Israel's Past, Present, and Future.


(At Glasgow Conference, June, 1894.)
(Printed in Things to Come Magazine, 1894)


Let us turn to Romans ix. 3-5: "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh," &c. This is one of the most eloquent, and it is, without doubt, the most solemn passage in the writings of St. Paul. For what he declares in that passage is, that he has been brought into such sympathy and fellowship with Christ that, if it were possible, which he well knows it is not, it is in his heart to do what Christ did — to die, to offer himself as a sacrifice, as an anathema from Christ and from God, on behalf of his brethren of Israel. Many have expressed themselves as utterly unable to understand such a state of mind in a man. There is one other passage, one other man in Scripture who had a glimpse of it beforehand. Moses asked God, rather than that the curse should fall upon Israel — you see it was for the same people that Moses was concerned rather than God should give up Israel and reverse His promise and cast them away, he prayed, "Blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book." Paul takes his place beside Moses — almost, I was going to say, beside Christ. "If it were possible, I wish that I should be anathema rather than that Israel should perish for ever." These are the most solemn words ever penned by St. Paul.

"Israelites"; There are three words used for God's ancient people in the Old Testament and the New. I find that St. Paul uses two of - the words with almost equal frequency. "Israelites" is his favourite word. There is the word "Jews," which, used distinctively, means those of the kingdom of Judah; there is the word "Hebrews," which refers, if we are to take it distinctively, to the race and to the language; and there is the word "Israelites," which, if we are to take it distinctively, embraces two things — all the tribes — and specially to the race of the covenant blessings not of Jacob, but of Israel.

All these words are embraced, more or less, by our subject to-day. May I say a word about the Past, the Present, and the Future of Israel?


By the past I mean the Biblical past. We draw our line at the destruction of Jerusalem. All before that is the past. From that time to now is the present.

The people of Israel are the most ancient people on the face of the earth, except one. The Egyptians as a people are as old, but the wonderful distinction between them is this — Egypt began under the curse of Ham, and Israel began under the blessing of Abraham, the chosen of God. Can you realize. in your minds the extraordinary fact that out of the whole world of men, and out of all generations, God should set His hand, His word, His heart on one man? From the far distance of heaven, and amid the glories of heaven, that God's eye, seeking out earth, should fix on one man? A young man at home too — not the eldest son, not the head of the house, but a younger son. His name was Abraham. God tested him as I do not think He ever tested anyone else; and in his father's house he said to him, 'Get thee out; leave home; leave country; leave everything around you, and go out, alone if need be, to a place I shall tell thee of after thou hast gone.' That was the beginning of Israel, and God's gifts and callings are without repentance. He has never changed in His love. "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob, ye sons of 'Abraham, are not consumed."

Where God begins in love He goes on in love. "I have loved you before the foundation of the world," He says, and He loves unto the end. This is the whole secret of Israel as a nation. It is not that they are better than other people; it is not that they have any good qualities that we cannot see; it is all in God. God chose them in love; God is unchangeable in His love; therefore to-day God loves Israel; therefore to the end shall God love Israel.

Who can tell what the Bible is? We don't half understand it, and never shall until we get to glory, and then the Bible will be ours still. But have you ever realised the connection of the Jew with this book? Every writer of Scripture, without exception, was a Jew. Every book of Scripture, sixty-six in number, is written by a Jew. Is not that a wonderful thing? Every book of Scripture speaks about the Jews — generally speaks to them as well. The Jews are referred to in every book of the Bible. There is a marvellous connection between the Jews and this book.

Then think of the history of Israel. What a marvellous story of faith and patience and testimony for God; what a marvellous manifestation of God; what a marvellous revelation of God has come through that ancient people. I have said the whole Bible is penned by Jews. What say you to another fact? There is a chapter in the Bible that tells us of all the men whose history God has so cared for that He has perpetuated it to the end — the nth chapter of Hebrews, written in better than letters of gold. Every man and woman in that chapter (except Abel, Enoch, and Noah) is a Jew or a Jewess.

Would that were all their story. But we must look at the other side of the picture. What a wayward people they were from the first. Even the patriarchs — I was going to say with the exception of Isaac, but not even with the exception of Isaac, although he was the sweetest, the gentlest, the most self- forgetting of them all. From the time of the patriarchs downward you cannot find one that did not sometimes forget and depart and almost rebel against God. What a lesson this is to those who speak of the perfectibility or sinlessness of human nature here! Of all these men from Abraham down there is not one in whom you cannot trace a fallen heart, and the effects of that fallen heart in their forgetfulness of God.

Look at their history as individuals, or as a nation. See how they turned away from God. See how, generation after generation, they forgot the Holy One of Israel. See how they tempted Him, how they grieved Him in the desert, when God, almost as a visible God, walked before them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. In the Shechinah within His tabernacle God almost appeared to them visibly. And also in the gift of the manna and the quails. How they forgot Him, and "tempted the Holy One of Israel," and grieved the Holy Spirit of God. We cannot say too much as to the faith and holiness of many individual Jews. The nth of Hebrews is true to the letter, but there is the other side. Alas I alas 1 for the sins of Israel. See how God dealt with them, how patiently, sending them prophet after prophet. You remember the Lord's own parable, the husbandman sending servant after servant One they beat, another they stoned, another they killed.

When God sent His Son, they said, "Lo, this is the heir, Come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance shall be ours." That people, God's people, Israel, my Israel, my chosen people, children of Abraham, children of Israel, children of the covenant and the promises, yes, it was they that crucified their Lord and ours. "His blood be upon us and on our children" was their cry, and a time of darkness fell almost at once. That is the Biblical past.


Forty years after the Lord was slain, forty years after the cross, there came the destruction of Jerusalem. What did it mean? It meant the end of the whole Jewish outward economy. Above all, it meant the ending of those blessed and sacred sacrifices which from the time of Moses had been the testimony that God would hear and save. "It is the blood that maketh atonement," and from the day that Jerusalem was overthrown no atoning blood has been shed for the Jew. None of the old economy, no sacrifices of blood, have been shed by the Jew, and he stands self-condemned by his own law. He says, "God has given me a law, and I hold to the law"; and we answer, "Yes, and God % has said in that law, it is the blood that atoneth for your soul; Where is your atonement now?" I put that question to ft Jew once, and asked him to give me an explanation of that extraordinary fact. He shook his head and said, "We know not; we know not; will not God accept anything else?" I said, "Judge for yourself whether God can accept anything other than He has declared." That man became a Christian, and he told me afterwards that this fact was the first thing that shook him.

What has happened since the destruction of Jerusalem? The Christian Church has hated the Jew. Shame upon it for that sin. Only now is the thought beginning to rise in the Christian Church that not hatred but love is our duty to the Jew. The Romans hated and tried to crush the Jews. The Middle Ages is a long story of shame and sorrow. The Jews were bitterly persecuted; thousands were cast out of the nations, others took different names and were not known. Look at modern times. Britain bears its own share; this country has been blessed with many opportunities for carrying the Word over the whole world; but there are some tremendous drawbacks of sin, which may God forgive. Britain has a record of imprisonment and cruelty and blood lying against her for her treatment of the Jew for many generations. Germany, to some extent, has taken up the tale; and now we have the hardness and cruelty of Russia. These are remembered, and will be remembered before God.

Not hatred against the Jew, not attempts to crush the Jew, but affection towards the Jew, is the duty of the Church. If you want to reach a Jew's heart you must do it by affection, and I have reason to think that their hearts are easily touched by affection. I remember being in a small company of Jews some time ago. They were being driven out from their homes, and were emigrating to the Far West. Looking around upon them, I looked to see if there were any Jews present that would remind me of the blessed Lord Himself, for He is said to have been a fair Jew. Amongst the company I saw one, a tall man with a fair, comely, and sweet expression. I kept my eye upon him until the end of the meeting, when they all came up to get a copy of the Hebrew Testament, and one was given to each person with the blessing, "The peace of God be yours." When this young man came up to receive his Testament, he took my hand and kissed it. I said, " What do you mean by that?" and he answered, "Sir, in my country a man in your position would not have condescended to look at the ground on which my feet were treading as a Jew, but I have found that you love the Jew; therefore I kiss your hand." Touch them with love, and the response of a Jew's heart is wonderful.

Remember that man has never been able to crush them. The hatred and cruelty of every nation with which they have been brought into contact have been in vain, because there is a shield around them. God put it there, and man cannot remove it. At the present time we know they are more numerous than they were in Bible-history time. They are supposed to represent twelve millions; and they never came to anything like that number in the olden time of Bible story. In the face of all the persecution they have multiplied. Hosea told us what they were to be — for many days without a king, without a sacrifice, without a priest, without a land; and there they are still. It has proved impossible for the nations of the earth to destroy them. They hold to their own still; they hold to their own nationality; and they hold — though I wish they would hold it more. faithfully — to the written Word of the living God.


They are obviously preserved for some marvellous destiny in the future. Even worldly men are compelled to confess this. At the present time the Jews are one of the greatest powers in the world, and they are only needing something to call them out so' as to combine that great financial power and wisdom that belong to them. It is obvious, even to men of the world, that there must be a future in store for Israel, although they cannot guess what it is. But we know; it is plainly laid down in God's word. Let me direct your attention to two or three points. It is guaranteed, it is sworn to, by the oath of God. In Jeremiah xxxiii. 20 there occurs one of the most solemn words in the Old Testament, "Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers," &c. Then again, in the 25th and 26th verses, "Thus saith the Lord) If My covenant be not with day add night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the! seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their Captivity to return, and have mercy on them." The whole of that chapter predicts a time long after their return from the captivity of Babylon, and speaks of the revival of their king.

Now in Jeremiah xxxi. 37 you find a very similar Statement: "Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched our beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord." Then again in the 35th verse, " Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stats for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: if those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever."

I say solemnly we have two alternatives. 'Either Israel continues for ever, or God's word is no more to be believed. Not only is the future of Israel guaranteed; but there are tokens of the revival already. Read Matthew xxiv. 32, and it is agreed on all hands that this passage must refer to the' Jews. "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his 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." We are beginning to see the blossoming of the fig tree. What wonderful things have been done for Israel in recent years. You know of the immense scattering of New Testaments all over the Jewish people — all over the world, one might almost say — and how eagerly they have been received, Jews applying for them in crowds. The work has been done through my dear friend John Wilkinson, of London. What a wonderful work he has done in that distribution alone. Then, who has not heard of Rabinovitch, Lichstenstein, and others?

To take three Jewish missionaries by name, I mention the names of John Wilkinson, David Baron, and Warsarwiak. Have you ever known in the history of the; Christian Church three men more inspired by God with love and wisdom in dealing with the Jews? The blossoming of the fig-tree has already taken place. " Remember then that He is near, even at the doors."

God has promised that His ancient people are to return to their own land. Have you ever made a study of the closing words of the different books of the Bible? If you have not, I would recommend that to you as a very useful study indeed. In the meantime look at the closing words of the beautiful prophecy of Amos ix. 14, "And I will bring again the Captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit thereof. And 1 will plant them upon their land, and they shall be no more pulled up out of their 'land which I have given them, saith the Lord." This does not refer to their return from Babylon, because they were plucked out after that. Turn to 2 Sam. vii. 10 — "Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them as aforetime." Therefore if God in His most solemn word and promise is to be believed, Israel is to return to their own land. But they are to return apparently in unbelief; they will be found in the Holy Land when the Lord returns.

Then turn to Zech. xii. 10, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him." Just note how in Rev. i. this verse is quoted, " They shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and all the tribes of the earth shall wail because of him." That is the story of the Gentiles who have refused Christ. The people of Israel in their own land when He returns shall "mourn" for Him. The Gentiles shall "wail" because of Him. There you see the distinction between the wailing of hopeless sorrow and the mourning of repentant sorrow.

There is a promise given to Israel that is not given to anybody else. It is the old promise to the nation; it is still continued. We have a promise not for Britain, but for individual souls. We are not the most favoured nation. I am not sure about individual saints in the future, but I am sure about nations. What does St. Paul tell us in Romans xi. 25, 26? "I would not that ye be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion a Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." Yes, "All Israel shall be saved," not a soul apparently left, not one left out of all Israel. We don't read that about any other nation, even in millennial days. Even in those days the sinners shall be accursed; there shall be sinners, but very few of them. Marvellous fulfilling grace to Israel.

One last word. When the Jews are thus brought to God they have a great work to do, they have got to be the means of converting the whole world. Isaiah lxvi. 19 is one of the texts that tell us this. "I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, and to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles." Now we are sending missionaries to the Jews, but the days are coming when they shall send missionaries to the Gentiles, and with far more effect than our missionaries to the Jews have. In Romans xi. 15, "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" What shall the receiving of the Jews be? What shall the gathering in of Israel be? What shall the salvation of "all Israel" be when it takes place? What shall it be for the rest of the world? "Life from the dead." Oh, Israel, what a marvellous story, from the call of Abraham until the " life from the dead" that shall come through thee!