After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, that is gathered out of many peoples, upon the mountains of Israel, which have been a continual waste; but it is brought forth out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them. Ezekiel 38:8
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, that shall remain, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and they that vex Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. And they shall fly down upon the should of the Philistines on the west; together shall they despoil the children of the east: they shall put forth their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them. Isaiah 11:11–14
No series of studies on the signs of the times would be complete without some treatment of the problem concerning the Jews. There are many people who believe that God still has something very special in store for his old covenant people. This is readily understood in view of the many promises given to this people and their very special place in history even to the present day. Even until the present time the Jews are not swallowed up by other peoples as were other ancient people. Neither is there a people which has been so persecuted and so ill treated as the Jews.
Many people believe that the Jews will return to Pales· tine, the land which was promised them. These people usually have a premillennial conception ooncerning the doctrine of the last things. They point to Scripture but also to events occurring in recent years which seem to confirm this belief.
We have listed but two Scripture passages above this lesson. However, we could mention at least twenty chapters in the Old Testament prophets which teach the same things. If we are looking for Scripture passages dealing with the return of the Jews to their land we are not restricted to an isolated passage or two. The Old Testament speaks of that return again and again. As a result, many find it difficult to understand how some Bible-believing people can deny it.
In Ezekiel 38:8 and many other passages we are taught that the people of Israel will return to their own land. They will be gathered from various nations and will again dwell securely in their own land. The question may well be asked, isn’t this clear enough? It is, of course, an elementary rule of Scripture interpretation that we must seek to determine who wrote the words in question, to whom they were written, and what was the purpose of the writing. Ezekiel wrote this prophecy. He wrote these words while he was among the captives of Judah. He wrote them to these captives to comfort them in their affliction. Ezekiel says to those who are in the Babylonian captivity: You will return to your own land, the land of Palestine! Of course, the words of Ezekiel are true, but they apply to the time long ago and not to the future! What comfort would it have been for the captives in Babylon if they would have heard from the mouth of Jehovah’s prophet that their descendants, thousands of years in the future. would return to Palestine?
Those who believe that the Old Testament prophets spoke of the return of tile Jews to Palestine at the end of time usually insist on a literal interpretation of Scripture. Zion is a hill and not the New Testament church. Jerusalem is a city and not heaven. It is true that the Scriptures should be interpreted literally wherever possible. However, it is not always possible and Scripture itself shows us that a different interpretation is necessary at times. Those who insist on a literal interpretation find great difficulty in a passage such as Isaiah 11:11-14. Here the prophet is also speaking of the return of the Jews. They will war against the Philistines, Edam, and Moab. Ammon shall obey them. Where are these people? No trace of them can be found today. Yet, if the interpretation must be literal, these nations must again appear.
Will the Jews return to Palestine? We do not believe that the Old Testament prophets teach this. The “proof” cited is no proof. These promises have been fulfilled ages ago. Neither does the New Testament give any evidence for it. The Jews, as a nation, have served their purpose. To that nation were entrusted the oracles of God. That people gave birth to the Christ according to the flesh.
1. What are some of the other Premillennial teachings? How does this view of the restoration of Israel fit in with other Premillennial teachings?
2. Are there any present day indications of a return of the Jews to Palestine? Arc there indications to the contrary?
3. When may we give an interpretation of Scripture which is not literal? Give examples.