Of course I don’t follow Calvin, I follow Calvinism; the nickname for biblical Christianity.

“What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ — the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else… nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.” – Charles Spurgeon, from the sermon “A Defense of Calvinism.”

Where are the Jews in redemptive history? Exactly where they have been predestined to be

Introduction

In Begin at Jerusalem, to the Jew first? Yes and no, I argued that Jesus’ admonition to his disciples to witness first at Jerusalem (to the Jew first) does not apply today. In this article, I present a talk by a Messianic Jewish missionary from Israel. Our little grasshopper of a church – we’re in good company with the ancient Israelites, who were also called a grasshopper of a nation compared to other nations – had a visit from the Messianic Jewish missionary, Israel Iluz of the “Trumpets of Salvation to Israel” ministry,” Jaffa, Israel. It was a special moment for me. Here is the transcript of his message that I recorded in “Christ Church,” Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 19 November, 2012. My clarifications within his message appear in square brackets.

Here is the transcript of Israel Iluz’s talk:

When you see what is happening in Israel it’s unbelievable to see what the Lord has done, where we are historically in redemptive history… We (the State of Israel) are only 64 years old. We are an ancient people but we are young in one sense. God has taken 400 years in Egypt to build and to create a people for himself. Forty years in the desert, 70 years in Babylon in exile, and 2000 years scattered around the world…[you should] take a godly perspective of time and redemptive  history…we are in the end [of the story]. A story that began with Moses before they entered into the land before he was about to die and be gathered to his fathers…[God says to Moses] I want to write you a song, a song that will be a witness to Israel retelling the story of the whole history of the Jewish people: now you are going into the land, your people will worship under God…[in the Song of Moses] “with a foolishness they will anger me…we will make them jealous with a people who is not a people, with a foolish nation i will anger you.

Always when the Lord has called his judgment upon Israel, he pours his mercy and grace and there is restoration. And in the end in that chapter he says I will restore my people and  my land. I want to share with you the fulfilment of this prophecy. Today we are living in a time when these things are being fulfilled. Ezekiel speaks about a time that will come…let’s read from chapter 36:33-36.

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’”

For those of you who have been in Israel, you can sense, you can touch this reality. The British said, “Let’s give them this land. It’s rubbish, there’s nothing there. We couldn’t manage to do anything in this land. Give it to the Jews.” Today you go to Israel and it’s green. We export flowers. We export Jaffa oranges [Israeli Jews need to be reminded that before the foundation of the State of Israel in1948, the indigenous Arabs had a thriving, world famous Orange enterprise in Jaffa previous to the state of Israel]. Israel is green. The cities are built. The technology is one of the best in the world. All the computers you are using has Israeli technology. Almost every aspect of technology that you touch, that you use, Israelis are there. Today, Israel is a fulflment now.

One of the things he [Ezekiel] says further on, I will bring them into the land. I challenge you to read the whole book [Ezekiel, especially] Chapters 36-37 because later on [it says], “When I will gather them into their land, I will bring them to the land that was desolate. I will restore and I will be their God and they will be my people. They will be in their land forever. No more, there’s no more turning back. There’s no more going back, there’s no more exile. It’s fully restoration and the waiting of the coming of the Messiah. 

And then I [God is speaking] will dwell there. And when Romans  says chapter 11 don’t boast [because of] those who are cut off. The Gentiles will look and see that I am the God who sanctifies them. And they (the Gentiles] will see it and say  wow, what an amazing God. God has chosen this people.

We have been fighting since we crossed the Jordan, the Amorites, the Gergeshites, the Hittites, the Amalekites and so on and so on and so on. We were like grasshoppers [See, our little church does have something in common with the Israelites] in those mighty nations. God said don’t worry I will deliver you. Have you ever met a Gergeshite or a Hittite or a Jebusite? And the Jews? There’s my son [Israel Iluz’s son was present]. There’s a whole nation of us. Throughout all the generations people persecuted us, hated us, killed us. You know what, we haven’t changed, we’re still the stubborn stiff-knecked people. Believe me we are. They [Jews] haven’t changed. You have changed. The Lord has changed your heart. And some of you who hated the Jews before should share the gospel with them and provoke them to jealousy. What do you have that they dont have, what? They have more money than you’, believe me. We have minds, we [have more] in so many ways …what can you give them? The Gospel. If you do not present them the gospel, they will not be provoked to jealousy.

You’re  not a Gentile anymore because a Gentile is a stranger to the covenant. When they see you sharing with them about their God, they will ask, “How do you know that? My rabbi couldn’t explain it to me; you know that, you, from Africa? When I go to the rabbi and ask him he says “I don’t know,” but you know…and you can share with me [a Jew] the truth about this?” And then you will provoke them to jealousy….Give them the Gospel, give them the New Testament. Be equipped, give them a book..share with them about their God. 

When I was in Israel many in the street, you know what they say? I don’t know about God; you talk about God like you see him. If he is, he left us a long time ago…In Ezekiel Chapter 37 verse 11, “Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’”

Israelis say if there is a God he is not with us anymore. Be wise. Don’t share with them Jesus Christ. Share with them the Gospel from the Old Testament…if there is any hope [in them accepting the Gospel], they will look at it from the Old Testament…they have too many barriers…you come from where they stand, from where they’re at, from what they know. What is their familiarity? What is already known to them to some degree. So you learn and study the word of God from the Old Testament; you share with them Yeshua Hamashiach of the Old Testament. And for those whom God called and predestined, they will open their hearts. You give them a book. Maybe they will throw it away in the beginning…So many [Jews] I know, somebody gave them a New Testament. [He tells story of a Jew who was given a New Testament. He put it in his bag and forgot about it, Years later, he went to Mount Carmel to kill himself. He opened his back and found the NT in one of the pockets. Today, he is a pastor].

You be faithful and the Lord will reward your effort.

[In the last part of his message, he invites the congregation to come to Israel for a missions holiday, where they will stay in the “Trumpets for Salvation” hotel, be trained and go out to witness to Jews on the street].

My impressions

This was the first time I had met a Messianic Jewish missionary. It was very special. He, naturally, reminded us of the special love that God has for the Jewish people. But, what I would like to do here is not praise Israel (Iluz) neither Israel (the State), not even the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6), who are, of course, those Israelites whom God elected (predestined) to receive faith in Yeshua/Jesus, and consequently will inherit eternal life.1

I now address certain sections (in bold below) of Israel Iluz’s message.

I want to share with you the fulfilment of this prophecy. Today we are living in a time when these things are being fulfilled. Ezekiel speaks about a time that will come…let’s read from chapter 36:33-36.

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’”

Israel Iluz, like many Messianic Jews and all Christian Zionists, believes that these verses refer to the present State of Israel. These verses, however, must point to the future – after Jacob’s trouble – because modern Israel, in large part, either despises or is indifferent to the Holy One of Israel. And no living Jew (who the rabbis define as a Jew) believes in Yeshua, the Holy one of Israel. And surely, Israel can only be cleansed from its iniquities after it (the remnant that survive Jacob’s trouble) will know that “I – Yeshua – am the Lord. Ezekiel 33:36b (underlined above) says it clearly: all these wonderful things will happen “on the day I cleanse you from all your sins.”

We read in Jeremiah: “Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid” (Jeremiah 46:27).

Zionist Christians – many of whom are “charismatic” Christians – believe that the present State of Israel consists of Jews who have been saved out of a distant place. However, it is clear that the modern “Jacob” (Israel) has no peace and security. The Bible is clear that only after they have been saved from a distant place will they no longer be afraid. The State of Israel is not only very unsafe, it is the unsafest place on the planet.

After God has restored the remnant to Israel, “they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king whom I will raise up for them” (Jer. 30:9). . “And My servant David will be King over them, and they will all have one shepherd;” (Ezekiel 37:24a). (Christian Zionism – The Trouble with Jacob).

How do the details in Jeremiah 23:3-4 resonate with the 1948 Christian Zionist position:

“I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them, who shall feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, and they shall not lack anything, saith Jehovah” (Jeremiah 23:3-4). That could be 1948. But consider the following points.

They shall be fruitful and multiply.

According to Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger and Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar, the ”data presented to the Chief Rabbinate, [show] some 50,000 abortions are performed in Israel every year, 20,000 of which are legal. Adding to the gravity of this transgression is the fact that it impedes the coming of redemption.”

I will set up shepherds over them, who shall feed them.

I ask Christian Zionists, ”do you believe that Jews are exempt from the Gospel imperative to receive Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah and Lord?” If you believe so, then the two chief rabbis mentioned above are your shepherds prophesied in this verse. Few Messianic Jews accept this ”separate covenant” double-minded theory.

They shall not lack anything.

The present chronic housing crisis in the State of Israel disproves this point.

But there is something else that Jeremiah says in our passage that I find more striking. It is the segment that comes immediately before ”they shall not lack anything,” namely, ”they shall fear no more.” It would surely be hard to deny that Israel, as far as external threats to its very existence are concerned, is one of the most, perhaps the most, insecure country in the world. It is, therefore, not foolish to infer that more Israelis live in fear than don’t. Jeremiah 23:4 is more specific; ”they” (that is the people as a whole) shall fear no more.” (Israel: Are we heading for exile or restoration?).

I continue with excerpts from Israel Iluz:

Throughout all the generations people persecuted us.

In Jewish history of Bible times, who ordains the suffering and persecutions of God’s people? Why, God of course. Two examples from Isaiah:

Isaiah 6:8-13

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes;

lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said:

“Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away,

and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak,

whose stump remains when it is felled.”

The holy seed is its stump.

Isaiah 10:5-11

Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him,

to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think;

but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: “Are not my commanders all kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish?

Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater

than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?”2

Here is Israel Iluz again:

Be wise. Don’t share with them Jesus Christ. Share with them the Gospel from the Old Testament. you come from where they stand, from where they’re at, from what they know. What is their familiarity? What is already known to them to some degree. And for those whom God called and predestined, they will open their hearts.

“Be wise. Don’t share with them Jesus Christ.” Imagine if the Apostles had heeded Iluz’ advice. Enough said.

I was very surprised (delighted as well) to hear the term “predestined” uttered from a Jewish mouth, even a Jew who believed in Jesus. Did Israel Iluz mean that God foresaw those who would believe in him and consequently destined them for salvation. That is what Arminians say. Such an explanation is nonsense, even from William Lane Craig is nonsense. Here is  Alan Kurschner’s A Fast Dose of Human Tradition! on William Lane Craig:

“Especially when it comes to human evil, that we would call sin in theological terms. That God does not will this, he does not promote it. But because of our free will, he permits it.” – William Lane Craig, August 12, 2007, Reasonable Faith, “Problem of Evil.”

But consider this:

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27–28).

Ironically, says Kurschner, a minute later in his radio show he (Craig) cites the event of the crucifixion as a good example of an evil that God does not ordain, but instead is brought about by the actions of man’s free will. Then he indicates that God basically picks up the pieces and makes something good come out of the crucifixion. Of course, Acts 4:27-28, or any Scripture for that matter, was not brought into the discussion. Don’t you love philosophy!

We saw earlier that God predestined Assyria to destroy the Northern Kingdom (called “Israel”), yet see what he does to his instrument, the king of Assyria:

Isaiah 6:12-19

When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says:

“By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures;

like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken,

so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.” Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it,

or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!

Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled,

like the burning of fire. The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers

in one day. The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. 

The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.

Art Katz’s views are hated by the majority of Jews and Christian Zionists, because, first, he said that the Jewish holocaust was the result of the Jewish rejection of the Messiah and, second, that modern Israel is an abomination, is under the wrath of God, and is due for destruction. When I study the scriptures carefully, I find it hard to argue against Art Katz’s view. Here are a few pertinent scriptures.

On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. And the desolate land will be  cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passed by. And they will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited” (Ezekiel 36:33-35).

Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:38).

These verses must point to the future – after Jacob’s trouble – because modern Israel, in large part,  either despises or is indifferent to the Holy One of Israel. And  no living Jew  (who the rabbis define as a Jew) believes in Yeshua, the Holy one of Israel (Chollile, God forbid!), they exclaim). And surely, Israel can only be cleansed from its iniquities after it (the remnant that survive Jacob’s trouble) will know that “I – Yeshua – am the Lord.

Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid” (Jeremiah 46:27).

Israel Iluz believes, with Christian Zionists, that the present State of Israel consists of Jews who have been saved out of a distant place. However, it is clear that the modern “Jacob”  (Israel) has no peace and security. The Bible is clear that after they have been saved from a distant place, they will no longer be afraid. The State of Israel is not only very unsafe, it is, as I mentioned earlier, the unsafest place on the planet.

After God has restored the remnant to Israel, “they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king whom I will raise up for them” (Jer. 30:9).  “And My servant David will be King over them, and they will all have one shepherd” (Ezekiel 37:24a).

In conclusion, I prefer to say that I have not criticised but rather critiqued Israel Iluz. This is the space where one is supposed to say nice things about the person one has ripped to shreds. Silly.

1 I am saying that Jews who follow Torah but don’t believe that Yeshua is the Messiah will not inherit eternal life?” Yes, that is what the Bible says, loud and clear:

The one believing in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:17-18).

And:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-44).

2 Here’s a thing for my Arminian friends. We saw above that God ordained that the Assyrian king destroy Israel, yet in the section immediately following, God says that he will punish the arrogant Assyrian king:

Isaiah 6:12-19

When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says:

“By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.

My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing

or opened the mouth or chirped.” Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it,

or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled,

like the burning of fire. The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land

the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.

No, God did not look down the corridors of time to see whether the Assyrian king was going to be horrible or not, and, based on that foreknowledge, arrange to punish Israel. For the simple reason that God acts (sovereignly); he doesn’t react (to what his creatures, even man, is going to do).