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Jerusalem was to be trodden down until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.8
But note carefully that a little later Jesus said, "Now learn a parable of the fig-tree (and all the trees): when her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near. So likewise, ye, in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors." Mark 13:28; Luke 21:29.
In Ezek. 31 the trees are used as symbols of the nations.
"The fig-tree was The Jewish People full of the leaves of an useless profession, but without fruit."—Dean Alford.
Now if Israel is beginning to show signs of national life and is actually returning to Palestine, then surely the end of this dispensation "is nigh, even at the doors."
This brings us to speak of
the present movement of the Jews to return to the land of their fathers.
Zionism is a modern term expressing the national hopes land sentiments of the Jews.
These sentiments, however, are based upon widely different views, as held by the most extreme sections of the parties into which the Jews are divided.
As is well known the Jews have, in the past fifty years, become divided into three great sections, viz.: the orthodox, the status quo, and the reformed.
The orthodox hold to the Old Testament Scriptures, as interpreted by the Talmud, as the literal Word of God, and also to the hopes and heritage of their ancestors founded thereon. They believe in the oft repeated utterances of the prophets, that some day they shall return to Palestine and become permanently settled as a holy and happy nation, under the sovereignty of their coming Messiah.
(9) Lu. 21:24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem
shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
These hopes are the very core of their intensely religious life, and are embedded in the most solemn devotions of their prayer-book.
Every morning, throughout every nation and clime, whither they are scattered over this whole world, the orthodox Jew lifts up his prayer:
"Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together and deliver us from the nations."
"May it be acceptable unto thee, Eternal; our God and the God of our Fathers, that the sanctuary may be rebuilt speedily in our days and our portion assigned us in thy law. There will we serve thee in reverence as of old, in days of yore."
In that solemn service of the Passover they cry out,
"At present we celebrate it here, but the next year we hope to celebrate it in the land of Israel," and again,
"0 build Jerusalem the holy city speedily in our days. Blessed art Thou, O Lord!"
With such faithful and earnest prayers have these orthodox Jews kept alive the fires of devotion and the glorious hopes of restoration, while being driven up and down the earth with the rods of enmity, ostracism and banishment. But for over seventeen centuries, while they have thus fervently prayed, they have made no effort to return to Palestine, believing that they should wait until God Himself, brought about their restoration by supernatural means.
About 200 years ago the persecutions began to abate, land in the eighteenth century they were gradually emancipated from these various disabilities. With this coming of liberty, there was a noise and a shaking and the dry bones of Ezek. 37 began to come together.10
(10) Ezek. 37:1. The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which teas full of bones,
2. And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
3. And he said unto me, Son
of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
4. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
5. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6. And I will lay sinews upon
The Universelle Israelite Alliance was organized in Paris in 1860, and later the Anglo-Jewish Association in England. Through these powerful organizations the Jews can make themselves felt throughout the world. And now, within a few years, there have been organized Chovevi (lovers of) Zion and Shova (colonizers of) Zion societies, mostly among the orthodox Jews of Russia, Roumania, Germany, and even in England and the United States. This is really the first practical effort they have made to regain their home in Palestine.
In a few words, followers of the status quo are striving to reconcile the genius of Judaism with the requirements of modern times, and in Western Europe are in a great majority.
The Reformed Jews or Neologists have rapidly thrown away their faith in the inspiration of the Scriptures. They have flung to the wind all national and Messianic hopes. Their Rabbis preach rapturously about the mission of Judaism, while joining with the most radical higher critics in the destruction of its very basis, the inspiration of the Word of God. Some have gone clear over into agnosticism.
Strange to say, from these agnostics now comes the other wing of the Zionist party. And not only have they joined this party, but they furnished the leaders, viz.: Dr. Max Nordau of Paris, and Dr. Theodore Herzl of Vienna.
The orthodox Jews who have enlisted under the Zionist banner, are animated by the most devout religious motives. But the agnostics aver that this is not a religious movement at all. It is purely economic and nationalistic. Dr. Herzl, its founder and principal leader, espoused it as a dernier resort, to escape the persecutions of anti-semitism, which has taken such a firm hold of the masses of the Aus
you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
7. So I prophesied as I was
commanded: and as I prophesied,
trian people. He conceived the idea that if the Jews could regain Palestine and establish a government, even under the suzerainty of the Sultan, it would give them a national standing which would expunge anti-semitism from the other nations of the world, and make it possible for all Jews to live comfortably in any nation they may desire.
Not all the orthodox Jews have joined this movement. Indeed, the leaders of the Chovevi Zion Societies hold aloof.
The call, issued by Dr. Herzl, for the Zionist Congress, held in Basle, Switzerland in 1897 met with severe opposition from the German Rabbis and also a large portion of the Jewish press, as well as the mass of rich reformed Jews. Nevertheless, over 200 delegates, from all over Europe and the Orient and some from the United States, met and carried through the program of the congress with tremendous enthusiasm.
Memorials, approving the object of the congress, came in from all sections, signed by tens of thousands of Jews.
The congress elected a central committee and authorized the raising of $50,000,000 capital.
It has certainly marked a wonderful innovation in the attitude of the Jews and a closer gathering of the dry bones of Ezekiel.
And now, after ten years of wonderful growth and progress it remains to be seen what the providential openings in the Ottoman Empire may be that shall give opportunity to realize its object.
Zionism is now the subject of the most acrimonious debate among the Jews. Many of the orthodox criticise it as an attempt to seize the prerogatives of their God.
While others say that God will not work miracles to accomplish that which they can do themselves.
Most of the reformed Jews, now that they can no longer ridicule the movement, decry it, as an egregious blunder that will increase instead of diminishing anti-semitism.
They have no desire to return to Palestine. They are like the man in Kansas, who, in a revival meeting said he did not want to go to heaven, nor did he wish to go to hell but he said he wanted to stay right there in Kansas.
Just so these reformed Jews are content to renounce all the prophesied glory of a Messianic kingdom in the land of their ancestors, preferring the palatial homes and gathered riches which they have acquired in Western Europe and the United States. They coolly advise their persecuted brethren, in Russia, Roumania, Persia and North Africa, to patiently endure their grievous persecutions until anti-semitism shall die out.
But these brethren retort that their prudent advisers would think very differently if they lived in Morocco or Russia, and that even in Western Europe anti-semitism instead of dying out, is rather on the increase.
In the midst of these disputes, the Zionists have seized the reins and eschewing the help of Abraham's God they have accepted agnostics as leaders and are plunging madly into this scheme for the erection of a Godless state.
But the Bible student will surely say, this godless national gathering of Israel is not the fulfilment of the glorious divine restoration, so glowingly described by the prophets.
No, indeed! Let it be carefully noted that while God has repeatedly promised to gather Israel, with such a magnificent display of His miraculous power, that it shall no more be said, "The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands whither he had driven them," Jer. 16:14; yet has He also said, "Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation that hath no longing, before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you." Zeph. 2:1, 2. Could this prophecy be more literally fulfilled than by this present Zionist movement?
One of the speakers at the first congress said of the Sultan, "If His majesty will now receive us, we will accept Him as our Messiah."
God says, "Ye have sold yourselves for nought and ye shall be redeemed without money." Isa. 52:3.
But Dr. Herzl is reported to have said, "We must buy