THE U.S. - RUSSIA MEETING IN JERUSALEM
Israel’s image in the field of global diplomacy is enhanced. And are they proud! You see, only three leaders were present in last month’s (June 2019) tripartite summit—one each from Russia, the United States and….Israel! They met in Jerusalem (city of peace).
The host, Benjamin Netanyahu and Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s Foreign Minister, entertained U. S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
The purpose was to discuss the Iranian military presence in Syria.
You see, Netanyahu wants to play nice with the Russians. The purpose of this policy: to permit Israel to keep bombing the Iranian armament build-up in Syria and, in the best of all possible worlds, get Iran out of Syria.
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It’s a pathetic attempt, for a number of reasons. For one, the Russians are not in love with Israel or the Jewish people. They’ve never been.
Displays of Russian Jew-Hatred
Example: In 1985, the Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public published a brochure entitled Criminal Alliance of Zionism and Nazism. (Zionism, of course, is the historic movement to facilitate the return of the Jews to their homeland.)
The Russian anti-Zionist brochure stated that the movement of German Jews to Israel had made it easier for the Nazis to fight World War II and that “Zionists had colluded ‘in the genocide against the ‘Slavs, Jews [!] and some other people of Europe.”’
This is typical and also ridiculous, as is most all anti-Semitic literature. But it had a wide audience in the Soviet Union as part of a massive anti-Zionist program. It was an effort to portray Zionism as evil. It associated Zionism with racism, fascism, Nazism, genocide, imperialism, colonialism, militarism and apartheid. In this campaign hundreds of books and thousands of articles were published in the USSR, some being translated into foreign languages. Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism became a regular feature of films, lectures, radio broadcasts and news cartoons.
These charges are still being made, especially the charge that Zionists are in the forefront of sinister world-wide organizations--that they determine the foreign policies of the United States and Great Britain, the world financial system, the mass media and communications systems. It is blamed for practically everything sinister in the world.
This propaganda is still widespread in Russia today and has spread to the Muslim nations and to the world at large.
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But now….Israel is proud to entertain the Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev. Netanyahu pushed for this meeting, thinking he could affect Russia’s policy.
But Russia’s policy is intertwined with Iran’s policy.
True, Putin has agreed to a no-conflict policy with Israel as Israel bombs Iranian arsenals and bases in Syria. But the justified fear is that when Russia wants to strengthen its position, it will threaten the Israelis and attempt to force the U. S. out of the Middle East.
QUESTION: Why did Vladimir Putin approve of this trilateral meeting? Not a difficult question. He is gaining influence in Syria and the Middle East. FACT: Even if Russia would agree to a ceasefire, they could not be trusted to keep the agreement.
CAUTION: At a meeting in November of 2015, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry reached an agreement on principles put forth earlier in Vienna, including a cessation of hostilities and a timetable for new governance. The Syrians nixed the agreement.
CAUTION: In July of 2013, the Russians promised that the Iranian forces would move out of their areas at least 85 kilometers. It didn’t happen. Iran-based militia elements stayed put and, reportedly, switched to Syrian military uniforms to avoid Israeli air strikes.
QUESTION: What does this reveal about Prime Minister Netanyahu and his administration?
ANSWER: To me, it says this: They seem to have no faith in the God Who has chosen and preserved their race.
You may say: ‘You, Everest, are being naïve.’ Yes, it may sound so in our age of unbelief. Yet, some of our own previous presidents, in time of war, have done so. President Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer is an example. You can check it out.
Israel’s future is at stake, and what do you think sustains them? Is it only their smarts, their desperation to preserve their homeland and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)? Those are proximate causes, but not the ultimate cause. It is the sovereign purpose of the Lord God to preserve them. Sadly, Israel will suffer because of her unbelief even though her preservation is guaranteed by the covenant with Yahweh, the Lord.
In Israel, there are too many scoffers--too many who disregard the ways of the Lord. And I fear that this attitude prevails up to and including the heads of state.
But the Lord says:
I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior….
I am God, and also I henceforth I am He;
there is no one who can deliver from my hand….
I am the Lord, your Holy One,
the creator of Israel, your King.
-- Isaiah 43:11, 13, 15
Alas, for those who go down to Egypt for help
and who rely on horses…
but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel…
The Egyptians are human, but not God.
--Isaiah 31:1, 3
THE GAZA GIVEAWAY: It is 14 years since Israel gave away the Gaza strip to the Palestinians. Every resident and every soldier was evacuated.
This was done without any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The latter did nothing to gain this territory. Nothing.
It was done in the interest of peace. Prime Minister Sharon of Israel wanted to show good will towards the Palestinians so that they would change their nasty, terroristic behavior, like lobbing Qassam rockets into Jewish residential areas. Many of Gaza’s Arabs, not even known as “Palestinians,” commuted to jobs in nearby Israeli work places.
Prime Minister Sharon decided to give to the Gazans a sign of peace. He also wanted to please President Bush. His own party, the Likud, wanted no part of relinquishing any land, but other Israelis thought that Palestine hostility could be reduced by a sign of goodwill--an inducement--a gift of land sweetened with trade and travel agreements.
There was NO reciprocal movement from Palestinian leaders. It was a total one–sided peace effort—testing the formula of “land for peace.”
After the Israelis left Gaza:
The Jews gave up 21 greenhouses and a multimillion-dollar export business. Some sources say that half were demolished before the withdrawal, and half were looted by the Palestinians after the fact. Another source says that American Jews bought these greenhouses for the Palestinians to start up their own businesses; for many of these Gaza workers had been employed there. That was not to be. They were vandalized and left in a useless condition. Sources say that some were transformed into terrorist training camps.
It wasn’t long before the weapons stockpiles in Gaza started growing; and then mortars and rockets again began falling into southern Israel–residential areas and all. And that’s the way it is—right up to the present day.
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An article recently appeared in Commentary Magazine (Jewish) with an update.
Gazans are still sending missiles as well as flaming balloons across the border. According to reports, Gazan children are being paid to skip school and rush the border so that militants right behind them can fire at Israel. As they have been for some time, the children are being used as human shields!
But what is really important is this: After Israel’s evacuation, Hamas became the controlling authority in Gaza after killing members of the PLO and overthrowing that regime. Supporting them now is the Shiite regime of Iran!
And also this: the Egyptians have been involved in a mediation attempt between Israel and Hamas. Recent missile barrages from Gaza are probably precipitated by Iran. Why: In order to disrupt the negotiations.
The Commentary article reports the following:
Iran is now heavily involved…
Iran is now disrupting the negotiations for a cease-fire…
Iran is now encouraging violence on Israel’s southern border so that Hezbollah can rain down missiles on the northern border, keeping the Israel Defense Forces engaged and guessing.
Hezbollah (Iran’s proxy) has an estimated 150,000 rockets in its arsenal, including a growing number of precision-guided missiles.
Commentary says that “a major Gaza offensive could backfire and hasten a conflict with Iran.”
Also from Commentary Magazine:
“Hamas has been throwing mortars and rockets into Israel from Gaza since the breakdown of the peace process in 2001. Israel made the problem inadvertently worse when it vacated the Gaza Strip in 2005.” (page 24) !!!
You see, Israel disengaged from Gaza in large part because her leaders wanted to keep in the good graces of U. S. leaders. The U. S. leaders were fixated on this familiar paradigm: If Israel is to have peace, it must abdicate land it has acquired. Many Israelis used to agree with this. But now, this paradigm is increasingly being rejected by the Jewish Israeli populace.
QUESTION: When the ancient Hebrews were repeatedly attacked by the ancient Philistines, did they think they could negotiate their way to peace?
ANSWER: No. They just cowered. They suffered ignominy. That is, until a man named David became king--a king who waited on the Lord and asked Him in prayer over and over again: “Shall I go down to battle with Israel’s army?” And when God answered “yes,” David would lead the army of the Lord to battle and defeat the ungodly hosts.
LESSON: The modern Israeli Defense Force hasn’t yet learned to do as King David did. And so they look to America for answers and warily watch Iran with their modern HUMAN INTELLIGENCE.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I am exalted among the nations;
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
— Psalms 46:10-11
But you, Israel my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
The offspring of Abraham, my friend;
You whom I took from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest corners…
— Isaiah 41:8-9
Since the beginning of the 20th century, millions of Jews have left their homes in approximately 100 countries to move back to their homeland in Palestine—from nations on every populated continent and from many islands of the seas.
The Lord of the Nations was calling Jewry from the world’s farthest corners.
QUESTION: Has there been anything like this scattering of a single nation of people to the ends of the earth…and then its gathering? Anything like it in history?
ANSWER: No, indeed!
The prophet Ezekiel prophesied this wondrous phenomenon two and a half millennia ago:
As a pleasing odor, I will accept you when I bring you out from the peoples, and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. You shall know that I am the Lord when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your ancestors.” (Ezekiel 20:41-42)
QUESTION: Yes, God was calling them, but what human factor or factors are there in the movement?
ANSWER: #1: Widespread and severe persecution of the Jews.
ANSWER #2: Expulsions. Mainly from so-called “Christian” countries in Europe and Russia.
Expulsions of the Jews from the nations took place from the time Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A. D. Many expulsions. Some were from nations that eventually changed their policies and invited the Jews back such as England. Expelled: 1290 A. D.—Readmitted: around 1650.
In Germany, expulsions and readmissions came frequently one upon another producing a back-and-forth movement.
The Reasons for the Expulsion of the Jews
The expulsions meant loss of property, sickness of body and spirit with many diseases, and the feeling of having no place in the world….except their ancient homeland.
The Desire to Return
Historically, the return to Palestine—to Zion—had lived as a hope, a dream, a prayer and an article of faith for the observant Jew down through the ages. After nineteen centuries of wandering, they began to return to the homeland. During that time, they had been praying in their synagogues: “Save us, God our Savior; gather and deliver us from the nations that we may give thanks to your holy name.” (The Koren Siddur [prayerbook]) They yearned to experience life once again in Jerusalem, Judea and the hills of Galilee.
Opposition to the Return
Yet, opposition was strong even among their own people! Many Jews in the early 20th century participated in this opposition, and that resistance was fierce. Their loyalty to their adopted nations was strong.
These Jews insisted that they constituted a separate religion—Judaism--but NOT a separate nation. They insisted that the Jewish people were meant to live among the nations to be an asset. They didn’t believe in the prophecies of their return to the land that Yahweh gave them. They were staying where they were!
So, you had (1) first of all, the need for the return because of persecution and expulsions throughout history, (2) secondly, the profound longing for the ancient land among some of the Jews, and finally (3) the resistance to return among many who had been assimilated into Gentile society.
But the return did begin with waves of Jewish immigrants (called alijahs), and when, after World War II, the British left Palestine, those waves became huge. Getting out of Europe was a necessity. And moving from North African and Middle East nations was then forced—another instance of expulsion.
Some of the nations with the largest number of Jewish immigrants moving to the new state of Israel from 1948 to 2012 are these:
Romania – 276,586; Iraq – 131,138; Iran – 76,934; Argentina – 59,925; Libya – 35,000; India – 28,702; Germany – 19,905; South Africa – 19,378. There are many more.
But….the place with the largest population of Jews was the Soviet Union—mainly Russia and the Ukraine.
The door had been locked shut from getting out of Russia and the Soviet Union. It was not that the Jews didn’t try. They were forced to remain in place by the Czarist and Communist regimes. There in the Soviet Union their only places to live were called—get this: PALES OF SETTLEMENT! Well, well, well. That is apartheid, you know.
However, due to the pressure that came from other nations and the prayers of believers, especially in the United States and Canada, the Russian leaders finally began issuing permits to leave. The small beginnings of release picked up speed and soon became an avalanche of visas issued. By 2012, the number of Russian and Ukrainian Jews making “Alijah” meaning “to go up”, that is, to the Holy Land– was 1,214,993!
Yes, God Almighty was gathering His Chosen People
But it didn’t happen until He called them.
Finally, God was saying “NOW!” The birthing pangs were acute. And the Jews were brought from the farthest corners of the earth. They were being gathered from the nations where they had previously been scattered by the Lord God.
And then, they could proclaim: “Break forth together into singing You waste places of Jerusalem.”
— Isaiah 52:9
Basis: Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39
The Prophet Ezekiel speaks of a nation…
–“from the remotest parts of the north.” (38:6) “…come from your place out of the remotest parts of the north.” (Ezekiel 38:15) What nation would that be?
THAT WOULD BE RUSSIA!
RUSSIA’S PURPOSE: “…to seize spoil and carry off plunder…
ANOTHER RUSSIAN PURPOSE: “…to assail inhabited places…and [to assail] the people who were gathered from the nations who are acquiring cattle and goods, who live at the center (navel) of the earth.” (38:12)
What people have been gathered from the nations?
THAT WOULD BE ISRAEL!
When is this to happen? “After many days…” (38:8); “In the latter years.” (38:8)
Where is this to happen?: Israel: “A land restored from war, a land where people were gathered from many nations, which had long lain waste.” (38:8a) REPEAT: “Its people were brought out from the nations and now are living in safety.” (38:8b) “…who live at the center (navel) of the earth.” (38:12)
THAT WOULD BE ISRAEL!
“You [meaning the nation from the remotest parts of the north] will devise an evil scheme.” (38:10)
THAT WOULD BE RUSSIA!
People with them: “Many peoples are with you.” (38:6c) “In the latter days, I will bring you [Russia] against my land,” says the Lord God. (38:16) Yes, it is the Lord God’s land given to the Jewish People as part of His covenant with them.
And yes, God at times uses a relatively godless nation to serve His purposes. He will get the glory through His defense of His Chosen People in His/their land.
QUESTION: Is Russia really a relatively godless nation?
ANSWER: Some facts about that question–
Anne Garrels in Putin Country. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2016 speaks of one Russian woman who honestly confessed that “there is a war against us, not with weapons, but a kind of spiritual war from the outside perhaps because we are so vulnerable, but we are guilty too because we give in to the worst influences—to moral degradation.”
All during the Communist reign, atheism was the official belief, taught and enforced by the government.
Today, the Russian Orthodox Church is closely allied with the corrupt and all-powerful government. When Putin successfully ran for a third term, Orthodox Patriarch Kirill described his victory as “a miracle of God.” Garrells cites polls showing that about two-thirds of ethnic Russians now say they are Orthodox, though many of these same people also testify that they don’t really believe in God. (p. 122) This is a people who are unwilling to acknowledge God and to recognize evil even when it strikes them in the face.
QUESTION: Where faith in God is absent, how much respect for law and for one’s neighbor would be present? You can answer that.
REMEMBER: Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union “the Evil Empire.”
REMEMBER BACK FURTHER: The Soviet Union has a long history of repression. Tens of millions of Russians were imprisoned, exiled or murdered by Joseph Stalin and his henchmen. Many who disappeared were thrust into the gulag—the forced labor camp system begun by Lenin and not closed until the 1950’s. They labored under the threat of execution or starvation in frigid climates. There were hundreds of these camps with 2,000 to 10,000 prisoners in each one.
This Russian Orthodox Church finds it difficult to criticize Josef Stalin; it chooses to dwell on what they call his positive achievements.
REMEMBER BACK EVEN FURTHER: The pogroms. This word “pogrom” literally means “to wreak havoc.” These occurred in Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries. Settlements of Jews were attacked by gangs of Russians, with looting, gang rapes of the Jewish women, the destruction of homes, killing the residents and pillaging the stores owned by Jews. All this was done by gangs of hundreds or thousands of Russians. Sometimes it was done with the government’s blessing and others by local men who were never held accountable by that government.
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Russia, this nation, predominately godless and in great part immoral, has recently moved into Syria, making it more difficult for the U. S. and Israel to establish peace and order in the Middle East.
Russia has threatened to jam the satellite navigation, airborne radar and communications systems of combat aircraft in the eastern Mediterranean with their most advanced anti-aircraft missiles.
Russia is thus working to gain a strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities.
The European countries have always been fearful about Russia moving into the Middle East. And now,
Russia is moving in with the intent to remain, right on Israel’s border. Yes, on the border of Israel!
It looks like Ezekiel’s prophecy is onto something.
Netanyahu….Beware of Russia.
To all people of Christian faith: Consider Ezekiel’s statement that such a development will occur in “the latter days.”
QUESTION: Why then is God sending Russia down to invade the land of His Chosen People Israel?
ANSWER: To get glory for Himself, vindicate His Chosen People and punish the nation that has persecuted them from time immemorial.
“In the latter days I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I display my holiness before their eyes.” (38:16”
NOTE: I did not use the names Gog and Magog, on which there is a difference of opinion about the identification of the name and location, since I’m keeping these blogs limited to a certain length. There is a difference of opinion on their identification.
My, what parallels there are between Israel of old and present-day Israel!
As I point out in my book, Israel the Chosen, when the Jews in modern times began to settle in Palestine it was then ruled by Ottoman Turkey—a progressively corrupt and cruel administration. The land itself was riddled with wars between villages and raids by Bedouins in which it was a common practice to:
cut down trees,
fill wells with stones and
break down reservoirs and cisterns.
The Ottoman Turks were OK with that as long as they got their taxes.
When the Jewish immigration movement expanded following World War I, the land had a transformation. Industries and a labor movement were established, and through the hard work of swamp-drainage and cultivation, the land became productive. As the above Psalm says above:
“The Lord made his people very fruitful.”
At the same time, the enemies of the Jews began to spew forth their venom. The Arabs hated the Jews even before the return of the Jews.Then, it was because they despised them. But upon the beginning of the rebirth of Israel, it was because they now feared them, for, as the Psalmist says, the Lord “made them stronger than their foes.”
Rising up amidst the “House of Islam” is this tiny powerful nation–to the Arabs “a cancer in the body of the Arab nation,” a “dagger in the heart of the Arab” as other Arabs call it. A tweet from Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that “[Israel] has no cure but to be annihilated.”
Should we be surprised? Not at all. Not those who read the scriptures—the Tenakh (Old Testament). “…whose hearts he turned to hate his people.” Same situation as in ancient times.
QUESTION: Why would the Lord turn the hearts of Israel’s neighbors to a hatred of His people? That is a strange work of God! So let’s consider that. Let’s ask, “what if…?”
--What if the neighbors of Israel accepted the Jews?
--What if there was acceptance and interaction between these two peoples—the Jews would fraternize with idolaters? A multitude of friendships would form—sexual encounters would happen–intermarriages galore between Jews and those of other religions.
That did happen in Israel’s history—intermarriage between Jewish and Moabite, Jewish and Samaritans, Jewish and other foreign women who practiced abominations.
QUESTION: But what ULTIMATELY would happen??
THE ANSWER–SIMPLE: then the Israelites would lose their distinct identity. Then the religious practices would become blurred, mixed up. Then the commandments of the Lord would be modified or worse yet, forgotten.
That is happening today in America. Many recent reports of American synagogue leaders are being published revealing the alarm in the Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism.
The covenant between the Lord God and the Hebrew people had to be strong, for the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a jealous God. There is none like Him, He is the God of creation and redemption, and His people are a Chosen People—chosen to be a witness and a blessing to the whole world.
So if the Muslims/Arabs became friends with and friendly to the Israelis, it could mean trouble—big trouble for the covenant. Therefore…it is better that they NOT get along.
IT IS BETTER SO THAT the Jews in the new State of Israel will again learn to trust in their God.
IT IS BETTER THAT there NOT be children of mixed marriages, so that the Jews remain Jews and bear witness to the One and Only True God.
IT IS BETTER THAT the Israelis be threatened by their neighbors, so that they will trust in the God who brought them into being and still loves them.
QUESTION: Why don’t any of the peace efforts work? Could it be that the Psalmist is right yet again? Note the last two lines:
…whose hearts he then turned to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
The chapter in my book on “The Peace Offers” tells of how Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton struggled to induce Yassir Arafat to accept the Declaration of Principles in the year 2000. Did it work? NO! Barak conceded much; but Arafat went into the talks with no strategy, no flexibility and unprepared to give.
Yet the signing took place.
Arafat’s approach to negotiations was just like Mohammed’s: make a treaty with the enemy; make it so that it anesthetizes the opposition. Then later, surprise the enemy with attacks.
So, shortly after the handshakes between Arafat and Rabin on the White House lawn, Arafat proclaimed to his Palestinian audience on Jordanian television that his agreement should be understood in terms of Mohammed’s “Plan of Phases”—the PLO would get what territory it could from further negotiations and then….use that land as a base for pursuing its ultimate goal of Israel’s annihilation. (SEE: p. 150 of Israel the Chosen)
Arafat was doing just what was described in the Psalm--dealing craftily with God’s people.
How much insight into the modern situation we can acquire by checking out these powerful statements of the Tenakh (Old Testament).
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the Lord of nations. Watch….and be wise.
NOTE THIS PROPHECY:
“Thus says the Lord God: ….I am speaking in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the insults of the nations; therefore I swear that the nations all around you shall themselves suffer insults….
See now, I am for you; and you shall be tilled and sown; and I will multiply your population….No longer will I let you bear the disgrace of the peoples.” (Ezekiel 36:5-7, 9, 15)
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QUESTION: Is there any one race of people who have been more subject to insults than the Jews?
COMMON INSULTS: “You dirty Jew.” “Jews are vermin.”
FRONT PAGE STORY: From a front-page story in the highly-regarded, government-controlled Al-Ahram newspaper—Cairo put out this fictional report: Israeli doctors injected 305 Palestinian children with the AIDS virus. (New York Times Magazine, May 11, 1997)
A SERMON FROM A MUSLIM SERVICE: Saudi sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam and preacher at the Al-Haram mosque, most important mosque in Mecca. He beseeched Allah to annihilate the Jews and urged the Arabs to give up initiatives. Why? Because the Jews are…
“the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets and the offspring of apes and pigs.” (MEMRI Special Report, no. 11, June 16, 2003)
Educated To Hate Jews: “The hatred of Israel and our obligation to pursue jihad was worked into every subject we discussed in school. Peace was never discussed as an option, and we were made to feel that peace with Israel would bring only shame to our Arab pride. Because of this, the word ‘Jew’ instilled terror into the core of my very being….
Jews were portrayed as devils, pigs, and an evil, occupying foreign force.”
(from Now They call Me Infidel: A Muslim Shahid’s Daughter, Nonie Darwish. New York, Penguin Group, 2006, p. 9) Ms. Darwish lived and attended school in Cairo and Gaza.
Insulting Jews in Today’s Germany: “Heinz Peter Meidinger, head of Germany’s teachers association, said a particular hot spot of anti-Semitism seemed to be schools, many of them in Berlin, where children from migrant families made up between 70% and 100% of students….The very word ‘Jew,’ Mr. Meidinger said, is now a generic term of abuse in some school yards.” (wsj.com/articles’germany-struggles-with-an-unfamiliar-form-of-anti-semitism-1522584002) Observers say that the cult of anti-Semitism is spreading once again.
Very sad to say:
In Russia, the Middle East and other nations, here are examples of ongoing slander against the Jews:
NOTE AGAIN THE PROPHECY FROM EZEKIEL: “Thus says the Lord God: ….I am speaking in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the insults of the nations; therefore I swear that the nations all around you shall themselves suffer insults….”
God the Lord has spoken against those who by both word and deed abused His people. They have spoken with malice towards His people, and He will speak in His jealousy against these nations.
Matthew Henry says: “The righteous God, to whom vengeance belongs will render shame for shame. Those that put contempt and reproach upon God’s people will, sooner or later, have it turned upon themselves…” (Matthew Henry, Ezekiel 36)
A warning: The nations that promote Jew-hatred are having trouble with their economies today. Poverty abounds. The nations that permit Jew-hatred are not as strong as they would like to be. Their growth is stalemated; their citizenry is self-centered; their people are lacking purpose.
The Lord says: “See now, I am for you; and you shall be tilled and sown; and I will multiply your population….No longer will I let you bear the disgrace of the peoples.”
The “Servant Sections” have to do with Israel as the Lord’s Servant, whereas the “Servant Songs” which are also in Isaiah have to do with the Messiah. For more on this, see Chapter 13 in Everest’s book: Israel the Chosen.
But now, thus says the Lord, he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through fire, you will not be burned,
And the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you.
I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the West I will gather you:
I will say to the North, “Give them up,” And to the South, “Do not withhold.”
Bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth….
You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
And my servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe me,
And understand that I am he.
Before me, no god was formed,
Nor shall there be any after me.
To be Oblivious: From Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: lacking remembrance, memory or mindful attention. 2. Lacking active conscious knowledge or awareness.
To be oblivious is to lack mindful attention to critical conditions. A proven authority warns “WATCH OUT!”….and you pay no heed.
EXAMPLE: Financial experts warn that America’s financial institutions are once again, as they did before the 2008 recession, issuing mortgages to those whose mortgage payments are above 50 per cent of the borrowers’ income. Borrowers are skating on thin ice. Financial institutions seem to be oblivious to the high risk.
The Hebrew prophets repeatedly warned the ancient Israelites that they were breaking their covenant with God. They were disregarding the commandments and true worship. They scoffed; they refused counsel; they ignored warnings--oblivious to the destruction that awaited them.
For my people are foolish,
They do not know me;
They are stupid children,
They have no understanding.
-- Jeremiah 4:22
Here it comes--an accusation against modern Jewry. Modern Jews in America and Europe have little if any knowledge of God.
Leonard Fein, Jewish former professor at MIT and Brandeis University put it this way:
“We [American Jews] have neither the vocabulary nor the categories for serious conversation [on matters of faith]…Besides, we vaguely fear that our expression of interest in such conversation would be taken as evidence that we lack sophistication.” (Everest: Israel the Chosen, p. 219)
Thus, American Jews of the Reform and Conservative branches (most American Jews) lack conscious awareness in matters of faith and spiritual life.
EXAMPLE #1: Fifty per cent or more of young Jews marry outside the faith, up dramatically from previous decades. Hardly any of their children are given any religious instruction.
EXAMPLE #2: Most Jewish men used to know their way around the Hebrew prayer book. No more.
Jews in America and Europe are cutting themselves off from their past. They are objects of pity to those who have faith.
The Old Testament prophets were alarmed at the ignorance of God’s people and warned of God’s coming chastisement. They would be thrust out of the land and led into exile—Assyria or Babylon.
Yet here is where their obliviousness wins over insight: they were so blind that they didn’t see that….IT WAS THEIR COVENANT GOD, WHO WAS SENDING THEM INTO EXILE. They were oblivious to His displeasure.
Not understanding their covenant relationship with God, they failed to understand God’s actions as Lord of history. Not knowing God, they lacked knowledge of human relationships; thus, they failed to perceive who were their friends and who really cared little for them.
In today’s world, those political and social groups they thought were their friends are now harboring individuals who are anti-Semitic, while those who root for them are counted by these Jews as know-nothings.
Yossi Klein Halevi, senior fellow of the Shalom-Hartman Institute in Jerusalem observes that “Today Jewishness is about [listen to this] peoplehood, ritual observance, Torah study, tikkun olam, Zionism, defense against anti-Semitism--everything but God.” (Commentary Magazine, Nov. 2015, p. 35)
For my people are foolish,
They do not know me.
And yet again……….
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
Who have eyes, but do not see,
Who have ears, but do not hear.
Do you not fear me? Says the Lord;
Do you not tremble before me?”
-- Jeremiah 5:21-22
No, they don’t.
Pray that they may know Him again.
Smart people disappoint us when we realize that they can be motivated by “group think.” We should value the truth more than acceptance by our group!
In religion as well as with other ideas, truth should be of supreme value. Tradition is nice, but truth is of supreme value!
Before Christ, most Jews were certain of a coming Messiah. That was a given. Their prophets said so in their own eloquent poetry and prose. Isaiah was one of the great ones—a Messiah-predicting prophet. But some of his predictions have been highly controversial among the Jews.
What did Isaiah write about the Messiah that provides such contention?
It all revolves around his term “the servant.” Hang on now.
Isaiah mentions three servants, one of which is Israel the nation, one other is actually a king, Cyrus of Persia, and the third one is spoken of in the first person singular.
The identity of the third “servant” is the question. He is not named. Many Jews say this person stands for the nation Israel.
Do we want the truth about who this third one is.... no matter what our group thinks?
But first: Why is the truth about this one so important? ANSWER: BECAUSE THIS PERSON BEARS THE SINS OF….THE JEWISH NATION AND THE WORLD!!
He was despised and rejected by others;
A man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity….
He was wounded for our transgressions,
Crushed for our iniquities;
Upon him was the punishment that made us whole….
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have all turned to our own way,
And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all….
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
Stricken for the transgression of my people.”
-- Isaiah 53:3, 5-6, 8 (NRSV)
ANOTHER QUESTION: What did the ancient rabbis believe about this passage? Who do they think it is describing?
ANSWER: We have the answers of some of them, and this includes the most prominent. This passage refers to the coming Messiah—COMING IN THE FUTURE.
This is a tense called the “prophetic future”—as though it had already happened. It was so clear in the prophets’ minds that it was like history.
Yes, the ancient rabbis, at least many of them—and they were influential ones-- believed it portrays the Messiah who was to come. In my book, Israel the Chosen, I have listed the names of these rabbis with their explanations. The first one dates back to the first century in an ancient “Targum” (expanded translation). It is called “The Targum of Yonatan [Jonathan].”
Another is the Isaiah Targum of the first or second century.
Yet another is from the Babylonian Talmud (put into writing about 200 A. D.) in which the Suffering Servant is identified as the Messiah and a leper because Isaiah pictures him as “acquainted with infirmity.”
The last one I list is a 15th century Portuguese philosopher, statesman and philosopher, Isaac ben Judah Abrabanel. He himself believed that the figure of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah was of the coming Messiah and reports that this was the majority opinion among the rabbis of his time.
From my book, Israel the Chosen: "With this in mind, how can modern Jewish scholarship reject out-of-hand the consensus of its own revered rabbis and argue that the Jewish nation is the meaning and fulfillment of this prophecy?" (Page 290)
Modern rabbis ignore the opinions of these ancient rabbis and argue that the Suffering Servant figure portrayed in Isaiah 53 is a picture of the people of Israel. Israel, they contend, suffered for the sins of their own people and the world. Israel took the punishment, bore the iniquities and made intercession for the transgressors. Israel was the lamb led to the slaughter....and was the “one” of whom this passage says that there was “no deceit in his mouth.” So they say.
Yet, in this very section of Isaiah where Israel is spoken of, they, the nation, are the complaint of the Lord.
“You have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities.” (Isaiah 43:24)
Another complaint of the Lord about Israel is this:
“Listen, you that are deaf; and you that are blind, look up and see! Who is blind but my servant [Israel], or deaf like my messenger [Israel] whom I send? Who is blind like my dedicated one or blind like the servant of the Lord? He sees many things but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear. … So he poured on him the heat of his anger.” (Isaiah 42:19-20, 25)
The Lord was angry with this servant! This servant, Israel, God’s Chosen People, would not listen to His Word. They would not see what He was doing for them. They were preoccupied.
And Israel today is again in a period of paying no attention to the Word of God through the prophets.
Most American Jews today would not be caught dead discussing the issue of whether or not the Messiah is Israel, or some future figure….or Yeshua.
The Suffering Servant, prophesied by Isaiah, has come and has suffered and died as the Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of the world. No one else could have done this. No other nation, not even the Chosen Nation could perform this work of salvation. Yeshua (Jesus) was the One and only sacrifice for sins. He is the faithful Servant, the Holy One whom the Father loves and who is our redemption.
The Lord Introduces His Servant
(8) But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen,
The offspring of Abraham, my friend;
(9) You whom I took from the ends of the earth,
And called from the farthest corners,
Saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off.”
(10) Do not fear, for I am with you,
Do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
(11) Yes, all who are incensed against you
Shall be ashamed and disgraced;
Those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish..
(13) For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”
(14) Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel!
I will help you, says the Lord;
Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.