VARIOUS statements in the writings of Moses and the Prophets foretold that God would turn from the people of Israel on account of their disobedience and would gather people from all nations to become His elect people for the present time (Deut. 32:20,21; Isaiah 65:1; Mal. 1:10,11). There are other statements in the Word of God to this effect, but these are sufficient. That the Lord has put Israel, figuratively speaking, on the sidetrack and is now gathering out from among the nations a people for His name is evident to everyone who studies Jewish history, especially the overthrow of the nation and its dispersion among the peoples of earth which occurred in A.D. 70. At that time the nation collapsed, Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple was burned, and from that day until the present the people have been dispersed throughout the world. Without a doubt the present dispensation is the period concerning which Hosea the Prophet spoke:I. GOD GATHERING OUT A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME NOW
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim: 5 afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king, and shall come with fear unto Jehovah and to his goodness in the latter days (Hos. 3:4,5).
From A.D. 70 to the present day Israel has been without a king, prince, sacrifice, pillar, ephod, or teraphim. But according to this prediction, the nation of Israel will return and seek Jehovah their God and David their King, Messiah.
When Messiah was rejected by His people Israel, in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1,2 and other passages of like import, He left earth and ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, where He has remained ever since. But before making His departure, He met with His disciples, as one sees in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus instructed the apostles to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. At His last appearance to them before His Ascension, He told them how they should proceed: namely, to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide them into all the truth; to begin their ministry in Jerusalem; then to fan out into Judea; next to go northward into Samaria; and from there to branch out unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:6-11). The heralds of the gospel of Jesus Christ did exactly as the Lord had instructed them. By A.D. 63 the Apostle Paul could declare that the gospel had been preached in all creation under heaven (Col.1:23).
James stated the object of the preaching of the gospel to all nations in his speech at the Jerusalem conference (Acts, chapter 15). After Peter and Paul had delivered their messages, James arose and said: "13 ... Brethren, hearken unto me: 14 Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After these things I will return,
And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen;
And I will build again the ruins thereof,
And I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men may seek after the Lord,
And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called,
18 Saith the Lord who maketh these things known from of old." (Acts 15:13-18)
At the present time God is visiting the Gentiles, taking out from among them a people for His name. In reference to those now being called, Jesus said: "... many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11).II. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EXPRESSION SON OF MAN
God is now giving all nations an opportunity to hear and accept the truth and thereby be eternally saved. His sending the gospel to all nations may be compared to a person's passing a magnet over some steel filings, sawdust, and dirt. Only the filings will respond to the pull of the magnet. The gospel of good news is a magnet to which honest, sincere hearts will respond. Those being drawn now by the magnetic pull of the love of God through the gospel constitute His body, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
An extended controversy has raged concerning the expression Son of Man as used by the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone spoke of Himself as the Son of Man. In the Gospel Records this title occurs eighty-two times. The Jews did not know what He meant by it (John 12:34). They understood the significance of the word Messiah, which generally connotes the idea of the future redeemer and ruler of Israel. In a few passages, however, for example Isaiah 9:6,7, the Messiah establishes His reign of righteousness in Israel and eventually extends His kingdom to the ends of the earth.III. MESSIAH AWAITING ISRAEL'S PLEA FOR HIM TO RETURN
In Psalm 8:4 the son of man is parallel with the word man. In the Book of Ezekiel the same expression is applied about ninety times to the prophet himself. Various explanations have been advanced as to the meaning of the term in such passages, but they throw little or no light upon Jesus' use of it.
Daniel 7:13,14 probably furnishes the background for the use of the term by Jesus:
13 I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Here the one likened unto a Son of Man is given universal and everlasting rule and authority over the kingdom of God, which embraces all men. Daniel's prophecy seems to have been constantly in the mind of Jesus throughout His ministry, especially when He, the risen Christ, appeared to the disciples and gave them the great commission, saying, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto Me" (Matt. 28:18). He, the God-man, according to this statement, is given power and authority throughout the universeas Daniel 7:13,14 seems to indicate.
God does not force anyone's will. He awaits one's response to His pleading and love. This fundamental principle of His dealings with His people is set forth in Isaiah 30:18,19,B. Nationally
18 And therefore will Jehovah wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: For Jehovah is a God of justice; blessed are all they that wait for him. 19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; thou shalt weep no more; he will surely be gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear, he will answer thee.
In an impersonation of the Messiah, Hosea the Prophet foretold that the nation of Israel would commit a horrible crime against Messiah when He would appear upon earth. As chastisement for this sin, Messiah, comparing Himself to a lion and a young lioness, foretold that He would tear the nation limb from limb and return to His place until the people of Israel acknowledge their offense and seek Him earnestly.
14 For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver. 15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly.
6 Come, and let us return unto Jehovah; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before him. 3 And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth (Hos. 5:14-6:3).
When they do seek His face earnestly and acknowledge their national sin, He will return, deliver the Chosen People, and restore them to favor with God and man. The confession which the nation will make at that time, when it sees its appallingly tragic mistake, is found in Isaiah 53:1-9. A second version of Israel's confession is found in Isaiah 63:7-64:12:
53 Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of Jehovah been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth (Isa. 53:1-9).
7 I will make mention of the lovingkindnesses of Jehovah, and the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. 8 For he said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely: so he was their Saviour. 9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
10 But they rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit in the midst of them? 12 that caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? that divided the waters before them, to make himself an everlasting name? 13 that led them through the depths, as a horse in the wilderness, so that they stumbled not? 14 As the cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of Jehovah caused them to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.
15 Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where are thy zeal and thy mighty acts? the yearning of thy heart and thy compassions are restrained toward me. 16 For thou art our Father, though Abraham knoweth us not, and Israel doth not acknowledge us: thou, 0 Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name. 17 0 Jehovah, why dost thou make us to err from thy ways, and hardenest our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. 18 Thy holy people possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. 19 We are become as they over whom thou never barest rule, as they that were not called by thy name.
64 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence, 2 as when fire kindleth the brushwood, and the fire causeth the waters to boil; to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! 3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains quaked at thy presence. 4 For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God besides thee, who worketh for him that waiteth for him. 5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou wast wroth, and we sinned: In them have we been of long time; and shall we be saved? 6 For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment: and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us by means of our iniquities.
8 But now, 0 Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. 9 Be not wroth very sore, 0 Jehovah, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, look, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. 10 Thy holy cities are become a wilderness, Zion is become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned with fire; and all our pleasant places are laid waste. 12 Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, 0 Jehovah? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore? (Isa. 63:7-64:12)
Isaiah was not the first to foretell Israel's oral confession of the national sin; for Moses, the great lawgiver, prophesied that the last generation of Israel scattered among the nations "shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their trespass which they trespassed against me, and also that, because they walked contrary unto me, 41 I also walked contrary unto them, and brought them into the land of their enemies: if then their uncircumcised heart be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity; 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land" (Lev. 26:40-42). This passage shows that the last generation of Israel scattered abroad among the nations will confess their iniquity and the iniquity which their fathers committed while they were still in the land, and on account of which God spued them out of the land and scattered them among the nations. When, therefore, they repudiate this national sin, God will remember His covenant which He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and will remember the land; that is, He will restore His people to their own land and solve the Jewish problem once and for all.
IV. MESSIAH SOLVING THE JEWISH PROBLEM
Being God in human form, having entered the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth, and having been glorified by the Resurrection from the dead, the Lord Jesus can and will solve all problems confronting the Jewish nation through the centuries.
The keynote of the gospel is the individual. To the weary multitude Jesus calls in pleading tones:
28 Come to Me, all you who are laboring and who are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. 29 At once take My yoke upon you and start learning of Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is indeed light (Matt. 11:28-30).
He will give rest to the troubled soul. On this point Ezekiel declares:
24 For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them (Ezek. 36:24-27).
The inspired Apostle Peter, in his second recorded address in Jerusalem, called upon the entire nation of Israel to repent and turn to Jesus Christ whom the people had rejected:
Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: 21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old. 22 Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me; to him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. 23 And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days (Acts 3:19-24).
Whenever the people of Israel repent of the national sin of rejecting Christ and turn to Him in faith, He will come, fulfilling all things foretold by the prophets. He will introduce the great Kingdom Era, when the glory of God will encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea.
V. MESSIAH SOLVING THE WORLD PROBLEM
According to Revelation 19:1-20:5, when Messiah Jesus returns to this earth, He will bind Satan and all his servile spirits and incarcerate them in the pit of the abyss so that they cannot cause any trouble for a thousand years. Thus He will fulfill the prediction of Isaiah 24:21-23:
21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Jehovah will punish the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. 22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison; and after many days shall they be visited. 23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Jehovah of hosts will reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before his elders shall be glory.
When Israel calls for Messiah to return, He will come as He has promised and will end all wars. All the efforts of men to outlaw war have failed and will continue to fail. To stop wars is a God sized taskbeyond human power to accomplish. When Israel calls upon Messiah, He will return as a triumphant warrior, whose coming is set forth by Moses:
See now that I, even I, am he,
And there is no god with me:
I kill, and I make alive;
I wound, and I heal;
And there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
For I lift up my hand to heaven,
And say, As I live for ever,
If I whet my glittering sword,
And my hand take hold on judgment;
I will render vengeance to mine adversaries,
And will recompense them that hate me.
I will make mine arrows drunk with blood,
And my sword shall devour flesh;
With the blood of the slain and the captives,
From the head of the leaders of the enemy.
Rejoice, 0 ye nations, with his people:
For he will avenge the blood of his servants,
And will render vengeance to his adversaries,
And will make expiation for his land, for his people (Deut. 32:39-43).
When Messiah comes in fulfillment of this prediction, He will mount the throne of David and reign over a warless, peaceful earth.VI. MESSIAH SOLVING THE PERSONAL PROBLEM OF THE INDIVIDUAL
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. 4 And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa. 2:1-4).
King Messiah will be the ruler of the world. Israel will be the head of the nations as promised through Moses. Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. All nations will flow to it constantly, to worship God, seeking to know more of His holy will for themselves. Truly earth's golden era is out in the future, as assured by the infallibly inspired Word of God.
Each normal individual, Jew and Gentile alike, who has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, realizes in the depth of his soul that he is in a state of alienation from God, and that there must be a reconciliation between him and the Almighty before he departs this life if he is to enjoy peace and fellowship with God and saved loved ones forever. God has made all provisions necessary for such reconciliation:
18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18,19).
According to this statement, God has committed the ministry of reconciliation to men who are to proclaim it to the world. The Lord Jesus committed this ministry to men who were infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit:
18 And Jesus came and talked to them, saying, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto Me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age (Matt. 28:18-20).
Each one who accepts the Lord Jesus as Saviour is called upon in this passage to take a forthright, bold, courageous stand for Him, being fully assured that "Jesus never fails."