Questions Concerning the Jews - Dr. K.Deddens
following is taken with permission, from Clarion Vol. 23, No. 10, 11, and 12 (1987)
Once again Israel is in the centre of attention. Various problems have arisen regarding the people of the old covenant people - problems which cannot be easily solved. Millennialists have all kinds of ideas and theories concerning the Jews, giving us an excess of subject material relating to many Scripture passages and providing quite a number of exegetical problems. Moreover, the present state of Israel has given rise to many questions in connection with this. These questions are not so much related to the present status of Israel as to the future of the country and its people. And it is of great importance what the Jews themselves think of the fulfillment of God's promises. In other words, what kind of Messiah expectations are prevalent in Israel? If I am not mistaken, there are essentially three questions demanding an answer:
1. What is the Scriptural information about Israel's future as a nation?
2. How should we regard the present-day development of the state of Israel?
3. Which thoughts do the Jews themselves entertain concerning the Messiah?
We have very briefly formulated the questions, and it will become evident that they will overlap here and there, but at least we will have a guide to assist us in the maze of the numerous problems that have arisen.
In the first place we shall deal with the information provided by the Scriptures concerning the future of Israel as a nation. Some have expressed as their opinion that with the coming of the Lord Jesus, Israel as nation has completely lost its special position. According to them "Israel" is today the New Testament church, nothing else. All the promises which the LORD gave to Abraham and his seed have been totally deflected to this New Testament church. According to them, there is absolutely no more hope for a national Israel. The late Dr. G.Ch. Aalders in his publication The Restoration of Israel according to the Old Testament offers as his opinion that after the coming and death of the Messiah, Israel's national existence as a people was ended completely and forever. He speaks this way absolutely and without any reservations. The Old Testament, according to Dr. Aalders in this pre-war book, knows nothing about an awaited earthly future for Israel: "The earthly future of Israel, which was foretold in the Old Testament has already arrived according to the word of prophecy, and has already been annulled."
Many years have passed since this book by Dr. Aalders made its appearance. There has been a war since then which seemed to have made an end of the Jews. Hitler, Eichmann and their satellites managed to destroy no fewer than six million Jews, a slaughter which has no equal in history. However, a miraculous event took place: not only did a remnant of the Jews survive (even though in Europe, for instance, only 28% of the pre-war population), but a large number of them managed to unite together and settled in the new state of Israel. On May 15, 1948, the State of Israel was established as an independent state in Palestine. And then arose the question: What about the earthly future of Israel, which according to men such as Aalders could no longer be expected? Many people immediately came to the conclusion that this indicated a national rebirth, a complete return, even a total conversion to God. Above all, however, and that is our concern at the moment, many saw in the occurrences of 1948 the confirmation of the prophecy which they interpreted in a millennialistic sense. We cannot circumvent millennialistic theories with regard to the future of the people of Israel when we consider the problem of the Jews.
The thousand years
For that reason we will briefly summarize the essential beliefs of millennialism.
Millennialists believe in a first and a second return of Christ, and between these two events lies His thousand-year reign with a restored Jerusalem at the centre. Long before there was any question of the return of the Jews to Palestine, these people already voiced a strong expectation of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, based on Old Testament prophecies, and also on some information in the New Testament, to which they give their own interpretation. They believe that Israel's national task was temporarily given to the gentiles, and that this task will last only until the times of the gentiles have been fulfilled (Luke 21:24). Israel's spiritual task was temporarily assigned to the New Testament church, from the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to the first return of Christ. Then, according to I Thessalonians 4:17, the church will be taken up into the air, and that moment will signify the marriage of the Lamb, although it is not yet the end of the world.
The taking-up of the church designates the final period of time. Then God will return to Israel and this people will again take over its task from the church. God will renew the ties with Israel through the 144,000 of Revelation 7, who will be mis sionaries on earth during the great persecution, the final period of the times of the gentiles, which commenced at the lifting up of the church. However, the conversion of Israel will be accompanied by heavy persecution and distress, for Israel will be gathered to the arms of Jesus only through the great persecution of the anti-christ. Jerusalem will prove more and more to be a rock of offense, until all the nations will gather together against her. That signals the great Armageddon, and in her distress Israel will learn to seek the Lord Jesus. Then the moment will have arrived that God will pour out His Spirit over them. Christ shall again place His feet on the Mount of Olives and return with all His holy ones who had been lifted up to Him earlier. By divine intervention all the armies gathered in the valley of Armageddon against Jerusalem shall be defeated.
The Beast and the false prophet shall be cast into the pool of fire. God shall again establish the throne of David and the millennium of Christ shall dawn in full glory. At that time Satan will be bound so that he can no longer tempt the nations. People will gather from all the ends of the earth to Jerusalem to worship the King who is seated on the throne of David. The church will share in the glory of Christ and sit as kings and priest with Him on His throne. Also, the temple will be rebuilt and the priestly service will be restored according to the prophecy of Jeremiah 33:18. The new temple at Jerusalem will be the spiritual centre of the whole world. Many people and mighty gentiles will come to worship God in Jerusalem. This will be the great mission dispensation of history. In this present day there are only individuals who come to believe, but then "all the gentiles will come to Him and fall down before His face." At the end of Christ's reign of peace follows a short time when Satan's bonds will be untied, and he will once again cause a rebellion. These are his final movements, however, for this rebellion will seal his own doom. After a cleansing process by fire, whereby the elements will melt, and God Himself will use atomic energy, the last stains - reminders of sin - will be removed. Then will dawn the new heavens and the new earth, where righteousness dwells.
It is impossible to discuss all the texts which are put forward by the millennialists to promote their ideas. Their main argument is their opinion that everything that is written in the prophecies must be taken literally. Let us take their interpretation of Isaiah 11:15 and 16 as an example: "And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt; and will wave His hand over the River with His scorching wind, and smite it into seven channels that men may cross dryshod. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant which is left of His people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt." Their argument is as follows: the crossing of the Red Sea actually happened, so it must be the same for this prophecy. And since it has not yet taken place, there is only one conclusion, namely, that it must still happen! Moreover, they say, the prophecies speak of Israel's being gathered out of all nations (cf. Jeremiah 32:37 and Ezekiel 36:24), whereas the exile involved only Assyria and Babylon. In addition there is the prophecy that Israel will once again be planted in its country and will never again be plucked out of it (Isaiah 11:11, Isaiah 14:1, Amos 9:15), whereas it certainly was plucked out again after the return from exile. Special references are made to the prophecies of Zechariah, since he prophesied after the exile. A favourite quotation is Zechariah 14, which calls Jerusalem the divine worship centre for the entire world.
As for the New Testament, they find support for their position in Acts 15:14-17, where James points out that "God has first visited the gentiles and after that will return and rebuild the dwelling of David which has fallen so that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the gentiles who are called by My Name." A final proof to them is the parable of the barren fig tree. For three years Christ sought in vain for fruit from the people of Israel (Luke 13:7). His personal presence could not bring a change in that barrenness, and although he found leaves, there was no fruit. Hence His curse: "May no fruit ever come from you again" (Matthew 21:19). This seems to be evidence that Israel has totally lost its special importance, but (according to them) these words refer only to this dispensation. And so they say that in this dispensation Israel as a nation has never brought forth fruit and will not do so. However in the next dispensation of Messianic salvation, Israel will bring forth fruit. The time of the end will bring the summer near when the fig tree will again bud forth (Matthew 24:32). That budding of the fig tree will occur when Israel returns to Palestine.
No literal interpretation
How should we evaluate this viewpoint? In the first place, we can never be satisfied with a literal fulfillment of prophecy in itself. When millennialists apply the texts which refer to Jerusalem's restoration and future only to the earthly Jerusalem, then they come into thorough conflict with the Scriptures themselves. The name "Jerusalem" in the Bible does not apply to the Jerusalem in Palestine only. I merely refer to what Paul writes in Galatians 4:24-26 about the distinction between the Jerusalem of his day and the Jerusalem that is above. Think also of what John says in the book of Revelation about "the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21). There is also Hebrews 12:22: "But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." So the Scriptures clearly forbid us to dwell only on the earthly Jerusalem whenever the city is mentioned. Also in this aspect the Old Testament is explained via the New! It is obvious that a literal interpretation of prophecy can lead astray when we see the millennialistic belief (based on Jeremiah 33:18) in the restoration of the Levitical priesthood with burnt offerings, cereal offerings, and sacrifices. This, however, is in direct conflict with the continuing witness of the letter to the Hebrews, especially the chapters 7 to 10. "Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood . . . what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek?" (Hebrews 7:11). "For if that first covenant had been faultless there would have been no occasion for a second" (Hebrews 8:7). "Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said, 'Sacrifices and offerings thou has not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure.' Then I said, 'Lo, I have come to do Thy will O God,' as it is written in the roll of the book" (Hebrews 10:5-7). And especially 10:9: "He abolished the first in order to establish the second."
So we are also not to anticipate a literal fulfillment of Isaiah 11:15,16, that a highway will be made through the Red Sea and the River (Euphrates), for where today there is no longer mention made of the Philistines, Edom, Moab, Ammon, etc., why should the same not apply to the former?
An interesting proof text is Acts 15: 14-17. If the context had been closely kept in mind, it would have been obvious that James was not at all discussing the future restoration of Israel and the fallen dwelling of David. On the contrary, he argues that at that particular time the fallen dwelling of David was restored. The kingship of Christ has now come, and it may be expected that the gentiles who turn to God will now no longer be asked to keep all kinds of Jewish laws and statutes.
The interpretation of the withered fig tree is also incorrect.
The expression "(not) ever again" is used more often in the Bible to indicate a permanent situation. Moreover, one may not automatically identify the fig tree with the Israel in Palestine. Matthew 24 deals with the signs of Christ's return and it is natural that Christ uses the symbol of the fig tree: in Palestine the fig tree gets its leaves in the spring, in contrast with many other trees that are green all year long.
Now a comment about Israel's being gathered out of all nations, from the four corners of the earth. The millennialists feel that Israel was exiled only to Babylon and Assyria and so the "gathering" cannot refer to the return from exile. They forget, however, that Israel was indeed scattered throughout many places. Jeremiah 43 describes how Johanan took the remnant to Egypt. Also their theory concerning the two returns of Christ: the contrast between I Thessalonians 4 (return on the clouds) and Zechariah 14 (standing on the Mount of Olives) is untenable. For in the first place, Paul does not speak about Christ's remaining in the air, but about the believers' being brought up to meet Him. Moreover, he connects to this return the destruction of those who do not await the Lord's coming. In the next chapter he mentions the people who say: there is peace and security, and those are the ones who will be caught by the destruction. There will be no escape, says Paul; in other words, repentance is no longer possible, for the end has come. Therefore it is the same return as mentioned in Zechariah 14, even though it is seen from a different perspective. But it is one and the same return, when everything in Judah and Jerusalem will be holy to the LORD.
Although we reject all these millennialist views and interpretations that does not mean that there are no positive references concerning the future of Israel. I think of Christ's discourse on the last days as Luke renders it in ch. 21:23,24: "For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people, they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the gentiles, until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled." This, then, refers to a dispersion of Israel, which at the time of its prediction was still totally in the future and would be extremely severe. Jerusalem would be trampled by the gentiles, nations different from God's covenant people. This prophecy was very literally fulfilled during and after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. At that time and also later in history the Jews were persecuted, hunted and scattered all over the earth. Who does not know the history of the crusades, when the Christians rose up to rescue the "holy places" out of the hands of the Saracens? The Turks dominated Palestine until 1917, after which the Arabs virtually became rulers. However, when speaking about the signs of the times, Christ emphatically used the word "until." The dispersion would not last forever, but until the times of the gentiles would be fulfilled. We do not know exactly what is meant by the times of the gentiles. Perhaps it means that they were to rule over Israel and Jerusalem and thus to execute God's judgment. It may also mean that Israel was to receive an opportunity to return to God. Perhaps it is both, for the one does not exclude the other. One thing is sure, however: God has set a time limit also to the trampling of Jerusalem by the gentiles, a beginning and an ending. Added to this is the fact that the end of the trampling of Jerusalem does not immediately indicate the end of the world.
Some promises for Israel remain yet unfulfilled; think especially of what Paul writes in Romans 11. Here the apostle begins by asking: "Has God, then, rejected His people?" It is obvious that "His people" in this case means the seed of Abraham after the flesh, the Jewish people, and not the spiritual Israel. For Paul immediately adds: "I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." Then the apostle refers back to the time of Elijah. At that time the LORD established His faithfulness to His promises by keeping for Himself 7000 men who did not bow the knee to Baal. "So, too, at this present time there is a remnant chosen by grace." The faithfulness of the LORD is not bound to a number. Did not the New Testament church totally and completely have its origins in Israel? Did not the LORD start with them when He instituted His church in Jerusalem, first gathering them from Judea, and after that sending His apostles to the gentiles? It is because the LORD maintained the old line, the line of election through grace, that salvation by-passed the greater part of Israel. For the majority in Israel sought their salvation by means of works and were therefore hardened (vs. 6-10).
But Paul emphasizes that their rejection of Christ, their stumbling over this rock, does not mean their permanent rejection. "Have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means" (vs. 11). The LORD executes His complete counsel of salvation through their trespass, so that by this means salvation might come to the gentiles. Not to the exclusion of Israel, however, but in order to make Israel jealous. For as long as Israel has not come to repentance, there is a great deficiency. Therefore, because of his love for his own people, Paul feels all the more compelled to journey all over to bring the gentiles to repentance and as a result make his own people jealous. Now the apostle prepares for what is to happen: the repentance of Israel. In the first place he argues that God is able again to accept Israel, to bring it to repentance, to graft in again the broken-off branches. If God is able to graft in the branches of a wild olive tree, that is, if God is powerful enough to bring the gentiles to faith, how much more the natural branches, that is the Jews. And the LORD not only can do this, He also will do it. Paul warns in vs. 25: "Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved." If one has followed the discourse of Paul closely, he will understand that it would be completely illogical for Paul to switch suddenly to spiritual Israel at this point.
The Rev. G. Doekes in his commentary on Romans 9-11, writes: "In these three chapters Israel is mentioned no less than eleven times. The ten previous references unquestionably point to the Jews in contrast to the gentiles. What specific reason would force us now to a different conclusion? Surely not the context, for the distinction between Jews and gentiles does not stop at vs. 25 but continues in the next verses. Nor is it the prophecy which Paul advances as proof of the truth he has stated and which testifies to it with the expressly used names of Zion and Jacob. Everything pleads for letting "all Israel" be understood to mean the Jewish people. Obviously a contrast exists between "all" and "the remnant chosen by grace" (vs. 5). As long as "all" is not understood to mean the total number of individuals, a mass conversion. This must not be interpreted to refer to the number of the Jews which will be saved, but to Israel as a people.
Dr. S. Greijdanus also remarks in his commentary on Romans 11 that it is not the number as such that is at stake here, but the people as a whole. Is this such a strange thought? Paul himself refers to the Old Testament prophecy that the LORD will banish ungodliness from Jacob. The very sad fact of today is: the Jews are enemies of the gospel. They have rejected the glad tidings of Christ's coming. Yet they do remain the beloved of the LORD! Not because of themselves but according to God's election, for the father's sake. And so one line is drawn through the history of salvation. At first the nations were all disobedient; therefore they were rejected, and the Lord then chose Abraham, Israel, out of grace, to be His people. But that was not because the LORD cut off those nations. No, when the LORD called Abraham and chose Israel, He had in mind the deliverance of those people. That salvation of the nations was realized when God sent His Son, Jesus Christ. However, that salvation was also realized through the disobedience of Israel, because they nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross and rejected Him. So the LORD was merciful to Abraham and Israel in their calling and election, so that we in turn might gain mercy, and the salvation from the Jews might come to us. In this way we have received mercy, so that through us, they might again obtain mercy. And as Paul the Jew, led us to Christ, we must now lead the seed of Abraham to Christ. Therefore there is, for Jews and gentiles both, only one road to salvation throughout the ages, to the end of time: the way of God's mercy.
state of Israel
Now that we have discovered that the history of the Jews is not concluded after all and that God did not close off the road for His old covenant people, we must answer the following question: How should we view present developments in the state of Israel? For as D. Holwerda states in his outlines on Romans, we do not face an ethnological problem but rather an eschatological event. The constitution of the state of Israel in 1948 is not a coincidence or an interesting geographical phenomenon! No, it is a sign of the times, a fact which is very closely related to the prophecy of the Scriptures. For even when we strongly reject the millennialist theories, do we not face the prophecy of the Scriptures with regard to the developments in present-day Israel, and should all these events not be regarded in the light of prophecy, especially in the light of Christ's prophetic speech concerning the future and Paul's hymn of praise to God's mercies in Romans 11?
Dr. G.Ch. Aalders, who in his pre-war commentary came to the conclusion that there is no future for Israel, still maintains in his postwar article "The Old Testament Prophecies and the State of Israel" (published in 1949, a year after Israel became a state) that what has happened in Israel, and whatever still may happen, has no connection with divine prophecy. Also the book Israel, published in 1955 by Dr. G.Ch. Aalders and Dr. H.N. Ridderbos, expressly emphasizes: Israel is rejected as a nation - and that is that. Yet after reading the many books available on Israel today, we strongly feel that this is an eschatological question. All events proceed to the fulfillment of the prophecy, to the fullness of times. However, and that is the other side of the coin, let us not rejoice prematurely. For example, when we recall the attitude of the Dutch Reformed (Hervormde) Synod in the Netherlands regarding the so-called "dialogue" with Israel, we might conclude that now already a largescale, massive and even national return of the Jews is in effect. They expressed agreement with Dr. Karl Barth's statement: "The glory of the risen Lord is reflected in the church, but His suffering is reflected in Israel." They even go so far as to say (Dr. Miskotte) that Israel has been set among the nations as a mirror in which we see our inability to live by God's grace and power, and also as a mirror which shows the judgment of God. Israel judges itself to be the Messiah of the nations and for that reason the church and Israel are not two independent entities which exist beside or over against each other. No, the church and Israel are one in Christ. For that reason there is to be no more mission work in Israel but dialogue with Israel.
We will not dwell on this except to remark that in this way the accent has been shifted completely. They have taken as their basis that the Jewish people has to fulfill a special function in history and believe that now the era of complete brotherhood and spiritual unity has arrived. Such a conclusion is premature, to say the least. The facts give us a different picture. Since the people of Israel after the defeat of the Bar-Kochba uprising in the years A.D. 132-135 were permanently sent away from Palestine, the prayer for the peace of Jerusalem has never ceased. The wish expressed after every Passover, "next year in Jerusalem," originated many centuries ago. Originally this desire was strongly religious in character without any political overtones. Jerusalem became the city of pilgrimage. Many Jews travelled there to visit the holy city. A portion remaining of the old temple wall was used especially on Fridays to mourn and to pray (the so-called wailing wall). Great was the desire to be buried on the Mount of Olives in order to be among the first to greet the Messiah when He returned to raise the dead. In the 14th century there was again a Jewish congregation in Jerusalem which maintained itself there and became the centre for studying the Mosaic laws. The congregation concerned themselves with nothing else and existed from the gifts and donations sent by other Jews outside Palestine.
Beside this religious Zionism, the previous centuries saw the origin of a political Zionism which arose mainly because of anti-semitism. As long as the Jewish people lived in segregated areas (ghettos) they were not too badly off. But in the French Revolution, when the rights of man were proclaimed, the situation changed. The Jews also liberated themselves from old custom and ties. Then followed the disillusionment. Many people felt that a Jew always remains a Jew, and of course the latter experienced the results of this belief. This state of always being isolated promoted nationalistic feelings and created a desire for a national home of their own, a native country. In 1897, a Zionistic organization was established with the aim to establish. a home in Palestine. Through the blazing hatred against the Jews and the terrorism of the Nazis, the Jews all the more considered a national existence of their own as the only solution. This resulted in the great Exodus; a stream of Jews travelled from their dwelling-places to the old homeland. Although in 1932 there were only 180,000 Jews in Palestine among a general population of one million, this number quickly increased after the war to one million Jews. The hatred, the enmity and the attempts to wipe them out completely, became the strongest motives to seek an independent existence in Palestine.
Originally there were great contrasts within the Jewish people, especially with regard to the Zionistic aspirations. The orthodox Jews kept themselves aloof from Zionism, especially because it has a political background. Radical elements were not satisfied with a national homeland but wanted a complete Jewish state. Others supported the idea of coexistence with the Arabs who lived there already. Most of the differences have gradually disappeared because of the need to present a united front to the world outside. There are still important differences between religious and political Zionism, and whereas the latter is liberal, the former is typically Jewish and conservative in the Jewish sense. In no way therefore do the events of today indicate a total conversion of the Jews. That is still out of the question. We will return to that point when discussing the third question. As far as political developments were concerned, when the English decided on May 15, 1948, to give up their mandate, the Jews proclaimed the state of Israel in the area designated by the U.N. The Arabs, however, who had long felt threatened by the massive invasion of the Jews, had also not been idle. The Arab countries had formed a coalition with Egypt, and on the same day that England gave up his mandate, Arab troops entered Jewish territory. After a fierce conflict, in which the Jews suffered severe losses but to everyone's amazement stood firm and even gained territory, the armistice was concluded at the end of 1948 and the Jewish state could consolidate itself. Practically all the Arabs had fled Jewish territory. It continues to be an uneasy peace with an explosion every so often.
Aside from that, in the years following 1948 steady progress has been apparent, especially in the economic sector. The accomplishments of Israel during these years are almost unbelievable. A tremendous amount of Jewish capital has entered the country. Modern cities have been built, electrical generators, oil refineries, and all kinds of other industries were established. An enormous amount of work is still being done and the energy of the Jewish people demands our admiration.
Blood and soil
And yet, and that is the last point, does the return to the country of the fathers also mean a return to the God of the fathers? We have already expressed our doubts about such a conclusion and now at the end we want to justify our doubts. We have previously mentioned the war between Israel and the Arabs. That war is considered a holy war by the Zionists, which fact unites the Zionists in Palestine together today. It is the conflict of yore between Ishmael and Israel, about which Israel already sang in the Middle Ages when they feared the threat of the Arabs. Today, however, it is no longer the fearful cry of those days, but now it is a cry for self-assertion. It is the same contours of hatred and enmity against the Arab world, the enemy of ancient times, which control the Israel of today. Presentday Israel does not praise God's mercy as Paul did in Romans 11 but praises itself, in total contrast with the praise of Romans 11. Today Israel sings of blood and soil. While the destroyers of this people, the Nazis of Germany, gloried in German blood and German soil, the Jews now glory in Jewish blood and Jewish soil. They sing of selfvindication and of salvation by their own efforts. For now I touch upon an essential point in the present Jewish development: they are full of . . . themselves, of national values and national pride. And they even go so far that they imagine themselves as nation, as people, to be the messiah who was to come. This Israel does not differ from the Christian faith in that it places in the future what for us has already happened. No, they see the messiah incorporated in the people, the nation, "blood and soil." That is why their fighting is so fanatic. Today Israel sings:
A generation that wants to be saved;
Only then do you rise to your task and are delivered,
Only then do you rise to your task and deliver!
Please note: what is said passively in the second line, has become active in the third. They are delivered, yes indeed, but because they save themselves. The nation is its own saviour, its own messiah. And when does this happen? When they want it themselves. The will power of a people is the actual power of salvation.
I could underline this thought with more examples, but we should come to an end.
Today's Israel has a messianic theory which flatly contradicts the Scriptures. It does not follow the way of the covenant and the grounds for pleading which the covenant provides. By saying this we do not wish to imply that this is the last word from Israel, and even less that this is our last word about Israel. The dismissive formula - "once rejected as covenant people, always rejected" - does not fit within the framework of the Scriptures. However, we do say: let us beware of premature conclusions regarding the return of the Jews to Palestine. The last word concerning the Jews, also about the future of this people, has not yet been spoken. Who knows what the future may bring, also for this chosen people of old. As long as we now speak up. With the return of so many Jews to the old homeland perhaps possibilities for a true conversion may be given - possibilities which cannot as yet be imagined. For let us not forget one thing: conversion must always come through prayer and work. Yes indeed, it is God's doings from A to Z, but the LORD uses people in His kingdom and those people may not be idle. They must approach God in prayer, also for this nation. Do we still remember this old .covenant people in our prayers?
However, they and we must also come together through action. That does not mean a dialogue in which two parties simply come together to supplement each other. No, in this age of levelling off and of syncretism we are again called to confess the antithesis. We must confess the antithetical word that our only salvation lies in the Christ of the Scriptures. Therefore our work among this people must be done from a missionary viewpoint. In the Netherlands a new initiative is being undertaken in that direction, and I believe that there indeed lies a task, no matter how difficult. Dr. C. VanDam, in his article, "Mission work among the Jews?" in Clarion, September 19, 1986, has also pointed to this task. May the LORD, the God of His people, who propels the history of the nations, also of the old Jewish people, to the end of times, still give us the time, the power, and the desire, so that this nation may again as people of God find in Jesus Christ the promised Messiah who has come and will return. Then they will no more sing of blood and soil, not even the song of Moses only, but together with all the saved ones sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb, the song of His blood:
Thee, holy Lamb of God, we bless;
Thou'st through Thy cross redemption sent us.