Prophecies Fulfilled by The Israeli State
It is often said that Israel is "God's Chosen People." It is also commonly taught among other Christian groups that the Church has now become "Chosen," replacing the national with the spiritual. It is our peculiar belief that God operates on more than one level at the same time. When dealing on the national level, God fulfills His Word to Israel, dispensing general blessings or judgments with little regard to men's individual differences in belief, faith, or spiritual development. However, God also deals with people on a different level that does make a clear distinction between Overcomers, believers in general, and unbelievers.
This distinction accounts for God's promises to Israel as a nation, while not discounting the importance of faith even among Israelites. It is our purpose in this chapter to explore the legal implications of Chosenness and how it has affected many nations throughout history. In studying this, we must keep in mind that there is a significant difference between legal Chosenness and actual Chosenness. Those legally Chosen are those whom God holds accountable to bring forth the Fruits of the Kingdom. Those who are actually Chosen are those who will indeed bring forth the Fruits of the Kingdom (Matt. 21:43).
Chosen Status and the Debt Note
The concept of "Chosenness" began when God chose one man, Abraham, and began to train him and teach him the divine laws (Gen. 26:5) in order to make him a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:1-3). We say that Abraham was "Chosen." As this concept developed through the Scriptures, we find that the concept of Chosenness carried with it two distinct ideas: authority and responsibility.
Authority and responsibility (or accountability) must always be found in equal measure. With every God-given authority comes a corresponding level of responsibility and accountability before God. As it worked out in history, God gave Israel authority, but Israel did not fulfill the obligations that came with that authority. They were obligated to bring forth the Fruits of the Kingdom, and when they did not do so, God held them accountable.
This is why God sold them into the hands of Babylon for 8 x 414 years, from 1365 B.C. to 1948 A.D., as we saw in Chapter 10.
The question is, why did God go beyond the simple eight-year captivity to the king of Mesopotamia? Why did He institute such a long-term captivity that ultimately engulfed the entire world under the authority of the ungodly nations? The answer is found in an understanding of the long-term Purpose of God in the Plan to restore all things under His rulership. When Israel left Egypt on that first Passover day, all the people fulfilled the Feast of Passover. However, when they arrived at Mount Sinai, and the Spirit of God came down as fire upon the Mount on the first Pentecost, the people all ran in fear (Ex. 20:18-21).
Thus, the Feast of Pentecost remained unfulfilled until that great Pentecost recorded in the second chapter of Acts. Only then were the people ready to receive a greater anointing than that which characterized the Passover experience. Yet even under Pentecost, they received only an "earnest" (downpayment) of the Spirit (Eph. 1:14; 2 Cor. 1:22 and 5:5). It was still not enough to bring Perfection. God is not satisfied until we are complete in Him and perfect in every good work.
There is still another outpouring of the Spirit that remains for us at the end of the Age of Pentecost. It is manifested by the third feast day of Israel, the Feast of Tabernacles. Those in the Old Testament under Moses were incapable of bringing forth the Fruits of the Kingdom under the anointing of Passover, because the level of anointing under Passover was insufficient to bring them into perfection. Likewise, we in the Pentecost Age have likewise been incapable of bringing forth the Fruits of the Kingdom under our Pentecostal anointing. Good as it is, it is not enough to bring us to Perfection, because it is a leavened feast. Leviticus 23:17 tells us that the Pentecostal firstfruits offering was to be two loaves of bread baked with leaven. The history of the Church during the Age of Pentecost certainly proves this inadequacy.
The Pentecost Age lasted 40 Jubilees (1960 years), extending from 33 A.D. to 1993 A.D. At the end of that time, we entered into the transition into the Tabernacles Age. Just as there was a 50-day transition period from the Passover Age to the Pentecost Age in 33 A.D., so also is there a transition period from Pentecost to Tabernacles.
But for now, the point to see is that it has taken thousands of years for God to bring us to the point where even a few are ready for the Feast of Tabernacles. So long as no one is capable of Perfection, the Debt Note can never be paid. When God brought Israel into the land of Canaan under Joshua, the nation was legally liable by contract (the Old Covenant) to bring forth the Fruits of the Kingdom. They failed to do so, because the level of anointing, or empowerment, was insufficient to do the job. Even with the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit, it was impossible to fully bring forth the Fruits God required. Such Fruits of Perfection would require more than an earnest of the Spirit. Only a people fully empowered by a Tabernacles anointing of His Fullness will be able to render Him the Fruits in due season.
And so, after Israel had been in Canaan just 42 years, they had already failed to be perfectly obedient to His righteous law. They had been "Chosen" for this purpose, but they failed utterly. This is why God sold them into the hands of the king of Mesopotamia for eight years. If God had continued to put this responsibility upon His people, they would have continually failed, and God would have had to continue to judge them for that failure until they were destroyed.
So God devised a Plan that would remove from His people the heavy burden of being Chosen. The only way He could remove the burden of responsibility from them was to relieve them of their authority as well. This He did, giving both to a succession of world empires. In effect, God made Babylon and other nations legally "Chosen" for a season. That is, He brought Israel into Court and "sold" them as servants to other nations. Those nations were blinded by their own ambitions and desire to subject other people under them, and so they were more than happy to put Israel under their authority. What they did not realize was that God would hold them accountable to pay Israel's Debt Note, and that if they did not do so, God would judge them. This was God's hidden Purpose in giving ungodly nations authority over Israel for such a long time.
God was using the "vessels of dishonor" (Rom. 9:21, 2 Tim. 2:20) as a stop-gap measure, giving them authority until the "vessels of honor" were ready to be empowered by the full anointing of Tabernacles. The first vessel of dishonor was Babylon, followed by Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then, after a time of confusion (iron mixed with clay), Britain received the Debt Note in 1917, when Allenby took the city of Jerusalem. However, neither the British nor anyone else was yet capable of bringing forth the Perfection required by the Debt Note.
So God in His mercy removed the Debt Note from Britain and gave it to the Israelis on November 29, 1947, to see if they would bring forth the Fruits of the Kingdom. The British government put the fate of Palestine into the hands of the United Nations on November 21, 1947. Eight days later, the Palestinian Resolution was passed. In May of 1948, the British pulled out, and the Jewish terrorists became the statesmen of the new Israeli government. It is amazing how political success can transform men from murderers to heroes, even in the eyes of Christians. At that time, thousands of prophecy preachers proclaimed that God's "time clock" had begun once more. It was widely believed that the end would come within seven years, or perhaps as early as three and a half years. When nothing happened, the Church had an entire omelet on its face, but instead of discarding a disproven theory, they simply continued to wait for the Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah, insisting "it will happen any day now."
Many displaced Palestinians learned from this experience how the world forgives terrorists who are successful, and so they began to use the same methods against the Israelis. Their success, however, has been very limited, because the Jews have succeeded in convincing the majority of Christians that they are Chosen, while the Palestinians are not. Thus, many Christian churches praise Jewish terrorism and denounce Palestinian terrorism, as if God had a moral double standard.
In the mid-1980's, a man caused quite a stir, proclaiming that Jesus would be returning in 1988. His theory was based, in large part, on the idea that this was 40 years after the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. He was expecting the Jews to become Christians en masse at the time of the "rapture" in 1988. But all of these things were assumptions not based upon biblical facts.
In order to understand modern prophetic fulfillment, we must go back to the Scriptures and trace the historic roots of the Israeli state. In doing this, we cannot afford to study the question with any particular bias. There are those who hate Jews, and those who worship them. Both have biases that tend to distort one's view of prophecy. We will attempt to deal with this subject dispassionately and let the Scriptures speak for themselves.
Jacob and Esau: The Controversy of Zion
This "controversy" is mentioned in Isaiah 34:4-8, where the prophet speaks about the latter days. The passage reads,
4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. 5 For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; behold, it shall come down upon Idumea [Edom] and upon the people of My curse, to judgment. 6 The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams; for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.. 8 For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.
This great controversy began with a conflict between Jacob and Esau many years ago. It began even before the twins were born, for it seemed to their mother that they were fighting in the womb (Gen. 25:22). The descendants of Jacob became known as Israelites; the descendants of Esau became known as Edomites (Gen. 25:30), which in the Greek language was pronounced "Idumea."
When Jacob tricked his father into giving him the birthright, Esau felt cheated, and immediately set out to take it back by force. He felt it was rightfully his. While we understand his feelings, knowing that Jacob should have had more faith in God's ability to give the birthright to the one truly called, this was all part of God's Plan of the Ages. That Plan is soon to culminate when God resolves this great controversy as Isaiah prophesied. The Bible makes it clear that God had called Jacob and rejected Esau even before the twins had been born (Rom. 9:11). Esau failed to take back the birthright from his brother, but there has been conflict between them from then to now. Isaiah calls it "the controversy of Zion" and tells us that its resolution would be known as "the day of the Lord's vengeance" (Is. 34:8). While there have been many lesser days of vengeance, or recompense, when the judgments of the law were executed upon nations, there is yet coming a climactic day of fulfillment at the close of this present age.
Jacob and Esau were both fleshly men, but God worked with Jacob, bringing to him two times of trouble that would teach him faith. Finally, when Jacob recognized the Sovereignty of God at Penuel (Gen. 32:31), his name was changed to Israel to reflect that new-found faith. Israel means God rules. (See Bullinger's notes on Gen. 32:28 in The Companion Bible, p. 47.)
Esau, or Edom (Idumea) is the subject of many Bible prophecies. The entire book of Obadiah is devoted to that theme, as well as entire chapters in Ezekiel. But the most significant passage for our purposes is found in Malachi 1:1-4.
1 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 2 I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord; yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. 4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them the border of wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.
The words which Malachi puts in the mouth of Edom here reflect their age-old desire to return and build in the land of Canaan, which they had lost to Jacob and his descendants. They felt cheated, impoverished by their loss of the birthright, but they remained ever watchful for their opportunity to return. Strangely enough, God says in this passage that Edom would indeed return and build for a time, but then God would "throw down" what they had built. At that point, it would become known to all that these are wicked people and people whom God has cursed.
A few centuries after Malachi prophesied this, the Edomites were conquered by Judah's Hasmonean dynasty, around 126 B.C. All encyclopedias agree with this. The story is found also in Josephus' book, Antiquities of the Jews, XIII, ix, 1, which speaks of this conquest.
Hyrcanus also took Dora, and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued ALL the Idumeans, and permitted them to stay in that country if they would adopt the rite of circumcision, and make use of the laws of the Jews. And they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted. At which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.
As we pointed out on page 71 and 72 in discussing Solomon's marriage with Pharaoh's daughter, the husband assumes the debts of the one he marries, including the curses from the past. We saw how Solomon's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter affected Jehoiachin many years later. This same kind of situation occurred again when Judah conquered and "married" the nation of Edom in 126 B.C. In doing so, the Judah nation became responsible to fulfill the many prophecies about the Edomites.
There are no Edomites today as a distinct nation, because they were conquered and "married" to the Judah nation in 126 B.C. It is assumed by many that the end-time prophecies regarding Edom no longer have any relevance, because there is no more Edomite nation as such. Others who are more reluctant to discard Bible prophecy simply misapply these prophecies to the Palestinians or to the Arab peoples, totally ignoring plain history. This happened in 1979, when President Sadat of Egypt made peace with Prime Minister Begin of Israel. It was then loudly proclaimed that this was "Jacob and Esau" embracing each other (Gen. 33:4). The implication was that Begin represented Jacob, and Sadat represented Esau.
Yet the prophecies pertaining to Edom must yet be fulfilled in their descendants. The only way they can be fulfilled is through the Jews today, because they are descended from those who incorporated Edom into their nation in 126 B.C. There are no other serious candidates. This sheds a whole new light on the modern Zionist movement. Is this really a movement to restore Jacob (Israel) to the Promised Land? Or is it actually a fulfillment of Malachi 1:4, where Edom is shown to have Zionist sentiments, desiring to "return and rebuild"?
I believe that the Israeli state is fulfilling a dual set of prophecies: one set for Esau and one for the remnant of Judah. How these two prophetic lines intersect will be more apparent as we continue our study. Jesus' prophetic statements in the New Testament about the remnant of Judah are surprisingly similar to what the prophets said about Edom. This is explainable only when we understand that the two nations had merged in 126 B.C.
The Cursed Fig Tree
Matthew 21 tells the story of a fig tree that came to represent the Judean nation in Jesus' day. Verses 18-19 read,
18 Now in the morning as He returned into the city, He hungered. 19 And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
A few chapters later, Jesus interpreted his actions as follows in Matthew 24:32-33.
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
In other words, Jesus says that when we see the cursed fig tree put forth more leaves (but still no fruit), we will know that the end is "near, even at the doors." The whole purpose of His curse upon the fig tree was to let us know that this nation would not bring forth the Fruits of the Kingdom that God required from the beginning. And so Jesus prophesied that the nation would someday put forth more leaves with great fanfare, but it would again bear no fruit.
This incident agrees perfectly with Jesus' parable later in this same chapter of Matthew, where the husbandmen refused to render Him the fruits in their seasons. In that parable, the people judged themselves (Matt. 21:41), and Jesus told them in verse 43,
43 Therefore I say unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the Fruits thereof.
In light of this statement, it is curious that so many Bible teachers insist that the present Israeli state will bring forth the Fruits of the Kingdom "any day now." This absolutely contradicts all of Matthew 21, which plainly states that the remnant of Judah would rise again and bring forth more leaves-but no Fruit.
That is precisely what has happened today. Had the Dispensationalists not been so blinded by their own assumptions, they could have known that the Jews would not be converted within seven years of 1948. Most of them even understood these "fig tree" prophecies to be applicable to the formation of the modern Israeli state. Even so, although Jesus was very specific in His curse and in His prophetic statement about the cursed fig tree, few actually believe His words in our day of political correctness. The modern Christian view has given most Christians an unrealistic expectation of a mass Jewish conversion to Christ.
Since 1948, the Israelis have been putting on a great show of righteousness. They have exploited the Dispensationalist beliefs to boost the tourist dollars and to fan the flames of prophetic fervor. The tree has come back to life and produced more leaves than it ever had in Jesus' day. But what good is a tree that produces no fruit? Worse yet, what should be done to a tree that promises fruit, but comes up empty year after year? The answer is found in the basic message of John the baptist, found in Luke 3:7-9.
7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore Fruits worthy of Repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
The whole point of John's message was to warn the people of his day and of his own nation [Judea] that if they did not bring forth the Fruits God required, they would be "hewn down and cast into the fire." In saying "every tree," He makes no exceptions, telling us plainly that they could not count on God to use a double standard to indulge their sin. Every tree would be judged by its Fruits, whether they could claim lineage to Abraham or not. God is no respecter of persons. John said that God is able to raise up children from "these stones."
Another related parable Jesus told is found in Luke 13:6-9.
6 He spake also this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it; 9 And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
In a prophetic sense, Jesus came for three years seeking Fruit from that tree of Judea, but finding none. That three years represents the total of Jesus' ministry in His first appearance. But it is clear that this tree was to be given one final chance to bear Fruit after a time of dunging. This time of dung was, in the short term, the 40 years leading up to the final destruction of Jerusalem. They were given 40 years in which to repent and bear Fruit, but they did not. Secondarily, on a longer term cycle, they were given 40 Jubilees, from 33 to 1993 A.D. Still, they did not repent, even after God allowed them to return and build a new nation at the expense of the Palestinians and the American taxpayers. Neither dung nor blessings have caused them to bear the Fruits of Repentance that God requires.
Both of these times of dunging (short-term and long-term fulfillments) were God's disciplinary action done in mercy to let them know that their rejection of Jesus was wrong. But the dung had little effect upon most of them. Instead, they became increasingly bitter, thinking that God was unjust toward them. In their self-righteousness, they did not think they deserved such ill treatment from God. And so it came to be said among them that someday the Messiah would come, and when He did, He would have a lot of explaining to do!
Their final opportunity to bear Fruit came in 1948, when the fig tree came back from its withered state. The parable in Luke 13 does not tell us whether the tree would bear fruit after its time of dunging, but Jesus' curse upon the fig tree in Matthew 21:19 makes it very clear that the tree would not bear fruit in the allotted time. Thus, we are left with only one rational conclusion: that the tree will be hewn down and cast into the fire at the end of its present growing season.
The Law of Fruit-Bearing Trees
When a man plants a tree, he never expects it to bear fruit immediately. In the great parable of history, God established a vineyard in the land of Canaan and planted in it a choice vine (Judah), as Isaiah 5 tells us. The law of fruit trees tells us that no fruit was to be expected for the first three years, and if any did appear, it was not to be eaten. The fruit was to be plucked and cast to the ground in its early stages, in order to allow the tree to expend its strength on growth, rather than on bearing fruit. Then in the fourth year, the fruit was to be given to God as a Firstfruits Offering. In the fifth year, the owner could eat the fruit of his labours. The law is found in Leviticus 19:23-25,
23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised; three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you; it shall not be eaten of. 24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal. 25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof; I am the Lord your God.
The parallel here to Jesus' parable in Luke 13 is obvious. He comes for three years to inspect the vineyard but finds no fruit on the tree. God is patient with trees that do not bear fruit for three years, because that is expected, particularly when they are young trees. But there is no excuse for the tree if it bears no fruit in the fourth year. That is the critical year when the Firstfruits are to be offered up to God. If the tree does not bear fruit in that fourth year, then it is in danger of being cut down.
There is another law that is very applicable in this situation as well. It is found among the laws of warfare in Deuteronomy 20:19-20,
19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege. 20 Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.
Fruit-bearing trees were not to be chopped down in time of war. Only the non-fruitbearing trees could be chopped down, and this included fruit trees that bore no fruit. When Jesus cursed the fig tree, it was an act of spiritual warfare. He made this very clear by explaining his actions in Matthew 21:21-22,
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain [nation], Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Jesus was telling His disciples that such spiritual warfare was possible for them as well. More than this, He implies strongly that Christians would likewise curse the fig tree nation at some point in time by means of spiritual warfare. Also, in biblical symbolism, a mountain represents a nation (Isaiah 2:1-2). So the rest of Jesus' statement should be taken in the context of the fig tree nation. In essence, He was prophesying a time in the latter days when His disciples would hew down that unproductive fig tree nation, a time when they would pray to remove that mountain and cast it into the "sea." This would be done, of course, after their time of dunging was complete, and after the restored fig tree had failed in its allotted time to bring forth "fruits worthy of repentance" (Luke 3:8).
The only question is, how long has God given the Israeli state to produce the Fruits of the Kingdom before God says, as He did in Luke 13:7, "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"