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ISRAEL'S PRESENT RETURN IN BIBLE PROPHECY

by Jacques More

As I mention in my article Islam, the Devil, and Israel the enemy has an interest in discrediting the Jews. This is also prevalent as regards the idea that since New Testament times the church replaces Israel - a replacement theology. Nothing could be further from the truth as shown in bible prophecy both in the Old and the New Testament.


The New Testament (especially)
I believe Jesus knew Israel would return: that Israel would first be scattered, and then return later to dwell in the land prior to His return - before the 2nd coming.


Israel always relevant
Before I discuss this, one thing is to be made clear. Paul said,


. . . Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom . . .

1 Corinthians 1:22

Jesus said,


Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.

Mark 8:12


The Jews seek after signs. This fact is helpful in identifying what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of 'this generation'. It is particularly helpful in appreciating the following:


This generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled/take place.

Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32


Jesus is being specific in saying that the Jews, as a people, would remain until all prophecy was fulfilled. Israel as a race - grouping is to remain until the end. It is a confirmation of what the prophet Jeremiah was given,


Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea and its waves roar (the LORD of hosts is His name): ''If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.''

Jeremiah 31:35-36


The bible is clear that the Jews will remain until the end. And beyond if you read Isaiah 66:22-24. For a fuller discussion of "This generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled" see my article This Generation shall not . . . Until.


Israel to depart and to return
But it is also my understanding Jesus believed that Israel would depart from the land and then return prior to His 2nd coming.


How can this be seen?


Two temples
Jesus spoke of the temple being utterly destroyed. This speaks of the removal of the Jews from the land.


. . . Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Matthew 24:1-2


This is equally reported in Mark,


. . . Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Mark 13:2


And yet, He also mentioned the abomination of desolation to occur in that very place - the holy place - Something to occur before the final end of things. This therefore points to a return of the Jews to the land. Both in Matthew and Mark He said,


. . . when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains . . .

Matthew 24:15-16 and Mark 13:14


He knew therefore that 2 separate time frames were envisaged for the temple in Jerusalem.


The 1st to involve its complete destruction; the 2nd to include the abomination of desolation event: this 2nd event is repeatedly shown as leading up to the return of Jesus. This is what makes it the second event. You cannot have one event as a precursor to the final end and another after that, so "the final precursor" i.e. the abomination of desolation in the temple is the 2nd of the two mentions of the temple prophetically. And since the 1st mentions the full destruction of the buildings, we are looking at a new temple being built subsequently to that.


How can this be seen further? Indeed can the 2 time events - just as in fact 2 temples - be seen from any other of Jesus' words?


Two occasions to flee
Yes, two separate times can be seen further by the mentions of 2 different signs - and therefore times - as signals to flee from danger.


Two times can be understood from the standpoint that Jesus speaks of 2 different occasions when the inhabitants of Jerusalem are to flee. 1st they are to flee as described in Luke:


. . . when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.

Luke 21:20-21


This is a separate and different warning to the one given in Matthew and Mark where there, the sign given to flee, is the setting up of an abomination in the temple and not an event outside of Jerusalem. The abomination of desolation in the holy place is about the temple in Jerusalem.


The surrounding armies event occurred in history like this: The Roman Prince Titus who later became Emperor besieged Jerusalem and at the end destroyed the temple in AD70. This was thereby a total fulfilment of the Matthew 24:1-2 prophecy quoted above. But, at no point was the temple a place where a sign could be seen for people to flee. With Jerusalem surrounded and under siege no fleeing was any longer possible. No sign in the temple could then give an indication to flee since you cannot when under siege. Titus' disgust at the Jews that set fire to the magnificent temple buildings near the end of the siege and their resistance over many months were a prelude to his decision not to then leave any stone on top of another of the edifice. No abomination was placed therefore for an event as a signal to flee in the holy place.


The 2nd signal for fleeing as in Matthew and Mark is altogether different:


Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.

Matthew 24:15-17 (Mark 13:14-16)


This second occasion involves what happens in the holy place before any fleeing is to occur. The first dealt with the armies surrounding Jerusalem prior to any foreign power going into the city. So it can be seen 2 different events are given as signs for fleeing. One is armies surrounding Jerusalem and the other is something happening in the temple: the setting up of the abomination of desolation. I highlight the second sign in my article How soon is Jesus' Return? It is the most significant witness signal before the 2nd coming.


We also know - as we saw above - that the event in the temple was to occur second chronologically because it is given as an indicator - the sign - in Daniel and elsewhere in the New Testament as the precursor to the final moments of prophecy after which Jesus will return.


Of the other indicators of Luke's separate dialogue to the one recorded by Matthew and Mark is Jesus' mention of this siege being a precursor to the times of the Gentiles: A phrase pregnant with expectation of a significant period of time to elapse after the temple's destruction.


. . . there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Luke 21:23-24


Here we read how 'this people' will be 'led away captive into all nations' and 'Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles' for a period known as 'the times of the Gentiles'. This is largely where we are today. There are more Jews scattered than occupy the land of Israel today. But their return mainly in the last 150 years and the rebirth of Israel as a nation in 1948 is a beginning of the process toward establishing fulfilment of a new temple and of seeing these final prophecies fulfilled. It is only a beginning because further centuries are likely for all the other settings to be established prior to the rise of the Antichrist. See Not for a few centuries.


The rebuilding of the temple
We saw how Jesus spoke of the 2nd event - the abomination of desolation . . . standing in the holy place - as occurring before the final end including His return. He knew therefore the first event which involved the surrounding armies would occur with a gap in between before the fulfilment of the 2nd. The temple which took decades or hundreds of years to build before, once destroyed would need a further period of building to accommodate the requirements of the 2nd fulfilment. And since such a rebuilding requires a restoration of the nation of Israel as a context, then it follows that the empire that destroyed the temple - the Roman Empire - would need to have been long gone: in the original format. From Daniel we know that the last great empire in the 'prophetic earth' - the Roman Empire - would in its prophetic end consist of peoples who are as different from each other as iron and clay - as different as chalk and cheese - as we like to say in the UK (Daniel 2:40-43).


The Roman Empire
This was not so in Jesus' day. The Roman Empire was not a mixture of peoples ruling, but one: the Romans themselves. Indeed the Roman Empire had only just begun its reign following the end of the Greek Empire, as also prophesied (Daniel 2 & 7-8). It is incongruous therefore to suggest that Jesus expected His return to occur within the lifetime of His immediate followers. In Daniel the prophetic 'Roman Empire' is represented early on by the legs of the statue featured in Nebuchadnezzar's dream culminating in the 2 feet and the 10 toes: Reminiscent of all the other prophecies relating to 10 kings within that final sphere of influence in the 'earth'. I have written separately about the Roman Earth and how it excludes significant sections of today's known world in my article The Antichrist's Domain. When Jesus spoke the new Roman Empire had not been around long, so the expectation was for a long period before a return of the Jews. This is seen by the illustration of long legs representing the long time for the old and new incarnations of the 'Roman Empire' in Nebuchadnezzar's dream.


Disciples were to die before Jesus' return
Jesus having read these things in Daniel and prophesying of 2 separate events in the temple is inconceivably understood to have suggested His soon return within the lifetime of His immediate followers. He shows us this fully when He told Peter that his death would occur whilst an old man.


. . . "Simon . . . when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God . . .

John 21:17-19


The Antichrist
Paul in his reference to the events in the temple expands on them by involving the Antichrist in the setting (as does Daniel). He introduces this by saying to Christians not to be fooled into believing the return of Jesus and the rapture as events to occur soon - see my separate article When is the Rapture?


. . . concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering to Him . . .

2 Thessalonians 2:1


Jesus having departed already - ascended is the proper term - and therefore not on earth in body Paul is here referring to the 2nd coming. This is Paul's 2nd letter to the Thessalonians and having introduced the concept of the rapture (as we now name it) in that 1st letter, by saying "and our gathering to Him" he is thereby referring to the 'rapture' previously mentioned.


. . . Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed . . .

2 Thessalonians 2:3


Paul is saying not to believe the return and the rapture are near until there is a falling away and the Antichrist is revealed - also known as the man of sin and the son of perdition. But how he is revealed is the same pointer that Jesus and Daniel give us to set the clock off for the final events of prophesied things prior to the return of Jesus:


. . . the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:4


The abomination of desolation is set up after the daily sacrifice is caused to cease and this person does all this declaration in the temple. It is important to note that Paul's word for temple here is the Greek naos. This is of value since not only Paul wrote this about 50AD about 20 years before the destruction of the buildings under Titus, but this is the word most used to describe the buildings of the temple in Jerusalem in the Old Testament in the Greek Version. This is known as the Septuagint and was the 1st bible of the early Christians. Jesus and the apostles quoted from this directly because of its common use rather than the Hebrew version. It is indicative thereby that a real person is spoken of by Paul as sitting in a real building of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem: Which necessitates of course a return of Jews to rule in the land.


All Israel will be saved in one day
This existence of the Jews in the land is further seen in the New Testament by Paul when he says,


. . . hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I will take away their sins."

Romans 11:25-27


Zion is the hill on which Jerusalem is built. And the day in which all Israel will be saved is described in detail in Zechariah and why. There we are told that when Jesus returns He will be seen by the Jews and being recognised at last as their Messiah they mourn and repent and this explains "all Israel will be saved": all the Jews that remain and are present will be saved in one day. At the final end of the tribulation armies will gather against Jerusalem and the Lord then returns to . . .


. . . destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem . . .

Zechariah 12:9-11


I believe this is what is meant by all Israel will be saved (in one day). The recognition of Jesus as their Messiah will cause all present to repent and grieve and lead to their salvation. For this to occur the land and Jerusalem needs to be re-populated by the Jews and the temple rebuilt. So the return of the Jews is seen to be expected in New Testament prophecy as exemplified by Jesus and Paul. And as just seen in the Old Testament too.


God true to His promises
But this was to be expected in that God is always true to His promises and He clearly said, wherever you go, when you repent, I will bring you back:


Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice . . . that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity . . . the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it . . .

Deuteronomy 30:1-5


It can be seen that bible prophecies are not few to point to the 'modern' return of the Jews to Israel.


Ref. M.023

Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from the New King James Version.

© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.

© copyright Jacques More 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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