“Peter tells us that this restitution is spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets. (Acts 3:19-21) They do all teach it. Ezekiel says of the valley of dry bones, “These bones are the whole house of Israel.” And God says to Israel, “Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I …shall put my spirit in you, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” Ezek. 37:11-14
To this Paul’s words agree (Rom. 11:25,26)–“Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles [the elect company, the bride of Christ] be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved,” or brought back from their cast-off condition; for “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Verse 2) They were cast off from his favor while the bride of Christ was being selected, but will be reinstated when that work is accomplished. (Verses 28-33) The prophets are full of statements of how God will plant them again, and they shall be no more plucked up. “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel…I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” (Jer. 24:5-7; 31:28; Jer. 32:40-42; 33:6-16) These cannot merely refer to restorations from former captivities in Babylon, Syria, etc., for they have since been plucked up.
Furthermore, the Lord says, “In those days, they shall say no more, the fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge, but every one [who dies] shall die for his own iniquity.” (Jer. 31:29, 30) This is not the case now. Each does not now die for his own sin, but for Adam’s sin–“In Adam all die.” He ate the sour grape of sin, and our fathers continued to eat them, entailing further sickness and misery upon their children, thus hastening the penalty, death. The day in which “every man [who dies] shall die for his own sin,” only, is the Millennial or Restitution day.
Though many of the prophecies and promises of future blessing seem to apply to Israel only, it must be remembered that they were a typical people, and hence the promises made to them, while sometimes having a special application to themselves, generally have also a wider application to the whole world of mankind which that nation typified. While Israel as a nation was typical of the whole world, its priesthood was typical of the elect “little flock,” the head and body of Christ, the “Royal Priesthood”; and the sacrifices, cleansings and atonements made for Israel typified the “better sacrifices,” fuller cleansings and real atonement “for the sins of the whole world,” of which they are a part.
And not only so, but God mentions by name other nations and promises their restoration. As a forcible illustration we mention the Sodomites. Surely, if we shall find the restitution of the Sodomites clearly taught, we may feel satisfied of the truth of this glorious doctrine of Restitution for all mankind, spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets. And why should not the Sodomites have an opportunity to reach perfection and everlasting life as well as Israel, or as any of us? True, they were not righteous, but neither was Israel, nor were we who now hear the gospel. “There is none righteous; no, not one,” aside from the imputed righteousness of Christ, who died for all. Our Lord’s own words tell us that although God rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all because of their wickedness, yet the Sodomites were not so great sinners in his sight as were the Jews, who had more knowledge. (Gen. 19:24; Luke 17:29) Unto the Jews of Capernaum he said, “If the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” Matt. 11:23
Thus our Lord teaches that the Sodomites did not have a full opportunity; and he guarantees them such opportunity when he adds (verse 24), “But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thee.” The character of the Day of Judgment and its work will be shown in succeeding pages. Here we merely call attention to the fact that it will be a tolerable for Sodom; because, though neither had yet had full knowledge, nor all the blessings designed to come through the “Seed,” yet Capernaum had sinned against more light.
And if Capernaum and all Israel are to be remembered and blessed under the “New Covenant,” sealed by the blood of Jesus, why should not the Sodomites also be blessed among “all the families of the earth”? They assuredly will be. And let it be remembered that since God “rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all” many centuries before Jesus’ day, when their restoration is spoken of, it implies their awakening, their coming from the tomb.
Let us now examine the prophecy of Ezekiel 16:48-63. Read it carefully. God here speaks of Israel, and compares her with her neighbor, Samaria, and also with the Sodomites, of whom he says, “I took them away as I saw good.” Neither Jesus nor the Prophet offers any explanation of the seeming inequality of God’s dealings in destroying Sodom and permitting others more guilty than Sodom to go unpunished. That will all be made clear when, in “due time,” his great designs are made manifest. The Prophet simply states that God “saw good” to do so, and Jesus adds that it will be more tolerable for them in the Day of Judgment than for others more guilty. But upon the supposition that death ends all probation, and that thereafter none may have opportunity to come to a knowledge of the truth and to obey it, we may well inquire, Why did God see good to take away these people without giving them a chance of salvation through the knowledge of the only name whereby they can be saved? The answer is, because it was not yet their due time. In “due time” they will be awakened from death and brought to a knowledge of the truth, and thus blessed together with all the families of the earth, by the promised “Seed.” They will then be on trial for everlasting life.
With this thought, and with no other, can we understand the dealings of the God of love with those Amalekites and other nations whom he not only permitted but commanded Israel to destroy, saying, “Go, smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1 Sam. 15:3) This apparently reckless destruction of life seems irreconcilable with the character of love attributed to God, and with the teaching of Jesus, “Love your enemies,” etc., until we come to recognize the systematic order of God’s plan, the “due time” for the accomplishment of every feature of it, and the fact that every member of the human race has a place in it.
We can now see that those Amalekites, Sodomites and others were set forth as examples of God’s just indignation, and of his determination to destroy finally and utterly evildoers: examples which will be of service not only to others, but also to themselves, when their Day of Judgment or trial comes. Those people might just as well die in that way as from disease and plague. It mattered little to them, as they were merely learning to know evil, that when on trial, in due time, they might learn righteousness, and be able to discriminate and choose the good and have life.
But let us examine the prophecy further. After comparing Israel with Sodom and Samaria, and pronouncing Israel the most blameworthy (Ezek. 16:48-54), the Lord says, “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them.” The captivity referred to can be no other than their captivity in death; for those mentioned were then dead. In death all are captives; and Christ comes to open the doors of the grave, and to set at liberty the captives. (Isa. 61:1; Zech. 9:11) In verse 55 this is called a “return to their former estate”–a restitution.” (A108-112)
Continued with next post.