Israel’s GOOD Shepherd

November 8, 2019
|New Olim returning home in Israel at ben Gurion Airport as a result of ‘Aliyah - Bring the Jews Home’ - a fulfillment of Prophecy! Photo Credit: Jewish Agency for Israel|Hitler saluting in Germany, in the background is a cathedral. Photo Credit:|

This long, but critical, commentary should be read by all Israel-supporting Christians.

It is partially grounded on the following passages:

Ezekiel 20:5-44 and 36:19-22 – concerning Israel’s profaning of God’s name.

Ezekiel 36:23-28 and 39:7-8 – concerning God’s sanctification of His name through His workings with Israel and His dealing with Israel’s enemies.

Also, the following scriptures (with my emphasis throughout) all expressing God’s promises to national Israel: after its ejection from its Land, and at the time of its restoration to its Land:

I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:6-7)

For thus says the Lord: “Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people, the remnant of Israel!’ “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labours with child, together; a great throng shall return there. “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ (Jeremiah 31:7-8,10)

Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’ “For thus says the Lord: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.” (Jeremiah 32:37-42)

I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God. (Amos 9-14-15)

One more time, please read this next passage carefully:

And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36: 23-28)

With this groundwork laid, let’s proceed:

A pernicious teaching is being embraced by millions of pro-Israel Christians today which, I truly believe, should cause grave concern to all who fear God and venerate His name.

It holds the following to be “Biblical truth”:

That after returning home from 2000 years of exile, the nation of Israel is destined to experience a third holocaust 1 that will annihilate two-thirds of today’s 15 million Jews.

This nightmare, which according to one well-known Bible teacher, “will make Auschwitz look like a Sunday-school picnic”, will lead the remaining third to accept Jesus.

Quite simply but terribly, this blasphemous teaching profanes God’s name. It suggests that He does not really intend to keep His repeated assurances to His long-scattered, but now being restored, ancient people. Purportedly based on Scripture, what it really does is cobble together assorted Biblical passages to establish a Church-centered End Times design.

The Bible, however, from Genesis to Revelation, is Israel-centered. With this is mind, let’s revisit the story of the Exodus.

The Jews are being restored to their land where the Lord will keep them as a shepherd keeps His sheep.

God had promised Abraham that He would deliver his descendants from slavery and bring them to the land of Canaan. (Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6) When, due to their unfaithfulness after their deliverance, the LORD sought to slay them in the wilderness, Moses interceded in defense of God’s name—in fact, of His reputation – reminding Him of His promise and pleading with Him:

“Now if you kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, ‘Because the LORD was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.’” (Numbers 14:15-16)

God had repeatedly pledged to bring the nation into its land. For the Gentiles to so much as insinuate that He wouldn’t or couldn’t keep His word was to open up His name to vilification.

When, centuries later, Israel’s sinfulness would result in it being scattered among the Gentiles, God said that, by causing men to question His ability to keep them in their land, Israel would profane His name. (Ezekiel 36:20)

It’s not that they went from place to place cursing God. They didn’t. In a great many instances, they valiantly practiced their faith in the face of intense persecution. Still, that Gentiles could scoff at God’s ability to keep His people in their land—that itself was a profaning of His name.

What, then, about God’s Word; His reiterated Pledge, Promise and Commitment to return the Jewish people to their land AFTER their centuries of exile and, once there,  to keep them safe?

Concerning this, the Bible is as definite as it is consistent: The LORD is restoring them to their land where He will keep them as a shepherd keeps His sheep.

Look again at the verses above.

God is bringing them back to plant, bless and keep them in the land.

He has set His eyes on them “for good” and is returning them “to do them good.” In the doing of it, He will rejoice over them with all of His heart and all of His soul.

He will bring them back and cause them to dwell safely, blessing them.

He will build them and not pull them down, plant them and not pluck them up.

We Gentiles are to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad”, for Israel’s long, dark, terribly painful time of tribulation has drawn to an end.

This is not to say that Israel will no longer be targeted for destruction. Indeed she is being. However, nowhere in the Bible do we read that massive numbers of restored Jews will be killed; rather, we are told that Israel will spend months burying multitudes of the enemy who will come against her in her own land.

New Olim returning home in Israel at ben Gurion Airport as a result of ‘Aliyah – Bring the Jews Home’ – a fulfillment of Prophecy! Photo Credit: Jewish Agency for Israel

The restoration of Israel is happening because God has arisen to have mercy on Zion – “the time to favour her, yes, the set time, has come”. (Psalm 102:13)

All of these texts and promises (plus many more than those I have quoted here) are unambiguous. Their message is consistent and complete. Not a single one foretells an ingathering followed by a slaughter out of which only a remnant will emerge to be blessed.

To the contrary, God in His Word assures the Jews, bloodied and bruised from unending wandering and persecution, that their return home itself for national rebirth signifies the wind-up of their “time of trouble”.

It is a remnant—those few who survive—which returns home. It is NOT a remnant of those who return home which survives! 2

Through Moses long ago the Lord warned Israel that, as a consequence of their unfaithfulness to Him, their people would be mass-killed in their land; those who survived would be driven from their country and scattered abroad. (Deuteronomy 28:49-67)

So it happened. The armies of Rome decimated them. Their land was laid waste, bereft of them; became desolate without them. (Isaiah 1:7)

The Bible also tells us that as a consequence of God’s faithfulness to the Covenant He made with Himself concerning Israel (Genesis 15:7-21; Hebrews 6:13), and because of His vow concerning Israel’s perpetual national significance (Jeremiah 31:35-37), He would one day stretch out His hand “a second time” (Isaiah 11:11) (the first time was from Babylon; nowhere is it written that there will be a third time) and regather the people back to their land, physically reconstituting their national home and restoring their land to life.

So it has happened, and it is happening.

The Biblical dictum—that Israel’s scattering out of her land signifies being cursed, and her gathering back into her land signifies being blessed—was established at the start.

Hitler saluting in Germany, in the background is a cathedral. Photo Credit:

Because of their continuing and worsening transgression, the nation’s going into captivity among the Gentiles would be the ultimate manifestation of the increasingly severe curses God would visit on Israel. (Leviticus 26:31-34)

The people would have no place to rest their feet. They would be hated and persecuted wherever they went; efforts to render them extinct would intensify over time. And all the while, their land would lie unwanted, its once fertile fields barren, its forested hills denuded, deserts and swamps taking over as the place was left to “enjoy its Sabbaths”. (Leviticus 26:27-35; Deuteronomy 28:58-67)

God would turn His face away from His people, in fact He would “hide” His face from them (Deuteronomy 31:17) and stop up His ears so as not to hear their prayers (Jeremiah 11:14; Ezekiel 8:18). They would be exiled from their land and be placed in the hands of their enemies. These curses would be manifest because of their sin.

And they were. (Ezekiel 39:23-24)

Two thousand years ago, the people of Israel were already in the shadow of God’s judgment and disfavor. It grew worse. Darkness covered the land, all the terrible things they had been warned about began to come upon them, destruction and desolation came to the Holy Place of the Most High, and those who were not slaughtered went into captivity.

HOWEVER, because of the Lord’s grace and enduring mercy, and because He is tied to His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Israel, (Leviticus 26:42) God, who knows the end from the beginning, established a future time when He would turn back His face; when His heart would churn within Him and His sympathy would be stirred; when instead of executing the fierceness of His anger, He would with compassion turn His face back to Zion; the light of His countenance and blessing would rise to shine once again over His nation and over His land (Isaiah 60).

Not one of these prophecies of Israel’s restoration foretells an ingathering followed by a slaughter

When that time came, blessing would return to Israel, the most vivid and unmistakable sign of which would be the nation’s re-gathering from the four corners of the earth into the land God has given them – in readiness for their reunion with Him.

And He would preserve them in this land “like a shepherd keeps his sheep,” come what may.

This, He has said —repeatedly and emphatically—is what He will do.

And it is this thing that He is doing in our day. Against all odds He has brought back the Jews and He continues to bring them back, for He is resolved to forgive, cleanse, and restore Israel to life. (Deuteronomy 30:1-6)

In 1882 God stretched forth His hand and began to regather them. A trickle became a flood, hundreds then thousands then hundreds of thousands and ultimately more than a million Jewish people at a time returned to their ancestral home.

The people came back to the land and the land came back to the people, first small parcels, then large swathes, thousands of hectares, then half the land and half of Jerusalem, and ultimately most of the rest of the land and most of the rest of Jerusalem. 3

Their return has been opposed with fury. Israel’s gestation (1882-1947) was marked with intensifying violence and the cataclysmic horror of the Holocaust. Her rebirth (1948) happened in the fires of war. Her existence since then (1948-2014) has seen a war fought every decade or less, with virtually uninterrupted terrorism hammering at her in between.

Today she faces the burgeoning existential threat of a nuclear-weapons-pursuing Iran.

But in all these wars, Israel has not been vanquished; she has miraculously overcome, against insuperable odds. While suffering casualties and facing near defeats, the nation has come nowhere close to being annihilated, nor will she ever be.

Again, God is determined to KEEP her as a shepherd keeps his sheep.

He is doing this for the sake of His holy name. (Ezekiel 36:22)

The physical return of the Jewish people to their land, and the physical restoration of the land of Israel to the Jewish people, is destined to be followed by the nation’s return to her God. (Ezekiel 36:24-28)

Surely this is very, very good news! The passage quoted above exhorts us to “sing with gladness,” because of what we see and hear God doing with Israel (We are certainly NOT exhorted to sound dire warnings of impending destruction of two thirds of the nation!) We are to shout aloud to the nations to take note of the wonder of the Lord’s unfolding purposes for His ancient people.

It heralds, after all, the most wonderful thing.  For as Paul says, if Israel’s rejection led to the reconciling of mankind to God, what will Israel’s acceptance bring about but life from the dead for the world!

And indeed! Christians the world over were electrified – many having their faith thrillingly recharged – when the physical reconstitution of the Jewish people that began in the late 1800s climaxed with the coming to independence of the nation-state in 1948. Israel’s miraculous victories in successive wars added faith to faith.

The Lord, these Christians understood, really had said in His Word what He meant to do. And He really did mean to do what He had said.

He did! And He is!

While it is by no means most of the world’s professing Christians who understand what is unfolding in these days, the number who have had their eyes opened by the momentous event of Israel’s rebirth is in the millions.

How very tragic, then, that so many of these very Christians – who do understand this to be the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and God’s keeping of His Word – insist on seeing this marvelous truth with only one eye, even as the other remains fixed on a man-made End Times scenario that completely misses the point!

For far too many, Israel’s physical ingathering does NOT signify the end of the curses Moses warned of. On the contrary, thousands preach – and therefore lead masses of Christians to believe – that Israel’s physical rebirth portends yet more mass suffering and death for this people.

Wretchedly, some of the most well-known and influential pro-Israel voices in the Evangelical world have declared that the Nazi-inflicted Holocaust will pale against what is yet to come.

Yes, a myriad positive and affirming books, articles, sermons and lectures have been inspired by the multiple prophetic passages in the Bible speaking of God’s restoration of the scattered remnant of Israel to her land.

And yet, many of these same books, articles, sermons and lectures assert that the “time of trouble for Jacob” (Jeremiah 30:7) is a period yet to come; that the remnant God is restoring is to be decimated yet again!

As if Jacob has not already suffered enough! Surely no Christian knowledgeable of the Jews’ history through the centuries since AD 66 would so easily anticipate more mass-affliction for them?

How can we, in good conscience, encourage and help the Jews return home if our expectation is that many millions of them are going to perish there under God’s curse?

More to the point, a careful and contextually accurate reading of the only  “trouble for Jacob” passage in the entire Bible – Jeremiah 30:4-11 – clearly conveys that this time of tribulation is experienced by “Jacob” (the Jews) while they are out of their land, and that they come from out of this time of travail (verse 4-7) back into their own land (verses 8-11).

The egregious error postulating otherwise is founded on just one passage from Zechariah to which other Scriptures have been attached to ‘validate’ the delusion.

To accept the error requires that we corrupt God’s Word; that into all the prophecies of restoration, including those I have referenced here, we insert a clause pronouncing the impending doom of most of the returned nation between the promise to “restore” and the promise to “keep safe”.

Embracing this skewed eschatological expectation has potentially dire consequences for Israel and definitely dire consequences for the Church: It means that instead of PARTICIPATING in what God is doing in, with and for Israel, many pro-Israel Christians feel they can stand and OBSERVE it all, praying, yes, even applauding as the mood takes them. But this erroneous belief will render paltry and —when the crunch comes—ineffective, most Christian efforts to support and comfort the Jews.

And this as Israel stands virtually alone in a world almost crazed with hatred for the people of God.

If you, the reader, subscribe to this view, I wonder whether you really know what you have embraced?

Ironically, the expectation of a yet-to-come “time of Jacob’s trouble” hinders the efforts of the very churches, organizations and Christian groups that claim to stand with Israel and who are trying to encourage many more to come alongside the Jewish people.

For how can we, in good conscience, wholeheartedly encourage and help facilitate the Jews’ return, urging them to come back home for God’s blessing, when all the while we believe that millions who do will perish under God’s curse?

Can it be that, as saved men and women, we somehow believe that God is ‘on our side’ while ‘unbelieving’ Jews – as much as we may ‘love’ them – merit punishment until they soften their stiff necks?

This stance has infected the behavior of so many Christians towards the Jewish people through the centuries. It is fed by the heresy of Replacement Theology, which taught generations of Christians that that because “the Jews killed Christ” they are cursed to suffer displacement and persecution until they accept Him.

Nothing could be further from the truth – His truth. And as Christians, we MUST hold to all of God’s Word.

The Bible emphatically states that the Shepherd of Israel is restoring the Jews as a nation physically to their Land in order to restore them as a nation spiritually to life. He is their good Shepherd, and He is gathering them into the fold where, for the sake of His great name, He will assuredly keep them.

1 The Jews have already experienced at least two genocides – the mass-slaughter of two thirds by Rome between AD 66 and 135 that began their national exile, and the mass slaughter of a third by the Nazis in 1939-1945 that preceded their national rebirth.

2 Today’s estimated 15 million Jews worldwide (nearly seven million in Israel) are just a vestige of what the nation’s size would have been had they not been exiled and persecuted for the last 2000 years. Had they remained in their land and multiplied and prospered through the centuries, the number of Jews would rival the number of Chinese. Instead, they were repeatedly hewn down, with the last and greatest loss being the six million exterminated by Hitler. Those who have returned to Israel – and those yet to return – are irrefutably a remnant.

3 The place of His habitation, however, still lies desolate; the place of His throne, the place where He has put His name is covered by a Herodian platform on which sits a gold-domed building whose walls proclaim that there is no god but Allah and that he has no son. Clearly there is more that needs to happen – a great deal more.



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