Return for the Sake of Your Servants,

the Tribes of Your Inheritance

63: 15-19

   DIG: Who is the remnant? Where are they? Why? How are they different now than in the past? What has changed their attitude toward God?

   REFLECT: When you pray, do you express to the LORD the full range and intensity of your emotions (joy, anger, sorrow, doubt, fear)? Or do you go through the motions? Have you ever wanted to say something like 63:17? Why?

    These verses contain Israel’s prayer at the end of the Great Tribulation that brings about the Second Coming of Yeshua Messiah. The actual words of this prayer are found in four key passages of Scripture, first, in Psalm 79, secondly in Psalm 80, thirdly in 53:1-9, and lastly here. As the armies of the antichrist close in around them, the spiritual scales fall from the one third of the Israelites left (Zechariah 13:8), and they will cry out to Jesus Christ to return and save them.

    When the Israelites left Egypt at the time of the Exodus, Pharaoh’s army bore down on them. God had told Moses: I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD (Exodus 14:4). As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to ADONAI. But they did so in unbelief. They said to God's servant: Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die (Exodus 14:10-11)? Moses answered the people: Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance God will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13).

    The Israelites at the end of the Great Tribulation will face the same situation, but this time they will respond in faith. The LORD will again fight for them; they only need to be still. As they cry out to Jesus Christ, they cry out: Look down from heaven and see from Your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are Your zeal and your might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us (63:15). They begin to pray for God to look down from heaven and take note of their situation. They appeal for God to use His zeal and might as He did in the past. Their wish was that the mighty acts of the Exodus (Ex 14:26-31; Deut 4:32-38; Ps 44:1-2) be repeated at the time of Isra'el’s final restoration. They plead to God to show His tenderness and compassion toward Isra'el as He had in the past.

    This is an appeal for mercy to God as Father, Abba, and redeemer, recalling His compassionate dealings with Jacob in the past. In Egypt He claimed: Israel is My firstborn (Exodus 4:22), pledged Himself to redeem you with an outstretched arm (Exodus 6:6-7), and declared that His name, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was eternally true (Exodus 3:15). The believing remnant cried out: But You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Jacob acknowledge us (63:16a). Although they had been blinded by their sin and not been following in the Torah, ADONAI was still faithful to them, and remained their Father and Redeemer.

    You, O LORD, are our Abba, Father (63:16b): The relationship we have with our Father is one of intimacy and familiarity, awe and respect, obedience and delight. Our Father loves to hear us call His name. He takes great delight in us and when we are troubled, He will quiet us with His loving arms. What a privilege it is to be a child of God.

    The concept of God the Father in the TaNaKh was never used individually, only collectively as a group or a nation (Deuteronomy 32:6 and Isaiah 9:6). But they even felt cut off from the nation. Although every good Jew calls Abraham their father, they will feel like even Abraham would not know them because of their unfaithfulness. Two thirds of the nation of Israel throughout the Great Tribulation will be apostate (Zechariah 13:8-9). Yet even though they felt like Abraham would not know them and Jacob would not acknowledge them because of their unfaithfulness, they knew ADONAI was their Father from ancient times. He has proven Himself to be faithful to them in the past. Would He now let His people perish from the face of the earth? Would He allow Satan the final victory? Would He allow His name to be put to shame? Certainly not. He will do whatever is necessary to protect and preserve the great name He has made for Himself.

    He is also their Go’ali, or their Redeemer. They cry out: Our Redeemer from of old is Your name (63:16c). What was the relationship of the remnant to God? The one third that will remain faithful to ADONAI will begin to make their plea for the return of Yeshua Messiah to return. Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from Your ways, and harden our hearts so we do not revere you (63:17a)? This is not an attempt to lay the blame for their sin on ADONAI, rather a recognition that their guilt is such that He had no option but to drive them from Him because He is a holy God who cannot tolerate sin in His presence. Likewise, harden our hearts does not blame the LORD for their sin. We must remember God hardened Pharaoh’s heart only after the Egyptian king hardened his own heart (Exodus 9:12).

    But they are not finished yet; they have one more basis for appeal: Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes that are Your inheritance (63:17b). This is the ancient language of the Exodus and the conquest of the Land by Joshua. Yes, God might have given them the Promised Land as their heritage, but they were His heritage (Deuteronomy 4:20), the apple of His eye (32:10)! Could ADONAI not refuse to rescue His people, His heritage, in their time of need? This is the prayer of intercession, the passionate entering into the needs of those for whom we are praying, and a storming of the gates of heaven with every tool we can use. Why? Because God is callous and uncaring? No, because we are callous and uncaring, and until our passion is in some small way connected to the great passion of the LORD, His power is in some way restrained. This seems almost unimaginable, but the testimony of history and of Scripture confirms it.254

    For a little while Your people possessed Your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down Your sanctuary (63:18). The final reason that they were pleading for Jesus to return and to save them will be because of the Abomination of Desolation in the wicked Tribulation Temple (Daniel 11:31 and Second Thessalonians 2:1-4). They had signed a seven year covenant with the antichrist (Daniel 9:27) when everything seemed to be going smoothly before the Great Tribulation began. But after three and a half years, the antichrist set up an image of himself in the most holy place and demanded to be worshiped as God (see my commentary on Revelation Dn – All Inhabitants of the Earth will Worship the Beast). They thought they had been offering sacrifices to God, but they had only been fooling themselves. As a result, their enemies had trampled down their phony sanctuary (Revelation 11:1-2). So they plead that ADONAI would forgive and save them by returning.

    We are Yours from of old; but You have not ruled over us, and we have not been called by Your name because of our sin (63:19). But if He did not return and save them, what would the world say about Him? The world would surely conclude that the stories about Israel’s glorious past were lies. They would say that the LORD had never ruled over Isra'el; they would say that Isra'el had never been truly called by God’s name. Is this what ADONAI wants? Does He want the world to have this false impression? Of course not. Then what is the implied solution? First, confess their sin (First John 1:8-10), then plead for the Second Coming.

    At that point they completely surrender to ADONAI. This should be the attitude of every believer today – complete yielding to God. Most of us are afraid to give the LORD the steering wheel of our lives because we are afraid He will be hard on us. He wants to be gentile with us if we will give Him a chance. But we must never forget that He is also a holy God of judgment. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) who is coming to the earth to trample the winepress of His wrath (63:3-6). He is not trying to scare you; He is just telling you the truth.

 

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