Who has ever heard of such things?

Fredy Winkler

In chapter 66, verse 8, the prophet Isaiah said, “Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.”

Was this prophecy fulfilled in 1948, when the nation of Israel was founded?  It could certainly be interpreted that way, but the larger context of this prophecy shows that there’s more to it. The following verses in this final chapter of Isaiah show that the event predicted in verse 8 is tied to the second coming of the Messiah and the powerful events that will occur at that time.

Verses 15 and 16 speak of the fire that God will use to execute judgment on the world when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in power and glory. Then, in verse 18 we see that God will gather the people of all nations. That matches perfectly with the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, following his end-times sermon in chapter 24. The nations will be gathered in order to decide who will be chosen to enter into the thousand-year kingdom, and who won’t be. This event will include Israel too; Israel will not be spared from the judgment of the nations. Israel is also a nation, or Goi in Hebrew; it is identified with that word several times in the Old Testament.

For God, the final restoration of Israel won’t happen until after that—namely, the establishment of the kingdom of God and His Messiah on earth. It’s then, according to verse 19, that the remaining nations will be evangelized. We can’t forget that the majority of mankind has not yet recognized the glory of God. At last, Israel, along with those who are called from among the nations, will fulfill God’s original directive to be a blessing for all nations.

Paul talks about this future, spiritual “new birth” in Romans 11:15, “For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

This statement isn’t easy to understand. Surely, God didn’t want to reject His chosen people, Israel. In Acts chapter 15, we see these events: Paul made a special trip to Jerusalem to clarify the question of circumcision. There were some who said, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved” (verse 1). The Pharisees made salvation dependent on outward acts, and that corrupt misclassification of Jesus’ act of salvation ultimately led to the rejection of Israel. In their eyes, the basis of salvation was through following the law, and not by the act of deliverance that Jesus gave freely on the cross at Calvary. God rejected that false interpretation, and thus rejected the nation of Israel, who mostly believed the lie.

When the day comes that the remnant of Israel recognizes that the only thing that can save them is the act of deliverance by the Messiah, Jesus, then there will truly be “life from the dead,” as Paul said. The truth that will finally get through to them after such a long time will inspire them, in the words of Isaiah, “to proclaim the glory of God among the nations.”

News from Israel - 11/2018

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