Israel's Three Must's and Jehovah's Seven I-Will's
By David L. Cooper, TH.M.,PH.D.,LITT.D.
My reason for running in the Biblical Research Monthly the department of "Israel's Place in the Plan of God" is that a clear grasp of this doctrine is essential to the proper understanding of the teaching of the Scriptures in general; for apart from it one cannot comprehend the significance of numerous passages in both the Old Testament and the New. As we see from a casual reading of the original promise (Gen. 12:1-3), which is the basis of all prophecy, and the predictions immediately growing out of it recorded in Genesis, Abraham and his seed were chosen to be the channel of world blessing. Hence to misunderstand the divinely elected position of Israel in the world is to view the Scripture from the wrong perspective. To look upon the Word of God and His providential workings in the world from the incorrect point of view is to see things in a distorted manner; and to receive the wrong impressions concerning His plan of the ages is to be unable to conform one's life and activity to the perfect will of God and to cooperate with Him fully and intelligently. In view of these momentous facts one can see that it is absolutely imperative for one to understand the scriptural teaching concerning Israel's place in the plan of God.
In many places throughout the Scriptures we see statements which give this plan more or less completely. Among them may be mentioned the one which deals with Israel's future return to God found in Deuteronomy 30:1-10. To this passage we shall now address ourselves. I assume here that the reader will turn to this section of the Word and examine it carefully before he studies this article. This block of scripture properly falls into two natural sections: (1) Israel's three must's (vss. 1,2); (2) Jehovah's seven I-will's (vss. 3-10).
I. Israel's Three Must's
A. Recalling the Prediction and its Fulfillment
"And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee. . ." etc. In order to understand this statement, a person must start with chapter 27 and read up to the present lesson. When he does this, he will find that Moses instructed Israel to assemble at Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim for the reading and recording of the law and for the pronouncing of the blessings and the curses. The present city of Nablus is located in the valley between these two mountains. Ebal on the north was the one from which the curses were to be pronounced, whereas Mt. Gerizim is on the south and from it the blessings were to be proclaimed. There is a natural amphitheater in the sides of these mountains facing each other. The conditions set forth in this passage are in evidence there today. This is confirmation of the correctness of the record.
After the statement of the curses, Moses made a definite prediction concerning the checkered course which Hebrew history would take (ch. 28) and followed it by other prophecies concerning Israel's inability to keep the law (29:4) and His pouring out His wrath upon the land--making it desolate (29:22-29). This definite prediction constitutes the background of the one forming the topic of these two paragraphs.
Therefore when she has run the course of history outlined in chapter 28 and is scattered among the nations while her land is in a barren, desolate condition, she must do three things before God can and will bless and use her.
The Bible is the only sacred book that risks its claims upon the fulfillment of definite predictions. Only a man inspired of God could paint a picture in clear colors centuries before its fulfillment. When one studies the outline of Israel's journey through the centuries, found in Leviticus 26 and enlarged upon in Deuteronomy 28, one is overwhelmed with the conviction that Moses was inspired of God and that his words have been literally fulfilled. These facts must be given to the Hebrew race in order that they may recall them and see the force of the argument from fulfilled prophecy. This prediction, therefore, presupposes that those who have the truth concerning these great prophecies and Messiah will give them in such a convincing manner that they will see the correctness of the position. B. Returning to Jehovah their God
The second imperative confronting these people is that they must return to Jehovah their God. This prediction presupposes that at the time here foreseen, they as a nation will have departed from Jehovah. But it is a fact well known to students of Jewish affairs that the major portion of the nation is still holding on to the orthodox faith, even though many of them are not scrupulously observing the traditional, Talmudical laws. From these facts we may conclude that this departure involves more than simply forsaking Jehovah who revealed Himself at Mt. Sinai. But when they are studied in the light of Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and its fulfillment in the person of the lord Jesus, the Hebrew Messiah, we, doubtless, have the proper perspective from which to view this prediction. A study of many passages of the Word shows us that Messiah, who is Jehovah our righteousness (Jer. 23:5,6), comes to Israel and is rejected by her as a nation. For instance, see such oracles as Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Psalm 22. After she rejects Him, He tears her, goes to His place, and refuses to return until she acknowledges her offense and seeks Him earnestly (Hosea 5:15). From all of these considerations we logically conclude that the prediction includes the rejection of King Messiah. Therefore when Israel as a nation has been given the facts of sacred prophecy as it pertains to her and her relation to Messiah and returns to Jehovah by accepting Him, she must still take a final step, which is mentioned in the next clause (Deut. 30:2).C. Obeying the Voice of Jehovah
The last move in this return to God is given by Moses in the following words: "and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." By meeting with legal requirements no one is saved and restored to fellowship with God. By the law no one can be justified. The obedience here enjoined doubtless includes hearkening to the Prophet whom God promised to raise up to Israel and in whose mouth He affirmed that He would put His words (Deut. 18:15-19). On one occasion the Jews, tutored under the law, asked the Lord Jesus, "What must we do, that we may work the works of God? "His reply was, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John 6:28,29). At the transfiguration scene Jehovah from heaven shouted, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am will pleased; hear ye him" (Matt. 17:5). Hence Israel must hear and obey Him. In the light of all facts the obedience enjoined in our passages is accepting King Messiah and obeying Him with all the heart and soul. II. Jehovah's Seven I-Will's
A. Turning her Age long Captivity
When Israel has taken the three steps indicated in the preceding section of this discussion, the Lord Jehovah will then do seven things for her, the things for which she has been yearning through the centuries of her dispersion. And I may add that she will never obtain them until she takes these three definite steps. O! may she not tarry any longer in doing this, so that God may shower His choicest blessings upon her.
As seen above, this passage presupposes the world-wide dispersion of Israel, which has continued for approximately 1900 years. There is a longing on the part of most of the leaders of Israel to return from the captivity among the nations. Many of her noblest sons and clear thinkers realize that something is seriously wrong. Some of them confess that it is the result of her sin against God. But at the same time they do not realize that specifically it is the crime against the Lord Jesus Christ whom her leaders rejected when He came. May the day hasten when Israel's captivity will end. B. Having Compassion upon Israel
Anti-Semitism is growing with leaps and bounds. This situation is indeed sad. No one who knows the Scriptures will deny this fact. But those who have such feelings against the Chosen Race cannot hope to be blessed of God. Only those who bless Israel can expect His favor. During these centuries of dispersion the Hebrew people know what it is to be alienated from their God. They have longed for Him to exercise His compassion upon them. The nearer we approach the end of the age, the more she will long for His comforting compassions. But when she turns to Him, He will overflow with compassion toward the people of His choice.C. The Return of Jehovah to Earth
Here is the welcome promise, "I will return." These words presuppose that He has been here once, has left, and will come again. This teaching is in conformity with the messages of the Prophets. For a full discussion see my book Messiah: His Redemptive Career. One cannot return to a place which he has never visited. Hence without doubt this promise shows that the nation of Israel will be taught the facts concerning the two comings of Messiah and will accept them and welcome His return. D. Gathering Israel from among the Nations
In the year 70 A.D. the Jewish nation was overpowered by the Romans and taken captive. Since then they have been scattered throughout the entire civilized world. There is no place of any importance where some Jews cannot be found. Their leaders realize that this condition should not be. So do all students of the Word. When Israel is out of her land, something is wrong. At the present time the Zionist organization is doing all it can to make a national home for the oppressed people. They are doing a noble and praiseworthy work. But it is Messiah at His second coming who will gather them back and plant them in their own land. E. Doing Good to Them
The promise that God will do Israel good is in harmony with various predictions found at different places in the Word. For instance, Jeremiah spoke of God's doing Israel good in the latter days (Jer. 29:10,11). Again, in chapter 31:12 our prophet foretold Israel's coming to the Lord's goodness in the latter days. Hosea also spoke of this same manifestation of the Almighty's goodness. See chapter 3:5. When Israel turns to God, He will manifest His goodness to such an extent that all favors of the past will be eclipsed by it so that they pale into insignificance. Hence the term, goodness soon became a technical word indicative of the great things which God will do for Israel when she returns to Him. F. Multiplying the Nation
In the original promise God said that He would increase Abraham's seed, making a great nation of them. This element of the prediction has not been fulfilled in the measure here contemplated. In repeating the statement, the Lord said that He would make them as numerous as the sand beside the sea shore and the stars of the heavens. This forecast looks out into the great Millennial Age. G. Circumcising the hearts of the Nation
The right of circumcision was the national mark of Israel. Here, however, Moses gave the spiritual interpretation and significance of this ordinance. In New Testament phraseology we would say that here is the promise of the regeneration of the hearts of the nation when it turns to God. Man must be born again.
Since Israel can enjoy these great kingdom blessings only after she has learned the truth and the facts concerning her great Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and since we who have accepted Him and His word are the ones who have the facts, let us with dispatch give this great message to the entire nation. In our own strength we cannot do this, but in the power of God we can. Let each reader ask the Lord what part in this great seed-sowing he desires him to have. Then in faithfulness let each one do his part.