September 3, 2012
Some have said that Israel herself is a sign.
What does this mean? What is the significance
of the “regathering” of Israel ?
The Jew himself is God’s timepiece and the key that unlocks every door of prophecy. This is because God has a special love for Israel. Deuteronomy 7:6-8 declares, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you.” God chose Israel “to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). This is the first great insight I want you to grasp-that God chose the people of Israel simply because He loved them. No more, no less. David was so enraptured with the truth of God’s love for Israel that he exclaimed in 1 Chronicles 17:22, “For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, LORD, becamest their God.” As we progress with this question, it will become abundantly clear why to this day Israel itself is a major sign of Christ’s imminent return.
The Lord God Jehovah told the people of Israel that their country was to be located “in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:12), or more literally, in the “navel of the earth.” Its capital city, Jerusalem, was to be situated in the center of the nations (Ezekiel 5:5); and in that capital city the Lord was to put His name forever, and forever, declaring that His eye and His heart would be there perpetually (1 Kings 9:3). There the Lord promised to establish the throne of David forever (2 Samuel 7:16) and finally to give that throne to His own divine and eternal Son. Luke 1:31-33 states, “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Are you beginning to see how much God loved Israel and its people? However, it was not all love, sweetness, and light.
God also warned the children of Israel of an imminent worldwide dispersion if they thumbed their noses at Him in disobedience. He went so far as to tell them that His Son would delay His rule if their hearts became wicked and hardened. To see if God is a God of His word, let us look at the prophetical utterances to see if they really took place. Scripture tells us that Israel was, in fact, driven out of its land and scattered among the nations of the earth because of its widespread disobedience. During this worldwide dispersion, God visited the Gentiles, “to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14). In the meantime, Israel existed many days without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without an image, without an ephod (a sacred garment of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen worn by the priest), and without teraphim (Hosea 3:4). Devout religious Jews cry vehemently at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem because they have been without all of these things for centuries-just as God declared they would be without them. Since all these prophecies have come to pass according to prophetical utterance, and since God has shown His mighty power in bringing each utterance to fulfillment, let us now consider the predictions in upcoming questions and answers to see if His coming is near.
The Regathering of Israel
The second part of the question is, “What is the significance of the ‘regathering’ of Israel?” Scores of Bible passages clearly indicate that the reestablishment of Israel in its ancient homeland will take place when Messiah is ready to return to earth. The Messiah is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ of Luke 1:32. Deuteronomy 30:3 states, “The LORD thy God will. . . return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.” In similar language, Isaiah 11:12 tells us, “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Again, Acts 15:16 declares, “After this.” After what? Look at verse 14: God “did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” This has been occurring since Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, received Christ in Acts 10. God says, “After this [after the Gentiles have had their opportunity] I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:16).
An important historical note: In A.D. 70, Titus the Roman general smashed Jerusalem and drove the Jews into their dispersion. This is called “the diaspora,” or worldwide dispersion of the Jews. From that hour until 1948, the Jews had no homeland to call their own. Instead, the nations of the world hated them, mistreated them, and labeled them, as we noted earlier, “wandering Jews.” God, however, said that He would bring His people back to their own land and that this regathering would happen near the time when Messiah would set up His kingdom on earth: “And I will plant[Israel] 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 9:15).
God has put the Jews in their land to stay forever. Is it not interesting that the Arab nations refused to recognize Israel when it became a nation in 1948? The Arabs were determined to drive Israel into the sea and obliterate her memory from the face of the earth. However, God had other-and better-plans and, in the end, God’s way always wins the day. He said in the verse just quoted that Israel would remain in its land forever after He planted the nation there. Therefore, in 1974 the Egyptians, Syrians, and others negotiated with Israel, recognizing for the first time that Israel was indeed a nation and in its land to stay. Have you studied the extraordinary message in Ezekiel 37, which alludes to this event, and which further describes the prophet’s vision of the dry bones? Here is a portion of this amazing passage:
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones. And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me. Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind. Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them. Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves [Gentile nations], and cause you to come up out of your graves [the Gentile nations], and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:1-12)
There is no secret here. Verse 11 proclaims: “These bones are the whole house of Israel.” In 1948, the Jews put up a flag-the six-pointed Star of David. After being scattered throughout the earth for nearly nineteen hundred years, they had finally become a nation! The current population of Israel is more than five million-consisting of Jews who have returned from 120 nations of the world, speaking more than eighty-three languages. While in Israel, I spoke to a Jew who had recently returned from Spanish Morocco. As I sat with him on a bus going from Arab Israel to another part of the country, we talked about the black Jews who were just then returning to Israel from Ethiopia. He quickly said, “Yes, we have come from all nations.” When the Ethiopian Jews left Jerusalem nineteen hundred years ago, they said, “We will never go back to our homeland until it is time for Messiah to return.” Today these Jews from Ethiopia-called Falashas-have returned in massive numbers. They have also come from Russia and Ukraine-the final sign (see Jeremiah 3:17-18). For these reasons alone, I can say with full conviction-and trust you can also-that Jesus Christ’s return to this earth is near, even at the door.
Jerusalem has always been under the heel of the
Gentiles. When will ownership of Jerusalem
return to the Jews: And when will the Tribulation
period ultimately fall on belivers?
We find further dramatic signs of Christ’s return in Luke 21:24 – 28. Jesus said: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh“
This portion of Scripture pinpoints the time of Christ’s statement in utmost simplicity. In modern grammar, the Savior declares, “There is an hour coming when My people, the Jews, shall control Jerusalem. At this moment of time, there shall also be signs in space coupled with a trouble-filled world. When all of these events occur simultaneously, look up because My return to earth is very near.” Jerusalem had been under the heel of the Gentiles. In fact, the Gentiles controlled the city for twenty-five centuries, but in our lifetime a miracle happened. Jerusalem was captured by the Jews in a six-day war fought June 5-10, 1967-one of the most important signs ever concerning Christ’s return predicted in Luke 21:24. But there’s more. Jesus added in verse 25 that signs would occur in the sun, moon, and stars. Think of this. Twenty-five months after Jerusalem was captured by the Jews, June of 1967, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in July of 1969. Coincidence? Hardly.
Signs of Judgment by Fire
As we have already learned, the period of time that follows the Rapture and precedes Christ’s return to earth is called the Tribulation (Revelation 7:14). The Rapture is described in Revelation 4:1 and the Revelation-Christ’s return to earth to receive His church in Revelation 19:11. The chapters between the two events constitute the Tribulation Hour-a seven-year period of judgment. Christ referred to this period in the statement, “As it was in the days of Lot…Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:28, 30). The fire that burned Sodom and Gomorrah was all-consuming-the result of wickedness and of turning a deaf ear to the Almighty. Bad as it was for Sodom and Gomorrah, their fate is nothing compared to the coming human devastation that will afflict the people of earth during the Tribulation Hour. Jeremiah 30:7 declares, “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it.” Daniel 12:1 states, “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” Jesus also declared in Matthew 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Included in this horrendous portrayal is a world on fire- similar to the judgment of Lot’s day. The Bible says, “The flaming flame shall not be quenched” (Ezekiel 20:47). Again, “The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy” (Zephaniah 1:18). “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven” (Malachi 4:1). “And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up” (Revelation 8:7). “By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone” (Revelation 9:18).
A stockpile of nuclear explosives jams the weapons arsenals of the world today. Reports indicate that the amount is equivalent to one ton of TNT for every person alive. Recently, India and Pakistan conducted nuclear explosions, and the world teeters on the brink of destruction. Think of the mass devastation that shall be unleashed on this world during the Tribulation Hour! But God’s people will escape this catastrophic judgment. Revelation 3:10 declares, “I also will keep thee from [ek-out of] the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Have you ever wondered how the world must look to a little baby? After nine months of confinement, tucked close beneath its mother’s heart, the world must seem a strange, vast place.
Looking up from its crib, perhaps a little one’s first awareness is of faces looking down. Probably the first person to attract the baby’s attention would be its mother.
“Who is this person?” might be the baby’s first question, if it could speak. I’m told that the miraculous, divinely-planned bonding between child and mother begins almost immediately after birth. Many experts believe a baby even recognizes its mother’s voice from months of hearing it inside the womb.
And the baby’s next question might be, “Who is that man?” Given the proper time, care, and attention from the male parent, the infant will grow to recognize and love its father, too. Throughout every stage of its growth and development, that child needs the influence and nurture of both a mother and father. Expressing affection to the child in a positive way, like hugging, is important in developing a sense of security.
Sorry to say, too often there is not enough of a relationship between fathers and children. There is too little male bonding. Some recent studies have determined that a great many men spend only about ten minutes a day with their children. As a result, fathers are virtual strangers to their offspring. Children can’t identify with their father-they don’t know who he is or what he stands for. They would find it impossible to say what their dad’s outlook and philosophy is.
This condition is one of the sad and serious consequences of homes broken by divorce. There are millions of single-parent homes where children grow up never knowing the influence of a man in the house.
Even in homes with mothers and fathers, sometimes dads spend too many hours watching TV, or involving themselves in hobbies or activities that take them away from their children. Sometimes, even church activities can keep men really busy with Sunday and Wednesday services, and perhaps one or two other nights of serving on boards or committees.
Because of the hectic pace of modem life… and possibly even because of the demented, evil behavior of a small percentage of men who victimize and abuse youngsters-the normal, healthy bond of intimacy between father’s and children is deteriorating.
In recent months, there seems to be a new emphasis on developing positive parent-child relationships-especially with fathers. I applaud this and encourage every Christian father to invest more time and interest in his children. Almost nothing is more important to the whole family’s welfare than for the man of the house to be a real father.
As I look back over my childhood and teenage years, I realize what an important role my dad, Rex Shelton, played in my life. And looking around at the multiplied thousands of youngsters who have absolutely no father-image, or a father who takes little or no interest in them, or even worse, a father who persecutes and abuses them, my heart goes out to them.
No wonder our youth are out of control, our families deteriorating, and our nation veering disastrously off course! God, give us fathers-godly men like my precious dad!
Caring and sharing
I knew my father. He was a real, flesh and blood, down-to-earth person. He was not afraid to share his struggles and troubles openly…not to burden his children but to let us see how he worked through hard times and faced adversity…and how he trusted God. He openly showed us the reality of Christian living.
Dad had a big heart. He cared for others, and always was quick to extend a helping hand. Dad came from a family of eight children, and he even helped take care of his brothers and sisters, taking responsibility for them until they were old enough to be on their own.
My dad was tenderhearted… and not afraid of tears. He was moved by the feelings of others. If I cried, often he cried too, sharing my sorrow, and offering comfort and encouragement. I always knew he cared.
He also was free-spirited and fun loving, and never outgrew the joy of playing. I remember going swimming and water skiing, and tobogganing with him in the snow. Once, when I was just a little girl, Dad and I were out walking in the snow and I got so cold I couldn’t stand it. Dad picked me up, put me inside his coat, wrapping it snugly around the both of us. I felt so secure in his arms-protected, safe, warm, and loved.
That’s really how Dad made me feel all my life. I never remember him saying, “Leave me alone-I don’t have time for you right now.” He made time for me when I needed and wanted him-he was always there, physically and emotionally.
When I had a serious tooth problem and had to go to the dentist for a root canal, it was Dad who took me and held my hand through the frightening ordeal. And it was Dad who taught me to face reality, putting Merthiolate on a scrape and saying, “Rexella, this WILL hurt-but it will help you get well.”
Dad knew how to make me feel special. Sometimes I’d follow him out into the backyard garden-just because I enjoyed walking with him and looking at the vegetables. He’d find the biggest and best red tomato in the whole garden and give it to me, along with a salt shaker he’d carried in his pocket just for that walk.
Children love to know what their fathers do. My dad was a quality control inspector on a General Motors auto assembly line. I’ll never forget when he took me to see his work. I was so proud of him-I thought he was so important. It made me look up to him even more.
My father did not send me to church with my mother-he took us to church as a family. I started singing at church when I was about five years old. When I’d look out at the congregation, Dad was always there and his face shone with approval!
Years later, when Jack and I were young evangelists, whenever we were within 50-100 miles of home, Dad would drive over to be in our services. Sometimes it meant he could only sleep four or five hours that night because he was up each morning at 5:30 a.m. for work.
I’ve always thought it must be profoundly painful to be publicly ridiculed or disciplined by one’s parent. Dad always corrected me privately. I sometimes needed correction-and I got it! But Dad never humiliated me or made my misdeeds a public spectacle. And he used my mistakes as opportunities to teach me a better way.
Once I was trying to train a puppy to do tricks-with little results. I got so exasperated that I was yelling! Dad came out with a handful of treats and said, “Try using these as rewards-it will work better.” Then he told me that when he was a boy, his mother had taught him to use sugar cubes instead of a stick to train his horse. I never forgot that lesson.
I was so fortunate-so blessed to have a good father. It was never difficult for me to understand or receive God’s love because I had experienced the love of an earthly father. I could believe God would take my burdens (Psalm 55:22), supply my needs (Philippians 4:19), protect me (Psalm 91:11), direct me (Proverbs 3:5,6), and give me everlasting life and love (John 3:16). My earthly father had exemplified all these things to me. If Dad had these qualities, how could I doubt that God had them to the ultimate degree?
My dad taught me how to live. And he also taught me how to die. When my father’s life came to an end, I remember the whole family gathering in his hospital room to spend the last precious hours with him. He suffered in dignity…and died in peace.
Shortly before he crossed over into heaven, I was alone with Dad for a few minutes. I asked, “Dad, we don’t have a lot of time left to be together here in this world. Is there anything you have to tell me?”
He was quiet for a long moment, then he squeezed my hand gently and said, “Fulfill the reason for which you’ve been born!” Those words have been my goal ever since. And with all the strength and wisdom I can summon, each day I try to give my best…to the work of God that is my life’s calling.
Walking through the valley
Not long after this happened. Dad stirred a bit and said, “Look, I’m walking through the valley!”
“Who is waiting for you on the other side?” I asked, as tears streamed down my cheeks.
“My Lord,” he said. “My Lord is waiting.”
In a few minutes, Dad said he needed to rest, but he wanted to pray before he went to sleep. I held his hand as he prayed. He said, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take.”
I knew Dad could lay down to sleep, knowing he had been a good father-that his primary work was done. Like the Apostle Paul, he could say, “I’ve finished the course.”
Looking back fondly, somehow it seems just right that, in his last supplication, Dad would revert to that simple, beautiful child’s bed-time prayer. After all, he was moving into the presence of his Father.
The other day, after an exhausting session before the TV cameras, I was feeling a bit weary and under the weather. For some reason, when I got home I opened an old scrapbook, and a piece of paper fluttered loose. It was a church attendance slip from my childhood days. Written on the back, in Dad’s handwriting, was a note he’d jotted down for me after I’d sung at church. But his words reached across the years and blessed me once again. “Dear Rexella,” I read through my tears, “this was your most beautiful and best yet. Love, Dad.”
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Jack and Rexella I have been watching and listening to your program for 17 years and have a number of your tapes (Revelation Revealed, and Daniel final end time mysteries unsealed) to mention a few. I have just watched your program on the internet and know in my heart that Jesus is coming and it is only through your program that I have accepted Jesus and look every day for the coming of the Lord! Thank you so very much. May God bless you now and always for bringing the word of God into many lives beside myself and one day we will meet with our saviour.
J. F. V. Sr.
Hi Drs. Jack and Rexella and all the production team,
I just wanted to say how much I appreciated the unique program aired on the 11th of August regarding the Olympics and the comparison to our Christian lives as we run for the Lord. A very sobering message. I think many of us need it, and we can benefit from it now as we carry on in the last mile before the Lord returns.
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