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Psalm 118 Part I: Salvation of the Jews?

“Open to me the gates of righteousness, I shall enter through them and shall give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord and the righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me and You have become my salvation!” (Ps. 118)

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced.” (Zech. 12:10)

Some years ago, while I was researching my Psalms devotionals, I read a book entitled Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms by J.R. Church. What he proposes is the Psalms were prophecies of the end times, beginning with Psalm 1 representing 1901, Psalm 20 representing 1920, and so on. I had my doubts until I compared Psalms 39-45 with what happened in WWII from 1939-1945 and comparing Psalm 91 with Operation Desert Storm in 1991. After being fascinated with this concept for a while, I put it away and had not given it much thought for more than 10 years.

Recently, after hearing little from the Lord concerning the Psalms being prophetic, He prompted me back to look at Psalm 118 [2018 if Church is correct] to see what it might say. I was stunned by how the Psalm portrays current events and gives both promising and chilling portrayals of what could be one of the most monumental years in human history! Let me offer up front much of this is speculation, as all ventures in to prophecy are. I make no guarantees, nor do I put myself forth as any sort of prophet, but if Church is right there is no mistaking the message. The Bible advises we test all things and hold fast to that which is good. So, let the reader beware.

I will break this in to two parts: the first part being the Psalm speaking of warfare in the Middle East, and that may not seem so surprising as that’s pretty much gone on throughout history. But then there’s the last part of the Psalm, which I found to be something both incredible and mind-blowing! In Psalm 118:14-26 we read, “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation! Three times in these passages we read the words, “have…or has…become.” The word here is an emphatic: a definite, the point or subject of the verses. Here God “has become” their salvation and chief cornerstone. It has just happened. In Psalm 106 the Psalmist is asking God to, “Visit him with salvation,” and in 116 he is going to grasp the cup of salvation and call upon the Lord. But not until 118 does he proclaim three times, “it has happened!”

It is important to note here Psalm 118 is the last of a group of Psalms known as the “Egyptian Hallel.” These were the Psalms that were chanted or sung in the temple during the slaughter of the Passover lambs! They were also chanted at Pentecost, the feast of Tabernacles, and the feast of Dedication. The Levites would stand before the altar and chant them verse by verse, as was also the practice of families in the privacy of their own Passover celebrations. It is speculated Psalm 118 was the hymn Jesus and his disciples sang in the upper room (Matt. 26:30) just before heading over the Brook Kidron to the Garden of Gethsemane. Think of the implications! If this Psalm is all about a great war and then the salvation of the Jews, would it not make perfect sense it would be the one chanted and sung while they were realizing at long last their Messiah had come, been “slaughtered as the sacrificial lamb,” and they had missed Him?

The Psalm goes on: “The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous…Open to me the gates of righteousness, I shall enter through them and shall give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord and the righteous will enter through it.” The Psalm speaks of God opening the “gates of righteousness” to Israel—a gate of the Lord opening so that Israel may enter through it. Nowhere else in the Psalms is this term mentioned. In John 10, Jesus proclaims He is the door to the sheep. In the Greek, the word used for door means “portal, entrance, door, or gate.” In 2nd Corinthians 5 we read, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In Philippians 3, Paul says he desires to be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own derived from the law, but the righteousness that comes through faith. And in Galatians 3, he states no one is justified by the law, but the righteous man shall live by faith. If you combine the other references we will discuss herein to salvation by faith in the Messiah, this gate can only be Jesus and the righteousness these passages speak of can only be found in Him, not through the law of the Jews!

After speaking of this door to righteousness, the Psalm says, “You have become my salvation! The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” In Isaiah 28 the Lord proclaims, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level.” According to the Psalm it is here the stone [Jesus] the builders [Israel] rejected when they had Him crucified becomes the chief cornerstone [Lord]!

The other verse above, Zechariah 12, a parallel passage to Psalm 118, says one day God will pour out His Spirit of grace on the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that they will look on the One whom they pierced. The only other place in the Bible the words “Spirit of grace” are used is in Hebrews 10, where Paul is talking about insulting the Spirit of grace, and that under the New Covenant. Isaiah 53 says Jesus would be pierced for our transgressions, and then it was done to insure His death when Jesus was upon the cross. In Isaiah 45 we read, “Israel has been saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation. You will not be put to shame or humiliated to all eternity.” This and other passages prophecy the salvation of Israel, and in both Zechariah and the Psalms it immediately follows a great war in the Middle East [see Part II of this blog].

Psalm 118 ends with the Psalmist proclaiming, “O Lord, do save, we beseech You…Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!” Nowhere else in the Psalms—any of them—are these words written. What is the significance of this? In Matthew 23, Jesus laments over Jerusalem who killed her prophets and tells them their house is being left to them desolate. Then He quotes Isaiah, proclaiming Israel would not see Him again until they said, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Would this not mean when Israel proclaims these words they will see Jesus again [not physically, but spiritually meet Him]? If the Psalms are prophetic the Jews will make the proclamation in 2018, and true to His word Jesus will see them again!

So why is God going to save His first people? Wouldn’t it be enough He has His New Covenant followers? May it never be! It never was for our sakes or the Jews sakes He saved us. In Ezekiel36 we see this reason: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name…and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.’” It shall be for God’s sake, and the sake of His holy name He will save Israel, and this for the same reason He saves us: because He said He would and He will not be made out a liar in front of an onlooking world. God promised the Jews would be His people, and He does not lie.

Furthermore, saved gentiles are not the branch but the branch grafted in to the original root (Rom. 11). Israel is still the root of God’s original covenant, and the salvation of His remnant is assured! The Jews were God’s first covenant people, and He is not about to give up on them. They will, one day, have the Holy Spirit poured out upon them by a God concerned for His holy name, look upon Jesus, and know He was pierced through for them.

Can it be that 2018 will be the year God restores His people Israel to Himself? If the Psalms are, as Church asserts, prophecies coinciding to these years then its passages say emphatically, “Now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation” for the Jews! The evidence here is overwhelming, and if that is so we are entering in to times saints throughout history have looked forward to with great anticipation!

There is more evidence 2018 is the year of Israel’s salvation in the Psalms following. Psalm 118 is in the direct center of the Bible. What more fitting place to put such a momentous event? Furthermore, when I became aware of Church’s assertions in his book, I wondered where Psalm 119 could possibly fit in? It’s the longest chapter in the Word and it is all about the Word. No prophecy here. However, if 2018 is the proclaimed year of salvation for the Jews it makes perfect sense it is all about the Word! What will the Jews be doing the year following their newly-found understanding of their Messiah, now anointed by the Holy Spirit? Think they’ll want to be getting in to the Word to see what they’ve missed? Didn’t you have an irresistible thirst for the Word when you got saved? I know I did. The first thing I did as a baby Christian was to read the Bible cover to cover.

Lastly, just days after I released this blog the first time, I attended a Christian Writer’s Conference I attend fairly regularly. There a good friend named Roy was talking about his most recent work, which was a devotional focusing on Psalms 120-134. Roy made a claim, which I later confirmed as so these Psalms, called the Song of Ascents, were the songs of the Jews as they were returning to Israel to worship in the temple! When I heard this a nuclear bomb went off in my head! Are you kidding me, I thought?! The Jews get saved in 2018, in 2019 they study the Word, and in 2020-2034 they return to worship in Jerusalem at the temple that has been rebuilt on the temple site. But for that to happen something else must happen first. That will be addressed in my next blog dealing with the first half of Psalm 118 and Zechariah 12.

It all lines up, but again I am no prophet so we wait, watch, and see what the Lord will do with the rest of what could be one of the most pivotal years in human history.

 

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