by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick
It’s good to start another lesson, and we always like to emphasize that this is an informal Bible study; we don’t claim to have all the answers. We don’t claim to be right and everybody else is wrong. All we like to do is get people involved in studying the Word. We try to make it as simple as we possibly can. In our last lesson we said that we would look at why Israel has suffered so much over the years, and why she still must go through the Tribulation.
Jesus said in Matthew 24 that those days would be worse than the world has ever known. There has never been anything like it before nor ever will be again. And Israel is in the vortex of all of that. Let’s turn to Jeremiah Chapter 30 to begin with. We will be looking at a few Scripture verses throughout the Old Testament. Hopefully, we will also have time to get into the New Testament and see that God has His own reasons and purposes. So the prophet Jeremiah writes:
“Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?” In other words, because of fear and turmoil. Now verse:
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble (now Jacob is always a reference to the Nation of Israel and not to the man); but he shall be saved out of it.”
In other words, saved out of this terrible time of Tribulation. Let’s turn to the Book of Zechariah. I know that there are those who maintain that as a result of the coming of Christ and the work of the Tribulation, that every Jew is going to be saved. And I’ll show you the Scripture they use for that kind of teaching. You find it in Romans Chapter 11, where the Apostle Paul writes that all Israel will be saved. But I’m going to qualify that, because in Zechariah Chapter 13, that’s not the language. Let’s look at verse 8:
“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land (that is the land of Israel), saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die (that’s 2/3 of them); but the third shall be left therein.” So one third will survive. Now drop down to verse 9. Where God says:
“And I will bring the third part through the fire (now in Scripture fire usually in a text like this means a testing. If you really want to purify gold, how do you do it? You put it through the heat of the fire. You melt it and the hotter that gold gets the more impurities will come to the top. So fire is a depiction of a testing. God will bring this third part of Israel through the testing of the Tribulation), and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people(remember in the Book of Daniel, God called the Israelites thy people to Daniel. But here in verse 9 this is all future): and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”
Go back to the Book of Deuteronomy, and we will try to establish from Scripture why they have suffered. And we do it with all of the love and tenderness to the Jewish people. I always have to remind myself of an article reported in the Jerusalem Post about a Rabbi who was on one of the most popular talk shows in Israel. This elderly Rabbi has a lot of respect among the Jews. In the process of that program he made the statement that the reason Israel had suffered so much in the Holocaust, and various other situations, was because of their sin. Now what do you suppose happened? The telephone lines were jammed, because the Jewish people were so put out at the Rabbi, that he would have the audacity to even think that it was sin that caused their problems. People don’t want to recognize sin anymore. But let’s turn to Deuteronomy Chapter 28. We have to understand that the Jewish people have the same Old Testament that we have. They could read this. Look what it says:
“And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good (here, the children of Israel still have not entered into the Promised Land), and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.”
“And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people… And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:
Why? Because it says in verse 15 of this Chapter the reasons for these things we just read about:
“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.”
So it was in disobedience, then, of God’s commandments and of God’s Word that brought them all these problems. Now at the heart of all disobedience (even for you and I in the Age of Grace), is one word. So turn with me now to Psalms Chapter 95. Who knows what that one word is? What one word covers all sin? UNBELIEF! And unbelief is the opposite of FAITH. Now as long as Israel had faith in God’s Word what were they? Obedient. But as soon as they didn’t believe what God said, what happened? Their sins just came in over them. I don’t care what manner of sin it was, it was unbelief that gave them the permissiveness to perform them. So now let’s look at Psalms 95, verse 7:
“For he is our God; and we are the people of this pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To-day if ye will hear his voice,” What does that indicate? Obedience.
“Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:” That is speaking of the 40 years they had to spend in the wilderness because of unbelief at Kadesh-Barnea.
“When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, `It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not know my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.’”
Now let’s go to the New Testament where the writer of the Book of Hebrews clarifies this writing in Psalms. And he emphasizes their unbelief. We find that in Hebrews Chapter 3. And let’s begin at verse 7. And here is a quote from Psalms 95:
“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, `To-day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)’”
Now Paul departs from the actual text and is commenting on it in verse 12.
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of (immorality? An evil heart of any other sin you can name? No, but an evil heart of)unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
Now verse 17. He is referring here to the children of Israel, where Joshua and Caleb were so heartbroken. They said, “We can take the land. God has done everything so far and He will drive the enemies out.” And what had the majority said? “We can’t do it.” And always remember when it comes to the things of the Spirit, the majority is rarely right. Never forget that. And so it was here. Now let’s read on:
“But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that (what?)believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of (one word) unbelief.”
Again, unbelief is the opposite of faith. Paul tells us in Hebrews:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God);…”
Because when we believe what He says, we act on it. When we don’t believe what He says we act on that. Only you have two opposite results. Now continuing on. Why is God dealing with the Nation of Israel so harshly? Let’s go to Acts Chapter 2. This is Peter preaching to a tremendous Jewish crowd on the day of Pentecost. They are there from every nation under heaven. This is only 50 days after the Crucifixion and it is still fresh on everyone’s mind. Let’s drop down to verse 36. Someday we will be studying the Book of Acts, but until then we will just have to jump in and out:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel (does that include Gentiles? No! Only Jews) know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified (so what is Peter saying? You killed your Messiah. Of course that shook them up) both Lord and Christ.” And what was their response?
“…Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
In Chapter 3, I want you to see the same kind of language. It is so important in Bible study to ask the question, “To whom is this being addressed?” Sure, it’s for our learning, but it’s not speaking to us. I trust that there is not one of you here whose pastor gets up on Sunday morning and points the finger at you, and says, “You killed the Christ.” Does he? No! But Peter does!
“…Ye men of Israel,…” The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate,… But ye denied the Holy One and the Just,… And (you)killed the Prince of life….”
Now as you come down to verse 19, what is the first word? Repent. Repent of what? They have just rejected and killed and murdered their Messiah. Do you see that? This is still on God’s mind. The Nation of Israel still has not been forgiven of the fact that they rejected and killed their Messiah. Please note, I’m always very careful as I teach this in my classes, that this does not come across as an excuse for Anti-Semitism. We know a lot of the religions of the world for the past 1900 + years have accused the Jew of being the God killer. Of being the ones who killed the Christ. But in reality, you see, as Christ hung on the Cross, no Jew or Roman took His life. Then Who did? He gave it up of His own will. But with God dealing with the Covenant people Israel, and why He deals with them the way He does, Peter by inspiration is accusing the Jews of killing their Messiah.
Now let’s go over to the Book of Romans and see what Paul says about the whole thing. Because Israel rejected their Messiah, and lost their temple and land, they were and are still in a dispersion. They have had so many bad things happen to them, and all because they rejected all the promises. But God also promised from day one that He would not give up on them. That one day He would yet bring them back, He would bring them to the land and He will yet fulfill all the promises that He made to their forefathers. Now we pick this up in Romans Chapter 11. And remember, Paul has a heart for the Nation of Israel but he is, as we will see in verse 13, not the Apostle of Israel, as Peter certainly was, but rather the Apostle to the Gentiles.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, (see?)I magnify my office:” He will never shrink from that responsibility. Now let’s back up to verse 11, where Paul is defending the Nation of Israel. That they are not going to be completely annihilated. God is still going to finish His program with them.
“I say then, Have they (Israel) stumbled that they should fall? (that God should destroy them) God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto (whom?) the Gentiles,…”Do you see that?
“Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world…” (of the Gentile world. And the Gospel coming out to us Gentiles),…how much more their (Israel’s) fullness?”
Israel’s great future is still ahead of them. But God is still dealing with them on the basis of what they had done in their unbelief. Go to verse 25. After establishing the fact that God will yet come back and restore the Nation of Israel to its original promises and to its Covenant position, he gives us a time frame:
“For I would not, brethren that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (or this secret which was never revealed before),lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness (a spiritual blindness)in part (not forever)is happened to Israel, until (and remember that is a `time’ word. Israel is only in the position that she is in until God is finished with His work with the Gentiles. He takes us out of the way and then the blindness will be lifted) the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”
Now come down to verse 26, and here is the verse that so many people have taken out of context, or they don’t understand what it says.
“And so all Israel shall be saved:…” How much? All!
But what did we see back in the Book of Zechariah? Only a third would be saved. And we know that all through Israel’s history, did God ever get 100%? Only a remnant. The remnant of Israel. But why does Paul say that all of Israel shall be saved? Well, there is a Biblical explanation like there always is. Come back with me to Isaiah Chapter 9.
“The Lord sent a word into Jacob (the nation), and it (the word) hath lighted upon Israel.”
He sent the word to Jacob, but only Israel heard. You might say I thought they were one and the same. Now we need to go to Genesis Chapter 32 and explain. And here we have Jacob with that all-night wrestling match with the Lord. After this went on all the night the Lord in verse 27 says to Jacob:
“And he said unto him, `What is thy name?’ And he said, `Jacob.’”
“And he said, `Thy name shall be called no more Jacob (now what did Jacob mean? The deceiver, the supplanter), but Israel (and Israel means a prince with God): for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.’”
So what do you have? A whole new man. Israel was the believing Jacob. Jacob referred to his unbelieving state. So now he is to be called Israel. And if you take this into the verse in Isaiah 9:8 that the word came to Jacob, but only Israel heard it, what does that tell you? Only the believer heard. And in the same way now as God deals with the end-times, 2/3 of Israel are not going to believe. A third will. And that third, as Paul says, will be called Israel. So, how much of Israel will be saved? All of Israel. If you will just begin to define some of these terms, then everything will begin to fall in place. Not all of the Jews will be saved, but the believing remnant will be saved.