“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers, so you will be My people and I will be your God.” (Ezek. 36:27-29)
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
I have received several responses to my article concerning 2018 possibly being the year God pours out His Spirit upon His first covenant people, the original “branches” of Romans 11 we were grafted in to, saving them in much the same way He saved us at Pentecost. Some responses challenged the notion of the door opening to a new salvation to the Jews and the return of God to Mt. Zion [Israel]. Whether 2018 will be the year of this “event” taking place or not is up for debate, as I have stated in numerous prior disclaimers. However, I believe the Jews being saved in much the same way we were is not.
These arguments have included the Jews, in their current state of unbelief, being unworthy. Two years ago, I drove a religion tour for the school district where I am a bus driver. True to the political correctness that rules public education, we toured the houses of worship for several religions. I was truly looking forward to joining the students in just one of those: a synagogue. I have always had a heart for the Jews, and so the possibility of understanding the passions of today’s versions excited me! Never in my life have I been so disappointed in what the Rabbi had to say about the current state of Judaism. The bottom line was if you were a good person you didn’t even need to believe in God to be considered a Jew. There was no passion for, or fear of, the God of the Hebrew covenant at all. The place was completely void of spirit of any kind. Total buzz-kill. So, I agree the Jews are certainly unworthy.
The question becomes, were we when God supernaturally and sovereignly reached out the hand of grace to us? As the verse from Romans 5:8 makes clear we were not. If Christ had waited for us to be worthy we’d all still be waiting, and none would be saved. I believe Paul would say to this, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?…Such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6). Jesus said anyone guilty of one letter of the law would be guilty of it all. Seems these verses put us all, prior to being washed, in the same boat with the worst of the Jews today, yes?
Furthermore, the Lord revealed as I wrote this article something in the first four verses of Psalm 118, which is repeated in Psalm 115, I had missed earlier that seems to narrow the field somewhat. He states specifically the group included in the prophecy [if prophecy it be] will be Israel, the house of Aaron, and those who have maintained a fear of God wherever they are. In Numbers 18 we find the House of Levi and Aaron have been forever tied together as those who minister for and to God in the temple. The sons of Aaron were the ones who were in charge of the offerings, and the sons of Levi the ones who performed temple services.
Throughout the Old Testament God speaks of this as a “perpetual” and “everlasting” situation, as He does of His covenant with Abraham several times in Genesis. The word everlasting in the Hebrew means from ancient of days through eternity, always, forever, never-ending. In Matthew 5 Jesus said He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He did not come to destroy or cancel that which His Father has promised was eternal, but to miraculously fulfill it by making what was external internal. Hebrews 8 does not tell us the former covenant was being terminated, rather it had become obsolete and was being replaced by a better one. Can God not bring back something obsolete by making it new and better, as He did for us? Can God not fulfill the eternal, everlasting law for the Jews as He did for us? So, how could we possibly say the door to God’s original branch has been shut, and God would not again redeem them from a fallen state?
As to how God will save them in a separate event that may look much like the one He employed to save us, let’s look at what precedes this event in both Psalm 118 and Zechariah 12. While it could certainly be argued what Psalms and Zechariah point to was Pentecost in the Book of Acts, the verses immediately prior to this new pouring out of the Spirit in both passages indicate a great war between Israel and the nations around her preceding it, with the outcome being a great victory through God’s intervention. History tells us less than 40 years after Christ’s death the Romans laid siege to Israel, which resulted in between 600,000 – 1,000,000 of them being slaughtered and the temple being destroyed in 70 AD. This fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy in Mark 13. The Jews did not win this war, and there were not numerous nations opposing them as set forth in Psalm 118 and Zechariah 12. They did not defeat many nations but were rather laid totally to waste by one nation. Furthermore, the Jews were not called back to Jerusalem during this time as Psalm 118 promises. They were exiled, and the temple was not rebuilt as Psalms 120-134 and Ezekiel 36 propose.
Let’s examine Ezekiel 36:16-38, for I believe it holds the key as to why God will save His original covenant people, that it is an event that has not yet occurred, and as the Psalms seem to say it will lead to a rebuilding of Jerusalem and not its destruction:
- In verses 16-20 we find the reason the Jews are in the state they are today. They repeatedly defiled their promised land and their relationship with God through open and notorious sin. So, He scattered them around the world. But there was a problem with that approach, because now they were living apart from Israel when everyone knew they were supposed to inherit the promised land. This, according to verse 20, in and of itself profaned God’s holy name.
- In verse 21 we first see the key as to why I believe God will save the Jews, and it is the reason He does everything He does including saving the Gentiles. He says, “But I had concern for My holy name.” Why? Because as just mentioned He promised His covenant with them would be perpetual and everlasting. What does that promise become, if it ends, if not a lie? And if God is perceived to be a liar, is that not the ultimate profaning of His holy name? The Bible establishes one thing if nothing else, and that is that God is The Great “I Am”: the Truth. Jesus also called Himself the “I AM” in John 8 and said His and His Father’s word was the truth in John 17. There are also numerous references to God and His Word being the truth in the Old Testament. When One who is and speaks truth makes a covenant, it matters not whether those He made the covenant with keep it or not. To allow that covenant to be broken would profane His holy name because then it simply would not stand as truth.
- In verses 22-23 we come to the bottom line for the God of truth who makes covenants with sinful men, when He says, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.” It’s not about us! None of us were saved because we were worthy, but because a holy God who made us in His image, to be His flag-bearers here on earth, promised relationship with us via covenant! God is concerned with two issues here, and neither had anything to do with the Jews. The primary concern was for His holy name, and secondarily He was concerned for not how Israel viewed Him but for how “the nations” apart from Israel viewed Him! Would He be found a liar “among the nations?” Absolutely not! He concludes these two passages by saying, “Then the nations will know I am the Lord,” and that My covenant with you will be everlasting, not because you are worthy, but because I said so.
- In verses 24-27 we see the fruit of salvation as God transforms hearts, cleanses sin, and inserts the Holy Spirit in to the human spirit. Again, this could easily be seen as the Pentecost of Acts if it were not for what comes next.
- In verses 28-31 we see afterward the people are living peacefully in Jerusalem. The food is abundant and “there is no famine.” Just the opposite occurred in Jerusalem after the Pentecost of Acts, as the Roman siege caused a famine so severe mothers were actually recorded by historians eating their young. In another stark contrast to the Pentecost of Acts, we find the Jews repenting [just like in Zechariah 12 where God talks about them mourning and weeping] as they are convicted of their sins. This was not the case during the fall of Jerusalem after Christ’s death, as the Jews were repeatedly warned about the coming disaster yet refused to repent. Furthermore, these verses echo Hebrews 8 concerning God putting His Spirit within, and people becoming His and Him becoming their God. This is New Covenant stuff!
- In verse 32 the Lord repeats what He doesn’t want any of us to miss: He did not save any of us for our sakes, but for His. We were, and are, to be “ashamed and confounded” over our sinful ways, repent, and be thankful for the grace given sovereignly by a holy God who forgave them “for His sake” and saved us.
- Finally, in verses 33-38 we find more forgiveness of sin and rebuilding of Jerusalem, then another common theme is repeated—the reason why God stated before He was concerned for His holy name. He speaks once again of “those who pass by…the nations around Israel” beholding the transformation and knowing without a doubt “I, the Lord, have done it…I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it!”
Combining Psalms 118-134, Zechariah 12, and these passages from Ezekiel we find completely consistent evidence for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit as was experienced at the Pentecost of Acts, yet with totally different circumstances surrounding it than were experienced then. I am only left to conclude this must be a separate event. Many would call the return of the Jews to their homeland Zionism I suppose, but from what I have read about this Zionists represent more of a nationalist, political movement than what I see as a natural outcome of the renewing of God’s covenant with His original branches. What I see God doing here will not be a political or nationalist movement but rather a kingdom calling of His Spirit, instilled within His people, to come home and build His desired resting place on earth.