Derek Prince - God Doesn't Ask Our Permission
This is the second of four sessions devoted to working through Romans, chapters 9, 10 and 11, some of the most important and some of the most stretching chapters in the whole Bible. If you really want to be an intellectually educated person, just live in the epistle to the Romans. And by the time you've really mastered that, you’ll be educated, if you know nothing else. I was a professional philosopher before I became a preacher. And my considered opinion is that the epistle to the Romans is the most outstanding presentation of intellectual truth that has ever come to the world. And it takes our whole heart and mind and the revelation of the Holy Spirit to enter into this understanding.
In our first session, the theme was that God’s Choice Determines Who His People Are. You remember I spoke about sovereignty and choice. And I think I’ll give you my definition of sovereignty once more. Sovereignty means that God does what He wants when He wants, the way He wants, and He doesn’t ask your permission or mine. We better learn to live with that fact because it isn’t going to change. And So, God’s choice determines who are to be His people. He began with Abraham. Abraham had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. God rejected Ishmael and chose Isaac. Isaac had two sons who were twins: Esau and Jacob. Before they were ever born, before they ever had time to do anything good or bad, God rejected Esau and chose Jacob.
And that’s how God continues to work. Then we considered the use of the word Israel in the New Testament and I presented to you my personal conclusion after a long period of study and examination. That, in the New Testament Israel is never a synonym for the church. Israel is one thing, the church is another. However, Israel is many, many times a type of the church. Many of the things that have happened to Israel, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10, are written for our warning, that we may not make the same mistakes that Israel made. So let me just sum that conclusion up once again and we’re going to move on. Israel in the New Testament is never used as a name for the church, Israel is Israel, the church is the church. In fact, in my opinion, to mingle the two produces confusion. On the other hand, Israel is all through the Bible a type of the church. The things that happened to Israel, contain very important lessons for us as Christians today.
Now, there has been in the church for probably at least 16 centuries a theory or a theology that because Israel was so rebellious and disobedient, and also because they, in a measure, were responsible for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus although, believe me, they were not solely responsible. Because of that, this theory evolved that God has set aside Israel and that he has replaced Israel by the church. This is a very popular theory today and a lot of people are propagating it. I just want to say that I cannot personally accept it. And I want to give you three reasons why I do not accept it. Let me state the theory again that God has finally and forever rejected Israel as a people, and that in their place He has chosen and put up the church, and that all God’s commitments and covenants and promises to Israel are no longer valid. That’s the essence of that theology.
Now I will tell you three reasons why I personally cannot accept it, and I leave it to you to determine whether you agree with my reasons. First of all, it discredits the reliability of Scripture. Because, the Bible contains many very clear specific statements of what God says He will do which will never be fulfilled if God has finally and forever set aside Israel. In other words, the Bible is no longer a reliable book. To me, that is a tremendously serious objection to any theology or theory. And I want to go quickly through a number of Scriptures, and for every one I give you I could give you ten more, which clearly state God’s purpose and plan for Israel and what He’s going to do.
And I want you to consider for yourself whether these could possibly be fulfilled if God had permanently set aside Israel. Isaiah chapter 11 is the first one. I want you to listen to these carefully and then determine for yourself. Isaiah 11 verses 11 and 12: Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands [or coastlands] of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Now, those words were written before the Babylonian captivity of Israel. But even then before that took place, Isaiah predicted there would be a second regathering. Not the regathering from Babylon, but a second regathering. And the fact that many places are mentioned there from which Jews never returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity is also evidence that God did not have in mind the return from Babylon when He made that prediction. On the other hand, every statement there has been exactly fulfilled in this century in the regathering of the Jewish people now. Which means that God is still dealing with Israel as a nation.
And then we’ll go on to Jeremiah chapter 30 verse 3. And I think those of you that are familiar with Jeremiah will agree with me that he was not overindulgent to the sins of Israel. I mean, there are few prophets that have ever taken so much time to tell Israel all the evil things that they have done. He’s certainly not biased. But he says in Jeremiah 30 verse 3: For behold, there is a day coming, declares the Lord, when I shall restore the fortunes [or the captivity] of my people Israel and Judah. The Lord says, I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers and they shall possess it. There’s only one land that agrees to that description, the land that God gave the forefathers of Israel and Judah. God says, I will bring them back and they will possess it. They never possessed it after the Babylonian captivity, they were always, as it were, tenants in a land at the discretion of a Gentile empire. And eventually, as you know, they were uprooted and driven out of the land by the Roman empire in 70 AD.
So, nothing in that period answers to these words. But again, everything that’s written there has been fulfilled and and is being fulfilled in our days. And I personally, having lived almost 75 years, have witnessed these things. I was there right on the spot right in Jerusalem when the State of Israel came into being. I witnessed a miracle in modern history. So for me, this is very real. But, that’s not the primary reason. The primary reason is because God says it in His word. then in Jeremia chapter 31 and verse 10: Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, [That’s Gentiles, the nations other than Israel, goyim.] And declare in the coastlands Or the continents afar off. Coastlands means all those parts of the earth that border on the oceans.
So North America is a coastland in that sense. Declare in the coastlands afar off, and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock. Again, being fulfilled in our day. And I have also had the privilege of serving as God’s messenger in probably at least 20 nations, and making that proclamation, Hear O nations, the Lord who scattered Israel is gathering Him. And I’ve said to them when I’ve made the proclamation, This day this scripture is being fulfilled in your ears. And I can say that to you here This day this scripture is being fulfilled in your ears.
And then in Jeremiah 31 verses 35 through 37: Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day, and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name If this fixed order departs from before me [that’s the fixed order of the sun, the moon and the stars and the sea] declares the Lord, then the offspring of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus says the Lord, If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cut off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.
Very simply stated, that means that as long as you can go outside and look up in the sky and see the sun and the moon and the stars still in their divinely appointed order, as long as you can stand on the border of the sea and look at the waves roaring, by that alone you know that Israel is still a nation before the Lord with whom God is dealing. And then we move on to the prophet Ez... No wait a minute, There’s one more in Jeremiah 32, verses 35... 37–42. Jeremiah 32:37-42.
Now This is specifically referring to Israel. Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in my anger, in my wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place [which is where the prophecy was given, the land of Israel] and make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me always, for their own good, and for the good of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from me. And I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all my heart and all my soul.
When God does something with all His heart and all His soul, there isn’t really much choice for anybody else as to what is going to happen. And notice this final verse, verse 42: For thus says the Lord, Just as I brought all this calamity on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them. Well, the calamity that God has brought on Israel is a historical fact. The pages of history record it, it’s happened, it was not metaphorical, it wasn’t spiritual; it was very real and very actual. And God says, In just the same way as I brought the calamity upon them, I’m going to bring all the good upon them. It’s not going to be spiritual, it’s not going to be metaphorical; it’s going to be real in the annals of history.
And again, we live in an exciting time when we can see God doing the very thing He said He would do. Then we’ll turn to the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 20 and we’ll read verses 40–44. Ezekiel 20:40-44: For on my holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel, declares the Lord [And again, there’s only one place that answers to that description] there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve me in the land; there I shall accept them, and there I shall require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy things. As a soothing aroma I shall accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered; and I shall prove myself holy among you in the sight of the nations. God says: My name will be glorified, my holiness will be demonstrated in what I do in you. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel into the land which I swore to give to your fathers. And there you will remember your ways and all your deeds, with which you have defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things that you have done.
Notice, God does not mitigate the evil. In fact, He emphasizes it. And then He goes on to say: Then you will know that I am the Lord when I have dealt with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord. The Lord is very clear. He said, You don’t deserve it, I’m doing it that my name may be glorified and to prove my faithfulness. And then in Ezekiel 36 verses 22 and following. This is like a recapitulation of the history of Israel over the last 50 years or so, a little more than 50 years. Therefore, say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
Again and again God emphasizes, you haven’t deserved it. You’ve got no claim on it, but I’m doing it because I’ve committed myself to do it and I’m demonstrating who I am in the eyes of the nations because of my faithfulness to you. I think we should all be glad that God doesn’t remember all our corrupt deeds. don't you? I mean, how many of us would feel confident before the Lord if He wouldn’t say, I won’t remember all the bad things you’ve done. See? These are very important principles because we need them just as much as Israel does. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when I prove myself holy among you in their sight.
This is God’s testimony to all nations. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Whose land is it? Your own land. Why is it their land? Because God gave it to them and that settles it. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
Notice God says, I will regather you still in your filthiness. A lot of people have taught that if Israel is to be regathered, first of all, they must repent and then God will take them back. God says that's not the way I'm going to do it, I’m going to take them back and then I’m going to deal with them so they will repent. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I don’t believe that God has ever said to any other nation that they have a heart of stone. I don’t think you can find it in the Scripture. But He says to Israel, You’ve had a heart of stone. What is a heart of stone? It’s a heart that cannot respond to the Spirit of God, it’s incapable of doing it. And that was a judgment of God upon them. Verse 27 I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances.
See, what Israel are going to discover is what you and I’ve discovered: The only way you can ever walk in God’s statutes is when He puts His Spirit within you. I remember when I was confirmed in the Anglican church at the age of 15, I said all the right things and made all the right vows and was very serious for about six months. But it didn’t work out, you see, because God hadn’t put His Spirit within me. About ten years later God put His Spirit within me and I began to do all the things I said I would do 15 years earlier. Do you understand? So exactly the same principles apply to you and me as to Israel. Let’s go on. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, You will be careful to observe my ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers.
Again, there is only one land that answers to that description. And you will be my people, and I will be your God. Notice the end purpose of all God’s dealings with Israel is in that statement, You will be my people, and I will be your God. And God knows how to bring it about. In a certain sense, God has taken special responsibility for dealing with the Jewish people. And since I’ve come to know them pretty well, I’m rather glad that it’s God’s responsibility! Then we’ll look for a moment in Amos chapter 9 verse 14 and 15. Let me point out to you that Amos is another prophet that didn’t have much good to say to Israel. I mean, there’s about nine chapters of condemnation and judgment. When you just think the situation is hopeless, the last two verses suddenly come out with what’s like dawn after a long, dark, stormy night.
God says in Amos 9: 14 and 15 Also I will restore the captivity of my people Israel, They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them, They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I want to say that I have witnessed every one of those things happening. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. They have rebuilt the old cities. There are at least nine Biblical sites that have been rebuilt in the last 50 years in Israel. One that’s very near to us is Gelo where Ahitophel used to live. It’s a large sort of suburb of Jerusalem. Every time we look out of our back window in Jerusalem, we see Gelo. And every time I see Gelo, I say, There you are. Amos 9:14. They have also made gardens. If ever there’s been an agricultural people, it’s Israel. And they’ve also restored viniculture, which lapsed completely under the Moslems because they don’t believe in alcohol.
So, those three statements have been exactly and precisely fulfilled in front of my eyes. Why should I look for any other explanation than the obvious one, that God did it because He said He would do it. And then it says Also I will plant them in their land, Whose land? Their land. and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them, says the Lord your God. So, I venture to say to you this present restoration of Israel, they will never lose the land again. I don’t say that because there aren’t innumerable forces arrayed against them. There are, there always have been since the day the State of Israel was born. Every day that Israel exists is a miracle. But that miracle is going to continue till God has fulfilled His work.
You see, there’s never been any area of the earth or period of history about which experts have so often been wrong as the Middle East and the land of Israel in this century. So, I am not impressed by the experts. I will listen to what they have to say, but if they say something opposite to what God says, I’m going to believe God. And then there’s another one passage in Zechariah 14 which is particularly real to me. I can’t take too long over it, but it describes a situation, a geographical site where I lived for one year. That is, a certain area on the Mount of Olives. I was there because I was serving in a British military hospital which was occupying the main building on that.
So, every time I read this, everything in my imagination, I can pick out all the areas, all the positions. There’s no other place on earth that answers to this description in Zechariah 14. It’s either going to happen there the way God says it will or it’s not going to happen at all. there is no alternity. Zechariah 14, we’ll just read 2–5: For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled. But the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Believe me, this is going to be a serious situation. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when He fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in the front of Jerusalem on the east [that is exactly where I was living] The mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north, and the other half toward the south.
Now where I was living, there’s a little saddle in the mountain, with one half of it to the north, the other half to the south. This saddle is exactly east of the temple area in Jerusalem. And furthermore, it’s an earthquake area. In 1925 there was a minor earthquake which cracked the tower of the building in which I was living, and no one is allowed to go up the tower because it’s dangerous. See how absolutely perfect the description is for one place on earth? And it doesn’t begin to describe any other place. It’s either going to happen here the way God says it will or it’s not going to happen at all. And then at the end of verse 5 we get to the climax: Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with Him.
So here is the clearest single prediction, in a way, of the place to which the Lord Jesus will return. From where did He ascend to heaven? From the Mount of Olives. And the angel that came and spoke to the disciples said, This same Jesus which is taken up from you in heaven will so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven He went in clouds, He’s coming in clouds; He went from the Mount of Olives, He’s coming back to the Mount of Olives. Why make something simple, complicated? See, that’s the business of philosophers. I was a philosopher and that was my job, to make simple things complicated! But it’s not the job of preachers and it’s we’re not permitted to do that.
Now, one of the words that you hear used is literal, Do you mean that God is literally going to do all these things? The answer, I mean, is, Yes, He’s literally going to do all these things. But you see, if you begin to question the literal truth ofScripture, you’ve opened a plug that will let all the water out of the bath because you don’t have to stop at just these statements about Israel. Do you believe Jesus literally turned water into wine? What was the use of that? A lot of Baptists would object! Do you believe Jesus literally fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes? If He didn’t literally feed them, they weren’t very hungry. Spiritually feeding people is not going to satisfy their physical hunger.
See what I’m saying? And then you can go one step further. Do you believe that Jesus literally rose from the grave? You mean physically? There’s a bishop in the Anglican church that dismissed that as a conjuring trick with old bones. you know that? A fearful thought, a bishop in the Anglican church. But, the Bible teaches very clearly that if you do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you cannot be saved. You see, what the devil is doing is whittling away the truth little by little. He doesn’t start with one central truth about Jesus, he begins in another area. But the end result is discrediting the reliability of Scripture. And I would venture to estimate that almost all the theologians and the ministers in the church today who don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus don’t believe in the restoration of Israel. So there’s a certain compatibility between the two.
Now the second reason why I cannot accept this theory of the replacement of Israel is that it discredits the faithfulness of God. And I’m just going to read one passage from the Living Bible. Jeremiah chapter 33, beginning at verse 24. I read from the Living Bible because it’s so particularly vivid. Have you heard what the people are saying? that the Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them! They are sneering and saying that Israel isn’t worthy to be counted as a nation.
But this is the Lord’s reply: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws of night and day, of earth and sky. I will never abandon the Jews, or David my servant, or change the plan that his Child will someday rule these descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Instead I will restore their prosperity and have mercy on them How exactly applicable that is to our day because people really are sneering at Israel and saying they’re not worthy to be considered a nation, they crucified the Lord, that’s the end of them.
It just impresses me that the Bible is so perceptive, it looks ahead with divine telescopic sight and sees how things will be thousands of years after the words were actually written. And then one more reason why I cannot accept this theory is that it undermines the security of the church. If God can replace Israel in the light of all the statements that He’s made, all the covenants and commitments, then why not replace the church? What guarantee is there that the church won’t be replaced? If I believe that God was replacing Israel, you know, I would be looking over my shoulder all the time to see who is going to replace us. Because, brothers and sisters, if you had to consider which group had been less faithful, Israel or the church, it would be very hard to pick the one.
Let me read just a few words of Jesus to two churches in Revelation chapter 3 Revelation chapter 3 the first three verses. And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this I know your deeds that you have a name, that you are alive, and you are dead. Wake up and strengthen the things that remain which were about to die. For I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of God. Remember therefore, what you have received and heard, and keep it and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. That doesn’t seem to differ, in many ways, from what the Lord said to Israel. It seems to me they’re just about the same.
But then again, in the last message to the church, the church of Laodicea in chapter 3 of Revelation verses 14–16: And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God says this, I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth That’s very plain speaking. could that be applied to sections of the church? Are there sections of the church that are neither cold nor hot? How many are there that are not like that? Al right. Let me recapitulate my three reasons why I cannot accept what’s called replacement theology. Number one, it discredits the reliability of Scripture. Number two, it discredits the faithfulness of God. And number three, it undermines the security of the church.