John Owen on the Regathering of the Jews to their Land

220px-john_owen_by_john_greenhillAn Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (A New Edition in Four Volumes, London, 1840) Vol. I by John Owen,

“10. Eighthly. Moreover it is granted, that there shall be a time during the continuance of the kingdom of the Messiah in this world, when the generality of the Jews, all the world over, shall be called and effectually brought to the knowledge of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ ; with which mercy they shall also receive deliverance from their captivity, restoration to their own land, with a blessed, flourishing, and happy condition therein. I shall not here enter into a confirmation of this concession, or assertion. The work would be long and great, because of the difference about the time, season, manner of their call, and their following condition; and so it is unmeet for us to undertake it, in the winding up of these discourses. I only assert the thing itself, and have no cause, as to the end aimed at, to inquire into the time and manner of its accomplishment. Besides, the event will be the only infallible expositor of these things, and in matters of such importance as those before us I shall not trouble the reader with conjectures. The thing itself is acknowledged, as far as I can understand, by all who have any acquaintance with these things. Christians generally do assert it, look for it, pray for it, and have done so in all ages from the days of the apostles. Mahometans are not without some thoughts of what shall befall the Jews before the end of the world. As to the Jews themselves, in their false notion of it, it is the life of their hopes and religion. What is it, then, that the Jews plead ? what do they expect ? what promises are given unto them ? They say that they shall be delivered out of their captivity, restored to their own land, and enjoy peace and quietness, glory and honour there. We also say the same concerning them ; but by whom shall these things be wrought for them ? By their Messiah, they say, at his coming. But shall he do all these things for them, whether they believe in him or no ; whether they obey him or reject him ; whether they love him or curse him ? Is there no more required to this deliverance but that he should come to them ? Is it not also that they should come to him? Here then lies the only difference between us ; we acknowledge that the promises mentioned are not yet all of them actually fulfilled towards them ; this they also plead. The reason hereof, they say, is because the Messiah is not yet come ; so casting the blame on God, who hath not made good his word according to the time limited expressly by himself. We say that the reason of it is, because they come not by faith and obedience to the Messiah, who long since came to them, and so cast the blame, where sure it is more likely to lie, even on them and their unbelief. They are in expectation that the Messiah will come to them ; we, that they will come to the Messiah; and it may be this difference may ere long be reconciled, by his appearance to them, and so calling them to faith and obedience.”

(pg. 316)

“For, 5. We grant that there are many promises on record in the Scripture concerning their gathering together, their return to God by the Messiah, and the great peace and glory that they shall then enjoy. If we except their opinion concerning the perpetuity of the ceremonial law, and their return in the observance of it to their carnal ordinances, (which opinion is founded on an apprehension, which the rest of the world has long ago renounced, namely, that God is pleased with the blood of bulls and goats for its own sake, and not for its signification of that which was infinitely more excellent and glorious 😉 and if we except their vain and foolish imaginations about sensual pleasures, Behemoth, the wine of Paradise, and the literal accomplishment of evident allegories, which the wisest among themselves begin to be ashamed of; with these exceptions, there is nothing in their own expectations which we do not acknowledge that they shall be made partakers of. They shall return to their own land ; they shall enjoy it for a quiet and everlasting possession, their adversaries being destroyed;

they shall also be filled with the light and knowledge of the will and worship of God, so as to be a guide and blessing to the residue of the Gentiles who seek after the Lord, and, perhaps, shall be entrusted with great empire and rule in the world. The most of these things are foretold concerning them, not only in their own prophetical writings, but also by the divine writers of sundry books of the New Testament. But all this, we say, must come to pass when the veil shall be taken from their eyes, and when they shall look on him whom they have pierced ; and when they joyfully receive him whom they have sinfully rejected for so many generations. Until this be done, they may wrestle as they can with their perplexities, and comfort themselves as well as they are able in their miseries ; they may get money in their dispersions by all unlawful arts and ways imaginable ; and may expose themselves to the delusions of impostors, false prophets, and pretended deliverers, which to their unspeakable misery and reproach they have now done ten times ; yet deliverance, peace, tranquility, acceptance with God and man, they shall not obtain. Here lies the crisis of their condition. When they shall receive, acknowledge, and believe in that Messiah who came to them so long time since, whom their fathers wickedly slew, and hanged on a tree, and whom they have since no less wickedly rejected ; and when by his Spirit and grace they shall be turned from ungodliness, and shall have their eyes opened to see the mystery of the grace, wisdom, and love of God in the blood of his Son ; then shall they obtain mercy from the God of their forefathers, and returning again to their own land, ‘ Jerusalem shall be inhabited again, even in Jerusalem.’”

(pg. 324-325)

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