Would you kindly explain the `37th and 38th verses of Matthew 23` where the Lord said “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and killest them which are sent unto thee how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a bird gathers her brood under her wing, but ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate?” (H.B.P)
<ANSWER>–The Savior standing upon the Mt. of Olives and gazing out upon the Holy City, Jerusalem, gave expression to these words with a heart filled with conflicting emotions. For three and one-half years He had been laying down His life for the Jewish people in preaching to them the wonderful tidings of the Kingdom of God. He had healed the sick, comforted the sorrowing and the afflicted, and even raised the dead in some instances. Now, on this sad day, after having ridden into the city in triumph, and being rejected by the nation, through their representatives, the Scribes and Pharisees; in sorrow and with tears, He declared that they as a nation were cast off from Divine favor and no longer recognized as the chosen people of God. How true to the declaration of the Lord are the facts of history as outlined in the secular annals of the race! From that moment they declined in favor, and disaster after disaster came upon them until the nation was conquered by the Roman arms, and they as a people were scattered abroad throughout the whole earth to he persecuted, oppressed, and slaughtered by the Gentiles. The Jew is the miracle of history; “the man without a country.” The Lord Jesus, in prophetic vision, foresaw all the long centuries of afflictions that would come upon them, and in His sympathy and love, grieved for them, and gave expression to His love by saying “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a bird gathers her brood under her wings, but ye would not!” Corrected Translation.
Does the Bible teach a return of the Jews to Palestine, and is that country large enough for all of Abraham’s descendants? (F.W.)
<ANSWER>–The Bible answer is YES to both questions: (a) “I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and will bring you again into the land of Israel.” “Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.” “And they shall say, this land that was desolate is become like the Garden of Eden” (`Eze. 37:12`; `Eze. 36:27-35`). (b) What is known as the land of Palestine is but a very small part of the promised land, which is to stretch from the Nile to the Euphrates (`Gen. 15:18`), and appears to include Arabia as well as parts of Egypt and the Soudan, an area equal to the half of Europe. Much of this is now desert land, but “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (`Isa. 35:1`.) Thus there will be ample space and abundant provision made for the Israelites in the promised land–promised for an everlasting possession to Abraham and his descendants–when God’s favor will have returned to them as foretold by the Prophets–`Rom. 11:25-27`.
Why were the Jews called “God’s chosen people?” Were the ancient Jews different from the modern ones?
<ANSWER>–Abraham was the father of the Jewish people. God made promise to him, saying, “In thy Seed all the families of the earth shall he blessed.” Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, had twelve sons, who became the head of the twelve tribes of Israel, or Jews. God made a covenant with His people, saying to them: “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation” (`Exo. 19:5,6`). For more than eighteen centuries God’s dealings were with this people exclusively, as he said through His prophet, “Ye only have I known of all the families of the earth” (`Amos 3:2`). Time after time God reiterated His promise that the Messiah should come to them, and when Jesus came the masses of the Jews were not heeding God’s promises: being led by the Clergy class, themselves negligent of the promises, therefore blind, as Jesus said, “Blind leaders of the blind,” they rejected Jesus Christ and were cast off from God’s favor (`Matt. 23:37-39`). The words of our Lord clearly imply that God’s favor will again return to this people; He said, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The Apostles point out that God there began to turn his favor to the Gentiles, and when the requisite number have been selected from among these to constitute the Kingdom class, as promised, then God’s favor will again be shown to the Jews as a people (See `Rom. 11:1-5 and 25-28`).