Sermon title:  JERUSALEM HAS BEEN RESTORED FOR THE RETURN OF CHRIST

Psalm 147:12-20;  Luke 21:20-24

   

                            Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, October 14, 2018

 

 

 

Are we really living in “the Last Days”

of this corrupt world?

 

Are these really “the End Times”?

 

It’s hard to imagine that we may actually live to see

the return of Christ.

 

After all, it’s been promised for almost 2,000 years now.

 

Why would it finally happen during our lifetime?

 

But, wait a minute!

 

Maybe it will be easier to believe,

if we realize that we’ve already seen another

2,000-year-old prophecy fulfilled.

 

And that’s the prophecy of the restoration

of the nation of Israel.

 

For many of us here in this room,

when we were born,

there was no nation of Israel.

 

And today, there is.

 

That’s related to the Return of Christ,

because Scripture indicates

that Christ will return to a Jewish Israel.

 

But, for many centuries, there was no Jewish Israel

for Christ to return to.

 

Were you born before May 14, 1948?

 

Then you were alive when the nation of Israel

was restored.

 

For thousands of years, there was no nation of Israel.

 

But the Bible says that there would be in the End Times.

 

When the Roman Empire fell,

in the year 476 A.D.,

there was no nation of Israel.

 

When the pope crowned Charlemagne king

of the Holy Roman Empire,

in 800 A.D.,

there was no nation of Israel.

 

When Christopher Columbus found the West Indies in 1492,

there was no nation of Israel.

 

When our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence

in 1776, there was no nation of Israel.

 

When Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves during the Civil War,

there was no nation of Israel.

 

But Bible prophecy said there would be in “the End Times.”

 

And now there is.

 

It happened on May 14, 1948,

during the lifetime of many here in this room.

 

You lived to see this prophecy fulfilled.

 

And those who studied the Bible knew ahead of time

that it was going to happen.

 

The most famous Baptist preacher of all time

was Charles Haddon Spurgeon,

who preached in London, England, during the 1800’s.

 

And, preaching in 1864 on what he read in Bible prophecy,

he said confidently,

“there shall be a political restoration of the Jews

to their own land and to their own nationality.”

 

And that did, in fact, take place decades later, on May 14, 1948.

 

When Spurgeon spoke those words,

it must have seemed very unlikely to happen—

unlikely in the view of people who studied politics

but not unlikely if they studied the Bible.

 

The Romans ruled the land of Israel for 500 years,

and then the Islamic conquest of the Middle East in the 600’s

swept over the Promised Land.

 

When Spurgeon preached about the prophecies,

the Muslims had already controlled the land of Israel

for 1,200 years.

 

There was no indication that the Muslims would ever

let the Jews take the land back

and re-establish a nation of Israel.

 

Spurgeon knew it was going to happen,

because he read and believed the Bible.

 

The Muslims continued to control the land

for decades after Spurgeon spoke.

 

But then the Sultan of the Islamic Empire

allied himself with the German Kaiser

during World War One.

 

They lost!

 

And the victorious British and French

carved up the old Islamic Empire after winning the war.

 

France and Britain had both officially declared that the Jews

should be allowed to return to their ancestral homeland.

 

But, just as Satan the devil

had King Herod kill all the babies of Bethlehem

in an attempt to stop prophecy

from being fulfilled,

in much the same way, Satan used Adolf Hitler

to try to stop prophecy from being fulfilled

by killing off all the Jews

before they could re-establish the nation of Israel.

 

By the middle of 1945 he killed 6 million Jews,

but enough survived to re-establish

the nation of Israel in 1948.

 

And that re-birth of the nation of Israel actually happened,

after thousands of years.

---------------------------------

 

Why was there no nation of Israel for thousands of years?

 

That, too, was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy,

that’s found in Deuteronomy Chapter 28, Verse 64.

 

God told the Jews, way back at the beginning of their nation,

that he would bless them if they obeyed him,

but would punish them if they disobeyed.

 

And the ultimate punishment was that

they would lose their land

and be scattered worldwide

among all the other nations.

 

So, we read at Deuteronomy 28:64,

 

“Then the Lord will scatter you

among all nations,

from one end of the earth to the other.”

 

And in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 21, our Lord Jesus

referred to Old Testament prophecy,

when he foretold what was going to happen

to that generation of Jews in Israel.

 

In Luke 21, beginning with Verse 22, Jesus said,

 

22 For this is the time of punishment

in fulfillment of all that has been written.

 

23 How dreadful it will be in those days

for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

There will be great distress in the land

and wrath against this people.

 

24 They will fall by the sword

and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.

 

And within that generation,

it happened just as Jesus had said,

and just as earlier Old Testament prophecy had predicted:

 

The armies of the Roman Empire killed a million Jews

and took the rest as prisoners to all the nations.

 

The Jews remained in that scattered condition for almost 2,000 years.

--------------------------------

 

Even in that scattered condition, they proved prophecy true.

 

Over 300 years ago, King Louis the 14th of France

asked the philosopher Blaise Pascal

to give him proof of God.

Pascal answered, “Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!”

 

The existence of the God of the Bible

was proved, Pascal said,

by the presence of Jews in all the nations,

looking different, living differently,

and carrying with them their scrolls in Hebrew

with the history of their ancient nation

that got destroyed thousands of years earlier.

 

The presence of these Jews in all the nations

testified to the truth of the Holy Scriptures.

-----------------------------

 

But Bible prophecy did not say

they would remain scattered forever.

 

Deuteronomy Chapter 30 foretold a time

when God would re-gather the scattered Jews

from all the nations where they were spread abroad,

and would restore them to the Promised Land.

 

Deuteronomy 30, beginning at Verse 3, says,

 

3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you

and gather you again

from all the nations where he scattered you.

 

4 Even if you have been banished

to the most distant land under the heavens,

from there the Lord your God will gather you

and bring you back.

 

5 He will bring you to the land

that belonged to your fathers,

and you will take possession of it.

 

And that same prophecy of the restoration of Israel

was repeated,

as a guarantee.

 

Isaiah Chapter 11, Verse 12, promised that God would

 

gather the exiles of Israel;

he will assemble the scattered people of Judah

from the four quarters of the earth.”

 

Ezekiel Chapter 38, Verse 8, told of a time in the distant future,

 

“after many days ... In future years”

 

when the Promised Land would be filled with Jews who

 

“were gathered from many nations

to the mountains of Israel,

which had long been desolate.”

 

And that’s the fulfillment of prophecy that happened in 1948.

 

The nation of Israel,

which had been out of existence for a couple thousand years,

came back into existence in 1948.

----------------------

 

But, maybe you were born after 1948.

 

You may still have seen another

 2,000-year-old prophecy fulfilled.

 

At Luke 21:24, after saying,

 

“They will fall by the sword

and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations,”

 

our Lord went on to say,

Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles

until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

 

So, Jesus gave a prophecy about the city of Jerusalem:

that it would be controlled, not by Jews but by the Gentiles,

until a certain time in the future

when Gentile control of Jerusalem

would come to an end.

 

And if you were alive in 1967,

you lived to see that prophecy fulfilled.

 

The Roman Empire destroyed God’s temple in Jerusalem,

killed a million Jews,

and took the rest captive as prisoners

and sold them as slaves in all the nations.

 

History tells us that Jerusalem

was trampled on by the Gentiles for a very long time.

 

The Romans ruled Jerusalem for 500 years,

and then in the year 637, Jerusalem fell to Muslim invaders.

 

The Islamic empire of the Ottoman Turks

held onto Jerusalem until 1917,

when the British captured the city

during the First World War.

 

The British were Gentiles,

so the city was still being trampled on by the Gentiles.

 

The British occupation ended in 1948,

followed immediately by war

between the brand-new state of Israel

and all its Arab neighbors.

The war ended with the Old City of Jerusalem

still in Muslim Arab hands.

 

So, it was still being trampled on by the Gentiles.

 

Then in another war in 1967,

Israeli armies took the Old City of Jerusalem

away from the Gentile Arabs.

 

As Jesus said,

Jerusalem was “trampled on by the Gentiles.”

 

But, if you were born before June 7, 1967,

you were alive when it went back into Israeli hands.

 

If you could be alive to see that prophecy fulfilled,

then you could also be alive to see the return of Christ.

 

In fact, in Matthew Chapter 23 Jesus gave another prophecy

about Jerusalem

going back into Jewish hands

and he connected it with his return.

 

In Matthew 23:37, our Lord addressed the city

and talked about when a Jewish Jerusalem

would see him again:

He said,

37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,

you who kill the prophets

and stone those sent to you,

how often I have longed

to gather your children together,

as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,

but you were not willing.

 

38 Look, your house is left to you desolate.

 

39 For I tell you, you will not see me again

until you say,

'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

 

So, our Lord Jesus’ words imply

that there will be a Jewish Jerusalem

welcoming him back

when he returns.

 

That condition didn’t exist before 1967.

In fact, for 2,000 years there was no Jewish Jerusalem.

 

But now there is a Jewish Jerusalem in place,

ready for Christ’s return—

a Jewish Jerusalem that can

see him again

and say,

'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

 

If you were born before June, 1967,

you were alive when the prophecy came true

about Jerusalem returning to Jewish hands.

 

------------------------------------------------

 

But, what if you’re younger than that?

 

What if you were born after 1967?

 

Well, you are still alive to see another prophecy fulfilled

in your lifetime—

a prophecy found in Zechariah, Chapter 12.

 

In fact, this prophecy is being fulfilled right now, as we speak.

 

Zechariah is the next-to-last book of the Old Testament,

a few pages before Matthew starts the New Testament.

 

There actually several prophecies here in Zechariah, Chapter 12,

so I’ll start reading at the first Verse,

and then we’ll go back and look at them.

 

1 This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel.

 

The Lord , who stretches out the heavens,

who lays the foundation of the earth,

and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares:

 

2 "I am going to make Jerusalem a cup

that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling.

 

Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.

 

3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth

are gathered against her,

I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock

for all the nations.

 

All who try to move it will injure themselves.

 

4 On that day I will strike every horse with panic

and its rider with madness," declares the Lord.

 

Now, if you love horses and horse-back riding,

there’s nothing to fear.

 

The Bible often used horses as a symbol of military power.

 

The Jews used donkeys for transportation; 

only the cavalry rode horses.

 

Continuing,

"I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah,

but I will blind all the horses of the nations.

 

5 Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts,

'The people of Jerusalem are strong,

because the Lord Almighty is their God.'

 

6 "On that day I will make the leaders of Judah

like a firepot in a woodpile,

like a flaming torch among sheaves.

 

They will consume right and left

all the surrounding peoples,

but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.

 

7 "The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first,

so that the honor of the house of David

and of Jerusalem's inhabitants

may not be greater than that of Judah.

 

8 On that day the Lord will shield

those who live in Jerusalem,

so that the feeblest among them will be like David,

and the house of David will be like God,

like the Angel of the Lord going before them.

 

9 On that day I will set out to destroy

all the nations that attack Jerusalem.

 

10 "And I will pour out on the house of David

and the inhabitants of Jerusalem

a spirit of grace and supplication.

 

They will look on me, the one they have pierced,

and they will mourn for him

as one mourns for an only child,

and grieve bitterly for him

as one grieves for a firstborn son.

 

As I said, there are several prophecies here.

 

Some of them we’ll look at in next week’s sermon,

along with prophecies about the End Times

found in Ezekiel, Joel and Revelation.

 

But first, let’s look at that last Verse, Zechariah 12:10,

because just like Jesus words

that a Jewish Jerusalem will

see him again

and say,

'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,'"

Zechariah 12:10 also foretells

that there will be a Jewish Jerusalem

that will welcome Jesus back.

It says,

10 "And I will pour out on the house of David

and the inhabitants of Jerusalem

a spirit of grace and supplication.

 

They will look on me, the one they have pierced,

Yes, they “pierced” Jesus, when he was nailed to the cross.

and they will mourn for him

as one mourns for an only child,

and grieve bitterly for him

as one grieves for a firstborn son.

 

So, Christ will be welcomed back

by a Jewish Jerusalem,

filled with Jews who will

recognize that it was the Son of God

whom they pierced on the cross.

 

And they will repent, and turn to the Son of God,

‘mourning’ and ‘grieving bitterly’ as they repent.

 

That could not happen with “the inhabitants of Jerusalem,”

if the events of 1967 hadn’t taken place,

which restored the Old City of Jerusalem

to Jewish hands.

 

But, as I said, there is also a prophecy here

in Zechariah Chapter 12

that is undergoing fulfillment right now.

 

And that is what we read in Verse 3, where it says

“all the nations of the earth”

will be gathered together against Jerusalem,

and God

“will make Jerusalem an immovable rock

for all the nations.

All who try to move it will injure themselves.”

 

At this time, right now,

“all the nations of the earth”

are gathered together against Jerusalem

at the United Nations.

 

“All the nations of the earth”

continue to meet at the United Nations

passing resolutions against a Jewish Jerusalem.

 

They have been doing that, ever since 1947,

when U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 declared,

“The City of Jerusalem...

shall be administered by the United Nations.”

 

Over the years since then, the United Nations

has passed more resolutions on Jerusalem

than on any other city on earth.

 

A coincidence?   Or fulfillment of Bible prophecy?

 

Those U.N. resolutions continue to insist

that Israel has no right to have Jerusalem

as its capital city.

 

Do you remember the worldwide outcry

a few months ago

when President Trump moved the United States Embassy

in Israel to Jerusalem?

 

There were protests all over the world.

 

Attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict

and bring peace to the Middle East

continue to break down

whenever the discussions turn to

the status of Jerusalem.

 

 Other translations render Zechariah 12:3

to say Jerusalem would be

“a heavy burden for all the nations.” (NET Bible)

 

“like a heavy rock. 

Anyone why tries to move it will get hurt.”  (NCV)

 

Jerusalem is a problem for the whole world—

like a heavy rock that’s in the way,

and that nobody can move.

 

This situation is going on right now,

and it is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

 

As we obey Jesus command to “Keep watch” for his return

the events involving Jerusalem

are among those we need to watch.

 

Big things are about to happen.

 

And current events will culminate in the Return of Christ.

 

You have already lived to see some amazing things happen

in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

 

And there is more yet to come,

as we continue to look at the End Times prophecies

over the next couple weeks.