Some suggest that the Bible prophesies of a “last days” regathering of the Jewish people to Israel. Various “proof texts” are cited to support this belief. In examining these “proofs”, we find that these scriptures were either already fulfilled during one of the Old Testament exiles or that they foretold of the coming promises of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus’ focus was not on a physical land, but on a spiritual existence in His people!
The 1st Return Of The Jews
The Jews were living as exiles in Egypt when Moses brought the 12 tribes back to the land of Canaan in 1445 BC.
The 2nd Return Of The Jews
The Jews were living as exiles throughout the vast Babylonian Empire which Isaiah perceived as the four corners of the world when Ezra brought only 3 tribes back to the land of Israel in 536 BC. These were the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The other tribes were lost forever. Just prior to 70 AD, Herod destroyed the remaining tribal records, especially those of Levi, the priestly tribe.
A 3rd and Final Return Prophesied?
Is a 3rd and final regathering of the Jews predicted in the Bible? The following is not an exhaustive list of all the scriptures used by those suggesting the Bible prophesied a return of Jews to the modern nation Israel in 1948. However, this list should show that the context of such scriptures is in conflict with sound Bible interpretation. Advocates for the case of a restored Israel quote passages from the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Amos, Micah, and Ezekiel. The methodology I have used was to refer to well-known Bible commentaries such as Adam Clarke, Matthew Henry and Jamieson-Fausset-Brown as well as the internal testimony of the scriptures. I first cite the scripture typically used as a proof text and then give quotes from various well-known Bible commentaries including my thoughts.
Isaiah Prophecies – Return from Babylon
Here’s the first of many scriptures commonly cited:
Isaiah 14:1-2 (KJV) – “For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Isaiah 14:1-2: Here’s a quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary – “Deliverance of Israel from captivity, which shall follow the downfall of the great Babylonish Empire”. Isaiah 14:1-2 addresses the downfall of the Babylonian empire. The fall of the Babylonian empire, of course, is a past event.
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on Isaiah 14:1-2: “They shall have rest from their sorrow and fear, the sense of their present burdens and the dread of worse. Babylon abounded in riches. The king of Babylon having the absolute command of so much wealth, by the help of it ruled the nations. This refers especially to the people of the Jews, and it filled up the measure of the king of Babylon’s sins”.
Isaiah 27:12 (KJV) – “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Isaiah 27:12: Isaiah 27:12 predicts the restoration of the Jews after their captivity in Babylon. This commentary states that “the channel of the river” refers to the river Sabbation, which the Israelites were forced to cross as they were led away captive by the Babylonians.
Jeremiah Prophecies – Return from Babylon
Jeremiah 16:14-15 (KJV) – “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.”
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 16:14-15: “The restoration from the Babylonish captivity would be remembered in place of the deliverance from Egypt; it also typified spiritual redemption, and the future deliverance of the church from antichristian oppression.” Jeremiah 16:14-15 refers to the Jews return from Babylonian exile. The return was not to happen until the nation’s idolatry was chastised. This, of course, is now a past event!
Jeremiah 30:3 (KJV) – “For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.”
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 30:3: “The deliverance of the Jews from Babylon, is pointed out in the prophecy, but the restoration and happy state of Israel and Judah, when converted to Christ their King, are foretold; also the miseries of the nations before the coming of Christ. All men must honour the Son as they honour the Father, and come into the service and worship of God by him”.
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Jeremiah 30:3: Adam Clarke sees this verse as referring to the deliverance of the ten tribes from both the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. Adam Clarke sees the phrase “That I will bring again the captivity of Israel” as referring to “the ten tribes, led captive by the king of Assyria, and dispersed among the nations”. Adam Clarke believes that the phrase “and Judah” refers to the “The people carried into Babylon at two different times; first, under Jeconiah, and, secondly, under Zedekiah, by Nebuchadnezzar”. Again, this is not a future but a past fulfillment of scripture.
Jeremiah 30:10 (KJV) – “Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.”
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on Jeremiah 30:10: “The deliverance of the Jews from Babylon, is pointed out in the prophecy, but the restoration and happy state of Israel and Judah, when converted to Christ their King, are foretold; also the miseries of the nations before the coming of Christ. All men must honour the Son as they honour the Father, and come into the service and worship of God by him.” Jeremiah 30:10 is not a future but a past fulfillment of scripture.
Joel Prophecies – Blessings to the Church
Joel 3:20 (KJV) – “But Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.”
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on Joel 3:18-21: “The Blessings the Church Shall Enjoy – There shall be abundant Divine influences, and the gospel will spread speedily into the remotest corners of the earth. These events are predicted under significant emblems; there is a day coming, when everything amiss shall be amended. The fountain of this plenty is in the house of God, whence the streams take rise. Christ is this Fountain; his sufferings, merit, and grace, cleanse, refresh, and make fruitful. Gospel grace, flowing from Christ, shall reach to the Gentile world, to the most remote regions, and make them abound in fruits of righteousness; and from the house of the Lord above, from his heavenly temple, flows all the good we daily taste, and hope to enjoy eternally”.
When Joel looked into the future and saw this great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all peoples, he saw the miraculous anointing that inaugurated that glorious age of human history foretold by the prophets. Joel 2:28-29 sets the tone for the proper interpretation of Joel 3:20 when he stated:
Joel 2:28-29 (KJV) – “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
When did God pour out His Spirit upon all flesh? Well, it was on the day of Pentecost. In fact Peter quoted the prophet Joel when he said:
Acts 2:15-18 (KJV) – “For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:”
Amos Prophecies – Blessings to the Church
Amos 9:14-15 (KJV) – “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.”
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on Amos 9:14-15: “Verses Amos 9:13-15 may refer to the early times of Christianity, but will receive a more glorious fulfilment in the events which all the prophets more or less foretold, and may be understood of the happy state when the fulness both of the Jews and the Gentiles come into the church. Let us continue earnest in prayer for the fulfilment of these prophecies, in the peace, purity, and the beauty of the church. God marvellously preserves his elect amidst the most fearful confusions and miseries. When all seems desperate, he wonderfully revives his church, and blesses her with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. And great shall be the glory of that period, in which not one good thing promised shall remain unfulfilled.”
Micah Prophecies – Blessings to the Church
Micah 4:6-7 (KJV) – “In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Micah 4:1-7: “But in the last days it shall come to pass—These four verses contain, says Bp. Newcome, a prophecy that was to be fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah, when the Gentiles were to be admitted into covenant with God, and the apostles were to preach the Gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, Luke 24:47; Acts 2:14, etc., when Christ was to be the spiritual Judge and King of many people, was to convince many nations of their errors and vices, and was to found a religion which had the strongest tendency to promote peace. Bp. Lowth thinks that “Micah took this passage from Isaiah;” or the Spirit may have inspired both prophets with this prediction; or both may have copied some common original, the words of a prophet well known at that time. The variations (few and of little importance) may be seen in the notes on the parallel passages, Isaiah 2:2, etc.; to which the reader is requested to refer.”
“Under his vine and under his fig tree—A proverbial expression, indicative of perfect peace, security, and rural comfort. See on Isaiah 2:1 (note). This verse is an addition to the prophecy as it stands in Isaiah. See Clarke on Micah 4:1 (note).”
“Everyone in the name of his god—This shall be the state of the Gentile world; but after the captivity, the Jews walked in the name of Jehovah alone; and acknowledge no other object of religious worship to the present day.” (Micah 4:5 Notes)
“Will I assemble her that halteth—driven out—afflicted—Under these epithets, the state of the Jews, who were to be gathered into the Christian Church, is pointed out. They halted between the true God and idols; they were driven out into captivity, because of this idolatry; and they were variously afflicted, because they would not return unto the Lord that bought them.” (Micah 4:6 Notes)
“Her that halted a remnant—I will preserve them as a distinct people after their return from captivity, for the farther purposes of my grace and mercy. And the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion—The Chaldee is remarkable here, and positively applies the words to the Messiah: “But thou, O Messiah, of Israel, who art hidden because of the sins of the congregation of Zion, the kingdom shall come unto thee.” (Micah 4:7 Notes)
Ezekiel Prophecies – Return from Babylon
Ezekiel 11:17 (KJV) – “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary on Ezekiel 11:17: “The pious captives in Babylon were insulted by the Jews who continued in Jerusalem; but God made gracious promises to them. It is promised, that God will give them one heart; a heart firmly fixed for God, and not wavering. All who are made holy have a new spirit, a new temper and dispositions; they act from new principles, walk by new rules, and aim at new ends. A new name, or a new face, will not serve without a new spirit.”
Again Ezekiel was referring to the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity, a past event.
Ezekiel 36:24 (KJV) – “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.”
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Ezekiel 36:24: “Fulfilled primarily in the restoration from Babylon; ultimately to be so in the restoration “from all countries.””
An Everlasting Spiritual Covenant
Ezekiel 37:10-14 (KJV) – “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.”
Ezekiel 37:21-22 (KJV) – “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:”
Ezekiel 37:10-14-19, 21-22 is commonly called “Ezekiel’s bone yard.” It is easy to see what this chapter is referring to if one remembers that Jesus said men opposed to his New Covenant were full of “dead men’s bones and uncleanness” (Mat 23:27). They were living dead while remaining in their trespasses and sins (Col 2:13). But just as Ezekiel’s bones became assembled and alive, those who obey the gospel of Jesus Christ are made whole and alive (see Eph 2:1-6; Rom 6:4-11; Col 2:12-13). This is why Ezekiel 37 speaks of a cleansing from sin and idolatry. This same chapter also says that “David” would be “king” over those who receive this promise, and that they would have “one shepherd” (vs. 24). There is only one who can fit those descriptions – Jesus! Jesus is the heir to the throne of David (see Mat 1:1; Luke 1:27). He is the Good Shepherd (see John 10:11, 14; Heb 13:20). Verse 26 says, “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them….” The covenant of peace and the everlasting covenant are both found in the New Covenant message of Acts 2:38. The writer of Hebrews references this when he writes, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb 13:20). Again, Ezekiel 37 says this covenantal offer had to be obeyed before any restoration came to the mentioned “land.” The “everlasting covenant” referred t o in Hebrews chapter 13 was not referring to the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. The “everlasting covenant” is when we become new creatures in Christ through the gospel as well becoming joint heirs to the promises of Abraham!
Now some would readily admit that, yes, the scriptures in this article were fulfilled in the past. But then they are quick to assert that these scriptures have a dual fulfillment. They believe that even though they were fulfilled in the past there is a future, yet unfulfilled promise. What other prophecies fulfilled in the past will again be fulfilled in the future? How about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Or the Virgin Birth? I think you can begin to see my point here.
Let me give you a quote from a Christian theologian by the name of Moses Stuart. Stuart has been called the father of exegetical studies in America. He contributed to the renewal of foreign missionary zeal largely by his teaching. Of his 1500 students, more than 100 became foreign missionaries.
“For these and such-like reasons, the scheme of attaching a double sense to the Scriptures is inadmissible. It sets afloat all the fundamental principles of interpretation by which we arrive at established conviction and certainty and casts us on the boundless ocean of imagination and conjecture without rudder or compass.”- Moses Stuart on the Hebrews, Excurs. xx.
Not One Scripture
There is not one scripture supporting a position that says a ‘group’ of people will have ‘special rights’ to a ‘physical plot of land’ someday in the “last days.” While it’s true that the modern nation of Israel came into existence in 1948, there are no scriptures supporting this historical event. Likewise, other world shaking events such as World War I and II are also not mentioned in the scriptures.
Salvation to All Men
A central theme of the Bible is that salvation is available to all men. The gospel is one of love for all men everywhere. That’s the good news. The New Covenant of Jesus Christ is available to all men, “Jews” as well as Gentiles. Some say Jews are saved by natural birth because they are forever God’s “chosen people.” But the message the Jewish Apostles of the New Testament preached is: except a man – any man – is born again in Jesus’ name, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The New Birth message must be preached to the entire world. It’s delivery is to be without respect of persons. Speaking the New Covenant gospel to all men without partiality is a pro-everybody message, because it recognizes Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men. Anything less denies men the very means of salvation for their souls.