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The Peace To Come

We're here at the Feast of Tabernacles because we want to learn more of God's plan and of our place in that plan. We know through experience, the basic layout because we keep God's Holy Days all year long. We know that Passover pictures the protection of Israel's firstborn in Egypt through the sacrifice of the unblemished lamb of God. We know that the week of Unleavened Bread pictures putting sin out of our lives and keeping it out. We know that Pentecost pictures the giving of the law at Sinai to Israel and the establishment of the New Testament Church of God through the giving of God's Holy Spirit. We know that the Feast of Trumpets pictures the coronation of the great King of Kings who will rule the world with a rod of iron. We know that the Day of Atonement pictures the blood of the unblemished goat offered to God as an acceptable sacrifice to redeem, or buy us back, from our slavery to our sin and it pictures the banishment of the escape goat to the lone place in the wilderness after Israel's sins were properly placed on his head. We know that the Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the government of God being re-established on a worldwide scale to rule all mankind in peace and the Last Great Day pictures the coming great resurrection of all who have ever lived to be judged and taught a new way of life with the proper knowledge of God

We repeat the process every year to keep us mindful of our part in that Grand Plan. I wonder, however, if we don't soon come to see the great future ahead of us as something less than real. While we may know by heart the sequence of events, I wonder just how real the restoration of God's government is to us and the "peace to come" that is now just shortly ahead of us. Is it just an academic exercise for you or is it something substantial, tangible, and a reality in which you yearn daily to participate?

We know already the problems we experience daily in this present world's society but do you really have a grasp of the overwhelming difference that awaits us once God's government has renewed this earth? Very little will remain the same because so much will be transformed. Let's see if today we can better grasp a picture of the peaceful reality to come in God's world. First, however, let's explore the circumstances that will prevail at the time of Christ's return and enthronement as the King of the World. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, we can see the sequence of events that will unfold for God's called and chosen at the return of the Messiah.

(1 Th 4:13-17 KJV) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. {14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. {15} For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. {16} For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

It's clear to see that the future awaiting Christians is a resurrection to spiritual life for those Christians who have died in faith and a change from physical to spiritual life for those living at the time of Christ's return. The verses we just read, though, leave us hanging in the air when we meet our Messiah at his return. What happens next? Do we stay in the air forever? Zecchariah 14:1 shows that both Christ and the saints will be on the earth at Jerusalem.

(Zec 14:4 KJV) And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south

If Christ will be ruling the world from his throne on earth at Jerusalem, what will we and the rest of the resurrected saints be doing with him? Revelation 5:9 shows our destiny.

(Rev 5:9-10 NASB) And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. {10} "And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."

So, now we know what Christ and the saints will be doing after his return to earth but what about the rest of Israel that remains alive after the wars during the terrible Day of the Lord?

Today, we'll spend a lot of time in the book of Ezekiel, so put a bookmark there because we'll be coming back to it time and again. Ezekiel was taken to Babylon from Judah in the second deportation around 597 B.C. That was more than 100 years after the northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. had been taken captive to Assyria, far to the north. Ezekiel, however, was commanded by God to prophecy and speak to that banished house of Israel. He, however, was captive in Babylon among the refugees of the house of Judah, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of miles from the deported house of Israel.

In Ezekiel 23, we can see God's perspective of Israel and Judah. We know that, throughout the Bible, Israel's history has been one of rebellion against the government of God which he established over them for their own good. Just what does God think of Israel at the time of the end and what does he plan on doing to and for Israel?

(Ezek 23:1-5 NASB) The word of the LORD came to me again saying, {2} "Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; {3} and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed, and there their virgin bosom was handled. {4} "And their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah. {5} "And Oholah played the harlot while she was Mine; and she lusted after her lovers, after the Assyrians, her neighbors

Skip down to verse nine.

(Ezek 23:9-11 NASB) "Therefore, I gave her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, after whom she lusted. {10} "They uncovered her nakedness; they took her sons and her daughters, but they slew her with the sword. Thus she became a byword among women, and they executed judgments on her. {11} "Now her sister Oholibah saw this, yet she was more corrupt in her lust than she, and her harlotries were more than the harlotries of her sister.

Skip again to verse thirty.

(Ezek 23:30-35 NASB) 'These things will be done to you because you have played the harlot with the nations, because you have defiled yourself with their idols. {31} 'You have walked in the way of your sister; therefore I will give her cup into your hand.' {32} "Thus says the Lord GOD, 'You will drink your sister's cup, Which is deep and wide. You will be laughed at and held in derision; It contains much. {33} 'You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, The cup of horror and desolation, The cup of your sister Samaria. {34} 'And you will drink it and drain it. Then you will gnaw its fragments And tear your breasts; for I have spoken,' declares the Lord GOD. {35} "Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, bear now the punishment of your lewdness and your harlotries.'"

The prophet Hosea warned the northern Kingdom of Israel just before their capture and deportation to Assyria. In Hosea 2:1, we can see God's contempt for the rebellion of Israel.

(Hosea 2:1-13 NASB) Say to your brothers, "Ammi," and to your sisters, "Ruhamah." {2} "Contend with your mother, contend, For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; And let her put away her harlotry from her face, And her adultery from between her breasts, {3} Lest I strip her naked And expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, Make her like desert land, And slay her with thirst. {4} "Also, I will have no compassion on her children, Because they are children of harlotry. {5} "For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.' {6} "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, And I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. {7} "And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; And she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my first husband, For it was better for me then than now!' {8} "For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, And lavished on her silver and gold, Which they used for Baal. {9} "Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time And My new wine in its season. I will also take away My wool and My flax Given to cover her nakedness. {10} "And then I will uncover her lewdness In the sight of her lovers, And no one will rescue her out of My hand. {11} "I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths, And all her festal assemblies. {12} "And I will destroy her vines and fig trees, Of which she said, 'These are my wages Which my lovers have given me.' And I will make them a forest, And the beasts of the field will devour them. {13} "And I will punish her for the days of the Baals When she used to offer sacrifices to them And adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry, And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me," declares the LORD.

In Hosea 4:1, look at the prophet's description of Israel's betrayal of God.

(Hosea 4:1-10 NASB) Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land. {2} There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. {3} Therefore the land mourns, And everyone who lives in it languishes Along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky; And also the fish of the sea disappear. {4} Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof; For your people are like those who contend with the priest. {5} So you will stumble by day, And the prophet also will stumble with you by night; And I will destroy your mother. {6} My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. {7} The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. {8} They feed on the sin of My people, And direct their desire toward their iniquity. {9} And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways, And repay them for their deeds. {10} And they will eat, but not have enough; They will play the harlot, but not increase, Because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD.

In Hosea 5, God describes the destitute state in which Israel will find itself at the time of the end.

(Hosea 5:9-15 NASB) Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke; Among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure. {10} The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary; On them I will pour out My wrath like water. {11} Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, Because he was determined to follow man's command. {12} Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim, And like rottenness to the house of Judah. {13} When Ephraim saw his sickness, And Judah his wound, Then Ephraim went to Assyria And sent to King Jareb. But he is unable to heal you, Or to cure you of your wound. {14} For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver. {15} I will go away and return to My place Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.

The Gathering of Israel

Hope will not be lost for Israel, though, as God will still have mercy and compassion on them. Ezekiel 11:16 shows God's extension of love to Israel, wherever they are scattered.

(Ezek 11:16-21 NASB) "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Though I had removed them far away among the nations, and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone."' {17} "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel."' {18} "When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. {19} "And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, {20} that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. {21} "But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I shall bring their conduct down on their heads," declares the Lord GOD.

As we saw earlier in Hosea 4, God gets to the heart of the matter in correctly placing blame on the shepherds of Israel. In Ezekiel 34:1, the pastors over God's flock are held accountable by God for misleading his people, as a nation.

(Ezek 34:1-10 NASB) Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, {2} "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? {3} "You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. {4} "Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. {5} "And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. {6} "My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill, and My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth; and there was no one to search or seek for them."'" {7} Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: {8} "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; {9} therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: {10} 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I shall demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I shall deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them."'"

In Ezekiel 20:33, the prophet declares the real reason for God bringing the survivors of Israel back to the promised land.

(Ezek 20:33-44 NASB) "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. {34} "And I shall bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; {35} and I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I shall enter into judgment with you face to face. {36} "As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you," declares the Lord GOD. {37} "And I shall make you pass under the rod, and I shall bring you into the bond of the covenant; {38} and I shall purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I shall bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the LORD. {39} "As for you, O house of Israel," thus says the Lord GOD, "Go, serve everyone his idols; but later, you will surely listen to Me, and My holy name you will profane no longer with your gifts and with your idols. {40} "For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel," declares the Lord GOD, "there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land; there I shall accept them, and there I shall seek your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy things. {41} "As a soothing aroma I shall accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered; and I shall prove Myself holy among you in the sight of the nations. {42} "And you will know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the land which I swore to give to your forefathers. {43} "And there you will remember your ways and all your deeds, with which you have defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things that you have done. {44} "Then you will know that I am the LORD when I have dealt with you for My name's sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel," declares the Lord GOD.'"

So, it is for the sake of God's own name that he will gather Israel. We can see that point amplified even further in Ezekiel 36:19.

(Ezek 36:19-24 NASB) "Also I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them. {20} "When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD; yet they have come out of His land.' {21} "But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. {22} "Therefore, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. {23} "And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. {24} "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.

Once God has brought his people back to the promised land, Ezekiel 34:11 shows how he will treat them.

(Ezek 34:11-16 NASB) For thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. {12} "As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. {13} "And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. {14} "I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down in good grazing ground, and they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. {15} "I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest," declares the Lord GOD. {16} "I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment.

Not only will the land be healed but so will the people. In Isaiah 54, we can see how even the unmarried and barren women will be healed.

(Isa 54:1-17 NASB) "Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous Than the sons of the married woman," says the LORD. {2} "Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your pegs. {3} "For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations, And they will resettle the desolate cities. {4} "Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; Neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. {5} "For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. {6} "For the LORD has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected," Says your God. {7} "For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. {8} "In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you," Says the LORD your Redeemer. {9} "For this is like the days of Noah to Me; When I swore that the waters of Noah Should not flood the earth again, So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, Nor will I rebuke you. {10} "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the LORD who has compassion on you. {11} "O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires. {12} "Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal, And your entire wall of precious stones. {13} "And all your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great. {14} "In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you. {15} "If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you. {16} "Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin. {17} "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD.

The Reunion of Israel and Judah

After they have been settled in the land, God will reunite Israel and Judah and make them into one nation again.

(Ezek 37:16-28 NASB) "And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.' {17} "Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. {18} "And when the sons of your people speak to you saying, 'Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?' {19} say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."' {20} "And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. {21} "And say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; {22} and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. {23} "And they will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. {24} "And My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them. {25} "And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons, and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant shall be their prince forever. {26} "And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. {27} "My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. {28} "And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever."'"

The prophet Isaiah shows that the friction now existing between the scattered people of Israel and those of Judah will be dissolved. Isaiah 11:11 shows that as one reunited nation, God will dissolve any former jealousy and disagreements.

(Isa 11:11-16 NASB) Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. {12} And He will lift up a standard for the nations, And will assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. {13} Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, And those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, And Judah will not harass Ephraim. {14} And they will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west; Together they will plunder the sons of the east; They will possess Edom and Moab; And the sons of Ammon will be subject to them. {15} And the LORD will utterly destroy The tongue of the Sea of Egypt; And He will wave His hand over the River With His scorching wind; And He will strike it into seven streams, And make men walk over dry-shod. {16} And there will be a highway from Assyria For the remnant of His people who will be left, Just as there was for Israel In the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt.

Territory of the New Israel and its Bounty

Let's look, for a moment, at the actual geography of the land to which the people of Israel will be returned. Will it just be the narrow strip along the Mediterranean ocean that we know today as the nation of Israel? Ezekiel 47:13 shows its new scope and size.

(Ezek 47:13-20 NASB) Thus says the Lord GOD, "This shall be the boundary by which you shall divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel; Joseph shall have two portions. {14} "And you shall divide it for an inheritance, each one equally with the other; for I swore to give it to your forefathers, and this land shall fall to you as an inheritance. {15} "And this shall be the boundary of the land: on the north side, from the Great Sea by the way of Hethlon, to the entrance of Zedad; {16} Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazer-hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran. {17} "And the boundary shall extend from the sea to Hazar-enan at the border of Damascus, and on the north toward the north is the border of Hamath. This is the north side. {18} "And the east side, from between Hauran, Damascus, Gilead, and the land of Israel, shall be the Jordan; from the north border to the eastern sea you shall measure. This is the east side. {19} "And the south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-kadesh, to the brook of Egypt, and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south. {20} "And the west side shall be the Great Sea, from the south border to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This is the west side.

So, Israel's borders will be significantly enlarged to the north of the present day state of Israel. It will include most of Lebanon and inland above Damascus, Syria. Then the border will run down the Jordan river valley to the middle of the Dead Sea. From the Dead Sea, the border runs southwest to the Brook of Egypt, south of the Gaza strip, and out to the Mediterranean Ocean. The New Israel will be about twice the size of the present-day state of Israel and will definitely include the area now known as the West Bank.

After they are returned to the land of Israel, Hosea 14 shows how God will bless the land with productivity.

(Hosea 14:1-9 NASB) Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. {2} Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity, And receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips. {3} "Assyria will not save us, We will not ride on horses; Nor will we say again, 'Our god,' To the work of our hands; For in Thee the orphan finds mercy." {4} I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them. {5} I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like the lily, And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. {6} His shoots will sprout, And his beauty will be like the olive tree, And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. {7} Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon. {8} O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant cypress; From Me comes your fruit. {9} Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD [Yaweh] are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them.

Even the prophet Zephaniah proclaims the joy that will be proclaimed when Israel has been returned to its homeland.

(Zep 3:14-20 NASB) Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! {15} The LORD has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You will fear disaster no more. {16} In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: "Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp. {17} "The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. {18} "I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts-- They came from you, O Zion; The reproach of exile is a burden on them. {19} "Behold, I am going to deal at that time With all your oppressors, I will save the lame And gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown In all the earth. {20} "At that time I will bring you in, Even at the time when I gather you together; Indeed, I will give you renown and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I restore your fortunes before your eyes," Says the LORD.

Joel 2:21 also speaks of the glorious bounty of the renewed land of Israel.

(Joel 2:21-27 NASB) Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad, For the LORD has done great things. {22} Do not fear, beasts of the field, For the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, For the tree has borne its fruit, The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full. {23} So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before. {24} And the threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. {25} "Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. {26} "And you shall have plenty to eat and be satisfied, And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame. {27} "Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame.

In Joel 3:18, the blessings of the renewed land of Israel are even more detailed.

(Joel 3:18-19 NASB) And it will come about in that day that the mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD, To water the valley of Shittim. {19} Egypt will become a waste, And Edom will become a desolate wilderness, Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, In whose land they have shed innocent blood.

Look at that. If anyone wants to know why Edom will become a desolate wilderness, the answer is simple. It is because of the violence Edom has done to the sons of Judah. Look today to see who is doing violence to the sons of Judah and look to see who is shedding innocent blood in the land of Israel. The future, however, is one of hope, as the prophet continues in verse 20.

(Joel 3:20 NASB) But Judah will be inhabited forever, And Jerusalem for all generations.

In Isaiah 41:18, Isaiah tells of the regeneration of the land, as God will provide water in even the desolate regions.

(Isa 41:18-20 NASB) "I will open rivers on the bare heights, And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land fountains of water. {19} "I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia, and the myrtle, and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert, Together with the box tree and the cypress, {20} That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.

In Isaiah 35, the prophet enhances the description of a renewed land unlike its present state.

(Isa 35 NASB) The wilderness and the desert will be glad, And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; Like the crocus {2} It will blossom profusely And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, The majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, The majesty of our God. {3} Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. {4} Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you." {5} Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. {6} Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. {7} And the scorched land will become a pool, And the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes. {8} And a highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. {9} No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, {10} And the ransomed of the LORD will return, And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The Spiritual Blessings of God

There won't just be physical blessings in the renewed land of Israel. Joel 2:28 tells of the spiritual blessings God will pour out on his people.

(Joel 2:28-30 NASB) "And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. {29} "And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. {30} "And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke.

Jeremiah 31:31 shows how God will change the very minds and hearts of Israel.

(Jer 31:31-34 NASB) "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, {32} not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. {33} "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {34} "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

At last, the people in the land of Israel will have a righteous government ruling over them and guiding them in the right way to live. In Isaiah 11:1, the prophet paints the picture of peace.

(Isa 11:1-10 NASB) Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. {2} And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. {3} And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; {4} But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. {5} Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist. {6} And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. {7} Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. {8} And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. {9} They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. {10} Then it will come about in that day That the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious.

Our Messiah, the King who will rule over Israel, will be one of God's own choosing and one who reigns in righteousness for the benefit of the people. Isaiah 32:1 describes the refuge the people will have in their just rulers.

(Isa 32:1-4 NASB) Behold, a king will reign righteously, And princes will rule justly. {2} And each will be like a refuge from the wind, And a shelter from the storm, Like streams of water in a dry country, Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land. {3} Then the eyes of those who see will not be blinded, And the ears of those who hear will listen. {4} And the mind of the hasty will discern the truth, And the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak clearly.

Our Coming Bridegroom

That king will not only be king of the entire world. He will be our bridegroom and the coming husband of the Church of God. In Isaiah 61, we can see the strength portrayed.

(Isa 61:1-11 NASB) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives, And freedom to prisoners; {2} To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, {3} To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. {4} Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations, And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. {5} And strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. {6} But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And in their riches you will boast. {7} Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs. {8} For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; And I will faithfully give them their recompense, And I will make an everlasting covenant with them. {9} Then their offspring will be known among the nations, And their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them Because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed. {10} I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. {11} For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise To spring up before all the nations.

We, and both Israel and Judah, are to be examples of God's redemption and God's righteous way of life to the whole world. That certainly is a glorious future. It is the real purpose of why we are here to celebrate the re-establishment of the government of God on earth. It will be brought to us by God for his own name's sake and for the benefit of all Israel and, eventually, the entire world.

Let's keep the Feast with that sure knowledge of the glorious future that awaits us!

Sermon given by Philip Edwards
Feast of Tabernacles
September 26, 2007

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