8. The Rejuvenation and Restoration of Israel.
The Jew has been termed the mystery and
miracle of history. Terrible have been the privations and persecutions which
he has suffered and yet has he survived them all. For two thousand years
Israel has been a homeless wanderer among the nations and yet has he preserved
his individuality. Sore have been the Divine judgments inflicted upon him and
yet God has not made a full end of Jacob's children.
In other chapters we have called attention to
some of the numerous prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments which
announce the revival of Israel, their return to Palestine, and their
restoration to God's favor, and ere pointing out the manner in which some of
these predictions are beginning to receive their fulfillment, we would quote
just one other. In Matt. 24:32,33 we have a part of our Lord's answer to the
disciples' questions - "What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of
the age?" Here our Lord says, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his
branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So
likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that He (margin) is near,
even at the doors." The fig-tree symbolizes the nation of Israel - compare
Matt. 21:19 etc. The putting forth of its leaves after the long winter of
dispersion among and subjugation to the Gentiles, points to the reinvigoration
of this ancient people. The taking on of new life by Israel is a sure sign
that the return of the Redeemer is near at hand.
That the Fig-tree has begun to put forth leaves
is evident to all who are acquainted with the leading events of the day. God
is once more placing the Jew before the eyes of the men as those by whom He has
blessed the world in the past and through whom He has purposed to bless it in
the future. In a most noticeable manner the Jew is today commanding the
attention of both the church and the world. Until the last fifty years the Jew
had no place on our missionary program, but now we behold "Missions to the
Jews" springing up in many lands. Others besides Christians are interested:
the future of Palestine is being carefully pondered by all the leading
diplomats. In every realm the Jew is pushing to the front. More and more his
rights and claims are being recognized, and as he is allowed to enjoy common
privileges he is making his mark in all the leading professions and arts: many
of our most influential positions are now filled by the descendants of Abraham,
and it is well known that they control the fiances of the world.
Perhaps the most significant and portentous
episode in Israel's history since their dispersion was the formation of the
"Zionist Society." The Zionist movement has for its aim the return of the Jews
to Palestine, and for its ultimate object the purchase of the Holy Land.
During the past twenty years this movement has spread with startling rapidity.
"All over the earth societies have been formed, bodies have been legally
incorporated, and vast sums of money subscribed. Children are being taught
that the day of Israel is at hand, and are speeding the ancient word "Zion"
from lip to lip" (Haldeman). At the time the War began, there were upwards of
100,000 Jews who had returned to the land of their fathers. Colonies had been
established everywhere and soil which had lain idle for centuries was once more
tilled and sown by the offspring of David. "The land, as foretold by Jeremiah,
is being bought and sold at the very gates of Jerusalem. The Jew is already
the preeminent factor in the once holy city. He controls its business and is
the present guaranty of its prosperity. His synagogues are rising within the
shadow of the Mohammedan mosques. His lamentations for the city of the ancient
splendors, and his prayer for the restoration of the former glory, and the
swift descent of an avenging Messiah, resound every Friday beneath the moss
covered stones of Solomon's walls, where thousands turn their faces and weep as
they contemplate the past, reciting the penitential Psalms, and whose same
tear-wet faces shine as they sing of the day when Zion shall be as a garden
planted of the Lord, and when the holy hill of the great solemnities shall be
the place for the soles of the feet of Him who is their promised King"
(Haldeman). If all this became possible under the Turkish government who shall
say what shall come to pass if, as now appears most probable, Palestine should
become a British or American protectorate! Yes, the rejuvenation of the Jews
and their return to Palestine is one of the most striking Signs of the Times.
It tells us that the Times of the Gentiles are rapidly drawing to a close. The
budding of the Fig-tree evidences that Israel's summer is nigh at hand and that
their Messiah is even at the doors. Let us next consider -