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5. The Situation of the Jews during this Period.
As we have seen in earlier chapters, the declarations of Holy Writ make it very clear that Israel will yet be restored to God’s favor and be rehabilitated in Palestine. But before that glad time arrives, the Jews have to pass through a season of sore trouble and affliction, during which God severely chastises them for their sins and punishes them for the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah. Fearful indeed have been the past experiences of “the nation of the weary feet” but a darker path than ever yet lies before them. Their cruel bondage in Egypt, their captivity in Babylon, and their grievous handling by Titus, were but faint foreshadowings of what they shall yet be called upon to undergo. In Jer. 30:4–7 we read—“And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the Time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” This Time of Jacob’s Troubles was described in part when, in answer to His disciples’ question concerning the end of the age, our Lord said, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end (of the Tribulation period which terminates the Age), the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:9–13).
It has also been pointed out that considerable numbers of the Jews have recently turned their faces Zionward and returned to the land of their fathers, but before the revelation and rise of the Anti-christ to temporal power, many others will also have returned to Palestine. This is clear from Dan. 9:27, where we learn that Anti-christ (the “prince” or head of the restored Roman Empire) will ratify a treaty with Israel for seven years, under which he guarantees them protection and allows them to rebuild their Temple and restore its ancient ritual. It is to this Covenant between Anti-christ and the Jews that Is. 28:18 refers, “And your covenant with Death (a title of Anti-christ, in contradistinction to the true Christ who is “the Life”) shall be disannulled, and your agreement with Hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it (probably a reference to Zech. 14:1, 2).** For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.” It is to be noted that this “Covenant” between Anti-christ and Israel is established during the early part of his reign, or certainly, at the very commencement of Daniel’s seventieth week (see Dan. 9:24–27—a most important passage), while he is posing as the true Christ and before he throws off his mask and denies both the Father and the Son. It is in the midst of this final seven years that he openly defied heaven and earth, breaks his covenant with the Jews in Palestine, causes their sacrifices to cease and in their place demands that they shall set up an image to himself which, like Nebuchadnezzar and his image, he will require to be worshipped by all under pain of death. It is to the setting up of this “image” in the Temple that our Lord had reference when He said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation (for the meaning of “abomination” see 1 Kings 11:5–7—it is an “image” to a false god), spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whose readeth, let him understand). Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: For then shall be (the) great Tribulation such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh he saved: but for the elect’s sake (i.e. for the sake of the godly Jewish remnant) those days shall be shortened.” The above Scripture is a warning from our Lord to the godly Jews who will be on earth subsequent to the Rapture of the Church, and who are informed that when they see Anti-christ’s image set up in their re-built Temple then let them know the time for the outpouring of God’s wrath is at hand. The part of wisdom for them in that day will be to flee from Jerusalem lest they share its judgment. Be it noted it is those who read—i.e., the Holy Scriptures, and particularly Daniel and the Revelation who will “understand.” Following this timely warning--by which, doubtless, many godly Jews will profit in that day—our Lord continues, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false christs and false prophets (observe false “prophets” as well as false christs; and note the order—false christs which is headed up in the Anti-christ the first “beast” of Rev. 13, and “false prophets” which is headed up in the False Prophet the second “beast” of Rev. 13!), and shall show great signs and wonders (even make the “image” speak, see Rev. 13:15; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (but it will not be possible, for the elect will “read” and “understand”). Behold, I have told you before” (vss. 23–25).
A small minority of the Jews (typified by the three “Hebrew children” in the days of Nebuchadnezzar), a godly remnant, will refuse to receive the Beast and worship his image and, in consequence, will be subjected to fierce persecution. This pious “remnant” forms the subject of numerous Old Testament prophecies. We single out but one—“In that day (the Tribulation period) shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against Me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of My holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies (profess allegiance to The Lie): for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid”(Zech. 3:11–13, and cf. Is. 10:20, 21; Joel 2:32; 3:1, 2 etc.). Many of the Jews who comprise this remnant will be slain by the Anti-christ, but at least 144,000 of them (see Rev. 7) will be miraculously preserved by God. Jehovah will undertake for them as He did for the three “Hebrew children” of old. Then it shall be seen that “He that dwelleth in the secret place (compare Rev. 12:6!!) of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Then will they find the Lord their “refuge” and “fortress.” And then will be fulfilled His promise—“Surely He shall deliver thee from the Snare of the Fowler (the Anti-christ), and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers and under His wings shalt thou trust.” And then will they behold with their eyes and “see the reward of the Wicked One” (see the whole of Ps. 91). Many of the Psalms record the experiences and prayers of the godly Jewish remnant during this period: see Psalms 10 (which vividly pictures the Anti-christ), 37 (which contains words of admonition and encouragement for them; see especially verse 10!) 43 (note verse 1!), 44 (which reveals their hope in God, 55 (and note particularly verses 20, 21!), 74 (and note verse 10!), 80 (their cry for deliverance, etc.) We may add that many of the later Psalms view Israel in the Millennium.
It is during the Tribulation period that Elijah the prophet returns to the earth and Mal. 4:5, 6 is fulfilled—“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (i.e. before the final three and a half years); and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Doubtless Elijah is one of the “two witnesses” of Rev. 11 who testify for God twelve hundred and sixty days in Jerusalem; after which they are slain, resurrected, and translated to heaven. At the close of the Tribulation period Anti-christ marshals his forces and goes up to besiege Jerusalem, and this leads us to consider,
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