God’s mighty hand was clearly evident in the days of Moses when the Lord broke the grip of Pharaoh and forcibly removed His people Israel out of Egypt in “the exodus”. God’s ten powerful plagues rocked Pharaoh and the people of Egypt, as the Nile River was turned into blood; as three days of thick darkness engulfed the land of Egypt; as a total destruction of the economy of Egypt took place by several more plagues; and finally, as the angel of death struck down the firstborn in every house not covered by the blood of a passover lamb. Then followed Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. Again, the Lord’s power was seen in the appearance of the pillar of cloud which protected Israel for a night against the Egyptian armed forces; which in turn was followed by the parting of the Red Sea, enabling Israel to flee on dry ground. With all that supernatural activity, it is no wonder that almost every Old Testament book after Exodus, in some way, mentions Israel’s exodus out of the land of Egypt.
However, amazing as the exodus was (and it certainly was), it will be dramatically overshadowed by another powerful work of God which will be witnessed by all who live on the earth in the end times. The covenant-keeping God will bring about the return of His chosen people Israel from all over the world to the land given to Abraham. This final return of Israel will require even greater power on the Lord God’s part; greater than that needed in springing Israel from Egypt. The prophet Jeremiah expressed it this way.
“Therefore behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they no longer will say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.” (Jeremiah 23:7-8)
Today we are witnessing what Jeremiah wrote about. We are witnessing the Lord’s mighty hand removing His people from the gentile nations. We are witnessing millions of Jewish people returning to the Land given to Abraham 4,000 years ago. This is the final restoration of Israel before their messiah, our Lord Jesus returns to earth. There is no other restoration of the nation of Israel given in the Bible. This is it!
Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, repeatedly taught that this restoration has two distinct parts to it, and that there is a specific order to it. First, there is a physical restoration back to the land given to Abraham, and second, there is a spiritual restoration back to the Lord their God. The physical restoration of the Jewish people has been going on for all of the twentieth century. It began decades before Israel became a nation in 1948. Millions of Jewish people, from between 80 and 100 nations, have now returned to the Land.
Is the first process of a physical return about done? That is a very real possibility. And if that is the present reality, it is about time for the spiritual return of Israel to the Lord their God. It is during the seven-year Tribulation period that millions of Jewish people will be saved (Rom. 11:25-27; Zech. 12:10). Israel must come to faith in Jesus, as He will not return to an unbelieving people (see Matt. 23:39). The beginning of Israel’s spiritual awakening takes place when God destroys the invading hordes at the Gog/Magog battle (Ezek. 38-39), which is probably immediately before the Tribulation period actually begins (Ezek. 39:22). (This battle was the subject of the Ukraine, Russia, Gog and Magog article). Then, in the Tribulation, with the 144,000 Israelite evangelists blanketing the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, millions of Jews and gentiles will come to place their faith in Messiah Jesus, the Savior. The sheer number of those coming to faith in Jesus will make this the greatest time of evangelism in all of human history.
But let us return to Jeremiah 23 where the prophet speaks of the coming of Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom rule, which comes after the regathering of the Jewish people from all over the world. Jeremiah 23:1-8 is a condensed version of the truths found in much greater detail in Ezekiel 34-39. But there are several significant truths that Jeremiah makes.
- GOD HIMSELF IS GOING TO GATHER ISRAEL BACK TO THE LAND. The Lord says that the leaders of Israel are evil, having exploited, neglected and abused the people of Israel (Jer. 23:1-2). In light of their careless indifference to God’s people, God Himself would assume the responsibility of gathering His scattered people from the gentile nations. God was committed to doing this, and He is doing it. Against all odds and all historical precedence, after some two millennia, He brings them back. But it is not easy, as the gentile kings and their people (not to mention Satan) will resist this return. Psalm 2:1-2 teaches that these plan and plot against God and His Anointed One. They actively fight against Them. But the great power of God, exceeding the powerful activities of the exodus, will bring this about. We can only imagine the millions of stories that already exist about how God’s intervention and power brought that family out of Russia, or that man out of Iran, or the group that came through an amazing series of events made it from Venezuela. I imagine that in Jesus’ kingdom, over a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, we will regularly listen to testimonies of God’s incredible power of deliverance and relocation. Even today, there are Arab people who call Israel “occupiers” of the land, and that the nation of returned Israelites should not exist. Yet, these who speak are the occupiers of Israel’s land and want to drive Israel into the sea (note the relevant discussion of this very thought process found in Ezekiel 35). But Israel is there to stay. In Psalm 2:6, the Father declares that He actually has already “installed His king” on Zion. In God’s eyes it is a done deal. His power will insure it all.
- NATIONAL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED. Jeremiah 23:6 is quite clear. Israel shall be saved. Jesus, the OT prophets and the NT apostles all declare that God will redeem His people and bring them into the New Covenant (Jer. 31-31-34; Ezek. 36:24-28; Rom. 11:25-27). God, who always keeps His covenant commitments, will bring this second restoration to pass because He has promised to do so. Again, this spiritual salvation of Israel chronologically takes places after the physical return to the Land.
- THE MESSIANIC REIGN OF JESUS WILL THEN TAKE PLACE. Jeremiah lists many things that will characterize this kingdom when Jesus comes back to earth to rule as the king. Here are a few.
- Messiah Jesus will rule during the Messianic Kingdom. Of course, Jesus will be fulfilling God’s covenant promises to King David (2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89) and as the son of David, will be the king of Israel, and king of the whole earth, which is His inheritance (Ps. 2:8; Heb. 2:5). His reign will be characterized by righteousness, and His dealings with His subjects will always be fair. It is hard for us today, surrounded by corruption, deceit, graft and injustice, to imagine a world that is led by a righteous leader. It is also pointed out (23:5) that Messiah will rule wisely. He rules with God’s wisdom, always doing what is best for all in His kingdom. Again, this is hard to fully comprehend because no such rulers exist today.
- There will be other righteous rulers in this kingdom. Jesus will not be the only notable, good ruler. Jeremiah 23:4 teaches that God is going to establish many righteous rulers. Who are these? We know that David will be ruling under Messiah Jesus (Ezek. 34:23-24). The Twelve Apostles will have rulership responsibilities over Israel (Matt. 19:28). And many OT and NT scriptures declare that faithful believers will get to be part of the administration in Messiah’s kingdom. Wow! That is something to look forward to for sure. Jeremiah speaks of the totally different lives that His people will have. They will have leaders who take good care of them, with the result that they will live their lives in complete security and without any fear and stress (23:4, 6).
- This messianic age will be a time of prosperity. Jeremiah 23:3 tells us what we would expect. Prosperity in every area will be what characterizes this 1,000-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-10). As parallel scriptures are studied, it is revealed that there is non-material prosperity, as this era will be dominated by peace, joy, freedom and the presence and ministries of the Holy Spirit. A life with no fear, guilt or anxiety. A world characterized by joy and peace is what Messiah has in store for His people. And, as most Bible students are aware, the rejuvenated earth will produce in abundance as it never has before. Desert regions will be fertile and fruitful (Isa. 35). Physically, abundance will be the lot of God’s people. And there will prosperity in the health of mankind, as disease and deformities no longer are part of our experience (Isa. 35). Even so, come Lord Jesus!
FOR US TODAY
For all believers, our best days lie ahead of us. We cannot, of course, set dates, but we can observe what is happening in our world right now. God, in great power, is bringing His covenant people back to their land. After God scattered them (Ezek. 36:19), He is fulfilling His promise and bringing them back. We are witnesses to this powerful working of God on behalf of His people Israel. What we are seeing is no fluke event, lucky break or religious hallucination. It is God at work. A work which signals that we are in the end of the end times. For we who are in the church, this should be a “heads up” that our final redemption is close at hand. Each of us would be wise to ask, “am I rapture ready?”
The OT prophets spoke without stuttering about the first coming of the Messiah, the son of David. And people waited and waited. But God was not a minute late or early about the timing of Jesus’ entrance into the world through Mary. The Apostle Paul said, “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent for His son, born of a woman…” (Gal. 4:4). He came. And while we wait for His return, we need to daily remind ourselves that “in the fullness of time, Jesus will return to this world, and to a regathered people who will believe in Him.” As those who have put our trust in Jesus, may we covenant with ourselves and with our Lord Jesus to live ever more intentionally for Him TODAY. After all, He is going to return. Perhaps today.