The history of the Jews shows that, during each period in which they have returned to Palestine, God has used them in a special way--Psalm 147:20. Coming there from Egypt under Moses and Joshua, they wrote most of the Old Testament; returning from exile in Babylon, they completed the Old Testament and gave to the world Jesus Christ. [for which we Christians of the Gentile race owe the Jewish people an unpayable debt of ceaseless gratitude surely!--Ed].
Let us see from Scripture what we may expect from the present return, which has so far re-gathered one fifth of the nation.
Firstly, notice that the nation of Israel is still "beloved" by God today for their fathers' sakes [Replacement theologians need to read their Bible and believe it!--Ed]. God has not "cast away His people" Israel, for the gifts and calling of God (to the Jews) are without repentance (Romans 11:1, 28,29). That call and those gifts, divinely granted to Abraham and his descendants, are first recorded in Genesis 12:1-3. They were to be a "kingdom of priests, a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6), to bring His salvation to the world. So God gave to them a land to be the centre from which to fulfil this destiny (Genesis 13:14-18).
Further, that God intends to save the Jews in the end-time and to use them in a very definite way, before Christ returns, is clear from Romans 11:12 (Amplified): "Now if their stumbling has so enriched the world, and if (Israel's) failure means such riches for the Gentiles, think what an enrichment and greater advantage will follow their full reinstatement."
And verse 15: "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" Ezekiel 37:10 suggests that they will become "an exceeding great army" for God. And Romans 11:26 says: "all Israel shall be saved". The context to that verse shows that this means all the nation of Israel at a certain period in history; "all" is contrasted with "part" in verse 25. See Zechariah 12:10--13:1.
Many Old Testament passages predict a return of the Jews to Palestine which shall be universal--"from the four corners of the earth"; it should include the whole nation; it will not be followed by another exile; and they will be self-governing.--Isaiah 17:11-12; Ez. 34:1l-13; 37:15-28; 39:28; Zechariah 8:7-8; Luke 21:24. These passages are only now being fulfilled, because the return from Babylon (c. 537 B.C.) only partially fulfilled them (Ezra 1). Many more Jews will return, and their borders will be extended (Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:30-31).
The teaching of the Lord Jesus is that a revitalized nation of Israel will be one of the signs of the nearness of His Return (Luke 13:6-9 with Matthew 24:32-34; the ripened fig tree--Jeremiah 24:1-10; Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7). But what of their conversion to Christ, since many more than are at present saved, are to be used by Him, before His return?
The new population in Israel is restoring the land and reclaiming the desert. Scripture predicts that hs will happen before the "resurrection" of the people. Ezekiel 36:1-24 shows the land "tilled and sown" by the returned exiles. Verses 25 to 27 and chapter 37:1-14 then predict the resurrection of the people, at present "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). For this same order of things, see Joel 2:18-29, Isaiah 4:2-4 and Jeremiah 33:6-9. Note also Ezekiel 2):37-44, especially verse 40--"there (in their land) I will accept them," says the Lord. In chapter 37:1-14, Ezekiel predicts Israel's national and political revival, followed by their spiritual revival, all under the figure of resurrection from the dead, from being but "dry bones." Bones, sinews, flesh and skin coming together, signify national and political life restored (Ezekiel 37:7-8). This has happened. Now all that is needed is the Sp;irit of God (Ezekiel 37:8-14). Under anointed preaching, God will bring "life from the dead" (Romans 10:14).
We turn now to examine the significance that Christ gives to the restoration of Jewish rule over Jerusalem, since east Jerusalem returned to their rule in June 1967 [As reputable historians tell us, there was never any distinct quarter called East Jerusalem, by the way. Jews have always lived in Jerusalem, except for brief periods of exclusion by the Romans, many thousands of Jews at times residing, far in excess of any Muslims, and so it has never been a Muslim quarter exclusively as it is being claimed today by Muslims who want to have Jerusalem handed over to them in exchange for "peace" with Israel. Nor was Jerusalem, called Qods by the Muslims, ever of significance to the Muslims. It was not even mentioned in the Koran, as Mecca and Medina were proclaimed Islam's Holy Cities, and Jerusalem was a nonentity, in Islamic theology.--Ed.]. The Lord shows that judgment on Israel the nation would be signified by Jerusalem's coming under Gentile rule (Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-24). The Lord here implies, therefore, that Jerusalem restored, shows that God's judgment upon Israel (for rejecting her Messiah) is now over. God has finished punishing her. He has begun to woo her, in mercy and deep compassion. Already, reports of a breakthrough in conversions and a new openness to the Gospel have come from Israel. After the six days' war, the Chief Rabbi declared, "We are now entering the Messianic era for the Jewish people"--thus expressing the expectations of many for their Messiah, for God has restored to them the Old City (of David) and the Temple area (Wailing Wall). [This recognition of epochal change, expressed by Messianic expectation, thrilled the whole Jewish people, even the most secular of them, and particularly touched the hearts of the soldiers who realized that God's hand was in their achieving victory over the West Jordan army which had held Jerusalem since 1948 and cruelly excluded the Jewish worshippers from the Wailing Wall, even destroying Jewish synagogues in the eastern part of Jeruslem over which Jordan ruled--Ed.].
In addition to the preaching of the Gospel, God will use world events to open the eyes of the Jews to their need of the Messiah. Ezekiel 38 and 39 show that Satanically-inspired military forces, in overwhelming strength, (Russia and Confederates) are to come against Israel to destroy her. Israel will sense disaster coming upon the nation, and will cry to God in desperation. God will intervene, and the whole world will see the judgment of God upon the invaders (Ezekiel 39:21).
The Bible warns of tribulation everywhere under the worldwide government of the Anti-Christ, in our generation, before Christ's return (Luke 21:24-29, 36); Revelation 13). Israel will suffer this, though, I suggest, at a very late stage (Zechariah 14:1-3; 13:8-9).
It remains for us to believe the Scriptures, and to witness "to the Jews first" (Romans 1:16), since we expect God to save the Jews and call them to evangelise worldwide before Christ comes (Romans 11:12, 15, 26-36).--Rev. Christopher F. Squire