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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 3

What About the Jews?

For the last century or so, much of the Bible-believing church world has been inundated with a novel system of Bible interpretation embodied in the notes of the Scofield Bible. This system focuses heavily on the natural descendents of Abraham while regarding the church as something of a parenthesis in God’s main program.

Multitudes of preachers and teachers have embraced this ready-made would-be explanation of the whole Bible, learning from each other’s sermons and books. It is easy for anyone with a little ability to study and become an “expert” in prophecy, impressing people with detailed charts and rehashed tradition. The mere fact that so many others are saying the same things gives them instant credibility.

The sheer numbers of those giving expression to this tradition has produced a virtual flood that is very difficult for the sheep to withstand. It is difficult for them even to think in any other terms. In addition to their hearing it nearly everywhere, there is just enough truth and seeming logic woven into it to convince people that it is true.

The result is that certain concepts of events connected with Christ’s return — for example: the “rapture,” the “tribulation,” “antichrist,” the “millennium,” and the return of the Jews to “center stage” — have been literally burned into people’s brains. They have become assumptions, no longer questioned.

Mentioning any of these things is like pushing a button: up pops the concept and you’ll get an argument if you say different. For example: mention the word “tribulation” to someone programmed with this belief and they will automatically think in terms of a seven-year time of trouble following the “rapture” during which an evil dictator known as the antichrist will make, and then break, a treaty with the Jews. How do they know this? Well, everybody knows that! All the preachers say so!

Trying to deal with a system like dispensationalism is a lot like trying to dislodge an octopus one arm at a time. The real error involved lies much deeper than the “arms”: it is the great presumption of attempting through study and human reasoning to construct a system to explain the whole Bible, putting every passage neatly in its place. That presumption, in turn, rests upon the erroneous belief that the Bible can be understood by study, failing to reckon on our utter need for the Author to reveal His Word to us — everything in its proper time.

Presumptuously attempting to pry into God’s secrets and developing strong traditional beliefs have been fatal weaknesses of religious man down through the ages. His pride will not allow him to kneel before his Maker as an ignorant child, waiting upon Him for the unfolding revelation of His Word. Deut. 29:29. Matt. 11:25-27. I Cor. 2:6-16. Prov. 4:18.

A Deadly Substitute

Consider yet again the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day. No one has ever had a greater zeal toward God and the scriptures than they. Paul, once one of them, acknowledges their zeal in Rom. 10:2 but also points out that their zeal was “not according to knowledge.” What they “knew” was not knowledge at all. It was a deadly substitute. It was so deadly that Jesus spoke of one who would be converted to their religion as “twofold more the child of hell” than they themselves were! Matt. 23:15.

What they believed did not come from God but from other men. Matt. 15:1-14. Is. 29:9-14. They thought they were honoring the scriptures. Instead they were honoring traditional interpretations of the scriptures. Their beliefs had become a substitute for the Word that had effectively closed their ears to truth that could have saved them.

This is easily illustrated from John 5:45-47 where Jesus unmasked their supposed belief in Moses and his writings: “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”

They were certain that they were Bible-believers, whereas what they actually believed was a diabolically clever substitute embedded in their brains and backed up by centuries of repetition.

Part of that tradition included the belief in a coming Messiah. As a result, this belief was “common knowledge” among the Jews. Even the Samaritan woman (John 4:25) had her own belief concerning the coming Messiah.

This belief of the Jews embodied some truth. For example, when the wise men came to Jerusalem seeking the young “King of the Jews,” the chief priests and scribes knew to send them to Bethlehem! Why did they not go themselves? Why did they not recognize Christ later on? For one thing, they may have had the scriptures and their traditions, but God was not communicating with them.

That is the tragic result of walking in tradition. Tradition, by its very nature, excludes the present tense voice of God.

There were, however, a scattered few in Israel that God was communicating with, for example: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zacharias, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna (Luke 1, 2). In every case, God revealed something to them concerning His Son. They had true knowledge. What they knew, while firmly anchored in the scriptures, was the direct result of revelation by the Author. Knowing that the scriptures foretold a Messiah to come was one thing; recognizing him when he came was quite another.

Two Kinds of Jews

The world saw a people living in Palestine, all known as Jews, children of Abraham. God saw among them two very different kinds of people. This is evident throughout the gospels.

Consider the following descriptions recorded in the gospels, bearing in mind those referred to were Jews: “generation of vipers”; “hypocrites”; “wolves”; “wicked and adulterous generation”; “blind leaders of the blind”; “faithless and perverse generation”; “murderers”; “serpents.” Actually the above quotes come from the Gospel of Matthew alone and are merely representative of a long list of similar expressions.

Every one of those described above counted himself a child of Abraham. They fiercely guarded their traditions, believing them to be the spiritual heritage of Abraham and Moses.

Jesus even acknowledged their physical descent from Abraham in John 8:37 where He said, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed ....” That fact, however, did not make Abraham their father in God’s eyes. In fact, God counted them liars and murderers and said that their father was the devil! John 8:44.

Does God have a covenant of blessing with the devil’s children?

When these same kinds of people came to see what John the Baptist was doing, he first called them a “generation of vipers.” Then he said, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matt. 3:9.

Yet among those known as Jews were a few described in different terms: “lambs”; “little flock”; “daughter of Abraham”; “son of Abraham”; “an Israelite indeed”; “sheep”; “his own”; “my brethren.” What a difference!

Isaiah prophesied of the spiritual conditions at the time of Christ’s coming in these words: “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” Is. 60:2.

Matthew in 4:16 quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 9:2, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”

How is it that among Abraham’s descendants there were such distinct spiritual kinds, Satan’s children and God’s? How is it that the prevailing condition was “darkness,” even “gross darkness” at Christ’s coming?

Let’s go all the way back to Abraham and briefly trace his descendants, but let us do so in the higher light of the New Testament. One of the major reasons for confusion in this area is that men have tried to understand the Old Testament through study and natural reasoning. They have then tried to impose their conclusions on the New Testament.

The fact is that the Old Testament writers themselves, inspired as they were, still penned their words by faith, not understanding much of their significance. Read I Peter 1:10-12. Divine truth, which cannot be uncovered by man’s natural intellect, must be revealed, and that according to God’s schedule, not ours. That is why our Old Testament brethren were unable to understand much of what they wrote. It wasn’t time.

That is why, for example, Daniel was told to “shut up the words, and seal the book even to the time of the end.” Daniel 12:4. When he continued questioning, he was told in verse 9, “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” What theologian is able to break God’s seal?

What a glorious promise he was given in verse 13, first of rest, then of his own place in God’s program when it was time: “But go thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”

Abraham’s Call

When God called Abraham, that call was first one of complete separation: from country, kindred and even from his father’s house (Gen. 12:1). That command of separation was coupled with a promise that God would make of him a great nation. (What nation is that?)

There were only two possible responses: either he could believe God and separate himself and go, “not knowing whither he went” (Heb. 11:8) or he could refuse to believe, choosing his own will and way. That is precisely the choice faced by everyone who comes to God. True faith is not “family religion.” Abraham believed and his faith was put into action: he packed up and went.

In Gen. 15:6 we find it recorded of Abraham (then known as Abram), “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Thus was established for all time the only principle by which men may become righteous before God. Never, in all of history, has it been any other way. Abram heard the Word of God, and faith, a supernatural ability to rely wholly upon the promise of God, was sown like a seed in his heart. Rom. 10:17.

Paul devoted the fourth chapter of Romans to establishing clearly in the minds of his readers this principle of righteousness by faith. This righteousness, a “blessedness” experienced by believers, is described in verses 7 and 8. “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

This is blessedness indeed! Not only is there complete forgiveness for the sins of the past, God will not even charge with sin those so blessed! This completely deals with the guilt of sin all the way to heaven! Hallelujah! True believers can rest their entire hope in the promise of God and not upon anything they do or don’t do.

This is not a license to sin. Rather, God deals with His own as sons to be disciplined and not as law-breaking criminals to be condemned.

Circumcision and the law, so important to the Jews, came into the picture after righteousness by faith had been established. Abram was righteous before he was circumcised. Circumcision was added later as a “sign” and “seal” of the righteousness of faith. It is obvious from the New Testament that this institution was temporary and plays no part whatsoever in what we have in Christ (Gal. 5:6).

In fact, circumcision was a type of what happens in the heart of a true believer in Christ. Hear the words of Paul in Phil. 3:3, noting that they were penned to Gentiles: “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Abraham was “the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.” Rom. 4:12.

The law was likewise temporary, “added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made ....” Gal. 3:19. “... By the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. 3:20.

Abraham’s Children

Paul, in Rom. 4:11, calls Abraham “the father of all them that believe.” This is the fatherhood that matters. Abraham may have been the father of vast multitudes of physical descendants (including Arabs and Jews), but the only children God recognizes are “them that believe.” It is one thing to be begotten of Abraham’s body; it is another to be begotten of his faith.

The basis then is not whether one is a Jew or a Gentile, but whether one believes. After all, “he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom. 2:28-29. Think about that!

Of course, before Abraham could father nations, he had to first have a son! This was quite a trial of his faith, extending well past the time when it was naturally possible for Sarah to have a child, not to mention the fact that he himself was approaching 100!

During this time of waiting Sarah came up with the idea of giving her maid, Hagar, to Abraham to wife as she herself was barren. By this means she could, in a sense, produce a son, an heir. Abraham went along with the plan and Ishmael was the result.

By the time the Lord was ready to do things His way, Abraham had become very attached to his son, Ishmael, saying, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” Gen. 17:18. God had a different plan, however, one that involved His covenant being established with Isaac, whose birth was promised the following year. The birth of Isaac was a miracle, a type of the new birth in Christ.

Abraham Had Two Sons

And so, as Paul put it in Gal. 4:22, “Abraham had two sons.” What is the significance of Paul’s statement? What did it mean to him? What can we learn?

There was a world of difference between these two sons. They were two different kinds though Abraham fathered both. One was “born after the flesh” and one was “by promise.” Gal. 4:23.

The one born after the flesh was cast out, sent away from God’s appointed heir. Although he was naturally blessed, he had no claim upon God’s everlasting covenant.

Did that mean that all of Isaac’s descendants were in covenant relationship with God? Certainly not! Notice the whole passage from Gal. 4:21-31. Notice that Paul speaks of two Jerusalems. The world knew only one, the center of the Jews’ religion. Paul called this, “Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” Furthermore, this Jerusalem and her children were compared to Hagar and Ishmael!

Does that sound like God considered them to be Abraham’s seed, heirs of His promises to Abraham? Of course not! In God’s eyes, the unbelieving Jews were in the same spiritual category as Ishmael. They were enemies, persecuting the true seed.

Who were the true seed? Read verse 28: “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” Bear in mind that Paul was writing to Gentiles. False teachers were telling these Gentiles that, while believing in Christ was fine, they also had to observe the law of Moses to be saved.

Think about what Paul is saying! Let its meaning sink in! One group, though physically descended from Abraham, was the same as Ishmael so far as God’s covenant was concerned; the other group, though it included Gentiles with no physical relationship to Abraham, was “as Isaac was,” “the children of promise.”

The Jews thought that they had a special claim upon God simply by being born Jews. Did they? Consider the following scriptures:

Gal. 3:7: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Were the Jews, as a whole, “of faith”? Did God then count them “children of Abraham”?

Gal. 3:29: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Think about it! Being considered the seed of Abraham had a very big “if” attached to it.

Is it any wonder that John the Baptist gave the warning that he did? “And think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matt. 3:9.

They were trusting in that. God was looking for fruit. That is why Jesus said in John 8:39, “If ye were Abraham’s children ye would do the works of Abraham.” Another “If”!

Were they Abraham’s children? Consider Romans 9. In this chapter, Paul begins a discussion of the very question I was asked: What about the Jews and God’s promises?

Verse 6 says, “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”

God’s word (His promise) has indeed taken effect. The problem is, we need to understand to whom the promises were made. The key is to grasp what Paul is saying: “they are not all Israel which are of Israel.”

Paul goes on to say, “Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall they seed be called.” What does this mean?

We are not left in doubt! Paul continues, “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Is that not plain?!

A Remnant

The simple fact is that a great many were begotten of Abraham’s flesh, but very few of his faith. That is exactly what Paul is teaching when he quotes Isaiah in verse 27, “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.”

“A remnant shall be saved!” — not the whole, but a small fraction thereof. The great promises of the Old Testament were not directed to the nation as a whole but to the tiny believing remnant within. When Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets, the remnant believed, and the rest rejected Him.

The spiritual conditions Jesus encountered didn’t begin then: they went all the way back to the beginning of the nation. In each generation, a relative handful of Israelites partook of Abraham’s faith and remained true to God. They, in their turn, passed this faith on to a few in the following generation.

It would take a large book to chronicle the unbelief and wickedness that characterized the nation as a whole. In fact, there is a book that does. It is called the Old Testament!

God did, in one sense, become the God of the nation of Israel. His covenant with them was a covenant of law. The intent of the law was to restrain sin and to prepare them for the coming of Christ who would institute an everlasting covenant, this time, a covenant of grace based upon his sacrificial death on the cross.

So far as the nation was concerned, the covenant of law was a covenant of blessing and cursing. So long as they observed the law, they would enjoy peace and health and prosperity in the promised land. God would bless their crops and herds and protect them against their enemies. When they refused to walk in the law they would be cursed. Their crops would fail. Their enemies would overrun them and destroy their houses and lands and carry them away captive. The promises of blessing upon Abraham’s natural children were conditional. Deuteronomy 29 and 30.

Their interests lay in earthly things like peace and prosperity. Like Ishmael and like Esau, they were blind to spiritual reality and ruled by a spirit of unbelief. The unbelieving generation that perished in the wilderness was typical of what was to come.

Blind of heart, it was easy for them to fall into the heathen idolatry of the surrounding nations. Are you aware that their idolatry included the practice of human sacrifice?! See Ezek. 23:37-39, for one example.

They persistently persecuted and sometimes murdered the prophets God sent to them over the centuries, all the while using the law to establish their own religion. Their religion gave them a way to outwardly appear to be righteous while hiding utterly wicked and rebellious hearts.

Read Isaiah 1! Verse 4 begins, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters ....”

Notice what they are called: “a seed of evildoers”! It is not physical ancestry that matters to God: it is spiritual ancestry. Their ancestry went back, not to Abraham’s faith and obedience, but to Satan’s unbelief and rebellion.

Read for yourself the description of their condition in verses 6 and 7: “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.”

Verse 8 refers to the true remnant, “the daughter of Zion,” “as a besieged city.”

Verse 9 continues, “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”

Do you understand the significance of this? Look back to what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16 - 19:29). The wickedness of these ancient cities reached the point of divine judgment. Before acting, God told Abraham about it. There is great significance in this. Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” This is a divine principle. Even in an hour of great darkness, there is someone in the earth with whom God communicates, someone who therefore has understanding of what is going on.

When Abraham learned of the Lord’s plans, he immediately thought of his nephew, Lot, who lived in Sodom. He asked the Lord, “Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” Gen. 18:23. He then asked if there were fifty righteous there, would the Lord destroy it? The Lord said in verse 26, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

Abraham persisted in asking about smaller and smaller numbers until he reached ten. The answer was still that the Lord would not destroy the cities if there were ten righteous people. There were not even ten! Ultimately there were only three who escaped, Lot and his two daughters. Rather than spare the city for their sakes, he first got them out and then rained fire and brimstone upon the cities. Does
that tell us something about the end of the age? I believe it does! “As it was in the days of Lot ....” See Luke 17:28-30.

The Lord through Isaiah was saying that without the “very small remnant,” Israel would have been just like Sodom and Gomorrah. Their wickedness was so great that only the remnant stayed the hand of God in judgment.

Isaiah 1:10 begins a passage in which God evaluates their religion with these words: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” Were the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah God’s people? Yet these words were directed to the Jewish nation as a whole! Rev. 11:8 refers to “the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” What men call “Jerusalem,” God calls “Sodom and Egypt”! Shouldn’t we evaluate things as He does?

Isaiah 1:11 and following continues with the Lord’s feelings about their religion. Bear in mind that the practices referred to were prescribed in the law. Outwardly, they were doing many good and right things, but God saw their hearts. That is why He uses such expressions as “vain,” “an abomination,” “iniquity,” “a trouble unto me.” Remember the word “abomination.” It is very significant.
In Isaiah 1:24 the Lord refers to them as “mine adversaries” and “mine enemies.” Judgment is promised in verse 28: “And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.”

This theme of a wicked unbelieving majority facing judgment and a believing remnant looking forward to the day when “... the Redeemer shall come to Zion” (Is. 59:20) fills the writings of the prophets. Thus did the true and false seed continue from one generation to another right down to the time of Christ.

Wheat and Tares

This reminds us of the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43. The kingdom of heaven was pictured as a field sown with good seed, the “children of the kingdom.” However, an enemy, the devil, came in and sowed tares, “the children of the wicked one.” Both wheat and tares were to be allowed to grow together till the time of the harvest when they would be separated, the wheat to the barn, and the tares bound in bundles made ready for the fire.

This is a picture of the church age and we are in the harvest time now. The tares, lost religious people, are being bound into bundles, the many diverse traditions of apostate Christianity, and made ready for the fire. The binding is both mental and spiritual as people embrace strong delusion, believing it to be truth.

The wheat, the true elect, are gradually being awakened and separated from apostate religion. This process of separation will continue as the remnant church is purified, brought under the headship of Christ and made ready for His coming.

Do you see the parallel? Christ brought light into the world and launched what we often refer to as “the church age.” True “wheat” has been produced in His “field,” the world, throughout the age despite adverse conditions. The end of the age is a harvest of separation resulting in glory for some and judgment for most.

This is also a picture of the history of the Jewish nation beginning with God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and later, Moses. The coming of Christ launched the harvest at the end of their “age.”

Listen to the words of John the Baptist concerning the soon-to-begin ministry of Christ: “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.” Luke 3:17.

The Harvest

That is harvest language! God was beginning to intervene to deliver His elect remnant from the religious darkness to which they had been subjected. Light had come to dispel the gross darkness, light that would reach out far beyond the borders of Israel to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 60). God never intended to confine His promises to the Jews.

The launching of the harvest spelled certain doom for the rest, of whom John said, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Luke 3:7.

Jesus, Himself, referred to the harvest on several occasions. For example, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35. See also Luke 10:2 and Matt. 9:37-38.

Jesus pictured the history of the Jewish nation in a parable in Matt. 21:33-44. God was pictured as a householder who planted a vineyard and left it in the care of “husbandmen” — the religious leadership of the Jews. Every servant he sent to receive the fruits of his vineyard was rejected and mistreated in some way: “beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.” Finally the householder sent his son who was cast out and killed.

At this point in the parable the chief priests and Pharisees didn’t know that Jesus was talking about them. Therefore, when Jesus asked what the lord of the vineyard would do to the husbandmen, they replied, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” How prophetic were their words!

Jesus responded in verses 42-44: “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”

The Holy Nation

What nation was Jesus referring to? Peter tells us in I Peter 2:9-10: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

He was writing to Christians, to the elect (1:2), “an holy nation” that was “now the people of God”! This is the same nation that Isaiah prophesied would be “born at once,” and “in one day” (Is. 66:8). His prophecy was fulfilled in the launching of the church on the day of Pentecost.

So we see that Jesus came to bring about a separation of the true seed of Abraham from the false. Matthew 10:34-36 says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

John 9:39 is a very significant verse: “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” Think about that! The same heaven-sent ministry that brought light and hope to some, sealed others in spiritual blindness! In that blindness they plunged ahead, zealously practicing their religion, unaware of the wrath to come.

It was the anointing, the very life of God in Christ and upon Him that produced this peculiar result. John 1:4 says, “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

Preachers can preach all they like and even be scripturally accurate, but if they preach without God’s anointing their preaching will neither feed God’s sheep nor disturb devils in those who are religious. Jesus did both and stirred up religious devils to the point that they killed him — unwittingly cooperating with God’s plan.

The problem was that demons were thoroughly entrenched in the minds and hearts of most of the Jews. These demons were the source of the “gross darkness” that engulfed the people. They had no intention of being dislodged. The real problem was that most men “loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19.

The general spiritual darkness brought about conditions in which even some of the remnant were in a state of captivity, needing spirits to be cast out. Only the anointing can dispel the darkness of demon power. Only those who embrace light when it comes will be set free. John 12:35-36.

It is a serious matter when men fall into this condition, having persistently rejected light. There comes a time when God judicially blinds them. This brings about a condition in which they are sealed in sin and darkness, awaiting judgment.
In Rom. 11:8-10, Paul quotes some prophetic words from the Old Testament concerning this judicial blinding of unbelieving Jews: “(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.”

Notice that it was God who gave them the spirit of slumber, the same God who promised to send “strong delusion” at the end of this present age (II Thess. 2:11).

Notice David’s words, “Let their table be made a snare and a trap ....” “Their table” is where they ate. However, instead of there being nourishing food, whatever they ate from this table would serve to ensnare and entrap them.

This is a picture of their religion. The food is not meat and vegetables, but religious doctrines and experiences. Apostate religion is the greatest trap and snare there is and God has ordained that it be so for those who refuse light.

Notice that David also calls this table a “recompense.” When you work for someone, your wages are your recompense. If you punch someone, your recompense is very likely to be punched in return! Here we are speaking of unbelief. The recompense for religious unbelief is spiritual delusion.

For one example, the Word tells us plainly how God feels about “sign-seeking.” Yet today we see multitudes chasing after signs and religious experiences. There comes a time when God steps back and lets unbelievers have what they want — only it comes in the form of demonic deception. The very thing that appears to them to be a great blessing from God is actually God’s judgment upon their unbelief. Their “table” has become their “snare” and their “recompense.”
A Witness

In John 18:37, when Jesus stood before Pilate, he uttered these words: “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

This further demonstrates the reason for the division that resulted from Jesus’ ministry. Only those who were “of the truth,” the remnant, could “hear his voice.” Obviously, multitudes heard His words, but few understood. As John 1:5 says, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Jesus’ preaching did not create this division; rather it simply made it manifest. It brought out into the light the spiritual conditions that were already there.

Notice in Jesus’ words to Pilate that He came to bear “witness unto the truth.” Only a few believed and received His witness. In view of the impending judgment upon the nation, God, nevertheless, faithfully gave witness to the nation as a whole — as He had done down through the centuries.

The same principle can be seen in the gospel age. In Matt. 24:14, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

Notice that it doesn’t say that the nations — or even a significant percentage of men — would believe, only that before the end there would be a witness unto all nations.

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