Jerusalem Center of Worship and Government
J. N. Darby
Of the two great subjects, besides our individual salvation, of
which the Scriptures treat, as already stated (namely, the
church and the government of the world), the latter leads us at
once to the Jewish as its centre, as the church is of the
heavenly glory under Christ; under whom as their head all things
in heaven and earth are to be gathered together in one. That
government will extend over the whole earth, but the royal
nation and seat and centre of government will be the Jewish
people. To Jerusalem, as the centre alike of worship and
government, all nations will flow. So it was ordained from the
beginning, as we learn from this remarkable passage, "When the
Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he
separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people
according to the number of the children of Israel. For the
Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his
inheritance", Deuteronomy 32:8-9.
I may now turn to the direct declarations of the prophets, which
leave no shadow of doubt on their restoration and blessing; and
that as a people, with Jerusalem for the centre of their
dominion and glory. That these prophecies have never been
accomplished the passages themselves will prove; but there are
certain general considerations that affect this question, which
I will here notice. That Israel as a people were not brought
into their promised blessings when Christ first came, is
evident. It was the time of their casting away, and the
grafting in of the Gentiles the reconciling the world; and
their receiving again is set in contrast with it. Jerusalem was
destroyed, not rebuilt; the people scattered, not gathered.
Their restoration after the Babylonish captivity is sometimes
alleged to be the fulfilment of these promises; but it was far
indeed from accomplishing them. Their blessings are to be under
the new covenant; but the new covenant was not established then.
They are to be under Messiah, but Messiah was not then. The
Jews were still in captivity, so that Nehemiah speaks thus:
"Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou
gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good
thereof, behold, we are servants in it. And it yieldeth much
increase to the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our
sins. Also they have dominion over our bodies and over our
cattle at their pleasure, and we are in great distress".
Further, when Christianity was introduced, not only was
Jerusalem destroyed in judgment, but the Gentiles were in full
glory and triumph. When the Jews are re-established according
to prophecy, they are judged and brought under.
I will now quote the prophecies which predict this establishment
of the people. You will see its connection with Christ, with
the judgment of the Gentiles, with the new covenant, and even
with the resurrection. It will be the sparing of a remnant, in
the first instance, which will become a great nation. I first
quote Isaiah, who furnishes us with some very remarkable
prophecies on this subject. After describing the universal evil
and the judgment of this nation, he closes his introductory
prophecy thus, "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be
beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be
excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And
it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that
remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one
that is written among the living in Jerusalem: when the Lord
shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and
shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof
by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And
the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion,
and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the
shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall
be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in
the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a
covert from storm and from rain", chapter 4:2-6.
Thus the glory will be restored to Zion when the Lord shall have
purged away her guilt by judgment. Two causes of judgment are
there stated: the unfaithfulness of Israel to her first
calling; and their unfitness to meet the glory of the Lord when
He appears. In this last (chapter 6) that judgment which the
Lord recalls is pronounced, "Make the heart of this people fat,
and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see
with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with
their heart, and convert, and be healed". The prophet then
enquires, "How long?" The answer is, "Until the cities be
wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the
land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far
away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land".
Then it is added, "But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall
return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak,
whose substance is in them, when they have cast their leaves:
so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof". Nothing could
more strikingly depict the long winter of Israel's desolation;
but here God would in the remnant give a principle of
restoration and blessing, as Paul shews in Romans 11.
... I have passed over a remarkable chapter in the midst of the
Gentile series, to which I must now return, [Isaiah] chapter 18,
difficult in expression, but very plain in its purpose.
Messengers are sent by a mighty protecting power to a nation
scattered and feeble a nation wonderful from the beginning.
The Lord summons all the inhabitants of the world to attend. He
holds Himself aloof in His dwelling. The Jews come back,
looking for full national blessing in a carnal way; just as it
seemed blooming they are cut down again, and the beasts of the
field, the Gentiles, summer and winter on them. Still at that
time a present is brought of this people to the Lord, and then
from them to Him in the mount of Zion. We learn thus their
return by some political movement, their subsequent desolation
in their land; yet they are brought to the Lord, and they
themselves bring their offering to Jehovah in Zion.
You will find in chapter 29, and remarkably in chapter 32, and
largely in chapters 34 and 35, the Spirit's testimony to the
final restoration of Israel. ...
In Micah we have a beautiful description of what Israel will be
in the world in that day under Christ. They will not be added
to the church one by one, and merged as blessed in it; they will
be gathered as Israel; chapter 5:3. Then Christ will be their
strength against the Assyrian their foe, when owned in the land.
Then they become as dew in the world, the freely flowing
blessing of God, but as a lion among the beasts of the forest to
all that oppose them and the counsels of God in them (verse 8),
while all evil is purged out from them and the heathen judged,
as we have never seen (verses 9-15).
In Zephaniah 3 we have another passage full of instruction as to
the Lord's ways with this people. First, Jehovah's long and
gracious, but useless, patience (verse 7). So the godly ones
had to wait till judgment came on the nations, would subdue
them, and bring in blessing. In Israel there would be a poor
and afflicted and sanctified remnant (verses 12-13), but peace
should be their portion. Then Zion, Israel, and Jerusalem are
called to rejoice with all their heart; Jehovah was in their
midst: they would not see evil any more.
God would rest in His love
the blessing so great that His love would be satisfied
and in repose. Blessed thought! still more blessedly true of us
when Jesus shall see the travail of His soul and shall be
satisfied. Then all that afflict Israel will be undone, and the
people made a praise among all peoples of the earth (verses 14-20).
In Zechariah, the whole of chapter 10 describes the restoration
of Israel in the latter days, speaking of each division of the
people, Judah and Ephraim; then chapter 11 tells of Christ's
rejection; and in chapter 12 all the nations gathered against
Jerusalem are judged, and she becomes a burdensome stone for
them (so that it has no application to past events), and there
is a detailed account of how Jehovah will save the people: "In
that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of
fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and
they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand
and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her
own place, even in Jerusalem. The Lord also shall save the
tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and
the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify
themselves against Judah". Then there is the mourning over
Christ's rejection, and they look on Him whom they have pierced.
They are sifted (chapter 13:9), and two thirds cut off, and the
third part pass through the fire. The last chapter (14) closes
this striking history with full details of what shall take
place. The Lord comes. His feet shall stand on the Mount of
Olives. At evening time, when men would expect darkness, it
will be light. Living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem.
Jehovah shall be King over all the earth; He alone shall be
owned. Jerusalem shall be inhabited in her place; there shall be
no more utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
The testimonies I have cited are amply sufficient to show, to
every one who receives the testimony of God's word as true, the
certainty of the restoration of Israel to their own land to be
blessed under Christ and the new covenant. The circumstances of
the return of Israel and Judah are distinguished. Of the
former, the rebels are cut off outside the land, which they
never enter; of the latter, in the land: the residue of these
last passing through the fire. This involves the history of
Antichrist and the Gentiles, which will be spoken of when the
prophecies as to them are considered. But Israel and Judah are
united under one head. Further, in the series of events which
usher in the blessing, the Gentiles are gathered against Israel
and are judged, and afterwards blessed in connection with, and
subordinate to, that people. Jehovah is King over all the
earth. It is noticed, too, that these events take place at the
epoch at which the resurrection does. Peace reigns, and the
curse is removed: Jerusalem is never defiled any more, nor does
Israel lose its blessing.
Such is the establishment of the divine government of the world
at the close. Of this government Israel is the centre,
according to the fixed purpose and unchangeable calling of God.
They reject now the gospel, but are beloved for the fathers'
sake: they will believe when they see. We have brighter
blessings, because we believe without seeing; and this is one
thing which renders the understanding of the prophecies, as to
the Jews, important. Not only is it precious to us as a part of
Christ's glory, but our clear apprehension of the application of
prophecy to them hinders our misapplying it to the church. This
takes its own heavenly character. It is witness of sovereign
grace, giving it a place with Christ where no promise was;
Israel, the testimony to God's faithfulness to His promises
Jehovah, who was and is to come. Israel will, indeed, be the
royal people, the centre of Christ's earthly power and dominion, but
they will be reigned over. We, by pure grace, shall reign with
Him, suffering first with Him. The church has its place with Him,
Israel its own blessing under Him according to His promises of old.
From "Lectures on the Second Coming of Christ, Lecture 4",
Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, volume 11, pages 265-278.
Jerusalem - Center of Worship and Government