God's Providence and Covenant
by Dr. David L. Cooper
All of the great nations of antiquity came upon the stage of life played their part, and, comparatively speaking, quickly disappeared. In contrast with them, Israel, historically, came late upon the scene, when the most powerful and highly organized nations were in the prime and splendor of their glory, made her distinctive contribution to the world — The Revelation of God, survived the ordeals and persecutions under which any and all other nations would have gone down, and, though scattered to the four winds, has maintained her identity and separation from the nations to the present time. The ravages of time have with their gory fingers endeavored to get a strangling death grip upon the throat of this nation of destiny. But for some reason, unknown to the man unacquainted with the Scriptures, all of these diabolical efforts have proved futile. The only reasonable explanation of her most remarkable and unparalleled career is that an unseen guiding protecting hand has preserved her for a purpose.
Skeptics, infidels et al., constantly deny the possibility of a miracle. The ground of their objection usually is that the entire world is under the reign of unchangeable law; that all of the great marvels of the past which have been taken as Divine interposition's in the affairs of men can now, in this highly scientific age, be explained upon naturalistic principles; and that no miracles are being performed today. I can not take the time to answer these several objections, though a ready logical conclusive reply could be given in each instance. I wish to assert here, however, that miracles are possible. The basis of this bold affirmation is that the Jew is a perpetual miracle. The life of this people has in the past, and continues to the present time, to defy all sociological laws, the fundamental principles of political science, the powerful influences of economic pressure, and all geographical and climatic limitations. No philosophy of History can in the least way explain the Jew's past or present. He defies all analysis. As to the other nations, the philosophy of History makes known the basic principles and laws of their existence. A careful analysis of their history reveals the fact that said basic principles were operative in every instance in the past. The observant student of present-day conditions can analyze the situation of the nations of earth and can explain the ultimate outcome of the operation and functioning of these underlying governing laws. But not so with Israel.
Airplanes are common today. Some of them weigh thousands of pounds and carry hundreds more of cargo and passengers. The materials entering into the construction of these machines and the power driving them would have remained dormant and inactive where they were, if it had not been for man who, with his reason, will and energy, has manipulated, combined, and utilized the so-called “laws of nature” and brought about results which nature unaided could never accomplish. These machines, manufactured and controlled by the directing hand of an intelligent personality, defy the pull of gravitation and speed down the aerial highways of commerce and travel at a hitherto unthinkable rapidity. The nations of earth, under the control of the inflexible laws of human life, have marched down the highways of time into the oblivion of the past. In most striking contrast with all of them, Israel, hedged in, protected and guided by the Omnipotent Hand of her God, is constantly renewing her strength, increasing in numbers and power, and preparing to enact her part in the great world drama of the future.
Yes, there are miracles today. The nation of Israel is a miracle; every Jew is a miracle. To the skeptic I would suggest, on the one hand, that he study honestly and conscientiously, the unchangeable laws that have sounded the death bell of every nation; on the other hand, that he study, with the same diligence and honesty, the cause of the inoperativeness of these same inflexible laws in the case of Israel. The only conclusion to which he can arrive is that God has and is, in a special manner, preserving her for the carrying out of His plans in the future.
When God called Abraham to leave his father's house and his native land, he made several promises to him among which was the one that his seed should become a great nation through which He would bless the world. To the present, this promise has never been fulfilled completely. Since God will never fail to make good any and all of his promises, it follows that he will fulfill this one also. This same fact is again seen in the promise which God made to David, Israel's great and ideal king, and which he reiterated through Isaiah in the following words (Isaiah 9:6-7):
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.”
The certainty and guarantee that God will fulfill this promise is once more seen in Jeremiah 33:19-22:
And the word of Jehovah came unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, so that there shall not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he shall not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.”
From the considerations given above and the quotations cited it is very evident that the nation of Israel is IMPERISHABLE. The Lord said to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse.” Let every one pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let every one fall into line with the plans of God in using the Hebrew nation to bless the world. Israel, imperishable Israel, is the nation of destiny.
Israel's Future Position and Glory
In the preceding section it has been seen that Israel has been preserved by the Lord for a Divine and Holy mission in the future. In this section I wish to call attention to a few statements from the Word of God which indicate something as to the nature of her mission and the glorious future before this nation of Destiny.
When God brought the children of Israel to Sinai, he entered into a covenant with them saying that (Exodus 19:5,6):
If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples:
for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.”
Israel accepted the offer and entered into covenant relation with God upon that basis. It is true that she has been a stiff-necked and rebellious people, as Moses and the prophets repeatedly affirmed. Notwithstanding this fact God has held on to her and preserved her in order that she may yet officiate as the priestly nation. God, as we learn from other Scriptures, called her unconditionally to function in this capacity. “The gifts and callings of God are not repented of.” Man's disobedience may delay the carrying out of God's plans, but it can never hinder nor thwart them. In Psalm 110, the Great Messianic Prediction, David foresaw the time when all Israel shall gladly and wholeheartedly accept King Messiah when He returns in Glory. There he declares that the entire nation will “offer themselves willingly in the day of thy (Messiah's) power, in holy array.” The last phrase of this quotation, in the original language, is the regular technical term used in the law to refer to the special garments worn by the priests when officiating. The recurrence of this phrase is a hint that God will yet use the nation in the future in the capacity of priests. This position is confirmed by the following verse that states that God has sworn to Messiah that “thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” It is most proper and fitting that the nation should be a kingdom of priests since its king and leader is Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Zechariah, in his vision of the time when Jerusalem shall be the center of all religious activity, declared (Zechariah 8:22f):
Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek Jehovah of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah of Hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
God chose Israel that she should bear aloft the torch of the knowledge of His will as she stood on the bridge of the nations (Palestine). She in the past has not been very faithful in the dissemination of this truth. In the yet not distant future, however, her eyes will be fixed with steadfast gaze on the one and sole reason of her existence as a nation separate and apart from the other peoples of the earth: “Lo, it is a people that dwelleth alone, And shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9), namely, to give forth the knowledge of God, and to be the channel of blessing to the entire world. At present she is dispersed among the nations because of her disobedience; in the future, after she has acknowledged her Messiah, she shall be in their midst for a different reason (Micah 5:7-8):
And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples, as dew from Jehovah, as showers upon the grass, that tarry not for man, nor wait for the sons of men. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep; who, if he goeth through, treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and there is none to deliver.”
When one realizes the importance of dew, which in Palestine is very heavy in certain seasons and which takes the place of rain in the maturing of the crops, he can begin to realize the significance of Israel's future position of importance and blessing to the nations of the earth. The latter part of the prediction just quoted sets forth the commanding position of authority and power which she shall occupy in the great kingdom days.
Not only do the prophets affirm that obedient submissive Israel shall be as the dew of Jehovah among the nations, but they declare that her Holy City shall be bathed continually in the resplendent glory of God's holiness. There will His throne be set, and from there shall He rule the world in Righteousness. “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart” (Jeremiah 3:17).
Since men have been planning a league of nations, they have been discussing the question as to what city will be the most suitable and logical one to become the capital. Various proposals have been made. Regardless of their decisions, by the unchanging will and decree of God Almighty, Jerusalem is to be the future world-capital; it is the city of the Great King: “For Jehovah hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for his habitation. This is my resting place for ever: Here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:13-14). It will be, not only the political capital, but also the center of the worship of the true God to which all nations shall make pilgrimages (Isaiah 2:2-4):
And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he will judge between the nations, and decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, gave this same message with the additional promises (Micah 4:4-8):
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree: and none shall make them afraid for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken it. For all the peoples walk every one in the name of his god; and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever. In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted; and I will make that which I exacted a remnant, and that which was cast off a strong nation: and Jehovah will reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth even for ever. And thou, O tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, yea, the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.”
Again, Isaiah, in speaking of the Jerusalem of he future, foretold its magnificence and splendor (Isaiah 4:5,6):
And Jehovah will create over the whole habitation of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be spread a covering. and there shall be a pavilion for a shade in the day time from the heat, and for a refuge and for a covering from storm and from rain.”
Though, as has been seen, many of Israel shall be scattered among the nations to be as the dew of the Lord to them, God will restore the ancient theocracy and kingdom of Israel (Isaiah 11:11-12):
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set his hand the second time to recover the remnant of his people, that shall remain from Assyria ... and from the islands of the sea. And he will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
The Lord did regather a very small remnant of Israel from the east and northeast when He brought back the captives-approximately 50,000-from Babylon. That event was His first regathering. But this promise He has never fulfilled. This passage contemplates a regathering of all Israel and Judah from the four corners of the globe. In no sense can it be said that it has, even in a partial manner, been fulfilled. This future regathering will be of such a glorious nature and on such a vast scale that the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage will pale off into insignificance and will no more be mentioned. Jeremiah declared (23:5-8):
Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that they shall no more say, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them. And they shall dwell in their own land.”
The Hebrew prophets and poets constantly spoke of that mighty deliverance in the most glowing terms. Their writers and orators to the present time with the deepest feelings of national pride refer to that event and the mighty deeds which the Lord wrought at that time. These facts alone show that the promise has never been fulfilled. The conclusion just reached is confirmed by the context of this passage. In verse five the prophet foretells the raising up of the “righteous Branch” to David, who shall reign as king and deal wisely, and who shall be called “Jehovah our Righteousness.” This language can refer to none other than Israel's Future King and Messiah. Thus did the older Jewish commentators interpret the prediction, which rendering is undoubtedly correct. We Christians are thoroughly convinced, by a careful and scientific investigation of all the Messianic prophecies, that Jesus of Nazareth was the one of whom Jeremiah spoke in this passage. But one of my Hebrew friends will remind me that Jesus did not redeem and restore Israel to her former glory and power as the prophets foretold that Messiah would do; that neither have Judah and Israel dwelt safely, as the prediction states, during and since the days of Jesus; but have suffered inexcusable and indescribable persecutions and miseries committed in His name by His so-called followers from His day to the present; and that therefore it is impossible for a Jew to consider, for a moment, the position that Jesus was and is their Messiah here foretold. This reasoning appears very forceful and conclusive until one has seen the “Outline of Messiah's Career” as set forth by the prophets. According to it, as has already been seen in the latter part of Lecture Two, Messiah was scheduled to come to His people and to be rejected by them after which time He would return to heaven and remain there until His people will welcome Him. Then He will come again and restore them to their own land and they shall dwell safely, as here foretold.
Having seen that the great restoration of Israel is to be in the days of this “righteous Branch” of David, who is Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, I now wish to call the attention of my Christian friends to the fact that no event in Jewish history during the Christian dispensation can in any wise be considered as even a partial fulfillment of the prophecy. Therefore it awaits fulfillment, when Israel will accept her long-rejected King and Messiah. This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that verses seven and eight, which foretell the mighty restoration, are inseparably connected with the days of King Messiah when Israel shall dwell safely. When this prophecy is fulfilled the knowledge of Jehovah shall encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea (see Habakkuk 2:14). Thus a most glorious future awaits Israel and the world.