The gathering of Israel: already since 1948, or not
to happen until the Last Days? / Reply - Marcus Franz 00, 2000-07-11
The begin of the gathering in 1948, the end in the
Millennium? / Reply - Marcus Franz 01, 2000-07-25
The gathering of Israel: an unmistakable landmark
in God’s dealings in the end-time? / Reply - Ernst Panzer 00, 2000-08-06
Israel has not been obedient as yet, and so to the
present day it is a curse. / Book - Ernst Panzer 00, page 128
Are all governments - and so also the government
of Israel - ordained by God? / Reply Alexandros Drougas 00, 2004-11-15
Must the Israel of today again go into the Diaspora?
/ Herbert Weid, Reply HW00, 2006-09-30
The right of the Palestinians to their land /
Jimmy Carter, interview in ‘Die Presse’ of 2006-12-02
Is Israel’s right to the state founded
in 1948 written in the Bible? - Discourse 101: The "Israel movement" in the Christian
One can only realize the significance of the Israeli state when one keeps in
view the fact that it was not until 1948, after almost 2000 years of dispersion, that an Israeli
national entity was reborn. Up to a hundred years before, most people would have thought it
highly improbable (c.f. the Zionist congress in Basel of 1897). With this the end of the
dispersion has begun. This is the gathering together of Israel that was long ago foretold in the
Old Testament (c.f. Isa 43,5-7, Eze 20,40-44, Amos 9,14-15 etc.). Even if about two thirds of
the world’s Jewish population are still living outside Israel, it is not necessary to wait for
the coming of all the Jews to Israel before the dawning of the actual Last Days, seeing that the
gathering of Israel will only be fully accomplished in the Millennial Kingdom, as a number of
biblical passages (c.f.. Isa 66,20, Zeph 3,20) make plain.
(The verse that is sometimes quoted in this connection, Daniel 12,7, cannot on the other hand so well be used as a proof of the significance of the end of the dispersion, seeing that the basic text ("… as soon as they finishing shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed") probably, in this context, speaks rather of the final end of Israel’s persecution and affliction, and so refers more to Jesus’ intervention at the time of the Second Coming.)
With the reestablishment of Israel in its historic homeland as a national and political unit, one of the main conditions relating to Israel for the dawning of the Last Days in a narrower sense has come about. In earlier times just this factor was all too often overlooked - namely, the requirement that certain events must occur, which events, then, in a sense can be seen as "signs" of the imminence of the Last Days. Israel is one of these.
(Marcus Franz, XXXXmarcus1973@t-online.de / https://www.marcus1973.privat.t-online.de/endzeit.html )
The view that developments in Israel since the founding of the nation in the year
1948 cannot be ignored, and that it must consequently be assumed that the return of the people of
Israel to its own land is proceeding apace, if it has not indeed been concluded already, is -
understandably - very widely held. After all, this people has had to endure so much persecution and
exile in its past history that every reasonable person can only hope that Israel may finally come to
rest in its own land.
For believing Christians, though, there is a further important aspect that is relevant here, one that is connected with the statements made in the scriptures about the events of the Last Days. As Marcus Franz quite correctly writes in the passage above, in view of many scriptural passages - some of which he cites - there are various signs by which we may recognize that the Last Days are upon us. And this is of great importance for Christian believers, because it also carries the implication that the time of the Second Coming of Our Lord is fast approaching. Because for many of us this is such an important link, we must examine carefully whether this interpretation is actually supported by Scripture.
So let us take a closer look at the scriptural passages referred to above:
I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west.
Isa 43,3 "For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your
Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. 43,4 Since you are
precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and
other peoples in exchange for your life. 43,5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your
offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. 43,6 I will say to the north, ‘Give
them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar And My daughters
from the ends of the earth, 43,7 Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for
My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made." Isa 43, 3- 7;
Isaiah here describes how the Lord God of Israel, will gather the Israelites from
the whole world and return them to their own land. This could quite plausibly be related to the
present situation of Israel, since 1948. But Isaiah then goes on to say more about this event. He
tells us in Isa 49,22:
And they will bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.
Isa 49,22 Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will lift up My hand to
the nations And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom,
And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. 49,23 Kings will be your guardians, And
their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth And lick the
dust of your feet; And you will know that I am the LORD; Those who hopefully wait for Me will
not be put to shame. Isa 49,22-23;
The nations, then, will bring the Israelites in their bosom and on their shoulders
out of the Diaspora into their own land, to the land of Israel. Any one who has studied the history
of the immigration of the Israelites to Palestine knows that the Jews in the forties had to hire
ships, at a stiff price, to reach Palestine, coming from places all over the world. There the
British, who at that time exercised authority in Palestine, waited for them off the Haifa coast,
shot them and rammed their ships in order to prevent them immigrating to Palestine.
Naturally here as well we can expect to find that the statement made in Isa 43,5-6 – "… I will bring you; … from the ends of the earth" – will be understood literally, while that in Isa 49,22 – "They will bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters;… on their shoulders" – will be taken as a "symbolic metaphor". So let us take a look at the other passages.
The next of the scriptural passages cited above is Eze 20,40-44:
I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered.
Eze 20,40 "For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of
Israel," declares the Lord GOD, "there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in
the land; there I will accept them and there I will seek your contributions and the choicest of
your gifts, with all your holy things. 20,41 As a soothing aroma I will accept you when I bring you
out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered; and I will prove Myself
holy among you in the sight of the nations. 20,42 And you will know that I am the LORD, when I
bring you into the land of Israel, into the land which I swore to give to your forefathers.
20,43 There you will remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled
yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things that you have
done. 20,44 Then you will know that I am the LORD when I have dealt with you for My name’s
sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel,"
declares the Lord GOD. Eze 20,40-44;
Here as well it is abundantly clear that what is being spoken of is this gathering
of the people of Israel from the countries into which they have been dispersed. But then it is also
said in Eze 20,43: "There you will remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have
defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things that
you have done."
Does this apply, then, to the people of Israel today? Is this the attitude of the Israelites to their God? For the majority of them, most definitely not! Now one might argue that these sayings refer only to those Israelites who are believers, and not to the great mass of those who - as in all other peoples of the world - are practically unacquainted with the God of the Bible.
Although one then, of course, has to ask what these unbelievers and godless folk have to look for in this land of Israel, which God has "sworn to give them", as it is stated in the above passage, Eze 20,42 - but can one even claim, in speaking of those Israelites who are religious, that they remember their evil ways and have experienced a conversion?
Just a short while ago, yet again, a member of parliament and leader of the religious party "Shas" (Ariel Deri) was condemned in court for fraud and corruption. We need only refer in passing here to the premature departure of Ezer Weitzmann and Benjamin Netanjahu from the two highest offices of state – the presidency and the premiership – because they were convicted of corruption and the taking of bribes. And corruption could well also become a problem for the current (2006) Israeli head of state.
The Israeli Public Prosecutor’s office has ordered the initiation of investigations into the activities of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the suspicion of corruption. Public Prosecutor has announced that preliminary inquiries have come up with sufficient proofs. Olmert is accused of having illegally exercised government influence in connection with the sale of shares in the Israeli bank Leumi.
So here we see no trace of conversion. Israel does not behave any differently from the godless nations. The Old Testament prophet Micah already complained about this people:
Concerning evil, both hands do it well. The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe.
Mi 7,2 The godly person has perished from the land, And there is
no upright person among men. All of them lie in wait for bloodshed; Each of them hunts the other
with a net. 7,3 Concerning evil, both hands do it well. The prince asks, also the judge, for a
bribe, And a great man speaks the desire of his soul; So they weave it together. 7,4 The best of
them is like a briar, The most upright like a thorn hedge. The day when you post your watchmen, Your
punishment will come. Then their confusion will occur. Mi 7, 2- 4;
But we also find, in the last of the passages cited above, Amos 9,14-15:
I will also plant them on their land which I have given them.
Amos 9,14 "Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their
wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. 9,15 I will also plant them on their land, And they
will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them," Says the LORD your God.
The Lord will plant them on their land, which he has given them. Was it really God,
the Lord, who in 1948 gave their land back to the Israelites? This question would have to be
answered in the affirmative if the other promises as well which were made to Israel by its God in
connection with the gathering and return of its people have been fulfilled. Let us examine a few of
I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers and they shall possess it.
Jer 30,3 ‘For behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when
I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The LORD says, ‘I will also bring
them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers and they shall possess it.’ Jer 30,3
I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth.
Zeph 3,19 "Behold, I am going to deal at that time With all your
oppressors, I will save the lame And gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise
and renown In all the earth. 3,20 At that time I will bring you in, Even at the time when I
gather you together; Indeed, I will give you renown and praise Among all the peoples of the
earth, When I restore your fortunes before your eyes," Says the LORD. Zeph 3, 19-20;
You will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jer 29,13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me
with all your heart. 29,14 ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will
restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I
have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I
sent you into exile.’ Jer 29,13-14;
The sons of Israel and the sons of Judah will come and it will be the LORD their God they will seek.
Jer 50,4 "In those days and at that time," declares the LORD, "the
sons of Israel will come, both they and the sons of Judah as well; they will go along weeping as
they go, and it will be the LORD their God they will seek. 50,5 They will ask for the way to
Zion, turning their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the
LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten." Jer 50, 4- 5;
I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD.
Jer 24,6 ‘For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will
bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant
them and not pluck them up. 24,7 ‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD;
and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole
heart. Jer 24, 6-7;
In this passage as well, Jer 29,14, the Lord promises to the Israelites that he will
gather them "from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you". And
precisely that is the topic under discussion here. But as we read in the preceding verse, Jer 29,13,
this promise is subject to a definite precondition: "... when you search for me with all your
Have the Israelites really "searched" for their God "with all their heart", either before 1948 or since? Have "the sons Israel" come, "both they and the sons of Judah", have they "gone along weeping as they go", and has it been "the LORD their God whom they have sought", as foretold by the following text in Jer 50,4 above?
And finally another passage quoted above, Jer 24,6-7, likewise speaks of this return of Israel to its own land. "I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land", as the Lord there says. And further: "They will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart."
Joel and Ezekiel also speak of this event:
I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Joel 2,28 It will come about after this That I will pour out My
Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream
dreams, Your young men will see visions. 2,29 Even on the male and female servants I will pour out
My Spirit in those days. 2,30 I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and
columns of smoke. 2,31 The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great
and awesome day of the LORD comes. Joel 2,28-31;
I will put My Spirit within you.
Eze 36,24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all
the lands and bring you into your own land. 36,25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and
you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 36,26
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart
of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 36,27 I will put My Spirit within you and
cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 36,28 You
will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your
God. Eze 36,24-28;
So to sum up, we can ask - What are the signs of the gathering and return of the
people of Israel to their own land, as promised by God?
1. They will search for the Lord with all their heart.
2. They will come weeping and seek for their God.
3. The Lord will give them a heart to know him, so that they will return to him.
4. They are to be cleansed from all their filthiness.
5. God will pour out his Spirit upon them.
Now there is much that may be said of the people of Israel today, but surely not
that they have sought for their God weeping, let alone that it looks as if they have been cleansed
of all their filthiness. And certainly not that the Spirit of God has been poured out upon them.
The Bible therefore also speaks of this return as happening only after the coming of the Messiah (Isa 49,5-6) - a point of view, incidentally, which is adhered to by the few remaining Orthodox Jews who are believers, especially in the Diaspora. Thus the Head Rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish congregation in Vienna, Moishe Arye Friedmann (not to be confused with Michel Friedman, the Vice-President of the Central Council of the Jews in Germany), stated in a newspaper interview:
"(…) For those Jews who remain true to their faith, however,
it is clear that the Diaspora is the destiny that God has laid upon us until the coming of the Messiah.
A Jewish state established on the basis of power and military might therefore contradicts the will of
God (Hos 1:7). Consequently we pray for its downfall, without however any innocent blood being
spilt. Machtpolitik is forbidden to us Jews: our path can only being one that remains
(See also Discourse 46: "Statement by Chief Rabbi
M. A. Friedman, Vienna (Austria)."
In connection with the scriptural passages from the Old and New Testaments that are
relevant to this issue, it is highly probable that these very Jewish men and women who await the
coming of the Messiah in the Diaspora carry the seed in themselves which at the appointed time will
be gathered by their and our God and brought back to the their land of Israel.
And then, of course, there is also that small group of messianic Jews, that is, Jews who believe in Christ (about 10.000 of them in Israel), who share this point of view. For us Christians, then, this means that it will occur after the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
(See also Chapter 09: "The return home of the
The rest of the people of Israel today has become hardened, as is stated in Rom
11,25. And will remain so, until "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in". So as long as God’s
plan of salvation for the non-Israelite nations has not reached it conclusion, the people of Israel
will not be converted either, and so it will be impossible for the return to their own land as
promised by God to take place.
What has been going on in Israel since the foundation of the state in 1948 is a gathering together that was sustained and carried through by Theodor Herzl’s Zionist fellow contenders - that is to say, by human will and endeavor. The people of Israel today can in no way be distinguished from the peoples of the heathen. It was and is not the Lord, their God and ours, who has been their Cance for, either Israel’s politics, its economics, or even, in many respects, its religion.
Many of the Jews living in Israel today may be Jews in terms of their origins, but not in terms of the promise. Moreover it is a fact that a great part of the population of Israel is without any religion at all. It is such people who are referred to by those passages in the Old Testament which see the land of Israel as being inhabited in the Last Days, and yet complain of the people dwelling in Jerusalem that they refuse to know the Lord their God but instead worship idols (the idols of politics, economics, finance etc.).
(See also Chapter 02: "The conquest and the
dispersion of Jerusalem.")
Israel in the light of the Bible.
Based on the Old Testament
God has completely taken away his compassion from the house of
Israel (Hos 1:6). They are no longer his people (Hos 1:9). Only the house
of Judah will be saved by the Lord. Not by war, however, but by his Spirit
(Hos 1:7). And only in the Millennium, when the Son of God has entered on
his thousand years rule on earth (Hos 1:10; 2,18 Eze 34:25; Isa 2:4), will
the Lord once more accept Israel as his people (Hos 2:23; Jer 31:27-28).
Based on the New Testament
It is God’s will that we should listen to his Son (Mt 17:5). This same Son
of God has told us that anyone who rejects him rejects God as well (1Jn
2:23; Lk 10:16; Jn 5:22-23. 15:23). The people of Israel today deny the
Son of God and abuse him as an impostor and blasphemer. As a result of
this denial of the Son, Israel has also rejected the Father and so is a
God-less people. (Jn 8:24)
Mr Horak here commits the (very common) mistake of failing to distinguish
between the beginning of the gathering of Israel, and its conclusion. To say it yet again - the
conclusion of the gathering of Israel will only occur in the Millennial Kingdom, when Jesus
reigns here on earth, and Israel believes in him. Passages that bear witness to this are for
instance Isa 66,20, which speak of the return home of the Israelites being brought about by
Gentiles who are believers, and it would be difficult to imagine that happening at present. And
yet the beginning of this gathering was already begun with the reestablishment of the state of
Many people believe that Israel would first have to do one thing or the other before God turns to her again, but this is to forget God’s abiding truth and mercy. Here one can happily point to Ezekiel 36, where this point of view is very clearly rebutted. In verses 22 and 32, God himself gives unmistakable expression to the fact that the gathering of Israel will not happen because Israel has become especially pleasing to God and has achieved a holy way of life, but rather exclusively because God brings it about for his own name’s sake.
First (verse 24) he brings them home (to Israel), and then he purifies them through his Spirit (verses 25-27).
This sequence (first of all their reestablishment as a state, then their reestablishment as a holy people) is supported not just by the later analogy of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel chapter 37, but also by passages in Zechariah, amongst others (for instance Zech 12,9-10). Having already been brought together again, Israel will be under attack by all nations, and then (and only then) will it recognize its Messiah in Christ, on his Second Coming, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
In 1948 Israel was born as a state - after almost two thousand years of dispersion, surrounded by countless enemies. Now Israel has not only been able to add to its population to a considerable degree, but has also survived several wars against assailants of superior military might. Who would not be inclined to see the marvelous hand of God in this? It goes without saying that God also makes use of human beings and earthly circumstances for the fulfillment of his plans (T. Herzl, for instance, the holocaust, etc.). But need that prevent us from seeing his hand in this?
I do not know, Mr Horak, with what messianic groups you are in touch. All those with which I am familiar do indeed see the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the newly founded state of Israel. And they are completely right. It is only ultra-ultra-orthodox groups who decline to recognize Israel as a state, groups which in my view advocate somewhat dubious positions in other respects as well. Even in its present form, Israel is GOD’S people in GOD’S land, and deserves our prayers and our support.
For our own sake, the sake of our congregations and of our country (Gen 12,3). At the same time it is a fantastic testimony to God’s truthfulness in fulfilling all his promises.
(Marcus Franz, XXXXmarcus1973@t-online.de / https://www.marcus1973.privat.t-online.de/endzeit.html ).
The arguments and scriptural passages which indicate that a gathering of Israel will
only take place in the time of the Millennium have been thoroughly rehearsed in Chapter 09, "The
return home of the redeemed". Although it is possible here to give only an abbreviated view of the
matter, we cannot and must not fail to allow space for the biblical statements on this theme. These,
finally, are the criteria by which a well founded interpretation is to be assessed.
(See also Chapter 09: "The return home of the
Let us begin then with the scriptural passages cited by M. Franz above. In
connection with the "return home of the Israelites being brought about by Gentiles who are
believers", he cites Isa 60,20. Here then is the passage:
Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations.
Isa 66,20 "Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the
nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules and on
camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the LORD, "just as the sons of Israel bring their
grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 66,21 "I will also take some of them
for priests and for Levites," says the LORD. Isa 66,20-21;
Here the promise is made that the Gentiles will bring the Israelites from all the
nations to Israel. If - as has already been mentioned several times earlier - we now consider
the reality of the situation since 1948, it is obvious that nothing of the kind is to be seen here.
Not only did the "Gentiles" not bring the Israelites to Israel: they actually put all imaginable
obstacles in their way - especially at the beginning of this return, in the forties and fifties - so
as to prevent their returning. Consequently this would be one of those texts that support the view
that the gathering of Israel will only take place before or at the start of the Millennial Kingdom.
But now M. Franz argues, in the above passage, that the gathering of Israel since 1948 is only the beginning of the process, and that consequently these passages are to be interpreted as referring to the end of this gathering, which is to be located in the Millennial Kingdom. To form an assessment of this point of view, we must ascertain whether those scriptural passages which speak of the gathering of Israel permit such an assumption. Let us stay with the passage quoted above, Isa 66,20, and look more closely at the context in which it occurs:
And the nations shall come and see My glory.
Isa 66,15 For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His
chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire.
66,16 For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by
the LORD will be many. 66,17 "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens,
Following one in the center, Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice, Will come to an
end altogether," declares the LORD. 66,18 "For I know their works and their thoughts;
the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory.
66,19 I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put,
Lud, Meshech, Rosh, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor
seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations. 66,20 Then they shall
bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in
chariots, in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the LORD, "just
as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 66,21 I
will also take some of them for priests and for Levites," says the LORD. Isa 66,15-21;
Here we are told, in Isa 66,15-17, that the Lord will come with fire and the sword,
to vent his anger on the heathen. And he will gather these nations so that they may see his glory
and declare it among all peoples (Isa 66,18-19). And then - and only then! - will these converted
peoples bring back the Israelites from all the nations (Isa 66,20-21).
From this it can clearly be concluded that the gathering of the Israelites is a consequence of the events that have preceded it.
- First of all, there comes the judgment of God on the heathen
- Then the heathen will recognize the glory of the Lord and be converted
- They will go to the other nations and proclaim to them the glory of the
- And then - as a consequence of this world-wide conversion - the nations
will bring the Israelites back to their own land.
As we can see, then - and as the logic of the matter, too, makes it easy enough to
recognize – it is only after their conversion that the heathen will bring the
Israelites back to Israel. It is a regrettable fact, however, that such a world-wide conversion has
so far not occurred, either before or after 1948. And seeing that we are also explicitly informed in
Isa 66,20 that "they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain
offering to the LORD", it should actually be possible to rule out the idea of a "preliminary
But let us look at the other scriptural passages referred to above. Inasmuch as Eze 36 is practically a biography of the people of Israel in abbreviated form, we should take a brief look at the whole chapter:
I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands.
Eze 36,18 Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which
they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. 36,19 Also I scattered
them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and
their deeds I judged them. 36,20 When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My
holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD; yet they have come out
of His land.’ Eze 36,18-20;
God scattered Israel among the nations, because they had fallen away from the true
faith and had worshiped idols. But as we read in the following section, even in the Diaspora the
Israelites have continued to profane the name of their God:
My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations.
Eze 36,21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of
Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. 36,22 Therefore say to the house of
Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, "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."
And here we also find the first promise of the gathering of Israel. The Lord will
gather them, but not "for your sake", as it is said here, "but for My holy name".
Here M. Franz is completely in the right when he says that "the gathering of Israel will not happen
because Israel has become especially pleasing to God and has achieved a holy way of life, but rather
exclusively because God brings it about for his own name’s sake".
It really is not the case that Israel must first become holy, before it can be gathered by its God – that is, that its gathering is a consequence of its actions – but quite the reverse, in fact: it is God’s turning his face to them again, and gathering them once more, that allows this people to be converted and to become holy. The holiness achieved by the people of Israel, then, is a consequence of the gathering, and not the other way around.
But that, actually, was not the point of my argument. I was saying – in reliance on the above scriptural passages, and the two quoted below – that Israel will indeed not be converted so long as God’s plan of salvation for the non-Israelite nations has not yet been accomplished.
Their minds were hardened but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2Cor 3,14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day
at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.
3,15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 3,16 but whenever a
person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2Cor 3,14-16;
A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Rom 11,25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this
mystery - so that you will not be wise in your own estimation - that a partial hardening has
happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 11,26 and so all Israel
will be saved; just as it is written (Isaiah 59,20; Jeremiah 31,33), The deliverer will come
from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. 11,27 This is My covenant with them, when I
take away their sins. 11,28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but
from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;11,29 for the
gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 11,30 For just as you once were disobedient to God,
but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 11,31 so these also now have been
disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 11,32 For God
has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. Rom 11,25-32;
But let us look further:
Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD.
Eze 36,23 "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. 36,24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring
you into your own land." Eze 36,23-24;
That is now the promised gathering of the people of Israel by its God. But before
this we are told: "Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD". And
after this the gathering of the people will take place: "For I will take you from the nations,
gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land."
Just as in the above passage, Isa 66,18-20, the recognition of the glory of the Lord by the heathen was the precondition for their bringing the people of Israel to their own land, so here likewise, in Eze 36,23-24, it is the precondition for the gathering of the Israelites that the nations should recognize the Lord.
The sequence established by M. Franz, in his commentary quoted above -
"First (verse 24) he brings them home (to Israel), and then he
purifies them through his Spirit (verses 25-27). ... first of all their reestablishment as a state,
then their reestablishment as a holy people"
- may be assented to only if, in all consistency, we also take into account the
beginning of the passage (verse 23). But then it would turn out that
- first of all the nations must recognize that God is the Lord (verse 23),
- then God will bring the Israelites home (verse 24),
- and finally he will purify them through his Spirit (verses 25-27).
But since the Israelites were restored to their homeland in 1948, and the nations
have still not recognized that God is the Lord, this cannot be the gathering promised by God.
The following verses (Eze 36,25-35) relate to the promises of God after Israel has been gathered to its own land. These I take to be inseparably connected with the gathering of Israel, and on the assumption of the gathering’s having taken place in the year 1948, they should long since have been realized. M. Franz, on the other hand, clearly takes the view that these promises are not in any way connected with the gathering.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.
Eze 36,25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be
clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 36,26 Moreover, I
will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone
from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.36,27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to
walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 36,28 You will live in the
land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 36,29
Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply
it, and I will not bring a famine on you. 36,30 I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the
produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.
36,31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe
yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. 36,32 I am not doing this
for your sake," declares the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for
your ways, O house of Israel!" Eze 36,25-32;
In Eze 36,29-30 above, there is an indication of the marvelous multiplication of the
produce of the field, grain and fruit, which advocates of the "1948 gathering" theory like to
apply to the present situation, where Israel is causing ever greater areas of the country, and of
the desert as well, to bear fruit.
But if the earlier promises, in Eze 36,28-29 - "You will be My people, and I will be your God", and "I will save you from all your uncleanness" - have to be postponed to the Millennium, in view of the fact that they have patently not been fulfilled, then these prophecies also must be understood as referring to that time, and so there is no connection of any kind whatsoever with the present.
But let us go on to consider the last section of this chapter:
On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited.
Eze 36,33 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, "On the day that I cleanse
you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be
rebuilt. 36,34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight
of everyone who passes by. 36,35 They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden
of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’ 36,36 Then
the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the
ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the LORD, have spoken and will do it."
36,37 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, "This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them:
I will increase their men like a flock. 36,38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at
Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then
they will know that I am the LORD."‘ Eze 36,33-38;
There are other scriptural passages as well which speak of this day when the sins of
Israel will be forgiven:
I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
Zech 3,9 ‘For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one
stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the LORD of hosts,
‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 3,10 ‘In that day,’ declares
the LORD of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his
fig tree.’ Zech 3, 9-10;
I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.
Jer 50,19 ‘And I will bring Israel back to his pasture and he
will graze on Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and
Gilead. 50,20 ‘In those days and at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for
the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be
found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’ Jer 50,19-20;
The dispersion of Israel was his punishment, now Jacob’s iniquity will be forgiven.
Isa 27,6 In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom
and sprout, And they will fill the whole world with fruit. 27,7 Like the striking of Him who has
struck them, has He struck them? Or like the slaughter of His slain, have they been slain? 27,8 You
contended with them by banishing them, by driving them away. With His fierce wind He has expelled
them on the day of the east wind.
27,9 Therefore through this Jacob’s iniquity will be forgiven; And this will be the full price of the pardoning of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones like pulverized chalk stones; When Asherim and incense altars will not stand. Isa 27, 6- 9;
Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.
Hbr 10,15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying
(Jeremiah 31,33. 34), 10,16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,"
says the LORD: "I will put my laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them," He
then says, 10,17 "and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Hbr
The LORD pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession.
Mic 7,18 Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over
the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love. 7,19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our
iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea. 7,20 You will
give truth to Jacob And unchanging love to Abraham, Which You swore to our forefathers From the days
of old. Mic 7,18-20;
This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.
Rom 11,25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this
mystery - so that you will not be wise in your own estimation - that a partial hardening has
happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 11,26 and so all Israel
will be saved; just as it is written (Isaiah 59,20; Jeremiah 31,33), "The deliverer will
come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob." 11,27 "This is My covenant with
them, when I take away their sins." Rom 11,25-27;
What is stated in Eze 36,33 - "Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘On the day that I
cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places
will be rebuilt’" - now has consequences, it has to be said, which extend further. If we assume
a gathering that takes place at the beginning of the Millennium, the interpretation of these
passages presents no difficulty.
Before the Millennium, on the "Day of Wrath", the Lord will refashion earth and heaven, to create the conditions for the almost paradisal state that will prevail in the following Millennial Kingdom. After this there follow the gathering, the return and blessing of the Israelites, and the rebuilding of the cities destroyed in the catastrophe.
(See also Chapter 08: "The reorganization of
heaven and earth.")
As we may now also see, from the passages (Isa 27,9, Heb 10,16 and Rom 11,27) quoted
above, the dispersion was Israel’s punishment. When this dispersion comes to an end, the sins of
the Israelites will be taken away, and the Lord will make a new covenant with them and establish his
law in their hearts and minds.
The advocates of the "1948 gathering" theory, then, have to find answers to the following questions.
According to these promises, the Israelites will rebuild the cities of Israel and inhabit them starting from that day on which God forgives them their sins, makes a new covenant with them and puts his law in their hearts and minds. Advocates of the "1948 gathering" theory take the view that this moment in time was reached in the year 1948. So can we, in all seriousness, claim that the people of Israel today have the law of their God in their hearts and minds?
The statements made in Eze 37 are - quite correctly - brought in by M. Franz here. What is involved - as in many other passages (e.g. Jer 30,3, 33,7-13, 23-26, Amos 9,14-15) - is a reversal of the destiny of Israel. Isa 49,5-6 likewise deals with this theme:
To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him.
Isa 49,5 And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be
His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am
honored in the sight of the LORD, And My God is My strength), 49,6 He says, "It is too small a
thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved
ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to
the end of the earth." Isa 49, 5- 6;
It is easy to recognize that it is the Lord Jesus who is speaking here, as Paul also
tells us in the Epistle to the Romans:
The deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.
Rom 11,25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this
mystery - so that you will not be wise in your own estimation - that a partial hardening has
happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 11,26 and so all Israel will be
saved; just as it is written (Isaiah 59,20; Jeremiah 31,33), "The deliverer will come from
Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob." Rom 11,25-26;
And the Lord also says, in Isa 49, 5, that it is he whom the Father has
judged worthy to "gather Israel to Him" (and not Theodor Herzl or any one like that). But if
this gathering has been going on for fifty years already, and is still going on, when the Lord comes
he will not find any Israelites left to gather. By then they will all be in their land already.
Zech 12,9-10 also fits exactly into the picture here. No question - the point at issue is not the situation in the Millennium, we both take an identical view of that. What is at issue is the time of the gathering, and in connection with that a "kind of temporal scale, seeing that certain events must necessarily occur before the Second Coming of Jesus", as M. Franz writes on his home page. Consequently it is very understandable that we should wish for a sign that would permit us to estimate the time of the Coming of the Lord.
We must not however let ourselves be guided by a form of wishful thinking, chiefly found too among those Jews in Israel who hold to the faith of Moses, who to this day are unable to accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah and see Christianity as a kind of sect. They understandably relate these Old Testament passages to themselves and to the year 1948, and expect soon to be "chief among the nations". The population of Israel today is hardly distinguishable from that of other states.
Only when the Lord reverses the destiny of Israel and purifies the Israelites from all the evil deeds by which they have sinned against him, only then will Israel become as it was in the beginning (Jer 33,7-13). For the sake of this future people of Israel, we should exercise forbearance towards the Israel of today. It would be a gross mistake, however, to see them in their present state as the promised people of God of the Millennial Kingdom.
The time will surely one day come when we as a congregation must recognize an event – after close examination in the light of Scripture – as being the fulfillment of a prophecy. But as long as an examination on the basis of Scripture shows us that a number of preconditions (the conversion of the heathen, the repentance of the Israelites) are not yet fulfilled, we should withhold our assent from such interpretations. The setting of definite "dates", in contempt of the relevant statements to be found in the scriptures, is the prerogative of various other groups. We should not feel obliged to imitate them.
Finally, all attempts to interpret this "gathering in 1948" as the final gathering of Israel into its land are refuted by a single event: if one studies the scriptural passages about the fate of Israel in the end times carefully, one realizes that Israel – today’s Israel – will be driven out of its land once again, for the very last time, and then actually be gathered by God from all over the world and brought to Israel.
(See also Chapter 02: "The conquest and dispersion of Jerusalem.")
The reason for this should also be quite clear. But M. Franz
obviously does not know it, because he does not study the Bible closely enough -
also a widespread mistake. Israel took the real Messiah for the wrong one two
thousand years ago and did not receive him. And as our Lord Jesus Christ
prophesied, in the End Times they will take the Antichrist - the false Messiah -
for the real one, receive him and tyrannize the whole world with him.
I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
Jn 5,39 "You search the Scriptures because you think
that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 5,40 and
you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. 5,41 "I do not
receive glory from men; 5,42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of
God in yourselves. 5,43 "I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not
receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. Jn
M. Franz will also not be familiar with the biblical fact that all
deceased Jews for two thousand years who have not converted to Jesus Christ will go to hell,
for this fact, too, can only be recognized by studying the Scriptures more
closely. The Lord tells the Jews in Jn 8,24:
Unless you believe that I am He (the Messiah), you will die in your sins.
Jn 8,21 Then He said again to them, "I go away,
and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come."
8,22 So the Jews were saying, "Surely He will not kill Himself, will He,
since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?" 8,23 And He was saying to them,
"You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.
8,24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless
you believe that I am He (the Messiah), you will die in your sins." Jn 8,21-24;
and whoever dies in his sins has no forgiveness and will be condemned to
damnation at the Last Judgment.
The gathering of Israel! The gathering of the people of Israel prophesied for
the Last Days began in the year 1948, with the foundation of the state of Israel, and this is an
unmistakable landmark in God’s dealings with the people of Israel at the close of the age. But
this is still only just the beginning. This gathering may come to a standstill, but it cannot
any longer be reversed. The meaning for us believing Christians is this: we keep a close watch
on Israel in its development, as it is the fig tree referred to by Jesus himself (Luk 21,29). In
the events of the Last Days, Israel’s state of development shows us the position of the minute
hand on God’s cosmic clock.
(Ernst Panzer / https://www.philadelphia-verlag.com)
Any commentary on this position adopted by E. Panzer is superfluous, seeing that all
the relevant counter-arguments have already been advanced earlier in this Discourse, the main
emphasis of the counter-argument falling on the fact that Israel has not fulfilled - either in the
year 1948, or since - the preconditions set by God for the promised gathering of this people. Some
of these conditions may be listed again here:
o They will search for the Lord with all their heart.
o They will come weeping and seek for their God.
o The Lord will give them a heart to know him, so that they will
return to him.
o They are to be cleansed from all their filthiness.
o God will pour out his Spirit upon them.
Consequently, this return of the Israelites was brought about solely by the will of
human beings - namely, Theodor Herzl’s Zionists - and not by the Will of God at
The reference of E. Panzer to the parable of "the fig tree referred to by Jesus himself (Luk 21,29)", which he obviously wants to cite as proof that the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 was prophesied by the Son of God, we should however briefly look at in the original:
Then He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees.
Lk 21,29 Then He told them a parable:
the fig tree and all the trees; 21,30 as soon as they put forth
leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 21,31
"So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom
of God is near. 21,32 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass
away until all things take place. 21,33 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My
words will not pass away. Lk 21,29-33;
The statement in Lk 21,29: "Behold the fig tree and all the
trees" is proof that this is not a prophecy about Israel (who would then be the
other "trees"?), but simply a comparison which the Lord advises us to make: Just
as we can recognize by the budding of the trees in spring that summer is near
(i.e. in 2-3 months), we can also recognize - if we observe the worldly events
in the end times - by the occurrence of the prophesied events that the Second
Coming of the Lord and our salvation in the Rapture is near.
In this connection, however, it is also interesting that in the book published by E. Panzer a quite more differentiated opinion is expressed. Although also there the statement is made at the beginning that with the foundation of the state of Israel "the regathering of Israel in Palestine, prophesied by the Old Testament prophets in many places, has begun" (p 125), it is said a few pages later:
Certainly the people of Israel had received a promise from God that they would
become, and would remain, the bearers of a blessing for all the peoples of the world. But we
must not forget in this connection that this promise was tied to the fulfillment of a condition,
which Israel however has not yet fulfilled. For we read in Deut 28,1: "If you are obedient to
the voice of the Lord your God, the Lord will make you supreme over all the peoples of the
earth." But then it goes on in verse 15: "But if you are not obedient to the voice of the
Lord your God, all these curses will come upon you". Israel has not been obedient to the Lord
as yet, and so to the present day it has been not a blessing to the peoples of the world, but
rather a curse. Only through repentance, conversion and faith in Jesus Christ, the true Messiah,
could Israel yet become the bearer of a blessing for the peoples of this world.
(At the request of E. Panzer his further interpretation of the issue discussed here has been taken from his book "Prophetie und Enthüllung" ["Prophecy and Revelation"], published by the Philadelphia-Verlag [Philadelphia Press].)
(Ernst Panzer / https://www.philadelphia-verlag.com)
And this, now, is the veritable criterion whereby all the actions of the people of
Israel are to be judged - whether, that is, they are obedient to the voice of the Lord their God.
When they become obedient, they will be able to share in all the blessings and promises that God has
made for them. And here it is absolutely irrelevant which comes first: the conversion of Israel, or
the blessings of God.
Both would have to be unambiguously identifiable by the rest of the world, for precisely that is the object of these promises: to show the heathen that Israel is the people of God, and the Lord is their God. But as things are now, we cannot see in Israel either conversion or blessing. And after more than fifty years, you would think some trace of this at least might be made out!
The most evident sign of the fact that the return of Israel since 1948 is not the promised gathering of the people lies in the fact that from the very beginning Israel has had to fight the Palestinians for this country, and thousands of people have been killed on both sides in this war which has now been going on for fifty years. This cannot be the Will of God, nor is it the Will of God, as we are shown by an Old Testament promise, relevant here, that is thus expressed in Hosea 1,7:
I will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.
Hos 1,7 "But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver
them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen."
Hos 1, 7;
The gathering of the Jews that has been promised them by God will not be achieved on
the basis of war and armed conflict - and above all, it will not last for a period of fifty years.
It is all too easy to understand why all these missing signs should be suppressed and reinterpreted by the Israelites themselves. A part of the people no longer has any faith at all, and the rest - as has consistently been the case in their history - will find it hard to admit their guilt. But it becomes a problem when we too, as a congregation, disregard the scriptural point of view, declare a worldly scenario - for opportunistic reasons - to be in conformity with Scripture and regard the gathering of Israel promised by Scripture as having been fulfilled and accomplished.
Even more so, where we have a clear statement of the Lord in the NT that an intervention of God in the fate of the people of Israel is not possible at all until the Second Coming of the Lord. In Jn 14,6-7 the Lord Jesus tells us:
No one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jn 14,6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the
truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 14,7 "If
you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him,
and have seen Him." Jn 14, 6- 7;
Since all Mosaic-believing Israelites reject Jesus Christ as the
Son of God and their Lord - even as their Messiah - according to the statements
of the Lord here above, in the time between the death or resurrection of the
Lord and His Second Coming, they have no possibility to enter into an
interaction with God. Only at the second coming of the Lord, when they will look
upon him and weep bitterly over him, will the people of Israel be reconciled
with their God again.
They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son.
Zech 12,10 "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; and they will mourn for Him,
as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the
bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zech 12,10;
The fascination of some commentators with the founding of the
state in Israel is quite comparable with the situation in which the congregation
will find itself when the Antichrist appears. In all probability, the Antichrist
will not appear as a "counter-Christ", but - as "anti-Christ" can also be
translated - as "instead of Christ". This means that he could certainly refer to
the promises of the Scriptures about the Second Coming of the Lord and the
coming of the Messiah for the Jews.
And due to his supernatural strength and power, which is given to him by Satan, he can invalidate all superficial and worldly arguments by signs and wonders. Only the knowledge, based on concrete scriptural passages, that the first "Christ" to come is the Antichrist will prevent the congregation from falling for this deception.
But if we allow ourselves to be so impressed by such an event as the return of Israel in the year 1948 that we do no longer even trouble to examine whether all the preconditions which the Bible mentions have been fulfilled, what is then likely to happen when miracle on miracle astonishes humanity world-wide, and this mighty being claims to be the Son of God?
We should, then, always remember two things:
- the gathering of the people of Israel will only be the gathering promised
by God when the preconditions - and promises - are fulfilled in such a way that they may be
identified by all the world, and
- the first "Christ" that will come will be the Antichrist (2The
(See also Chapter 06: "The return of the Lord. – Part 1: Return and Rapture.")
The foundation of the State of Israel in the year 1948 was in the end not the
work of the Zionists. Like all other nations of the world, this state too was ordained by God.
Paul tells us as much in Rom 13,1:
Rom 13.1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
This is also the sense in which the Holocaust should be understood. Even in the Old Testament Israel was repeatedly punished by its God because it had forsaken his commandments. But now it has been gathered to its own land, and anyone who condemns the government of Israel is condemning God’s dealings with his people.
(Alexandros Drougas drumsAD@hotmail.com)
This is an excellent argument, and we should look at this scriptural passage in its
For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Rom 13,1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing
authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by
13,2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 13,3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 13,4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 13,5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
13,6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 13,7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Rom 13, 1- 7;
What we are concerned with here, then, are the authorities, the powers that be, the
regents and rulers of this world. On this question of worldly rulership the Lord Jesus has left us a
number of important statements in the gospels, and if we are to understand this topic it is
essential that we should look at them as well.
At the time immediately before the Lord left this world and ascended to his heavenly Father, there was a battle in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against Satan and his angels. In this battle the devil was worsted and thrown out of heaven onto the earth, along with his adherents, as confirmed by the following scriptural statements.
Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
Jn 12,30 Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My
sake, but for your sakes. 12,31 "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this
world will be cast out. Jn 12,30-31;
The ruler of the world is coming.
Jn 14,29 "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it
happens, you may believe.14,30 "I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the
world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 14,31 but so that the world may know that I love the
Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here. Jn 14,29-31;
Satan was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Rev 12,7 And there was battle in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war
with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 12,8 and they were not strong enough, and
there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 12,9 And the great dragon was thrown down,
the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown
down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12, 7- 9;
I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
Lk 10.17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the
demons are subject to us in Your name." 10,18 And He said to them, "I was watching
Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 17,19 "Behold, I have given you authority to tread
on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 17,20
"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that
your names are recorded in heaven." Lk 10.17-20;
So according to Scripture it is Satan, the devil, who since that time has been a ‘prince’
and so the ruler of this world. The whole power and glory of this world have now been given over to
him for almost two thousand years, and he disposes of it as he will. Of this we again find
confirmation in Scripture, when the Lord is tempted by the devil in the wilderness:
All the kingdoms of the world have been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
Lk 4,5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the
world in a moment of time. 4,6 And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain
and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 4,7
"Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." 4,8 Jesus answered him,
"It is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.’" Lk 4. 5- 8;
And Paul, too, was very well aware of this, as we can see from his epistle to the
The prince of the power of the air, working in the sons of disobedience.
Eph 2,1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2,2 in which you
formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of
the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Eph 2, 1- 2;
The world rulers of this present darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Eph 6,11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil. 6,12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against
the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness,
against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 6,13 Therefore take the whole
armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Eph
If the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
Mt 24,42 "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day
your Lord is coming. 24,43 "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had
known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not
have allowed his house to be broken into. 24,44 "For this reason you also must be
ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Mt 24,42-44;
The view advocated here corresponds perfectly – by contrast with the opinion
expressed earlier that all governments are the servants of God – to the real facts of this world.
Are we to suppose that the Roman emperor Nero (37-67 AD) was to be feared for his righteousness?
Surely not. He was himself a criminal, murderer and arsonist, who killed the Christians, set Rome on
fire and caused the death of its inhabitants just for his own amusement (incidentally, the drafting
of the epistle to the Romans ´– from which these remarks of Paul’s are taken – in the year 58 AD
likewise falls in the period of Nero’s reign – 54-67 AD).
Were Hitler and Stalin rulers who deserved to be celebrated for their good works? Surely not. They were responsible for causing the deaths of 70 million people. And so from earliest times to the present we could list hundreds more tyrants and dictators ̵ in South America, Africa and Asia – who were on no account "servants of God", as Paul puts it in Rom 13,6, "devoting themselves to this very thing", i.e. God’sservice.
But the comments of Mr. Drougas quoted above become completely unconvincing when we reflect that this way of interpreting the text of Rom 13,2, "He who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God", would mean that under the rule of Hitler Christians would have had to be obedient to the ordinances of the Nazis and would have had to assist in persecuting, deporting and murdering the Jews.
And in future as well, the faithful of the Last Days under the dominion of Antichrist would have to submit meekly to the ordinances of the false prophet and receive the mark of the beast on their hand or forehead (Rev 13,11-17). But in doing so they would at the same time be canceling their salvation, as on that account they would be condemned to eternal damnation as idol-worshipers at the Last Judgment (Rev 14,9-12).
Finally, if Paul’s remarks about the temporal authorities in Rom 13,1-7 were really to be understood in the sense presented in the commentary quoted above, then they would apply likewise to the temporal authorities of Israel at the time of Jesus. Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin were the supreme temporal authorities at the time, both in a religious and in a political sense. In what concerned political issues, however, they were subject to the Roman procurator of what was then the province of Israel, Pontius Pilate, and he in his turn was subject to the proconsul of Syria. Now would it have been possible to say to the Lord Jesus, with Paul in Rom 13,3-4:
"For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.
Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;
for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not
bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who
As we all know, the supreme authorities in Israel at that time were in no way
serving God, but were rather in the service of a very different spiritual power. And they did not
pass judgment on one who had done evil, but on their Messiah, the Son of God, who wanted to bring
them peace and justice, as he said himself:
He saw the city, and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, the things which make for peace!
Lk 19,40 But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent,
the stones will cry out!" 19,41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over
it, 19,42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for
peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. Lk 19,40-42;
Now if Our Lord Jesus Christ, as one of the divine Trinity, had himself appointed
those same supreme authorities that condemned him and delivered him over to the cross, then these
Jewish leaders would be relieved of all responsibility in this respect, and the sadness and tears of
the Son of God in the above quoted passage, Lk 19,41, would be the merest show. This likewise shows
how absurd this assumption really is.
But as we can see from the above scriptural passages, the Bible says nothing to the effect that all rulers are directly appointed by God. On the contrary, it is rather the case that all the kingdoms of this world have been given over to Satan, and Satan appoints whatever governments he will. And this is precisely the impression we get, if we contemplate the background of global politics objectively and without blinkers – whatever kind of blinkers they may be.
But what did Paul mean, then, when he wrote in Rom 13,1: "For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God"? The solution may be found in the above passage from Lk 4,6. Here Satan says that all power in the world has been handed over to him, and he gives it to whomever he wishes.
Now if power has been handed over to Satan, it can only be God himself who was responsible for this. This shows that God has allotted Satan the task which he has exercised since the beginning of time, and for which he evidently was created by God the Almighty - namely to put men to the test, to see whether their faith and loyalty to God is firm and unassailable, or whether they will give in, all too easily, to the temptations of power and wealth.
So the government of Israel has been appointed, as have all the governments of this world, by Satan, and it is more or less Satan’s will that they do. A government appointed by God will only be found in the Millennium, after the Second Coming of the Lord, when the Lord Jesus will reign with martyrs of the First Resurrection with an iron rod and in absolute righteousness and justice.
But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men".
Acts 5,27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the
Council. The high priest questioned them, 5,28 saying, "We gave you strict orders not to
continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend
to bring this man’s blood upon us." 5,29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We
must obey God rather than men".
(See also Discourse 1042: "Are all governments
of the world ordained by God?.")
Must we not distinguish between two different repatriations of Israel: one in a
state of disbelief, in preparation for the judgment (Ezekiel 20, 33-38), and the second in
preparation for the blessings?
"As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face."
You are certainly right when you assert that the second repatriation has not yet been fulfilled. But perhaps what has happened since 1948 could be the gathering that Ezekiel mentions in chapter 20, 33-38?
How do you see this? I would have liked to find a reference to this biblical passage in your Discourse 08.
(Herbert Weid email@example.com)
Yes, this theme has already been the occasion of much discussion, but perhaps your
comment here may bring some light into the darkness. I personally do also believe in two scatterings
of Israel, and consequently two repatriations. On the one hand the scattering of the people of
Israel into the Diaspora after the year 70 (destruction of the Temple by Titus), as prophesied in Lk
19,41-44 and Rev 12,6, and the partial repatriation organized by Theodor Herzl’s
Zionist in the year
And on the other hand the scattering in the Last Days, in accordance with Lk 21,20-24 and Rev 12,13-17, and the final gathering at the time of the coming of the Messiah. And now you provide this interesting reference to Eze 20,33-38, where we are now likewise told that God will bring Israel into the "wilderness of the peoples" (the Diaspora, that is). I must thank you for this excellent and very concrete reference.
(See also Chapter 02: "The conquest and the
dispersion of Jerusalem"
If, however, we compare this first sad gathering for judgment with the second and
final gathering, we can see that the first is actually not a gathering at all. At least not a
gathering in Israel. God says to Ezekiel:
I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face
Eze 20,33 "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely
with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you.
20,34 "I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are
scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; 20,35 and I
will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you
face to face. 20,36 "As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the
land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you," declares the Lord GOD. 20,37 "I
will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 20,38 and I
will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the
land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am
the LORD. Eze 20,33-38;
God will rule as king over Israel with wrath and with an outstretched arm.
- God will bring out the Israelites from the peoples and countries into
which they have been dispersed.
- But God will not bring them to Israel (or not at once), but bring them
again into the wilderness of the peoples (the Diaspora).
- There God will enter into judgment with them face to face, as happened
once before in the wilderness in Egypt.
- In the course of this those Israelites who transgress and rebel against
God will be purged.
- As the passage states, then, these Israelites will be brought out from
the countries to which they have been scattered, but they will not come into the land of Israel.
So far we are able to find harmonious agreement in all this. But whether those
Israelites who remain faithful, who have not rebelled against God and who then, presumably, will
reach Israel represent this second "joyful" gathering, or whether the latter is a quite
different period of time in its own right, is something we cannot conclude from this passage with
You are quite right! 1948 could be this "gathering to judgment" (see above), though with the esthetic defect that the apostate Israelites as described by Ezekiel’s statements -
Eze 20,38 and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress
against Me I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the
land of Israel
- have now after all come into the land of Israel. An attempt to solve this problem
on the part of an Israelite reader - to the effect that all those Israelites in Israel have already
"passed under the rod" and have never rebelled or transgressed against God - in my view bears no
relation to reality whatsoever, when we see what the present people in Israel are like.
For example, just recently we have learned that the present President of the State of Israel, Moshe Katzav, is to face charges for rape and corruption. In this he shares the fate of his predecessor Ezer Weitzmann, who like the former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu received a sentence for bribery and corruption and was forced to resign.
I have nonetheless made a note of this passage from Ezekiel - thank you once again for the reference - and will continue trying to clarify it.
Referring to your answer, there is another question I would like to put to you.
"But God will not bring them to Israel (or not at once), but bring them again into the wilderness of the peoples (the Diaspora)."
Could it perhaps be that the "wilderness of the peoples" does not mean a geographical place, but rather the relation in which Israel stands to other states, the constant battle for survival etc.? Such relations are certainly the opposite of what will one day come to pass, when Israel becomes a blessing for all peoples. At the moment it is the case, though, that the "peoples" have the feeling (though only few as yet have the courage to say so openly) that the world would have far fewer problems if Israel were to disappear from the map. What impression does an Israelite in Israel have, when he considers that the USA perhaps is still more or less on the side of his country, but the rest of the world’s attitude to Israel ranges from indifferent to hostile? Does he not think himself transported into the "wilderness of the peoples"?
(Herbert Weid firstname.lastname@example.org)
As I have already repeatedly said in this Discourse, I love the people of God who
are of Israel. Not just out of opportunism or because it is demanded by political correctness, but
purely and simply because I have always found these people, since my youth in Vienna, extremely
likable, and since my conversion I have recognized that God also loves his people of Israel.
But now, with the foundation of the Israeli nation in 1948, a separation of this people, who up to that point had lived in the worldwide Diaspora, has taken place. A relatively small number of them (about 37% of Jewry worldwide), after occupying Palestine and driving out its inhabitants, have migrated into Palestine - now Israel. Another part of the Jewish population - the majority, and for the most part strictly Orthodox - has remained in the Diaspora.
Especially in the years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the number of immigrants from the former Soviet Union has gone on steadily increasing. The fact is that these Russians have been atheists all their life, and mostly even after their immigration to Israel do not want to have anything to do with religion. So today of the total population of Israel, which comes to 6.3 million, about 1.6 million, or 26%, are atheists.
The believing Orthodox Jews who have remained in the Diaspora however reject this state of Israel, as the following statement by the Chief Rabbi of the truly believing Orthodox Jews in Vienna, Moishe Arie Friedmann, confirms:
"With the Holocaust as a justification, the state of Israel was
founded by the use of force, which contradicts the will of God. As Jews true to our faith we accept
the fate of the Diaspora which God has laid upon us. But the founding of the state of Israel has not
just damaged the Jews on this religious plane; the means and the methods used by Israel to secure
its existence against the Palestinians damage all Jews world-wide, and encourage the rebirth of
anti-Semitism. For Jews true to their faith it is clear, however, that the Diaspora is the fate
laid upon us by God until the coming of the Messiah."
Rabbi Friedmann also commented on Israel’s recent attack on Lebanon, presented as
a retaliation, and leading to the destruction of entire cities and the deaths of thousands of
civilians, including women and children, in the following terms:
"My complete solidarity and support for the Lebanese people and its
resistance fighters, above all for Hezbollah and its leader Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, has resulted in
astonishment and debate. So I would like here to make the facts perfectly plain. We have to do here
on the one hand with a state the sovereignty of which is being injured for no good reason, together
with a Shiite resistance movement that has an uncontrovertible right to exist, and on the other hand
with the Zionist regime, which has no right to exist either in biblical or in historical terms
and has no legitimation whatever, either based on the law of nations or in terms of the fundamental
principles of our Jewish religion. We pray and hope that it will not be long before true peace
is realized in the Near East, above all in the Holy Land. We pray too for an end to the shedding of
the blood of innocent people, whether they are Christians, Moslems or Jews. We pray for peace and
justice in Lebanon, Baghdad, Tehran and the whole of Palestine, with a Jerusalem that has been
liberated from Zionism."
(See also Discourse 46: "Statement by Chief Rabbi
M. A. Friedmann, Vienna (Austria)")
That Israel does not allow its proceedings to be obstructed even by the community of
nations was shown, in the course of this war in Lebanon, by the bombarding of the UN (UNIFIL)
observation post. Although the commander of the UN support point requested the Israeli military
leaders by radio as many as ten times not to drop any bombs in the vicinity of the post, the
building was bombarded on 25 July and completely destroyed. This resulted in the deaths of four UN
officers – a Chinese, a Finn, a Canadian and an Austrian.
But even before the war with Lebanon, Israel had used barbed wire fences – and now even a wall 8 meters high – to prevent the Palestinians who are caged in refugee camps in their own country of Palestine from leaving their districts, as well as keeping them under control with hundreds of roadblocks. The houses of the Palestinians have been thrown down by tanks and bulldozers, the rainwater reservoirs in this arid region have been destroyed and at times members of the civilian population, including women and children, have been deliberately murdered.
And now you write, in your comments above, about the "constant battle (of
Israel) for survival". But we must not forget here that Israel is carrying on this battle with
tanks, jet fighters and helicopters – and that against a people that has no tanks or helicopters and
certainly does not have any jet fighters. So if anyone here is really battling for mere survival, it
is the Palestinians.
Is it surprising that in their desperation they use their own bodies just to attempt to resist this overwhelming military power? Terrorism should be condemned, but Israel, as the strongest military power in the region, must examine the appropriateness of its military measures (see also and in particular the war with Lebanon), and will be held to account for them at the bar of the world’s public opinion.
Israel is not carrying on a battle for survival; in the last 20 years it has itself become an aggressor in the Near East. Just recently the whole world has been shattered by the news that North Korea has exploded an atom bomb. This is indeed a very great danger to world peace. But a danger at least equally great is to be seen in the 200 atom bombs which Israel has available and ready for use.
All the more so when Israeli politicians have recently threatened that if Iran makes an atom bomb they will not wait for the intervention of the USA - Israel will itself attack Iran to destroy its production facilities. By contrast with all the other states of the Near East, Israel has had the atom bomb already for something like 40 years. Has there been heard even a hint of official criticism of this from any quarter?
And so, too, many of the political and religious leaders in Israel do not see themselves as being on the same footing with their neighbors, but rather as the representatives of a master race destined to rule over the world, as the following quotations illustrate:
Yitzhak Shamir, Prime Minister of Israel from 1983 to 1984 and again from 1986 to 1992, made things extremely plain in an interview with Newsweek on 11 April 1988: "And looking down from the height of this mountain, and from the point of view of our thousands of years of history, we say to you: Compared with us, you are like grasshoppers."
But then the leader of Judaism worldwide, the President of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar M. Bronfman, said to the former German Foreign Minister Lothar de Maiziere at his inaugural visit in New York in September 1990: "The Germans will meet a terrible fate if future generations should terminate their payments to Israel and the World Jewry: then the German people will vanish from the earth."
And the religious leaders in Israel, who might have been expected to distance themselves in the name of their God from this megalomania and from the hate-laden tirades of their politicians, are even worse rabble-rousers. Rabbi Yaacov Perrin for instance said at the burial of the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein1), according to a report of 28 February 1994 in the London Times, that "A million Arabs are not worth the dirt under a Jew’s fingernail."
And Rabbi Emmanuel Rabinovich announced to the world on 12 January 1952:
"Our final goal is to precipitate World War III, which will
surpass in destruction all previous contests. (…) This war will end for all time our struggle
against the Gentiles (…) and our race will rule undisputed over the world. (…) Our interests in
Washington are greatly extending the ‘Point-Four’-Program for developing industry in backward
areas of the world, so that after the industrial plants and cities of Europe and America are
destroyed by atomic warfare, the Whites can offer no resistance against the large masses of the
dark races, who will maintain an unchallenged technological superiority."
(See also the entire speech of Rabbi Rabinovich on the plans for the Jewish
rule over the world: Rabbi Rabinovich’s speech on the Jewish rule over the
And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.
Isa 29,13 Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near
with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And
their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 29,14 Therefore behold, I will
once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise
men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed." Isa
And now you ask:
"At the moment it is the case, though, that the ‘peoples’ have the
feeling (though only few as yet have the courage to say so openly) that the world would have far
fewer problems if Israel were to disappear from the map. What impression does an Israelite in Israel
have, when he considers that the USA perhaps is still more or less on the side of his country, but
the rest of the world’s attitude to Israel ranges from indifferent to hostile?""
Here of course one must also ask, in the interests of objectivity, what impression a
Palestinian in Palestine (what is left of it) has, when he thinks how Israel has driven his people
out of their country and interned them in refugee camps, and how the whole world looks on
And with that I come to your actual question:
"Could it perhaps be that the ‘wilderness of the peoples’ does not
mean a geographical place, but rather the relation in which Israel stands to other states, the
constant battle for survival etc.?"
According to Scripture, the house of Israel will be gathered together again at the
Second Coming of Our Lord - their Messiah - and brought back to their own country. In the Millennium
- the kingdom of a thousand years - Israel will then, under the world dominion of the Son of God on
earth, be the "chief of nations", in other words a world power. And so I agree, without any kind
of reservation, with the Orthodox Jews of the Diaspora, who for this very reason have never returned
to Israel. They are the believing "house of Israel", they have not transgressed or rebelled
against God. They are that people of God of Israel who love God.
The overwhelming majority of those Israelites who have returned to Israel since 1948, however, are for the most part - to the best of my knowledge - not part of the "house of Israel". While they may be Jews by birth, spiritually speaking they are no different from the heathen nations. Their God has nothing to say to them, either in their lives or in business - and least of all in politics. As it appears, they are the descendants of those scribes to whom Our Lord Jesus Christ when he was alive on earth confirmed, in Jn 8,43-44, that they did not belong to the people of God.
Your supposition that the expression "wilderness of the peoples" in Eze 20,35 relates not to a geographical place but to the circumstance that the nations of this world - with the exception of the USA - are hostile to Israel, so that the Israelites must conduct an ongoing battle for survival, therefore seems to me be based on a serious misunderstanding of realities in Israel and in the world.
And yet I am still not completely certain as to how to classify the passage you quote from Eze 20,33-38. When it comes to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, we can – as is well known – distinguish three categories.
o The greater part of those prophecies, which find their fulfillment
in Old Testament times. Among these we can count e.g. those passages that foretell the deportation
of the Israelites by the Assyrians (723) and the Babylonians (586) and their repatriation (edict of
Cyrus, 536) (Isa 29.1-3; Jer 8,1-6, etc.).
(See also Table 03: "The historical empires and
their effects on Israel").
o Then a smaller number of prophecies which evidently suggest
multiple fulfillment. Like Dan 11,31-45, for example, which on the basis of the agreement of the
context with historical circumstances would be understood a priori as referring to the Greek
oppressor of Israel, Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC) - and yet it is difficult to avoid
interpreting large parts of this passage, especially the verses Dan 11,40-45 and 12,1-13, as
referring to the Antichrist in the Last Days.
(See also Table 04: "What is written in the Book
of Truth (Dan 11,1-45: 12,1-13)").
o And finally there are just a few prophecies which relate
exclusively to New Testament times. An example of this may be seen in the promises of the coming of
And here, then, we find ourselves faced with the fundamental question whether this
passage from Eze 20,33-38 really has a reference to the Last Days - which might perhaps also be
suggested by Jer 30,8-11 - or whether these prophecies do not rather refer to the two deportations
of Israel (by the Assyrians in 723 BC and by the Babylonians in 586 BC), and to their liberation by
the edict of Cyrus (536 BC) and subsequent return to the land of Israel.
The following contribution, in its entirety, is taken from an article in the
Austrian daily ‘Die Presse’ [‘The Press’] about an interview with Jimmy Carter,
former President of the USA and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Normally he would be classed as one of those rare politicians who do not have
awkward angles. But in the last few days former American President and winner of the Nobel Peace
Prize Jimmy Carter has been causing heated discussion in the United States. The reason for this
is his most recent book, ‘Palestine: Peace not Apartheid’, in which Carter takes an
extremely critical view of the role of Israel in the conflict in the Near East.
Carter, who was responsible when President in the late seventies for bringing about a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, holds Israel largely responsible for the fact that peace with the Palestinians has not been achieved. Israel, he says, is in breach of important UN resolutions and the international peace plan or ‘road map’ through its occupation of Arab land and its oppression of the Palestinian people. ‘Die Presse’ spoke to the ex-President about this.
(Legendary embrace. Israel’s Premier Menachem Begin and the Egyptian President Anwar
as-Sadat at the White House in 1978. President Carter, who arranged the peace, applauds.)
From the Austrian daily ‘Die Presse’ of 2. 12. 2006 (Norbert Rief) https://www.diepresse.com/
Die Presse: Your book has let you in for some sharp criticism, even from
Democrats. Does this suprise you?
Jimmy Carter: The book is intended to be provocative, with a view to reopening the discussion. Nobody criticizes Israel in this country. It is not even acceptable to say that you take a balanced view of the conflict in the Near East, or that you support the right of the Palestinians and call on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Israel’s supporters in the USA play a very influential role in the political process.
Was it any different when you were President?
Carter: Earlier governments showed in their words and their deeds that they were concerned for the peace of Israel, but at the same time made it plain that they wanted peace and justice for the Palestinians. This was true of my government, as it was true of the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior and Bill Clinton. But today this is no longer the case. In the Arab world there is a prevailing impression that the current US government is not going to spare a thought for the struggle of the Palestinians. You do not have to be against Israel to stand up for the right of the Palestinians to their own land and to a life of peace.
Has the USA lost interest in resolving the conflict? Is peace in the Near East no longer a matter of concern to the government?
Carter: I can’t say whether the government has lost interest, but at any rate it hasn’t gone to any great lengths. In the past six years there has not been a single day of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. And of course the whole world expects that the initiator of such a dialog should be the USA.
Would this not be an opportunity for Europe and the UN to mediate in the conflict?
Carter: If in the next two years (i.e. until the end of the term of office of the current administration - FH) the Bush government does nothing, then the international Near East quartet can engage with the task. The USA plays an important part, certainly, but not the only one. The UN, Russia and the EU are likewise involved. They can provide an impulse for peace negotiations based on existing UN resolutions, on the Camp David agreement of 1978 which I helped to draft, on the Oslo Agreement of 1993 and on the ‘road map’ for peace which was enthusiastically hailed by the Palestinians, but which Israel has since rejected in all important points.
Has the US lost its preeminence and influence in the region as a result of the Iraq war, as some experts suggest?
Carter: Because of the Iraq war, yes - but still more because of its failure to focus on the problem of the Palestinians. We have made insufficient efforts to bring about peace in the Holy Land, and that is the main reason why the Arab world has turned against us. When I was President of the USA, we enjoyed almost unanimous support in countries like Jordan and Egypt. Recent surveys show that today fewer than five percent of the inhabitants of Jordan and Egypt have a positive opinion of the US government.
1)In 1994 the Jewish doctor Baruch Goldstein forced his way into a mosque in Hebron and there shot more than 60 praying Palestinians
with a machine pistol. Today a polished memorial plaque can be seen on the spot, carrying the
"Here lies the saintly doctor Baruch Kappel Goldstein. Without flaw and with a pure heart, he sacrificed himself for his people, the Tora and the land of Israel. May God bless this righteous man, avenge his blood and give his soul eternal rest."