From Heaven With Love


Chapter 2—The People Who Should Have Welcomed Him

For more than a thousand years the Jewish people had awaited the Saviour's coming. And yet at His coming they knew Him not. They saw in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. See Isaiah 53:2. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” John 1:11. HLv 17.1

God had chosen Israel to preserve among men the symbols and prophecies that pointed to the Saviour, to be as wells of salvation to the world. The Hebrew people were to reveal God among the nations. In the call of Abraham the Lord had said, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3. The Lord declared through Isaiah, “Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7, RV. HLv 17.2

But Israel fixed their hopes on worldly greatness and followed the ways of the heathen. In vain God sent them warning by His prophets. In vain they suffered the chastisement of heathen oppression. Every reformation was followed by deeper apostasy. HLv 17.3

Had Israel been true to God, He would have made them “high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.” “The nations, which shall hear all these statutes,” shall say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 26:19; 4:6. HLv 17.4

But because of their unfaithfulness, God's purpose could be wrought only through adversity and affliction. They were brought to Babylon and scattered through the lands of the heathen. While they mourned for the holy temple that was laid waste, through them a knowledge of God was spread among the nations. Heathen systems of sacrifice were a perversion of the system God had appointed; from the Hebrews many learned the meaning of the service divinely ordained, and in faith grasped the promise of a Redeemer. HLv 17.5

Not a few exiles lost their lives because of their refusal to disregard the Sabbath and to observe heathen festivals. As idolaters were roused to crush out the truth, the Lord brought His servants face to face with kings and rulers, that they and their people might receive light. The greatest monarchs were led to proclaim the supremacy of the God whom their Hebrew captives worshiped. HLv 18.1

During the centuries that followed the Babylonish captivity, the Israelites were cured of the worship of graven images, and their conviction became fixed that their prosperity depended on obedience to the law of God. But with many of the people the motive was selfish. They rendered service to God as the means of attaining national greatness. They did not become the light of the world but shut themselves away in order to escape temptation. God had placed restrictions on association with idolaters to prevent them from conforming to the practices of the heathen. But this teaching had been misinterpreted. It was used to build up a wall between Israel and other nations. The Jews were actually jealous lest the Lord should show mercy to the Gentiles! HLv 18.2