Israel — What Does the Future Hold?
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Seventy Years, Four Hundred Ninety Years
AFTER 70 Years, AFTER 490 Years, NOT BEFORE
And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says the LORD; and I will make it a perpetual desolation.”. . .
For thus says the LORD: after seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good Word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10-14)
Because of the continual disobedience — “continuous” in many instances — of the Jewish people over centuries of time, God, true to His Word (Leviticus 26:14ff; Deuteronomy 28:15ff), eventually uprooted His people from their land and drove them out among the nations.
And God acted after this fashion for one central purpose — to effect repentance on the part of His people. By and through persecution at the hands of the Gentile nations, repentance, resulting in restoration, would ultimately be effected.
The northern ten tribes were uprooted from their land first and carried away captive into Assyria, beginning about 722 B.C.; and the southern two tribes were subsequently uprooted from their land and carried away captive into Babylon, beginning about 605 B.C.
And with the Babylonians having previously conquered the Assyrian Empire (with both kingdoms bordering one another, lying east and northeast of Israel), the carrying away of the southern two tribes into Babylon essentially left all twelve tribes together, as captives estranged from their land, residing in the same part of the Gentile world.
The Seventy Years
Dating from the beginning of the Babylonian captivity, God promised that after seventy years had passed, He would do two things:
1) “Punish the king of Babylon” (brought to pass through the conquest of the kingdom by the Medes and Persians at the end of the seventy years [Jeremiah 25:11, 12; Daniel 5:1-31]).
2) “Visit you (the Jewish people in Babylon) and perform My good Word toward you, and cause you to return to this place” (God, in accordance with His Word, restoring the Jewish people to their land [Jeremiah 29:10-14]).
That is to say, after seventy years had elapsed — but ONLY AFTER, NOT BEFORE — the kingdom of Babylon would be dealt with, and God would remember His numerous promises to His people pertaining to restoration (a healed people restored to a healed land).
This is what Daniel had read about and understood at this time in Daniel 9:1, 2. Daniel had read about and understood these things in the writings of Jeremiah the prophet (translate “books” [v. 2] as “writings” [ref. NIV]). And, as seen through his actions at this time, Daniel evidently had also read about and understood from other writings (Moses and other prophets) that repentance on the part of the Jewish people must precede God visiting his people and restoring them to their land (e.g., Leviticus 26:40-42; 2 Chronicles 6:24-27; 7:12-14).
Daniel, knowing that the seventy years had run their course (along with the Babylonian kingdom having fallen to the Medes and the Persians), set about to seek the Lord’s face “by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” (Daniel 9:3). Daniel then began to confess his own sins and those of the people, detailed throughout the next sixteen verses (vv. 4-19).
Thus, one thing that was necessary for the Jewish people to be restored to their land had occurred (the end of the seventy years); and Daniel, as an individual, was bringing to pass the only remaining thing necessary (repentance, confessing his own sins and those of the Jewish people).
How far repentance of this nature extended beyond Daniel is unrevealed. Nonetheless, God opened the door at this time for a return of the Jewish people from Babylon back to the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And though only remnants returned, mainly at two different times — the first under Zerubbabel, the second under Ezra — God, true to His Word, effected a restoration of His people after the seventy years had run their course.
Most of the Jewish people, over time, had seemingly settled down in the world and chosen to remain where they resided — in the Babylonian kingdom, now ruled by the Medes and the Persians.
The Four Hundred and Ninety Years
Toward the end of Daniel’s prayer and supplication, while he was still praying, the angel Gabriel interrupted him. Gabriel had been sent at the beginning of his prayer and supplication in order to reveal to Daniel a period of time subsequent to the seventy years — a longer period of time involving the Jewish people, having to do with the same thing as the seventy years (Daniel 9:20-23).
This latter period was seven times as long as the period that had just elapsed — four hundred and ninety years rather than seventy years (Daniel 9:24-27); and it would only be at the end of this subsequent, longer period that all of the Jewish people scattered throughout the Gentile nations would be brought to the place of repentance and restored to their land.
And, according to the Prophets, as these four hundred and ninety years were brought to a close — exactly as at the close of the seventy years — there would be a latter worldwide kingdom of Babylon, with the Jewish people scattered throughout this kingdom.
(Four hundred and eighty-three of the full four hundred and ninety years are now past, leading to the events surrounding Calvary at Christ’s first coming. And at this time, God, so to speak, stopped the clock marking off time in the prophecy and set Israel aside for a dispensation, during which time the Spirit was sent into the world [already in the world, but now given a new commission] to call out a bride for God’s Son.
And the Spirit’s work in this respect, in the antitype of that which is seen in Genesis 24 [between the time of the death of Abraham’s wife (chapter 23) and Abraham again taking a wife (chapter 25)], would be performed among those forming a new creation brought into existence at this time, the one new man “in Christ.”
Then, at the end of the Spirit’s work in the preceding respect, God would remove this new man and resume His dealings with Israel, with time covering the remaining seven years being fulfilled.
And it will be during and at the end of these last seven years that the Jewish people will once again reside in and be restored back to their land from a Babylonian kingdom [in complete keeping with the types].
For additional information on the preceding, refer to Chapter 12, “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks,” in the author’s book, The Time of the End; also see the author’s book, Search for the Bride.)
And exactly the same promises and the same thing seen at the end of the seventy years in Jeremiah and Daniel will occur at the end of the four hundred and ninety years in Daniel.
1) The king of Babylon in that day — the final king of Babylon, Antichrist — will be “punished” (Isaiah 63:1ff; Joel 3:9ff; Revelation 19:11ff).
2) God, through His Son, will “visit” His people, perform His “good Word” toward them (fulfill His promises), causing a healed people to return to a healed land.
That is to say, after a full four hundred and ninety years have elapsed — but ONLY AFTER, NOT BEFORE — the kingdom of Babylon will be dealt with, destroyed; and God will, at that time, remember His numerous promises to His people pertaining to restoration, both the people and the land.
In That Day, Not the Present Day
As there was a return of a remnant of Jews from the Babylonian captivity in history, there has been a return of a remnant of Jews from a worldwide dispersion during modern times — occurring since May 14, 1948, when Israel declared statehood. And though both were/have been allowed by God and numerous parallels exist, they really are not the same type of restoration at all.
Israel, in history, had completed God’s required seventy years in Gentile captivity (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10-14). Israel, today, has not completed God’s required four hundred and ninety years in Gentile captivity. Seven years yet remain (Daniel 9:24-27).
Israel could not return in history until God’s required time in Gentile captivity had run its course; nor can Israel do so today.
The restoration of a remnant in history was under God’s direction, at His command; the restoration of a remnant today has been the result of a Zionistic movement, under man’s direction and command.
God simply will not allow the Jewish people to return from their present dispersion among the Gentiles, under His direction and command, until the full time covered by the four hundred and ninety years has run its course. To state otherwise would have God acting contrary to His revealed Word, which is an impossibility.
A rather strange situation though exists in the world today. Most of the Bible students and Bible teachers studying about or giving any thought to Israel’s place in God’s economy, both present and future, attempt to see and teach that God is dealing with Israel relative to a restoration to the land and that the land is being healed during a time before the end of the four hundred and ninety years, before the Jewish people are brought to the place of repentance.
But God’s dealings with the Jewish people after this fashion didn’t occur during the seventy years in Jeremiah, and God’s dealings with the Jewish people after this fashion are not going to occur during the four hundred and ninety years in Daniel either.
God’s requirements in both places can only be seen to be the same.
Both could/can occur only following the full time in view (seventy years, four hundred and ninety years), and both could/can occur only following repentance.
Then, aside from the preceding, attempting to see and understand that which has been occurring in the Middle East and the world at large since May 14, 1948 as God restoring the Jewish people and their land in accordance with His numerous promises presents a dispensational problem.
God is not, He cannot be, dealing with Israel in this respect today. Israel has been set aside while God, through His Spirit, calls out a bride to reign as consort queen with His Son in the coming kingdom. God will turn back to and deal with Israel ONLY AFTER the Spirit has completed His work in this respect, ONLY AFTER the present dispensation has run its course.
And of course numerous other things as well are out of line with popular thought today, both among Christians in the world and among Jews both in Israel and those still scattered among the nations.
1) The house of Israel — a reference to the people, their capital city, the Temple, and the land (all inseparably related) — has been left desolate. And the one who will complete this desolation, bringing it to an apex, has yet to appear (Daniel 9:26, 27).
He (the Antichrist) will appear only when time covering the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy resumes, and he will bring the desolation in view to an apex toward the end of this time, during the closing days of Daniel’s prophecy (refer Chapters 1, 2, “Your House Left Desolate” [Parts 1, 2], in the Author’s book, Middle East Peace – How? When?).
2) Healing for the Jewish people and their land will occur only AFTER two days, on the third day. It will be only AFTER two days, on the third day (AFTER 2,000 years, in the third 1,000-year period), that all three of God’s firstborn Sons — Christ, Israel, and the Church (following the adoption) — will be raised up to live in His sight. That which is occurring in the Middle East today is occurring near the end of the second day, not on the third day where it MUST occur (refer to Appendix 3 in this book, “Three Days and Three Nights”).
3) Israel, the slayer typified in Numbers 35, can avail herself of the ransom only AFTER a certain time (avail herself of the cleansing [atonement] seen in Numbers 19, cleansing from contact with a dead body, the body of the nation’s Messiah. The time for this cleansing is seen in a two-fold manner in Numbers 19.
This cleansing can occur ONLY on the third or seventh day (three days dating back to the crucifixion, or seven days dating back to Adam), and it can occur ONLY following the death of the high priest (which can only be a reference to Christ’s completion of His present priestly ministry in the sanctuary, preceding that time when He comes forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek [refer to Chapters 7, 8, “Time of Israel’s Restoration” (Parts
1, 2), in the author’s book, Middle East Peace – How? When?]).
(Along with the erroneous teaching that God is restoring an unbelieving and unrepentant Jewish people and their land today, there is a related erroneous teaching that God will first restore His people to their land in unbelief prior to their national conversion.
Such a teaching is derived from Scriptures such as Numbers 35 or Ezekiel 36:24-32, attempting to align these sections of Scripture with Israel’s national conversion rather than with cleansing following their conversion [e.g., during Moses’ day, a cleansing of the people for sin occurred through Aaron’s work in the sanctuary, following the death of the firstborn in Egypt; or, note in Christendom today, a cleansing of the people for sin occurs by Christ’s present work in the heavenly sanctuary, following His finished work at Calvary].
According to any Scriptures dealing with the subject, Israel’s national conversion occurs FOLLOWING Christ’s return BEFORE the Jewish people have been restored to their land.
This, for example, is seen in the type during Moses’ day, or in the order of the fulfillment of the seven festivals in Leviticus 23.
Thus, Israel’s national conversion [fulfilling the first Jewish festival, the Passover] will occur while the Jewish people are still scattered among the nations; the cleansing, which many are confusing with the former, occurs subsequent to Israel’s national conversion, after the Jewish people have been restored to their land [having to do with activities occurring on the second and sixth of the Jewish festivals — the festivals of Unleavened Bread and Atonement; ref. Pt. 6.)
4) The Jewish people cannot be restored UNTIL they have acquired ALL the wealth possessed by the Gentiles.
Jacob, in the type (Genesis 28:15-31:3), as the Jewish people today, tried to return to the land before he had acquired all of Laban’s wealth (Genesis 30:25ff). But he couldn’t. The heavens remained closed, and God did not speak to Jacob during the entire time of his exile, not until he had acquired all of Laban’s wealth and not until it was time for him to return. THEN… And ONLY THEN… (Genesis 31:1-3).
The Jewish people today have returned to the land through MAN’S EFFORTS in a Zionistic movement, DURING their time of exile, BEFORE acquiring all of the Gentile’s wealth, BEFORE the time God speaks to them in this respect.
When God restores His people to the land, it will occur during His time, not during their time. And they will be restored through divine power, not man’s power, never to be uprooted again (Amos 9:11-15). The remnant presently in the land has been restored BEFORE the time through other than divine power; and they, having been restored in this means, will, of necessity, be uprooted from their land once again (Matthew 24:15ff; Luke 21:20ff; Revelation 12:6, 14ff [refer to Chapter 7 in this book, “Time of Israel’s Restoration”]).
5) Israel’s restoration can occur only following Christ’s return at the end of the Tribulation, which will be AFTER the full four hundred and ninety years have run their course (refer to Chapters 3, 4, “Moses and Elijah in That Day” [Parts 1, 2], in the author’s book, Coming in His Kingdom).
6) The seven Jewish festivals in Leviticus 23 form what could be called, “The Prophetic Calendar of Israel,” and none of these festivals has been fulfilled insofar as Israel is concerned.
And they must be fulfilled in a sequential order, following Christ’s return (e.g., the first festival is the Passover; Israel has slain the Lamb, but they have yet to apply the blood). Thus, the very first of the seven festivals remains unfulfilled (refer to Appendix 2, “The Seven Jewish Festivals,” in the author’s book, We Are Almost There).
As previously stated, prevalent thought in Christian circles today relative to the restoration of the Jewish people to the land in the Abrahamic covenant has to do with a false teaching concerning that which has been occurring in the land of Israel and the world at large since May 14, 1948.
To date, some 6,000,000 Jews have returned, and large parts of the land have been reclaimed for agricultural purposes.
Most Christians who involve themselves in the matter today — many referring to themselves as “Christian Zionists” — erroneously look upon that which has been occurring since the spring of 1948 as God progressively restoring the Jewish people and their land in accordance with His numerous promises in the Old Testament to do so.
In this respect, the whole of the matter is rather amazing — though not relative to the Jewish people returning to the land in the Abrahamic covenant, for a remnant (which, as we know today, will have resulted from Zionism) must be in the land when Antichrist appears on the scene.
Rather, the amazing part has to do with the vast numbers of Christians, who should know better, completely misunderstanding what is happening and, resultantly, making a mistake of this magnitude, one with far-reaching, negative ramifications.
It is amazing that ANY Christian with an open Bible would make this mistake, though understandable because of the working of the leaven in Christendom over two millennia of time, resulting in few Christians today studying Scripture after the manner in which it has been written and structured (Matthew 13:33).
But what can perhaps be seen as even more amazing than the preceding is the fact that MOST of the Christians involving themselves in this facet of biblical studies are making this mistake, though again somewhat understandable for the reason previously given. And this is not something minor in biblical studies. Rather, this is something major, very major. This is something that can only have a dire, negative impact upon a Christian’s outlook and understanding of the present and future place that the Jewish people occupy in God’s economy.
Then, part and parcel with the preceding, are the numerous pastors and Bible teachers who are caught up in this false ideology and are misleading the masses. It’s not a pretty picture when one begins looking at what’s presently happening in this respect in Christendom, but that’s how matters exist nonetheless.
Until That Day…
To provide a current, up-to-date example of what is really happening in the Middle East relative to Israel and the nations, showing how Scripture handles and reflects on the matter rather than how all too many of those who should know better are trying to handle the matter, note that which has been and continues to occur in that part of the world today.
The Middle East, for some time, has been unraveling, so to speak; and that can be seen even more so with events of each passing day, with this unraveling, this coming apart, now beginning to spill over into and affect Europe in a negative manner. And from there, of course, it can only eventually affect the world at large in a similar or related manner.
As this is being written (September 2015), ISIS, with its continuing reign of terror, now has existing cells scattered over a good part of the war-torn Middle East, fostering persecution (often ending in death) and economic hardship. And masses of people — mainly Moslems — are fleeing the Middle East by whatever means they can find.
They are traveling by boats on the Mediterranean, walking across land routes in different nations, and are heading toward parts of Europe, overwhelming sections of Europe by their very numbers.
Then there is the Iranian nuclear problem, with different opposing and often warring segments of the Moslem religion (mainly Sunnis and Shiites) thrown into the mix.
Then, of course, there is Israel — the only nation with a God — situated in the midst of all this turmoil.
All is seemingly quite uncertain in one respect. Though, in another respect, there is ONE THING that can be known for certain.
One can know for certain that THE WHOLE OF THE MATTER is only going to get worse, far worse.
It is very simple and can be answered in two very concise, short, to-the-point statements:
1) Israel, the nation through which God views and deals with the entire matter (ref. Chapter 1 in this book, “The Pupil of God’s Eye”)!
2) The Prophets, those through whom God spoke in time past!
Israel’s very presence in the Middle East is the catalyst for, essentially, the whole of what’s occurring.
And, the Prophets have spoken, with their words being FINAL!
The present existence of a Jewish nation in the Middle East (which is made up largely of humanists, atheists, and agnostics), BEFORE the full end of the four hundred and ninety years, is nothing more or nothing less than the Jewish people rising up and seeking to emancipate themselves from exile, apart from their Messiah, establishing a Jewish nation themselves, entirely through natural means, in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Jewish people have sought to do this BEFORE the time by re-entering a desolated house, seeking to effect a healing of the Jewish people and their land themselves, through natural means.
Then, not only is the preceding true, but, by doing this, the Jewish people have not only opened the door for but guaranteed that God’s judgment upon the nation, to ultimately bring about repentance, would be intensified seven-fold (Matthew 12:43-45; cf. Leviticus 26:18ff [ref. Chapters 3, 4 in this book]).
And God uses the Gentile nations to bring about judgment of this nature upon His people. In this respect, the turmoil existing among the nations in the Middle East can be addressed in a very simple manner, made known millennia ago by the Prophets.
It all has to do with God’s plans and purposes for Israel and the nations. It has to do with bringing to pass that which it will ultimately take to bring Israel to the place of repentance, in order that through the Jewish people, all of the Gentile nations — even the very nations fostering anti-Semitism today, some to the extent of seeking Israel’s very destruction — can not only be evangelized by but be blessed through Israel.
And God is going to allow matters to increasingly go to the extremes that it will ultimately take in order to bring this to pass.
1) The Biblical Picture
The biblical picture of that which is currently occurring in the Middle East can be seen in the opening verses of the book of Jonah.
An unrepentant Jonah, out of the Lord’s will and seeking to distance himself from the presence of the Lord, booked passage on board a ship headed in the opposite direction from where the Lord had told him to go. And Jonah, in this condition, was asleep down in the hold of the ship when God caused the sea to become so tumultuous that the very ship itself, with all those on board the ship, was about to be destroyed (Jonah 1:1-5).
This storm arose for one multifaceted reason and purpose alone. It arose because of Jonah. God’s prophet was out of place, and the storm arose in order to rectify the situation (Jonah 1:6-12).
Jonah must be dealt with and brought to the place of repentance, bringing Jonah to the place where he would then do as God had commanded. And bringing about repentance was something that could happen only in one place, not on the ship, but in the sea. Jonah MUST be cast from the ship into the sea.
“The sea” in Scripture is used as a metaphor for the nations (also, the place of death); and “the ship” could only be seen as a reference to the land of Israel, for that is the only place on earth where one could reside and be seen as other than out among the nations, other than in the sea.)
The preceding is the type. Now note the antitype — Israel in the land today and that which, according to the type, MUST occur.
A disobedient and unrepentant nation, following in Jonah’s footsteps, resides in the land — on the ship — today. And exactly the same thing is occurring among the nations, particularly those nations surrounding Israel, as occurred in the sea during Jonah’s day.
The sea raged in the type, because of Jonah; and the sea is raging today in the antitype, because of Israel. In the type, the sea raged to the extent that the ship was about to be destroyed; and the beginning of exactly the same thing, to be climaxed during the coming Tribulation, can be seen in the Middle East today.
And whether type or antitype, the reason for the tumultuous condition was/is the same — a disobedient and unrepentant Jonah running from the presence of the Lord, and a disobedient and unrepentant Jewish nation following suit in the land today.
2) The Biblical Solution
Do you want to know what’s about to happen? The type will relate the complete story. And if you think it’s bad now, just wait!
It can only become worse with time, with no one being able to do a thing about the matter (Hosea 5:14). The type relates this, and the antitype must follow the type in exact detail.
Again, all of what is presently occurring and will yet occur in the Middle East has one catalyst, and God is bringing all of this to pass in order to rectify an existing situation.
As long as a disobedient and unrepentant Jonah was on board the ship, out of the Lord’s will, the sea raged. And the sea raged to the extent that the ship was about to be destroyed.
And matters can be NO DIFFERENT in the antitype.
As long as an unbelieving and unrepentant Jewish nation is in the land, turmoil can only exist among the Gentile nations, particularly those nations surrounding Israel in the Middle East.
And this turmoil, as the raging sea during Jonah’s day, can ultimately be no ordinary turmoil. It can ultimately only be the same type of turmoil seen in the tumultuous sea during Jonah’s day, described in Matthew 24:22:
And unless those days were shortened [days during the coming Tribulation just out ahead, the last seven years of the full four hundred and ninety years], no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake [for Israel’s sake] those days will be shortened.
(For additional information on these days, refer to the author’s book, Distant Hoofbeats.)
God, exactly as in the type, is about to pull out all stops in order to bring His plans and purposes for mankind to pass, plans and purposes to be effected through Israel.
In the type, bringing about His plans and purposes had to do with a Jewish prophet, ultimately bringing to pass salvation and blessings for the Gentile city of Nineveh.
And in the antitype, bringing about His plans and purposes has to do with the nation of Israel, which will ultimately bring to pass salvation and blessings for the Gentile nations of the earth.
(For additional information on the preceding, refer to Chapters 5, 6 in this book, which deal with different facets of the matter.
Also, note something that some individuals would see as a problem with respect to all of this.
As Jonah in the type had to be removed from the ship and cast into the sea, Israel in the antitype has to be removed from the land and driven back out among the nations. God dealt with Jonah only in the sea, as He will deal with Israel only out among the nations [this is the place where He had previously driven Israel, to deal with the nation in this manner — the “place” which He will also have “prepared” for Israel yet future, during the Tribulation (Revelation 12:6, 14)].
The seeming problem would emanate from God having dealt with Israel in the land after this fashion numerous times in the book of Judges, along with similar dealings at Christ’s first coming.
But note a major difference between the nation both times in history and the nation today. The nation in the land both times in history found itself under Gentile dominion and control; the nation in the land today is not under Gentile dominion and control.
Thus, the nation presently in the land is left without recourse. This nation either has to be brought under Gentile dominion and control or be uprooted and driven back out among the nations; and Scripture states that the latter will occur [Matthew 24:15ff; Luke 21:20ff; Revelation 12:6, 14ff].
Then, out among the nations, God will deal with Israel [the whole house of Israel, not with just those in the land today] exactly as He dealt with Jonah in the sea, with the ultimate results in the antitype occurring exactly as seen in the type [Jonah 2:1ff; 3:1ff].)