God Will Always Stand With Israel

God Will Prosper Israel

 

Temple Recreation at the Israel Museum in  Jerusalem-Photo by Daniel E Woodhead

Temple Recreation at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem-Photo by Daniel E Woodhead

Jehovah God Answers The Question of Fasts

Zechariah 8:18-19

18And the word of Jehovah of hosts came unto me, saying, 19Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love truth and peace (ASV 1901).

God’s Word again comes directly to the spirit of Zechariah bypassing his eyes and ears. God reminds him of the question posed by the men from Bethel with their spokesmen Sharezer and Regem-melech. These two men and their entourage accompanying them asked to entreat the favor of Jehovah, and to speak unto the priests of the house of Jehovah of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years? At that time God did not directly give them an answer. Instead He admonished them for their self-serving fasting, which was not in repentance for what they had done. It was simply an attempt at penance, which is not a biblical truth. True repentance means you have turned away from your sin. Penance is man’s attempt to provide some self-atonement for his sin. God wanted the Jews in Zechariah’s day to connect with Him and establish a relationship with Him. He did not want them going through the motions of a ceremony to commemorate an event that they caused themselves. For those who have entered the Church since the sacrifice of Jesus there is no additional atonement. Jesus already took our sins and wiped them clean at the cross.

The men from Bethel who came to Jerusalem to entreat God and His prophet asked specifically about a fast that they had been conducting in the fifth month of the year (Av). When Jehovah God answered their question He reminded them that they had also fasted in the seventh month (Tishri) as well. The Lord God knowing that there were more fasts, in which they were engaged, provides two more in this text. The fast of the fourth month (Tammuz) commemorated the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. This followed a Babylonian induced famine of Israel, which is a typical wartime strategy. Once the enemy has been starved out, their resistance is feeble. This one happened in the eleventh year of king Zedekiah’s reign (Jeremiah 39:2, 3; 52:6-7). The fast listed in the tenth month (Tevet) marked the initiation of the siege of Nebuchadnezzar in Zedekiah’s ninth year (II Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1; 52:4). What God is saying to the Jews through Zechariah is comforting to them. He says that all these fasts shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love truth and peace. What God is speaking to in these verses is the state of worship in the Millennial Kingdom as well as the Jew’s status with God. God mentions this in Isaiah.

Isaiah 61:2-3

2to proclaim the year of Jehovah’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified (ASV 1901).

Isaiah 65:19

19And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and there shall be heard in her no more the voice of weeping and the voice of crying (ASV 1901).

The Lord closes this section of Scripture with a command to love truth and peace, ohev, emet and shalom. The Hebrew word order is this; truth, and peace love. This is a warning against apostasy and backsliding into sin. This will not be the case for the Jews in the Millennial Kingdom but those who went back after the exile would be susceptible to these issues.

Those Who Will Come Seeking The Jews

 

flandes_jericho_grt

Zechariah 8:20-22

20Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities; 21and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to entreat the favor of Jehovah, and to seek Jehovah of hosts: I will go also. 22Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of Jehovah (ASV 1901).

During the Millennial Kingdom Jerusalem will be continually visited by all nations. They will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord God who will have His throne there running the theocratic government of the world. They will collect others in different cities and head to Jerusalem in large groups. This will indeed be a universal worldwide pilgrimage of all Gentile nations to pay homage to King Jesus in Jerusalem who will be sitting on David’s Throne. The level of enthusiasm for worshipping the God of the Universe who will have taken up His place on this earth will be unprecedented. These verses describe the pilgrimage as happening speedily (nēlĕkâ hālôk). Others who don’t hear of the invitation in the first declaration will say that they want to go too when they say, “I will go also.” This also demonstrates a contagious enthusiasm for worshipping God in the world headquarters, Jerusalem. Zechariah describes the pilgrims as “many peoples” and “strong nations.” This will be a worldwide movement of all peoples, not one limited to a few nearby people groups that come out of fear or weakness and inability to remain independent. The mightiest of all nations will be there, knowing full well that Jehovah God is sovereign over the entire earth. Psalm 122 vividly depicts this.

Psalm 122:1-9

1I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of Jehovah. 2Our feet are standing Within thy gates, O Jerusalem, 3Jerusalem, that art builded As a city that is compact together; 4Whither the tribes go up, even the tribes of Jehovah, For an ordinance for Israel, To give thanks unto the name of Jehovah. 5For there are set thrones for judgment, The thrones of the house of David. 6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee. 7Peace be within thy walls, And prosperity within thy palaces. 8For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 9For the sake of the house of Jehovah our God I will seek thy good (ASV 1901).

Isaiah also confirms the sovereignty of God during this time.

Isaiah 45:23

23By myself have I sworn, the word is gone forth from my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear (ASV 1901).

This good news spreading like wildfire is reminiscent of the early Church Age. The birth of the Church saw three thousand souls converted the first day on the Jewish festival of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). The early Church consisted primarily of Jewish apostles and messengers who were exceptionally enthusiastic for Jesus. Over time the Church became populated with a preponderance of Gentile believers. However instead of converting the world, the Gentile Church became more and more merged into the world. The Gentile Church grew as a whole apathetic to the evangelistic zeal that these verses describe for people coming to Jerusalem during the Millennial Kingdom. In fact Christ in His letter to the Church at Ephesus said that they had lost their first love, Him (Revelation 2:4). God’s Word will never fail, as it will go out to all its intended audience exactly as God has planned. However, the Church Age will not end in a worldwide conversion of all peoples, groups and tongues. There will not be universal peace and righteousness but it will end in apostasy.

The Bible says there will be a falling away (Apostasy) in the last days.

Castenda The Second Ring of Power by Hawkwood (David Bergan)

Castenda The Second Ring of Power by Hawkwood (David Bergan)

 

Three NT passages clearly describe the character of the apostasy.

I Timothy 4:1-3

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth (KJV).

The source of the apostasy is demons, for apostates have essentially given in to seducing spirits and are preaching a system of doctrine, which is a doctrine of demons. Furthermore, they speak lies through hypocrisy, and their consciences have stopped working.

 II Timothy 3:1-5

 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these (KJV).

In verses 1-4 there is a description of the general character of the world in the last days, and it is obvious to the casual observer that these characteristics are true today. Verse five centers on the religious front, where the last days will be characterized by men having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Apostate ministers, having churches which function as businesses, have a form of godliness. Others wear clerical garb but do all for show. But because they deny the power thereof, they have denied the true power of godliness. They claim to trust in God but are actually trusting in worldly methodologies such as building programs, marketing strategies, and staff enhancements. These are all coupled with appeals for funds to fuel their growth.

II Peter 2:1-22   discusses the apostates at length. Reading through the passage, Peter displays no love or tolerance toward the apostates. The Bible and particularly the Lord Jesus do not display any toleration toward apostasy and both castigate it very severely, as these verses clearly show. The apostasy and failure, will end in the greatest war that mankind, will have ever known, The Great Tribulation (Revelation 6:1-19:21). During this worldwide war the Lord will again use Jewish evangelists (144,000) to spread His Word on a worldwide basis most effectively with incredible missionary zeal (Revelation 7:3-9).

The Flourishing of the Jews in the Millennium

 

Esther & Ahasjerus by Francois Langrenee cir 1775-80

Esther & Ahasjerus by Francois Langrenee cir 1775-80

Zechariah 8:23

23Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you (ASV 1901).

The Lord God now continues to describe the extent of Jewish leadership and favor in the world during the Millennial reign of Jesus. He says that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nation. Ten is a common number used in Scripture to denote an indefinite but large number (Genesis 31:7; Exodus 34:28; Leviticus 26:26; Numbers 24:22; I Samuel 1:8; Job 19:3; Daniel 1:12; Amos 6:9). Here it means a great multitude of Gentile people who shall gather to see God’s Glory in Jerusalem. The Gentiles will vastly out number the Jews in that day as they do now as well. Further this is not a regional gathering. It will be from the entire world as all languages and nations are described. What they are described as doing is taking hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew. The Hebrew verb translated as taking hold is the verb ḥāzaq often denotes almost a violent grabbing of something with the intention of not letting go. The khenaph, is the corner of the long flowing garment worn by the ancient Jews. Then to each of the four khenaphayim of the typically white outer garment were attached tsitsith, “fringes,” or tassels of blue. This is probably what is being referred to, since it was the distinctly visible sign of “a man, a Jew” as the Hebrew text reads. It is spoken of as being caught hold of, first with a view to detain the Jew, so as to request his permission to accompany him. But it also has the sense of keeping firm hold, depicting the earnest determination of the Gentile pilgrims to accompany the Jew who is on the way to the future world capital Jerusalem to pay homage to the Jewish Messiah King Jesus.

The Lord God and Creator of the entire universe will be the center of attraction for the entire thousand-year Theocratic Kingdom. This is perhaps the strongest and most concise statement of the future blessing of the Jews as they are given a commanding role in the world’s government. These Gentiles will say to the Israelites, “We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Deuteronomy 28:13

And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do [them] (KJV).

Israel’s final restoration will bring the nation Israel to the world’s attention. As we have seen the Gentiles will lay hold on the Jews to be with them realizing that they are the ministers of God. They will no longer be persecuted but will lead the way to the Messiah Jesus.

Zephaniah 3:20

20At that time will I bring you in, and at that time will I gather you; for I will make you a name and a praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I bring back your captivity before your eyes, saith Jehovah (ASV 1901).

Pesikta Rabbathai, in Yaklut Shimoni.

Thus in this ancient Jewish Midrash we read: “All nations shall come, falling on their faces before the Messiah, and the Israelites saying, Grant that we may be Thy servants, and of Israel. For, as relates to the doctrine and the knowledge of the law, the Gentiles shall be their servants, according as it is written: ‘In those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirts of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

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Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the most important city in the world.

jerusalem

The Jews have at least seventy different names for it. Some of those found in the Bible are:

  1. Aliza
  2. Ariel
  3. Bat-Zion
  4. Ben-Zion
  5. Debir
  6. Eden
  7. Harel
  8. Moria
  9. Zion
  10. Salem
  11. Jebus
  12. Ziona
  13. Jerusalem

יְרוּשָׁלִַ֜ם

Yerushalieem

It is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14: 18 as the city Salem.

  Genesis 14: 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God.

 

This first appearance in the Bible demonstrates that a mysterious person who the Bible describes as having no beginning called Melchizedek the King of Salem blessed Abraham the first Hebrew (Hebrews 7:2). The name occurs 814 times within 767 verses in the KJV. Before Jerusalem finally fulfills its appointed destiny as the city of the Prince of peace, and capital city of a world at peace. It has had to experience a long period of being trodden down by the Gentiles (Luke 21:24).

 

    Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled

 

It cannot be a matter of chance that Jerusalem’s former name when under Gentile Canaanite control was Jebus (Judg. 19:10), a name that translates as a place ‘trodden down’ or ‘trampled under foot’. Just as King David captured the city of the Jebusites (1 Chron. 11:4,5) and made it his capital city, so the One (Jesus)

greater than David is to free Jerusalem from being trodden down by the Gentiles and make it truly the city of peace. 

From the time that Jebus was captured by David’s army it is frequently referred to in Scripture as (Mount) Zion. The very first mention of this name is in the phrase “strong hold of Zion” (2 Sam. 5:7). We would expect that the name Zion would be as meaningful as are the names Jebus and Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is chosen by God in His divine plan of the ages. We see evidence of this as the Psalmist declares: “The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than the dwelling places of Jacob” (Psalm 87:2). Moreover, it is this city alone to which God descended, as the Psalmist again declared: “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:13-14). Consequently, Jerusalem attained a status as both the holy city and as the city at the center of the world (Ezekiel 5:5).

Given such privileged position, it is no wonder that Jerusalem is mentioned more than any other city in Scripture: more than 814 times and appears in some two-thirds of the books of the Old and almost one-half of the books of the New Testament.

In biblical prophecy it is known as “Sodom and Egypt” (Revelation 11:8). Of the biblical references, 465 in the Old Testament and 24 in the New refer to prophecies of Jerusalem later than the time there were spoken.

In the Bible Jerusalem occupies a strategic position with respect to two major prophetic periods: “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) and “the seventy weeks of Daniel” (Daniel 9:24-27). In the case of “the times of the Gentiles,” the city prophetically marks the beginning and ending of this period that stretches from the Babylonian destruction (586 B.C.) until the Second Advent of Christ. In the case of the “seventy weeks,” events in Jerusalem likewise determine the beginning and ending of this prophetic period as well as affecting the parenthesis in time between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week.

During the time of the First Temple, Jerusalem became the focal point of prophecy as foreign invaders sought to capture the holy city. At one such occasion the prophet Isaiah prophesied Jerusalem’s deliverance while declaring God’s covenantal pledge to preserve it for the future: “For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake” (2 Kings 19:34).

Jerusalem is at the heart of Messianic prophecy and redemptive history. In fact, it may be said that there could have been no such plan revealed apart from its presence (Luke 13:33b). Jerusalem was indispensable to the preparation of Christ’s first coming, being restored from ruin (Isaiah 52:7-12) to fulfill its role in the messianic advent as the city of the great king.

Jesus was sent to Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37) and the city served to mark defining moments in Jesus earthly life and ministry:

  1. Dedication (Luke 2:22-38), dialogue with the teachers in the Temple (Luke 2:41-49),
  2. Temptation by the devil (Luke 4:9-12),
  3. Confrontation with the money-changers (Matthew 21:12-27),
  4. Signs of Messiahship (John 5:19; 7:14-29; 8:2-12),
  5. Trial and crucifixion (Matthew 25-27),
  6. Resurrection and ascension (Luke 24:1-51; Acts 1:9-11).
  7. The Church began in the city (Acts 2:1-13),
  8. The apostles performed miracles there (Acts 3),
  9. The Jerusalem Council met there (Acts 15:2-29),
  10. Paul began his climatic trip to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6)
  11. He also experienced the conflict that lead to his imprisonment and death (Acts 21:27ff).

Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70 by the Roman Tenth Legion was predicted as the result of the Jews (corporate government) rejection of Jesus and its persecution of the Church: “and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44). Yet, Jesus’ prediction included the future hope of Jerusalem’s restoration when it repents and receives Him as Messiah (Matthew 23:39; Acts 3:19-21) at the Second Advent. Jesus even revealed the duration of its desolation, being “trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). Thus, Jerusalem’s experience as the time of the end approaches is to be one of escalating tribulation until it becomes the Tribulation period and finally finds deliverance at Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:21-31).

Jerusalem under attack by Titus Vespasian Artist Poussin 1623

According to Daniel’s prophecy of the seventieth week (Daniel 9:27), which informs Jesus’ prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), Paul’s prophetic instruction to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:4), and John’s prophetic vision of the city’s invasion by the nations (Revelation 11:1-2), the armies of the Antichrist will occupy the city (cf. Daniel 11:45), desecrate the Temple and usurp the place of God within it, demanding worship from the world (cf. Revelation 13:6, 15).

Zechariah’s prophecy chronicles this period of distress for the city, detailing the gathering of all nations against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3; 14:2) and its battles until at the climax of the campaign of Armageddon, when the final assault on Jerusalem takes place (Zechariah 12-14).

The Lord will bring about Israel’s national repentance beginning with “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:8-13:2), Christ will defeat the invading armies of Antichrist (Zechariah 14:3, 12-15), deliver the Jewish Remnant in the city by an earthquake (Zechariah 14:3-4), and there set up His Millennial reign (Zechariah 14:9), transforming the city’s topography (Zechariah 14:8, 10) rebuilding the Temple (Zechariah 6:12-15), purifying and glorifying the city (Zechariah 8:3; 14:11, 20-21; cf. Isaiah 4:5-6; Jeremiah 3:17), and calling the nations to worship Him (Zechariah 14:16-19).

Isaiah, likewise, prophesies concerning Jerusalem in the Millennial Kingdom, declaring the elevation of the Temple Mount and its new position as the worship center for the world (Isaiah 2:2-3) and center of Messiah’s rule over the nations, establishing universal peace (Isaiah 2:4). Isaiah also reveals the glorious reversal of Jerusalem’s fortunes in the millennial restoration, announcing the predicted fulfillment for the city with the divine declaration: “For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, and her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people” (Isaiah 65:18). The prophet’s portrayal of restoration in Jerusalem includes a restoration of harmony in the created order to prevent the defiling “[God’s] holy mountain” in Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25), and the nations turning to Christ, becoming His people (Isaiah 11:10, 12; 19:25) and beholding His glory in Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:18-20).

The prophet Ezekiel focuses on Jerusalem’s Millennial Temple and the city’s extended sacred status (Ezekiel 40-48), depicting the Lord’s return to dwell in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 43:1-7; cf. 37:26-28) and conferring upon it a new descriptive title: “YHWH Shammah: The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:3).

The final assault on the city is predicted to occur at the conclusion of the thousand year reign of Christ when Satan, released from his imprisonment deceives the nations and gathers an army to march against King Messiah enthroned in Jerusalem (Revelation 20:7-9a). As He had promised (2 Kings 19:34), the Lord defends Jerusalem and destroys these last adversaries of His holy city (Revelation 20:9b).

With the creation of the new heavens and new earth for the eternal state, Jerusalem is mentioned for the last time in the Bible. The earthly Jerusalem will continue in relationship to the heavenly Jerusalem in fulfillment of its divine destiny as the place where God’s Name will remain forever (2 Chronicles 33:4; cf. Psalm 48:8; 68:16; 132:14 Joel 3:20; Micah 4:7). We must adhere to the command in Psalm 122.

Psalm 122: 6-7 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

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