THE FIGHT FOR THE KINGDOM
AND JUSTICE FOR
By R. Llewelyn Williams
originally published in 1957
edited & supplemented by JAH in 2001
The name Israel (Champion of God, or Ruling with God), is a title which was specially bestowed by God Himself upon Jacob, the ancestor of the Israel people.
Jacob-Israel had twelve sons, of whom Judah was the fourth. It is obvious, therefore, that Judah was one of the children of Israel, and equally obvious that the other eleven sons could not possibly have been Judah.
Each of these twelve sons founded a tribe, with the exception of Joseph, who founded two tribes through his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. There were thus, strictly speaking, thirteen tribes; but, inasmuch as the tribe of Levi had no territorial status but was dispersed throughout the other twelve tribes for the performance of special duties, it became customary to speak of the whole nation as the twelve tribes of Israel.
These tribes were organized into a kingdom, of which God Himself was the King: a Theocratic State, which lasted about four hundred years. At the end of that time they decided to set up a visible and earthly king, and first Saul, then David, and lastly Rehoboam, reigned over the original united kingdom of all-Israel.
In the reign of Rehoboam this kingdom was split into two parts: the tribes of Judah, Benjamin with some of the tribe of Levi scattered amongst them formed the kingdom of Judah, while the remaining ten tribes with the remainder of the Levites scattered amongst them formed the new northern kingdom of Israel. This great division took place about 975 B.C., and from this time forward the terms Israel and Judah generally refer to the two separate kingdoms so formed.
Between the dates 741 B.C. and 676 B.C., the people of the kingdom of Israel were deported by the Assyrians to a district north of Nineveh; and shortly afterwards their land was handed over to colonists from the Assyrian Empire.
The main deportations of Judah took place between the dates 606 B.C. and 587 B.C. when all the inhabitants of that kingdom, with very few exceptions, were transported by the Chaldaeans to Babylon.
The people of the two kingdoms were thus deported at different times, by different conquerors, and to different districts.
In 537 B.C., under the decree of Cyrus, a portion of Judah (42,360 souls in all), some of whom had married non-Israelite wives and fathered children by them, returned to their own land - Judaea, and became known as Jews.
These Jews, being of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, were, therefore, of the race of Israel, but of the kingdom of Judah.
On the other hand, the ten tribes, who never returned home from their captivity, were not only of the race of Israel, but also of the kingdom of Israel; they could not, therefore, by any possibility have been either Judah or the Jews.
Until these facts are clearly understood, much of the Bible must remain unintelligible.
When we come to the New Testament times, we find that the term 'Jews' has acquired a two-fold meaning. The same word is used to indicate (1) the whole body of Jews, and (2) those Jews who were domiciled in Judaea, many of whom, like king Herod, were Idumaean (Edomite) converts to Judaism.
During the Roman occupation that part of Palestine, which lay immediately between the river Jordan and the sea coast, was divided into three sections: Galilee in the North, Judaea in the South, and Samaria, which lay between the two.
The Samaritans were the descendants of the Assyrian colonists who have been mentioned above; they did not go up to Jerusalem to the Feasts, but worshipped YHWH (Jehovah - the "I AM") in their own fashion (Jonah 1:2; 3:4-5) at their own temple on Mount Gerizim. The Jews were expressly forbidden by their leaders to have any dealings with the Samaritans, except in so far as it might be incumbent upon them to buy food, or other necessities, when passing through their territory.
Thus Galilee and Judaea were separated from each other by a wide tract of land inhabited by an alien, and hated, people.
This separation resulted in a divergence of manners, customs, speech and ideals, that caused the Jews of Galilee to fear the Idumaean Jews of Judaea for their political and religious power, and which led the Jews of Judaea to despise the Jews of Galilee for their provincialism.
Thus it came about that the Jews of Galilee called themselves Galileans, while the Jews of Judaea retained the name of Jews.
We are not surprised, therefore, when we find the Evangelists, who were Galileans, referring to their fellow-countrymen in Judaea as Jews, or when we find the Jews of Judaea referring to their compatriots of Galilee as Galileans.
This distinction between Jews (all Jews) and Jews (Judaeans) should not be overlooked by students of the New Testament.
The Fight for The Kingdom
It cannot be stated too often, that believers in the Truth, that the British* and related peoples are Israel, stake all their faith upon the Bible, because they believe it to be, not only a true Book, but the inspired Word of God.
* The word Brit-ish is Hebrew and means "Covenant-man", as it does also in Welsh.
In its pages they find the revelations of the purposes of God for the liberty, happiness and life of the whole human race; opposed to these purposes, they find great spiritual forces bent upon their enslavement, misery and death.
Man, they find, has been given free-will to choose his own destiny. He has the right to make his choice between freedom and slavery, between life and death, not only in the spiritual, but also in the material sphere.
Because our forefathers chose slavery and death we are living today under systems and organizations of evil which prevent us from enjoying those blessings which might otherwise be ours.
We have grown so accustomed to the conditions under which we live that we take them for granted. Unemployment, poverty, disease, insanity and war, we dismiss with a shrug of the shoulders as being 'normal' and part of the 'scheme of things'. But let us make no mistake; they are not in any way part of God's scheme of things. On the contrary, they are the direct result of our own willful choice of Evil.
And what is Evil? Where may it be found, and how is it to be fought? For the answers to these questions we must study that great Guide-Book which God has provided for this very purpose. Here, and here only, can we discover, not only the cause of all our troubles, but also the remedy for them.
Among others there is one great organization of Evil which menaces our liberty, our prosperity, and our happiness today, which has undermined, and is still undermining our social, political and spiritual life. If we are not to be further enslaved we must have a clear understanding of its origin, its aims, and its methods, and for this we must turn first to the record of the life of our Lord Christ Jesus.
It is perhaps natural that some of us should assume that the Jews put Jesus to death in ignorance of his identity. We know that on the Cross he prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' (i.e. they are insane); but it must be remembered that Jesus himself blamed no one for his death. He said, 'No man taketh (my life) from me, but I lay it down of myself' (John 10:18). And while we may be sure that he prayed for all those who were in any way responsible for the death of the body he was using, the last part of his prayer surely applies to those who were subjecting him to the awful agony of crucifixion.
As we read the story of the life of Jesus it is impossible not to realize that there was, from the first, some sinister force at work which denied his claims, derided his teaching, and poisoned the mind of the people against him.
It was, moreover, a powerful force, for again and again we read that many believed him, but did not confess him openly for fear of the Jews (Judaeans). Even the members of the Sanhedrin, the national council, did not dare to incur the displeasure of this force. 'Nevertheless', we read, 'among the chief rulers also many believed him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue' (John 12:42).
What was this force which possessed such power and could inspire such fear? What was this satanic agency which permeated and influenced the Priesthood, the Scribes, the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin alike?
In our search for an answer to these questions, let us turn first to the eleventh chapter of Ezekiel, where we shall be brought face to face with a certain caucus of highly placed individuals who had banded themselves together to secure the inheritance of the Kingdom of God for a small section of the tribe of Judah, to the exclusion of all the rest of the whole house of Israel.
In later years it would seem that this caucus developed into a highly organized secret society with ambitious designs for the world domination by subversive means. So widely extended was the growth of its activities, and so powerful the influence which it exerted over men and nations, that it became known in some quarters as the Brotherhood of the Hidden Hand (a.k.a. the Synagogue of Satan).
At the time of the incident, which is recorded in the chapter which has just been mentioned, the greater part of the kingdom of Judah had been deported to Babylon, but the city of Jerusalem had not yet been captured by the Chaldeans. The members of the Hidden Hand thought the city was impregnable, and ridiculed the warnings which had been given to them by the prophet Jeremiah. They likened Jerusalem to a cauldron, and themselves to the flesh within it.
Ezekiel had been taken captive with king Jehoiachin in 597 B.C., and was living near Babylon at Tel Abib on the river Chebar. For the incident which follows he was transported by the Spirit of the Lord to Jerusalem.
'Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord's House, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
'Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city: which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.
'Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.
'And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the Lord; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
'Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.
'Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.
'Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord God.
'And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you. . . .
'And ye shall know that I am the Lord: for ye have not walked in My statutes, neither executed My judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are around about you.
'And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt Thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?
'Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly (the whole thirteen tribed nation of Israel), are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem (the Jews) have said, Get you far from the Lord: unto us (the Jews) is this land given in possession.'*
That was the plot of the Hidden Hand, as revealed by the Lord to Ezekiel, and it still is today.
* This came to its fulfillment in 1948 when the Zionist Jews got the U.N.O. to take the land of Israel from its rightful owners, the British peoples and give it to them.
Not long afterwards, in 588 B.C., Jerusalem was attacked and captured; the city was sacked and gutted; The Temple razed to the ground; and those of its inhabitants who escaped the sword were herded together by their conquerors, and urged with whip and spear upon their weary march of five hundred miles to Babylon.
Seventy years later, when a portion of the tribe of Judah, 42,360 in all, returned to Palestine, the Hidden Hand went with them, more determined than ever to put its plans into operation.
Obviously such a plot could not hope to succeed if the people believed implicitly the words of the Scriptures. It was necessary to twist and misinterpret their meaning. And so cleverly and subtly was this accomplished that, by the time of the incarnation of our Lord, all sections of the Jewish community were expecting a military leader, who should expel the Roman invaders and establish the kingdom of Israel, with all its material blessings (but without its responsibilities), for the benefit of the Jews, and of the Jews alone.
We are now asking ourselves the same question about Jesus the Nazarite (Numbers ch. 6) which the Jews asked each other in the streets of Jerusalem, 'Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?' Let us then examine the evidence a little more closely.
First of all, let it be remembered that the birth of Jesus, although it took place in a cow shed, did not pass by any means unnoticed. Quite apart from the talk of the people who were in Bethlehem at the time; quite apart from the testimony of the shepherds, who must have gossiped for months about the wonderful vision which they had seen; quite apart from the witness of Simeon and Anna, when he was eight days old; the birth of Jesus was advertised far and wide in quite a different way, as we learn from the Gospel of Matthew.
'Now when Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men (druids) to the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his "Star" in the East, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled (then follow five words which might easily be overlooked), and all Jerusalem with him.
'And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
'And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet' (Matt. 2:1-5).
Then follows one of the most shocking events in all history. Herod, alarmed for the safety of his rickety throne, orders the execution of all babies of two years and under, in Bethlehem and the country round about. He did this because Jesus was already two years old by the time the wise men arrived (Matt. 2:11).
2:10 When they saw the "Star", they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
2:11 And when they were come into the HOUSE, they saw the young CHILD with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
The news of this horrible massacre must have travelled from end to end of Palestine, and all Jerusalem, at any rate, knew the cause of it.
Twenty-eight years or so later, the Jews were forcibly reminded of these things, for John the Baptist (Elias - Elisha) appeared on the banks of the Jordan, announcing the imminent coming of the Messiah. Excitement flared up again, and the whole country was on the tip-toe of expectation.
When Jesus himself began his ministry in the north of Galilee, the enthusiasm knew no bounds. He announced himself as the Messiah and the Son of God, and wherever he went he laid hands on the sick and suffering and healed them. The people flocked to him in thousands, from Galilee in the north, from Judaea in the south, from Idumaea, which was south of Judaea, and from the provinces of Ituraea and Decapolis on the east side of the Jordan.
The authorities in Jerusalem sent out deputation after deputation to interview him. Here is the description of one such gathering:
'And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees (politicians) and doctors of the law (lawyers) sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem' (Luke 5:17).
And what did they find? A young man in his thirties, of perfect physique and great force of character, of the tribe of Judah and of the House of David, who had been born in Bethlehem (house of bread; note John 6:35; Matt. 26:26), and was now performing miracles of healing on a scale which had never before been witnessed, or even imagined.
This was all in accordance with prophecy; but his teaching puzzled them. He had apparently had no military training, and so far from inciting the people to revolt, he was actually preaching peace and submission to authority. He was not at all the man they expected, and they were not at all sure that he was the man they wanted.
Meanwhile, his influence was increasing at an alarming rate, and they were faced with the necessity of making up their minds as to whether they would accept his claims or reject them.
The Pharisees, the popular political party, came to him, and he denounced them for misleading the people. The priests came to him, and he denounced them for misinterpreting the Scriptures. The scribes, the lawyers, came to him, and he denounced them for twisting The Law. The spies of the Hidden Hand came, and heard him preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, not for the exclusive benefit of the Jews, but for all Israel, and through Israel for all mankind.
Gradually the issue became clearer. It was evident that they could not make a tool of him; the man was far too honest and uncompromising for that. On the other hand, if they accepted him, they would have to take service under him, and obey his commands.
Annas and Caiaphas foresaw the loss of their immense revenues from the tables of the money-changers, and from the sale of sacrificial birds and beasts from The Temple farms. The priests, who shared in those ill-gotten gains, were equally apprehensive. The scribes (lawyers) foresaw the loss of their wealth, and possibly even of their very livelihood. The Pharisees (politicians) foresaw the loss of all their prestige and political power.
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, lawyers and politicians, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the Law, Judgment, Mercy, and Faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
23:24 [Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
23:25 Woe unto you, lawyers and politicians, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
23:26 [Thou] blind politician, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
23:27 Woe unto you, lawyers and politicians, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all filthiness.
23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and inequity.
Over and above these personal considerations loomed an even greater danger, for the authorities lived in constant dread that a premature clash with Rome might bring about their expulsion from the Holy Land, and might even shatter their very existence as a nation.
'Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation' (John 11:47-48). To which sentiment Caiaphas, the High Priest, replied, 'It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not' (John 11:50).
Into such a hot-bed of greed, suspicion and fear the secret members of the Hidden Hand dropped the seeds of their poisonous provocation: 'Kill him; and keep the inheritance for yourselves.'
Slowly but surely all the strength of the civil and religious organizations was concentrated upon the destruction of this one man. As he could not be cowed by their threats, he would have to be silenced by action of a more violent kind. If they could not incite the mob to stone him to death, he would have to be murdered as secretly as possible.
Nicodemus, a secret follower of Jesus, protested against this action, and demanded a fair trial in accordance with the Mosaic Law; but the Sanhedrin howled him down (John 7:45-53).
Time after time Jesus escaped out of their hands and, fully conscious of his danger, went calmly to and fro, preaching the Kingdom of God, and healing all who came to him.
For at least three years he endured the bitterest persecution; and then, with death ever stalking at his heels, made his way southward from Galilee for the last time.
After a stormy visit to Jerusalem, he retired to Bethabara on the East side of the river Jordan. This was the very place where he had been baptized with water by John, and had afterwards received the baptism of the Holy Spirit from the Father Himself.
Here he received a message from Mary and Martha begging him to come down to their brother Lazarus, who was dangerously ill. Although Lazarus was one of his dearest friends Jesus did not go. He said, 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby' (John 11:4).
To his friends he probably seemed heartless, but he had a great purpose in view. He was about to give to the Jews one last great conclusive proof that he was indeed the Great Healer, the Messiah, the Christ. He had performed a great number of miracles; he had on several occasions raised the dead; but never before had he, or anyone else, brought a human+being back from the grave after corruption had set in.
When at last Jesus reached Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. His sisters could not understand why Jesus had tarried, and even reproached him. 'Lord,' said Martha, 'if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died' (John 11:21). Their friends were equally mystified. 'Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?' Martha, at the last moment, attempted to prevent the Apostles from rolling away the stone which blocked the mouth of the cave, 'Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.'
But at the command of Jesus the corrupted tissues are suffused with blood, the spirit-being returns to the body, and Lazarus comes out of the tomb, restored to life and health.
It was not long before the news of this, the greatest miracle of all time, was being tossed from mouth to mouth in the streets of Jerusalem, only two miles away.
The city was rapidly filling up with the large crowd of worshippers who were coming up for the Passover, not only from Palestine itself, but from all the surrounding countries; and already Parthians, Medes, Elemites, dwellers in Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians were beginning to jostle each other in its narrow ways.
Sightseers began to pour out of the town to see for themselves the man who had been raised from the dead, and to hear the story of the miracle from the lips of Mary and Martha.
Jesus became the hero of the hour but he was nowhere to be found. Nevertheless the authorities were genuinely alarmed. This miracle could not be ignored, and they even considered the advisability of destroying the evidence by putting Lazarus to death.
With such a concourse of people in the city, many of them disciples of Jesus from Galilee, it was impossible to say what might happen. At any moment they might attack the Roman garrison, and set up Jesus as King. In that event Rome would hold the Sanhedrin responsible, and impose the severest punishment on the whole nation.
'Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
'If we let him thus alone, all men will believe him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
'And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all.
'Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
'And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
'And not for that nation only, but that he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad (Gen. 49:10; James 1:1).
'Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.'
Here we may pause for a moment to reflect that even within the Sanhedrin the decision to murder Jesus could not have been unanimous. There must have been a certain number who strongly disapproved of this course.
Among them were almost certainly the following: Jairus, a ruler of the Jews, whose daughter had been healed at the point of death; the rich young ruler, who knelt to Jesus and asked, 'Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'; Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, who was a secret disciple; and Joseph of Arimathaea, who, as the Gospel of Luke tells us, was not one of those who consented to his death.
A few days before the Passover the very thing that the authorities were dreading actually happens. Jesus, having spent the night with Lazarus and his sisters, comes up from Bethany to Jerusalem. The people treat him as a king entering his capital.
'On the next day' (says the Gospel of John), 'much people that were come to the Feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
'And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.
'These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
'The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
'For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
'The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him' (John 12:12-19).
Even then, however, the authorities feared to arrest him openly for, as we learn from the Gospel of Mark, 'The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the Feast Day, lest there be an uproar of the people' (Mark 14:1-2).
Knowing only too well that this hesitation is only momentary, and that the end is now very near, Jesus makes no attempt to avoid his enemies.
Only a day or two before his death Jesus is quietly teaching in The Temple, when some of the chief priests and elders join his audience and challenge his authority. The object of their question is to trap him into making some statement which will put him in their power. But Jesus skillfully parries the question, and proceeds to tell them this parable.
'A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
'And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
'Whether of them twain did the will of his father?' (Matt. 21:28-31).
It does not seem to occur to them immediately that the two sons represent the House of Israel and the House of Judah, because they answer and say, 'The first'. But they know that this is not a pretty Sunday-school story, and that every word is pregnant with meaning for themselves.
While they are still speculating as to his meaning Jesus goes on to tell them another parable. But this time they realize in the first few words the exact meaning of the vineyard to which he refers. How does Jesus do it? Very simply. He used the actual words of another parable of the vineyard in the Book of Isaiah, a passage with which they are very familiar, and which they cannot fail to understand.
This is the parable of Isaiah.
'Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching His vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine; and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
'And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard.
'What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
'And now, go to; I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
'And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
'For the vineyard of the "I AM" Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant' (Isa. 5:1-7).
Remembering the intimate knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures which was so constantly displayed by the Lord Jesus, we may safely assume that he was well acquainted with the parallel passage in Psalm 80, where the Psalmist applies the same imagery to the House of Israel, and leads our thoughts to the promised Messiah, who was destined to leave the right hand of his Father in order to become the Son of Man.
'Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: Thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.
'Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.
'The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.
'She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.
'Why hast Thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
'The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.
'Return, we beseech Thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;
'And the vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that Thou madest strong for Thyself.
'It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of Thy countenance.
'Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, upon the son of man whom Thou madest strong for Thyself.'
With consummate skill Jesus weaves these two passages into a parable which his audience cannot fail to understand.
'There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
'And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
'And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
'Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise' (Matt. 21:33-36).
The chief priests and scribes and elders understand now exactly what Jesus means. The vineyard, as explained by Isaiah, is the House of Israel. God had planted it in Palestine; hedged it about, that is, separated it from other nations and protected it with His power; digged a winepress in it, given to it the Divine Law; built a tower, established the Royal House of David. The servants are the long line of prophets ending in John the Baptist, whose murder only a year or two before is still fresh in their minds.
Having identified the vineyard, Jesus continues the parable, 'But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.'
The Jews know now that Jesus is referring to himself; and they listen attentively because they hope that he will say something that will put him in their power. But, instead of that, they hear their own plot unmasked, and Jesus uttering aloud the very words that they have been whispering in secret. Imagine their amazement as that calm voice proceeds:
'But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.*'
* Ezekiel 44:2 Then said the "I AM" unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the "I AM", the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.
44:3 [It is] for The Prince (Dan. 9:24-27); The Prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the "I AM"; he shall enter by the way of the porch of [that] gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.
48:21 And the residue [shall be] for The Prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for The Prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and The Sanctuary of The House [shall be] in the midst thereof.
48:22 Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, [being] in the midst [of that] which is The Prince's, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for The Prince.
But Jesus has not finished yet. He has shown them that he knows why they are going to put him to death; now he intends to warn them of the consequences of their action. So he asks them this question:
'When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
'They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.'
The answer to our Lord's question comes probably from one of the crowd, or possibly from one of his own followers. Luke, in his version of the scene, puts the words into the mouth of Jesus himself. If one of the chief priests, or scribes, or elders is speaking, then he is very quickly made conscious of his stupidity, for Jesus drops the parable, and turns upon his enemies with these words: 'Therefore say I unto you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.'
This statement leaves no shadow of doubt in their minds as to the meaning of the parable. The guilty thoughts of their hearts have been laid bare and they are filled with fury, and the lust for murder, for we read, 'And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; but they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.'
If there is one thing that is made abundantly clear by the Gospel narrative, it is this, that the influence of Jesus with the people was so great that the Sanhedrin did not dare to arrest him openly.
The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem had placed the Jewish authorities in a very awkward predicament. If they arrested Jesus they would themselves be in danger from the mob; if, on the other hand, they failed to arrest him, the mob might rise against the Roman garrison and set Jesus up as King (Dan. 9:24). In either case there would be serious rioting, and for this the Roman governor would hold them responsible.
Faced with this dilemma, they decided that they must shelter themselves behind the power of Rome. If they could only arrest Jesus without danger to themselves, they would try him behind closed doors; they would then take him to Pilate, and say that they had found him guilty of heading an insurrection, and demand his immediate execution.
Note God's opinion about Judah as spoken through Jeremiah (3:6-11; 11:9-10) almost six hundred years previously, when the conspiracy of the Hidden Hand had first been revealed by God to Jeremiah; confirmed by Ezekiel (22:25) and which conspiracy was, six hundred years later, aimed against Jesus:-
Jeremiah 3:6 The "I AM" said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen [that] which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot (been unfaithful to Me).
3:7 And I said after she had done all these [things], Turn thou unto Me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw [it].
3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
3:9 And it came to pass through her making light of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto Me with her whole heart, but in pretence, saith the "I AM" (Matt. 15:8).
3:11 And the "I AM" said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah (Jew-dah).
11:9 And the "I AM" said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
11:10 They are turned back to the inequities of their forefathers, which refused to hear My words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the House of Israel and the House of Judah have broken My Covenant which I made with their fathers.
Ezekiel 22:25 [There is] a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
It was at this juncture that Judas went to the chief priests, and offered to show them how Jesus might be arrested in absolute secrecy. Needless to say, his offer was accepted. But the opportunity to put it into practice did not occur until the following Tuesday evening, which was the Feast of the Passover.
On that day Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples, and late in the evening went out of the city to a garden near the village of Gethsemane. In pitch-black darkness, broken only by the fitful light of lanterns and torches, Jesus was arrested by officers and men of the Temple Guard. This was in the very early hours of Wednesday morning (Dan. 9:26-27 - 21st of April in 34 AD). By nine o'clock the same morning he had been nailed to the cross, and by three o'clock in the afternoon he was dead.
The Jewish authorities, inspired by the infamous Hidden Hand, rejected Jesus, knowing full well that he claimed to be the Messiah, and that every circumstance of his life proved his claims to be true; and they laid themselves under an age-long curse, when they cried, 'His blood be on us, and on our children.'
He was rejected, as we have already seen, because he preached the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, not to the Jews alone, but to all the seed of Jacob, for the benefit of all mankind. The real struggle had been between Jesus and the Hidden Hand, and the Hidden Hand thought they had triumphed.
But the crime of the Crucifixion was already working out the purposes of God. On the following Saturday (3 days and 3 nights - 72 hours later), Jesus rose triumphantly from the dead; and for the next forty days was occupied in setting up his Community.
It is not necessary to recall in detail how the Sanhedrin tried to suppress the fact of the Resurrection, and to strangle the infant Community. Suffice it to say that the Apostles continued to preach the whole Gospel of Christ Jesus; that is to say, the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Salvation, two parts of one indivisible whole, neither of which is complete without the other. The fight of Jesus with the Hidden Hand was not finished; indeed it had only just begun.
Thirty-five years or so later the Jews, with the Hidden Hand at their head, made their great attempt to wrest the Holy Land from the Romans. But the rebellion was crushed, and in A.D. 70 the words of Jesus were fulfilled to the letter*. The Temple was burnt to the ground and Jerusalem laid in ruins; thousands perished of famine and disease; thousands fell by the sword; and the remainder were sold into slavery.
* Matthew 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (the "Wailing Wall"?).
Some few escaped, and not long afterwards the Sanhedrin was reformed at Pergamos in Asia Minor. Its members were now aliens in a strange land. They had no country, no city and no Temple to administer, and the reason for their existence had largely disappeared. There remained only their dream of seizing the kingdom, and so the Sanhedrin became merged in the Hidden Hand. The evil and material character, which it now assumed, is given to us in the Book of Revelation, where we find it described as the Synagogue of Satan.
Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are NOT, but [are] (Idumaeans) the synagogue of Satan.
3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are NOT, but do LIE (Idumaeans); behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Unable to acquire and hold land, they turned from agriculture to commerce. They bought and sold; they became the middle-men, the traders and the merchants of the world. Wealth came to them easily, and in the employment of their surplus funds they became also the pawnbrokers, the money-lenders and financiers of the world. As their resources increased, they discovered the enormous power of money, and they conceived the plan of gaining world-dominion by this means.
In the course of time their operation became more formidable. Working always in secret, they created discord among the nations; they dethroned kings; they engineered wars; they fostered revolutions.
Today they have their agents in every country, and in every department of society; particularly in those departments where they can influence a large number of people. These agents are of all nationalities and, for the most part, utterly unconscious of the identity of their real masters.
Those masters, however, are the force behind International Finance, and also the power behind Communism. Through Communism they have gained a large part of the world, from which they are spreading its godless doctrines. But Communism is only a means to an end. Their real objects are the acquisition of wealth, the destruction of Christian civilization, and the erection upon its ruins of a world-wide dominion for their benefit, and for their benefit alone.
For centuries the world has believed the lie of the Hidden Hand. In spite of history; in spite of the Bible; in spite of the voice of the Prophets, the Apostles, and even of Jesus himself, the world prefers to believe the LIE, that the Jews are the entire House of Israel.
The great fear of the Hidden Hand is that the Israel of today will discover the truth and realize her identity; and so great is this fear that they have invented or, rather, revived, the hideous doctrines of Modernism and Humanism, whose sole object is to discredit the Bible and the sure word of prophecy*.
* 2 Peter 1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory ("Cloud"), This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
1:18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
1:19 We have also the more sure word of Prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye TAKE HEED, as unto a Light that shineth in a dark place, until the Day dawn, and the Morning Star arise in your hearts:
Now let us turn once more to that wonderful eleventh chapter of Ezekiel; for there we shall learn not only the end of this Satanic organization, but also the means whereby that end is to be accomplished.
'Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them (the tribes of Israel with the larger part of Judah) far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.
'Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
'And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.
'And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: that they may walk in My statutes, and keep Mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
'But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.'
The destruction of the Hidden Hand is not to take place until Israel has been gathered from among the nations, until she has recovered the land of Palestine, and until she has reformed herself, and put in practice The Law of the Lord.
We have been gathered out of the nations into the little sanctuary of the British Isles and her kindred Israelite countries, but we do not yet walk in the Statutes and keep the Ordinances of the Lord, as given by Him through the mouth of His servant Moses. Until we do this the Hidden Hand can NOT be destroyed.
It is our task, and our privilege, to fight this powerful organization; it is, moreover, a real fight, and one well worth the fighting if we value everything that is dear to us in this Britain and kindred countries of ours, if we want to make the world a happier and a better place, if we want to share these blessings with all mankind.
The real character of the Hidden Hand, as we have seen already, is given to us in the Book of Revelation, where it is described as the Synagogue of Satan. This expression should not be applied to the whole people of the Jews. It can only refer to the Hidden Hand, which has never been more than a small section of the Jewish people, although it has brought, and is bringing, untold misery to the whole race, as well as to the rest of mankind.
Behind the Synagogue of Satan are all the enormous spiritual forces of the Prince of Darkness - Lucifer. We are in reality fighting, as the Apostle Paul says, not only against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Modern Israel, with all her Leagues, her Committees, her Societies, is doomed to failure if she trusts in her own strength. She must seek a spiritual power (The "Force") greater than that of Satan; she must indeed seek the power of her Redeemer and King, the Lord Christ Jesus. Only when she does this, only when she has re-established The Law of the Lord, will she be secure; only then will she be delivered from her plagues; only then will she be free to fulfill her mission, and to become a blessing to all the nations of the Earth.
We see then how vitally important it is that modern Israel should realize her identity for, failing this, she can not understand her mission, and her responsibility to the rest of the world.
Christ the Lord and Saviour still claims to be the King of Israel. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever; and he is waiting until we, of our own free will, beg him to come to take his Kingdom, and save civilization.
In this struggle we can NOT remain neutral. If we do not take service under our Redeemer and Saviour then, consciously or unconsciously, we must serve Satan and the Hidden Hand, to our own inevitable destruction.
Matthew 12:30 He that is not WITH me is AGAINST me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
The choice before Israel today is between slavery and death on the one hand, and freedom and life on the other; between Satan and Christ. And this choice is the same as that which was offered by God, through the mouth of Moses, to our forefathers at Mount Sinai, 'See, I have set before thee this day Life and Good, and death and evil. . . . I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you Life and Death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose Life, that both thou and thy seed may live' (Deut. 30:15-19). This is the very same but a more final warning that was given by God through the last Old Covenant prophet Malachi on the very last page of the Old Testament, foretelling that, just before the Day of the Lord, He would send Eli-JAH the prophet to warn the world to return to His Laws given to all Israelites at Horeb and that He will burn to ashes everyone who refuses to do so.
Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the Day cometh, that shall burn like an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the "I AM" Lord of hosts, that it shall leave of them neither root nor branch (nothing).
4:2 But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in The Day that I shall do [this], saith the "I AM" Lord of hosts.
4:4 Remember ye and return to The Law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, [with] the Statutes and Judgments.
4:5 Behold, I will send you Eli-JAH the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the "I AM" (Sura 43:61):
4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse (verse 1).
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