Advent Testimony Address
Address by Rev. E. L. Langston, M.A.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! The voice of thy watchman! they lift up the voice, together do they sing! for they shall see, eye to eye, when the Lord returneth to Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.”
Do we not stand to-day almost on the very verge of the fulfilment of this glorious prophecy in regard to the future glory of Israel? God's purposes for world redemption are wrapped up in that race; and for those of us who will be studying, as we have never studied before, the Prophetic Word, may I throw out a hint? There are five chosen persons or places in the Bible that are wrapped up in God's plans and purposes for this world - an elect or chosen nation, an elect or chosen land, an elect or chosen city, an elect or chosen king, elect or chosen individuals, viz., the Church of God. God's purposes for this devil-driven world are wrapped up with the destiny of those five elect persons or places.
The Chosen People.
This afternoon one wants to speak of those first two - the chosen people and the chosen land. It has been my lot and privilege during the past few years to have visited the Jewish race in North Africa, Asia Minor, Turkey, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Galicia, and in Russia, and there have seen something of the appalling conditions under which the brethren of our Lord, according to the flesh, are living.
One has gone into rooms in Russia; just small rooms, with two or three families in each room, where they have had to live, morning, noon, and night, in almost unspeakable misery and filth. Since the war broke out one has been again into Russia; down the River Volga to Nishni Novgorod; Penza, and other places, where there are something like 2 1/2 million Jewish refugees going through untold horrors in this day of darkness. The suffering that the Jews are now undergoing are typical of what they have been enduring ever since their dispersion in A.D. 70.
And now, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come,” is the message which we can take to his downtrodden, depressed race, this race that has been ill-treated and in all countries disliked. Looking at their present condition, how literally true is the Word of God: “The Lord shall scatter thee among all the peoples, from the one end of the earth unto the other end of the earth. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of thy foot: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and pining of soul; and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt have none assurance of thy life: in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning!” Such has been their condition now amongst all nations at different periods during the past nineteen centuries; hunted and haunted amongst the nations, wanderers, restless, unloved, and disliked.
But the Word of God is to be literally fulfilled with regard to this race.
“Yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly and to break my covenant with them: for I am Jehovah their God.” - Lev. 26 v 44.
We must take the Word of God literally today. Listen to these words of God's unalterable law with regard to this race - Jer. 31 v 31-37:
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man is neighbour: and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more. Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which stirreth up the sea, that the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: if these ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the Lord: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.”
The Chosen Land.
Now today, dear friends, we are glad to live in a period when God is about to do these things on behalf of the children of Israel and the children of Judah. There are indications now manifest and clear that God is about to restore Israel into favour again. Just twenty years ago, in 1897, there were gathered together away in Basle a large number of Jews. Their convener was a well-known Romanian lawyer (Dr. Hertzl), who, seeing the distress of his brethren in every country, called together delegates from all the Jewries of he world to come and join him at Basle for the purpose of considering the future of their race. As a result of their discussions a famous manifesto was put forth by that now celebrated conference which might be summed up in the words “Palestine for the Jews.” That manifesto was written up and circulated in the press of the world. Many of the educated and Reformed Jews on read those famous words said, “The whole scheme is Utopian. It is a movement before its time. The Turk will never allow us to go back to Palestine. It is absolutely absurd!” But what hath God wrought?
Thirty-five years ago in Jerusalem there was a population of about twenty-four thousand people, of whom only four thousand were Jews. Just before the outbreak of war there were at least in Jerusalem eighty thousand people. That is to say, if Josephus is correct, Jerusalem had as large a population as in the days of our Lord. Of those eighty thousand people there were at least - I am giving you the minimum number; some authorities put it much higher — there were at least sixty-five thousand Jews in that city, i.e., four-fifths of the population of Jerusalem being Jews. Thus, for the first time since A.D. 70, and within the lifetime of the large majority of us present, Jerusalem has become a Jewish city. Palestine is but a little land, only a little larger than Wales, and for nineteen centuries, like the people, has been barren and desolate, with a slight rainfall.
As a result of Zionism we have seen during the past few years planted up and down the Holy Land something like forty to fifty agricultural colonies manned only by Jews, the sacred tongue, Hebrew, being revived and spoken by little children in those colonies. Remember that as a result of the reign of “the unspeakable Turk” everything in that land was taxed that could possibly be taxed; so much so that even trees were taxed from sixpence to two shillings and sixpence a tree. But as the result of Zionist influence in that land in one colony alone over 400,000 fruit trees have been planted and some millions of vine slips. After this partial opening-up of Palestine there follows this devastating war, and we have seen, and are seeing, as a result, the Turk being turned, bag and baggage, out of the Holy Land. Today we are thrilled when we think of the sacred privilege that has been granted to our beloved country in being allowed by God to enter into the Holy City, and to thus deliver it from the thraldom of both the Turk and the Moslem. What an honour God has given to us as a country in allowing the Union Jack to fly over that city!
The Future of Jerusalem.
At the same time, and coinciding with our taking of Jerusalem, there were gathered together in Westminster a number of politicians to consider what is to be the future both of the Jew and of Palestine, their advisers — another instance of the overruling providence of God — being distinguished Jews. Why are they there? Why has God overruled that they should be there? As a result of their combined deliberations facilities are to be given to the Jewish race to settle down again in this our time in their own country. We are, therefore, likely to see in the near future a Jewish State in Palestine. It may be in a month or two, it may be in a year or two; but the intention is to restore the land to the people and the people to the land.
To men of the world it must be a strange and remarkable thin to consider that the very words of Scripture are being fulfilled. For look at Isa. 14 v 1, 2; 49 v 22; and 66 v 20, and you will see there that the Gentile powers, the nations, are to be the instruments in God's hands for restoring the land to the people and the people to the land. God has given the British army and nation the privilege of opening-up the doors of the land to the people whose ownership it really is.
We want to ask ourselves the question today, Why must this land go back to the people, and why must the oh go back to the land? To answer this question we must go far back in the purposes of God and study that epoch-making chapter in the Bible, viz., Gen. 12.
The Covenant of God.
There, in the first three verses — remarkable verses- - God takes out of the nations of the world a man, and He enters into an unconditional covenant with that man. In that Covenant there are seven clauses, and the seventh clause of that covenant is this: “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” That covenant is reiterated to all the Patriarchs and to the house of Israel. “In thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” So far that covenant has not been fully fulfilled. But you say, “Surely it was fulfilled in Christ.” Then I ask you, How is it that there are 800 million people on the face of this earth who know nothing of God in the face of Jesus Christ? Israel, in those wonderful Messianic Psalms, full of the destiny and future glory of their race, burst out in a paean of praise, as, for instance, in Psalm 67, first of prayer, and then of praise “God be merciful unto us.” That is what Israel is praying today. “And bless us; that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.” Isa. 27 v 6: “In days to come shall Jacob take root; Israel shall blossom and bud: and they shall fill the face of the world with fruit.”
The Return of the Jews.
Now the Jews are going back, and when they go back to their land they are going back, we believe, to trouble. For on returning to the land must face their sorest trial if we read prophecy aright; a time will come when they will almost be annihilated. Suddenly, however, when all seems to be hopeless, they are to get a vision of their Messiah and King championing their cause. “His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives” (Zech. 14 v 1-9); and in Zech. 12 v 10 we read, “They shall look unto Me whom they have pierced.” The Jewish nation is, therefore, suddenly to receive a revelation of the Christ, which will have such a marvellous effect upon that race that the whole land mourns, “every family apart, the family of David apart, the family of Nathan apart, the family of Levi apart, the family of Shimei apart; the whole land mourning apart because of the awful tragedy of the Cross, because they had spurned the Son of God, their Messiah.
After that vision, and after that day of mourning, what is to happen? You get a picture of it in Isa. 61 v 6: “Ye shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God" Zechariah tells us that “ten men” — the complete number - “shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” What a glorious day that will be when all Israel shall be saved!
Then what are they destined to accomplish? Again they will be dispersed among the nations, but no longer to be a curse, a stumbling-block; for wherever they go they publish peace and salvation; they are to be the means in God’s hands of bringing the nations of this world to know the Lord our God, and lead them into the paths of holiness and righteousness.
And now, in the light of that day, realising that these things are coming to pass, that God’s purposes are being carried out, that the powers of sin and hell are going to be broken, and that the messengers of the Lord are going back to be prepared for their glorious destiny - what is our duty? Surely the command to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” comes to us now with renewed force and emphasis. The God of Israel is here today speaking with no uncertain sound to our innermost souls, saying: “Ye that are the Lord’s remembrancers, ye that make mention of the Lord, take ye no rest; and give Him no rest till He establish and till make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
It is an awful thing for us to gather together on an occasion like this, living at such a crisis, hearing the word of God from His servants and from His Book, and not being prepared to go all lengths with God and to place ourselves at His disposal for Him to do with us as He wills. We are longing to see the manifestation of the Presence and Power of God in our own country; we are longing to see the remnant of the house of Israel gathered in. We are here all before our God with one heart-longing, and our one cry is, “Father, glorify Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done upon earth, as it is in heaven.” Shall we not, in the light of these days and the signs of these times, pray with all earnestness, such as we have never perhaps prayed in our life before, to our Master here and now: “Lord, here am I; take me, use me as Thou wilt, how Thou wilt, where Thou wilt. May I be filled with all Thy fulness, that all who come into touch with me may see and know that ‘It is not I, but Christ.” Thus shall we be waiting, watching, ready, looking for that glorious day when we shal united with Him in the heavenlies, and preparing to reign with Him in the days to come.