Political shock waves have rippled through the world for days after last week’s announcement by the Trump administration that it would begin the process of moving the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I do not wish to debate the political wisdom or timeliness of this move, but rather, accepting the policy change as the new reality, I hope to encourage my readers to take the longer view and to acknowledge God’s ways in the preservation of His earthly people from behind the scenes.
God chose the nation of Israel for the once and future administration of this earth, but because of their treachery and Jehovah’s consequent judgment upon them, we are more than 2600 years into a period the Lord called the “times of the Gentiles”. Jerusalem was taken captive and left to languish by the Babylonians around 600 BC. During the ministry of the Lord Jesus almost 2000 years ago, He foretold the sad state of the city He mourned over, which would last from the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and its temple until “the times of the Gentiles (nations) be fulfilled.” That once-beautiful city, so favored by Jehovah, would be “trodden underfoot of the Gentiles” during that time (Luke 21:24).
A friend brought to my attention some ministry written close to a century ago and before the Jewish Holocaust, which I give here in part: “Men would do well to let God do His own work in His own time, and in His own way. Human meddling with God’s purposes can only lead to disaster. Amongst the many movements of our own day, all solemnly suggestive that the end of the age is approaching, is the proposal of the British Government to re-establish the Jewish people in the land of their fathers . . . Their restoration lies altogether outside men’s political arrangements.” (W. W. Fereday) This is certainly true when the scope of our preview is what the Lord will work in and among his people to bring them to faith and establish them in triumph over their enemies in that day of Christ’s manifestation in this world. After God’s judgment on them for rejecting their Messiah, during that Great Tribulation, they will be given new hearts and a new spirit, as well as God’s own Spirit.¹ God will sovereignly quicken them, and no political maneuvering will have a hand in bringing this miracle about.
However, this blessed prophecy does not preclude God from using man’s political arrangements for the protection and prosperity of His earthly people even while they are under the sentence of Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi (I will not have mercy; and, you are not my people).² In the book of Esther, we see how God protects and prospers the Jews in spite of the vitriol aimed at them by the Agagite Haman. Though God is not even mentioned in that inspired historical account, yet He was certainly working behind the political scene found there in Shushan and Medo-Persia.
More recently, God ended the career of Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich long before he could snuff out European Jewry, the object of his maniacal hatred. No doubt God’s protecting hand might be viewed as only sparing them temporarily for a yet greater judgment to come in which two-thirds of them will perish³, but any delay in judgment gives more opportunity for repentance and salvation for individual Jews during this day when God’s grace reigns.
But what about the Trump administration’s announcement fully recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? Was this man’s meddling with God’s purposes, or was it God working on behalf of His ancient people by way of a man’s political ambition? I suppose the only way it could truly be “meddling” is if the agents were purporting to act on behalf of God, otherwise He is simply using the agents unwittingly to set the stage for the prophetic clock to start ticking again, after the church is raptured to be with Christ. Either way, the case could be made that the recognition of Jerusalem is of the same order as, and simply a logical consequence of, the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine many decades ago, and the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948.
Early teachers of dispensational truth predicted that the Jewish people would have to flock to their ancient land, including Jerusalem, even while in a state of national unbelief, so the events of the last 100 years have not caught by surprise those who learned that truth from the scriptures. As an example, A.J. Pollock wrote this soon after World War I: “The Bible tells us that the Jewish nation is to go back to its own land in unbelief. Ezekiel 37:21 says, ‘Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land.’ History is penning the fulfillment of these lines. In 1882 Jerusalem numbered 24,000 inhabitants, 4,000 of whom were Jews. In 1910 there were 100,000 inhabitants, 80,000 of whom were Jews. That is to say, in less than thirty years the population more than quadrupled, whilst the Jewish portion multiplied twenty times. This increase can only be attributed to God’s power; cities have been known to spring into being with mushroom growth, but there have been patent reasons for their so doing, such as big manufactories being set up, demanding labour, or the discovery of gold in the vicinity attracting population. But no such reason even remotely governs the increase in Jerusalem’s population.”
How should a Christian respond to, or what sentiments are appropriate to, the rise of Jerusalem politically? There is nothing inconsistent about hoping to “see the good of Jerusalem”° on the one hand, while mourning its unbelief on the other. The Lord Jesus wept over that city with all the deep feeling of unrequited love and compassion, and yet He could pronounce centuries of judgment and desolation upon it in these words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together . . . ! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”* For the fulfillment of this prophecy that previews an awakened desire for Messiah, the Jews must have returned to their land in unbelief, and Jerusalem not only inhabited, but central to a collective Jewish psyche.
It really does not matter how you or I feel about the political wisdom of President Trump’s action on Jerusalem, or of the risks taken in doing so. The stage is being set for Israel’s greatest national trial and subsequent restoration, and that from a position far higher than an American president. But we who trust in the living God can rejoice that Israel’s preservation and prosperity, and even the very existence of the Jew, his land, and his precious city, is abundant testimony to the world that God is still moving behind the scenes to bring about blessing through faith for both Jew and Gentile, and for the glorious exaltation of His beloved Son over all this earthly scene.
¹ Matthew 24:21; Ezekiel 36:24-29
² Hosea 1:6-11, but see I Peter 2:10
³ Zechariah 13:8-9
° Psalm 128:5
* Luke 19:41; 13:34-35