You Have Boasted Against ME

Notice the oft overlooked fine print.

Ezek 35:10-15

10 Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the Lord was there:
11 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord God, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee.
12 And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.
13 Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.
14 Thus saith the Lord God; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate.

Mic 4:11-12

11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.
12 But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor ….

To speak against the mountains of Israel (obviously Jewish covenant claim), is regarded by God as blasphemy. Read it there in the text. Notice how He takes the words that men speak against Israel’s right to the Land as spoken against Himself, even though the nation, so far from attaining to covenant obedience, is a ‘sitting duck’ for the day of ultimate covenant judgment. Notwithstanding, God takes the contempt of Israel’s neighbors very personally. This needs to be probed as so much is at stake in this question.

The above are just two of a considerable number of passages that contain God’s view of the modern question of “divine right” to the Land, currently being hotly debated among evangelicals. As in so many of these examples in scripture, there is a mysterious overlap with a partial fulfillment in history that fell clearly short of of all the stated goals of the prophecy and a future fulfillment that will exhaustively fulfill every detail. This leaves a clear choice in interpretation.

Where there is a conviction that no part of the Scripture can fail of real and literal fulfillment, in conformity with the plain meaning of language and the original author’s intention, this points necessarily to a more complete fulfillment in future. This is particularly seen where the prophecy is set in the context of Israel’s ultimate salvation at the climactic day of the Lord. Where this principle is ignored or rejected on critical grounds, or the language spiritualized on dogmatic grounds, the tendency is to consign such passages to antiquity, voiding them of relevance or application to the modern circumstance.

While of course recognizing a partial fulfillment in past history, the demands of detail and context point necessarily to a future fulfillment that will include all the parts of the prophecy of which history makes no account, most particularly the final and everlasting deliverance of Israel at the Day of the Lord. As much as this has not happened, we conclude that such passages as these do indeed apply to the modern situation.

So much you know. What I want to particularly point out is that God’s great umbrage with the nations in their defiance of the covenant with regards to the Land in particular, is set in passages that presuppose Israel’s pre-millennial condition of covenant bankruptcy. The judgments that come upon the nations at the day of the Lord have particularly in view their view of Israel. That is to say, the attitude of the nations towards a still outstanding and binding covenant with Israel (the everlasting covenant; Ps 105:8-11) is regarded by God as more ultimately a statement of their attitude towards Him.

From the standpoint of His controversy with His people, it is God Himself who brings down the rebellious nations as a rod of discipline. But from the standpoint of the nations, this is high effrontery against the claims of His covenant that is the ultimate provocation of wrath on the nations. Let us not miss the paradox. “Offenses must come but woe to them by whom they come!”

Israel’s vulnerability to the curses and discipline of the covenant notwithstanding, when the nations move against them, a red line is crossed. Significantly, it is with act in particular that His anger comes up in His nostrils, as so many scriptures attests. Tell me if this does not mean that God continues to regard the Land and the people He chose to place there as uniquely His by “divine right”?

Israel’s shortcoming of covenant obedience, which Christians now rightly see as gospel obedience, was never before a final deterrent of entrance into the Land, whether initially with the Exodus or the return from Babylon. The remnant of true regeneration was always only comparatively small as it is today. The only thing that ever cast Israel out of the Land was when the cup of iniquity would come to full, when the iniquity of the Land would reach intolerable proportions.

Furthermore, when Israel went back to the Land, it would be at best a ‘day of small things’. The return would fall clearly short of the promise. Return to the Land was not based on a national repentance. This is to confuse any pre-tribulational return to the Land, whether ancient or modern, with the final and complete return that is indeed based on the post-tribulational repentance of the penitent remnant that becomes the all holy nation born in one day after Zion’s travail.

With the return from Babylon, there would be a time of refreshing in the Land but it was not expected by the prophets of the return (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) to last. Even the post-captivity prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, who led in the revival, and Malachi would continue to look ahead to an ultimate day of the Lord, the final transition from this age to the next.

However long they would stay in the Land follwoing their return from Babylon (Daniel said 70 weeks of years), whatever the ups and downs, there would remain still ahead an ultimate time of unequaled trouble called, “Jacob’s trouble.” This would include yet another brief and final time of terrific desolation and Jewish flight to places of safety. In the fore-view of the prophets building on Moses, this would be the last installment of the ongoing discipline of the covenant that must follow Israel to the end of the age. As much as the tribulation is still future, Israel’s further desolation is still future.

In all of this, the point most clearly to made for our purpose is that despite Israel’s outstanding exposure to covenant discipline and divine judgment, this by no means detracts from the wickedness and bold defiance of the Word and Spirit of God that becomes explicit wherever presumptuous words and hands of self righteous men are raised against God’s chosen people, the Jews, and against the Land He sovereignly gave to them by divine right, not of a temporal, conditional covenant, but an unconditional, and therefore everlasting covenant. It is His holy and divine work to bring them to that place and He is surely able, but in the meantime, the nations are accountable to know, not only His counsel but His heart towards them. That was the church’s job, but you know the paradox of history.

Let us be very clear: The gift of the Land was never based on any superior righteousness of the Jewish nation (Deut 9:4-5). Quite the contrary, it was given by free and sovereign grace. However, their ability to keep the Land in abiding peace would never be finally secure to them until the whole of the nation, without the exception (Jer 31:34), would all be regenerate “from that day and forward” (Eze 39:22, 28-29). That Israel will exist millennially as an entirely saved nation after the last gentile aggressor has been destroyed at the end of the ‘times of the gentiles’ is made ‘inexcusably’ plain all throughout the prophets (Isa 4:2-3; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; Jer 31:34, to mention only a few).

Although Israel must remain vulnerable to covenant judgment util that day, still, whether in the Land or out of the Land, they are no less set apart and no less beloved, despite their covenant infidelity and enmity against the gospel, so that to look upon them as covenantally insignificant, let alone to lay presumptuous hands on what God has chosen and about whom He has so definitely spoken, is in all the scriptures a precursor to wrath. Antisemitism is a sign of self righteousness and pride that discerns nothing of the true nature of divine election and mercy that is not based on works. Its resurgence is a modern sign of the first magnitude. It is always a portent of disaster and curse upon the nations that embrace it, because it represents something profoundly near to the heart of God that can only be spiritually discerned.

He gave them up for a brief moment, for their sins, yes, of course, but in a deeper sense, for us, for had He brought them in at that time, as He will surely do at the appointed time (Ps 102:13), where would we be? In a mystery, their momentary blindness is an alabaster box of divine sacrifice of unspeakable cost that to sleight or despise is to provoke His profound displeasure.

Filed under
Bible Study, Ezekiel
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