The New Sanhedrin
The occasion of the appearance of this little booklet is the demand that a series of lectures relative to the Proposed New Jewish National Sanhedrin be put in permanent form. For months I have been delivering addresses on Prophetic themes which bear on the reorganization of this Supreme Court of the Jews. During this time many urgent requests have come that these lectures be printed.
I have kept both Jew and Gentile in mind as I spoke and wrote these lectures. It is my earnest desire that they may be intelligible to both classes, and that they may be used of God in bringing a blessing to every reader.
In order that it may be used of God in the greatest way possible, I would suggest that each one, after reading his copy, pass it on to friends and thereby increase its usefulness.
DAVID L. COOPER. July 26, 1930.
Chapter One: The Biblical Research Society
The Biblical Research Society, as its name implies, is a group of men who believe that the Bible is the very word of God, that is, the divinely disclosed revelation of the will of God to man. They have dedicated their lives to the eternal God and are endeavoring by His grace and power to live according to the teaching of the Word of God and to do all within their power to influence as many others as possible to yield to God and to do His will.
The chief concern of this society is to search out the great fundamental truths of the Bible and to disseminate this knowledge among all men in general and among Israel in particular.
I. The Origin
All things and movements have a beginning. Since the founder and director of this society is I, David L. Cooper, the author of this booklet, it is well for me to give, in a few brief statements, how God lead me into this special phase of Christian service. In 1920, my wife and I attended a victorious life conference in Cedar Lake, Indiana. There we attended special lectures and services which were conducted in the interest of Israel. We became very deeply concerned about the welfare of the ancient chosen people of God. At one meeting both of us dedicated our lives to do all in our power for suffering Israel.
In the spring of 1923 when I was teaching in a college in Texas, one afternoon I was busily engaged in some work at my cow shed. There came to my mind in a most impressive and powerful way, the thought of the lost condition of the bulk of humanity. In my meditations I passed rapidly throughout the world, and finally the thought of the suffering of Israel and her need of salvation came heavily upon my soul and caused me to weep as if my heart would break. I again rededicated my life to the Lord in the interest of the suffering nation and earnestly besought Him to lead me out into that field of service in behalf of Israel where He wanted me to go.
Although I had graduated from the university and seminary and had done postgraduate work in the later, I felt a great need of further preparation for this work to which I intended to devote my life. Hence during the summer of that year, I went to Chicago and did special work in the Moody Bible Institute under Professor Solomon Birnbaum. In the beginning of the summer of 1924, I returned to Chicago from my home in Texas and continued my studies. Later that summer I moved my family there and did postgraduate work in the university the year of 1924-1925, with this purpose in view. During this time my wife and I were earnestly praying to the Lord to lead us to that place where He wanted us to serve Him. In January, 1926, the call came from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles for me to assume the responsibility of the superintendency of the Jewish department of that institution. To this call I felt led of God to respond. On February 5, I assumed the duties of that office.
For four years and four months I endeavored by the grace of God to perform the work which He had given me to do. During this time I felt led of God to write the book, The Eternal God Revealing Himself to Suffering Israel and to Lost Humanity, which came from the press Christmas, 1928. When I started it, I did not have a penny for its publication. God marvelously sent in the money and led in the development of this project.
In a little over a year's time, approximately 2,900 copies of the book had been placed in the hands of intelligent thinking Jewish people free of charge. Five chapters of this work — those dealing with the triune nature of the God Head I put out in the form of a booklet entitled “The Deity of the God of Israel.”
Notwithstanding the fact that I was happy in my work with the Institute, God seemed to be leading me out into a greater field of service in which I could devote all of my time to the literary activity into which He had led me. The Lord seemed to lay this same thought upon the hearts of several of my intimate friends who for months past had felt that the Lord would lead me into this special phase of work for Israel.
It is my firm conviction that I came to Los Angeles by the will of God, that I remained in this special phase of work at the Institute during these months by His same will, and that now he has led me definitely into a larger field of service for Him. Having prayed much for divine guidance, and having weighed, to the best of my ability, all circumstances and providential leadings, I am thoroughly convinced that he is guiding me definitely to take up this special literary activity. I have interpreted my present situation in the light of Paul's experience related in Acts 16.
According to the record of Luke, he had worked the field of Central Asia Minor. He was under marching orders of the Lord to spread the glad tidings everywhere. The Holy Spirit prohibited his turning to the left to preach the word in Asia. He forged forward to Mysia from which point he wished to go into Bithynia but was not permitted to do so by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. Being under marching orders, he went in the only direction possible — in the north-westerly course to Troas — where he saw the vision of the man of Macedonia beseeching him to come over into that needy field. Luke states that they concluded from all of these facts that God had called them to preach the Word in those regions. When God closes a field to a faithful servant of His, He always opens another. It is now day during which men must work for the Lord. The night will come when no man can work.
II. The Personnel
As stated above, being thoroughly convinced that God was calling me out into a larger sphere of activity, I interviewed certain friends who are especially consecrated to the Lord and who have special spiritual discernment. After much prayer and consultation with these spiritually minded men of God, I approached certain men who, as I believed had four qualifications. These qualifications are, in my judgment, essential to full cooperation with me in the proposed work. First, a regenerated heart. The natural man is not subject to the law of God neither can be; hence the all important matter is that a man must be a genuinely saved regenerated soul. Second, spiritual discernment and business ability. Not all men who are regenerated have special spiritual insight and business ability. These qualifications are essential to full cooperation in the society. Third, a genuine love for Israel. To be tolerant toward the people of Israel is not sufficient. One must have a love, divinely implanted in his heart by the Holy Spirit, for Israel in order to work in this society in the most efficient manner. Fourth, agreement with the ideals of the society. As will be outlined in the following section, each member must be thoroughly convinced that the work proposed by the society is the special work of God that He wants done at this time.
I earnestly prayed for guidance that I might be led to the men of God's choice to work with me in this movement. The first whom I interviewed was the venerable and beloved William E. Blackstone whose name stands for the highest ideals in Christian circles and whose passionate love for Israel's welfare is known throughout the world. He has demonstrated by his works that he has a genuine passion for Israel. On account of his advanced years and physical infirmities he could not become an active member of the society, but most cheerfully agreed to become its honorary member. We consider ourselves most fortunate and blessed in having the fellowship and cooperation of this sainted man of God. Dr. B. F. Fellman, pastor of the Tremont Baptist Church, Pasadena, California, and professor in the Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary, became a charter member of the society and was unanimously elected chairman of the executive committee. His name is widely known for his stand for the right. He likewise has shown in the past, his love for Israel by his action. Rev. Wm. Duncan Ogg, Pastor of the Bethany Union Church at Sierra Madre, California, was unanimously elected secretary of the committee. In wide circles his loyalty to the Lord and his intense love for Israel are thoroughly known. The society considers itself fortunate in having him as its secretary. Mr. W. H. Steele, for years the honored treasurer of the Church of the Open Door, was likewise unanimously elected to become the treasurer of the society. In business circles and in church relationships, his name is a synonym for business integrity and honor.
Dr. P. W. Philpott, Pastor of the Church of The Open Door, Los Angeles, California, likewise gladly cast in his lot with the society. His name is a household word throughout America. He is known for his loyalty to the Lord and his unswerving faith in God and in his Saviour. The society considers itself especially blessed of the Lord in having in its fellowship, this servant of the Lord. David L. Cooper, founder and director, likewise is a member of the executive committee. Mrs. A. G. Wells kindly gave her consent to be on the advisory board. As time passes, it is the present plan to add to its membership such other servants of God whose ideals coincide with those of the society.
III. The Purpose
It is an evident fact to all informed people that there has arisen in Israel a spirit of inquiry concerning the Gospel Records and the personality of Jesus. This new attitude in Israel is clearly seen by the facts that in a number of Reformed Synagogues, according to reports, the New Testament is being studied as one of the textbooks of the curriculum; that a number of outstanding Jewish leaders have spoken and written concerning Jesus in the very highest terms as one of their greatest sons; and that there has sprung up a movement in Jewry calling for a revision of the life, teachings, Messianic claims, and condemnation of Jesus of Nazareth.
This spirit of inquiry has come to the Church of God as a compelling challenge. This new attitude lays upon it a responsibility to give forth the truth of God concerning the Gospel Records and the personality of Jesus at the present time as never before. According to the Great Commission (Matthew 26:19,20) Jesus laid upon his disciples the responsibility of giving the Gospel message to all nations; according to Paul (Romans 1:16) God's order is to give it to the Jew first. No church nor individual can be in the center of the directive will of God who does not accord to the Jew his rightful ordained place in the eternal plans of God and who neglects this obligation to the Jew.
A realization of the divine obligation and a recognition of the opportunity of rendering a great service to Israel in her quest for the Truth have led the Biblical Research Society to undertake the task of producing and distributing a literature of the very highest type. This literature is written from a viewpoint which is intelligible to the Hebrews. It takes into consideration, as will be seen in lecture two, the special psychology of the Jew, his spiritual environment both of the past and of the present, and his theology. Since the leaders of the nation are of a highly intellectual type and since the great masses look to them for guidance, it appears to us that the demand of the hour is to produce a literature of the highest scholarship which breathes the spirit of love and sympathy.
The Society will continue the distribution of the book, The Eternal God Revealing Himself to Suffering Israel and to Lost Humanity, and the booklet, The Diety of the God of Israel, in the three languages — English, Yiddish and Hebrew. At present I am preparing a volume on the historical foundations of the Christian faith, the title of which work probably will be “The Historical Foundation of the Gospel.” In this work I am endeavoring to present the vast amount of material which I have in such a way that it will readily be understandable to the Jewish mind and appeal to his heart and soul. It is my intention to make this treatise extensive and thorough. As the demand arises and the Lord supplies the funds, other publications will go forth.
In addition to the production and distribution of the literature described above, it shall be the avowed purpose of the Society to put forth a special effort to foster a spirit of friendship and good will between the Hebrew people and the Gentile nations. In every way possible it shall strive to counteract the baneful influence of Anti-Semitism.
IV. The Resources
The society is organized on a non-profit basis. It began in faith and is to continue upon that basis. God has graciously touched the hearts of His people in the past, who have given liberally to the publication and distribution of the two works mentioned above. It is our faith that He will continue to put it into the hearts of His faithful people to give of the means with which He has blessed them in order that the work may continue unhampered. All gifts, whether large or small, will be received and acknowledged by the treasurer.
V. A Great Challenge
It was to Israel that God intrusted His Oracles originally. It was they who gave us prophets, apostles and the Messiah. It was they who gave us the books of the New Testament. Their debtors we Gentiles are. This fact lays the Gentiles who have accepted the sacred books of the Hebrews under a lasting obligation which can only be met by deeds of kindness, by a sympathetic and scholarly presentation of the Gospel in a way intelligible to the Hebrew, and by a genuine and divinely implanted love in the soul which finds expression in the life.
As has been noted above, this spirit of inquiry is present on every hand. The days of the Ghetto are past. Israel is on the march. She is rubbing elbows with her Gentile and Christian neighbors. Reports come from Europe that at various places many are beginning to ask the question, who was Jesus of Nazareth? These honest conscientious Hebrews want to know who he is and what he means to the Jewish people. In America this same spirit of inquiry is manifesting itself in various ways and degrees.
It appears from all the facts that the Spirit of God is quickening this inquiring movement. In the good providence of our God Israel has been placed in such close contact with Christian believers in order that each one may have a share in bringing a blessing to some of the children of Abraham to the end that he may have an opportunity of discharging his obligation to these Ancient People of God. Thus the present situation is the call of God to each of His servants to meet his obligation and to pay his debt to Israel. Each one who neglects or refuses to meet this spiritual obligation to the Jew looses untold blessings in this life and rich rewards in the world to come.
The Biblical Research Society, under God, is attempting to discharge this obligation to the extent of its ability. It invites the lovers of Israel who wish to assist in this Herculean task and to cooperate with us to do so.
VI. An Appeal
As was suggested under section III, the society hopes, by the grace of God and the cooperation and association of the saints of God everywhere, to reach every nook and corner of Jewry with the highest type of literature. The task before us is great, the possibilities are inestimable, and the rewards are beyond the price of rubies. Again may I appeal to you with all the fervor of my soul, will you not make this work a matter of earnest, sincere, heart searching, and prayer to God that He may lead you to have a share in it according to His will and purpose?
Chapter Two: A Proper Understanding of Jewish Psychology and Theology
Life consists of more than food and raiment. The richness and sweetness of Life is experienced only when one lives for others, especially when he seeks to be a spiritual help to his fellowman. Should one be in distress and another wish to assist him, the latter must know where the distressed one is and how to reach the place. The same principle obtains in the spiritual and intellectual realms. Should a Gentile wish to assist his Jewish neighbor, he must understand the historical background which lay behind the present generation of Israel, the present environment of the race, Jewish hopes and aspirations, his attitude towards the Gentiles, and the spiritual and intellectual spheres in which he lives and moves. Therefore I shall try, in a brief way, to locate my Jewish neighbor in order that the lover of Israel may intelligently and sympathetically lend a helping hand in this hour of his great inquiry and quest for facts relative to Jesus of Nazareth.
I. Historical Background
Israel is the nation of destiny. God chose her from among all peoples to be the channel of blessing unto the uttermost parts of the earth. This fact accounts for Satan's special hatred against her, which manifests itself in all ages in the form of persecutions.
In Egypt, according to the account of Exodus, Satan stirred up Pharaoh to persecute Israel. He knows that it is God's plan to use the Hebrew race in the carrying out of His purposes of Grace; hence he stirred up the king to give orders to have all of the male children killed at birth. But the overruling hand of God hindered the carrying out of this diabolical plan. Israel survived that first organized effort at extermination; and has continued to the present time. Today she is one of the most potential of the nations. On the other hand, Egypt gradually declined until she, according to the prophet Ezekiel, has become the “basest of the kingdoms.” What is the underlying cause of this unprecedented decline of the most powerful, intellectual, highly organized, and resourceful nation of antiquity? The answer is to be found in the warning given in connection with the call of Abraham — “and him that curseth thee will I curse” Genesis 12:3. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” Isaiah 54:17.
In the eighth century before the common era some of the great and powerful Assyrian Monarchs attempted to subjugate Israel and to do her harm. For instance Sennacharib, to whom God spoke “Ho, Assyrian, the rod of mine anger,” and whom the Lord used in a mighty way to correct disobedient Israel, desired to extend his boundaries throughout all western Asia, and planned to subject Judah and to incorporate it into his vast empire. He overran the entire country and hurled defiance at Jerusalem, little realizing that the God of Israel is the Lord of all creation. One night the angel of death passed through his vast army and destroyed 185,000 men. After this judgment the boastful monarch retreated to his own country in chagrin. God was constantly mindful of his own chosen people.
In the latter part of the seventh and the early part of the sixth centuries the Chaldeans began to make incursions into the West Land. God permitted Nebuchadnezzar to overrun Judah, because of the latter's unfaithfulness. Finally, the leading citizens of the country were taken into Babylon as captives. Jerusalem went through perilous times in three different sieges. The nation was reduced to very dire extremities and suffered such reverses that it never fully recovered therefRomans After the 70 years of captivity, those of the exile who wished to return were permitted to do so. The Jews have survived this calamity and continue a great and most influential factor in modern life. On the other hand, Babylon sank into oblivion. The monuments of her once renowned but long-since buried glory are seen in the form of desolate bleak sand-mounds in the barren wastes of the lower Tigris-Euphrates valley.
During the first half of the second century before our era, the Greco-Syrian King, Antiochus Epiphanes, stirred by satanic influence, began his political intrigues to obtain domination over Judah. When he failed in his attempt, he resorted to violence, sending one expedition after another against the little struggling nation. His successors continued his policy and did the Jews no little harm. The Maccabees by their heroic faith and by their fearless exploits barely saved the day. Great and indescribable were their sufferings and humiliations. Where is the Greco-Syrian Empire today? In the grave of the forgotten past. Where is Israel whom she persecuted? Continuing to the present day as monuments of the plans and purposes of her God.
The Romans, in turn, by their merciless barbarian methods persecuted Israel at various times. Let it be said, however, to the credit of the Romans that, as a rule, they were considerate of their subjugated dependants. When, however, these weaker peoples resisted, in the least, the policy of Rome, she treated them without mercy. Thus on various occasions the Romans committed great outrages against the Jews. But where are the ancient glory and prowess of Rome? Faint gleams of them are to be seen in the spared ruins of the past. But the imperishable Jew outlives all persecution and awaits the coming of the time when, in the providence of God, he shall become the channel of world-blessing.
During medieval days Satan and his ally, the demon of jealousy, stirred up the “powers that be” and launched ruthless and merciless persecutions against the Jew. One constant stream of blood flowed from the Ghetto — those unsanitary miserable sections of European cities in which the Jew was segregated and in which he lived in fear of his life constantly. He knew not at what time some irresponsible person might excite the ignorant populace with unfounded and untrue reports which would enrage the multitude to institute another pogRomans Neither did he know at what time some shrewd and conniving politician might with his intrigues and his misrepresentations excite the ruler to enact laws which would discriminate against him and virtually rob him of his hard earned savings or make his lot more miserable and his life more intolerable. In fact on every page of mediaeval history the record of Jewish life is written in blood. The atmosphere was charged with anti-Semitism which, when it did not reach the pitch of pogroms and bloodshed, deprived him largely of his civil rights, circumscribed his social life, curtailed his business activities, deprived him of educational advantages, ostracized him from the best society, censured his literary activities, frequently robbed him of his property by the enactments of unjust and unrighteous legislation — in a word, it exercised its authority over him in body, soul, and spirit by reason of its superiority in brute force.
During the Crusades the Jews suffered the most inhumane and intolerable persecutions. In the Spanish Inquisition thousands of Jews were slaughtered in the most cruel and heartless manner, while multitudes had to flee from the country for their lives. From Portugal they were expelled in a most disgraceful manner. Those who remained had to accept the religion of the state. During those dark days the church and state were inseparably connected. The theory was that the state had to carry out the wishes of the church. The civil rulers sat in conclave with the religious leaders and were largely the willing and obedient vassals of a corrupted priesthood. Frequently, whole villages of Jews were rounded up, dipped in petroleum, and burned at the stake. These massacres not infrequently were led by churchmen who carried banners on which were written the name of Jesus. Thus these brutal diabolical scenes were enacted in the name of the church.
In some countries the condition of the Jews was worse than in others. One historian states that in Russia for eighteen hundred years they were not granted the right of citizenship, had no rights nor privileges in church or state, no rank in the army, and were allowed to trade only in second hand goods and junk. When a Jewish village under these hard and miserable conditions did begin to prosper, their goods were confiscated and the population was driven out.
These injustices have continued to the present day in certain sections of the world. Note the massacres of recent years of Jews in the central European countries. Also remember the Arab massacres of Jews in Palestine last year.
Here in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, under the stars and stripes, the emblem of liberty and justice, Anti-Semitism is found everywhere. Though it has never reached the state of pogroms, it shows its hideous monster head throughout the country. Many respectable, cultured and educated people dislike the Jew. In business life frequently when all things are equal, the Jew is discriminated against by his fellow Gentile neighbor. Even among true Christians who are thoroughly consecrated to the Lord, now and then, traces of Anti-Semitism crop out. They have unconsciously accepted the current estimate of the Jew without question, and have allowed this false idea to determine their attitude toward Israel. Furthermore, many of them have dealt in business with a certain type of Jew who took advantage of them and have come to the conclusion that all Jews are of the same character, thus judging the entire nation by a few unscrupulous individuals. Some writers and poets have poisoned the mind of the Gentiles against the Jew by presenting him as a nation of grafters who are always on the lookout to take advantage of one in every deal. Shakespeare unfortunately did Israel untold damage by characterizing the entire nation by Shylock in the Merchant of Venice as the typical Jew. Occasionally present-day writers throw out insinuations, if not clear statements, that are untrue and that do untold injury to the Jew. Again, some speakers and orators help to continue the false notions regarding Israel. Certain common expressions that are only true of a certain low class of Jews have become the current coin among Gentiles and have moulded the general estimate of the entire race. All of these factors, aided and strengthened by jealousy, constitute the mould in which the average man's conception of the Jew is formed.
For eighteen centuries the Jew has had to struggle against superior odds for his mere existence. He has been surrounded on every side by conniving unprincipled people who have sought to take advantage of him. He has developed the national characteristic of suspicion of all men and feels that each one with whom he deals is endeavoring to take advantage of him. It is not until each individual has proved by his dealings and upright character that these inbred fears and suspicions are allayed. How could it be otherwise since there has flowed from Israel's wounded side a constant stream of blood for nineteen hundred years? The honorable God-fearing Gentiles will have to live down the cumulative results of these nineteen centuries of injustice and cruelty by fair dealings, honorable consistent lives, and a genuine love and consideration for their Jewish neighbors, who are the chosen people of God yet to be used of him in blessing the entire world (see Genesis 12:1-9). On the other hand, the honorable God-fearing Jew will have to live down the prejudice created in the Gentile heart by the unscrupulous dealings of a certain type of Jew whose only object in life seems to be to make money.
In this connection it is well to call the Jew's attention to the fact that there is a vast distinction between the terms Gentiles and Christians. The former word denotes all peoples who are not of Jewish extraction. The latter one signifies those Gentiles who in some way acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Jewish Messiah, and Saviour of the world. A further distinction must be made to clear matters. Christianity, according to the predictions of the New Testament, was early corrupted by the introduction into it of many heathen customs and teachings. Thus during the middle ages that type of Christianity which was prevalent in Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa is not a fair representation of Jesus and the teaching of the New Testament. All who claim to be Christians are not genuine followers of Jesus. No true follower of Jesus would persecute the Jew or any one else. The truly regenerated Christian who knows the teaching of the New Testament and is living according to its instructions has the kindliest feelings and consideration for the Jew and will do all in his power to assist him in every way.
Wrongs have been committed by both Jews and Christians in the past. Let us now forget the past and forge forward to better things and cleaner lives. Let the Jew remember that there have been many misunderstandings on the part of all. Let him understand that many of the Christians have misunderstood him and his motives. Also let the Christian realize that the Jew has been misunderstood and that some of the very noblest characters who have ever lived have been of Jewish extraction. Let us now try to understand each other. It is with this idea in view that I, a Gentile Christian, have written this little book. I feel that I am right in the conclusions to which I have come after twenty-five years of hard diligent study and a number of years of close contact with my Jewish neighbors. I appeal to my fellow Gentile to consider the facts which I have presented and to ask the Lord to aid him to a proper understanding of the Jew and to give him a real love for him. On the other hand, I appeal to every Jew who reads this book to lay aside his prejudices and to ask the Lord God to help him to see the truthfulness of the things discussed herein. Also ask Him to give him understanding concerning the teaching and life of Jesus of Nazareth in order that he may know whether Jesus was and is his longed-for Messiah.
II. Scriptural Teaching Concerning Israel's World Mission
It is a well-known fact that the Greeks' contribution to the world lay in the realm of philosophy and abstract thought; that of the Romans was law, order, and jurisprudence, while that of the Hebrew was religion. According to the Scriptures, God called Abraham out of the heathen environment of Chaldea and led him into Palestine where he would be in the kingdom of Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God most high (Genesis 4:10). In this new environment Abraham grew spiritually and became the friend of God. When the call first came to Abraham for him to leave his old pagan environment, God promised that He would bless the world through him and “his seed.” Furthermore, he promised to make Abraham's descendants become a mighty and powerful nation in the earth, promising that he would bless those who blessed him and curse those who had cursed him.
When Moses brought Israel to Sinai, the Lord promised that “If ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be my 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” (Exodus 19:5,6). The Lord always endeavored to maintain separation between Israel and the nations. In their wilderness wanderings, Moses was very strict in maintaining this separation. Just before his death, he delivered his final orations found in the book of Deuteronomy in which he emphasized the thought that Israel was about to enter into the promised land; that she was to drive out the corrupt, wicked Canaanitish nations; that she was not to form any alliances with any peoples whatsoever; and that she should be a nation separated unto God to set forth the excellencies of Him and His worship.
The prophets following Moses constantly dwelt upon Israel's special call of God and of her separation from the nations. Isaiah especially emphasized this unique calling of the Hebrew race. In 46:13, the prophet in beautiful language expresses this thought, “And I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.” In 43:1-7, he encourages Israel by promising divine protection and help under all circumstances because they are “Called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yea whom I have made.” In Psalm 100:3, the writer says that the Jews are God's people and the sheep of his pasture.
From these and innumerable other statements from the prophets and the Psalmists, Israel's unique position in the world is seen. Palestine has been called the Bridge of the nations, because the ancient kingdoms in their commercial relations were compelled to pass through it. Also in their war activities they of necessity passed to and fro through Canaan. On account of Palestine's strategic position, God placed his chosen race therein in order that it might hold forth the torch of the true knowledge of His revelation.
All of her ritualism emphasized the fact that she was a nation separated unto God. The distinctions required by the Mosaic legislation likewise accentuated the thought that there was a distinction between Israel and her neighbors. Balaam, by prophetic vision saw her entire future history and proclaimed that “Lo, it is a people that dwelleth alone, And shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).
Attempts at amalgamation of the Jew with the Gentile have at various times been made by certain Gentiles and by Jews who have lost sight of Israel's divine calling and mission in the world. All of these efforts have been futile because a divine providence has been watching over this marvelous people and has preserved them in order that God might carry out His plan of blessing the world through the seed of Abraham.
The facts and teachings set forth in the preceding paragraphs account to a great extent for Jewish exclusiveness and self-isolation through the centuries. The average Gentile, not realizing the plan of God and not knowing the Scriptural teaching has misinterpreted this Jewish exclusiveness and has understood it to be a form of egotism and a feeling of superiority. I admit that in many instances egotism is very manifest and is deplorable, but one should be very careful in branding this misunderstood exclusiveness and separateness as egotism and bigoted ignorance. This characteristic must be taken into consideration by one who wishes to approach, in the most appealing way, his Jewish friend.
III. Jewish Theology
It is not sufficient to know the historical background of the modern Jew, which largely determines his thinking, and his God-ordained place in the unfolding of the eternal plans and purpose of the Almighty, in order to present the truth concerning Jesus of Nazareth to him. One must also understand him theologically. In the Tenach (Old Testament) the religious and civil codes were inextricably joined. Israel's calling in life being purely religious, her outlook upon the great world around her was and is largely from that point of view. Therefore one must understand the cardinal principles of her theology in order to present in an appealing and an intelligible manner the gospel of Jesus the Messiah. There are four of these fundamental dogmas of Judaism that must be understood by the one who wishes to approach the Jewish mind. He must also understand the teaching of the Old Testament on these vital doctrines.
1. The Triune Nature of the Divine Being
Deuteronomy 6:4 may be said to be the heart and soul of modern Judaism — in reality, it is the quintessence of the Jewish conception of religion. According to the orthodox Jew, Israel's divine mission in the world was and is to proclaim this one truth to all nations.
This verse is usually translated “Hear, Oh Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” Yes, Israel's divine mission is to proclaim the truth of this verse to all nations.
But what is the meaning of this verse? Modern Judaism honestly and conscientiously answers that it is a declaration that there is but one divine supreme Being. Countless thousands of Jews have in the past layed down their lives for this great scriptural statement, — rather for their understanding of it. It is my firm conviction that they have misunderstood it. Instead of its teaching the oneness of God in the absolute abstract sense, it is an unmistakable affirmation of the Unity of the divine personalities of the eternal Being.
A. The Plurality of the Divine Personalities
The word occurring most frequently in the Hebrew text which is translated “God” is in the plural number. This fact is well known to all students of Hebrew. It appears in Genesis 1:1, refer to the Creator of the universe and is translated in all versions as if it were a singular noun. In Exodus 20:3, however, the same identical word is correctly translated as a plural noun because it there refers to idols. If it is in the plural number in this latter passage, and no scholar questions this position, since the same form appears in Genesis 1:1, it evidently is the plural there. Again the plural significance of this word is seen by its occurring with the plural verb in such a passage as Genesis 20:13. The plural significance of this word likewise is seen in Genesis 1:26 where God has said, “Let us make man in our image and according to our likeness.” It is clear that the speaker and the one addressed are of the same image and likeness, that is, they are of the same nature and essence. Such language as this could never be spoken by the Almighty to a subordinate created being; therefore it is very evident that there are at least two personalities constituting the divine supreme Being. Other considerations found in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament lead to this same conclusion (for full discussion of this subject, see chapter 3 of "The Eternal God Revealing Himself").
B. The Unity of the Divine Personalities
The fourth word of Israel's great confession is usually translated, “Our God.” Grammatically and correctly it should be rendered “Our Gods.” This word is in the plural construct form with the personal pronoun, first person plural number added. This same suffix is added to the plural construct form of the word translated “Fathers” and is correctly translated with it, “Our fathers.” In Isaiah 53:4,5 the same plural suffix is added to the words meaning, “diseases,” “pains,” “transgressions,” and “iniquities.” In all versions these words are translated, “Our diseases, our pains, our transgressions, and our iniquities.” Thus when this suffix is added to the construct form of nouns about which there is no controversy, it with its noun, is always correctly translated in the plural number. Since in Deuteronomy 6:4 it is joined with the plural construct form of the word translated God, this construction should be translated “Our Gods.”
The second word in this confession which demands consideration is the last word, which is translated, “One.” Does this word mean one in the absolute sense or in the sense of a compound unity? Very frequently it has the former significance. On the other hand, the context makes it very clear that it signifies a compound unity. Of the many instances which could be given, I will give only one which is found in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.” Here are two individuals, two distinct personalities; yet God says they are or become one flesh. From this example it is clear that the word translated one can and does signify a compound unity (on this point see chapter four of “The Eternal God Revealing Himself”).
With the understanding of these two words, just discussed, it is clear that Israel's confession proclaims the truth to the world that Jehovah, Israel's Gods, constitutes a compound unity similarly to the unity existing between man and wife. There are more than one divine personality in the eternal Being; but, being of the same divine nature and essence, they constitute the one divine eternal Being.
C. The Trinity of the Divine Personalities
Throughout the Old Testament one reads of such expressions as, “The Spirit of God,” “The Son of God,” “The Angel of the Lord,” and “The Lord God.”
Are all of these expressions names of the same personality, or are there more than the one thus designated? This question may be answered by a careful study of Isaiah 48:12-16. Here it is evident
from the context that the speaker is the one who created the entire material universe. He concludes his statement by saying that “The Lord God has sent me, and His Spirit.” From this
quotation it is clear that there are three divine personalities: The Lord God, the creator of the universe, and the Spirit of God. These three personalities again appear in Isaiah 63:8-10. Other
passages could be given but these suffice to show that Israel's God is the Divine Trinity.
(For full discussion of the Triune Nature of God, see chapter 5 of “The Eternal God Revealing Himself.”) Every Hebrew honestly and conscientiously in the depths of his heart feels that there is but one divine personality. When one approaches him and presents the teaching of the New Testament concerning God, the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, he immediately says that his law teaches that there is one God, whereas the New Testament teaches three. Therefore it becomes of the greatest importance that one show from the Old Testament that the three divine personalities are clearly set forth in Israel's law.
2. The Divine Nature of the Messiah
Israel throughout the centuries has been earnestly expecting the coming of Messiah. The conceptions of Messiah, as held by the Jews during the centuries, have diverged at various times. The present-day Jews differ to a certain extent from many of their predecessors. It is of utmost importance to understand this present conception of the Messiah.
According to Orthodox Jewish theology vast hordes from the land of Gog will invade the land of Israel. She at that time will be in the land and will be in a prosperous condition. The Jewish forces will be mobilized and will be led by the “Messiah Ben Joseph.” This commander will be slain in the conflict. His place will be immediately filled by Messiah Ben David, who will lead the army on to victory and will expel the foes from the land. After this triumph he will establish a strong centralized and prosperous regime in the land. It is he of whom, according to Jewish theologians, the prophet spoke. He is a descendant of David. He is a military genius and a great executive, but only a man.
In Isaiah, Chapters 7-12, appears “The Book of Immanuel.” The central figure in this section is Immanuel who, according to 7:14, is to be born of a virgin. The word translated virgin in the Old Testament means a single woman of marriageable age, — as is clearly seen in chapter 11 of “The Eternal God.” (The forthcoming book, which I am writing on the Historical Foundations of the Gospel, and which I hope to have off the press in 1931, goes into a most thorough and detailed discussion of this word which shows beyond a doubt that it means a virgin in the common acceptation of that word.) This virgin-born child is “Emmanuel” — “God is with us.” The entire context proves positively the supernatural divine nature of this child.
This conclusion is confirmed by the prediction in 9:6,7 which foretells the time when a child is born unto the Jewish race, “And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” He is to mount the throne of David, reign, and “Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end.” This child, then, is one of the divine personalities in human form who comes to be Israel's Messiah.
This same divine-human Messiah appears in His glory in the 11th chapter of this book. It is He who restores Israel to her land, who lifts the curse from the earth, and who causes the glory of God to encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Therefore present-day Jewish theology is mistaken with reference to the nature and person of her promised Messiah. According to the Old Testament He is the divine-human ruler of Israel — one of the divine personalities in human form.
3. The Outline of Messiah's Career
As was seen in the preceding section, according to the Jewish theologians, there are to be two Messiahs — the Messiah Son of Joseph who is Messiah of suffering and Messiah, Son of David, who is the victorious deliverer of Israel. This doctrine is based upon, as I believe, an honest misunderstanding of the predictions concerning the suffering of the one divine-human Messiah.
There are various predictions of the suffering Messiah found throughout Tenach. One of the most important of these is Psalm 110. The old Jewish commentators understood it as Messianic; in fact the Targum of Jonathan inserts the word Messiah after the expression “My Lord.” This fact shows that he understood that it was purely a Messianic hymn.
In this majestic ode, appears the clear and detailed outline of the Messiah's career — either in plain statement or by clear inference. In our study of this Psalm, I am asking you, dear friend, to follow me as I endeavor to call attention to the teaching of this wonderful passage. “Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” In order to bring out in bold relief the predictions herein contained, I will recount a conversation which I had with the president of an orthodox synagogue. May I state here that this gentleman, who has since departed this life, was a most excellent righteous godly sincere man.
I handed him a Hebrew Bible and asked him to read and translate the first verse, which thing he did. He began his translation as follows, “God said unto my God.” I interrupted, and asked him to reread and translate. He scrutinized the passage more carefully and repeated his translation as he had read it at first. I then called his attention to his translation which implied that there is at least two divine eternal personalities — the speaker and the one addressed. He replied by saying that Moses taught that there is but one God and then asked me to hand him a Yiddish translation, which he read. He could not harmonize the thought of two divine personalities, here mentioned, with his conception of Deuteronomy 6:4, namely, the great confession of Israel already discussed; yet he said that this passage plainly teaches that there are two divine personalities. I insisted that he waive the effort to harmonize this passage with Israel's confession and asked him, for the sake of clearness, to call the one who is doing the speaking in this passage, “God Number One,” and the one who is addressed, “God Number Two.” He agreed.
I then asked him what had God Number One said to God Number Two, and he replied by translating the words, “Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” I then called his attention to the fact that God Number Two has enemies for the verse thus states it. To this thought he replied by asking me how could God Number Two have enemies. In reply to this query I recalled a kind remark which he had made earlier in the evening that he felt very kindly toward me, adding this question, “Now did you, Mr.…, like me five years ago?” Immediately he replied in the negative, stating that it was impossible because he had not known me that long. A second question I asked him was, “Could you have hated me five years ago?” To this question he immediately answered in the negative, stating that such a thought was impossible. I then called his attention to the fact that, since Messiah has enemies, the presupposition is that he has come in vital contact and relationship with certain persons who became hostile toward him. To this thought he assented, stating that such an inference was necessary. Without hesitation he then asked who these enemies were. In answering his question I urged him to read verse two, which thing he did.
I called his attention to the characteristic of Hebrew poetry known as “Hebrew Parallelism.” Frequently the poets expressed a thought in certain word's and repeated the same idea with some little modification or addition in the following line. This distinctive feature of Hebrew poetry enables one to understand the meaning more clearly. Thus in the first part of verse two, he speaks of Zion and in a corresponding part of the second line he speaks of Messiah's enemies. Hebrew parallelism, therefore, demand's that one understand that the people of Zion are the enemies of Messiah. When he saw this point, he asked me if it could be possible that the people of Zion could become enemies of their Messiah. To this question I replied in the affirmative because the prediction thus states that fact. In the further discussion I called his attention to the fact that this verse presupposes that Messiah comes to Zion. As to how he comes no intimation is given here.
After the people of Zion become his enemies, God Number One invites Him to leave Zion (Jerusalem) and to ascend to heaven and to sit at His right hand in the heavens. (I am thoroughly acquainted with those interpretations which endeavor to make this language apply to the command for the Royal Palace to be built on the south side of the temple of God, and like explanations. One has to violate the fundamental rule of interpretation to find such material references in this passage. Each word is to be taken at its primary ordinary literal meaning unless the context indicates otherwise. This context does not indicate that the words here are to be taken otherwise than literally; therefore I consistently hold to the literal meaning.)
According to verse one, Messiah (God Number Two), having ascended to the right hand of God Number One in the heavens, remains there until the latter subjects the formers enemies under Him, that is, until God Almighty providentially puts the people of Zion (the Jewish nation) under their Messiah whom they reject at his first coming. God Number One is at work in his effort to put them under his feet from the time they reject him until He has accomplished this task. Of course, in dealing with man, He respects everyone's power of free choice, but the ultimate outcome will be that God Number One will bring the Hebrew race to the point that it will gladly accept Messiah (God Number Two), whom it rejects at his first coming.
When this work is accomplished, Messiah will come to Zion the second time and the Hebrew people will most gladly and willingly offer themselves to Him — “Thy people offer themselves willingly in the day of thy power.” Messiah then assumes His government in Zion and He reigns over Israel. Not only will He be King of Israel, but He will also be a priest of the nation, “After the order of Melchizedek.”
From this little study, it is clear that the entire career of Messiah is clearly outlined by the prophet in this hymn. For the sake of clearness permit me to repeat it. The inference of verse one is that Messiah comes to Zion. Verses one and two state that the people of Zion, the Jews, become His enemies. Verse one foretells God's invitation to Messiah to leave Zion after His rejection by His people and His ascension to the throne of God in heaven. Verse one likewise shows that Messiah is to remain there until God providentially brings the Jewish nation to that attitude of mind when it will gladly accept His Messiahship. Verse three shows that the very people, the Jews, who reject Him at His first coming, most ardently accept Him at His return — “In the day of thy power.”
Thus two comings of Messiah to Zion are clearly seen in this passage. When he comes the first time He fulfills those predictions of the sufferings of Messiah; when He returns from heaven to Zion, He will fulfill those predictions of the glorious reign of Messiah. It is clear from this passage that there are not two Messiahs; but only one who is at first rejected and later returns and is heartily welcomed by his former enemies.
4. The Time of Messiah's First Appearing
In the preceding paragraph it has been shown that Messiah, according to the prophetic word, is to be rejected by his people at His first appearance. It is absolutely necessary, having thus shown from the Scriptures that He is to come and be rejected at first, to show the time of His first appearance as indicated by the prophets. There are two predictions which bear upon this point.
In Genesis 49:10 the prediction is made that “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh come, And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.” This prediction has been correctly interpreted by many outstanding Hebrew commentators as a definite prophecy of the Messiah. This verse presupposes that the time will come when the sceptre (the government) shall depart from Judah; or, in other words, this verse foretells the complete fall and destruction of the government of Judah. It likewise foretells that Messiah shall appear before that disaster.
It is a well-known fact that at the fall of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70 the Jewish government was completely annihilated and the people scattered to the four winds of the earth. Since then there has been no government in Judah. The prediction being true, it is evident that Israel's Messiah has come and, according to the other predictions, has suffered, and has been rejected by His people. From this conclusion there can be no escape.
A second passage giving the exact time of Messiah's appearing is found in Daniel 9:24f. In verse 24, Daniel is told by the Angel Gabriel that seventy weeks are decreed upon the Jewish people and upon the city of Jerusalem to bring in the glorious reign of righteousness and peace, which is constantly referred to by all the prophets. The expression (seventy weeks) means seventy sevens, or 490. The context must be consulted to ascertain the subject of discussion. According to verse two, Daniel had been reading about years; therefore the context indicates clearly that the seventy weeks refers to 490 years.
The beginning of these 490 years, according to verse 25, was the year when Cyrus issued a decree for the Jews to return to their homeland from exile. The year of the return was 536 B.C. according to Ussher's chronology or the year 3589 A.H. (from the creation of man). According to verse 26, sixty-nine weeks after the decree of Cyrus, Messiah is to “be cut off and shall have nothing.” According to this verse, Messiah was to come and to be cut off exactly 483 years after the decree of Cyrus. Was this prediction fulfilled?
Ussher's Chronology, which is the generally accepted one, is unreliable because it is based upon the computation of Ptolemy, the heathen astronomer, who arbitrarily chose the longer chronology for the Persian period. As for me, I am convinced that neither the shorter nor the longer chronology for the Persian period is correct. I prefer to accept the inspired infallable Word of God, as given by Daniel, that the Messiah was to be cut off 483 years after Cyrus issued his decree for the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Since the Word of God cannot be broken, it is evident to everyone who believes this message of God, that Messiah came and was cut off according to the prediction.
Having shown to the intelligent, honest inquiring Hebrew that the Tenach teaches the Triune nature of the Divine Being; that one of these Divine Personalities was scheduled to appear and become Israel's Divine-human Messiah; that Messiah at His first coming was to be rejected, received up into heaven and remain there until the Jews become willing to accept Him at which time He will return and reign over the world; and that His first coming was prior to the downfall of the kingdom of Judah, one is then prepared to show that Jesus of Nazareth, whose life corresponded exactly to all of the predictions of the Old Testament was and is Israel's rightful Messiah.
The Gospel according to Matthew was written especially to show to the Hebrew people that Jesus was their longed-for Messiah. It is well for one who wishes to present the claims of Jesus to the Hebrew people to familarize himself with this record of the Gospel. Having given the gist of Matthew to him, it is wise and proper for him to turn to the second chapter of Acts and present Jesus to the Jew just as the inspired apostle Peter did on the first pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus to His Jewish audience in the city of Jerusalem.
Chapter Three: Israel's Future Confession
I. THE PREDICTION OF THE TORAH
The foundation of all prophecy relative to the Hebrew race is found in Leviticus 26. The corner stone of this foundation, however, is found in Genesis 12:1-9 which passage recalls God's call of Abraham to a life of separation and blessing.
In Leviticus 26, a clear and detailed outline of Israel's history through the centuries is given. The fact that Jewish history is found to correspond exactly to the predictions proves conclusively the divine origin of Moses' message. The predictions found in verses 3-39 have been literally fulfilled. This fact is an absolute guarantee that the prophecy contained in verses 40-45 will be fulfilled literally.
In order that one's faith may be strengthened in the inerrant infallible Word of God, I deem it wise to rush hastily over this section which has already been fulfilled in preparing your mind for the consideration of that portion of the prophecy which awaits its fulfillment.
In verses 1 and 2 appear the first four of the ten commandments in a different form, however, from that given in Exodus 20. In verses 3-13 inclusive, God holds out, as an inducement to obedience and faithfulness to Him, the rewards of material blessings. Peace, plenty, and prosperity would characterize the land which, in contrast with surrounding countries, would be as the garden of Eden in comparison with the desert.
On the other hand, He warned her of the judgments which would come upon her while she was in her land in the event of disloyalty and disobedience to Him. The threatened punishment for disobedience would come in the form of a series of four judgments. The first one, verses 16-20, would consist of “Terror over you even consumption and fever.” In connection with these there would be the withholding of the rain, which would produce famine.
In the event Israel would not receive the correction, the second stroke of punishment would come in the form of the invasion of their country by the migration of wild ferocious beasts which would depopulate their land. The third stroke of judgment, in the event of continued disloyalty, would come in the form of an invading army which would reduce the country to a state of desolation and want. Following upon it were to be pestilences and famines.
If, after the three strokes of judgment just described, Israel did not receive correction and turn to the Lord, He threatened her with the extreme punishment of a severe siege and final expulsion from the land (verses 27-33). In connection with this prediction, it is necessary to call attention to a well-recognized principle which obtains throughout the prophetic word. This principle may be illustrated as follows: One from a certain position may look toward the mountains. In the foreground he sees the low lying foot-hills, but towering above these in the far distance, majestic mountain-peaks rear their heads. From the position of the observer, the valley separating these two ranges is not seen. He may speak of both ranges in the same sentence without mentioning the existing valley between. Thus it is with the principle of prophecy which is seen in these verses. In verse 29, Moses speaks of the horrible siege of Jerusalem which we know occurred in the year 70 A.D. In verse 30, however, he speaks of those sieges of Jerusalem which occurred in the years 606-585 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar warred against the Jews and carried the flower of the Jewish nation into Babylonian captivity.
These two sieges are clearly separated and differentiated in Deuteronomy 28, which is parallel to this prediction. In verses 36-46, appears the definite prediction of the Babylonian siege, whereas in verse 47f appears the prediction of the siege which occurred in A.D. 70, of which Josephus speaks.
In Leviticus 26:34-39 appears a description of Israel during her world-wide dispersion and also the condition of the land during that time. When Jewish history is checked with this passage of Scripture, it is evident to the candid mind that there is an exact correspondence between prediction and actual history. Therefore, as stated above, it is certain that Moses spoke by inspiration.
In the latter part of verse 39, God spoke of the iniquities of the Jewish fathers; but in verse 40, in speaking of a certain generation of Israel, he declares that:
They shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers; in their trespass which they trespassed against me, and also that, because they walked contrary unto me, I also walked contrary unto them and brought them into the land of their enemies.”
There is some iniquitous act which Moses designates as “Their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers.” In other words, there is some specific act or sin which Moses characterizes as the national sin of Israel in which the fathers trespassed against God and on account of which the Lord cast them out of their land and scattered them among the nations. The question arising at this point is, what act on the part of the Jewish fathers in the land can be considered as the national sin of which they and all of their descendants are guilty? May I with all due consideration for my Hebrew friends, yet with all firmness, declare that the only sin which can be characterized as the national sin of Israel is that of the rejection of her Messiah?
Let the reader note carefully the fact that there is but one sin which is singled out here, and which some future generation of Israel shall confess. In committing this act of iniquity the fathers trespassed against God. The succeeding generations take the same attitude in this matter as the fathers and are likewise guilty to the same extent as those who had committed the deed. The man who aids and abets in a crime is as guilty as the one who actually does the work. Therefore, it becomes necessary that this future generation of Israel confess “Their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers.”
The second part of this confession consists of their penitent acknowledgment “that because they walked contrary unto me, I walked contrary unto them and brought them into the land of their enemies.” The connection shows that the iniquity which they confess was the occasion of God's scattering her throughout the world. Let it be noted carefully by the reader that God is the one who scatters her among the nations, although He did use the Roman power to carry out this plan. Therefore her dispersion is the result of this definite sin. Until it is repented of and acknowledged, there will be no such thing as her being reestablished in her own land.
The prediction that Israel shall confess this iniquity unmistakably presupposes that the knowledge of this sin will be brought to her attention and that she will be convinced of her wrong. One can never make a confession of a wrong until he has been thoroughly convinced that he is guilty; therefore in some way or other, the entire nation of Israel will learn of the great mistake and sin of the rejection of the Messiah; but Moses does not inform us what method God will use in bringing the knowledge of this fact to the nation.
As soon as a man is convinced of his mistake or sin, he does not always acknowledge his guilt, neither does he humble himself and accept the God-ordained punishment, which is providentially brought upon him. Thus it is with Israel. As soon as she learns of her wrong she will not acknowledge it. Her uncircumcised heart is still rebellious. Her God will have to humble her by bringing such punishments upon her that “She will accept of the punishment of her iniquity.” From other Scripture passages we learn that Israel will not acknowledge her fault and return unto her God from whom she has turned until she is suffering the great distress of the “day of the Lord” when God's judgments are in the world (see Hosea 5:15).
When she is really humbled and accepts in her heart and confesses that she has sinned against God in the rejection of her Messiah, God will remember His covenant with the fathers and will remember the land promise. At that time he will regather her and establish her in her own land.
II. The Prediction of Isaiah
Moses simply made the prediction that Israel will make this confession but did not give any details. Isaiah, however, made a statement of it in 53:1-9. In order to understand this great passage, it is necessary for one to understand the historical situation of the prophet and also the point of view from which he uttered this oracle. His ministry, according to 1:1, coincided with the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; kings of Judah. This fact would make his ministry fall within the years 740-713 B.C., according to Ussher's Chronology. The prophet who, in chapters 7-12, foretold the glorious day and reign of King Messiah, projected himself by the Spirit of God into the future and identified himself with a certain generation of Hebrew people who will make this great confession. For the purpose of clearness and definiteness, may I say that he in this vision projected himself into the year 1930-plus (The word plus is used to signify the fact that I do not know how many more years before Israel shall make this confession). In the year 1930-plus the entire nation of Israel having learned the facts concerning the execution and death of King Messiah will, in genuine penitence confess in an open and public way, her former misunderstanding relative to Him and then will acknowledge her error and sin. Thus Isaiah 53:1-9 is the penitent confession of the nation as it looks backward to the first advent of King Messiah nineteen centuries prior.
In the first three verses there is a little confusion in the translation because different tenses are used. In verse two the past tense is used in the expression “He grew up”; in the middle of the verse, the present tense is used in the expression, “He hath no form nor comeliness”; in the last of the verse, “And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him,” the tenses are mixed. The expression, “When we see Him,” has a future significance; “there is no beauty” is in the present tense; the last expression “we should desire Him” also has a future significance. This confusion disappears when one realizes that the Hebrew verbs do not express the time element, which must be always gathered from the context. The two forms of the verb express, respectively, completed action and incompleted. When this passage is understood, as the context most clearly shows, to be the confession of a future generation of Israel and is read from that point of view, all confusion disappears. This future generation looking back at the weary waste of nineteen centuries confesses for itself and for all its ancestors that He, the Messiah, did not come according to their expectations; therefore they did not accept Him; gave Him no consideration whatsoever.
In verses 4-6 they state their estimate of their Messiah, which is the correct one, because at that time they will see the real facts as they are. Their former conception was that He was smitten for His own sins and transgressions; the truth concerning Him which they shall have learned is that He was pierced for the transgressions and iniquities of the whole nation. In verse 6 they confess that all of them-the entire nation went astray like a flock of sheep. The context shows that the thing concerning which they went astray was their failure to recognize their Messiah when He came the first time and suffered for them.
Verses 7-9 are a detailed graphic statement made by this penitent remnant concerning the arrest, the miscarriage of justice at His trial, His perfect submission in all matters, the failure of the entire nation to recognize the significance of His atoning death, the intention of His enemies to bury Him with the wicked, and His being buried by a rich man since His life was pure innocent and holy.
Such is the confession which the convinced and convicted Remnant of Israel shall make in the future. When it thus confesses and accepts Him, He will return in glory at which time the nations who have rejected Him shall be struck with amazement and wonder. “For that which had not been told them shall see and that which they had not heard shall they understand.” A very touching description of the contrition of heart of the penitent remnant of Israel is seen in Zechariah's prophecy 12:10f when the nation is thus genuinely repentant of its sin.
III. The Prediction of Zechariah
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto 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, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there he a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Meggidon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of the Shimeites apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” (Zechariah 12:10 - 13:1)
From the quotation given above, it is evident that there is to be a great day of contrition and repentance throughout the entire nation of Israel. This mourning will reach to the very depths of the human heart and on such a scale as has never been witnessed by the world. It will be of a genuine character and manifest itself in such a way as man has never dreamed. When this event occurs, as never before, will the fountain be opened for sin and for uncleanness to the entire nation of Israel. This passage presupposes the learning of the real facts in regard to the rejection of Messiah and the open confession of which Moses wrote in the Torah.
IV. The Prediction of Jesus of Nazareth
Having seen what the prophets said in regard to the confession of the race, it is now proper to ascertain what Jesus of Nazareth said relative to the same subject. In Matthew 21 appears the record of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the Passover when he was condemned and crucified. On Monday morning when He went to the temple the leaders of the Jews came to Him and asked Him by what authority He was teaching the people. These leaders — members of the Sanhedrin — felt that they were the custodians of the faith and that they were the ones to teach the people. Furthermore they thought that no one had any right to teach without their authority. In 21:23 appears the record of their approach to Jesus. In the course of the day various groups from the leaders attacked Him in an effort to entrap Him in His speech. Finally, He in the presence of the multitudes exposed the hypocrisy of these leaders as is recorded in chapter 23. He concluded His exposure of them by His sad lament found in verses 37-39:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
The question at this point is, to whom did He refer by the word, “Jerusalem”? It certainly cannot refer to the entire population of the city for it is well known that the peoples were not the ones who had stoned the prophets and messengers of God sent unto her. Thus this statement designates most clearly to whom he referred, namely, those who had the power to execute the death penalty. It is a well-known fact that it was the Great Sanhedrin, and it alone, who had this authority. But one may object that in the time of Jesus the Romans controlled Palestine and that the Jews could not pronounce the death sentence upon any one. To this objection I wish to reply that it is true that the Romans, though granting to the Jews liberty in all civil matters when they paid their taxes, did deny them the right of the exercise of the death penalty. This restriction did not deny them the right to ask the Romans to exact this punishment. They had their courts which functioned as before the Roman occupation. These courts could hear evidence and could come to a decision of their own; if, however, their findings, in their opinion, justified the death penalty, they could submit the case to the Romans and could ask them to confirm their decision and to execute the condemned. Such were the conditions as they are set forth in the Gospel Records. In this case the Romans would be merely the agents who acceded to the requests of the Jews and carried out their will. Hence in reality those who brought the accusations and insisted upon the execution of the penalty are the ones responsible for the act.
Another fact must be taken into consideration here. At the time of Jesus the method of stoning was not in vogue. The Romans had introduced the custom of crucifixion. So far as evidence is available, there had been no prophets and messengers of God executed since the Romans had conquered the country. This fact points most clearly to the fact that he was talking to that authoritative body of men — the Sanhedrin — who had, before it had been deprived of the right to exact the death penalty, stoned the prophets and messengers of God.
The conclusion arrived at is confirmed by the context. The occasion of His exposures was the insidious attacks upon Him which were in nowise justified. In chapter 23 He constantly refers to these leaders who were sitting in Moses' seat and whose lives were corrupt. In concluding His denunciations of them He called their attention to the murderous condition of the hearts of the men composing that body throughout the days of the prophets. The implication of these words is that they were of the same character as their predecessors. In fact at other times He had foretold that they would demand His death. He knew that they were ready to condemn Him, just waiting for the opportunity. Hence it is abundantly evident that verses 37-39 were addressed to the Sanhedrin.
The idiom of addressing the authorities in terms of the city in which they meet is no uncommon usage with us. Every day one hears such expressions as “London says so and so,” or “Paris says,” etc. Every one knows that these expressions when used in connection with governmental matters refer only to the authorities in those capitals. In referring to some communication from the English government, one most appropriately says that London has said thus and thus. When Jesus said, “O Jerusalem,” etc., He without doubt had only the rulers in mind.
He prophesied that their house would be left unto them desolate. It seems to me most probable that this language is an echo from the historic account of the departure of the Shekinah of Glory which departed from the Temple as is recorded in the first ten chapters of the prophecy of Ezekiel. God's presence would no more be known nor approached in connection with the temple service.
The prediction is that “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Since he is addressing the Sanhedrin — the leaders — the language can mean nothing more than that he will never return to the Jewish nation until that body of men in an official capacity comes to the point that it wholeheartedly says, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” When he came the first time, the common people heard and received him most gladly; on the other hand, the leaders not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God rejected Him and demanded His death. The common people looked to the leaders for guidance and acted not upon their own initiative but upon the advice of the leaders. Now Jesus declared, in no uncertain way, that that body will not see Him again until it says that he who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed. This language implies that it will be again in existence and that it will come to the conclusion that it will accept the one coming in the Name of the Lord. Whenever it officially says that the one who comes in the Name of the Lord is blessed, Jesus promises to return to Israel. Then will all of her sorrows and sufferings be ended but not until then.
In Matthew 24:15 Jesus assumes the existence of the Temple in the end of the Dispensation. Paul likewise assumed its existence in 2 Thessalonians 2. Jesus, in the same way, presupposes that the Sanhedrin will be reconvened and functioning in the end time (Matthew 23:37f). When He entered Jerusalem the last time before His death (Matthew 21:1f), He was hailed by the multitudes as the promised Messiah. He came to Jerusalem, according to Zechariah 9:9, in the nature of the Lord as her longed-for Messiah. Members of the Sanhedrin turned the popular tide of sentiment from being in His favor to active hostility against Him. In Matthew 23:37 is a veiled prophecy that they would treat Him as their predecessors in office had done to the former messengers of God. The continuity of the thought of the passage demands the following interpretation of the data given in these verses, when viewed in the light of the entire context: I have come to Jerusalem according to the ancient prediction in the name of the Lord; the people have gladly accepted me as their Messiah; you members of the Sanhedrin have turned the sentiment against me; your house is left unto you desolate, that is, in rejecting me, your rightful Lord and King, your temple worship will be an empty lifeless spiritless ritualism, the temple will be destroyed, and the whole house of Israel shall be, spiritually speaking, like a forsaken deserted house abandoned by its owner and occupant and left to the blighting work of the ravages of time; and you the Sanhedrin, guides of the nation, will never see my face until you reverse your decision, turn the sentiment of the people to me, and say that the one who comes in the name of the Lord, as I have done, is blessed. When you arrive at this decision I will return.
But one may call attention to the fact that all of these predictions concern the national turning of Israel to her Messiah; that at the present time God is not dealing with the nation but with individuals; and that therefore Christians should not be interested in this national awakening. This objection is only superficial. The injunction, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” is limited neither by time nor by race; it is an injunction for all who know God to observe. All of the children of God should especially be interested in everything that pertains to the Jew. Neither is the language, “I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse,” to be monopolized by any group of any given time, but it is applicable to all of all ages. On the other hand, since the Gentile Christians partake of the rich spiritual blessings which have come through Israel, it is especially appropriate that all of them should be interested in this spirit of inquiry that has arisen among the Jews. These people are our benefactors; their debtors we are; we must meet our obligations by assisting in every way to give the truth to them.
But one objects by saying that they are blind, according to Romans 11:25 and that it is a hopeless task to attempt to give them the truth. But that verse says that “a Hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in,” which statement is that the blindness is not total nor permanent. Paul in II Corinthians 3:16 declared that “Whensoever it (Israel) shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” These earnest souls want to know what the truth is concerning Jesus. They are turning to the Lord and, according to His promise, the veil will be lifted. The Gentiles have had their day and many of them are now turning from the truth. It seems certain that Israel's time is here now. It furthermore seems that the present inquiry and the great movements among the Jews are preparing the way for the time when a nation shall be born in a day. The Conversion of the Apostle Paul is a most excellent example of how the truth can come to those who have long time rejected the Messiah. Great will be the day of Israel when she has seen her mistake and the whole nation is born in a day.
In this lecture we have studied what three prophets, Jesus and Paul have said concerning the age-long mistake of Israel and of the cessation of all of her sorrows when she makes this genuine penitential confession. The Hebrew people long for the pogroms and the persecutions to cease. Let every one of them know that there can be no such thing as peace for Israel until the Great Sanhedrin is reorganized and most gladly welcomes the ONE coming in the Name of the Lord. (Some have thought that this development will only prepare the Jewish nation for him who is known as the Anti-Christ. Personally, I do not see how it can. The prediction says that the Sanhedrin must say that he who comes in the Name of the Lord is blessed. The Anti-Christ does not come in the Name of the Lord but in his own name.) Since Israel cannot possibly look for a cessation of her persecutions until its official body makes such a pronouncement, it is of the utmost importance that all of the people of Israel investigate this most important matter and call into existence her Ancient Court to investigate the question concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
The world was startled last spring when the report went abroad that some prominent Denver Jews had launched a movement to reorganize the Ancient Court for the express purpose of investigating the life, teachings, Messianic claims, and the condemnation of Jesus of Nazareth. In the following lecture I wish to tell you the startling facts concerning this unprecedented movement.
Chapter Four: The Sanhedrin Movement
I. Material Progress
These are great days in which we are living. “Many prophets and righteous men” have doubtless desired to see the things which you and I see, but were not granted that privilege. Developments are progressing with kaleidoscopic rapidity. He who does not keep apace with the onward march of present-day events by reading the very best magazines and books, cannot realize the significance of the times in which we are living. During and since the world war, thrones have been cast to the ground; national boundaries have been obliterated, and in many instances changed; old nations long since buried in the historic graves of the past have come forth into new national life; the voice of the great masses of humanity is now reverberating around the world and clamoring to be heard in the great chancelleries and parliaments of the nations; the inventive genius of mankind has been quickened into new life and has, by innumerable startling discoveries and amazing inventions, literally transmuted the civilization of fifty years ago into the realization of a modern Atlantis; the steam engine, the electric locomotive, the high powered automobile and truck have solved the transportation problem and has largely annihilated distance; man is no longer contented with traveling on the ground but increasingly is taking to the air; the spirit of the explorers of the fifteenth century has been revived in the hearts of numbers of fearless men who have braved the dangers of both the frozen Arctic and Antarctic regions, and have made known to us new worlds; the lecturer and orator is no longer contented to speak to a small group in the village school house or the public hall of the city, but his heart longs to deliver his message to the multiplied thousands throughout radio land; the drudgery of former years has passed away from modern life by the coming of innumerable mechanical and electrical devices which have driven the demon of human slavery and toil to the remotest outskirts of civilization; and man, unfettered and liberated from his former circumscribed and limited sphere, stands, as it were, on a high plateau where he breathes the fresh invigorating, energizing atmosphere of liberty and where he may have free choice to enter that field of human endeavor for which his heart longs, and in which he may attain the ideal of his aspirations.
II. Spiritual Awakening
Not only has there been progress in the betterment of our material civilization, and rapid strides forward in the social and intellectual realm, but also a spirit of inquiry and a thirst for spiritual satisfaction is tugging at the hearts of countless thousands today — especially among the ancient people of Israel. Little do the Gentiles realize the great mental awakening and spiritual longing which entered into the very soul of Israel when General Allenby, on that historic and epochal day — December 11, 1917 — marched into the Holy City of Jerusalem with uncovered head and with a prayer upon his lips took possession of that ancient city, dear to the heart of both Jew and true Christian, in the name of the allied nations. On November 2 of that year, the Balfour Declaration had been made public which guaranteed Palestine as her homeland to the Jewish nation. Israel throughout the world was thrilled and electrified by the report of General Allenby's success, seeing the realization of her age-long hope of her regathering and reestablishment in the homeland in the near future. With gratitude and praise to God, services were held in the synagogues throughout the world, thanking God for his marvelous deliverance of Jerusalem and the possibility of the realization of Israel's hope in the immediate future. Only a Jew can appreciate this thrill of ecstasy which caused every chord of the soul to vibrate with unbounding joy. The Zionist who had battled against great odds from the days of Theodore Herzl, and who to a certain extent had become discouraged on account of the many reverses, then took new courage, being inspired by the great vision assured by the Balfour Declaration. With the awakening of the national aspirations the deep spiritual nature, characteristic only of the Hebrew, was stirred to its depths and fanned into a flame of longing for God and communion and fellowship with Him. In many instances this flame has died down and become almost extinct, while in many other hearts it has become a consuming fire which is increasing day by day. As evidence of this fact, one has only to note the Jewish movement which was inaugurated in Denver, Colorado, at Passover in April, 1929, and the profound response on the part of many Jews throughout the world to its unparalleled proposal.
III. The Origin of the Movement
This awakening may be designated as “The Sanhedrin Movement.” It originated with and is sponsored by some outstanding prominent orthodox Jews of Denver, Colorado, and vicinity. The man who, as I believe, has been raised up of God, as was Joseph and Esther of old for certain specific definite purposes, is a very prominent lawyer and industrial leader in his city. He is a very brilliant man who stood at the head of his class at the university and who was admitted to the Bar of Colorado in 1899. In recent years he has devoted most of his time to commercial pursuits. His professional and commercial life has given him a very wide range of experience and contacts with outstanding men and movements.
According to a personal friend of mine who lived near him for fourteen years, “there is no more righteous, godly and sincere man who desires truth, righteousness and justice in the state of Colorado than he.” According to another friend of mine who has been acquainted with him for five years, he is a bold, fearless man who is prompted by the sincerest and holiest motives in his endeavor to bring about the reconvening of the Jewish Sanhedrin.
IV. The Genesis of the Idea
Recently the French nation reinvestigated the case of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Upon an impartial thorough investigation of the facts, it was learned that an innocent man had been condemned; thereupon the court pronounced him acquitted. There has been no little discussion in Greek circles concerning a revision of the condemnation of Socrates, the ancient philosopher who was condemned and executed by the supreme court of the Athenians, though he was innocent of the spurious charge that he “corrupted the youths of Athens.” The ideal of renouncing the injustices of the past and of taking a positive attitude toward righteousness and justice seems to have taken hold of many nations. This idea struck the heart of this Denver man so very forcefully that he conceived the plan of a reinvestigation of the life, teachings, Messianic claims, and execution of Jesus of Nazareth who was condemned by the supreme court of the Jews and was put to death by the Romans. This man had read a great many statements from outstanding Jewish Rabbis and scholars who spoke of Jesus in the highest terms as a great good man of Israel.
Another contributing factor to his ideal was the positive stand taken by Dr. Joseph Klausner in his book, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Dr. Klausner arrayed much evidence and proved the historicity of Jesus, thus shattering the Jewish traditional conception of Jesus — that He was only a myth. Being convinced by Dr. Klausner that Jesus was a real historical character, and being attracted by the utterance of Jewish scholars to the effect that the character of Jesus is unimpeachable, this Denver lawyer was led to the conclusion that possibly an injustice had been committed by the contemporaries of Jesus in their demand for his death.
Another factor contributing to his ideal was a desire to promote good will between Jew and Gentile and to eliminate as far as possible, anti-Semitism — a blight upon the Gentile nations. In certain quarters seminars have been held for the promotion of better understanding between various religious groups of the world. He thought that by an investigation of the real facts much prejudice could thereby be eliminated.
Another weighty consideration added to the fact that the exclusiveness characteristic of the days of the ghetto has passed away. The Jew no longer is segregated to the dark dingy ghetto of the cities of Europe as in mediaeval days. Today he is brushing shoulders with his Gentile and Christian neighbors; he attends the same schools and universities, he engages in the various professional and commercial enterprises with his Gentile friends; and he meets them in social life. The question is constantly brought up as to the attitude present-day Jews are to take toward Jesus of Nazareth. The old conception found in the Old Testament of the solidarity of the Jewish race is still very potent in Jewish philosophy. The great masses of the Hebrew people look to their leaders and representatives for guidance; therefore he conceived the idea that, in justice to all concerned, it would be eminently proper for the Jewish nation to select a representative body to investigate the case of Jesus of Nazareth and to make an official pronouncement relative to Him which should answer the question, “What does Jesus mean to the Hebrew race?”
Jewish children are alert, more than adults realize, to every situation. They constantly are asking “the why and wherefores” concerning all matters. Therefore they are continually asking their parents questions, which are embarrassing to the latter, concerning Jesus. These honest truth-loving parents looking to their leaders for guidance desire that an investigation be made and that an authoritative official pronouncement of the historic facts be made in order that they may instruct their children accurately and truthfully.
V. The Reorganization of the Great Sanhedrin
The force of the foregoing weighty considerations suggested to his legally trained mind that the best way of obtaining the truth concerning the matter would be to reorganize the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin for the purpose of said investigation. The Sanhedrin dates back to the days of Moses. When the law giver could no longer attend personally to the many questions which confronted him as leader of the nation, God commanded him to:
Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” (Numbers 11:16,17)
According to Bishop Ussher's chronology this event took place in 1490 B.C. This court functioned as all other courts do according to the character of the men composing it.
Moses was instructed to choose out from among the people God-fearing men, “whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them.” Jethro, the priest of Midian and Moses' father-in-law, advised Moses (Exodus 18:21), 'Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness' ... In the decision of men of this character, Israel dwelt safely.”
This court functioned at Jerusalem until the destruction of the Jewish state in A.D. 70. After that disaster, the headquarters of Judaism was removed to Jamnia and later to Tiberias in Galilee. At the conclusion of the revolt against Hadrian, the Roman Emperor, its dissolution was effected in 135 A.D. Since then it has never been reconvened.
Since it is quite likely that Jewish theologians have naturally been biased in their opinions concerning Jesus, and since the one absorbing thought governing this Denver man, who is the exponent of the Sanhedrin idea, is that injustices should be corrected and righteousness should prevail, he conceived of the plan of sponsoring a movement which shall foster the idea of a reinvestigation of the life, teachings, claims, and trial of Jesus, and which shall eventually call out a truly representative body of outstanding Jews, who shall constitute this judicial representative body. Twenty-three of its members shall be rabbis, twenty-four practical business men, and twenty-four, scholars an professional men. Before any man can be confirmed to this high position of honor, his past record must be investigated and must prove beyond a doubt that he is a man of honor, integrity, impartiality, a lover of truth and righteousness, a man with keen spiritual discriminating powers, and one who is fearless and who will stand for his convictions regardless of consequences.
According to present plans at the proper time, a call will be issued to the seventy-one men who have been selected for this judicial body to proceed immediately to Jerusalem. They will be inducted into their official position by the taking of the most solemn oath in the Jewish ritual. This oath will require that each man weigh in an impartial and honest straightforward manner every particle of evidence that is presented and that he render a righteous and just decision according to said evidence and arguments regardless of the consequences of his decision.
VI. The Witnesses
Representative men from all Christian denominations and from the various divisions of Judaism will be invited to appear before this tribunal to present all of the facts, evidence and arguments which they have gathered and which bear upon the question at issue. Only competent scholars who give evidence of their being able to present testimony germane to the discussion will be invited to testify. At present some scholars both in the Jewish and Christian ranks have been asked to make special investigation with the view of presenting evidence when the court convenes. You, dear friend, will pardon me when I state that the leaders of this movement have requested that I investigate this matter and write a book giving the real historical facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth. In preparing this volume I am endeavoring to leave no stone unturned, but am asking information from all sources. May I say with gratitude and praise to God, that He by His special grace has enabled me to obtain certain facts and truths and has given me the opportunity of seeing some truth which I had never heard nor read in any works before. This evidence and testimony will prove of inestimable value in the decisions arrived at, as I believe, since they are germane to the special points involved.
It is my understanding that certain Jewish scholars have been requested to make diligent search to obtain whatever evidence they can find in order that it may be presented at this great trial.
From the facts just stated it is very evident that those who are sponsoring this movement are certainly sincere and earnest in their desire to learn what the facts are concerning Jesus of Nazareth who has touched and transformed the world as no one has done. The exponents of this movement are wanting all of the testimony available to be presented to the Sanhedrin in order that it may weigh all of the facts, evidence and arguments, and arrive at a just, righteous and impartial decision.
VII. Dissemination of the Truth
The radio is fast becoming the great medium of disseminating every kind of knowledge. It is the idea of those sponsoring this movement to allow all peoples by use of the radio, to hear all of the evidence which is presented just as if they were present in the court room. People who have been indifferent to religion will naturally, under these conditions, become interested and will begin to study their Bibles and weigh the evidence. All the evidence will be flashed over the cable and telegraph wires and printed in every paper of consequence throughout the civilized world. Thus the real facts concerning the historicity of Jesus and the genuineness of the gospel records will be brought to the world as never before.
That this prediction will be fulfilled may be deduced from the fact that, in the trial of John Thomas Scopes, the high school teacher of Dayton, Tennessee, who was charged with violation of the anti-evolution law, when Clarence Darrow of Chicago defended him, while William Jennings Bryan prosecuted the case, all the evidence and arguments were published in the papers throughout the country.
When Jesus of Nazareth, the most important personage of all history, is on trial, it goes without saying that every word of the testimony will be published throughout the world. From this fact, one may confidently predict that there will be a worldwide revival of Bible study; but let no one conclude therefrom that there will be a world-wide revival which will result in the conversion of all nations.
VIII. Results of the Trial
No one can foretell what decision any court may render. From all of the facts known to men, it appears to me that the worst decision that the Sanhedrin could render is that Jesus was simply a good man. That position is held by certain modernists in the Christian ranks. When He was here upon the earth, the general opinion was that He was a good man. Some, however, said that He was a teacher, others that He was a prophet, while others, who had special spiritual insight, saw in Him the immaculate Son of God.
Should the Sanhedrin pronounce Him only a good man, what would the reaction be? one may ask. The people who believe the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, might be surprised. Then again they might not, since the Jews have never recognized Him as the Son of God. Therefore the fundamentalist Christians would take it as a matter of course and let the subject drop. On the other hand, the modernists would be delighted since they agree with that sentiment. In this event, would there be, one anxiously inquires, a renewal of the persecution and pogroms against the Jews? There is nothing that would indicate such an unfortunate situation. I have heard little suggestions that the Jews fear an investigation of the life of Jesus lest anti-Semitism should be accentuated and heightened. Not in civilized countries where reason plays any part. I can see no occasion for the renewal of persecution regardless of the decision.
What would the results be if the Sanhedrin pronounced Him to be the Promised Messiah in the special and unique sense as is set forth in the New Testament? Many Jews and Gentiles would doubtless investigate the question more fully and accept Him as their Saviour. Many, however, would become indifferent to the question and pass it by as they have done throughout the centuries. Should the Sanhedrin arrive at no conclusion at all, what results would follow? The truth-loving people among both Jew and Gentile would continue their investigation, and would arrive at their own conclusion and act accordingly. Many, however, would dismiss the question entirely and continue in the way in which they had formerly lived. The facts and truth about Jesus may be compared to a magnet which is placed above a surface on which steel filings, sawdust, and other small particles are strewn. To the magnetic pull, the steel filings would instantly leap, as if by magic, to the nearest part of the magnet. The other particles would remain where they are lying. The facts and truths about Jesus would be similar to the magnet. The steel filings would represent the honest, conscientious truth lovers, whereas the rest of men would be like the other particles of material — they would be unaffected.
Those Jews who do not accept the truth will become indifferent to the claims and teachings of Jesus, but by the judgments of the great tribulation, they will be brought to a position where they will think most seriously. At the conclusion of this tribulation, they will be brought to the point of saying, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Then Jesus will appear in glory and deliver them. At that time all Israel shall be saved. The nation will be born in a day.
IX. The Date of the Trial
People constantly ask me when the trial will be held. No date has been set. Much preliminary work has been done and much remains to be accomplished. It is the firm conviction of the promoters of the movement that it is of God and that at the Lord's appointed time, the conditions will be ripe, the stage will be set, and the trial will be held. As to how long it will take for the hearing of the evidence and arguments and then for the deliberation and the sifting of the evidence, no one can predict. Let each one who loves the truth and who has a love and passion for Israel's salvation, pray earnestly to the Lord that He will overrule and hasten the developments in His own good time. In the meantime, let each of us do all in our power to give the truth concerning Jesus and salvation through Him, to the greatest possible number and to leave the results to the Lord. Let each one strive to bring about a better understanding between Jew and Gentile, and to break down Anti-Semitism. By so doing he will hasten the development of this New Proposal. In this lecture I have given my interpretation of the facts as I have gathered them from all available sources. In the next lecture I shall give the official documents which have been given out for publication. They will speak for themselves.
Chapter Five: Official Documents
As suggested at the conclusion of the last lecture, I will now give the official documents as they have come to me. They are most interesting, inspiring and instructive.
. . . . .INVITATION IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN
You are invited to attend and participate in a meeting at my home 663 Fillmore Street, Denver, Colorado, on the Sunday of the next Passover 5689, C.E. April 28, 1929, at 6 p.m., which meeting is hereby called for the purpose of discussing and deliberating upon the organization of a Jewish Society for the promotion of the Divine Mission of Israel. In furtherance of that purpose, this society will in due time select a representative who shall proceed to Jerusalem to confer with our brethren there, who will thereupon issue a Call from Jerusalem to all Israel throughout the Nations of the world, for the assembly of the Great Sanhedrin at the Holy City of Jerusalem, to review the jurisdiction judgments and decrees of the Sanhedrin acting at Jerusalem during the Power and Domination of Rome, and especially to consider and review the life and trial of Jesus of Nazareth.
And the Great Sanhedrin, after the impartial reception of all evidence appertaining thereto, and after the consideration of the historical circumstances surrounding these events, and after hearing every argument by all competent Christian as well as Jewish scholars, learned upon the subject, the Great Sanhedrin shall, after due and careful deliberation render a true decision, and righteous judgment therein.
The Great Sanhedrin, furthermore, shall review the decisions and judgments of our Rabbis, issued in the centuries following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman power, which decisions and judgments interpreting divine law, have vitally preserved the spiritual life of the Jewish people in all generations living the past twenty centuries, but which decisions and judgments of our Rabbis may now need revision in order better to provide for the future spiritual welfare of our people.
All of which acts, decisions and judgments, the Great Sanhedrin shall carefully review and CONSIDER IN THE LIGHT OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES and in the light of the recent tremendous events arising from the World War, which have profoundly affected the life of all nations, and which have deeply altered the vital currents of world history. And after due and careful deliberation upon all these matters, the Great Sanhedrin shall fearlessly render true decisions and righteous judgments therein and thereby promote the spiritual welfare of all Israel throughout the world.
May the Lord our God guide and bless all acts and deliberations serving to promote these matters to a good and righteous conclusion.
(Signed) SOLOMON SHWAYDER
Chairman Organization Committee.
Issued at Denver, Colorado U. S. A., Purim, 5689 (C.E. March 26, 1929).
. . . . .
An explanatory letter was sent with the invitation, as given above, which reads, in part, as follows:
A letter of explanation is appropriate at this time. You are solemnly assured that this enterprise is a purely Jewish movement. Loyal Jews who are earnestly devoted to the ideals of Judaism, have conceived and originated it and only Jewish people, who are firmly loyal to the principles and ideals of Judaism, will be permitted to become identified and associated with us.
The World War brought about such tremendous consequences, that many years will be required to fully liquidate them. One of the really great events that arose from the World War, was this conquest of Jerusalem by Great Britain. This momentous event has radically altered the status and has vitally affected the religious outlook of the Children of Israel. The Christian world cannot yet fully appreciate what has happened and what is now moving the Jewish Soul. For the first time in over two thousand years the Holy City of Jerusalem has now again, under the Providence of God, become a free city, where Jewish people may dwell in freedom and security, and where our Great Sanhedrin may again assemble and render true and righteous judgments in the name of God, and without fear of men.
This was not possible at any time in any generation, either during or since the power and domination of Rome over Jerusalem, until Great Britain was inspired to make the Holy Land free and secure to the Jewish people in this present generation. This freedom and security accorded to the Jewish people of this present generation involves an obligation to give a Jewish answer to the blood accusations hurled at the Jewish people. Since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Power, and in every generation thereafter, and for nearly two thousand years since the forcible dispersion of the Jewish people among the Gentile nations, violent blood accusations have been hurled against the Jewish people, holding them all responsible and guilty, our ancestors and their descendants alike, of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.
And for nearly two thousand years, the Children of Israel, in all generations have been compelled to stand mute and silent to all these violent accusations, because the little band of Jews, scattered broadcast throughout the Christian world, dared not to speak and give their answer and defend themselves in the presence of the vast numbers of hostile Gentile peoples that surround them.
And now, for the first time since the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the present generation of Jews has been granted the right, privilege and opportunity to give and organize an authoritative answer to the violent accusations that have been continuously hurled at us for these two thousand years. The Jewish people now have the liberty, freedom and security to give the World their solemn answer at the Holy City of Jerusalem, where the tremendous events took place, and which is the only proper place in all the world, where the Jews could give their true and proper answer.
Let us therefore now take the initial steps to organize and establish a Court of Review, and assemble the Great Sanhedrin at the Holy City of Jerusalem, to review the life and trial of Jesus of Nazareth. Let Christian scholars of every denomination be also invited to appear and present evidence and argument. Let us diligently and honestly search for the facts, and earnestly seek to discover the evidence, and thereupon boldly announce the truth. And if our ancestors were guilty of any crime in this matter, or violated any law or commandment of God, let the Great Sanhedrin fearlessly acknowledge our guilt, and crave Divine pardon. Let a true and righteous judgment be rendered, regardless of the consequences.
(Signed) SOLOMON SHWAYDER,
Chairman Organization Committee
. . . . .
LETTER TO JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT
Denver, Colorado, April 30, 1929.
HON. JOHN. CAMPBELL, Judge of the Supreme Court, State Capitol Building Denver, Colorado.
I enclose for your information a copy of a document, which will interest you. You were one of the judges who admitted me to the Bar in the Class of 1899. In recent years I have been more active in commercial pursuits, but now again I intend to place in practice the fruits of my legal education, and to devote these talents in the service of the organization of the Great Sanhedrin to be called and assembled in due time at the Holy City of Jerusalem...
But the conquest of Jerusalem by Great Britain is the inspiration of this movement. After ten years of constant conferences with representative Jewish laymen throughout our Country, I proceeded to Jerusalem last year to have further conferences with our brethren there, and the enterprise is now launched. It will now go forward, not depending on the actions or the life or death of any man or men.
I pray I may live long enough so I may have the opportunity of appearing as one of counsel before this Great Sanhedrin.
Your grateful friend
(Signed) SOLOMON SHWAYDER
. . . . .
LETTER TO PROFESSOR JEAN
While this matter (of the Great Sanhedrin) has been quietly discussed among large number of Jewish laymen since General Allenby electrified the world with his conquest of Jerusalem, and there is no doubt that a Great Sanhedrin will, in due time, be assembled, at Jerusalem, it is nevertheless true that details are yet in embryo, and await the ripening influence of time for any of us to know just how matters will develop. I think it is very desirable that such should be the situation, in a matter so pregnant with weighty conclusions.
None of us know yet who any of the personnel of the Great Sanhedrin will be. The Organization Committee feels that no less than three years shall be taken for the personnel to be selected. We feel also that the Sanhedrin ought not be dominated by men of ecclesiastical training and thereby incur the danger of having it unduly influenced by tradition, dogma and doctrine. So we have tentatively decided that the Sanhedrin shall be made up of twenty-three Rabbis of great learning and piety; twenty-four scientists and scholars of outstanding attainments; and twenty-four practical, hard headed business men, possessed of keen analytical minds. All of these men are of course to be Jews of outstanding honor, integrity and righteousness, so that when their names are announced to the world, every class of people, throughout the world, will concede that no finer, fairer, more intellectual and righteous body of men of like number has ever been assembled together for deliberation.
Of course, no man can predict what the Great Sanhedrin will do after they are organized and proceed with their work...
The present intentions of the sponsors of the movement are to confine the investigations only to the question of the life and trial of Jesus of Nazareth. What other angles will develop from this investigation and what other allied and pertinent questions will be discussed, no living man can predict. Many Jews will oppose this movement in fear, perhaps, that their cherished traditions, dogmas and doctrines will be shattered, and will fear, perhaps, that the Great Sanhedrin will declare that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. On the other hand, many Christians will also feel that some of their cherished ecclesiastical doctrines will not be approved, and many will fear, perhaps, that the Great Sanhedrin will not approve any denominational Christianity, a Christianity about Jesus rather than a Christianity of Jesus.
It is also agreed that before the Great Sanhedrin shall be permitted to function, each and every member thereof shall be separately sworn members, composing the leading Rabbis, Jewish scholars, and laymen of the world, should in due time, be assembled at Jerusalem to review the jurisdiction, judgments and decrees of the Sanhedrin acting at Jerusalem during the power and domination of ancient Rome and which was the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus.
While the trial and crucifixion of Jesus occurred nearly two thousand years ago, the matter has always remained to every generation thereafter, a burning issue for all Jews, down to this very day. Two thousand years is a very long time in the sight of man, but no statute of limitations is applicable, where men are accused of violating the laws of God, especially when a thousand years in the sight of God is but a day.
We should therefore cheerfully and manfully face the issue raised by the blood accusations hurled at the heads of ancestors and ourselves and carefully review and consider and give a solemn Jewish answer to the life, trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, that marvelous Jewish son who sprang from the loins of Israel and who is the most esteemed and venerated of all men in the sight of hundreds of millions of Christian People throughout the nations of the world. Let us also be reminded of the fact that in the very midst of the bitterest Christian persecutions of the Jews, that many of our greatest Rabbis and scholars have praised the personality of Jesus, and have certified that the propagation of Christianity was ordained through the Providence of God, as a means of bringing our Holy Scriptures and the knowledge of God to the Gentile nations of the world.
Let the present generation of Jews now grasp this glorious opportunity to redeem our good name of our ancestors and of ourselves, and for the sake of our children, and of the good name of the generations of Jews who are to follow us.
Let us therefore now take the initial steps to organize and establish a Court of Review, and assemble the Great Sanhedrin at the Holy City of Jerusalem, to review the life and trial of Jesus of Nazareth. Let Christian scholars of every denomination be also invited to appear and present evidence and argument. Let us diligently and honestly search for the facts, and earnestly seek to discover the evidence, and thereupon boldly announce the truth. And if our ancestors were guilty of any crime in the matter, or violated any law or commandment of God, let the great Sanhedrin fearlessly acknowledge our guilt, and crave Divine pardon. Let a true and righteous judgment be rendered, regardless of the consequences.
(Signed) SOLOMON SHWAYDER,
Chairman Organization Committee.
. . . . .
LETTER TO THE LONDON JEWISH CHRONICLE
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., July 1, 1929. THE LONDON JEWISH CHRONICLE, No. 2 Finsbury Square, London, E.C. 2, England.
An editorial by Mentor in your issue of June 14th, has been called to my attention. Your publication enjoys a world-wide reputation for high character and reliability, and for that reason it has surprised me to note the unfair personal criticism you indulge in, concerning an individual you do not know, and to attack a movement of which you cannot yet have any adequate knowledge of the facts. When you will have learned what we are trying to do, I am sure you will eagerly and most heartily approve the high aims and objects we have in mind. We are trying to preserve Judaism for our children, and to equip them with the necessary weapons to defend their spiritual lives against the assaults of what you call the Perversionists, and surely you must be in most hearty accord and sympathy with any such most worthy Jewish movement.
You write about the Jewish position regarding Jesus of Nazareth. What Is That Position? I will repeat the question, so as to emphasize it in your deepest conscience. What Is the Jewish Position Regarding Jesus of Nazareth? That happens to be exactly the very precise question to which the sponsors of our movement are earnestly seeking to secure an authoritative Jewish answer, from a duly organized and representative body of Jewish Rabbis, Jewish Scholars, and Jewish leaders, and when we have secured that authoritative Jewish answer, we shall promptly arm and equip our children with that Jewish weapon, and thereby enable them to preserve their integrity and Jewish identity, and maintain and promote their Jewish spiritual life.
I am not a theologian nor a scholar, but only an ordinary Jewish layman, actively engaged in commercial pursuits; but I have found the time to discuss the question with thousands of Jewish business men in America during the past ten years, since General Allenby reclaimed Palestine for Britain and Israel. I have also interviewed Rabbis, and have read the writings of many more, and have read some Jewish books upon the subject, written by eminent scholars, and it is impossible to find any consistent, harmonious Jewish answer or positive position upon the subject.
At best, these Rabbis and scholars express only their own personal opinions upon the matter, which are altogether variant and absolutely discordant, and wholly useless as a means of giving a united Jewish expression which could be used by the Jewish laity, in giving their Christian friends a Jewish answer as to what Jesus of Nazareth means to the Jewish people. It is a shame to have to admit it, but it is a fact, that notwithstanding nineteen centuries of time in which the Jewish people have been in close contact with Christianity our Jewish leaders have not yet formulated an organized and authoritative Jewish answer to this burning question.
Twenty centuries have come since the trial and condemnation of Jesus of Nazareth. When our Jewish ancestors lived in Ghettos, separate and apart from the Christian peoples, Jesus of Nazareth might very well have been ignored, and our Jewish Rabbis could quite consistently answer the Jewish people of the Ghetto, either, that Jesus was a myth, or a black magician or what not, and could get away with that opportunism.
The Rabbis could even refuse to give any answer at all, and sharply rebuke the inquiring laity for having the presumptuous temerity to ask such blasphemous questions, and the Rabbis could get away with that also. But these Rabbinical answers of the Ghetto can no longer avail the Jewish people living in these modern times. The ostrich may hide her head in the sand, but that action does not remove the peril that threatens her. As compared with these variant answers of the Rabbis of the Ghetto we find that many Rabbis of modern synagogues and temples, particularly of the so-called Reformed Jewish temples, have certified that Jesus of Nazareth must be accepted as a great prophet in Israel, and some have even urged that the New Testament Scriptures be studied in our Jewish religious schools. The result of all these divergent and discordant opinions among our Jewish leaders has been to plunge the Jewish people into mental turmoil and spiritual misery, and some organized constructive action must speedily be taken, if disaster is to be avoided. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the Jewish people do not live in locked up ghettos any longer. We live among Christian people as friendly neighbors. We meet these neighbors eye to eye, and speak to them face to face. The radio in our Jewish homes transmit continuously the messages of the Christian gospels, and our Jewish children are asking us very embarrassing questions about Jesus of Nazareth. Shall the Jewish laity be abandoned by their leaders, and left helpless, and continue to remain neglected and unequipped to meet the Christian world on even terms? The Jewish people, with hunger in their hearts, are appealing to their Rabbis, to their scholars and intellectual leaders, to get together and organize and formulate an authoritative Jewish answer to this ever burning question of what the life and trial of Jesus of Nazareth means to the Jews. If our Jewish leaders will ignore the matter, and continue to neglect to act, and will refuse to give the world an authoritative Jewish answer to this question, the Jewish people, in despair, will find that they are raising up their children only for them to abandon Judaism altogether, or to consign them to the ranks of infidelity and atheism.
Chapter Six: The Imperishable Jew
I. God's Providence and Covenant
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 interpositions 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.
Aeroplanes are common today. Some of them weigh hundreds 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 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: “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, Counsellor, 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” Isaiah 9:6,7. 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.
II. 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, “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” (Exodus 19:5,6). Israel accepted the offer and entered into covenant relation with God upon that basis. It is true that she has been a stiffnecked 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:
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.” (Zechariah 8:22f)
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:
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.” (Micah 6:7,8)
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.
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:
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 afflicted 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.” (Micah 4:4-8)
Again, Isaiah, in speaking of the Jerusalem of the future, foretold its magnificence and splendor:
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.” (Isaiah 4:5,6)
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. “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” (Isaiah 11:11,12). 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:
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.” (Jeremiah 23:5-8)
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 fulfilment of the prophecy. Therefore it awaits fulfilment, 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.
III. The Budding of the Fig Tree
The Lord in Psalm 80 compared Israel to a vine which He had taken from Egypt and planted in Canaan. Isaiah likewise compared her to a vine in 5:1f. Joel also used the same figure and then immediately compared her to a fig tree. “He (a foreign invading nation) hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree; he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made clean white” (Joel 1:7). Jesus likewise used the fig tree as a symbol of the Jewish nation:
Now from the fig tree learn her parable; when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves,
ye know that the summer is nigh: even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors.”
Just as one knows that the summer is here when he sees the buds on the fig tree beginning to appear, he can likewise tell that the time for the Messiah to return is drawing near when he sees the beginning of national life in Israel.
Often we hear the statement that Israel is God's timepiece. Undoubtedly this statement is correct. God ceased to count the 490 years mentioned in Daniel 9:24f when Israel rejected her Lord and King. When she begins to come back to Him and resumes her place of fellowship with Him as in days of old, the Lord's clock will begin to strike off the last seven years of that ancient prophecy, which message is sure and unchangeable.
Ezekiel in chapter 37 foretold this national awakening in his vision of the valley of dry bones. According to it, the dry bones, which symbolize the “whole house of Israel” (verse 11), begin, as if guided by an invisible moving directing hand, to come together, bone to its bone. Then appear the sinews upon them; next appears the flesh and finally the skin; but these flesh-covered bones are but corpses strewn over the dry valley — still there is no life in them. Later on the Spirit of God breathes upon them and imparts life after which event they arise in the valley a might and innumerable army.
In the vision the thing that causes the dry bones to come together is “a noise” and “an earthquake.” There must be something in actual history that is symbolized by the noise and the earthquake. It is manifest, since there is congruity and harmony between the symbol and the event signified, that they indicate some commotion, upheaval and disaster. What upheaval has been the means of bringing the dry bones of Israel together? I unhesitatingly answer that the World War with its consequent anti-Semitism and persecutions of the Jew shook the nation like the tremors of a mighty earthquake and caused him to realize that in unity there is strength and in division is weakness; and that Israel must have Palestine as her national home. Certain leaders in Israel preached this doctrine before the war, but never did the nation as a whole begin to come together, as is here set forth of the dry bones, until it was ruthlessly waked out of its false sleep of security, which had been induced by a misunderstanding of the attitude of the Gentiles and the vain yet alluring hope that in time with the cultivation of a spirit of good-will and education anti-Semitism would die a natural death and to every Jew would be extended the right-hand of citizenship and brotherhood. Being awake to the real status of the situation, all Jews — both Zionist and non-Zionist — are making a strong effort to reclaim the home land of Palestine. Most remarkable progress has been made, according to reports, and still greater progress is now in sight. It is true that there has been a temporary check because of the Arab atrocities of last year, but it is only for the time being. God is guiding and overruling. No one can hinder Him in His onward progress. The day is dawning for Israel to return to the land of her fathers. A new spirit energizes and animates the nation; great things lie out in the future for these oppressed people; but the real spiritual life from God cannot enter the nation until she sees her mistake of rejecting her King.
A new spirit of inquiry has sprung up in the hearts of the great masses of the nation. A different attitude towards the Gentiles, notwithstanding the many injustices suffered, is manifest on every hand. The spirit of fair play, justice, and friendliness is in evidence. The spirit of the old Ghetto is passing. Israel is willing to sit down to investigate the difference between her and her neighbors and to do all that she can to eliminate friction and to live in peace with her neighbors.
This attitude should strike a most tender and responsive chord in the hearts of the Gentiles. Let each one pray that by the overruling Providence of God all the bitterness of the past may be forgotten forever; that all Christians may do all in their power to make amends for the wrongs of the past; and that we may be of every assistance to these chosen people of God. Let each one who names the name of the Lord Jesus endeavor to the best of his ability to create the sentiment of friendship and goodwill between Jew and Gentile. Furthermore, let each one take advantage of every opportunity of presenting the claims of Jesus of Nazareth as the Hebrew Messiah and Saviour of the world. Let each remember, as was suggested in Lecture Two, where his Jewish friend is theologically and spiritually, go to him in the spirit of meekness and gentleness, and in love lead him to see the truth concerning his Messiah and Saviour.
In concluding the lecture on the Imperishable Jew, I would like to make a quotation from the late German Biblical scholar, Dr Kurtz “This bond (the covenant of God with Abraham) still continues, even though Israel has been banished for seventy and again for eighteen hundred years from the land of its inheritance. As the body is adapted and destined for the soul and the soul for the body, so is Israel for that country and that country for Israel. Without Israel the land is like a body from which the soul has fled; banished from its country, Israel is like a ghost which cannot find rest.” Watch the developments in Israel for they indicate that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Her national restoration is sure and certain. I cannot believe otherwise than that it is very close at hand. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.