The following is an excerpt from volume 4 of The Christian’s Reasonable Service by Wilhelmus à Brakel (hardcopy).
The Return of the Jews to Canaan Proven from Various Old Testament Passages
One more question remains to be answered: Will the Jewish nation be gathered together again from all the regions of the world and from all the nations of the earth among which they have been dispersed? Will they come to and dwell in Canaan and all the lands promised to Abraham, and will Jerusalem be rebuilt?
We believe that these events will transpire. We deny, however, that the temple will be rebuilt, and that therein the previous mode of worship will be observed, which prior to Christ’s coming was of a typifying nature and would then be of a reflective nature. We also deny that Israel will then have dominion over the entire world—and other such things which the Jews imagine and some Christians dream about. Rather, they will be an independent republic, governed by a very wise, good-natured, and superb government. Furthermore, Canaan will be extraordinarily fruitful, the inhabitants will be eminently godly, and they will constitute a segment of the glorious state of the church during the thousand years prophesied in Rev 20. We shall not enlarge here by vindicating every text over against evasive arguments one could construe—as if those texts referred to the deliverance from Babylon. They could easily be refuted from the answers already given to evasive arguments, and by the attentive examination of texts, comparing them with the actual state of Israel’s restoration from Babylon.
We prove this from the two passages we have dealt with: Isa 61:1-9 and (Jer 31:31-40). We have refuted those evasive arguments against these texts, for they state expressly that the Jews will again return to their land, and that both their ruined places and Jerusalem will be rebuilt. Consider in addition to this the following texts.
Deut 30:1-6: “… when all these things are come upon thee”—namely, “that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom” (Deut 29:23). This did not occur during the Babylonian captivity, as the land remained fruitful and was cultivated. Canaan was in this condition after the destruction of Jerusalem (and it is nearly still the case)—“thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God … with all thine heart, and with all thy soul (which occurred neither upon their return from Babylon nor thereafter); that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee: and the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. (This did not occur at all after the Babylonian captivity, as those times bore no resemblance whatsoever to the times of David, Solomon, and other kings. There was continual warfare and external dominion, and there were continual troubles within.) And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Since these things will most certainly befall Israel, and since this has occurred neither in a spiritual nor in a physical sense after the Babylonian captivity, then such a spiritual conversion and a restoration to the land of Canaan is still to be anticipated.
Amos 9:14-15: “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” However, after the Babylonian captivity they only possessed the land for five hundred years, having then been evicted from their land until this very day. Thus, this conversion is yet to be anticipated.
Ezek 37:21-25: “I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land … and one king shall be king to them all (they did not even have a king after Babylon). … And David (Christ) My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one Shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever.” Israel did not experience this after the Babylonian captivity—neither spiritually, nor physically. This would occur in the days of the Messiah, after His coming—after which the Jews did not reside in the land of Canaan from generation to generation. Instead, the land has been destroyed and they have been dispersed. Thus, that time is yet to come.
Isa 62:1-4: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” Israel is referred to as such in these days. She is the forsaken one and her land is desolate. Therefore, this cannot be said of them after the Babylonian captivity. During this period Israel was also not in the glorious state spoken of here. Thus, it is yet to come.
“… Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein” (Zech 2:4); “… and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem” (Zech 12:8); “In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David” (Zech 12:8); “… and it (Jerusalem) shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place” (Zech 14:11); “And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited” (Zech 14:11). Jerusalem has not been in such a state after the Babylonian captivity; she has been fully destroyed, and is now in a state of exile. It is therefore not applicable to the return from Babylon, but to a period of time yet to come. From all this it is clearly evident that the Jewish nation will yet be converted, come to her land Canaan, and reside there.
Evasive argument: All the texts quoted above speak of the glorious state of the church of the New Testament, and all these expressions are to be understood as referring to spiritual matters, rather than to the conversion of the Jews and their restoration to Canaan.
Answer: This is being asserted, but has not been proven. With every text we have shown emphatically that they speak of Israel and what would befall them according to soul and body.
Objection: “And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined … and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Dan 9:26-27). Here it is stated that it has been determined that there will be desolations until the end. Thus, the Jewish nation will neither be converted, nor return to Canaan to possess it.
Answer: The angel Gabriel not only made known to Daniel their deliverance from Babylon, but also the time when the Messiah would be born, suffer, and die in Canaan, as well as how the Jews would fare in Canaan. There would be continual warfare there until Jerusalem would be destroyed to the ground—a destruction that was most surely decreed and would therefore certainly come to pass. No mention is made of what would befall the Jewish nation and Jerusalem after their destruction, but rather that which would precede their destruction and that which would befall them shortly before the death of Christ: warfare until the end.24 This does not refer to the end of the world, but of Jerusalem. The warfare would not cease until Jerusalem would be destroyed in a dreadful manner by the Romans, the destruction of which would signal the end of the warfare. Thus, this text does not speak against the conversion of the Jews and their restoration to their land.
Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 4, pp. 530-534