s sort of funny watching theologians today, they’ll take the scattering there literally but they won’t take the restoration literally.  And that is, to my mind, crazy, you can’t take part of the verse one way and the other part of the verse a different way.

So this ultimate regathering of Israel is predicted in the Old Testament Law, the Book of Deuteronomy.  Then you have the major prophets talking about it a lot.  Who are the major prophets?  The prophets that wrote the big books, and I think it’s sort of insulting to call the smaller guys “Minor Prophets,” since many of them lost their lives for what they did.  I mean, when I get to heaven and meet Amos and Zechariah and those guys I’m not going to refer to you guys as the Minor prophets.  But we flippantly call them the Minor prophets because they wrote smaller books.  But the major prophets would be Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.

So the major prophets are very clear about this restoration of Israel.  Here’s just one quote from Isaiah.  Now in the book I give you many, many quotes from Isaiah but for the sake of time I’ll just use one.  Isaiah predicted that “It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown,” and people say well, that’s the rapture.  No, that’s not the rapture, the rapture is for the church, the church doesn’t exist yet, this is a trumpet God is going to sound to regather the elect in Israel, in preparation for the kingdom.

“It will come about” God can use more than one trumpet, right?  Can God have two trumpets?  Okay, because a lot of people see the word “trumpet” and they think the rapture has a trumpet so every trumpet is the rapture, but you see, there can be a trumpet for the rapture and another trumpet for Israel after the church has gone.  It’s not a big problem for God.  “It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at” Washington D.C.   Ooops, it doesn’t say that, at where? “Jerusalem.” [Isaiah 27:13]  So they’re scattered and they’re brought back to Jerusalem in faith to worship the Lord.  You don’t worship the Lord unless you’re in faith, right.  So this is a great passage talking about the regathering in belief for Israel.

The prophet, Jeremiah, talks about this a lot.  One verse from Jeremiah, Jeremiah 16:14-15, “‘Therefore behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ [15] but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from” how many countries? “all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them” where? “to their own land” well where is that? “which I gave to their forefathers.”  What forefathers is he talking about?  The promises God gave to Abraham.  God says I’m going to restore them right back to that same land and in that final restoration they’re going to be in faith and in worship.

And people like to say well, that’s just the restoration from Babylon.  Well as my professor, Dr. Toussaint used to say, “that dog won’t hunt.”  Why not?  Because the restoration from Babylon was restoration from one geographical area.  See that?  Babylon, the circle in the east.  What is Jeremiah predicting?  Not a restoration from one geographical area but a restoration from all countries.  See that?  Babylon doesn’t fit the description at all.  This is talking about something yet future, yet eschatological which really has never happened.

Ezekiel, another major prophet, talks about this also, probably the most famous passage is Ezekiel 36:24-28.  Ezekiel predicts, ““For I will take you from” Babylon?  NO, “from the nations,” plural, I think the word there is goiim in Hebrew, the “im” ending is plurality, it’s how we use the letter “s” indicating a group, more than one, goiim, nations, “For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the lands and bring you” where? “into your own land. [25] Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. [26] Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, [and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.]”  That’s kind of something God’s done with us, isn’t it, put a new spirit in us.  Well, this is not talking about us in the church age, this is talking about the national conversion of Israel.

And “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [27] I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. [28[ You will live in the” what? “land that I gave to” who? “your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.”

See that?  It’s talking about a worldwide regathering and it’s not just a restoration to their land; it’s a restoration of them spiritually.  As we went through these verses in the major prophets you see how Jeremiah keeps mentioning the land.  You see how the prophet Ezekiel mentions the land.  What land are we talking about?  We’re talking about that land, that light blue area there; it’s part of the covenant that God gave to Abraham.  The dimensions of the land are spelled out in Genesis 15:18-21.  [Genesis 15:18-21, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘o your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:  [19] the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite [20] and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim [21] and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”]

It’s a tract of real estate that goes “from the river of Egypt” which I think is probably the Nile, even though that map there doesn’t go quite that far, but I think he’s talking about the Nile, it goes from the Nile and it goes all the way to the Euphrates, so it’s talking about a piece of real estate bigger than what Israel possesses today, bigger than anything she’s ever possessed in her history.  It goes from basically modern day Egypt to modern day Iraq and God is very specific about this land.

The land to God is a big deal!  It may not be important to us; it may not be important to modern day Christendom, it may not be on the thoughts of your average Christian but I can tell you this much; God is really concerned about that real estate.  It’s the only real estate that He gave to a specific people.  And the reason I bring this up is we’re living in a time period where the theologians are basically telling us that land-shman, who cares about land; why are you so land focused?

This is one of my professors, Dr. Darrell Bock who’s a progenitor of what’s called progressive dispensationalism and I like a lot of the things Darrell Bock has said and done and defended, he’s done a good job defending the resurrection of Jesus, the historicity of Jesus, you’ll see him a lot on TV programs and things like that.  But there’s another side to what he believes that most people aren’t aware of and it’s this progressive dispensationalism where he’s trying to find this middle ground between what we believe and what those who deny the land of Israel believe.  Most Christians, by way of denominational affiliation, believe in replacement theology which is the idea that the church has permanently replaced Israel so all of Israel’s land promises are cancelled and they become spiritualized.

So we’re here, the replacement theologians are over here and Dallas Seminary once stood here but sadly Darrell Bock and his generation have put that school and their movement in the middle and tried to find (and this is a key term that you need to know) “common ground” with other belief systems.  So when you set out to find common ground with someone you disagree with you have to end up marginalizing or watering down truth.  That’s what you have in progress­ive dispensationalism.  You have this idea that oh yeah, there’s going to be a restoration to the land but it really isn’t that important because we’re all going to inherit the land.   So there’s a massive downplaying of the significance of the land.

So in a 1992 Christianity Today article, I wrote these words kind of summarizing the article.  For example, “For example, according to Progressive Dispensational progenitor Dr. Darrell L. Bock, his Progressive Dispensationalism, is both ‘less’” that’s a direct quote, “‘less land centered’ and less ‘future centered’ in comparison to traditional Dispensationalism.”  [Darrell Bock; quoted in Ken Sidey, “For the Love of Zion,” Christianity Today, 9 March 1992, 50.]

So what he is basically doing there is he’s not denying Israel in the land, he’s basically saying let’s play it down… play it down!  And they do this with almost all the most significant doctrines that Dallas Seminary was founded to defend.  They do this with the rapture.  They say oh yeah, we still believe in a pre-trib rapture but we’ll never talk about it, we won’t emphasize it.  And that allows them to sign the doctrinal statement of Dallas Seminary but at the same time work in sort of an ecumenical way when you find a mediating position with those you disagree with.

So people come out and say you don’t believe in the rapture, and they say yes we do, but let’s just tone it down, let’s play it down.  And I think we’re in a time in history where we don’t need to be playing these things down; if anything it’s the opposite, we need to playing them up.  And so that’s one of the reasons why I never really got along good with those guys over there because I wanted to talk about the things that I’m talking about here at this church and they were always putting pressure on people like myself to just sort of play it down, tone it down, don’t upset the opposition and let’s sort of work together on things that we agree with.  That’s what’s called progressive dispensationalism.  It’s sort of an outworking of postmodern thought.  Postmodern thought is truth is always in the middle somewhere.  I call it middle ground mania; you find truth amongst competing opposites and whatever the broad spectrum can agree on, that becomes the new truth.  See that?  Truth is not over here, truth is not over there, it’s what we can all agree on.

And you see, the spotlight gets off of God and His Word and it gets onto man’s opinions.  Do you see that?  That’s what’s called postmodernism, progressive dispen­sation­alism, middle ground mania.  And so amongst progressive dispensationalists you see statements like this all the time, we’re less land centered, less future centered.  The issue really is whose opinion do you think is important?  Do you think Darrell Bock’s opinion is important or do you think God’s opinion is important?  Now let me tell you, the more you stand on God’s truth the more you get marginalized by these guys, as a fundamentalist.  That’s kind of the worst term they can throw at you; you are a major fundamentalist.  It’s sort of a putdown.  You know, you’re reactionary, you’re not scholarly, you’re not thinking this through when in reality all you’re really doing is standing on what God says.

There’s a price you have to pay in your life when you stand on what God says.  And in academia it relates to loss of  tenure, loss of employment, loss of opportunities to be published.  It’s the same kind of thing that happens to somebody at a secular school that wants to believe in young earth creationism and defend that scientifically, which by the way, it can be defended scientifically.  Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, they do it all the time.  But the moment you open your mouth and start to talk about young earth creationism is the moment you’re grant money dries up, your career prospects dry up, your opportunity to be published in the top periodicals and books dries up.

If you want a good documentary showing you this, in the area of creationism, I would recommend the video Expelled.  The subtitle is “No Intelligence Allowed, put out by Ben Stein who is not an evangelical Christian but a devout Jew and he documents and interviews all these people that basically lost their positions at major universities because they hinted somewhere in their writings that they believed in young earth creationism.  So the same kind of pressure that you run into in secular universities, sadly, is the same kind of things that are going on in Christian institutions.  Now I don’t know, I spent ten  years at this school, I was there from 2000 to 2009, I have two degrees from this school, I have a Th.M. and I have a Ph.D. and I think I know a little something about it; I’m a little bit qualified to talk about it.  And I didn’t believe it was like this until I enrolled and started taking classes there.  And it’s a tragic thing what’s happening.

So really what my conclusion on the whole thing is, after ten years of dealing with this is it’s irretriev­able and really what we need is starting something new.  That’s why when Chafer Seminary asked me to get on board with them I took that opportunity because it’s an opportunity to start something fresh and new where you can get back to the original vision of training men for the pulpit through truth and not by sitting there and monitoring all the scholarly trends.  Because when you get into conversations with people like this their whole focus is what’s the latest trend?   What has M. P. Wright said or some big scholar.  It’s not what does the Bible say, what does God say, it’s what are these scholars out there saying?  And that’s an outworking of postmodernism because in postmodernism how do you find truth?  Nobody has the truth so you have to go to middle ground mania and the truth is what everybody agrees on.  See that?

So the scholarly consensus takes precedence over truth and I just bring that up because that’s what he is doing in this Christianity Today interview article related to the land.  It’s right there in print, he’s deliberately playing it down.  The question is, what does God say about the land?  Leviticus 25:23 says, “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is” what? it’s “Mine…” God says, it doesn’t belong to the United nations, it doesn’t belong to the United States, it doesn’t even belong to Israel; it does belong to Israel because God gave it to Israel but ultimately who does it belong to?  It belongs to God.  They couldn’t have it as a gift unless the giver possesses it.  See that.

And when you look at Deuteronomy 11 and 12 it says, “But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, [12] a land for which the LORD your God” what? “cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it,” what’s the “it”?  The land.  What land?  The tract of real estate that God gave to the patriarch Abraham.  “…the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it,” how long, “from the beginning even to the end of the year.”  So this verse here says God cares about the land and He watches over it 24/7.  Leviticus 25:23 says “the land is mine.”  [Leviticus 25:23, “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.”]  Darrell Bock says he wants to be less land-centered.  Well, I like a lot of the things Darrell Bock has said but here he’s presented me with a choice, I can either believe him or believe God.  I made a decision I’m going to believe God.

Now a lot of people, and I don’t mean to hold myself up as better than them, but let me tell you something, they don’t make that decision.  They realize that to get ahead they’ve got to play the game so they’ll cooperate.  And it’s not just scholars, it’s every one of you; at some point in your life you’re going to have to choose what you find to be more important.  You’re going to have to make this choice in your business, at your company, God forbid it even happens in your church, it even happens in your family, and God is going to put you in a position where you’re going to have to make a decision.  And a lot of times when you make that decision it’s not going to go well for you, from man’s point of view.

And the moment you start to make a decision for God and you start to pay a price for it is the moment you graduate from simply being a believer to being a what?  It starts with a D… Disciple!  That’s discipleship.  Being a believer is great, it keeps you out of hell but the blessing of the Christian life, the rewards of the Christian life go to the disciple.  And all of our brothers and sisters around the world that are suffering martyrdom and things like that are making that decision even as I speak.  We have  it, at least recently, a little easier here in the United States, maybe things will change but even here in the United States, in every single one of your lives you’re going to be forced to make a decision where you’re going to have to choose between man’s opinion and God’s opinion and you’ll suffer to some extent for it.  But as you do that do you know what’s on  you?  The favor of God because you’ve moved into discipleship.

The land is also mentioned in the Minor Prophets or the restoration of Israel is mentioned in the Minor Prophets.  Zechariah 8:7 says, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; [8] and I will bring them back and they will live” where? “in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’”  So the Minor prophets also are predicting this restoration of Israel.

Probably one of my favorites is how the Book of Amos ends.  Amos 9:14-15, God says, “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.”  Look at this, [15] ‘I will also plant them in their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,” says the LORD your God.”  So this is talking about the final regathering of Israel in faith when she will dwell securely in her land, never to be uprooted again by any villain, whether it’s Antiochus Epiphanes, Adolf Hitler, Yasser Arafat, or the antichrist.

And I really like this quote from Thomas Ice, the director of the Pre-trib Study Group.  He says, “Every Old Testament prophet, except Jonah, speaks of a permanent return to the Land of Israel by the Jews.”  [Breaking the Apocalypse Code (Costa Mesa, CA: Word for Today, 2007), 136-37.]

I mean, every single prophet  you have, major prophet, minor prophet, other than Jonah, they’re all saying the same thing, they’re all talking about the return of Israel to the Jews.  And yet how many Christians go to churches where they’ve not heard a single teaching on this, this whole thing is foreign to them.  We’re talking about it here because it’s in the Bible.  If you’re in a church that is not talking about the return of the Jews to their land then you’re in a church that’s teaching  you a fraction of the Bible and not all of it.

What is the conclusion of the matter.  I like this chart here, there have been three dispersions and three returns, two past and one happening now and future.  So the nation of Israel was taken, it was predicted anyway, that they would be taken from Egyptian captivity back to Canaan.  That prediction was made in Genesis 15:13-14. “God said to Abraham,” even before they went into captivity, you’re going to go into captivity in Egypt, I don’t know if the name Egypt is mentioned but most people believe that’s what it’s talking about, you’re going to go into captivity in Egypt for how long?  For four hundred years, but you’re going to come back into this land with great possessions.   [Genesis 15:13-14, “God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. [14] But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.”]

Well, four hundred years later it happened.  They spoiled the Egyptians, remember?  They left Egypt with all that gold and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing because they made a golden calf out of it along the way, because you run into these psychologists, people trying to mix the Bible with psychology and they say well, we need to kind of extract the divine principle from Freud and Young and Skinner and mix it with the Bible because after all, the Jews did that with the Egyptian gold.  They spoiled the Egyptians, they took the Egyptian gold and  used it for God’s purposes.  Well, yeah, you tell me a little more about the story, they also made a golden calf out of it, so I don’t know if spoiling the Egyptians is such a good thing.  But people hold whole conferences on spoiling the Egyptians, you all know that probably.  So you’re going to go into Egypt and you’re going to come back and guess what?  That prophecy was fulfilled in the Book of Joshua. It took a while but God did it.

Then the nation of Israel is in the land for about 800 years and the prophet Jeremiah is raised up and he says, and I have the verses there, Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 29:10, you’re going to be kicked out of here and  you’re going to be taken into Babylon and you’re going to come back  70 years later.  And guess what?  Was that prophecy fulfilled?  Yes it was, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the fulfillment of that prophecy.  [Jeremiah 25:11, “’This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”  Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”]

Then the prophet Ezekiel and others are raised up and say the nation of Israel is going to go into worldwide dispersion and come back into this land and when God is done with everything they’re going to be in a state of belief  and the millennial kingdom will start.  Has that prophecy happened yet?  Well, sort of, we’re kind of seeing the initial progress of it but certainly the whole prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled; they’re not in faith yet.  So here’s my question: if returns one and two have happened with great literalness and accuracy, are you a betting person?  You probably shouldn’t answer yes.  If I were a betting man, and I’m not, I would say number three is going to happen too!  Why?  Because one and two happened.  See that?

So I stand here today totally confident that God is going to complete His unfinished work with Israel and bring His kingdom to the earth.  So that’s Israel and the diaspora, Israel’s regathering in unbelief, Israel’s conversion through distress and then Israel’s final restoration.  And when we get together next week, hopefully it’ll be warmer, we’re going to talk about the kingdom and how it comes specifically to the earth.  We know it’s going to come through the Jews, that’s the who question, but how is the kingdom going to come.  We’ll stop there, I ended two minutes early, praise God, and we’ll dismiss people who need to pick up their kids and if anybody has any questions we can try to answer those as well.