“In Wrath Remember Mercy” (Chapter 2:18-27)
For the sake of His covenant promises and for the honour of His name God will rescue His people from the hands of the Antichrist and all of the nations coming against them at the end of this present age. It will not be because Israel have earned or deserved His favour but because of His great mercy and because He has exulted His Word even above His name. God is a covenant keeping God and in the end He will do what He wants, when He wants and in the way He wants and will ask no man’s permission. God will have the final word despite what the nations are doing to Israel.
A time is coming when His people will be so tired of affliction and persecution that they will not even have the strength to repent and at that time they will cry out in desperation, “Spare your people, O lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God?” At that time God will spring into action and will come against those who have come against His people.
In Psalm seventy eight Asaph the psalmist recounts the whole history of Israel. Even after God had done great things for Israel time and time again we see them backsliding, rebelling, grumbling and complaining. We see them visited by one divine judgement upon another. We see them persecuted and defeated by their enemies and a reproach and laughing stock among the nations. Even up to the present time this has been Israel’s lot. However, Asaph also prophesied a time when God would stir Himself up to go to their defence once again. According to the Bible the God of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. Listen to what Asaph wrote; “Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man wakes from the stupor of wine. He beat back His enemies; he put them to everlasting shame.” (Psalm 78:65-66) In His wrath God would also remember His mercy and save Israel for the sake of His own Name and because He never goes back on His covenants.
The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is still to come upon Israel and the world however at the end of the long dark night of tribulation, suffering and devastation God will move once again on behalf of His covenant people Israel. Their tears of repentance will bring Him to their defence. This is the theme of this study. “In wrath remember mercy.” This wrath is not the final wrath where there is no reprieve but the wrath of judgement that God dispenses to bring about repentance, correction, reconciliation and restoration. When His people thoroughly repent He is always quick to respond. Now we will go to the text…
(Vs. 18) “Then the Lord will be jealous for His land and take pity on His people.”
Today the nations are turning against Israel. The United Nations and the European Union are becoming increasingly hostile towards Israel. Russia and Iran and North Korea are supplying Islamic terrorists with weapons that can be used destroy Israel. Israel is surrounded by countries bent on destroying them. Everyday Hezbollah and Hamas launch rockets into Israel. In Northern, Central and Southern Jordan multitudes of Arabs are clamouring for the destruction of Israel. Furthermore you have the so-called ‘Palestinians’ harassing and attacking Israeli citizens. Not to speak of Iran and other Middle-eastern strongholds of fundamentalist Islam. Even the media is bias in its reporting where Israel is concerned. It seems everyone is turning against Israel today, yet this is no accident as God is seeking to bring His people to a place of repentance and total reliance upon Him. When He has accomplished this through applied pressure He will then set out to destroy all and everyone who has attacked Israel. A day is coming when Islam will be wiped of the map! Of course the one behind all of this ant-Semitism is Satan himself.
Satan is desperately trying to destroy Israel because He knows that the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah of Israel depends on God’s covenant promises to them. God Himself promised that one of David’s descendants would sit on his throne ruling over Israel forever. Right now the Lord Jesus is reigning in the heavenly realms and is Lord over everything above the earth in the earth and under the earth. There is a resurrected man sitting at the right hand of God in heaven. However, He is not yet reigning from Jerusalem as foretold in the prophets. This is to be a future event after Jesus comes back to inaugurate His Millennial reign over the nations that have survived the Great Tribulation.
As Islam continues to wage an all-out war against Israel the UN and by enlarge the International community hardly say anything against the Islamic nations. Even though it seems that the United States support Israel we still have to see whether President trump makes good on his promises to Israel. Obama when he was in office shifted his position where Israel as concerned. Some years ago there was a video presentation on the Internet called, “The Story of Obama and Israel” In this video we saw the “two faces” of the Obama Administration. In his pre-election speeches in 2008 Obama clearly stated on more than one occasion, “ I will always support Israel’s security with an unshakable commitment” and again he said, “Israel’s security is sacrosanct” “non-negotiable with secure, recognised defensible borders.”
He also said, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.” Three years later last year in 2016 he showed his “other face” by wanting Israel to go back to its Pre-1967 borders which in reality would have been indefensible. He also said, “America does not accept the legitimacy of continuous Israeli settlements.” So much for his support of Israel! Yet the tragedy is that the Nation of Israel to this day still leans on America for support against its enemies. Furthermore Obama approved of the “two state” solution. Will President Trump do the same thing?
To even suggest a Jewish and Palestinian state side by side goes against the teaching of God’s Word and ultimately will bring Divine Judgement on all those nations that support this “two state solution from hell!” Do you think Islam wants peace with Israel? Why they only go in for so called peace-plans so that they can have more time to plan how they can annihilate Israel! Western governments don’t really care as long as they can have their oil deals!
Now there are those who claim to be Christians who will say that Israel is an unbelieving nation and that as a whole they reject their Messiah therefore the conclusion is made that they are occupiers of Palestinian territories. Yet those ‘Christians’ who think this way are Biblically ignorant! Even though Israel is a nation they are still in unbelief as a nation. They still do not accept their Messiah who has bled and died for them.
However, the prophet Ezekiel said that this would be the case and that after they were back in the land again they would have a revelation of their Messiah and be spiritually revived as a nation (Ezekiel 36-39). Read these chapters in Ezekiel. Also there are many more passages of scripture in the prophets foretelling the future repentance and restoration of Israel spiritually and as a nation.
Right now there is a “partial hardening,” a “veil” as it were over their hearts, but the Lord is going to remove that veil. They still have to pass through the night of the Great Tribulation called “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” but they will be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:1-7). Yet God is fighting for Israel and those nations that are fighting against them are fighting against God (Zechariah 12:1-9).
Indeed this conflict is part of “the Beast at war with the Lamb.” This has been and still is an eternal and age long conflict that has been raging since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden; of course it will culminate in the war to end all wars at Armageddon when the forces of the Antichrist led by Satan will fight the forces of Jesus the Messiah and His saints. In the end the Lord Jesus Christ and His faithful followers will prevail. (Isaiah 63: 1-6) (Revelation 19:11-21).
God is at work right now to bring Israel to a place where they will desperately need Him and call out to Him for deliverance. At this time they will be saved as a nation (Zechariah 2:10-14 13:1-6). They will be rescued from the hands of all that hate them (Luke 1:71). God never goes back on His covenants. He has sworn an oath to Abraham and to his descendants that the Land of Israel is to be “an everlasting possession” to the Jewish people, to the descendants through Isaac and not through Ishmael (Genesis 17:8). God never goes back on His covenant promises because they have been sworn in blood and once blood has been shed the oath is irrevocable. As the scripture says, “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” This statement is directly connected to the nation of Israel.
So then, after the long night of tribulation “the Lord will be jealous for His land and take pity on His people.” Already He has been at work. In 1948 Israel became a nation. Then in 1967 they won the six-day war regaining the old city of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount at that time. Then in 1973 they won the Yom Kipper war and even though they have been severely attacked time and time again by the Islamic beast empire in one form or another they have never been driven from the land and they never will. Even though the Antichrist and his empire is yet to invade the Land and half of the city of Jerusalem ransacked and taken into exile the people of Israel as a covenant people will never be totally taken from the Land again or from Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus Christ will intervene on their behalf destroying the great Northern army that has come against them and for the sake of His elect cut short the days of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:22).
It will be a time of deliverance for Israel and for the Church hard-pressed by the persecution of the Antichrist and his beast empire (Daniel 7:23, 25 12: 7b) (Revelation 13:7). God is extremely jealous for the spiritual and physical well-being of His people and will never allow them to suffer one moment longer than is necessary. When it looks as if they will be completely destroyed the Lord Jesus will personally intervene and save them out of every affliction and trial (Daniel 7:22, 26-27). Now let’s continue…
(Vs. 19) “The Lord will reply to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.”
Since 70AD Israel as a nation have had a famine for the hearing of God’s Word, have had very little joy and security and have not known the anointing “oil” of the Holy Spirit. However, just before Jesus comes back that will all change. Also the Church today in the west by enlarge also has a famine for the hearing of God’s Word, has very little genuine joy and security and no real anointing of the Holy Spirit. Even though there is a faithful remnant today they are very few in number compared with the multitudes chasing after signs, miracles and wonders, kingdom dominion and faith and prosperity in this life.
Both Israel and the Church as a collective people have yet to be fully revived. At the hands of the Antichrist two thirds of the Jewish nation will perish and the religious prostitute destroyed with fire yet there will be a faithful remnant of Jews and Christians whom God will refine and bring them through the purifying flame of adversity into the complete liberty and joy of the true Sons and Daughters of God. Like the three Hebrews cast into Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace the faithful remnant will pass through the fire of persecution but be resurrected in power and glory because their Messiah will be with them in the furnace of affliction as He was with the three Israelites.
Before Jesus comes back the faithful remnant will once again be fed by the nutritious grain of God’s Word, enjoy the new wine of righteousness joy and peace and experience the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah spoke of this time when he prophesied, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2) Even though the Great Tribulation will be the darkest period in the history of the world, the faithful remnant chosen by grace will shine with a brightness never seen before. Multitudes of faithful believers will be laying down their lives as the Antichrist wreaks his vengeance on the seed of Abraham and their offspring. However, the supernatural glory and power of God will rest upon those faithful believers as they follow their Lord Jesus into the furnace of affliction.
It has been said that when the Christians went to the lions in the days of Ancient Rome that the Shekinah was so powerfully resting upon them that even the lions were afraid to touch them. During the reign of the Antichrist the Spirit and Glory of God will be resting on those who are laying down their lives for Jesus sake. During this time multitudes will be beheaded for their faith in Christ. Today it is Islam that is beheading Christians and Jews. In fact Muslims are to kill Christians and Jews whom they call “the people of the book” (The Bible).
Where there is great testing and trial of the faithful remnant there will be great supernatural strength and power and the enemy will by no means be able to harm them. The faithful believers may suffer and die physically but they will not be dead but very much alive and reigning with Jesus in the heavenly realms. In those days many of those who are martyred, like Stephen, will see the Lord Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God and pray for the salvation of those who are persecuting them.
God has been doing a parallel restoration with Israel and the Church and although they are two unique groups of people they all come from the same root and in the Millennial Kingdom they will be one sheepfold under their Shepherd King and Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ. On that day Israel and the Church will rule over the nations with their beloved Lord and Messiah Jesus Christ for God Himself has said, “Never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.” And so the Lord continues to say…
(Vs. 20) “I will drive the Northern army far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the Dead Sea and those in the rear into the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” Surely He has done great things.”
Historically the Northern Army was Babylon yet God did not drive this army away from Israel but allowed it to desecrate Jerusalem and destroy the Temple. Again in 70 AD God allowed the Romans to do the same thing. However, Joel prophesies that this Northern Army coming against Israel would be driven back and destroyed. This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled to Israel, as the nations have not yet surrounded Jerusalem as foretold by the prophet Zechariah. In the book of the prophet Ezekiel we are given a clear description of the same Northern army when the hordes of the Antichrist march against Jerusalem. For Israel the “Northern Army” in the character of the Babylonians attacking Jerusalem at the end of this present age will be driven back by the Lord Himself.
Furthermore, in relation to the Church, this “Northern Army of locusts” driven back by the LORD will also see the exposure of the false prophets and teachers that have plagued His people. The Apostle Paul spoke about this to Timothy. “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth-men of depraved minds, who as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.” (2 Timothy 3:8-9) Paul said this in the context of the last days. Janes and Jambes were the magicians who opposed Moses and Aaron just before the Exodus took place. They were able to counterfeit the miracles of Moses and Aaron up to a point but in the end they were exposed as frauds, deceivers and enchanters. Likewise just before the “Exodus” of the Church the workers of false signs, miracles and wonders will also be exposed for what they are to the faithful believers.
Every true born again believer who has a heart for God will see this deception and they will “flee from Babylon.” Those who are deceived and who want to be deceived are also described as having “a form of godliness but denying its power.” Paul describes these kinds of people. He begins the list with lovers of themselves and lovers of money and ends the list with lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Even though Paul is describing people in the world the startling thing is that he is also describing people within the rank and file of the professing Christian Church who have been enchanted by the false teachers and prophets with their signs, miracles and wonders, false prophets that have come in the character of Janes and Jambes.
God raised up the Babylonians to judge Israel as He did the Romans but then God destroyed the Babylonians and also the Roman Empire and God will destroy this Northern army as well. Today this Northern Army in the character of Babylon will be led by Turkey supported by Iran, Syria, The Sudan, Libya and many other Islamic states surrounding Israel. When Jesus comes back He will rescue His faithful remnant in Israel and the Church and destroy those who have come against God’s people. Paul referred to this when he also said, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day when He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed.” (2 Thessalonians 16-8) Furthermore, where Israel is concerned according to the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah this Northern army will be destroyed on the mountains of Israel, “and its stench will go up; its smell will rise.” How the Kingdom Now people could make this army a picture of a triumphant Church taking kingdom dominion over the nations is absolutely absurd to say the least.
God raised this army up in the same way He raised up Pharaoh of Egypt to accomplish His purposes but in the end God destroyed Pharaoh and the whole Egyptian army at the Red Sea. The ancient armies of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome were only God’s armies in so far as to accomplish His sovereign purposes where Israel was concerned but in no way was He favourably disposed towards them. God raised these rulers and their armies up and then disposed of them when they had served His purposes. As the scripture says, “He sets up kings and deposes them.” (Daniel 2:21) God called them His Army that He had raised up but in no way implied they were on His team!
Today the Northern army, this “boiling pot from the North,” would be the power of Islam and it is coming against Israel, against the Church and against the western democracies that have been traditionally associated with Christianity. God will use this Islamic beast empire to accomplish His purposes and then destroy it. It’s amazing when you look at what will happen to the nations that have attacked Israel. They are all named and they are all Islamic! Indeed the King of the North will not be a Russian General but a Turkish One with a vast army of 200 million behind him! This will be the last great beast empire that will meet its demise at the hands of the Warrior Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes back to fight this army (Isaiah 63:1-6).
So then we see in scripture that when God’s people have backslidden that He raises up an adversary, usually a foreign army, to bring about repentance and spiritual restoration. This is what He has done with empires in the past and this is how He will act in the future. God is the God of history and through history and nations works out His prophetic purposes and plans for men. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10) Ultimately China, India and the armies of all the nations will surround Jerusalem because God Himself will have drawn them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat to enter into judgement with them there (3:1-3). It is no accident that Jerusalem is becoming centre stage in world affairs. The last Great War to end all wars will be fought over the City of Jerusalem the City God loves! In that day Jerusalem will be delivered and when the dust of battle has settled the Lord Jesus will plant His feet again on the Mount of Olives to proclaim liberty and freedom for Israel and for the world! Indeed He will come down to do battle.
So we read; “So the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights. Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; He will shield it and deliver it. He will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.” (Isaiah 31:4b-5) Notice the term ‘pass over’ as it is not in the text by accident. God is remembering the Passover in Egypt when the animal’s blood on the doorposts of the Israelites houses protected them from His wrath upon Egypt and ultimately delivered them from the armies of Pharaoh at the Red Sea. When Jesus comes back He will gather His elect, all those who are sheltering under His blood, and then destroy the armies of the nations that have come against Jerusalem. Indeed on that day there will be deliverance on Mount Zion when the Lord Jesus comes back to be glorified in His people.
(Vs. 21) “Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things. Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.”
There is no doubt that the Land of Israel now torn and persecuted by the nations will be spiritually and politically restored. The spiritual restoration of the nations that have survived the great tribulation will occur as a result of Israel and the Church receiving their inheritance from the Lord. Isaiah the prophet said, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up My banner (the Lord Jesus) to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:22-23) The Old Testament is full of references to Israel’s restoration in the last days and those who deny their right to the Land of Israel in reality denigrate God’s covenant promises made to them as a nation. The references to Israel’s restoration are too literal to be spiritualised and applied only to the Church as many are doing today. Now let’s move on…
(Vs. 23) “Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you a teacher for righteousness. And He will cause the rain to come down for you-The former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.”
Before the winter comes the rain is poured out on the land of Israel and then during the winter months there are spasmodic showers that do not cover the whole land. However, at the end of winter the rain covers the whole land again and following this comes the harvest. The rain always typifies the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon His people. On the Day of Pentecost the first outpouring occurred in Israel and Joel refers to this (2:28-32). The teacher of righteousness the Lord Jesus Himself baptised His followers with the Holy Spirit and power. From Jerusalem the gospel spread into all of the known world and even to the regions beyond. This was the former rain.
Then down through history there have been revivals at different times in various nations. These have been spasmodic outpourings. In the last days just before Jesus comes back the latter rain of the Spirit will fall again upon the remnant of Israel and the gospel will go out to the nations for one last time. There will be two great end-time harvests. One will be a harvest of mercy followed by a harvest of judgement (Revelation 14:14-20). In the following verses we clearly see the spiritual restoration of Israel that will lead to the salvation of many.
(Vs. 24) “The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.”
Israel as a nation will have the nutritious grain of God’s Word in abundance once again. Their lives will overflow with the wine of joy and with the oil of the Holy Spirit. Indeed the prophet Zechariah spoke of this time, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on (to) Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great.” (Zechariah 12:10-11a) Indeed it is also written; “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” (Zechariah 13:1) Denying that God will restore Israel as a nation is to deny the Word of God!
(Vs. 25) “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten- the great locusts and the young locust, the other locusts, and the locust swarm-My great army that I sent among you.”
Yes the Northern Army will be sent by the Lord to bring Israel to her knees but then that army will be driven back by the same hand that raised it up! What a wonderful promise that God would restore the years that the locusts had eaten. When you look at the way Israel has suffered through the centuries even to the present day they have been stripped of every spiritual virtue by the “locusts” of idolatry, unbelief, by rebellion and by the nations of the world. However, the Lord here says that He will restore them as the scripture says, “The latter house will be greater than the former house.” The same principle applies to the Church. Today there are many precious saints of God who belong to the Lord Jesus but whose lives have been devastated by disobedience, by wrong decisions, by spiritual deception, through wrong teaching, by backslidden leaders and by sin, by unbelief and by idolatry. The devil has had a field day in the Church and many of God’s soldiers lie wounded on the battlefield of life. Some through their own sin and folly, others through spiritual abuse by their leaders and shepherds, while others struggle with the world, the flesh and the devil and with rejection from false brethren because they stand up for God’s Word. However, God is going to restore the years that the locusts have eaten in many lives, not because they deserve it but because of His covenant promises to Israel and to the Church. As it is written; “He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust.”
As a personal note it may be that you feel the “locusts” have eaten away your life. There was a time many years ago when you loved the Lord and had an intense desire to serve him but now the fire has gone. The coals of your spiritual fervency have become cold on the altar of your heart. You once had power with God and men but now there is nothing but defeat and despair. You have allowed the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things to choke off the word in your heart and have become an empty cistern that holds no water.
God can come to you again. He can drive out the ‘Northern army’ that has devastated your life and bring back the old-time power and love for Jesus once more. He can rekindle the fire of His love and power on the altar of your heart! Sampson was such a man. The “locusts” of sin and disobedience had certainly done a work on him and he had become a laughing stock to his enemies. However, he turned back to the Lord one last time and even though he died he had the greatest victory of his entire life.
Whatever it is that is stopping you take it to the fountain opened for uncleanliness and sin. Indeed remember the words of that great hymn. “There is a fountain filled with blood flowing from Emmanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Indeed God is blowing the trumpet in Zion and in wrath remembers His mercy. Fly to Him as the scripture says, “Leave Babylon, flee from the Babylonians! Announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it. Send it out to the ends of the earth; say, “The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob.” (Isaiah 48:20)
Whatever it is that has spiritually crippled you in the past and has caused you to buckle over at the knees bring it to the feet of the Lord Jesus. Give it to Him and ask Him to restore the years that the locusts have eaten. Sometimes God sends the “locusts” of adversity to discipline us not because He likes to inflict pain and suffering on us but because He loves us and is making us fit to enter His eternal kingdom. Remember that Joseph made life hard for his brothers until they fell at his feet pleading for mercy. They had no strength left and it was at that time that Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and the joy and weeping was great. The Lord Jesus is excited because He will soon be meeting his wandering brothers who betrayed Him. He is yearning to reveal Himself to His wayward brethren and His time clock for their restoration began ticking in 1948.
Indeed He will restore the fortunes of Jacob. Despite all that has happened to Israel through the centuries and despite all that has happened in the lives of His faithful remnant in the Church He will have the final say! The “locusts” will be driven back and victory will be assured. In the Millennial kingdom there will be an abundance of all things. Never again will His people be ashamed and His praises will always be on their lips and they will be forever grateful for the fact that in His wrath He remembered His mercy. God calls Israel His people! Dare we call them anything else?
(Vs. 26-27) “You will have plenty to eat, until you are full and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be ashamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will My people be ashamed.”.. “The Lord dwells in Zion!”