When God appeared to Moses in a burning bush, the land where Moses stood was said to be "holy ground." Moses was told to remove his shoes. [Exodus 3:1-6]
And when God gave the ten commandments to Moses, the mountain was declared to be holy. The people were told not to even touch it. [Exodus 19:10-13]
The places where God's revelations were given were thus considered holy. The tablets from Sinai containing the commandments were contained in the ark, and when David sought to bring the ark to Jerusalem, they made a new cart for it, that was drawn by oxen. But on the way, the ark shook, and Uzzah, one of the men who was conducing the move, reached over to steady the ark, and was struck dead. [2 Samuel 6:6-10]
This demonstrates that the land, and even the tablets of stone on which the revelations of God were written, was holy. The promised land, where the Israelites dwelt, was where many of these revelations occurred.
Like Israel was removed from their land, Christians have been taken captive too, in all sorts of flawed interpretations, sects, and cults. Even when not removed from their homes, and settled in other countries, the effect of strange doctrines is often similar to being removed to another land. Many families have been divided by religion, and scattered.
In history, emigration to different lands was often driven by religious differences. Many of the Huguenots of France fled to England in the late 17th century. The Puritans too, were prominent among the early settlers in the American colonies, where they sought freedom to worship according to their beliefs.
After the Mormon sect was founded by Joseph Smith, many Americans followed their Mormon teachers to Utah. They were joined by Mormons from England, where the sect was being persecuted.
In the history of ancient Israel, the northern ten tribes were removed by the Assyrians; the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were taken captive in Babylon. And in Revelation 17:1-6, Babylon the Great is symbolic of all kinds of false religion, including the 38,000 sects and denominations of Christendom, where many saints are captive to false beliefs. John says of Babylon:
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Dispensationalists see the prophecies about a future return of the Israelites to their land as being fulfilled by the modern Jewish state in Palestine. Those prophecies, however, seem to speak of a spiritual rather than a literal restoration. Below are some of the prophecies that mention a return of Israel to their land. I suggest these are really about the church's restoration to a proper understanding of the prophecies of scripture.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.
Are Jews emigrating to Palestine seeking to "join themselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant"?
And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.
How can they "know that I am the LORD," when they trust in their air force, their army, and in their nuclear weapons, as well as their alliances with the US and other nations.
And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
How are they being "fed" by God? The true bread from heaven is Jesus, who gave his life for the world, as explained in John 6. Jesus said:
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
In Ezekiel 36, the prophet speaks of giving the people a new heart, and a new spirit, which are new covenant promises that apply to Christians.
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
To dwell in the land does not mean going to Tel Aviv. It is a metaphor, and represents possessing the promises given to the saints, such as, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." [John 8:32]
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, 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.
Ezekiel spoke of the Israelites being restored, and having one king, who is identified with David. This was understood by the church as referring to Christ, who has inherited the throne of David. [Luke 1:32]
And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; 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: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
I suggest the saints are the ones who are to be restored to their own land, which means a proper understanding of the prophecies of scripture. The "land" is symbolic of the revelations in scripture; understanding will be given to the saints.
Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
This promise shows every believer will be "gathered." It does not mean to be physically transported to Palestine, but Christ will "draw all men" to himself. It is accomplished by the spirit.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Copyright © 2010, 2012, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
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