by Elmer A. Josephson, RIP
"I will punish all...." (Jeremiah 9:25; 30:20).
Who wants it? Who needs it? Who wants to hear about it? These are understandable reactions to messages of judgment. Though man may expect the worst, he hopes for the best. And a toothache to one can be a great tribulation than the fall of an empire on some distant continent. As toothaches must be dealt with, so we must deal with this subject that finally involves ALL to one degree or another.
Being a wise and faithful heavenly parent, God must and does punish transgression. There are hard lessons learned in Israel and difficult disciplines experienced, but He will not forsake them for His great Names sake.
To illustrate: Israel is the only country in the world that keeps Gods Holy Day, as a nation. However, there are Israelis who feel it is unimportant, unaware that its violation was one great reason why Israel was cast out of the land in 606 BC (Jer. 17). If we are approaching the Messianic Age as it appears, then the Almighty will teach His people its importance through providences and some lessons come hard.
Why World-Wide Judgment?
The Holy Scriptures and profane history are replete with examples of judgment upon Gentiles as a result of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish acts and deeds -- from the awful destruction of the ten plagues upon Egypt (Exo. 1-15) to the defeat of the Nazis in World War II.
Jeremiah in chapter 30 is commanded, "Write all these words that I have spoken unto thee in a book" (Jeremiahs - which we are reading on to 3,000 years later) about the captivity in Babylon. Before they left Israel, God gave them hope of returning (V. 3). In verses 5 & 6, He reminds them they will have many fears during their captivity, even causing their voices to tremble. The Lord had warned of this in the Torah: "And among those nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: and thy life shall hand in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see" (Deut. 28:64-67) -- symptoms similar to nervous exhaustion, in this case due to disobedience.
A thoughtful reading of the context of Jeremiah 30. reveals that the time of Jacobs trouble is the experience of the Diaspora, particularly their nightmare of suffering the past 2,000 years among the nations, including and concluding with the indescribable Nazi holocaust when one-third of the stars fell from Abrahams sky (Gen. 15:5); their 2,000 year wearisome, torturous, fear-filled trek ending with their ingathering to their national homeland, Israel. "Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacobs trouble: but he shall be saved out of it" (Jer. 30:7).
In verse 9 there is the promise of the coming delivering Messiah, the Son of David, after this past 2,000 year period called "the times of the Gentiles," during which many of us former pagans have been brought into Gods joyous household.
What we are witnessing in Israel today is the answer to the question Christs disciples asked Him after His resurrection, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). He did not state it would never be restored, but rather that it was not the time then. He was to first show mercy to Gentiles by "calling out a people for His Name". What an unpayable debt we owe our God who "in Christ" reconciled us to Himself - and an unpayable debt we owe to Israel who has suffered exile from their land and by and large from fellowship with God FOR OUR SAKES. This why we should never hold our peace day nor night and keep not silent ... till He establish and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Please read ALL of Isaiah 62.)
Continuing now in Jeremiah 30 which speaks of the ultimate ingathering of Israel from all the nations.
V. 10, "Therefore, fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar and thy seed from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return and shall be in rest and be quiet and none shall make him afraid."
[Editors note: Though Israel is going through many tests and turmoil at the present time, the promises of God are certain. The first part of this promise, "I will save thee from afar...." is only partly fulfilled. We will yet see it completely fulfilled -- and also the rest of the verse: rest...quiet...none afraid. Let us keep in mind that prophecy is not written according to our time schedule and often a time lapse is contained between phrases.
Gods pendulum that swung from the Jews to the Gentiles with the Babylonian captivity in 587 BC is now swinging back to His ancient people. In the following passages: the prophet speaking of this day, declares that the Gentile nations are to be judged. Keep in mind when reading of Gods predicted judgments (prior to Messiahs coming) upon "the earth", and "the world", that Israel "shall not be reckoned among the nations" (Num. 23:9).
Jer. 30:11, "For I am with thee, saith the LORD to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave the altogether unpunished." In teaching regarding Gods people Israel to Christians, were sometimes confronted by one who says challengingly, "God is no respecter of persons." To which we reply, "No, but He IS a respecter of His Covenant."
Gods people are not without sin, but ARE objects of His grace. The Almighty did not choose them because of their righteousness but that He might demonstrate His faithfulness to His covenant promises (Deut. 9:4-6).
Vs. 13 & 14a, "There is none to plead; thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up: thou hast no healing medicines. All thy lovers have forgotten thee." Time and again Israel has had to stand alone against the onslaughts of the whole world. Where were the so-called Christian nations and "all her sons that she hath brought forth" (Isa. 51:18) who were enjoying all the blessings that have poured forth from Israel? (John 4:22). They were like dumb idols instead of speaking out in her behalf (Isa. 51:18-23).
NOW, A TREMENDOUS CHANGE is taking place in Gods providential movements among the nations. The Almighty is taking the "cup of trembling" that the Jews have been drinking so long and is putting it into the hands of the Gentile nations (Isa. 51:22-23).
WATCH as the Almighty moves against Israel enemies and faithless friends. It makes our heads hang in shame to observe some who once stood firm with Israel but because the fulfillment of prophecy does not always come out according to their manufactured time schedule, blame the people of Israel and scorn her for her failure to "obey the Lord."
Parents have a built-in, natural guard against others trying to tell them how to correct their children. Does not the Almighty have this prerogative regarding His first born - Israel?
He Doesnt Spoil Them!
The Lord has dealt more harshly and punished Israel more severely in their scattering and wandering than any other nation on earth. Now that His blessing is evident in their national return, can it be imagined that He will not leave those people and nations unpunished who have dealt treacherously with Israel and who have neglected and ignored their helpless plight the past 20 centuries?
V. 16, "Therefore, all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, everyone of them, shall go into captivity [find themselves prisoners, either physically, socially, financially or mentally] and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon the will I give for a prey" - they shall suffer as Israel has.
V. 17, "For I will restore health unto thee [Israel] and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD: because they called the an outcast, saying, This is Zion whom no man seeketh after."
V. 20, "I will punish ALL that oppress them." These may seem like empty words and idle threats to the unbeliever, but the world will witness the fulfillment of all that which "proceedeth out of the mouth of the Almighty."
Believe the Bible?
Satan knows the power of Scripture and exerts every way and means to make it seems boring and ineffectual. But let us heed these passages that bore deep into ones soul.
The prince of prophets, Isaiah, writes in chapter 24:
V. 1, "Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste and turneth it upside down and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof" - refugees and death by droughts, famines, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, etc.
V. 4, "The EARTH mourneth and fadeth away; the WORLD languishes and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish...." When there is a persistent resistance tot he will, the Law and the Word of God, He finally withdraws His Spirit and mans very will to live.
V. 5, The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof [pollution of water, soil and atmosphere] because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." By and large, man has rejected Gods eternal Word and irrevocable laws, and since the divine Word is unbreakable, man breaks himself over it.
V. 20, "The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard and shall be removed like a cottage and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again." With Gentile governments confused and unable to deal with problems, Gentile political world domination passes from "the times of the Gentiles" to a theocratic government, "the fullness of Israel" (Luke 21:24; Romans 11:11-25).
V. 21, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones [in governmental offices] that are on high. and the kings of the earth [national rulers] upon the EARTH" - not a future Gods throne judgment.
V. 23, "Then...the LORD of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously" - Messianic people.
The promise to Abraham, "In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3 & Exo. 19:6) will come into joyous fulfillment in absolute totality.
Isaiah 60:12, "For the nation and the kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted" - through rebellion will suffer the loss of the blessings of the kingdom.
In chapter 3 in the Book of Joel we read of judgment as it relates to other nations. The time is pinpointed in verse 1, "In those days and in that time when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem. (V. 2:) I will also gather all nations and ... will hold judgment [The Hebrew word is same as in Ezk. 38:22] with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel whom they have scattered among the nations and parted my land." The UN called this "The Partition Plan for Palestine." And they "cast lots for my people" (V. 3).
Continue to read through the chapter and notice it speaks to the nations: "come all ye nations" (v. 11); "Let the nations be wakened and come...there I will sit to judge all the nations" (V. 12). Matthew 25:31-46 records Christ will judge all nations on the premise, good or bad, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." This bears repeating because:
"The LORD shall roar out of Zion and utter HIS voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the LORD will be the hope of his people and the strength of the children of Israel."
It is interesting to note that the third time Joel makes reference to "the day of the Lord," he is speaking of physical deliverance, as the context shows (not as some who interpret the Apostle Peters message to refer to eternal salvation in his Day-Pentecost sermon - Acts 2:21). The Joel passage reads in chapter 2:
V. 32, "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered ["escape" in Hebrew] for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, and [also] among the remnant [ingathering to Israel] whom the LORD calleth."
The Almighty reveals this same congruous plan of judging the nations and blessing His people at the end time in Zephaniah 3:
V. 8, "Therefore, wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." The remaining verses indicate Gods great blessing on Israel.
These passages unmistakably set forth the actual "great tribulation" to be upon "ALL THE NATIONS whither I have scattered thee" and "They that devour thee...all thy adversaries, everyone of them...they that spoil thee and prey upon thee."