The Calamities of Israel or the "Jewish Problem"
It could be most reasonably asserted that no nation or group of people, since its inception, has suffered more calamity, war and persecution than has the nation of Israel or the Jewish people. In this article, we are going to examine some of the background regarding this distress, going back into the ancient writings of the Jewish people themselves -- what is called today by Christians, "The Old Testament" or by the Jews, "The Tanakh" (or Hebrew Scriptures).

Before beginning this venture, however, I want to make a few personal observations, that I will expand and expound upon as I proceed:

The first is that I believe that the root cause of the multitude of woes of the Jewish people stems from their blindness and/or unwillingness to recognize, acknowledge, and deal with what I will call "The Root of Distress". We will examine what this is as I proceed .

The second is that they have sought violently to place the blame and cause everywhere EXCEPT upon themselves !!

Third, and perhaps saddest, is that they have found ready allies to reinforce this stubborn refusal and blindness in the blind - insane ignorance, hate, and prejudice of other peoples and nations toward the Jewish peoples. The Jews have, therefore, been facilitated and reinforced in their belief that they are indeed the innocent, beleaguered, persecuted peoples -- hated unjustly and without cause by the world !! They have thus found it easier and more convenient to blame others and justify themselves rather than to seek out and deal with the "The Root of Distress".

At this point, I want to stress in the STRONGEST of terms, that I in NO way for ANY reason condone or justify bigotry, prejudice, or racial and/or religious hatred. I believe that those who harbor and practice such are the lowest and vilest of creatures. This includes anti-Semitism, homophobia, discrimination against women and/or blacks, discrimination against ethnic and/or religious groups, ETC., ETC.

I believe that Hitler and his Nazis were insane, psychotic madmen and murders; that the Ku Klux Klan is a collection of bigoted, subhuman cowards, hiding their faces under white hoods while they indulge in their diabolical persecutions; that those who enslave others (blacks, etc.) deserve to forfeit THEIR freedoms; and that those who persecute others (homosexuals, etc.) deserve the FULL judgment of God upon themselves.

This being said, I even MORE strongly DO NOT believe that labeling and name-calling should nor can be a gag to suppress nor an eraser to remove TRUTH !!

One CAN hold that the Roman Catholic Organization is a black BLIGHT of superstition, paganism and ignorance upon Christianity without hating or being prejudiced against individual Roman Catholics.

One CAN hold that homosexuality is a sin and an offense against God, as outlined in the Bible, without hating or being prejudiced against homosexuals, or being "homophobic".

One CAN likewise believe that the general Jewish philosophy regarding their history-long plight is NARROW and short-sighted without hating or being prejudiced against Jews, or being a Nazi or an anti-Semite.

That being said, I ALSO believe that when ANY individual, group or organization spends an inordinate amount of time and energy justifying and/or defending themselves, and/or trying to make others feel guilty, there is something wrong and they have something that they are trying to divert attention away from and/or to hide.

This brings us to our topic for the day --- Israel and the Jewish people:

The Nazi Holocaust was a stellar example of man's treachery and inhumanity. It is a "Spotlight of Shame" with which the universe may witness man's barbarism and insanity. Those involved (I believe) deserve (and WILL receive) God's maximum judgment. However, are Israel's hands so clean ?? What about THEIR attemped TOTAL extermination of the Cananites (men, woman, and children) upon moving into the "promised land" ? They were instructed by their God (Jehovah -Yahweh) to kill them WITHOUT MERCY !! We will look more at this later.

They protest MUCH about what they CLAIM they DID NOT do. An example is the recent movie, "The Passion of The Christ". Now, regardless of the personal feelings of Mel Gibson, to claim that the movie itself was promoting anti-Semitism because it showed the Jews as being the instigators of the death of Christ is ludicrous. It was merely conveying the facts recorded in the Bible 2,000 years ago by individuals of Jewish decent. Some verses follow:

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s residence. So Pilate came outside to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They (Jewish leaders) replied, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate told them, "Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!" The Jewish leaders replied, "We cannot legally put anyone to death."
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people met together in the palace of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. They planned to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, "Not during the feast, so that there won"t be a riot among the people."
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death.
When it was early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to execute him. They tied him up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. Pilate said to them, "Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?" They all said, "Crucify him!" He asked, "Why? What wrong has he done?" But they shouted more insistently, "Crucify him!" When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, "I am innocent of this man’s blood. You take care of it yourselves!" In reply all the people said, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" **** Matthew 18:28-31; 26:3-5,59; 27:1,2,20-25

The chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find some way to execute Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. He went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard how he might betray Jesus, handing him over to them. They were delighted and arranged to give him money. So Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus when no crowd was present.
"The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene," they replied, "a man who, with his powerful deeds and words, proved to be a prophet before God and all the people; and how our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be condemned to death, and crucified him. **** Luke 22:2-6; 24:19,20

So the chief priests and the Pharisees called the council together and said, "What are we doing? For this man is performing many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary and our nation." So from that day they planned together to kill him (Jesus).
Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up. They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor"s residence. So Pilate came outside to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They replied, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate told them, "Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!" The Jewish leaders replied, "We cannot legally put anyone to death." Again Pilate went out and said to the Jewish leaders, "Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no reason for an accusation against him." So Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe." When the chief priests and their officers saw him, they shouted out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate said, "You take him and crucify him! Certainly I find no reason for an accusation against him!" The Jewish leaders replied, "We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!" **** John 11:47,48,53; 18:12-19:7

This, of course, does NOT mean that the Jewish people as a whole were "responsible" for the killing (murder) of Jesus Christ. The scripture also tells us that He was "given up" (killed) on account of the sins of the "whole world" --- ALL humanity, past, present and future. ALL humanity is "responsible" for His execution. Non-the-less, it was the Jewish people, and their leaders in particular, who were the instruments that God used directly to carry out His work. Not, of course, that they actively KNEW that they were serving God.

None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory **** 1 Corinthians 2:8

The scripture says that they did it out of "jealousy, hatred and malaise". Despite what the Roman Catholic Organization may have attempted, you can NOT merely pass a decree proclaiming that the Jews really DID NOT kill Jesus - or have the pope wave his "Papal ferula" like Moses did at the Red Sea - and the facts and reality will simply disappear !!

In the same way, Pharaoh, when he made slaves of the Israelites, thought that he was serving himself, whereas, in reality, he was merely one of God's many instruments.

The scripture says to Pharaoh: "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth." **** Romans 9:17

We are now going to spend the remainder of this essay considering and examining what I perceive to be the, "The Root of Distress" of the Jewish people. My contention is that their enemy is not "man", but is the very God whom they profess to so meticulously worship !! Almost from the very inception of Israel and its people, God's verdict concerning them, as recorded in THEIR own scripture, is that they are a , "stiff necked, stubborn, rebellious people", constantly rejecting Him and His Law. This relationship began as He led them out of the captivity of Egypt, and continued through their ULTIMATE offense of rejecting their Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. Finally, true Jewish "worship" ended around 70 AD with the final destruction of their temple by the Romans. There has been NO legitimate "worship" since (as outlined in the "Law of Moses"), as their ceremonies required the tabernacle (later replaced by the temple) as their center.

The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, you are living in the midst of a rebellious house. They have eyes to see, but do not see, and ears to hear, but do not hear, because they are a rebellious house. **** Ezekiel 12:1,2

"Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have participated with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ By saying this you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of your ancestors! You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hades? "For this reason I am sending you prophets and wise men and experts in the law, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, this generation will be held responsible for all these things! "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’" Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts and walking away, his disciples came to show him the temple buildings. And he said to them, "Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!" **** Matthew 23:29-24:2 Click [ Here ] for more detail.

The remedy for this distress IS NOT to continually seek the support of "man", but for them to get right with their God !! We have this testimony from one of their own, Saul of Tarsus, foremost of the Pharisees:

We are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials – though mine too are significant. If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more: I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee. In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. **** Philippians 3:3-6

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of my fellow Israelites is for their salvation. For I can testify that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth. For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is by the law: "The one who does these things will live by them." But the righteousness that is by faith says: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For the scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. **** Romans 10:1-13

The seeds of their final destruction, it seems, were sown almost from the day of their birth. Shortly after their liberation from the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt, they abandoned their God and went whoring after idols, as would prove to be their continuing shame for many years to come.

He gave Moses two tablets of testimony when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, tablets of stone written by the finger of God. When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, "Get up, make us gods that will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him!" He (Aaron) accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. **** Exodus 31:18-32:5

It was ONLY because of the intervention of Moses that God did not destroy them almost before they even had a chance to begin !!

Then the Lord said to Moses: "I have seen this people. Look what a stiff-necked people they are! So now, leave me alone so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them, and I will make from you a great nation." But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God ...... Then the Lord relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people. The Lord said to Moses, "Go up from here, you and the people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel before you ...... But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way." Moses said to him, "If your presence does not go with us, do not take us up from here. The Lord said to Moses, "I will do this thing also that you have requested, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." **** Exodus 32:9-33:17

Again, at Kadesh Barnea, the people's disobedience prevented almost ALL of them from entering the "promised land". God had commanded the Israelites to , "Go -- and take the Land -- that He would be with them and fight for them". However, they sent 12 scouts into the land to survey it, and 10 of the 12 brought back a discouraging report saying, "The people are too great and too strong for us. We will never be able to overcome them". So they refused to enter the land as God had commanded.

You were not willing to go up, however, but instead rebelled against the Lord your God. You complained among yourselves privately and said, "Because the Lord hates us he brought us from Egypt to deliver us over to the Amorites so they could destroy us! When the Lord heard you, he became angry and made this vow: "Not a single person of this evil generation will see the good land that I promised to give to your ancestors! The exception is Caleb son of Jephunneh; he will see it and I will give him and his descendants the territory on which he has walked, because he has wholeheartedly followed me." As for me (Moses), the Lord was also angry with me on your account. He said, "You also will not be able to go there. However, Joshua son of Nun, your assistant, will go. Encourage him, because he will enable Israel to inherit the land. Also, your infants, who you thought would die on the way, and your children, who as yet do not know good from bad, will go there; I will give them the land and they will possess it. **** Deuteronomy 1:26-39

On a third occasion, God again threatened to destroy the Israelites TOTALLY because of their rebellion and stubborn refusal to heed and obey His commands. This time, a Levite named Korah and two men of the tribe of Reuben led 250 men in an overt mutiny against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. On this occasion also, it was ONLY because of the intercession of Moses that they were spared !! Read the scripture verses [ Here ].

Finally, after a forty year sojourn in the wilderness (as per God's promise), all but two of the original assembly of Israelites are dead, and the new generation is ready to take possession of the "Promised Land". Make note that God emphasizes to them that it is NOT because of ANY redeeming qualities on THEIR part that they are being given this land, but rather on account of God's Word to Abraham and because of the EXTREME wickedness of the peoples living there at that time.

Do not think to yourself after the Lord your God has driven them out before you, "Because of my own righteousness the Lord has brought me here to possess this land." It is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out ahead of you. It is not because of your righteousness, or even your inner uprightness, that you have come here to possess their land. Instead, because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out ahead of you in order to confirm the promise he made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand, therefore, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is about to give you this good land as a possession, for you are a stubborn people! **** Deuteronomy 9:4-6

It will be MANY years later that God repeats a similar sentiment toward Israel in regard to restoring them from the hand of their enemies -- into which HE Himself had delivered them !!

Therefore say to the house of Israel, this is what the sovereign Lord says: "It is not for your sake that I am about to act, O house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy reputation which you profaned among the nations where you went. I will magnify my great name that has been profaned among the nations, that you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I magnify myself among you in their sight. **** Ezekiel 36:22,23

Read Deuteronomy Chapter 9 for a summary of the times that God almost destroyed Israel BEFORE they even entered their "Promised Land" on account of their rebellion and stubbornness.

As I mentioned earlier, God's instructions to them were to TOTALLY ANNIHILATE the peoples of the land --- WITHOUT MERCY. This was lest they should contaminate the Israelites with their wicked, detestable ways and practices !!

When the Lord your God brings you to the land that you are going to occupy and forces out many nations before you – seven nations more numerous and powerful than you – 7:2 and He delivers them over to you and you attack them, you must utterly annihilate them. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy!
As for the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is going to give you as an inheritance, you must not allow a single living thing to survive. Instead you must utterly annihilate them just as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they cannot teach you all the abhorrent ways they worship their gods, causing you to sin against the Lord your God. **** Deuteronomy 7:1; 20-16-18

So the assembly sent 12,000 capable warriors against Jabesh Gilead. They commanded them, "Go and kill with your swords the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead, including the women and little children. Do this: exterminate every male, as well as every woman who has had sexual relations with a male. But spare the lives of any virgins." So they did as instructed. **** Judges 21:10-11

Then Samuel said to Saul, Here is what the Lord of hosts says: ‘I carefully observed how the Amalekites opposed Israel along the way when Israel came up from Egypt. So go now and strike down the Amalekites. Destroy everything that they have. Don’t spare them. Put them to death – man, woman, child, infant, ox, sheep, camel, and donkey alike.’" Then Samuel said to Saul, The Lord sent you on a campaign saying, ‘Go and exterminate those sinful Amalekites! Fight against them until you have destroyed them.’ Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? **** 1 Samuel 15:1-19

God again repeats to the people that His Covenant with them was with certain conditions -- namely -- that if they would follow Him faithfully and keep His Word and Commandments, He would fight for and prosper them in their new home. However, if they were to disobey Him and go whoreing after the idol-gods of the land, He would just as surely destroy them UTTERLY and cast them out of their new land !!

You must love the Lord your God and do what He requires; keep His statutes, ordinances, and commandments at all times. Now, if you pay close attention to my commandments that I am giving you today and love the Lord your God and serve him with all your mind and being, then He promises, "I will send rain for your land in its season .... I will provide pasture for your livestock and you will eat your fill." Make sure you do not turn away to serve and worship other gods! Then the anger of the Lord will erupt against you and He will close up the sky so that it does not rain. The land will not yield its produce, and you will soon be removed from the good land that the Lord is about to give you. For if you carefully observe all of these commandments I am giving you and love the Lord your God, live according to His standards, and remain loyal to him, 11:23 then He will drive out all these nations ahead of you, and you will dispossess nations greater and stronger than you. Take note – I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing if you take to heart the commandments of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and the curse if you pay no attention to His commandments and turn from the way I am setting before you today to pursue other gods you have not known. **** Deuteronomy 11:1-28

Read also Deuteronomy 31 and 32 where God speaks to Israel just prior to their entering the "Promised Land" under the leadership of Joshua. Here He foretells of their breaking of the covenent that they had just made with their God, and of the consequences that would befall them on account of it.

This final section covers a large period of time in Jewish history, and a GREAT deal of material. I am going to try to expound just the highlights, just enough to clarify the issue under consideration. For those of you who want in-depth detail, there is plenty of research material available. You might start with two sites containing a Bible Chronology of the Old Testament. Look [ HERE ] and [ HERE ]. There are also the works of the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, which you can download as a free eBook [ HERE ]. Finally, of course, there is the Old Testament itself.

I have previously outlined how, from the day of their liberation from Egypt, the Israelites more and more alienated themselves from their God by disobedience, lack of faith and trust, and whoreing after idols.

Joshua finally led the Israelites into the "Promised Land" (Caanan), where they won victory over the inhabitants of the land. However, from the death of Joshua (1375 B.C.) to the rise of Saul as Israel's first king (1050 B.C.), Israel was ruled by a series of "Judges". Upon Joshua's death, God left some of the enemy tribes behind -- the Philistines, the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites -- to "test and prove" Israel. For this entire period, they underwent the following disastrous, repetitive sequence:

The Lord was furious with Israel and handed them over to robbers who plundered them. He turned them over to their enemies who lived around them. They could not withstand their enemies' attacks. Whenever they went out to fight, the Lord did them harm, just as he had warned and solemnly vowed he would do. They suffered greatly. The Lord raised up leaders who delivered them from these robbers. But they did not obey their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned aside from the path their ancestors had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord's commands, but they did not. When the Lord raised up leaders for them, the Lord was with each leader and delivered the people from their enemies while the leader remained alive. The Lord felt sorry for them when they cried out in agony because of what their harsh oppressors did to them. When a leader died, the next generation would again act more wickedly than the previous one. They would follow after other gods, worshiping them and bowing down to them. They did not give up their practices or their stubborn ways. **** Judges 2:14-19

The next of Israel's major offenses against their God occurred near the end of Samuel's life (he was the last of their prophet/judges). The people indicated to Samuel that they no longer wished to be governed directly by God through His prophets, but that they wanted a king to rule over them so that they might be "like all the other peoples" !! Read 1 Samuel Chapter 8. This request grieved Samuel greatly, but he relayed it to God, who told him:

Do everything the people request of you. For it is not you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king. Just as they have done from the day that I brought them up from Egypt until this very day, they have rejected me and have served other gods. This is what they are also doing to you. So now do as they say. **** 1 Samuel 8:7-9

God also instructed Samuel to warn the people what it would be like for them to be ruled by an earthly king, but they insisted and cried out , "We will have a king to rule over us". So they got their king, a man named Saul, well suited to the people. Like them, he would prove to be a willful, arrogant, self- serving man -- living for himself and NOT after the "heart of God" as did King David who came after. Saul was Israel's first king.

I granted you a king in my anger, and I will take him away in my wrath! **** Hosea 13:11

They reached their zenith of blessing, glory and power under their two great kings, David and his son, Solomon. After Solomon, it was a continual downhill slide unto their final destruction and dispersal as a nation.

Their ultimate insult to their God was the betrayal and handing over for crucifixion of His Son and their Messiah, Jesus Christ. Their "cup of abomination" was finally filled to the brim !! Jesus told them that they would not again see His face until they could proclaim, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of Jehovah (or more correctly Y@hovah {yeh-ho-vaw'})". Click [ Here ] for more detail.

Throughout this entire period (from the death of Solomon to the final destruction of Israel), God continued to warn them of the consequences of the path that they were on and of the destruction that lay ahead. He would use other leaders and nations as His instruments, but He also continually emphasized to His people that what was happening and what was going to happen was NOT the result of outside forces, but would come to them DIRECTLY from His hand --- the hand of their God !! It would be the direct result of their continual rebellion toward, disobedience of and offenses against Him. Click [ Here ] for an account of the anguish in God's OWN heart over the destruction that is coming upon His people due to their CONTINUAL stubbornness, rebellion and whoring after useless idols.

In the First Chapter of the Book of Isaiah, God likens Israel to Sodom and Gomorra !! He tells Israel that her sins have become so overwhelming and repugnant that God Himself is weary of their sacrifices, their offerings have become meaningless and He can no longer tolerate their "sin-stained celebrations" !! He proclaims that He HATES their assemblies and that, "they are a burden that I am tired of carrying". He goes on to tell them that He will no longer even listen to their prayers, "because your hands are covered with blood". God goes on to explain to Israel -- His Beloved, His Bride -- that He Himself will purify her of all dross and impurities by the most severe of measures, using Israel's own surrounding nation-enemies. When the process is complete, she will return to her "Husband" as a purified and chastened Bride.

Jeremiah answered them, "Tell Zedekiah that the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘The forces at your disposal are now outside the walls fighting against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the Babylonians who have you under siege. I will gather those forces back inside the city. In anger, in fury, and in wrath I myself will fight against you with my mighty power and great strength! I will kill everything living in Jerusalem, people and animals alike! They will die from terrible diseases. Then I, the Lord, promise that I will hand over King Zedekiah of Judah, his officials, and any of the people who survive the war, starvation, and disease. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their enemies who want to kill them. He will slaughter them with the sword. He will not show them any mercy, compassion, or pity.’ "But tell the people of Jerusalem that the Lord says, ‘I will give you a choice between two courses of action. One will result in life; the other will result in death. Those who stay in this city will die in battle or of starvation or disease. Those who leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians who are besieging it will live. They will escape with their lives. For I, the Lord, say that I am determined not to deliver this city but to bring disaster on it. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon and he will destroy it with fire.’"**** Jeremiah 21:3-10

Say: ‘Listen, O king of Judah who follows in David’s succession. The Lord says, "Do what is just and right. Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them. Do not exploit or mistreat foreigners who live in your land, children who have no fathers, or widows. Do not kill innocent people in this land. If you are careful to obey these commands, then the kings who follow in David’s succession and ride in chariots or on horses will continue to come through the gates of this palace, as will their officials and their subjects. But, if you do not obey these commands, I solemnly swear that this palace will become a pile of rubble. I, the Lord, affirm it!" "‘For the Lord says concerning the palace of the king of Judah, "This place looks like a veritable forest of Gilead to me. It is like the wooded heights of Lebanon in my eyes. But I swear that I will make it like a wilderness whose towns have all been deserted. I will send men against it to destroy it with their axes and hatchets. They will hack up its fine cedar panels and columns and throw them into the fire. "‘People from other nations will pass by this city. They will ask one another, "Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?" The answer will come back, "It is because they broke their covenant with the Lord their God and worshiped and served other gods." **** Jeremiah 22:2-9

However, He also promises her restoration as His beloved on the day that she repents and returns to Him -- her true "husband". First, He condemns Israel for her wickedness, telling her that, "Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing, there is NO remedy for your sore, NO healing for you." Then He makes sure that Israel clearly understands that it was NOT some outside enemy or foreign invader that did these things to her, but that it was her GOD Himself who was responsible. He clarifies that it is also NOT some vindictive act of vengeance, but is done for her healing and restoration. He comforts her with the promise that, "I will restore your health and heal your wounds. I will have compassion on you and restore your fortunes." Why will He do this?? God assures Israel that it is because, "I have loved you with an everlasting love and have drawn you with cords of loving- kindness to build you up again."

Over and over, through His Prophets, God assures Israel NOT to loose hope -- He proclaims that He has NOT abandoned her nor cast her off forever. On the day that she repents of her sins, puts her idols behind her and returns to her God with a WHOLE and willing heart -- THAT is the day that God will remember again His covenant with Abraham and gather Israel together once again and restore her to her rightful place as His beloved "wife". Read all of Isaiah chapters 40-44,51,52

Moreover, the Lord says to the people of Zion, "Your injuries are incurable; your wounds are severe. There is no one to plead your cause. There are no remedies for your wounds. There is no healing for you. All your allies have abandoned you. They no longer have any concern for you. For I have attacked you like an enemy would. I have chastened you cruelly. I have done all this to you because your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much. But all who destroyed you will be destroyed. All your enemies will go into exile. I will cause those who pillaged you to be pillaged. Yes, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds. I, the Lord, affirm it! For you have been called an outcast, Zion, whom no one cares for." The Lord says, "I will restore the ruined houses of the descendants of Jacob. I will show compassion on their ruined homes. Then you will again be my people and I will be your God. In days to come you will come to understand this. At that time I will be the God of all the clans of Israel and they will be my people. I, the Lord, affirm it!" In a far-off land the Lord will manifest himself to them. He will say to them, "I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you. I will rebuild you, my dear children Israel, so that you will once again be built up." Yes, a time is coming when watchmen will call out on the mountains of Ephraim, "Come! Let us go to Zion to worship the Lord our God!" Then I will reply, ‘I will bring them back from the land of the north. I will gather them in from the distant parts of the earth. They will come back shedding tears of contrition. I will bring them back praying prayers of repentance. I will do this because I am Israel’s father; Ephraim is my firstborn son." Hear what the Lord has to say, O nations. Proclaim it in the faraway lands along the sea. Say, "The one who scattered Israel will regather them." For the Lord will rescue the descendants of Jacob. He will secure their release from those who had overpowered them. They will come and shout for joy on Mount Zion. The Lord says, "A sound is heard in Ramah, a sound of crying in bitter grief. It is the sound of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are gone." The Lord says to her, "Stop crying! Do not shed any more tears! For your heartfelt repentance will be rewarded. Your children will return from the land of the enemy. I, the Lord, affirm it! **** Jeremiah 30:12-31:16

This is why I said earlier -- Israel and the Jewish people today need to seek out their God, repent of their evils, and make it right with Him, and NOT seek to solve their problems by human means and human channels. This was one of the recurring sins of ancient Israel. When they were in trouble, they tended to, "lean on the arm of flesh" rather than to seek out and trust their God.

Those who go down to Egypt for help are as good as dead -- those who rely on war horses, and trust in Egypt"s many chariots and in their many, many horsemen -- but they do not rely on the Holy One of Israel and do not seek help from the Lord. **** Isaiah 31:1

The Lord says, "I will put a curse on people who trust in mere human beings, who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, and whose hearts have turned away from the Lord." **** Jeremiah 17:5

"Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of the king of Assyria and this huge army that is with him! We have with us one who is stronger than those who are with him. He has with him mere human strength (the arm of flesh), but the Lord our God is with us to help us and fight our battles!" The army was encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah. **** 2 Chronicles 32:7,8

In God's eyes, Israel (or better said, Jerusalem) was His beloved, His betrothed, His wife -- upon whom He had lavished all of His care, love, and blessing. She was His precious vineyard, from which He expected to harvest sweet wine. Instead, what He continually received in return was an ungrateful, stubborn, rebellious, unfaithful wife who was continually going whoreing after other suitors (foreign allies, false gods, idols). He had a vineyard that yielded instead, thorns and thistles.

I will sing to my love a song to my lover about his vineyard. My love had a vineyard  on a fertile hill. He built a hedge around it, removed its stones, and planted a vine.  He built a tower in the middle of it, and constructed a winepress. He waited for it to produce edible grapes, but it produced sour ones instead. So now, residents of Jerusalem, people of Judah, you decide between me and my vineyard! What more can I do for my vineyard beyond what I have already done? When I waited for it to produce edible grapes, why did it produce sour ones instead? Now I will inform you what I am about to do to my vineyard: I will remove its hedge and turn it into pasture, I will break its wall and allow animals to graze there. I will make it a wasteland; no one will prune its vines or hoe its ground, and thorns and briers will grow there. I will order the clouds not to drop any rain on it. Indeed Israel is the vineyard of the Lord who commands armies, the people of Judah are the cultivated place in which he took delight. He waited for justice, but look what he got disobedience! He waited for fairness, but look what he got cries for help! **** Isaiah 5:1-7

See the full Chapter 16, Chapter 20, Chapter 23 in the Book of Ezekiel and Hosea Chapter 2.

After the death of King Solomon, until their destruction and exile (931-586 BC), Israel is divided in two -- the Kingdom of Israel (northern) and Judah (southern). The north ultimately falls to the Assyrians in 722 and Judah is taken captive by Babylon/Nebuchadnezzar who destroys the city walls, Jerusalem, and burns the temple. During this period, both north and south EACH had 20 different kings. Of these kings, ONLY one in the north (Jehu) could be described in ANY way as "good" (faithful to God's ways and commandments). Judah did NOT fare TOO much better, with some 5 or 6 "good" kings.

Click [ HERE ] for a brief summary of the fall and destruction of BOTH Samaria (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Jerusalem, Southern Kingdom).

Cyrus (the Persian) issued a decree in 538 B.C. to allow Jews to return (Ezra 1:1-4, 2 Chron 36:22-23). Ezra records the departure of 49,897 captive Jews back to Jerusalem in 536 B.C. under Zerubbabel.

After its reconstruction was interrupted for a number of years, under Darius I the Great (Hystaspes), work on the temple at Jerusalem resumes in 520 B.C. and it is completed in 515 B.C. (Ezra 6:15)

Artaxerxes I (Longimanus), feeling favorable toward Jerusalem, authorized Nehemiah his cupbearer to rebuild Jerusalem. Ezra returned in 458 B.C. with 1,754 Jews. Nehemiah was governor in 445 B.C. (Ezra 7:1,8; Neh 2:1)

The last approximately 400 years before the birth of Christ are what are called, "the Silent Years", in that there is no scriptural record of them. The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, has put down some record of this era, particularly the Jewish Maccadeean revolt and the independence of Judah (Antiochus IV) around 165 B.C.

The last significant dates that I will mention are 63 B.C., when Pompey captured Jerusalem and annexed Syria and Judea to the Roman Empire. Finally there is 70 A.D., when the Romans again invaded Jerusalem and, for the last time, destroyed the temple AGAIN !!

I think that the overwhelming arrogance, blindness and ignorance that ultimately led to the downfall of the Jewish people is succinctly summed up in the following exchange between Jesus and a number of the Jewish people. However, these are qualities CERTAINLY not limited to ANY one people. They seem to apply to us quite well as a nation today. I believe it would do us well to heed Paul's warning:

These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall. No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. **** 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, "If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." "We are descendants of Abraham," they replied, "and have never been anyone’s slaves (never in bondage to any man)! How can you say, ‘You will become free’?" Jesus answered them, "I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the family forever, but the son remains forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be really free. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. But you want to kill me, because my teaching makes no progress among you. I am telling you the things I have seen while with the Father, while you practice the things you have heard from your father!" They answered him, "Abraham is our father!" Jesus replied, "If you are Abraham’s children, you would be doing the deeds of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! You people are doing the deeds of your father." Then they said to Jesus, "We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself." Jesus replied, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come from God and am now here. I have not come on my own initiative, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot accept my teaching. You people are from your father the Devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I am telling you the truth, you do not believe me. **** John 8:31-45

Question: "What does the term 'Ichabod' mean in the Bible?"

Answer: The term Ichabod is found in two places in the Bible, 1 Samuel 4:21 and 14:3. Ichabod was the son of Phinehas and the grandson of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh. The sad story of Eli and his two wayward sons, Phinehas and Hophni, is found in 1 Samuel, chapters 2 and 4. Hophni and Phinehas died in battle with the Philistines who captured the Ark of the Covenant and took it away from Israel. Upon hearing this terrible news, Eli fell backward off his chair and broke his neck and died. Phinehas"s pregnant wife went into labor and bore a son.

She named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured" (1 Samuel 4:21,22). The word Ichabod means literally "inglorious" or "there is no glory," and in her pain and despair, the woman (who is unnamed in Scripture) lamented over the loss of the glory of God from Israel.

The glory of God is used to describe God"s favor and blessings toward His people. In the Old Testament, God"s glory is seen as a pillar of fire and cloud that followed the Israelites during the exodus from Egypt, guiding and guarding them (Exodus 13:21). Once the Ark of the Covenant was built and placed in the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later in the temple in Jerusalem, God"s glory resided there as a symbol of His presence among His people. When the Ark was captured by the Philistines, the glory departed from the Israelites " Ichabod became a reality.

Jesus later refers to the concept of the glory of God leaving Israel. In His last message to the populace of Israel, His final word to the religious leaders was "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate" (Matthew 23:37,38). That was His final statement of judgment on Israel for the rejection of their Messiah. He has indicted their leaders and, by indicting the leaders, indicted all the people who followed the leaders. And now He says their house is left desolate"Ichabod, the glory is departing.

Notice that He says Your house is desolate. Not My house, not My Father"s house, as He used to call it. Now it"s your house because God has left " Ichabod! God is no longer there, it"s not the Father"s house; it"s not My house; it"s your house. The Greek word translated "desolate," means "abandoned to ruin." This place is in abandonment. God has left. It is cursed, devoted to ruination. And they won"t see Jesus again till He comes in full Messianic glory (Matthew 23:39).

Read Ezekiel 11 for more on the departure of God's Glory from Jerusalem.

It is a terrible thing to experience the loss of the glory of God. And while Israel"s ruin was temporary "until the fullness of the Gentiles" would be brought into the kingdom of God on earth (Romans 11:25), one wonders how many churches today have lost the glory of the Lord, whether willingly or unknowingly. The same things that caused Ichabod in Israel " sin, disobedience, idolatry " are present in many of today"s churches. Christians must never take the glory of God in our midst for granted, lest we wake up one day and find that Ichabod has become a reality among us also !!

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