IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD - (I)
P.C. Johnson, U.K.
THE title is taken from Hosea 10:12 where the context tells us-:
"Sow yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the LORD,till he come and rain righteousness upon you".
The prophet Hosea was constantly trying to persuade Israel to obey God's laws as were the other prophets. Today the same urgency and need still exists for Israel to repent and seek the LORD again. The end of the present age, just before the return of Jesus the Christ is rapidly approaching. How can we persuade Israel to repent when they are mostly unaware of their true identity?
It becomes apparent then that true Israel, through their sins, have as Hosea says in chapter 13 verse 9 destroyed themselves. The proof of this is shown in the universal wickedness in present day Israel and throughout the world. This is a sign of the approach of the 'latter days' before the second advent of Jesus the Christ. Hosea's words not only apply to Israel but also to the whole world when he says "but in me (God) is thine help."
The long story of the children of Israel as recorded in the holy bible, did not end after Matthew 12 or indeed after Revelation. The many hundreds of bible prophecies reveal that Israel would continue to exist as an albeit disobedient but great nation, leading up to and beyond the second advent of Jesus the Christ. At that time they will return to the holy land with Jesus as their king.
The present day existence and identity of Israel as detailed hereafter, is based solely upon scriptural evidence as recorded in the King James Authorized Bible
hereafter referred to as the AV bible.
This bible is probably the best representation ofGod's word. It has been the means for several centuries from which God's word has been conveyed to the world. In
its four hundred year history it has taught God's word to more people than any other bible translation. Make no mistake, God has the power to ensure that its integrity and authority has been and still is maintained without error and in accordance with his will. Psalm 12:6-7 which was written about 1000 BC reveals God's
divine protection of his word:-
"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever".
Note that Psalm 12 (except verses 6 & 7) speaks about the general wickedness of mankind. The word generation in verse 7 refers to such as 'the wicked walk
on every side' in verse 8.
God's word in his bible shows the reader how to live his or her life in this unrighteous world, and explains God's truth, his actions, his innumerable prophecies, and the future far better than any of mankind's words. Therefore your writer has included a very large number of scriptural references in the article, in order to convey
God's true meanings more fully.
In Acts 2:38 Peter records another means whereby God reveals his will to mankind
"Then Peter said unto them, (In this case Israel) Repent, (change your mind permanently from wrong to righteousness) and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT".
The Holy Spirit does guide us in the truth, in the meaning of his holy word and directs our lives when we truly believe in Jesus the Christ and his salvation.
The many among us who understand and believe in the identity and existence of Israel are at loss to understand why the majority of people and church organizations reject this divine truth.As a result most of the many descendants of Israel today are unaware of their true identity. In view of the large amount of scriptural, archeological and other secular corroborative evidence of this truth, it can only be concluded that it may be (for the time being) God's will that true Israel should remain unidentified. Note the words 'in part'. These come from Romans 11-25 where Paul says:-
"For I would not, brethren that ye be ignorant of this mystery lest ye be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the gentiles (non Jewish nations) be come in". (at the second advent of Christ).
The term 'is happened' astutely shows that it refers to past and future. 'Blindness in part' probably has three meanings, that Israel are (1) Unaware or disbelieving in God, (2) Unaware of their Identity, or (3) Some are aware of their identity. All of which could be true of various people in Israel today. According to scripture Israel will be or will have been identified by the time of the second advent.
In Romans 11:26 Paul continues:-
"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, (In Isaiah 59:20-21) There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob".
This is the prophecy of the New Covenant God had promised Israel, which is the same as the gospel of salvation through Jesus the Christ without which Israel as well as all mankind would be totally lost. Another parallel quotation to Romans 11:26 above in Isaiah 59:20 adds a proviso -:
"And the Redeemer shall come to Zion and UNTO THEM THAT TURN FROM TRANSGRESSION in Jacob saith the LORD".
This shows that rightiousness goes hand in hand with salvation. But we do not eam such salvation by our obedience. Redemption comes only by true belief.
Itis submitted therefore, that in these probably few remaining years before the second advent, the story, history, identity and future of Israel should be proclaimed to all the many millions of Israelite descendants world wide. In considering this subject, it is well to remember, that to the genuine seeker of scriptural truth, God will
provide understanding in accordance with his will. Further, in Jeremiah 23:23 God reminds us:-
"I am a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off".
Yes, God The Holy Spirit is always here beside us where ever we are and at all times.
At this point we will consider the divine dealings of God with humanity and his reasons for the institution of his servant nation Israel. All humanity could be considered as a great river, from which God drew a small stream, Israel, to be the means whereby the great river of mankind could be purified by God himself using the small stream Israel. Romans 9:3-5 briefly gives Israel's purpose :-
"...my kinsmen according to the flesh who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen".
In other parts of scripture God gives details of the purposes for which Israel were instituted.
(1) To witness the unity of God. Isaiah 43:10-12 tells us:-
"Ye are my witnesses saith the LORD,and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no Saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed when there was no strange God among you; therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God".
(2) To show the blessedness of serving the one true God. Deuteronomy 33:26-29 tells us:-
"There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun (The poetical name of Israel), who rideth upon the heaven in thy help and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel shall dwell in safety alone; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high
(3) To be given and maintain secure the word of God, His holy bible. Romans 3:1-3 states:-
"What advantage then hath the Jew (the tribe of Judah) ... chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid..."
Deuteronomy 4:5-8 tells us in Moses's words speaking to Israel:-
"Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgements, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it, Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law".
(4) God chose Israel to be the means whereby his Son Jesus the Messiah in his humanity was bom into the royal line of kings in the tribe of Judah -David's royal line,
as had been prophesied many times previously. Before that it had been revealed in the stars. (see Psalm 19) Isaiah 7:14 foretold the birth of Jesus:-
"Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us)".
Although the word 'salvation' appears in the old testament over one hundred times and the prophets wrote about the then future Redeemer and Saviour many times; the full revelation of God's salvation awaited the birth of Jesus, God's Son, who later gave up his life for the redemption of all mankind.
(5) In Matthew 10:6 Jesus was sending out his apostles as missionaries and he told them:-
".. .go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel".
God revealed details of his salvation to his apostles who themselves were Israelites (except Judas) and they in tum revealed it to Israel lost or resident in the holy
land. Subsequently Jesus instructed them to teach also the gentiles.We know from James 1 that the location of the 'lost' ten tribes of Israel was known to the apostles. Israel would then later in turn reveal the good news of salvation to all mankind. This has been and is still being carried out by Israel and also by other nations' christians.
The general belief that the Jews are all and the only descendants of Israel today is not in accordance with scripture. Jesus speaking to the Jews in the holy land
about 33 AD tells them as in Matthew 21:43:-
"Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given unto a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
The nation which Jesus was referring to was the house of Israel, who incidentally, were never referred to as Jews. The whole context of this quotation should be
read, especially verse 45. The true believers in Jesus among the Jews at that time and later, would only be a small part of the house of Judah, the majority of whom
had long been exiled in 586BC or had otherwise left the holy land.
In about 60 AD, James writes in chapter 1 verse I of his epistle:-
"James, a servant of God and the LORD Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings".
Note that James specifically says 'the twelve tribes', not Israel, which he could have done. I believe that this was, by inspiration, deliberately done to ensure that this
information would be recorded to show that the location of the vast majority of all the twelve tribes of Israel were not in the holy land in 60 AD. They had long gone and were wandering abroad. James obviously knew where they were, otherwise there was no point in writing his epistle (letter) to them.
The bible records many instances of the Israelites leaving the holy land.The mass exileof the ten tribe house of Israel from Samaria in 722 BC is recorded in II Kings 17:6. The exile of the two tribe house of Judah in 586 BC is recorded in II Kings 25 and in Jeremiah 44:22. No doubt groups of people and families emigrated from time to time because of wars famine or other reasons. A few are recorded in minor references in the bible. Some family names disappear from bible record possibly through death or emigration. At any case, Jeremiah records in chapter 44:22 in 586 BC "therefore is your land a desolation ...without an inhabitant!"
The house of Judah are first recorded as being called Jews in the bible in II Kings 16:6 about 740 BC. Between 538 and 432 BC some Jews returned from Babylon exile to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah. From the scriptural record it appears that only about a total of 50,000 returned. These represented only a small part of the house of Judah. Many had stayed on in Babylon or emigrated from there to elsewhere.
When the house of Judah went into exile in 586BC they left a totally empty land as recorded by Jeremiah above. When they returned under Zerubbabel they found strangers living in their land. Scripture gives details of these people. Ezekiel 35:10 tells us in about 588 BC:-
"Because thou (Edom-decendants of Esau) hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there".
See also Ezekiel 36:2, 36:5, Psalm 83 and 137:7. Obadiah 12:13 tells us:-
"Thou (Edom) shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people
(Israel) in the day of their calamity.. .".
In Lamentations Jeremiah tells us in chapter 5 verse 2:-
"Our (Israel's) inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens"
From these quotations we see that many people and nations occupied the holy land at this time. After the return of the 50,000 Jews from Babylon, recorded above,
intermarriage with these other nations occurred (see Nehemiah 13:23).This was strictly forbidden by God's law. So we have a picture of some people of the house
of Judah returned to the holy land with foreign neighbours over the next four hundred or so years. Almost certainly intermarriage took place. We know that Herod was an Edomite. Perhaps individual Jews returned over the centuries but so may other foreigners have immigrated there. Probably some Jews are true descendants of the house of Judah. But it is also probable that the larger part of the Jews are not Israelites. Revelations 2:9 and 3:9 both say :- ".. .them which say they are Jews and are not....."
This clearly tells us of the existence of pseudo Jews in these latter days.
One heresy that has been claimed by some, is that God abandoned the ten tribe house of Israel after Shalmaneser king of Assyria exiled them from Samaria in 722 BC. This alleged abandonment is totally contrary to scripture. Israel have behaved in a bad manner throughout their history, committing every vile sin that Satan has invented. If Israel had had an overseer from mankind, he surely would have abandoned them. But the ways of our God are totally different to mankind's ways - praise be to God. God is able to be just as well as merciful. In Romans 6:23 Paul tells us:-
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is etemal life through Jesus Christ our LORD".
We 'earn' our mortal death ourselves through our own sin. God's law requires the death penalty for the act of sin. But God in his mercy provided his salvation
whereby Jesus died on the cross for our sins. The only requirement on the sinner's behalf is to truly believe in this gospel of salvation or the New Covenant as it applies to Israel. Only in this way can any member of Israel or mankind hope to live a life hereafter as prophesied for Israel and also all mankind.
The truly faithful members of Israel in all time and space, are referred to in the Bible as the 'remnant' of Israel. These remnant people are referred to in Ezekiel
37:1-10 (which should be read) which is the vision of the valley of dry bones. Jeremiah 23:3 is a further example:-
''And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds".
God, in his bible, often refers to Israel as his 'sheep' and the holy land as their 'fold'. Zephaniah 3:13 is a further remnant quotation one of about fifty in the bible:-
"The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth...".
In about 900 BC the prophet Elijah was very depressed about Israel's sinning all round him, and thought he was the only faithful one left. But God said to him in I Kings 19:18:-
"Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him".
Over a period of about 1500 years, God had wamed Israel many times, that unless they were obedient to his laws and lived in righteousness and truth, they would
be exiled from the holy land and scattered throughout the world. Leviticus 26:33 is but one of many similar wamings to Israel:-
" .. .I (God) will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste".
Deuteronomy 4:27 confirms the same message but with a reassurance:-
''And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD SHALL LEAD YOU".
The LORD certainly scattered Israel, but he has (and still does) always led them. In I Kings 6:13 we are further told:-
"I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel". (see also Numbers 35:34 and Exodus 29:45.)
As God says in Malachi 3:6, 'I am the LORD. I change not' These statements by God will not be changed. Therefore they still are being performed today... God still has compassion on Israel. Jeremiah 31:2 tells us:-
"Thus saith the LORD, the people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest".
Revelation 12:6 tells a similar story in more symbolic words. (The context should also be read):-
''And the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days."
Revelation 12:14 tells an identical story in even more symbolic words:-
''And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wildemess, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, times and half a time, from the face of the serpent (Satan)".
These two identical quotations are used to give a clue to show where Israel is now located, but also to provide the key to the meaning of the word 'time' (in verse 14) in prophecy. Comparing '1260 days' with 'time, times and half a time', (each being equal to the other) shows that a 'time' represents 360 days and 'times' two 'times' or 720 days, so half a time is 180 days giving the same total of 1260 days... In prophecy a day is always representative of one year. The word 'wilderness' in these above three quotations is believed to mean a verdant, watered, secure place. The identity of this place will be shown hereafter.
The scattering of Israel was not to be permanent, They are now scattered world wide in many nations and enclaves. Their exile was to be over a fixed period,
Leviticus 26:18, 24 and 28 gives this period as seven 'times'. As we saw above this represents 7 multiplied by 360 or 2520 years, which by now has long expired. Israel are still largely disobedient to God's word. The faithful remnant are still in existence.
The still future regathering of Israel, is probably within our present time frame. Jeremiah 31:10 tells us:-
"Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the Isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock".
This is confirmed by Isaiah 43:5-6
"Fear not; for I (God) am with thee; I will bring thy seed (descendants) from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, give up; and to the south, keep not back, bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth".
These quotations, along with many others in the bible refer to the yet future settlement of all Israel again in the holy land. The timing of this is within the context of the second advent. On the recurring subject of Israel's disobedience, Amos records an interesting prophecy in his chapter 9 verses 8-9
"Behold the eyes of the LORD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob (All Israel), saith the LORD. For lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as com is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth".
We can understand that this means that God is able to seek out and secure all the faithful remnant of Israel wherever they are. Hosea makes a very significant point
on the sins of Israel in 13:9:-
"Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, (through their sin) but in me is thine help".
It becomes apparent then that Israel have destroyed themselves. The proof of this is shown in the general lack of truth, justice and righteousness throughout the
world -a true sign of the 'latter days' before Jesus the Christ returns to make all things right. Hosea is so right not only for Israel but also for the whole world when he says - 'but in me (God) is thine help'. There is no other way to save this world from sin and institute universal righteousness in its place, except by the return of Jesus the Christ in power and great glory.
In part 2 of this article the location today of Israel will be revealed together with the most significant prophecies of the hundreds in the bible which show and prove God's word and his will.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. §
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