The Prophet Isaiah called Israel “the valley of vision.” (Isaiah 22:1) Indeed, today, the only authentic vision of the future that men have, is seen through the promises made to Israel as stated in the Bible.

The destiny of the world is inevitably tied to God’s plan for Israel. Just what do the Scriptures reveal concerning the future of Israel and the world?

The Future of Israel and the World
as Foretold by Israel’s Prophets

SO FAR as human foresight is concerned, mankind today is standing at the portals of uncertainty, fearful that the unknown future may be one of annihilation for essentially all the human race. One of the lessons of history is that the wisdom of this world has never been very accurate in forecasting the shape of things to come, and this has been particularly true with respect to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At the beginning of the twentieth century, humanity had reached its highest pinnacle of civilization to that time. Education, science, and invention, while only in their infancy as compared with present-day attainments, had provided a more abundant and rewarding life for millions than mankind had ever dreamed would be possible. The world’s philosophers hailed the new era as one in which the nations of earth would find a way to resolve their differences without going to war. It was optimistically believed that, through the application of education, solutions could be found for the various problems which arise among nations, and that the world would move forward to ever greater heights of civilization and prosperity.

We now know that, to a large extent, this was merely a beautiful dream—a dream that turned into a nightmare. Within a few short years after the turn of the century, the world became drenched in blood through global strife. Education, science, and invention, instead of averting war, increased its potentials of horror and destruction beyond anything recorded in the annals of history. Nor is there now anything on the horizon of human endeavor to indicate that in the foreseeable future there will be any change for the better.

Through all the chaos and suffering of the century thus far, significant changes in the governmental arrangements of the world have taken place. Europe is no longer governed by hereditary ruling houses, as it once was. The Romanoffs, the Hapsburgs, the Hohenzollerns, the Savoys and the Bourbons have been set aside and their places taken by communist dictators, and republics, so-called, with an interlude of Fascist and Nazi dictatorship in Italy and Germany.

While these world-shaking changes were occurring there was another significant development. Out of the First World War came an agreement by Great Britain granting the Jewish people the freedom to settle in Palestine, and to build up that country as a homeland for their race. Later came the bitter persecution of the Jews by the Nazi government of Germany, and the failure of Great Britain to live up to the terms of her agreement.

But through these difficulties the Jewish people forged ahead. In 1948 the Jewish State of Israel was formed, and was quickly given diplomatic recognition by most of the great powers of earth. To kettle the dispute of Israel with the Arabs, the United Nations officially recognized the right of the Jewish people to possess and control at least part of their ancient homeland. As a nation, they have been admitted into the United Nations as a full-fledged member.

The unusual nature of these events has focused world attention upon the Jewish people for now these many years. The prominence of Israel in world news is out of all proportion to the size of the country and the number of her citizens. Undoubtedly one reason for this is that the historic and prophetic background of this people is so vitally associated with the outworking of the plans and purposes of God in the earth. The ancient prophets of Israel foretold the world situation as it exists today, and in their forecasts of events yet to come we can envision the future of Israel and of the whole world.

Some may be inclined to overlook the extent to which the Jewish people of ancient times were used by the Lord in giving to Christians God’s inspired Word. All sixty-six books of the Bible, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation are, under God’s direction, the work of Hebrew writers, the only exception being the Book of Job. When we speak of events foretold by Israel’s prophets we must include Jesus, the greatest of them all, and his apostles, who in their inspired sermons and writings also contributed to the foregleams which help to outline for us the true shape of the future. By the aid of Israel’s prophets we are able to stand at the portals of a new age and see, not chaos and annihilation, but stability, peace, and “times of restitution of all things.”—Acts 3:19-21

To obtain the full enlightenment of mind and heart possible from the forecasts of Israel’s prophets, we must have sufficient faith to believe in miracles. All Israel’s prophets believed in the miracle-working power of their God, Jehovah, the great Creator of the universe, and many of them, under his direction and by his help, performed miracles. Strip the Bible of the many miracles which it records and we would have left merely an empty shell, void of any genuine message of assurance and comfort.

There was the miraculous deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, followed by the miracle of crossing the Red Sea. The giving of the Law at Mount Sinai was accompanied by miracles. God’s protection of his people during their forty years’ wandering in the wilderness manifested the employment of powers and agencies beyond the human.

Then there was the parting of the river Jordan to allow the Israelites to pass through into the Promised Land, followed by the crumbling of the walls of Jericho, and other manifestations of divine power which enabled them to conquer Canaan. Later, through the period of the judges, and the era of the kings, the Israelites experienced many miraculous deliverances from their enemies.

And how wonderful were the providences of God on behalf of faithful individuals of this chosen nation! Outstanding among these was the preserving of the three Hebrews alive in the fiery furnace, and later, the deliverance of Daniel from the mouths of the lions. There was also the awakening of the dead by Elijah and Elisha. Coming to the New Testament we are confronted by the many miracles performed by Jesus, and later by his apostles, including the awakening of some from the sleep of death.

The fulfillment of the forecasts of events by Israel’s prophets involves the resurrection of the dead. We would fail to comprehend the real meaning of many of the prophecies should we overlook this great fundamental Biblical truth. Since, as the Scriptures reveal, God has made provision for the resurrection of the dead, the fact that people die—whether his faithful servants, or the wicked world—does not in any way interfere with the outworking of the divine purposes. From God’s standpoint the dead are merely sleeping, and he knows that in the accomplishment of his plan they can and will be awakened from the sleep of death to take the place predicted for them by his inspired prophets.

Moses was one of Israel’s outstanding prophets, and the one used by the Lord to give us the first five books of the Bible. In the Book of Genesis, Moses recorded a wonderful promise which God made to Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people. The promise was that the “seed” of Abraham would be used by the Lord for the blessing of all the families of the earth. (Gen. 12:1-3; 22:18) When, in this promise, God spoke of the blessing of all the families of the earth, he did not mean merely those living in Abraham’s time. He meant ALL the families of the earth—those who had died previous to Abraham’s time; those who lived in his day; and all future generations. Should we overlook the resurrection feature of the divine plan this reassuring promise God made to Abraham could have no vital meaning to us.

In the role of a prophet, Moses said to the Israelites of his day, “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken.” (Deut. 18:15) This is one of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah of Israel. But note what it says! This Prophet was to be raised up to the people of Moses’ day, but from among their brethren, obviously of a future generation. The fulfillment of this prophecy is possible only because of the resurrection of the dead.

The Apostle Peter, who also was one of Israel’s prophets, quoted Moses’ prophecy concerning the coming Prophet, and showed that it would have its fulfillment following the second coming of Christ, and during what Peter describes as “the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-23) It would be impossible for Moses’ prophecy to be fulfilled—as Peter reveals it will be—without a resurrection of the dead.

The prophets of Israel believed in the resurrection of the dead. The Apostle Paul confirms this in a statement he made to Felix, recorded in Acts 24:14,15. Paul had firm faith in the resurrection of the dead, and asked King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8) Abraham believed that the power of God would be used to raise his son, Isaac, from the dead, and for this reason was willing to present him to the Lord as a burnt offering.—Heb. 11:17-19

The promise God made to Abraham had two points. It gave assurance, first, that there would be a ‘seed’, and second, that all the families of the earth would be blessed by that ‘seed’. When Abraham proved his full confidence in the Lord by his willingness to offer Isaac in sacrifice, God confirmed the promise by his oath. In this oath of confirmation an expression is used that does not appear in the former statements of the promise. It is that the ‘seed’ would “possess the gate of his enemies.”—Gen. 22:15-18

The Hebrew word here translated possess means ‘to occupy’, or ‘to take control’. The thought seems clear that the seed of Abraham which was to bless all the families of the earth would accomplish this work by taking control over the people, that the seed would be a ruler which would conquer and subdue all the enemies of God and of righteousness, and therefore of man.

Many years later, Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, in a prophecy concerning his son, Judah, said, “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”—Gen. 49:9,10

Jacob’s prophecy concerning Judah was made while the Hebrew people were in Egypt. At that time in Egypt a couched lion symbolized the regal authority of the reigning Pharaohs. Thus the prophecy indicated that out of the tribe of Judah there would come a ruler to whom the title ‘Shiloh’ would apply. This title signifies ‘peaceful one’, so this ruler was to be one who would establish peace. “Unto him shall the gathering of the people be,” Jacob foretold. Yes, all the people—ALL the families of the earth—will be gathered in obedience to this great ruler, this promised ruling ‘seed’ of Abraham.

Centuries later another prophet of Israel—David—forecast the rulership of this peaceful one, and described some of the blessings which would result therefrom. He wrote, “He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”—Ps. 72:4-8

By divine authority David himself was enthroned as king of Israel. Through the Prophet Nathan, God said to David, “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.” (II Sam. 7:16) This promise was based upon God’s assurance that he would exercise mercy toward David and toward the successors in his family who would reign as kings. Concerning David’s immediate successor—Solomon—God said, “My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” (II Sam. 7:15) Thus God’s covenant with David became known as the “sure mercies of David.”—Isa. 55:3; Acts 13:34

Beginning with David, the kings of Israel were said to sit “on the throne of the Lord.” (I Chron. 29:23) This, however, was not the actual kingdom of the Lord envisioned in the prophecies concerning the seed that would possess the gate of his enemies. It was a typical kingdom, destined in God’s due time to be succeeded by the genuine kingdom of the Messiah. It is in this sense that God’s promise to David, assuring him of the continuance of his kingdom, is fulfilled.

The typical kingdom of the Lord ceased with the overthrow of King Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar in 606 B.C. It was then that the Prophet Ezekiel said to Israel’s typical king, “Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: … I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”—Ezek. 21:25-27

Thus the typical kingdom ended with an assurance that the one whose right it is would ultimately come to establish the antitypical kingdom. But the future, real kingdom of the Lord, as Ezekiel explained, was not to be the same as the typical. There are to be many differences, one of which is that it will be a world government.

Isaiah, another prophet of Israel, foretold the birth of the one who would “possess the gate of his enemies,” and gave a brief outline of his qualities and his rulership. We quote: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6,7

This prophecy of the coming Messiah of Israel began to be fulfilled with the birth of Jesus. He is the one whose ‘right it is’ to be a world ruler, the Shiloh unto whom the gathering of all the people will be. He is the one destined to possess the gate of his enemies. The angel who announced his birth said that he would be a Savior, and that he was Christ, or Messiah, the Lord. A “multitude of the heavenly host” proclaimed that his birth was an expression of God’s goodwill toward men, which would result in “peace on earth.”—Luke 2:10-14

The message which Jesus, the most outstanding prophet of Israel, proclaimed pertained to the kingdom of promise. His parables related to the kingdom, but in one of them he revealed that he was going away, and that the kingdom would not become a reality until he returned. (Luke 19:11,12) Instead of establishing his kingdom at that time, Jesus permitted his enemies to crucify him. The angel announced that Jesus was born to be a Savior, and in order to save all the families of the earth from sin and death, it was essential that he give his flesh, his humanity, for the life of the world.

While Jesus knew that it was necessary for him to die in order that he might redeem the world from death his enemies did not know and doubtless they believed that they had scored a victory over this man whom they claimed was a menace to Israel. But how little they realized the limitless power which guaranteed the successful outcome of the divine purpose which was centered in the one who now lay dead in the tomb! They did not know that he would be raised from the dead!

The significance of Jesus’ resurrection in connection with his world rulership is brought prophetically to our attention by the Apostle Paul. Preaching at Antioch in Pisidia he said, “We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”—Acts 13:32-34

Jesus was a direct descendant of David, and selected by God to be the one who would sit on David’s throne as the Messiah of Israel and the world. The angel, Gabriel, made this clear when, in an announcement to Mary, he said, ‘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 forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”—Luke 1:31-33

As we have seen, the fact that Jesus was put to death did not interfere with the fulfillment of this prophecy, for God raised him from the dead! After his resurrection, Jesus announced to his disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18) But Jesus did not at that time begin to exercise his power over the nations. As he previously indicated he would do, he returned to the heavenly courts, to remain there until another feature of the divine plan was accomplished.

He said to them, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2,3) Other promises reveal that purpose as being to reign with him in his kingdom of blessing. Together with Jesus as their Head and Chief, they also are the ‘seed’ of Abraham. Paul assures us of this, saying, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Gal. 3:29

The condition upon which the followers of Jesus may hope to reign with him as part of the seed of Abraham for blessing all the families of the earth, is that they suffer and die with him. God has designed this arrangement in order that they prove their fidelity to him and their trustworthiness for such a highly exalted position in the divine arrangements. Paul stated it this way: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”—Rom. 8:16,17

When Jesus was raised from the dead he was exalted to the divine nature. Previously he had explained to Nicodemus that this would constitute being “born of the Spirit,” and like the wind, in the sense of being powerful and invisible. (John 3:8) The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear [“hath not yet been disclosed,” New English Bible] what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear [“when it is disclosed,” NEB], we shall be like him; for we will see him as he is.”—I John 3:2

It is made plain that Christ and those who will be associated with him as the seed of Abraham which is to bless all the families of the earth, will be spiritual, invisible rulers. Just as Jesus, when raised from the dead, was highly exalted to the spiritual, divine nature, so those who suffer and die with him will also be raised from the dead to live and reign with him as spiritual kings and priests.—Rev. 20:6

Hebrews 3:1,2 reads, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” The ‘house’ over which Christ Jesus is head, is a ruling house of sons. These, the text declares, are partakers of the heavenly calling. In order to qualify for exaltation in this house, to actually live and reign with Christ, they must make their “calling and election sure” by faithfulness to the terms of the calling.—II Pet. 1:10,11

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