Personal Apologetic: The Dispersion Of National Israel

By human standards, the existence of the Jewish people today remains a mystery. No other ancient people has survived for thousands of years, retaining their national identity through much hostility.

We have much evidence that Israel was a nation thousands of years ago. Archaeologists have made many discoveries from the time of the kings, and they are still doing so. The most prominent of those remains is the temple mount in Jerusalem, but other remains exist, and the historical records of other ancient nations mention the existence of national Israel/Judah 1. Israel’s existence as an ancient nation is not seriously disputed.

The history of ancient Israel was generally not one of peace. There were internal conflicts, one of which led to the kingdom being divided, ten tribes (variously known as ‘Israel’, ‘Ephriam’, or ‘Samaria’) versus two (‘Judah’). There were wars and battles, with their neighbors as well as themselves. Eventually, Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and later Judah by the Babylonians. From the captivity on, Israel/Judah remained a people without their own nation for thousands of years. But unlike every other ancient people, they retained their national identity when scattered. All of this was prophesied in many places throughout the Bible. One of the first of those places is in the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy reads like the last will and testament of Moses. After leaving Egypt, the people of Israel traveled in the wilderness for 40 years. They were about to enter the Promised Land, but Moses was not allowed to enter. So before being taken away from them, he reviewed the history of their deliverance from slavery and travel through the desert. He reviewed the Law and he pronounced blessings on them. And within this review he gave a list of blessings and cursings: blessings if Israel would obey God, and cursings if they would not.

The blessings and cursings are given in Deuteronomy 28. Interestingly, most of this chapter (54 verses) is devoted to the cursings. God told Moses beforehand the people would not obey Him (Deuteronomy 31:16-18), therefore the cursings were elaborated on. Because Israel did not obey, the cursings can be understood as a prophetic description of the history of Israel covering a period of thousands of years.

The cursings start out bad, and get worse and worse. The repeated defeats before their enemies in the book of Judges was foretold. The later ecologic disasters and disease were predicted. The cannibalism of 2 Kings 6:24-29 and Lamentations 4:10 were prophesied here. The prophetic cursings also tell of the dispersion of the people of Israel, which began with the Assyrian captivity of Samaria (Israel) (722 B.C.) and the Babylonian captivity of Judah (597 B.C.), and was fully realized during Roman times.

It shall happen that as Yahweh rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so Yahweh will rejoice over you to cause you to perish, and to destroy you; and you shall be plucked from off the land where you go in to possess it. Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, which you have not known, you nor your fathers, even wood and stone. Among these nations you shall find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot: but Yahweh will give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and pining of soul…

– Deuteronomy 28:63-65 (WEB)

This ‘scattering’ happened with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D, where more than a million Jews died, and almost 100,000 shipped to Egypt as slaves:

Yahweh will bring you into Egypt again with ships, by the way of which I said to you, You shall see it no more again: and there you shall sell yourselves to your enemies for bondservants and for bondmaids, and no man shall buy you.

– Deuteronomy 28:68 (WEB)

The historians of the time say there was such a glut of slaves that people didn’t buy them.

“…as for the rest of the multitude that were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines.”

– Josephus, De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 2.

“There were many to be sold, but there were few buyers; for the Romans despised the Jews for service, nor were there Jews left to redeem their own.”;

– Hegesippus, De excidio Urb. Hieros. l. 5. c. 47. p. 645.

All of the curses in this chapter came about… even down to the last one.

Most scholars assume the book of Deuteronomy was written in the 6th to 8th century B.C. time period, because it records prophecies about the time of the captivities. If they could, they would probably say the book was written hundreds of years later to account for what the Romans did to them. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls contains portions of Deuteronomy dated before these events happened. These portions also include that last prophecy about the Jews returning to Egypt as slaves.

This chapter of Deuteronomy is only one prophecy of many in the Old Testament that refers to what would happen to Israel when Israel did not follow the commands of God. But no matter how bad things got, Israel would never be totally destroyed. There would always be a remnant so that eventually the people could be restored as a nation again. This is implied in the Deuteronomy prophecy, where the Hebrew people would live with no rest from fear in lands not their own, but other biblical writers say much the same thing:

My God will cast them away, because they did not listen to him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.

– Hosea 9:17 (WEB)

A third part of you shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of you; and a third part shall fall by the sword around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds, and will draw out a sword after them.

– Ezekiel 5:13 (WEB)

Israel would retain their national identity, but because of their sins, they would not exist as a nation until the last days. In the meantime, they would be scattered around the world, living in fear, suffering persecution, but never being totally destroyed. Their scattered but continued existence would be a witness to the world of the existence and sovereignty of God.

Thus says Yahweh, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar; Yahweh of Armies is his name: If these ordinances depart from before me, says Yahweh, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.

-Jeremiah 31:35-36 (WEB)

Don’t you be afraid, O Jacob 2 my servant, says Yahweh; for I am with you: for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you; but I will not make a full end of you, but I will correct you in measure, and will in no way leave you unpunished.

– Jeremiah 46:28 (WEB)

Are you not like the children of the Ethiopians to me, children of Israel?” says Yahweh. “Haven’t I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? Behold, the eyes of the Lord Yahweh are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the surface of the earth; except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says Yahweh. “For, behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet not the least kernel will fall on the earth. All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, ‘Evil won’t overtake nor meet us.’

– Amos 9:7-10 (WEB)

Now, you could take the existence of the Jews today as chance occurrence. After all, remnants of other ethnic people exist around the world. But…

* How many of those ethnic groups have held on to their ancient identity over thousand of years? Yes, there are some.

* How many of those people had prophecies made that they would destroyed as a nation and scattered throughout the world, but still retain their national identity?

* How many of those people were prophesied to suffer much while they were scattered throughout the word? History records much of the sufferings of the Jews, including multiple genocide attempts.

* How many of those people were prophesied to go through all this, yet never to be completely destroyed?

* How many of those people had their prophecies fulfilled?

Yes, you could still believe it was all fulfilled by chance… but it would be a very slim chance! And the chances rapidly shrink the more you research history and the scriptures.

In case this doesn’t convince you, in the next post I’ll be looking at the biggest examples of prophecy fulfilled in our lifetime: the return of Israel as a nation.


  1. For example, the Prism of Sennacherib mentions King Hezekiah and contains an account of the siege of Jerusalem that agrees with 2 Kings 18:13-19:37. Other extra-biblical references to Israel’s kings are listed at .
  2. I.e. Israel, Genesis 32:28

January 2014 Update

My posts have been sporadic lately, but that’s kinda normal for me. Writing still doesn’t come easy. But I do have some more posts in the works.

I haven’t abandoned the Church Impossible series of posts. I have the next one mostly finished, but there are some other things in the works that I think are more important, so it might be a while before you see the series continue.

I am putting together a personal apologetic where I give my own intellectual reasons for belief in God and the inspiration of the Bible. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and I’m finally getting around to it. This will initially be released as a series of posts, but when complete, I’ll make an all-in-one version.

I’m also writing an expanded version of Victory Over Sin to replace the existing work. This will also be available as a free book, downloadable as a PDF and probably in various e-pub formats. This is mostly finished.

Lastly, I’ve started working on some new mazes in my free time. The last one I drew was way back in 1996. I have a small one that is mostly finished, and a larger one just started based on van Gogh’s Starry Night. I plan this one to be a “12-in-one” maze. You’ll see what that means if and when I finish it.

That’s all for now!

Post-Examination Action

But be ye doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
deluding your own selves.
For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror:
for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away,
and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

(James 1:22-25 ASV)

The word of God provides a thorough examination of the heart. If we were graded on the results of our examination, most of us (myself included) would not even receive a C-. (And the few who have A’s or B’s probably wouldn’t be aware of it anyway.)

But even with a failing grade, this examination is a good thing if it leads us to call out to God for the grace of a lasting change of heart, mind, and actions.

Without this change, the examination is useless. It is like someone who looks in a mirror, then leaves and forgets what he looks like. This is a believer whose Christianity is relegated to a limited portion of his life: Sunday mornings, morning devotions, or the occasional prayer. Jesus Christ is something added to life, rather than what life is all about. There is no continual meditation and communion with the Father and Son. There is no fellowship of the Spirit. There is little difference between that person and the world.

This is a man who has fooled himself, and is probably plagued with doubts. I do not want to be this man.

Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine,
and doeth them,
shall be likened unto a wise man,

And every one that heareth these words of mine,
and doeth them not,
shall be likened unto a foolish man,
who built his house upon the sand:

(Matthew 7:24-27 ASV)

The way out of self-deception and into real, tangible, spiritual union with Jesus is to act on what He says. I can be both a doctrinal genious and a fool at the same time if I don’t obey my Lord.

The examination continues, but the time for action is now. Let us examine ourselves closely, grit our teeth, and through the power of the Holy Spirit painfully pull out all of the thorns in our lives, living only for the Lord Jesus Christ.

If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.

– John 13:7 ASV

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path.

– Psalm 119:105 ASV

Examine me, O Jehovah, and prove me; Try my heart and my mind.

– Psalm 26:2 ASV

Note: This series is now available in an all-in-one page at

Examination – Appearances Or Fruit?

Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine;
so neither can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches:
He that abideth in me, and I in him,
the same beareth much fruit:
for apart from me ye can do nothing.

(John 15:4-5 ASV)

Jesus’ words search me in various ways here:

As one branch connected to the Vine, I desire to look good, with lots of healthy green leaves. But God is not concerned with looks. He did not plant the Vine for decoration but for fruit. Am I concerned with appearances, or the goal at hand?

Assuming I desire fruit, why do I desire it? The Father placed me in Christ so that I would bear much fruit for Him. Is my desire to satisfy myself or get the admiration of others, or is it purely to satisfy God?

Twice Jesus stated the absolute necessity of abiding in Him to produce fruit. I can do nothing without Him. But do I really believe this? How essential do I view my connection to Christ for hour-by-hour living?

Awareness of my need to abide in Christ is good, but am I really abiding in Him? It is very easy to fool myself here. Abiding in Christ is not just listening to Him or agreeing with Him but doing what He says. Do I do what He says?

Examination – Sowing To My Flesh Or The Spirit?

Be not deceived;
God is not mocked:
for whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap

(Galatians 6:7 ASV)

As any farmer knows, if you want to harvest wheat, you need to sow wheat. You can’t sow one thing and expect something else to crop up. This God-given law has been in effect since the beginning of creation and it can’t be circumvented.

For he that soweth unto his own flesh
shall of the flesh reap corruption;
but he that soweth unto the Spirit
shall of the Spirit reap eternal life

(Galatians 6:8 ASV)

Another sure God-given law is presented in this passage. I can sow to my flesh, or I can sow to the Holy Spirit. What I sow to determines what I reap. It matters not what I intend to reap or desire to reap or think I will reap. If I sow to the flesh (i.e. my desires) I will reap corruption. If I sow to the Spirit (i.e. His desires), I will reap eternal life (which is the kind of life, not just the length). I believe there is no way around this law; it is just as sure as the law the farmer relies on.

When it comes down to it, sowing to the flesh is no different than sowing thorns. So why do I still sow to my flesh at times? I don’t know. I may do many good things for the right reasons, but if I also cater to my fleshly desires, why should I expect a good harvest?

Thorns are whatever I do that hinders the life and work of the Holy Spirit in me, and they must be dealt with right away. Thorns start out seemly innocent enough, but as time goes on they grow harder and become more entrenched – more difficult and painful to pull up. I must pull them up anyway by denying myself in those areas that grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). And I must sow to the Spirit instead.

Examination – Thorns Or Fruit?

And others fell upon the thorns;
and the thorns grew up and choked them…

this is he that heareth the word;
and the care of the world,
and the deceitfulness of riches,
choke the word,
and he becometh unfruitful.

(Matthew 13:7,22 ASV)

These words of Jesus are frequently on my mind. The “cares of the world” and the “deceitfulness of riches” are the things that the world is concerned about: food, clothing, family, employment, a good retirement, entertainment, comfort, pleasure, happiness. These are not evil in themselves, but they become evil when they form the basis of my goals, desires and motivations. This happens all too often, and when it does, Jesus ends up taking the backseat in my life. Then I find it more difficult to hear Him speak to me. This hinders my growth in Christ to the point where it becomes impossible to bear fruit.

The fruit that love of the world prevents is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-24), which is headed up with love. So love of the world prevents the love of the Spirit. If I allow the world to attract me, I shouldn’t wonder that I’m not making progress in loving my enemies, growing in patience towards those who irritate me, growing in my relationship with the Lord, and so on.

What thorns have I allowed, and even now am allowing and nurturing, in my life? (It’s time to do an inventory!) The cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches are the number one cause for stunted spiritual growth. God only knows how much spiritual fruit I’ve already dropped prematurely due to the thorns in my life!

Examination – Love Of The World Or The Father?

Love not the world,
neither the things that are in the world.
If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.

(1 John 2:15 ASV)

I like to think I don’t love the world. But when it comes down to specifics, there are some things in the world I do find attractive and pleasing: certain foods, books, songs, movies, TV shows, philosophies, … rollercoasters.

But Jesus presented an exclusive choice. I can either love the world, or I can love God. I can’t do both. I don’t even have the option of loving the world less than God. I am not to love the world at all. (I’m talking love here, not the mere use of the world’s things. We can’t isolate ourselves from the world. We have to be in the world, but not of it. …just as Jesus was.)

Of course, it’s easy to say “I love God and not the world”, but what do my actions show? What kinds of thoughts do I find pleasing? What motivates me? If I examine myself according to my thoughts and actions, will I find I love the Father or hate Him?

The Examination Of The Scriptures

Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts;

And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

(Psalm 139:23-24 ASV)

It is good to regularly take time to examine the Bible, but it is far better to let the Bible take time to regularly examine us. The former gives us knowledge of the scriptures that can puff us up. The later gives us knowledge of ourselves that humbles us, opening the door to repentance and the building-up that is of God. The former happens as we read and study the scriptures. The later happens afterwards as we take time to meditate on what we have read and studied.

The Bible is not a religious textbook or doctrinal repository. It is the word of God: living, active, powerful. It has the power to probe our minds, our hearts, our inmost being (Hebrews 4:12). But the benefit is only experienced by those who submit to its scrutiny

This examination of the scriptures is usually painful. Knowing this, I don’t let God’s word examine me as often as I should. I expect this is due to fear of what it will reveal. A quote from The Neverending Story comes to mind:

“Confronted by their true selves, most men run away, screaming!”

I already know there’s bad stuff deep inside me, but I’m comfortable keeping this knowledge as general or theoretical as can be. I don’t want to be confronted with the specifics. However, avoiding the doctor for fear of his diagnosis of cancer will do serious harm if there really is cancer. There can be no cure without there first being a diagnosis.

Regardless of how God’s word makes me feel, it is always a good thing to submit to His probing of the deeper recesses of my heart. How else can those fleshly strongholds I’m only vaguely aware of be fully revealed in all their ugliness and torn down? It is those very areas that have hindered my walk with the Lord since I’ve known Him. Why should I let them continue to hinder God’s will for me?

In the following posts I’d like to share a few of these painful, probing scripture passages that have been on my mind lately. You will probably find them very familiar and not painful at all, especially if you just give them a quick read-through and forget about them. But the more I let them examine me, the clearer I see the true condition of my heart. I find myself becoming more desperate for the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to work in me God’s cure.

Another relevant post: Two Signposts for Diagnosing Your Heart (

The Greater Miracle

(I’ll be posting the full version of this later.)

Seeing their faith, he said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

– Luke 5:20 (WEB)

There were two miracles when the paralytic was lowered through the roof into the room where Jesus was teaching. One was obvious: the man was healed of his paralysis. He took up his bed in full view of everyone and went home. The second was not obvious. Nobody in the crowd noticed it. But it was a far greater miracle. The man’s sins were forgiven.

Here are four reasons why forgiveness of sins is a greater miracle than any physical healing:

Forgiveness is eternal. If you get healed physically, it’s a great thing. But that healing is only temporary. It only affects your life here on earth. If you get the use of your legs back, you still might having something else happen to you later on. You could go blind, get cancer, or lose your mind. Even if you retain your health for the rest of your life, you’re still going to die anyway and face the judgment. But forgiveness of sins (not just “a” sin but all sins) is much better. It is eternal. It is a miracle for which the consequences continue long after death into eternity.

Another thing that sets forgiveness of sins apart from other miracles is with our relationships. Forgiveness restores our relationship with God. Physical healing can restore relationships with our fellow man. For example, those Jesus healed of leprosy no longer had to live apart from the rest of society, and the healed paralytic could go for walks with his friends. But forgiveness of sins restores man’s relationship with God. Sin is like a spiritual leprosy. In sin we have to live apart from God because we are “unclean”. But when God removes our sin and cleans us up, we have fellowship with Him, and He with us. That is why Jesus could say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And that is why the Holy Spirit can dwell in us.

Third, the scriptures mention only one emotion in heaven over what happens down here on earth. We read nothing about heaven’s response when Jesus raised the dead or gave sight to the blind. But we are told there is more joy in heaven over one repenting sinner than over 99 that don’t repent. The angels rejoice when one sinner repents and receives forgiveness of sins! Forgiveness brings more joy to heaven. I think that goes to show what heaven thinks is more important. (True, Luke 15:7 doesn’t mention forgiveness, but it is implied. Why would the angels rejoice over a repentant sinner if he’s going to go to hell anyway?)

Once more thing that makes forgiveness a greater miracle: We all need it. Not all of us need our sight or hearing restored, or cancer removed, but we’re all sinners with the need for God’s forgiveness and He offers it freely to anyone who asks. Jesus fed thousands of people at one time, and they eventually got hungry again. But millions have received God’s forgiveness, which lasts for eternity!

Can you think of other reasons why forgiveness is a greater miracle?