Part III

Evidence From Israel’s History And Present State That Points To The Speedy Consummation Of This Age

If the evidence we have been considering shows that the Church of God is soon to close its earthly history, and that the Gentile dominions must shortly surrender their lease of power to Him who shall reign as King of kings and Lord of lords, that which Israel’s past and present condition furnishes is of an even more startling character. The Lord Jesus said to His eager, inquiring disciples, in that great prophetic discourse which we have already noticed in part, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When its branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matt. 24: 32, 33). And again in the eompanion passage in Luke, we are told, “He spake unto them a parable; Behold the fig tree and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh. So likewise ye, when ye see these things being fulfilled, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh” (Luke 21:29-31). Mark 13:28, 29 is almost the exact counterpart of Matthew.

Now why does our Lord direct special atten- tion to the fig tree? Is it not because it is the particular symbol of Judah, which was likened to “a fig tree planted in a vineyard?” See Luke 13:6-10. “The vineyard of the Lord of host is the house of Israel,” as depicted in Isaiah 5:1-7. Because of their sin the Lord rooted out the vines of all the twelve tribes and left His vineyard desolate. After the Babylonian captivity Judah was planted as a fig tree in the desolated vineyard. Christ Himself nurtured this fig tree in the three years of His ministry. He came seeking fruit, only to find none. When this was manifested as the settled condition, and “nothing but leaves” was found, the fig tree fell under the curse, and withered from the root. But, in the last days, the fig tree of Judah is to revive and to put forth leaves and bear fruit. When revival is noticed, the end will be near. This is the clear teaching of the Lord in the “parable of the fig tree.” As we look upon the Jewish nation to-day, who can fail to see the leaves and fruit both pushing out from the stock which has been dry so long? Judaism is experiencing a revival of the national spirit, and, as never since apostolic days, Jews are turning in heart to the Lord whom they once rejected.

The national revival might be likened to the green leaves. The spiritual awakening would more readily answer to the developing fruit.

We look first at the “leaves.” For centuries, Jewish history has been the verification of prophecy. Israel, scattered and peeled, have been outcasts among all nations; a people despised and scorned; yet provoking the envy of their Gentile neighbors, and a certain feeling of awe likewise. There is something about the undying Jewish people which the nations cannot comprehend. The Jew assimilates with none, yet pervades all. He is the unquestionable “man of destiny,” for he represents that race, or “generation” which shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled.

Persecuted and oppressed, it is true to-day as in Egyptian times that “the more they afflicted them the more they multiplied and grew.” Yet, though the Jew has ever secretly cherished the hope of a coming Messiah and restoration to Palestine, for centuries his national spirit seemed utterly crushed, and he lacked the sense of solidarity which alone can assure the integrity of any nation. Yet in his most wretched estate the Jew has never become identified with the peoples among whom he wandered. We speak of men of other lands, naturalized in another country, as German-Americans, or Anglo-Americans, or Scotch-Canadians, and so on. But we do not speak of Jewish-Britons, or Jewish-Americans, or Jewish-Germans, etc. Instead we know them as American Jews, English Jews, Russian Jews, and so on. Wherever born, they are Jews, and only Jews.

The last century has intensified this national feeling in a marvelous way, and resulted in the birth of the world-wide Zionist movement, having for its avowed object the return of the Jews as a nation to Palestine, the acquirement of their ancient patrimony, and the foundation of an in- dependent Jewish State—possibly a protectorate, under the care of one or more of the great world-powers.

Has the recent fearful war in Europe jeopardized these plans or disheartened the Jew? Did the accompanying season of intense suffering in Palestine make such a scheme seem foolish and futile? Not at all. More than ever the Jewish spirit asserted itself. More than ever the Jews felt they must establish a Hebrew commonwealth.

During the fearful world-conflict Jews were fighting in the ranks of all the great opposing armies. They suffered terribly whichever side won, and since the signing of the peace pact they have endured unspeakable horrors of persecution, famine and pestilence in many parts of Europe. As long as present conditions prevail, the Jew is caught as it were between the upper and nether millstones. He does not want to be found in such a plight again. To avoid it he sees only one way; that is, to become once more an independent nation.

And the war itself opened the way for the first great steps toward the fulfilment of their national aspiration. The Balfour declaration guaranteed a home in Palestine for Israel in return for Jewish loyalty to the Allies in their struggle with Germany. The successful outcome of General, now Lord, Allenby’s great campaign made possible the fulfilment of this promise. The British mandate over the Holy Land has opened the door to the re-settlement of the “people of the wandering foot” in their ancient patrimony. In spite of the opposition of the Arabs and the Roman Catholic Church, the Jew is rapidly taking over the land. Jewish colonies and cities are rising in the once-desolate places and the Scriptures are being literally fulfilled in a way that is amazing to one who does not understand the divine plan. The land is being planted with “strange slips,” as Isaiah declared it would be, and once more Palestine is becoming a land of vineyards and olive-yards and a country of Jewish homes. The past ten years have seen marvelous developments. What the near future has in store no man can say. The establishment of Hebrew schools, the revival of the ancient language, the opening of the great Hebrew University on the Mount of Olives are the forerunners of a marvelous Hebrew renaissance. The Jews are returning by thousands every year, and in spite of certain difficulties and trying situations economically, which are to be expected in connection with such a movement, the Jewish population is steadily increasing, and gradually the land is coming into their possession.

Prophecy has foretold all this. The Jews are to be gathered back in unbelief to their own land by the help of some great maritime power (see Isa. 18), and given a place in the councils of the nations. Before our very eyes we see all heading up toward this consummation. The fig tree is putting forth her leaves. The national life-sap, if I may so put it, is once more manifesting itself in the one-time dry and desolate tree of Judah. And this is the sure indication that the period of Gentile domination is fast drawing to a close.

Money is flowing into the coffers of the Zionist societies. Influential Jews hitherto indifferent, because largely agnostic and rejecting their own Scriptures, are giving their countenance and aid to a scheme that once seemed to them visionary and absurd. National feeling has wrought where of religious feeling there was none. And thus men who believe not the prophets are fulfilling them in their ignorance.

And now I desire to press the solemn truth that all this forces upon us. The coming of the Lord must be very near, for the prophetic scriptures give us no reason to believe that such a condition of things as we have depicted above, will be brought about so long as the Church is on earth. But time speeds on, and preparations are fast taking place for the final re-gathering of Israel and their establishment in their own land after the Church has gone. And the Church will be caught away from this scene at the coming of the Lord to the air; hence the solemnity of the sign of the green leaves! The Midnight Cry sounds louder each passing day!

    “Trim your lamps and be ready,

    For the Bridegroom’s nigh.”

We turn our attention now to what is evident fruit for God from among the Jews, so long blinded and indifferent to the light of the gospel.

And first, be it noted, we do not slight the fact that all down the centuries of the Christian dis- pensation there has ever remained an election of grace, God in every period saving some who turned in repentance to the Messiah whom their fathers abhorred. But such conversions were lamentably few, and the great bulk of the nation has ever remained in wilful and judicial blindness. This is still the case, we must frankly admit; but we believe we can safely say that there are more Jewish Christians in the world to-day than at any time since the earliest centuries of the Church’s history. The past hundred years have been years of grace to the blinded nation in a most marked way—witness the awakening of the Church of God generally to its responsibility to give the gospel to the Jew, through whom the Scriptures were first given to the Gentiles.

To the shame of Christendom, be it said, that its treatment of the Jew in past centuries, and in many places still, has been most un-Christlike, and utterly opposed to the spirit of the Saviour’s intercession on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Too often it has been taken for granted that work for the conversion of Israel would be but wasted effort, because of the blindness referred to in Rom. 11; but it has been quite generally overlooked that the blindness was not to be entire, but “in part.”

In these last days the Christian has realized his indebtedness to the Jew in a way he had hitherto overlooked, and efforts have been put forth by voice and pen to carry the gospel to this much-neglected people; efforts which God has graciously deigned to bless in a marvelous way. From the days when one of the first modern missions to the Jews was begun in Hungary, in the middle of the last century, to the present time, work of this character has come more and more into prominence, claiming the help and prayerful sympathy of those who know the Lord. There have been many, many mistakes and blunders; unprincipled men have used such work as a means of self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment, and thus dishonor has been brought upon the name of the Lord. But, alas, what line of missionary enterprise has escaped this stigma? “Evil men and seducers” have abounded in all lines of professed Christian service; but this sad fact does not invalidate what is truly of God. So we praise Him for the devotion of many faithful lovers of Israel, who have labored for the conversion of the neglected Jew.

And what have been the results? Only eternity will make the full fruitage known; but not only hundreds, but thousands, from among Israel after the flesh have already turned to the Lord showing that the blindness in part is passing away. Among these are many eminent names—some now with the Lord, others still engaged in His service on earth. Who can estimate the value to the Church of God of an Edersheim, a David Baron, an Adolph Saphir, a Joseph Rabinowitz, and a host of others, whose lives and labors were fragrant with Christ? And to these may be added a great multitude of the lowly and unknown on earth who have been led to joyfully own the claims of the Lord Jesus, and to suffer shame and ostracism for His name’s sake.

“Not Barabbas, but this Man!” exclaimed a dying Jew; and in so doing he reversed the sentence of his nation, and proclaimed himself on the side of the long-rejected Saviour. And he was not alone, for his brethren and sisters in the faith from among Israel are now legion. It is estimated that in the first decade after the close of the World War over 200,000 Jews had professed Christianity. Many of these are really born again and are active in trying to reach others.

Remembering this, let it be borne in mind that the Holy Ghost predicts the blindness passing away when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have come in. If already the scales are falling from the eyes of many of the Jews, does it not proclaim the fact that the Gentile times are nearly expired, and that “the fulness of the Gentiles” will soon have come in? The “times of the Gentiles” will not run out until Messiah comes to establish His throne at Jerusalem; but the fulness of the Gentiles comes in at our Lord’s return for His Church.

Between the two, the awful time of Jacob’s trouble intervenes, “the great tribulation,” toward which events are so rapidly tending. The times of the Gentiles cannot end until Jerusalem has been delivered from Gentile oppression and become the city of the Great King. But the fulness of the Gentiles may come in ere my reader lays down this paper; for it will take place when the unbelieving branches are torn away from the olive tree of privilege, and that will be when the true believers have been caught up to be forever with the Lord. If this momentous event were to take place ere this paper drops from your hand, my unknown reader, I ask you kindly, but solemnly, what would it mean to you?

You cannot be ready for His second coming unless you have been saved through the mighty work He accomplished at His first coming. It is written, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9: 28). None look for Him except those who value His atoning work and have been redeemed to God by His most precious blood. Are you numbered among these? If not, I earnestly beseech you, weigh well the

    Midnight Cry:

    “Behold, The Bridegroom Cometh ;

    Go Ye Out To Meet Him!”

—H. A. I.