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The Re-establishment of Israel in Palestine, an Event to be Expected Within This Harvest Period—How, and to What Extent, and With What Class, We Should Expect This Restoration—Date of its Beginning, and Evidences of its Actual Progress Since—Why Millennial Blessings, Intended for All Mankind, Will Reach and Revive the Jew First—The Revival of Jewish Hopes—Observations of Leading Jewish and Gentile Writers—The Harmony of These with Prophecy—Israel's Blindness Respecting Christ Already Turning Away—The Spread and Momentum of the Movement—God Will Help Them.
"In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God." Amos 9:11,14,15
AMONG the relics of antiquity that have come down to our day, there is no other object of so great interest as the Jewish people. The searchers after ancient lore have untiringly questioned every inanimate object that could give a mite of historic or scientific information. Monuments, altars, tombs, relics of public and private edifices, paintings, sculptures, hieroglyphics and dead languages have all been appealed to; and some have even endeavored patiently to discover the line of actual truth which probably inspired the many fanciful traditions, legends, songs, etc., that have come floating down the centuries, in order to learn all that [C244] it is possible to know of human origin, history and destiny. But the most interesting relic, and the one whose history can be most easily deciphered and understood is the Jewish people. In them we have a monument of antiquity of inestimable value, upon which are recorded, in clearly legible characters, the origin, progress and final destiny of the whole human race—a living and intelligent witness of the gradual outworking of a wonderful purpose in human affairs, in exact conformity with the predictions of their divinely inspired prophets and seers.
As a people, they are marked as distinct and peculiar by every circumstance of their history and by their common religious faith, as well as by every element of their national character, and even by their physiognomy and their manners and customs. The national characteristics of many centuries ago are still prominent, even to their fondness for the leeks and onions and garlic of Egypt, and their stiffnecked obstinacy. As a people, they truly had much advantage every way, in having committed unto them the oracles of God, developing among them poets, lawyers, statesmen and philosophers, and leading them up step by step from being a nation of slaves to be—as in the time of Solomon, the zenith of their glory—a people distinguished and honored among the nations, attracting the wonder and admiration of the world. Rom. 3:1,2; 1 Kings 4:30-34; 10:1-29
That the re-establishment of Israel in the land of Palestine is one of the events to be expected in this Day of the Lord, we are fully assured by the above expression of the prophet. Notice, particularly, that the prophecy cannot be interpreted in any symbolic sense. It is not a Canaan in heaven to which they are appointed, but a Canaan on earth. They are to be planted upon "their land," the land which God says he had given them, the land which he promised [C245] to Abraham, saying, "Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land WHICH THOU SEEST, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. [An intimation of a then far distant period, giving ample time for such a multiplication of his seed.] Arise, walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee." "And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger —all the land of Canaan, for an EVERLASTING POSSESSION." (Gen. 13:14-17; 17:8) It is a land into which they were once privileged to enter, and in which they dwelt for centuries. But during that time they were many times plucked up and carried into captivity in other lands, while strangers wasted their cities, drank the wine of their vineyards, and ate the fruit of their gardens. And finally they were completely rooted out, their cities laid waste and desolate, and they were driven as wanderers and exiles from country to country the world over. But when replanted in their land according to this promise, "they shall no more be pulled up out of their land," which God gave them; and "they shall build the waste cities [cities in which they had formerly lived], and inhabit them." A scattered, homeless, desolate and persecuted people, they are still a distinct and homogeneous people. United by the strong ties of blood relationship, by common hopes inspired by a common faith in the wonderful promises of God, though they have but dimly comprehended those promises, and still further bound together by the bond of sympathy growing out of their common sufferings and privations as exiles, they, to this day, look and long for the hope of Israel.
As a people they still have faith in God, though in their blindness and pride of heart they have stumbled over the humility of God's appointed messenger for the world's salvation; so that, instead of receiving him, they crucified the Savior, the Lord of glory. And yet the apostles and prophets show us that even this flagrant crime, to which their pride and self-will drove them, was not one which could never be forgiven them. Because of it, they have been punished, and that severely. When they condemned the Just One and said, "His blood be upon us and upon our children," they little expected the fearful recompense which followed.
The terrible trouble and loss of life, the destruction of their holy city and temple, the full end of their national existence, and the scattering of the surviving remnant as exiles into all nations, completed the work of their harvest period. It began in factious civil strife and was completed by an invading Roman army. Fire, sword and famine accomplished upon them a fearful recompense.
And since that time Israel has truly been a nation scattered and peeled. Driven as exiles from country to country, and from province to province, they have been deprived of almost every right and privilege which other men enjoyed. Rejecting Christianity, as well in its corrupted as in its pure form, they became the objects of the contempt and relentless persecution of the Church of Rome. Says the historian:
"In Germany, France, England and Italy, they were circumscribed in their rights by decrees and laws of the ecclesiastical as well as the civil powers, excluded from all honorable occupations, driven from place to place, compelled to subsist almost entirely by mercantile occupations and usury, overtaxed and degraded in the cities, kept in narrow quarters, and marked in their dress with signs of contempt, plundered by lawless barons and penniless princes, an easy prey to all parties during the civil feuds, again and again robbed of their pecuniary claims, owned [C247] and sold as serfs by the emperors, butchered by mobs and revolted peasants, chased by monks, and finally burned in thousands by the crusaders, who also burned their brethren at Jerusalem in their synagogues, or tormented them by ridicule, abusive sermons, monstrous accusations and trials, threats and experiments of conversion....They could own no land, belong to no guild of mechanics and engage in no form of art; they were shut up almost exclusively to trading. And, finding all mankind at war with them, their national pride and arrogance were by no means softened, and the breach consequently widened between the Jews and their Gentile neighbors everywhere."
Thus estranged from God and from their fellowmen of every nation, sad and pitiable indeed has been their miserable condition. During the relentless Papal persecutions, they have suffered in common with the saints and martyrs of Jesus—the Christian for his rejection of Antichrist, the Jew for his rejection of both Christ and Antichrist. While God has permitted these afflictions and persecutions to come as a penalty for their national crime of rejection of the gospel and crucifixion of the Redeemer, he will nevertheless in due time reward the constancy of their faith in his promises, to which they have so long and so perseveringly held. God foreknew their pride and hardness of heart, and foretold it as well as the evils which have come upon them; and no less pointedly has he foretold a departing of their blindness and the ultimate fulfilment to them of all the earthly promises declared long ago to Abraham and repeated by one after another of the holy prophets.
As the time for the promised restoration of God's favor to Israel draws on, we see a preparation being made for it. Within the present century a sifting and separating process is manifest among them, dividing them into two classes, the Orthodox and the Non-orthodox Jews. The former still hold to the promises of God, and still hope that God's set [C248] time to favor Zion may soon come. The latter are losing faith in a personal God, as well as in the Abrahamic promises, and are drifting toward liberalism, rationalism, infidelity. The Orthodox include most of the poor, oppressed Jews, as well as some of the wealthy and learned, and are vastly more numerous than the Non-orthodox; though the latter are by far the more influential and respected, often merchants, bankers, editors, etc.
"I believe with a true and perfect faith (1) that God is the creator, governor and maker of all creatures, and that he hath wrought all things; (2) that the Creator is one, and that he alone hath been our God, is, and forever shall be; (3) that the Creator is not corporeal, not to be comprehended with any bodily properties, and that there is no bodily essence that can be likened unto him; (4) that nothing was before him, and that he shall abide forever; (5) that he is to be worshiped and none else; (6) that all the words of the prophets are true; (7) that the prophecies of Moses were true; that he was chief of all wise men that lived before him or ever shall live after him; [We may consider them somewhat excusable for this overestimate of such a noble and worthy character.] (8) that all the law which at this day is found in our hands was delivered by God himself to our master, Moses; (9) that the same law is never to be changed, nor any other to be given us of God; (10) that God understandeth all the thoughts and works of men, as it is written in the prophets—'He fashioneth their hearts alike, he understandeth all their works'; (11) that God will recompense good to them that keep his commandments, and will punish them who transgress them; (12) that the Messiah is yet to come; and, although he retard his coming, yet 'I will wait for him till he come'; (13) that the dead shall be restored to life when it shall seem fit unto God, the Creator, whose name be blessed and memory celebrated without end. Amen."
Since the destruction of their temple and their dispersion, the sacrifices have been discontinued; but in all other respects the Mosaic requirements are still observed among the Orthodox Jews. Their worship, as of old, consists in the reading of the Scriptures, prayer and praise. On the second day of their feast of trumpets they read the account of Abraham's offering of his son Isaac and God's blessing on him and his seed. Then they blow the trumpet and pray that God would bring them to Jerusalem.
The Non-orthodox or Reformed Jews, "Radicals," differ widely from the Orthodox: many of them are avowed atheists, denying a personal God. They deny that any Messiah is to come; and if they do not deny prophecy entirely, they explain that the Jewish nation is itself the Messiah and is reforming the world gradually, and that the sufferings predicted of Messiah are fulfilled in their persecutions and sufferings as a people. Others of them declare that civilization is the only Savior of the world they expect.
It will be the former class, no doubt, that will be regathered and blessed when Messiah comes a second time, in glory and power; who will say, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation." (Isa. 25:9) And in the clearer light of Messiah's teaching, all faith in the vain traditions which they still hold as valuable additions to the law of God will vanish away. The time is fast approaching when God will speak peace to Israel and comfort them and fully turn away their blindness. We do not by this mean to intimate that those who have wandered far off into infidelity will never have their blindness removed. God forbid. The blind eyes of all, and of every nationality, will be opened; and all the deaf ears will be unstopped. But no special favor will come to these infidel Jews at the time of the returning favor; for "he is not a Jew, [C250] who is one outwardly"—merely by family relationship and facial expression. The Jews recognized by God as children of Abraham are those who hold to the faith of Abraham and trust in the divine promises.
And here we must express our dissent from the views of those who claim that the Anglo-Saxons are the Israel of promise, in the Scriptures. Briefly stated, they claim that the Anglo-Saxons, the people of the United States, etc., are the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel which separated from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, after Solomon's death, and which are often termed "the ten lost tribes"; because, after the captivity (of the entire twelve tribes) in Babylon, the ten tribes never re-established themselves in the land of Canaan, as "Israel," but became scattered as tribes and as individuals among the various nations. Those whose theory we criticize claim that they can trace their journey toward Great Britain, and that the greatness and influence of the English speaking peoples of the world are traceable to the fact that they belong to Israel, and are inheriting the promises made to Israel.
To this we answer: Some of the evidences offered in proof that they are of the "lost tribes" seem far from strong; but if we should admit all they claim in this, it would not prove their position, that the greatness and influence of the Anglo-Saxon race are attributable to their being Israelites by natural generation, any more than to their being "lost." Their greatness is attributable to their freedom and intelligence, which are traceable, not to their being lost, nor to their being born Israelites according to the flesh, but to the doctrines of Christ—to the light which some of the spiritual seed of Abraham let shine among them.
The fact that the ten tribes strayed away from the two is [C251] not to their credit, but otherwise. It is an evidence that they were disposed to reject God's promises; it is a sign of infidelity, of unbelief; for they well knew that God had predicted that the Lawgiver, the Savior, the Deliverer, the King, in whom and by whom the promises were to be fulfilled, was to come out of Judah. The tribe of Benjamin was the only tribe, therefore, aside from Judah, which, at the time of the revolt, manifested faith in God's promises. But at the time of the return from the Babylonian captivity, though those who showed their continued faith in God and his promises, by returning to the land of Canaan, were mostly of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, yet all who came back were not of these two tribes. Among them were some from the various tribes, who loved the Lord and sought him with repentance, still relying upon his promises. However, the vast majority of the ten tribes, as well as of the two tribes, did not avail themselves of the opportunity to return to the land of promise, preferring Babylon and other lands, many among them having fallen into idolatry and lost their respect for God's promises.
We must remember that but a few of those who returned to their land under the lead of Ezra and none of those who returned under Nehemiah were of those who had been taken captive, the vast majority having died years before in Babylon. These were their children, in whose hearts the faith of their fathers still burned, who still hoped for the blessings and honors promised to Abraham's seed. Thus the returning little band of less than fifty thousand were all the Israelites then remaining, of all the tribes, who by the act of returning to the land of promise showed that they still held to the faith of Abraham. It was to the descendants of these fittest ones, sifted out of all the tribes of Israel—though principally of the two tribes, and all called Jews, after the royal and predominating tribe—that our Lord presented [C252] himself and the Kingdom at the first advent, as representing the holy nation, Israel entire.
Our Lord referred to them as Israel, and not as a part of Israel, not as Judah merely. He speaks of even those who had clung to the promises, and to each other, as the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," in that they had wandered far from the truth, after the traditions of false shepherds who had led them in their own way and not as God directed. He says: "I am not sent save [except] to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." To the house of Israel consequently his ministry was confined, in harmony with the foregoing, showing that the Jews of his day were the only recognized representatives of the "house of Israel," as the terms, "all Israel," "our twelve tribes constantly serving God," and many similar expressions of our Lord and the apostles indicate. And it will be remembered that our Lord, in connection with this statement, that his ministry was to Israel, forbade his disciples going to any outside the Jews of Palestine. Matt. 10:5,6; 15:24
Notice also how the apostles used the word "Israel," and not "Judah," when speaking of those who were living at that time in Palestine (Acts 2:22; 3:12; 5:35; 13:16; 21:28), and how they apply the words of Isaiah concerning the remnant of Israel to the comparatively few who received the gospel (Rom. 9:4,27,29,31-33; 10:1-4; 11:1,7-14,25,26,31), and speak of all the rest as stumbling and being blinded. So, then, even if it could be demonstrated that the Anglo-Saxon peoples were part of "the ten lost tribes," we see clearly that no favor could have come to them upon that score, under that covenant; for they deserted the Israelitish covenant and became idolaters, unbelievers, and practically Gentiles. Besides, as already noted,* all recognized as the natural seed of [C253] Abraham, who would continue to reject Christ, were cast off from all favor from the time of Christ's death to the year 1878, when, chronologically, divine favor was due to return to them, and their blindness to begin to be removed. Consequently, the prominence of the Anglo-Saxons for the past centuries could in no sense have been Israel's returning favor. Those from whom the favor was taken for the rejection and crucifixion of the Lord are the ones to whom the favor is to return now. At that time, and ever since, Israel has been represented by "the Jew" (Rom. 2:9,10), and it is the Jew that will now be restored to favor as the natural "seed of Abraham." These, with the spiritual "seed" (selected during the Gospel age—a remnant from Israel, Jews, and the remainder gathered from the Gentiles), are to be God's agencies for blessing all the families of the earth.
Nor will the coming favor to Israel be exclusive. All believers in the covenant promises may share those returning favors with the natural seed, just as during the Gospel age any Jew who accepted Christ was eligible to all the spiritual blessings and advantages offered during the Gospel age. As only a small remnant believed in and accepted the gospel favors at the beginning, so, aside from the Jews, only a small number of mankind will be ready for the new laws and conditions of the Millennial age, under the righteous administration of the glorified Lord and his glorified Church; and hence, at first, few but Jews will be blessed under it.
The Jew, long accustomed to striving to do, and to trusting to works of obedience to the Law to secure for him the divine blessing, stumbled over the first feature of the Gospel dispensation—the remission of sins, without works, to every one that believeth in Jesus' perfect work and all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. But the Jew's respect for the Law will turn to his advantage in the dawn of the Millennial age, and [C254] none will be more ready for the strict requirements and laws of that age than he, after his blindness, relative to Christ and the value of his sacrifice for sins, shall have passed away; for works are required after faith in Christ, though not accepted before. And the Jew, in accepting the love and favor of God in Christ, will not be so inclined to lose sight of God's justice as are many others of today. Others, on the contrary, will be blinded for a time and unready to recognize the rules of the Kingdom, in which justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet.
As the Jew was blinded by a false view of the Law, which was made void through false teachings, so now, many Gentiles will be hindered from taking hold of the conditions of favor during the Millennial age, by reason of the false presentation of the doctrine of grace in the forgiveness of sins, made by false teachers of the present time, who make void the gospel of the grace of God through sophistical reasonings—"even denying that the Lord bought them" (2 Pet. 2:1), and that there was any ransom-price given or necessary for man's recovery. They claim that to err is human, to forgive, divine; and hence, inferentially, that occasional sin is quite excusable, and that strictness of punishment, a ransom, etc., are not supposable, since if there were no sins to forgive it would take away God's pleasure and office of forgiving. Losing sight of God's justice, they fail to see the philosophy of his plan of reconciliation through the blood of the cross, granting remission of sins through a ransom-sacrifice, to such only as accept Christ and strive against sin. Blinded by their lax ideas of God's justice and strictness, few will be so well prepared as the Jew for that strict obedience according to ability, which will be required of all in the next age.
As an illustration of the preparation of the Jew to recognize Christ Jesus' death as his ransom—corresponding price—the legal atonement for man's sin, we quote below, from the pen of a young Hebrew converted to Christ, an account of [C255] the yearly commemoration of the "Great Day of Atonement," as observed at the present time by Orthodox Jews. The article appeared in The Hebrew-Christian, as follows:
"Yom Kippur, or the Great Day of Atonement, was a remarkable day with my father; for he not only fasted, prayed and mortified himself on this holy day of expiation, but he actually spent the whole night at the synagogue in devotion. I have often seen my devout parent weep on this great day, when he repeated the pathetic confession following the enumeration of the sacrifices which were appointed by God to be offered up for the sins of omission and commission; and many a time have I shed sympathetic tears as I joined him in lamenting that we have now no temple, no high priest, no altar and no sacrifices. The day before that solemn day, he, in company with the rest of the Jews, took a cock; and, during the repetition of certain forms of prayers, he moved the living fowl round his head three times, repeating these words: 'This be my substitute, this be my exchange, this be my atonement; this fowl shall go to death, and I to a blessed life.' Then he laid his hands on it, as the hands used to be laid on the sacrifices, and immediately after it was given to be slaughtered. This is the only blood that is shed in Israel now. The blood of bulls and goats no longer flows beside the brazen altar.
"My father took the greatest pains to procure a white cock, and avoided a red one altogether; and when I asked him his reason for doing so, he told me that a red cock is already covered with sin, for sin itself is red, as it is written: 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' (Isa. 1:18) He continued: 'You will find that the Rabbis have laid it down in the Talmud, if the cock be white, he is infected with no sin, and can therefore bear the sins of the Jews; but if he be red, he is altogether covered with sins, and is unfit for bearing our iniquities.'
"The reason why they use a cock rather than any other creature is this. In Hebrew man is called gever. Now if gever (man) has sinned, gever must also sustain the penalty thereof. But since the punishment is heavier than the Jews [C256] can bear, the Rabbis have substituted for them a cock, which in the Chaldee dialect is called gever, and thus the divine justice is assumed to be satisfied: because, as gever has sinned, so gever, i.e., a cock, is sacrificed.
"This vain invention may be viewed as a remarkable evidence of a most striking fact, that, while many among the Jews at the present day deny the atonement altogether, the body of the nation still have some feeling of the absolute necessity of a sacrifice for sin, and that without an atonement repentance is of no avail for salvation. If, instead of reading Rabbinical fables, the Jews would study the Bible, they would find that the Lord Jesus, the true Messiah, in His own blessed person made that very atonement for sin which they in their ignorance imagine may be made by the sacrifice of a cock. Gever (man) has sinned, and gever (man), even the man Christ Jesus, has made his soul an offering for sin." Isaiah 53:10
We see, then, that God's prediction, that Israel (except the faithful few) would be blinded by their Law (Rom. 11:9), was fulfilled in a natural way; and also that his further prediction, that the favors and conditions of the Millennial age will bless many of them more quickly than others, is also to come about in a perfectly natural way and to result from reasonable causes.
Thus the Millennial favors will be to the Jews first, even as by reason of the covenants, etc., the gospel favors were offered to them first. And so it shall be finally as Simeon prophesied: "This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel." And the time for raising up that nation, so long fallen from favor, is at hand.
But let us guard against a too common mistake, made by many who see something of these promises, of supposing that the statements should be taken literally, which say: "After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle [C257] [house] of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up." "And the Lord shall give him the throne of his father David." "And David, my servant, shall be king over them." (Acts 15:16; Luke 1:32; Ezek. 37:24) While the literalness of the promised return of Israel to their own land, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem upon her own heaps, cannot be questioned, we may be equally confident that by the house and throne of David, not the literal stones, timbers, etc., are meant. The re-establishment of the house of David refers to the re-establishment of royalty and dominion in the hands of some of David's posterity. Christ Jesus is the promised scion of David's house, and the heir of his throne; and when his authority begins to be established, that will be the beginning of the raising up (permanent establishment) of the formerly temporary house or tabernacle of David, which was overthrown, and which for many centuries has lain in the dust. So, likewise, the "throne of David," upon which Messiah will sit, refers not to the wood and gold and ivory bench upon which David sat, but to the dignity, power and authority of office which he exercised. That authority, office or throne, which David occupied for some years, is to be filled on a much grander scale by Jehovah's Anointed, our Lord Jesus.
But what authority did David have and exercise? We answer, it was Jehovah's authority: David "sat upon the throne of Jehovah" (1 Chron. 29:23); and this is the very authority which will support Christ in his Millennial Kingdom. And when rightly seen it is evident that David and his throne or divine authority, established in the typical nation of Israel, were merely typical illustrations of Christ and his Kingdom; and David's chief honor will be, if he be counted worthy, to be one of the "princes" to whom Immanuel will entrust the earthly phase of his Kingdom. Psa. 45:16
David's name as well as his Kingdom was typical. The name David signifies Beloved; and it is God's Beloved Son who will be king over all the earth in that day, and not the typical beloved David of old. It is well also to distinguish clearly between the New Jerusalem, the heavenly or spiritual city of which the apostles are the twelve foundations, and the old Jerusalem which is to be rebuilt upon her old heaps. The old Jerusalem's promised restoration implies not merely the reconstruction of the buildings, etc., but specially the reorganization of Israel's government; for a city in prophecy is always the symbol or representation of a government. Hence the promised reconstruction of Jerusalem upon her old foundations implies a national reorganization of Israel upon a basis similar to that which it formerly had, as a people over whom Jehovah's Anointed held the authority. The New Jerusalem represents the Gospel Church in glory and Kingdom power, spiritual, and invisible to men, yet all-powerful. Its descent to earth (Rev. 21:2) marks the fulfilment of that petition of our Lord's prayer which says, "Thy Kingdom come "; and its "coming" will be gradual, and not sudden. It is already "coming down," coming into control, and as a result we see the preliminary steps leading to the re-establishment of the old Jerusalem; and ultimately the result mentioned in our Lord's prayer will be realized—God's will will be done on earth as in heaven. The New Jerusalem and the New Heavens are synonymous, signifying the new spiritual ruling power.
Prophecies already examined point to the year 1878 as the date at which Israel's "double" time of waiting for the King was fulfilled, and from which their return to favor and the turning away of their blindness were due to date: the time after which it would be due to "speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her appointed time [of waiting—her "double"] is accomplished and her iniquity [C259] pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand [her] double for all her sins." Isa. 40:1,2
From that date onward, therefore, we see, as we should expect, marked indications of returning favor to that people—a movement toward their actual planting again in their own land and their rebuilding as a great nation, according to God's multiplied promises to that effect; for, "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans [Babylon—mystic Babylon, Christendom, as shown in verse 9; for since their overthrow they have been dispersed among all the nations of so-called Christendom] for their good [for their discipline and punishment: a good thing in disguise]. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. [This could not refer to the return from the captivity to literal Babylon, since after that return they were again pulled down and plucked up.] And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their god; for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." Jer. 24:5-7
"Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; and the city [Jerusalem] shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace [the temple] shall remain after the manner thereof. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them. And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them. Behold, I will bring them from the north country [Russia, where nearly two-thirds of all the [C260] Jews now living reside], and gather them from the coasts of the earth....A great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping; and with supplications will I lead them....Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore, they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd; and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all." Jer. 30:18,20,21; 31:8-12
Not only will the great Redeemer, once rejected by them, thus restore and lift up the living generations of that people, but the dead also are to be restored; for "Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves,...and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord." Ezek. 37:12-14
These wonderful promises will not be fulfilled in a twenty-four-hour day, but during the Millennial day. They had a marked beginning with the year 1878, as the result of the Berlin Congress of Nations. The Jews now enjoy greater privileges in the land of their fathers than had been accorded them for centuries. They are no longer merely "dogs" to the insolent Turks.
It is not generally known, we think, that England has already assumed a protectorate over Palestine, and, indeed, over all of Turkey's Asiatic provinces, of which it is one. England has for a long time felt a necessity for protecting Turkey for three reasons: first, her wealthy classes are large [C261] holders of Turkish bonds; second, if Turkey should go to any one of her neighboring nations, or were divided among them, England would get little or none of the spoil; and the other rival nations would thus be lifted more than England into prominence and power in the control of the affairs of Europe; third, and mainly, England realizes that with the Turkish government out of the way, Russian influence in southern Asia would be greatly increased, and would ere long absorb the Indian Empire, of which England's Queen is Empress, and from which England draws rich revenues in commerce, etc. Hence we find the Royal or Tory party in England strenuously supporting the Turks; and when, in 1878, Russia was about to enter Constantinople, England interposed and sent a fleet of gunboats into the harbor. The result was the Berlin Conference of June 13, 1878, in which the chief figure was a Hebrew, Lord Beaconsfield, Prime Minister of England; and Turkey's affairs were then settled so as to preserve her national existence for the present, and yet so to arrange her provinces that in the event of final dismemberment the great powers would know which portion each would be expected to seize. It was at this time that all the provinces of Turkey were granted greater religious freedom, and England by secret treaty with Turkey became protector of the Asiatic provinces. In the language of the historian, Justin McCarthy:
"The English government undertook to guarantee to Turkey her Asiatic possessions against all invasion,...formally pledged herself to defend and secure Turkey against all invasion and aggression, and occupied Cyprus in order to have a more effectual vantage-ground from which to carry on this project."
It will be seen, then, that Palestine, as one of those Asiatic provinces, is already under England's care; and this accounts for the greater laxity on the part of the Turkish government in the enforcement of its laws unfavorable to [C262] Jewish interests. And this providential opening of Palestine to the Jews was followed by renewed persecutions in the "north country"—Russia and Roumania—certain to induce emigration from those countries to their own land. As a result of this combination of circumstances, Palestine, and especially Jerusalem, is rapidly increasing in Jewish population of the "orthodox" type. Already the Jews in Jerusalem outnumber all other nationalities combined, whereas for centuries they have been a small minority.
"We live in a fast age, and even history is manufactured at a greater speed. Wars used to last decades of years; civilization advanced slowly; communications between nations and consequent mutual benefit proceeded correspondingly tardily. Now what is invented in one country is known forthwith thousands of miles away, and the whole world can profit simultaneously by the invention. Notably in politics is the spirit of haste evident. Statesmen's schemes once required generations for completion; now the boldest plans are carried out by the planners, and the map of a continent is changed in a week. How quickly events march and history is created is evident with special clearness in the magnetic Eastern question....In the very midst of the scene of conflicting interests lies Palestine—dear to Jew, Christian and Mohammedan. The statesman says it is the key to the position; and looking to his countrymen's advantage he declares that in view of its wonderful fertility, which of old supported millions; in view of its grand possibilities for commerce, which in former days made its sea-ports scenes of activity and wealth, and which have rendered Tyre and Sidon proverbial to this day; in view of its being at the junction of Europe and Asia, and in location, therefore, most admirable, the possession of Palestine is to his patriotic heart most desirable. The historian says, The first international episode on record was the invasion of Palestine; [C263] from that day to this it has been a center of interest; therefore, he on his part is concerned for Palestine's future. The religionist cannot find words to express the interest which he from his point of view takes in what he calls the Holy Land: for him every stone is an epic, every tree a poem. The shrewd commercial man notes that when the Asian railway system is built up, as built up it will be as soon as stable government is established, the geographical position of Palestine will make it the State to which the great railway lines will converge to carry the productions of Asia to European and American markets and vice versa; for, as the commerce of three continents met in its borders in the days of Solomon, so will the future commerce of the same continents flow again to that favored spot. Nor will he abate his hopes in the least degree because their realization seems distant. Remembering the swift growth of a Chicago or a San Francisco, the rapid turning of wastes into populous States, he simply remarks, 'Events follow quickly nowadays,' and waits.
"While, however, the great Christian Powers stand with mail-clad hands to grasp the coveted and tempting bit when the moribund Turk lets go his hold, a historic figure steps forward and declares, 'The land is mine!' And when the powers turn to look at the speaker, they recognize the Jew—the child of the patriarch who lived in Palestine when it was first invaded, and who would himself fain be present to receive it as his own when its possession is disputed thirty-six centuries after!
"What a wonderful coincidence! 'Not so,' says the Jew; 'it is not a coincidence, it is my destiny.' Let us now briefly glance at the position of the Jew in this question of the future of Palestine. Nations are born from ideas. From the idea of German unity grew the German empire into actual fact, proclaimed to the world from Versailles, with French cannon to answer amen to German prayer for its welfare. From the cry of 'Italia irridenta' was born the new Italy of today, whose thunder will again wake the Mediterranean shores. From the tradition of ancient Greece the modern Greece was created. So Christians understand how the long cherished aspirations of the Jew may yet be realized; and [C264] while they fully concede that to the Jew, above all, belongs Palestine, while he above all is specially qualified to develop the future of that teeming country, while his possession of it would solve the fears of the jealous Powers, the establishment of the Jew in it would be an act of justice, and a worthy atonement for the fearful wrongs perpetrated upon him—the martyr of history.
"As for the Jews themselves, to say how they long for restoration is hardly necessary. On the 9th of their month Ab, they fast for the destruction of their temples and the national calamities attending those events. There is not a morning or an evening but what they pray, 'Gather us together from the four corners of earth'; 'Restore our peoples as of old'; 'Dwell thou in the midst of Jerusalem'; and these words are uttered in every city where the Jew is found—that means throughout the world. Such constancy is almost beyond all bounds, and to this day the Spanish Jews in all lands (even in this distant country) put some of the dust of Palestine or 'tierra santa,' as they call it, on the eyes of their dead—a poetic and pathetic evidence of their love for the sacred soil.
"'When the railway reaches Jerusalem, Messiah comes,' alludes to Isaiah 66:20, where the prophet in his vision sees the exiles returning by all manner of conveyances, among them what he calls 'kirkaroth.' The English version translates it 'swift beasts,' which is, of course, too indefinite, or 'dromedaries,' which is certainly incorrect. Philologists are not wanting who derive the word from kar, 'a furnace,' and karkar 'to sway'—asserting that the prophet sought thus to coin a word for what was shown him in his vision, a train in rapid motion. 'When Nicholas reigns redemption comes,' is an allusion to Isaiah 63:4, from which verse Hebraists evolve, by what they term 'Rashe Teboth,' the sentence, 'All Judah shall hear and behold the fall of Nicholas, Emperor of Muscovy, on account of the oppression of the children of Judah, and after happening our fall, will happen our real redemption, and near at hand for the children of Judah will be the good tidings of the Tishbite prophet [Elijah].' These, and such as these, are important, insomuch as they indicate Jewish thought."
We are forcibly reminded of how near worldly men sometimes come to the truth, without knowing it, by the above expression that the patriarch Abraham "would himself fain be present to receive" the land of promise as his own and that of his posterity, thirty-six centuries after his death. This, which some might consider a flight of poesy, the Scriptures declare shall be an actual fact. For, as we have already seen,* Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with Daniel and all the holy prophets, will be "made perfect"—awakened from death to perfect manhood, after the Gospel Church has been glorified (Heb. 11:40); and they will constitute the "princes in all the earth" (Psa. 45:16), the earthly and visible representatives of the Christ, the spiritual, invisible ruler. To Abraham as well as to his seed the land of promise was given for an everlasting possession; and he must receive it in the future, for as yet he has never possessed a foot of it. Acts 7:5
A letter published in a Chicago journal bears remarkable testimony to the gradual progress of restitution in Palestine, and the preparations for God's promised future blessing upon it and its people, as follows:
"I am very glad to tell you of the glorious things that we have been witnesses of during the six years we have lived here. When we arrived here, six years ago, we numbered fourteen adults and five children. As we drove up from Jaffa we were deeply impressed with the desolation of the land. Not a spear of green could be seen anywhere; the olive trees and vines were so covered with the gray dust of a hot, dry summer, that you never could imagine there could be any green underneath; and the whole earth seemed dried to its foundations. But we have never seen it look like that since that time. Every year it looks greener, and now many of those barren hill-sides are covered with vineyards and olive yards, quite changing their appearance.
"You will ask, What is the cause of this great change? God has promised that, like as he brought all this evil upon this land, so he will bring great blessings unto it, and these have evidently begun by the sending of more rain than for many centuries past. He sends beautiful showers and heavy dews, where there used not to be any; and he sends clouds in summer, which were never known even twenty years ago. This tempers the heat, so that it does not dry up the ground so. Five years ago he sent, in July and August (months in which it never used to rain), three hours of rain in Jaffa, and sixteen hours in Damascus, and much all around, so that the American papers remarked upon it as a proof that the climate of Palestine is changing. Also when we came here, there were very few Jews coming back to this land, but the persecutions in Russia and Germany and other places began to drive them out; and, in spite of the edicts of the Sultan, they began returning to this land, buying land, planting and building, and getting possession of the trade of the city; and so today there are many thousands more than when we came.
"Jerusalem is in reality now in the hands of the Jews, so far as trade is concerned; and the Jew is no longer under the heel of the Mohammedan as he once was. They are also rapidly building up a new city, exactly on the line of the description in Jer. 31:38-40; 32:43,44, so that even the Turks, who are in power, are taking notice of it, and are saying one to the other, 'It is God; and what can we do?' And what can we say to all this, but that God is rapidly fulfilling in our day his Word and the covenant he made with Abraham? And we are witnesses of these things."
Notwithstanding the oppression and tyranny which have ground them down in the very dust, we find many of them of late years rising to wealth and distinction far beyond their Gentile neighbors. And with such means and distinction, in many instances, rises the benevolent ambition to expend it for the elevation of the Jewish race; and wise and well directed efforts are accomplishing much in this direction. The attention of thinking men among both Jews and Gentiles is being drawn to this turn in Jewish affairs.
It is evident from the expressions of leading Jewish journals, and from the various movements now in progress for the colonization of Palestine, and for the assistance and advancement of those already settled there, that thousands are now turning with eager eyes to the land of promise. This turn in Jewish affairs has been since 1878; and the shaping of events since that date has caused and is causing a remarkable awakening on this subject, which in itself is a significant sign of the times. From the Jewish World (Aug. 20th, 1886) we quote, for example, the following:
"There are rifts in the clouds which have hitherto cast so dismal a shadow over the Holy Land. The future of that unhappy country, so long wrapped in impenetrable darkness, is beginning faintly to brighten; and the glimmerings of a happier state of things are almost within measurable distance of our forecasts....Two institutions are destined to play a conspicuous part in the amelioration of the condition of the Jews of Palestine—the Agricultural School at Jaffa, and the Lionel De Rothschild institution in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. We might add a third in the shape of the Montefiore Testimonial Fund, which, by its promotion of building societies and its erection of cheap dwellings, has done much to foster thrift and to reduce the miseries and hardships of domestic life in the Holy City....What we are concerned at this moment in noting is, that the prospects of the Jews in Palestine are no longer gloomy. There are, on the one hand, forces at work for the improvement of the condition of our brethren, which have been wisely devised and ingeniously organized, and which are now being assiduously applied; on the other hand, the people are getting tired of their misery and inactivity, and are showing an increasing tendency to take advantage of the efforts made for their rehabilitation. This is a state of things which is fraught with happy consequences, and no Jew will fail to contemplate it with pleasure."
"With the late influx of an agricultural element in colonies planted by the Montefiore, Hirsch, and Rothschild funds, willing hands should be found to labor at the transformation scene, when 'the desert shall blossom as the rose'; willing hands and willing hearts that shall reclaim the Holy Land from its long night of death, and restore to life and light the national home of the Jews."
"While men are absorbed in their little cares, alternately moved by hopes and fears, the grand and stately march of human events progresses onward and irresistibly to completion, in the fulfilment of an inevitable law which controls all human action. Men here and there raise their puny voices as if to stay this tide of advancement, and arrest this fiat of the Eternal. As well might they attempt to stay the law which governs the universe. Races have as fixed a course to run as have the stars that dazzle in the blue vault above us, and the race of Israel is the bright fixed star amongst them. In all its wanderings it has been true to its course. Its mission has been foreseen and foretold, and its final restoration to the Holy Land prophesied. That this prophecy is being fulfilled, the signs of the times indicate. It is being accomplished so quietly, and so gradually, that only those who have given the subject attention realize the importance of the work done.
"Palestine is a political necessity to the Jewish race. The founding of a nation in the Holy Land once more means the exaltation of all Israel. It places her as a nation amongst the nations of the earth. It gives to the Jew that political power and sovereign right which mean protection. It makes him a citizen of his country, and gives him a passport amongst the nations of the earth....This may look impracticable to the man in the counting-room absorbed in his books, to the man in his store absorbed in figuring up his profits and losses, to the man steeped in the bliss of social pleasures, but it is as clear as the noonday's sun to whoever makes a study of the political horoscope.
"The political autonomy realized, the Jews scattered throughout the world will not flock to Palestine in a body. There are 300,000 Jews in Asia, 400,000 in Africa, and [C269] 5,000,000 live in Europe. It is from these that Palestine will draw its life of restoration. The American-born Jew will undoubtedly remain an American; and if he should ever visit the Holy Land it would be for pleasure and travel, and to see a land so famous as the chief birthplace of his heroic race.
"It may be said that, geographically speaking, Palestine is too small to exert much influence as a political, intellectual or moral power among the nations of the earth. We reply that in ancient times Greece was a power, and that in modern times the little island of Britain is a power. Geographically speaking, what are they? It is intellect, moral force and pride of nationality that make nations great, and not the extent of territory. It is intellect and moral power that will make Israel renowned among nations."
"The movement is irresistible. We cannot suffer ourselves to stand by with folded hands when this new exodus is taking place. We Jews have held, for nearly two thousand years, that the consummation of the ages of suffering we have passed through will be reached only when we again possess the land of our fathers. Is that trust to die away just at the moment when it appears about to be fulfilled? Or, is it to be expected that the return will be brought about by means so mysterious as to be beyond the co-operation of human beings? God works his will through the wills of men; and if the prophecies are to be fulfilled, it will be by human wills and energies. These may seem to be high topics to drag into connection with a practical plan for placing a few Jewish colonies in Palestine. But it is from small beginnings, such as these, that great events often arise; and the return of a small body of Jews to the Holy Land can never fail to bring to mind the possibility and the practicability of the larger return to which all Jewish history and all Jewish aspirations have hitherto pointed."
"Instead of dying out, the Jewish body shows increasing vitality. They cannot be stamped out or swallowed up. [C270] They pass from country to country to become practically masters wherever they go. They get the land in Germany and Hungary, and grow rich in Russia; they are the great bankers in London and Paris and the centers of European commerce. In ten (recent) years the Rothschilds furnished #100,000,000 in loans to England, Austria, Prussia, France, Russia and Brazil."
"There is a great jealousy of that wonderful people who are now coming to the front. And what a sign of the times it is, that, wherever the Jews are, they are either the most prominent people to be persecuted, or the most prominent people to take a lead in all the various professions! A prominent citizen of Berlin was asked, 'What is the history of this strong anti-Jewish feeling which you have in Berlin and throughout Germany?' He replied, 'I will tell you: These Jews, if they go into commerce, become the first merchants; if they go into the banking line, they become the first bankers; if they go into law, they become the first lawyers; or if they go into literature, they beat us all. Whatever career they undertake, they drive out the Gentiles; and I tell you, sir, we won't stand it.'
"The persecution of the Jews in Russia and Poland does not depend upon religion or nationality. These have nothing whatever to do with it. The Russians would persecute any people in the same position as the Jews. Bear this in mind, that the Jews hold in mortgage a very considerable part of the landed property of Russia; that they hold in their debt a very large proportion of the peasantry, and very many of the shopkeepers in different parts of the empire. Every single opportunity which now presents itself to the Russian people for plunder and spoilation of the Jews is almost sure to be seized. In the destruction of the Jews, and of their papers, Russians get rid of documents by which they are bound, and which might be brought as evidence against them; and so long as there is property to be laid hold of, so long will you find the Russian people rising against the Jews."
The following is an extract from a letter in an English paper by Mr. Charles Reade, the novelist, well known in [C271] literary circles, whose conversion to Christ and the Bible occurred a few years ago:
"The Jewish nation, though under a cloud, will eventually resume their ancient territory, which is so evidently kept waiting for them. The prophecies are clear as day on two points: That the Jews are to repossess Palestine, and, indeed, to rule from Lebanon to Euphrates; and that this event is to be the first of a great series of changes leading to a vast improvement in the condition of poor, suffering mankind, and of creation in general. Now, we have here in prospect a glorious event, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. The only difference is, that the sun will rise at a certain hour, and the Jews will occupy Syria and resume their national glory at an uncertain day. No doubt it is the foible of mankind to assume that an uncertain date must be a distant one. But that is unreasonable. Surely it is the duty of wise and sober men to watch precursory signs and lend their humble cooperation, should so great a privilege be accorded to us.
"This sudden persecution of the Jews in the very nation where they are most numerous—may it not be a precursory sign, and a reminder from Providence that their abiding city is not European Tartary? Palestine can be colonized effectually from Russia alone, where there are three millions of Jews trembling for life and property; and the rest would follow. History is a looking-glass at our backs. Whatever Jews have done, Jews may do. They are people of genius; and genius is not confined by nature, but by will, by habit or by accident. What have these people tried and failed in? Warriors, writers, builders, merchants, lawgivers, husbandmen; and supreme in all! In this, history repeats itself.
"They shall be great in the arts of peace and war, and their enemies melt away before them like snow off a dyke. Should they seem to require help from any other nation at starting, blessed will be the nation that proffers it; and the nation that persecutes them will be made an example of in some way or other. Therefore, if by any chance recent outrages should decide the Jewish leaders to colonize Palestine from Russia, let us freely offer ships, seamen, money—whatever we are asked for. It will be a better national investment than Egyptian, Brazilian or Peruvian bonds."
A Jewish proverb of recent years declares: "When the railway reaches Jerusalem, Messiah comes"; and this is in harmony with the symbolic representation of the railway by the prophets Nahum (2:3-5) and Isaiah (66:20). And, sure enough, the proverb has not much missed the mark; for the railroad will reach Jerusalem "in the day of his preparation"—in the time of the presence of Messiah. The following, which we clip from the daily press, has an interesting bearing upon this subject:
"Galileo was right: the world does move. A railroad is to be built from Jerusalem to Jaffa, on the Mediterranean, 31 miles distance, the ancient port of the Jewish capital, and the landing place of the cedars with which the temple was constructed. A Jerusalem Jew, Joseph Nabon by name, who is an Ottoman subject, has obtained from the Sultan a charter for this purpose. The charter holds good for 71 years. The estimated cost of construction is $250,000. So, then, hereafter civilization is to be domesticated in Palestine. The nineteenth century will arrive in those parts when the first locomotive puffs into Jerusalem."
"Thirty thousand out of the forty thousand people in Jerusalem are Jews. The Turkish government, which has for ages prohibited them from living longer than three weeks at a time in the Holy Land, is, under the influence of foreign governments, relaxing its restrictions; and at present the Jews are coming here by the hundred. They are engaging in business, and they now control a great part of the trade of Jerusalem. Some of them feel that the day when the prophecy of the Bible that they shall again inhabit their land shall be fulfilled is at hand; and one curious tribe from southern Arabia claims to have received a revelation that they must leave their desert country and come back to Palestine. These Jews have lived in Yemen Arabia for the past [C273] 2,500 years. They are of the tribe of Gad, and they left Palestine 700 years before Christ was born. They are bringing with them many valuable documents which prove their origin, and are engaging in agriculture near Jerusalem. The persecution of the Jews in Russia and Austria is driving many of them here, and there are also large numbers of Polish and Spanish Jews in Jerusalem. The time of Jews remaining in Palestine has been extended, and the restrictions upon their residence in Jerusalem have been practically removed. A half century ago there were only 32 Jewish families in all Jerusalem, and the number in all Palestine was only 3,000. Now there are nearly 50,000 in the Holy Land, and three-fourths of the population of Jerusalem is made up of them.
"A curious people they are! Like no other Jews on the face of the earth. They are nearer the type that existed here in the past. The numbers who have been forced here by persecution are supported almost entirely by the different Jewish churches over the world.
"One of the great sights of Jerusalem is the Jews' wailing place, where every Friday certain sects meet on the outside of the walls of the Mosque of Omar, which occupies the site of Solomon's temple, and with their heads bent against the stones, sorrow over the loss of Jerusalem, and pray God to give the land back to his chosen people. This custom has been observed since the days of the middle ages, and it is one of the saddest sights. I visited it last week. In a narrow alley surrounded by miserable houses—on stone flags which have been worn with the bare feet of thousands of Jews—against a wall of great blocks of marble, which reached for fifty or more feet above them, a long line of men in long gowns and of women with shawls over their heads bowed, praying and weeping. Many of the men had white beards, and long curly locks of silver. Others were just in their prime; and I could not but wonder when I saw the forms of these at times almost convulsed with emotion. Each had a well-thumbed Hebrew Bible in his hand, and from time to time the party broke out into a kind of chant, an old gray-haired man acting as leader, and the rest coming in on the refrain. The chant was in a strange tongue, but was translated as follows:
Leader—For the palace that lies desolate—
Response—We sit in solitude and mourn.
Leader—For the walls that are destroyed—
Response—We sit in solitude and mourn.
Leader—For our Majesty that is departed—
Response—We sit in solitude and mourn.
Leader—For our great men who lie dead—
Response—We sit in solitude and mourn.
Leader—For our priests who have stumbled—
Response—We sit in solitude and mourn.
Leader—For our kings who have despised him—
Response—We sit in solitude and mourn.
"The effect of this chant cannot be appreciated without hearing it. The old men and weeping women, who kiss the stones of the wall that separates them from what was once the site of Solomon's temple, and which is even now the holiest part of the earth to the Jew; the genuine feeling expressed by all; and the faith they show in thus coming here, week after week, and year after year, are wonderfully impressive. It is indeed one of the strange sights of this strangest of cities.
"There are eight agricultural colonies in different parts of Palestine. One of these schools near Jaffa has more than seven hundred pupils, and a farm of twenty-eight thousand acres. It is situated on the plains of Sharon, where the Philistines lived, and it has tens of thousands of vines and olive trees. The Turks are very much averse to selling land to the Jews, but the latter show themselves to be as good farmers as they are business men; and the terraced condition of the hills about Jerusalem shows that the Holy Land was far better cultivated under them than it has been under their conquerors. A large amount of land just outside of the city of Jerusalem is now in the hands either of the Jews or of their charitable institutions. Mr. Behar, the head of the Rothschild schools, tells me they have just bought the Jerusalem Hotel, and will add it to their school. Sir Moses de Montefiore, who managed the fund left by a rich New Orleans Israelite, built many good houses for Jews on the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and there are a number of Jewish hospitals.
"Among the people who confidently believe that the Jews will soon again own Palestine is a colony of fifteen persons, [C275] who live in a fine house built on the very walls of Jerusalem, and who are known as 'the Americans.' These people are not Jews. They are Christians who have come here from different parts of the United States, and more especially from Chicago, to await the fulfilment of the prophecy that God will regenerate the world, beginning at Jerusalem. [They do not see that the selection of the Gospel Church must first be accomplished.]
"There is no doubt, whatever, that Jerusalem is improving. The most of its streets are now well paved and the sanitary condition of the city has been greatly improved. The Jerusalem outside the walls is now almost as large as the city within, and I am told that land has risen in value to such an extent that the holy city may be said to have a real estate boom. I learn that along the Jaffa road, just outside of the gate, property has gone up within a year or so several hundred per cent. One piece which belongs to a charitable institution was bought a short time ago for $500. It is now worth $8,000, and cannot be bought for that amount. A telegraph line now runs from here to the sea coast, and a railroad company has been organized to build a line from Jaffa to Jerusalem. For the first time in its history, Jerusalem has a police force, and its order is now as good as that of New York."
"Having spent several hours visiting Jews, my aged friend, a Rabbi from Kovno, Russia, asked me if I would go with him to the wailing place to mourn over the desolation of Jerusalem and pray for Israel's restoration to her former glory. 'I will go with you,' I replied, 'and pray very earnestly that God may hasten the day when Judah will return to the Lord.' Being Friday afternoon, the time when many Jews assemble for prayer at the wall of the ancient temple, I joined their company. It was, indeed, a most memorable sight. Here were Jews from among all nations in their peculiar Oriental costumes, and some dressed in their Talith (praying garments). As loud as they possibly could they [C276] read the 22nd Psalm. Women with great earnestness cried aloud, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.' The men also were weeping and rehearsing psalms, litanies and prayers. Most of these earnestly pressed their lips against the stones and kissed them. As I listened to their pathetic prayers I remembered what the rabbins have said in the Talmud—that 'Since the destruction of the Temple, the gates of prayer have been closed, and only the gates of tears are open.' The rabbi in sad tones repeated:
"The most touching wailing over Jerusalem is also to be witnessed in the homes of the pious Jews. At midnight they wrap themselves in their prayer garments, put ashes on their heads, and prostrate themselves on the ground. Then in melancholy tones they rehearse:
"'A voice of woe from Ramah's hoary tower,
A voice of wail from Zion's sainted hill;
Alas! my diadem and queenly dower,
The youthful honors I remember still.
Dark is to me the solitary bower
Who did of old a throne of splendor fill.
"'I was surnamed Jehovah's fairest bride;
But now am forced, forlorn, disconsolate,
His heavy wrath and vengeance to abide;
My joys are flown, my heart is desolate.
Come, weep, ye daughters, at my faltering side,
For none draws near my sorrows to abate.
"'Degraded from a peerless eminence,
Victim of pride and wanton vanity,
My beating heart in trembling violence
Strikes at her cage of hopeless misery.
Judah laments in tearful penitence,
A widow mourning in captivity.
"'I was in Solyma a radiant queen,
A golden cloud was I, the mount of God;
But now by infidels despoiled, I ween,
No poorer pilgrim o'er the desert trod,
Wrenched from the bosom all my babes have been,
The elders murdered, steeped the soil in blood.
"'Doth no one lay my wretchedness to heart?
And no one check the swiftly rolling tear?
And no one soothe the soul-empiercing smart?
And no one say, 'The heathen shall not dare
Call him my husband?' Oh, the poisoned dart.
The cruel mockings I am bound to bear!
"'Father of mercies, come, return with grace
To Zion's dwelling beautified again.
Let Israel's eye behold Thy dwelling place
Restored; then list the hallelujah's strain,
The hymning voices of a ransomed race,
Greeting the rising wall of that eternal fane.'
"After this several Psalms are read and prayers offered. When rising from the ground, they say, 'Shake thyself from the dust; arise and sit down, O Jerusalem. Loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.'
"A remarkable prayer offered on these occasions, and having reference no doubt to Isaiah 7:14, is:
Not until further persecutions shall have driven more of the poorer Jews to Palestine, and modern civilization shall be still farther advanced there, will the wealthier classes of Jews be attracted thither; and then it will be in great measure from selfish motives—when the general and great time of trouble shall render property less secure in other lands than it is now. Then Palestine, far away from socialism and anarchism, will appear to be a haven of safety to the wealthy Jews. But at the present rate of progress, in these various directions, the coming fifteen years will witness much in Palestine.
There is another feature of prophecy relating to Fleshly Israel, the fulfilment of which we should now begin to see. The Apostle Paul declared: "Blindness, in part, is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in—that is, until the elect number from among the Gentiles, [C278] who, together with the remnant of Israel, are to constitute the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, shall all have come in to that highest favor, from which Israel as a nation was cast off, and to the advantages of which they as a people have continued to be blind. In the fullest sense, therefore, the blindness of Fleshly Israel, otherwise called Jacob, will not be due to pass away until the selection of Spiritual Israel has been completed. And we are expressly advised (Rom. 11:26) that their recovery and deliverance from blindness and prejudice will come out of (mount) Zion, the glorified Church or Kingdom. But as the Kingdom of Zion to some extent began in 1878, when our King took to himself his great power to reign, although the "feet" class were not yet fully developed and glorified, so the favor of God toward "Jacob," through Zion, properly had a beginning there, though it will not reach them in fullest measure until the "feet" members of Christ's body are also glorified. And as 1881 was the time parallel to the turning of the light from Jacob to the Gentiles, so it marks the time for the beginning of the turning back again of special light upon the long blinded Jews. And, true to its Jewish pattern, the nominal Christian Church is now blindly stumbling, while only a small remnant of it is being blessed. How forcible and applicable the words of the Apostle, here: "Be not high minded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed, lest he spare not thee," etc.
But Israel's general recognition of the true Messiah and his Kingdom will doubtless come about under and through the restored patriarchs and prophets, whose perfect restoration will be the first work of the Christ after all the "body" has been glorified. But their blindness will begin to pass away before; and already a great movement toward Christ has set in, especially among the Russian Jews.
Looking in this direction, the signs of the times are so pronounced as to be startling. The remarkable religious [C279] movement in progress among the Jews in Southern Russia is bringing thousands of that people to a recognition of Jesus Christ as the long promised Messiah, and to an acknowledgment of their national sin, in rejecting and crucifying him. And this is in no sense the result of Christian missionary activity: it is an independent movement, springing up out of soil entirely Jewish. The leader of the movement is a Jew, Mr. Joseph Rabinowitch, formerly a merchant, and later a lawyer, and a man of high reputation among his people. Mr. Rabinowitch was not a Jewish rabbi, and neither he nor any of the leading men of the movement were clergymen of any sect or creed. Concerning this movement, we quote from an article in Harper's Weekly, and from other reports, as follows:
"Its development has been such that it can confidently be pronounced no longer a mere experiment with doubtful chances of permanent existence. It has manifested a remarkable vitality; its growth has been steady and healthy, positive in character, yet avoiding all unnatural haste and dangerous extremes. Having been recognized by the Russian authorities as a religio licita, it now has a legal existence and legal rights. Its character stamps it as one of the most unique phenomena in the variegated kaleidoscope of national, social and religious interests that divide the hearts and minds of the Czar's one hundred and sixteen millions of subjects.
"The faith of this new communion is further peculiar in this, that they propose not to form any organic connection with any existing form of Christianity, but, with the avowed aim of ignoring the historical development of doctrines since the Apostolic age, to draw their teachings directly from the New Testament source, without having any special regard for the formulas of doctrines found in the orthodox churches of our times. It claims to be modeled after the Jewish-Christian congregations in the days of the apostles.
"Energetic in character and ambitious in self-improvement and the advancement, politically, socially and morally, [C280] of his people, Mr. Rabinowitch years ago became known as a zealous friend of reform among the Eastern Jews. With an education and enterprise far beyond his brethren, he set about to devise ways and means to attain his ideals and ends. He did what he could to secure for them better political rights, but was unable to protect them against the fierce persecutions that set in against the unfortunate Israelites in Russia, Roumania and neighboring countries. He acquainted himself with the advanced philosophical thought of the West, in the hope that its adoption by his people would elevate them to a higher plane, and thus secure for them higher ideals and nobler ends. But he soon learned to doubt both the efficiency of the means and the possibility of applying them to a people whom centuries of persecution and ultra-conservatism had been hardening to principles so at variance with their traditional ideas. He again attempted to win them away from their greed for gain, which, next to their formalistic religious exercises, is the all-controlling and all-degrading factor in the mind of the oriental Jew. But his endeavors to establish agricultural colonies for them both at home and in the Holy Land, proved abortive. While in Palestine, the conviction ripened in him, through an independent study of the New Testament in its relations to the Old, that Israel had made the mistake of its national life, and had become untrue to its historic mission, by the rejection of Jesus Christ.
"This conviction concerning Christ, as the embodiment and fulfilment of the prophecies of old, and of the ideals and aims of Israel as a nation, is the central thought around which the whole movement circles. The principles enunciated by the humble Nazarene are recognized as those which alone can accomplish the destinies of the people, and enable them to attain the end for which they were set apart as a chosen people. It is thus regarded as a serious break in the normal and historical development of Israel, that eighteen hundred years ago this people as a nation refused to accept those tenets and principles which are regarded by all Christians, and now also by Mr. Rabinowitch and his followers, as the legitimate and only correct outcome of the whole previous historical development of Israel. To heal [C281] this breach is the ideal aim of the Kischinev reformer, by setting in anew there, where first the chosen people entered upon an erroneous path of national development. In 1880 he published a program in which he advocated a complete reorganization of the rabbinical system. He was further active in the work of a society for the promotion of agriculture among the Jews of Southern Russia; and during the days of persecution in 1882 he earnestly advocated the return of his people to Palestine. During that period the change in his religious conviction took place. It was not the result of Christian mission work, nor is he a convert in the ordinary sense of the word. The change was gradually effected, and only after long deliberation did the thought of organizing Christian congregations of the Jewish nationality assume maturity in his mind. After his return from Palestine his conviction was: 'The key to the Holy Land lies in the hand of our brother Jesus.' In the words, 'Jesus our Brother,' lies the kernel of his religious views. His work has been successful, and many are accepting his teachings."
When Mr. Rabinowitch began to think that he ought to be an avowed and open believer in Christ, he was much perplexed with the number of sects amongst Christians, and hesitated to join any of them. He says, "As the Jordan must be crossed to reach Canaan, so Jesus is the way to spiritual possession and rest." As to the Lord's Supper, he says that the members of the New Covenant do not celebrate this, except as a Passover Supper. They (like us) do not yet see their way to celebrate it at other times. He says the Lord Jesus Christ did not command his disciples to remember his resurrection, but to remember him. Neither he nor his followers keep Sunday as the Sabbath, but continue the observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Circumcision is still observed; but it is not considered necessary to salvation.
It is reported that a Lutheran pastor proposed to a committee in London that Mr. Rabinowitch should be employed by their Society as missionary to the Jews. The committee declined, though only on the ground that he was [C282] not then baptized. He has, however, since then been baptized in Berlin, not into the Lutheran Church, nor into the Anglican Church, but simply into the Church of Christ. Mr. Rabinowitch is in possession of letters received from Jews in all parts of Russia and Roumania, inquiring into the movement, its rules and its doctrines, with a view to joining it, or starting another and similar one.
"Mr. Rabinowitch possesses a very gentle, humble, loving spirit, and quickly responds, even to tears, to assurances of Christian affection. He does not desire to identify himself with any sect, but wishes to take his Christianity from the New Testament, and grow out of old habits and doctrines into new ones, as the Holy Spirit may teach him in his continued and prayerful study of the entire Word of God."
Prof. Franz Delitzsch, of Leipzig, the leader of the Jewish missions in Germany and editor of the Saat auf Hoffnung, a quarterly devoted to this work, published a pamphlet of about seventy-five pages on this new religious development, the largest space in which is occupied by original documents, in both the Hebrew and the German translation, on this movement. These documents embrace thirteen theses; a Confession of Faith of the National Jewish Church of the New Testament; Explanation of the Faith in the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, in the sense of this congregation; a Haggada for the Israelites believing on the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth; and, finally, an Order of the Lord's Supper. As appendices are added a declaration of a teacher, Friedmann, to the Jewish believers in Christ, and a declaration adopted by a conference of the latter, held in Kischinev. The little pamphlet contains all the materials for a study of the new movement.
These theses, which are to be regarded as the basis of the new faith, start out with an account of the deplorable state of the Jews in Russia, maintain that the endeavors at improvement on the part of the Jews themselves have all proved futile, and proceed to say:
"There is need of a deep and inner moral renewal, of a spiritual regeneration. We must cast aside our false god—the love of money—and in the room thereof must establish in our hearts a home for the love of truth, and for the fear of evil." For this, however, a leader is necessary. Who is he to be? In Israel none can be found. "The man who possesses all the qualifications of a leader—love of Israel, sacrificing of life, pureness, deep knowledge of human nature, earnestness in the exposal of the sins and evils of his people—we have, after a careful research in all the books of the history of our people, found only in one man, in Jesus of Nazareth." The wise Israelites in his day could not understand him; "but we can say with certainty that he, Jesus, he alone has sought the welfare of his brethren. Therefore we should sanctify the name of our Brother Jesus." "We should receive the Gospel books into our houses as a blessing, and unite them with all the Holy Scriptures which were handed down to us by our wise men."
"According to the decree of the inscrutable wisdom of God, our fathers were filled with hardness of heart, and the Lord punished them with the spirit of deep sleep, so that they opposed Jesus Christ and sinned against him until the present day. But by their unbelief they led other nations to greater zeal, and they thus contributed to the propitiation of mankind, who have believed in Jesus Christ, the son of David, our king, when they heard the good tidings through the peace-promising messengers (Isa. 52:7), who had been disgracefully expelled from communion with Israel. In consequence, however, of this our sin against the Christ of God, the world has grown rich by its faith in Christ, and the nations in fulness have entered the Kingdom of God. [They are not clear here. It is the full number of the "little flock" out of the nations, and not the full nations falsely called Christendom, that Paul refers to in Rom. 11:25.] Now, too, the time of our fulness has also come, and we, the seed of Abraham, are to be blessed by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and the God of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will take pity upon us and replant the branches which have [C284] been torn out, into our own Holy Root—Jesus. And thus all Israel shall share the eternal salvation, and Jerusalem, our Holy City, shall be rebuilt, and the throne of David be established forever and evermore."
"Your valuable letter, etc., were received. My heart rejoiced when I read them and perceived how great and strong the love of your heart is toward the brethren of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, according to the flesh, and how precious the salvation of the Israelitic nation is in your eyes.
"I prostrate myself before Jehovah, the God of our Lord Jesus; and from the depth of my heart stream forth the words of the sweet singer of Israel (Psa. 35), 'Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt. Let them shout for joy and be glad that favor my righteous cause; yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.' Amen.
"Herewith I send you my opinions and statements in reference to those children of Israel in Southern Russia who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. From them you will learn to know the origin of our faith in Jesus (our brother bodily), the Messiah. He is the innermost desire and longing of our hearts. Our English friends and brethren in Jesus, our Savior, may be convinced by the above pamphlet that after the Lord has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations, and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God, that now the time has come when there shall depart from the midst of Israel all unclean persons, and the bearers of the vessels of the Lord shall be cleansed.
"True, the salvation of the Lord cannot go out and come into the world with haste (Joshua 6:1), nor can it walk with rapidity; but now as Jehovah, the Avantguard and King of the Universe, has passed on before the people of Israel, the God of Israel shall come also as Rearguard, as Gatherer of the outcasts of Israel. I devote my time and name to the welfare of my stubborn and unhappy nation, to testify unto them with a brazen forehead, in the strength of God, the [C285] gospel of promise, which our fathers had received; viz., that God hath raised Jesus of Nazareth, out of the seed of David, as Savior of Israel.
"Through the depth of the riches and wisdom of God, the highest, our fathers, who were incumbents of the promise, rebelled against Jesus, so that grace might be bestowed upon the heathen nations, not through any promise, but through grace in the gospel of the Messiah. Now, after the fulness of the Gentiles hath come in, the time has arrived for us, the sons of Israel, to return to the God of Israel and his King, and be his beloved children. We should accept our heritage of Jacob, which is without limit; for we are the legitimate heirs, children of Abraham, disciples of Moses, servants of the house of David in eternity. Thus our fulness (i.e., the coming of many Israelites to Christ) will be our riches and the riches of the nations, according to the words of Jehovah by St. Paul, a firstborn of Israel, and at the same time the foremost among the returning heathen.
"Among my brethren, and in large meetings, I earnestly admonish, 'Shake thyself from the dust; arise, put on thy beautiful garments, my people; through the son of Jesse, Jesus of Nazareth, hath the Lord done great things with thee, O Israel, that he might also work great things among the nations of the earth, who were blessed in our fathers.'
"I greatly thank God that I see thousands who cheerfully listen. Many and worthy sons of Israel are waiting and longing for the hour, the hour of the grace of our God. I implore you, in the name of our brethren in Russia who seek the salvation, that the friends of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherever they be, may not be silent, but that they give counsel and speak out boldly, until Immanuel be with us also, until Jehovah show us him and his dwelling.
"News comes from ice-bound Siberia of a gospel movement essentially the same as that of Mr. Rabinowitch's. [C286] The leader is Jacob Scheinmann, a Polish Jew, who, twenty years ago, through independent thought, came to the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, was the true Savior. The strict Talmudic Jews got him transported to Siberia, where for fifteen years he labored, almost unheeded, to awaken faith in his fellow-exiles. Among the uncalled-for mail matter which was found at Tomsk, where he was engaged in business, was a pamphlet by Rabinowitch, with whom he at once communicated. He has been busy disseminating his views through pamphlets called 'The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness.' Delitzsch's Hebrew translation of the New Testament is being eagerly read and studied by the Siberian Jews. It is said that fully 36,000 copies have been thus used."
Thus we see remarkable indications of God's returning favor to Israel: in driving them out of other countries by great persecutions, in opening up Palestine to receive them, inviting them thither by special providences in their favor in the way of benevolent enterprises for their improvement and assistance, and also in this significant movement which is the beginning of the turning away of Israel's blindness. And how evidently it is all of God! In this work for the restoration of Fleshly Israel, as well as in the great harvest work for the gathering of Spiritual Israel, the agency of the now cast-off nominal church is entirely ignored. In both of these great works now in progress the various organizations of nominal "Christendom" are quietly set aside; and in his own time and way, and by new, humble, untitled instruments, as in the Jewish harvest, God is causing his great work to prosper and progress.
And now we inquire, What does it signify? What will be the outcome of this strange and wonderful work, the marked beginnings and rapid strides of which are so manifest in this harvest period? The Apostle Paul distinctly shows that the regathering of Israel signifies a regathering, or restitution, for all mankind: "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the [C287] riches of the Gentiles [as it was in the turn of divine favor to them], how much more their fulness." Through the casting away of Fleshly Israel the Gentiles received the favor of the high calling, and the "few" who appreciate it, and who overcome the obstacles in the way of attaining it, will be exalted to joint-heirship with Christ. They will constitute the body of Christ, the great Deliverer. This was the intent and will be the result of the casting away of Fleshly Israel; but their gathering again and their re-establishment in the land of promise mark another step in the great divine plan: they declare that the restitution of all things, "to the Jew first," but ultimately to "all the families of the earth," is about to begin. Earth's Great Jubilee is about to be introduced, and it begins in God's order with the Jew. Thus seen, Brothers Rabinowitch and Scheinmann and their co-laborers are God's instruments in preparing his ancient people for restitution, even as it is our privilege to be co-workers with the Lord in the reaping work connected with the harvesting period of the Gospel age and its select, spiritual class. Surely, Israel's full return to their own land and to divine favor will mean that the great Deliverer, Head and body, through whom restitution is to be accomplished, has been exalted to power, that the Kingdom has come, and that the work of restitution, of which Fleshly Israel will be the first fruits, has already begun. Therefore, "If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"—restitution—not only for the living, but for the dead also, according to the promise; and not only for Israel, but for all mankind, of which Israel was a type, and is to be the first fruits. The present beginnings of favor to Israel are only droppings before a mighty shower which will refresh, not only Israel, but all mankind. And though the surgings of strife will yet beat heavily against Israel, and for a time bring them into still greater tribulation and distress, in the [C288] midst of it all God will be with them, and in due time will help and exalt them.
In this connection the following item from the public press dispatches is certainly very significant. The outcome of the movement will be watched with deep interest by all who are walking in the light of the present truth, and who realize from God's Word that the time has come which God announced through the prophet Isaiah, saying: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare [margin, her appointed time] is accomplished, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double* for all her sins." Isaiah 40:1,2
"He explained that the memorial was the result of a Conference of Christians and Jews recently held in Chicago, and called special attention to the fact that it did not antagonize Russia, but sought in a peaceable way to give the Jews control of their old home—Palestine.
"He pointed out many evidences of the possibility of great development of that country, both agriculturally and commercially, under an energetic government, and said that the railroad now building from Joppa to Jerusalem, if extended to Damascus, Tadmor and down the Euphrates, cannot fail to become an international highway.
"He said that the poverty of the Turkish Government gives emphasis to the proposed indemnity, by funding a portion of the Turkish national debt through Jewish capitalists, and that only peaceable diplomatic negotiations are asked for, to the end that all private ownership of land and [C289] property be carefully respected and protected. In closing he said that, being on such friendly terms with Russia and having no complications in the Orient, it is most fitting and hopeful that our government should initiate this friendly movement, to give these wandering millions of Israel a settled and permanent home.
"What shall be done for the Russian Jews? It is both unwise and useless to undertake to dictate to Russia concerning her internal affairs. The Jews have lived as foreigners in her dominions for centuries, and she fully believes that they are a burden upon her resources and prejudicial to the welfare of her peasant population, and will not allow them to remain. She is determined that they must go. Hence, like the Sephardim of Spain, these Ashkenazim must emigrate. But where shall two millions of such poor people go? Europe is crowded, and has no room for more peasant population. Shall they come to America? This would be a tremendous expense and would require years.
"Why not give Palestine back to them again? According to God's distribution of nations it is their home—an inalienable possession from which they were expelled by force. Under their cultivation it was a remarkably fruitful land, sustaining millions of Israelites, who industriously tilled its hillsides and valleys. They were agriculturists and producers as well as a nation of great commercial importance—the center of civilization and religion. It is said, too, that rains are increasing, and there are many evidences that the land is recovering its ancient fertility.
"Why shall not the powers which, under the treaty of Berlin, in 1878, gave Bulgaria to the Bulgarians and Servia to the Servians, now give Palestine back to the Jews? These provinces, as well as Roumania, Montenegro and Greece, were wrested from the Turks and given to their natural owners. Does not Palestine as rightfully belong to the Jews?
"If they could have autonomy in government, the Jews of the world would rally to transport and establish their suffering brethren in their time-honored habitation. For over seventeen centuries they have patiently waited for such a privileged opportunity. They have not become agriculturists elsewhere because they believed they were sojourners in the various nations, and were yet to return to Palestine and till their own land. Whatever vested rights, by possession, may have accrued to Turkey can be easily compensated for, possibly by the Jews assuming an equitable portion of the national debt.
"We believe this is an appropriate time for all nations, and especially the Christian nations of Europe, to show kindness to Israel. A million of exiles, by their terrible sufferings, are piteously appealing to our sympathy, justice and humanity. Let us now restore to them the land of which they were so cruelly despoiled by our Roman ancestors.
"To this end we respectfully petition His Excellency, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, and the Hon. J. G. Blaine, Secretary of State, to use their good offices and influence with the governments of their imperial majesties—Alexander III, Czar of Russia; Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Empress of India; William II, Emperor of Germany; Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austro-Hungary; Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey; Her Royal Majesty, Marie Christina, Queen Regent of Spain; with the government of the Republic of France; and with the governments of Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Roumania, Servia, Bulgaria and Greece, to secure the holding, at an early date, of an international conference to consider the condition of the Israelites and their claims to Palestine as their ancient home, and to promote in all other just and proper ways the alleviation of their suffering condition."
Since the publication of the first edition of this volume, a [C291] criticism of it and especially of this chapter appeared in an English journal—The Banner of Israel—devoted to the theory that the Anglo-Saxon peoples are representatives of the "ten lost tribes" of Israel. The following appeared in the December, 1891, issue of our magazine Zion's Watch Tower. We publish it here, believing that it will be of interest, as it touches additional points, as follows:
Dear Sir: A recent article in your journal, reviewing Scripture Studies, Vol. III, and especially its reference to the Anglo-Israel Question in connection with the return of the Jews to Palestine, has come to my attention; and as it seems to inquire for a reply, I hasten to answer it briefly.
The point of discussion turns upon the question whether, after the separation of the ten tribes from the two tribes of Israel, in the days of Rehoboam, they ever again became united, either actually or reckonedly. Your correspondent claims that there was no reunion and that the name, Israel, from that date forward belonged exclusively to the ten tribes, and not to the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, known as the Jews. This error seems necessary to his theory: that the Anglo-Saxon people are those ten tribes, and that their prosperity is due to this fact. We hold that from the period of the seventy years desolation, and especially from the return from Babylonian captivity, the nation of Israel has been recognized by God as one, including all of every tribe who respected God's promises and returned to Palestine when Cyrus issued his decree of permission. We hold that all who did not return were not of the commonwealth of Israel, not Israelites indeed, but that they were thenceforth reckoned as Gentiles. We affirm, too, that those "lost" ones who were not Israelites indeed will require recognition and blessing under the New Covenant [C292] during the coming Millennial age, and not during the Gospel age. Upon some points there seems to be a slight misunderstanding of our position. We do not deny that the ten tribes separated from the two tribes, nor that the ten, representing the majority, retained as such the original name of all (Israel), nor that the two tribes became known as Judah, nor that there was considerable cause for the separation, nor that it was in accord with God's plan for their chastisement, nor that the ten tribes went into captivity some seventy years before the two tribes, nor that God possibly has some portion of blessing for the descendants of the ten tribes, as well as for those of the two tribes and for all the families of the earth, during the "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21
What we do claim is, that the Great Teacher was right when he declared that "Salvation is of the Jews," and that the great Apostle was right when he declared that God's order is—"Glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God." (Rom. 2:10,11) Our understanding of this is, that after the Babylonish captivity the name Jew became synonymous with Israelite, and included all who held to the Law and hoped for the fulfilment of the Abrahamic promises—including some from the ten tribes as well as proselytes from the Gentiles—all who were circumcised. Moreover, even at the time of the revolt of the ten tribes, all the individual members of those tribes did not join in it. Some continued faithful to the Kingdom of Judah, and continued to live among the Jews. 1 Kings 12:17
We have found, and pointed out the significant fact, that our Lord and the Apostles addressed the "twelve tribes" under one name—"the House of Israel"—and this, too, in [C293] speaking directly to the people living in Jerusalem, who, as all admit, were chiefly of the tribe of Judah, but partially of all the twelve tribes. The fact that the Lord and the Apostles thus addressed the twelve tribes as one nation, and applied prophecies to them as such, seems to us quite sufficient reason for our doing the same.
To quote the texts of Scripture bearing on the different phases of the subject would require much space; but whoever will take a copy of Young's Concordance, turn to page 528 and note the various instances in which the word Israel is used in the New Testament, will have what seems to be overwhelming evidence that the House of Israel was no longer regarded by our Lord and the Apostles as the "ten tribes" merely, but, as it is expressed, "all Israel." Note especially the following texts: Matt. 8:10; 10:6; 15:24,31; 27:9,42; Mark 12:29; 15:32; Luke 1:54,68, and especially verse 80; also 2:25,32,34; 24:21; also note carefully John 1:31,49; 3:10; 12:13; also Acts 2:22,36; 3:12; 4:10,27; 5:21,30,31,35; 13:16,24; 21:28; Rom. 9:6,31; 10:19; 11:25,26; 1 Cor. 10:18; Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:12; Phil. 3:5; Heb. 8:8.
"Salvation is of the Jews," or covenant-keeping Israelites, in the sense that (1) our Lord Jesus, the Savior, came in this line; (2) in that a remnant of these Jews (the Apostles and most of the early Church), called a remnant of Israel (Rom. 9:27; 11:1,5,7), became ministers of reconciliation to bear the message to the Gentiles; and (3) in that the Lord's provision is that, in the restitution work of the future, fleshly Israel, recovered from blindness, shall be used as a medium through whom the streams of salvation, issuing from the glorified, spiritual Israel, shall flow to all the families of the earth; as it is written, "Out of Zion [the Gospel Church, or spiritual Israel glorified] shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem [the re-established fleshly Israel]." Isa. 2:3
But in any case the ten tribes are left out of this and all such promises; for neither Zion nor Jerusalem (neither the typical nor the real) belonged to them. To have a share at all in the covenant made with Abraham, they must either be united to the spiritual Israel, of which the Lion of the tribe of Judah is the head, or they must become associated with the literal Judah at Jerusalem, in order to share his portion in the coming times of restitution; for "the Lord shall save the tents of Judah first." Zech. 12:7
"As to the non-return of Israel, a comparison of Jer. 29:1,4,10 with Ezra 1:1 shows that the edict of Cyrus was in fulfilment of a prophecy which referred exclusively to the Jews; and from Ezek. 4:3-8 it is patent that Israel's term of captivity had to extend far beyond Judah's. There is no proof whatever that the ten tribes were embraced in the offer of Cyrus."
We must take exceptions to these statements, and ask your readers to examine more carefully the texts cited. Jeremiah (29:1-10) does not advise the people to settle down contentedly, never expecting to return to Jerusalem, but that they should make themselves comfortably at home in the land of Babylon, because there would be no deliverance for seventy years—a much longer period of captivity than they had ever before experienced.
Ezra 1:1 does not limit to the members of Judah and Benjamin the privilege or liberty to return. On the contrary, verse 3 declares that Cyrus extended the offer to "Whoever among you that is of all his people "; verse 4 repeats the "whosoever," and makes the invitation world-wide, as was Cyrus' dominion, by the words "in every place "; and verse 5 declares that not only the chiefs of Judah and Benjamin responded, but also "the priests and the Levites, with [C295] all those whose spirit God had awakened"—i.e., all whose hearts, like Simeon's, were "waiting for the consolation of Israel." Among such were some from the ten tribes, even though they were fewer. For instance, among those who with Simeon waited in the temple for the consolation of Israel was Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Luke 2:36
As for the citation from Ezekiel (4:3-8), no suggestion is offered as to when the forty years upon Judah, or the three hundred and ninety years upon the remainder of Israel, were fulfilled. Your correspondent overlooks the fact that although this trouble is divided into two portions it is all represented as coming against one people, as illustrated by the one capital city, Jerusalem, which was portrayed by the prophet as a part of his tableau teaching. Some suppose the lesson taught to be that God's wrath against the ten tribes dated from the time of the revolt, when they went into idolatry, about 390 years before the desolation of Jerusalem, and that the wrath against the two tribes dated from forty years before the desolation, when, under King Manasseh, the two tribes became idolaters, and that God's wrath ceased, or was assuaged, by the expiation for their sins in the utter desolation of Jerusalem and the land. If this be correct, his favor returned, while they were in Babylon, to all who revered his promises and waited for the seventy years of desolation to expire, that they might return to God's worship in his holy city and temple.
We answer, then, that there is no evidence that the willing, faithful ones of the ten tribes were hindered and did not return to the holy land after its seventy years of desolation. On the contrary, the evidence shows that they had the liberty to return and that some of them exercised it.
After quoting from Scripture Studies, Vol. III, "They [the ten tribes] deserted the Israelitish covenant, and became [C296] idolaters, unbelievers, and practically Gentiles," your correspondent continues:
"This is perfectly correct: the ten tribes did apostatize, and were formally divorced from the Mosaic covenant. (Jer. 3:8) But he overlooks the companion jewel—namely, they were to be remarried in a new and better covenant. (Isa. 54:4-8; Hos. 2:7,19; Jer. 31:31-33) The Israelites were indeed practically Gentiles, and are esteemed Gentiles to this day; but that is concordant with prophecy; for Ephraim's 'multitude of nations' are goyim or nominal Gentiles (Gen. 48:19); and the children of Ephraim-Israel, 'which cannot be measured nor numbered,' are the offspring of Loammi, or nominal Gentiles. Hos. 1:9,10."
We beg to differ regarding the above statement. The Lord has not remarried, nor will he ever remarry the ten tribes. The citations prove nothing of this kind. Hosea gives some hard pictures of a bad people. Chapter 1:4,6,7 seems to mention the ten tribes separately from the two, but promises no more mercy, but, instead, an utter taking away of the ten, and mercy upon Judah. Verses 9 and 10 show the rejection (for a time) of all Israel (the natural branches of the olive), and the grafting in of spiritual Israel upon the original root or promise—those from among the Gentiles who formerly had not been recognized by the Lord as his people, who had been strangers and foreigners and aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, but who are now brought nigh and made partakers through Christ. This application of this scripture is made by the Apostle Paul. (Rom. 9:23-26) Verse 11 declares that "then," at the time of their rejection and at the time of the recognition of spiritual Israel, Judah and Israel would be reunited under one head.
Hosea 2:1-7 includes one of the proofs offered; but the most careful search in these verses discloses no promise from the Lord that he will remarry them. Reading down to verse 13 proves to the contrary. Then verses 14-18 show the "door [C297] of hope" for these rebellious people, which the Millennial reign of the true spiritual seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16,29) will open; for verse 18 locates the date of this "door of hope," by declaring it to be after the time of trouble, when wars shall be no more.
Verses 19 and 20, if applicable to the fleshly seed at all, should be applied to "all Israel" (last before mentioned)—see Chapter 1:11—and in that case would not call for fulfilment before the close of the Gospel age, when wars shall be no more. But there is good reason for believing that these verses (19 and 20) relate to the spiritual class, selected during the time when fleshly Israel has been cast off. To this view the 23rd verse as well as Chapter 1:10 gives support, both being quoted in Rom. 9:23-26, and agreeing well with the Apostle's other statement, "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Rom. 11:7
As for Isaiah 54:1-8, the Apostle Paul has thrown the light of superhuman wisdom upon it, and has applied it to spiritual Zion, our mother or covenant, symbolized by Sarah. The fleshly seed of Abraham had been cast out from being heir of the promise, and the true seed, Christ (typified by Isaac and Rebecca), had been received as the only seed of promise. Gal. 4:22,24,26-31
Jeremiah 31:29-33 is quite to the point. It was written at a time when the ten tribes, called Israel, were separate from the two, called Judah; and hence it was necessary for the prophet to mention both, in order not to be misunderstood to mean the ten tribes only. But here, in verse 31, he puts the two together; and, after thus joining them as one, he uses the one name for all, in verses 33 and 36; and this is confirmed by verses 38-40, which describe places lying in the portion of the two tribes, in and about Jerusalem.
But next let us notice that this is a prophecy not yet fulfilled; [C298] so that the ten tribes, even if they could clearly identify themselves now, have as yet no cause for boasting. They would do better to wait until the New Covenant is made with them, and until the law of that New Covenant has been written in their hearts. Then surely they will no longer boast themselves of their old covenant, but of the new.
During the Gospel age the New Covenant and its blessed heart-writing and spirit-teaching is not for the ten tribes, nor for the two. It must first be sealed by the blood (death) of the Mediator—Head and Body, from Jews and Gentiles. The fleshly seed (Ishmael) must wait until the spiritual seed (Isaac) has inherited all, and must then get his portion through Isaac. In those days—when the fleshly seed receives its portion—the blessed Millennial privileges, mentioned in verses 29 and 30, will be realized.
Beloved, let us make our calling and election sure by the obedience of faith, and not hope for spiritual blessings to come to us because of fleshly connections—which the Lord's Word clearly shows us cannot be. If the Anglo-Saxon races are the literal descendants of the ten lost tribes, it certainly is to their advantage that the Lord will overlook the relationship and count them as Gentiles; for his favor was withdrawn from the natural seed when the remnant had been selected, and he turned to take out the people for his name from among the Gentiles, who previously were not his people; and, as we have seen, no return of his favor is promised until the elect Church shall have been completed, in the Millennial dawn.
Nothing in our understanding of the teachings of the Scriptures is in opposition to the idea that Great Britain, Germany and the United States may contain some of the descendants of the ten tribes which separated from the two tribes in the days of Rehoboam. It could not be claimed, however, by any one who is familiar with the radical mixture which prevails, especially in the United States, that [C299] any of these nations are of pure Israelitish stock. Neither do we debate the question whether the prosperity of these nations, more than that of some other nations of the world, is due to their lineage. Perhaps this is true. What we do maintain, however, is that, so far as the Lord's "high calling" of his Church is concerned, the middle wall of partition having been broken down, the Israelitish origin of an individual or a nation would, under the terms of the Grace Covenant, gain the individual or the nation no advantage over other individuals or nations of a different race. From it "all Israel," "the natural branches," were broken off, except a "remnant" which accepted Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant; and that "remnant" had no pre-eminence over others because of nationality. God, through the Apostles, has preached no favors to Israel according to the flesh during the period of the selection of spiritual Israel; but he has declared that when the company of spiritual Israel is complete, his favor will return to the fleshly house.
Because we believe that the spiritual Israel is nearly complete, therefore we are expecting blessings upon the Israelites who are according to the flesh, and the turning away of their blindness, anticipating that they will be the first of the restitution class to be blessed by spiritual Israel, and so "obtain mercy through your mercy." (Rom. 11:31) After they have thus received mercy through the complete and glorified Church of Christ, they will indeed be used as the Lord's instruments for blessing all the families of the earth, and thus the Abrahamic promises will be fulfilled unto both the seeds—both that which is according to the flesh, and that which is according to the spirit—"To the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham." Rom. 4:16. Yours respectfully,
Those who claim that "the term Israel applies only to the ten lost tribes" and that "Judah is the only name properly applicable to those who returned to Palestine after the Babylonian captivity" should cease such assertions until they can answer the following simple facts. Our Lord declared, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." (Matt. 15:24; 10:6) He said not one word about the House of Judah; and yet all of his preaching was done in Palestine to what the Anglo-Israelites tell us was not the House of Israel at all, but the House of Judah. Then, again, according to this same theory, St. Peter made a great blunder when, speaking under the direct plenary inspiration of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he declared: "Let all the House of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom YE have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36) Anglo-Israelites tell us that not the House of Israel, but the House of Judah, was guilty of crucifying Christ. Let whoever likes conclude that our Lord and his Apostle blundered and that Anglo-Israelitish ideas are correct, we shall let God be true—we will take the view that is consistent with the word of our Lord and St. Peter and with all the New Testament teachings and with reason.
The curses, mentioned by Moses, (Deut. 28:15,46,49,63-67) that would befall Israel (the twelve tribes) if unfaithful to the Lord, seem to have had a very literal fulfilment upon the Israel of our Lord's day (chiefly the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, but including also representatives of the other ten tribes who reverenced the Lord) upon whom our Lord declared all things written in the Law and Prophets shall be fulfilled, and upon whom the Apostle Paul declares that those predictions were fulfilled to the uttermost. See 1 Thess. 2:15,16.