What Do I Mean By ‘Sanctification’?

This question came up recently on a Christian forum. Since I’ve written quite a bit about justification and sanctification lately, it would be a good idea for me to clarify what I mean by these terms.

In the Bible, justification has to do with righteousness. It is about being declared innocent – not guilty – before God. The Law, summarized by the Ten Commandments, reveals God’s righteousness, and therefore it is closely tied to justification. A person can only be justified if the entire Law is kept faultlessly. To break just one Law imputes guilt on a person.

Jesus Christ is the only Person to keep the whole Law without sin, but He did so in our place so we can have His righteousness imputed to us. When we repent and believe in Him, He takes our guilt and He gives us His righteousness. This is the process of justification by which we are declared righteous before God. When God looks at a saved believer, He doesn’t see sin. He sees the righteousness of Christ.

Sanctification, on the other hand, has to do with holiness, not judicial righteousness. It is about being set apart to God, and therefore it implies being owned by Him. As is also the case with the word “justified”, most uses of this word in the Bible are in the past tense, i.e. “sanctified”. When God justified us, He also sanctified us in that we became God’s own – holy to Him. Like justification, this was also a direct result of Jesus dying on the cross (Hebrews 10:29). 1

In the Old Testament, when God chose His people Israel, they became His own, dedicated to serve and worship Him (Deuteronomy 7:6). But that did not make them righteous, because sanctification is not about righteousness. When we are saved, however, we are both declared righteous (justified) and set apart (sanctified) to God. Both of these are the result of Jesus’ death for us, …but still, neither of these stops us from sinning.

The Bible also speaks of the on-going process of sanctification. This is the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:3) in making us holy like Christ in heart, mind and actions. It can only happen if we have first been justified and sanctified (set apart) for this purpose.

The Galatian believers were trying to achieve sanctification by works of the Law. But the Law is about justification, not sanctification. They were so focused on the Law, that instead of progressing toward holiness, they were losing their understanding of the more elementary principles of justification. The letter to the Galatians implies there is a close and dependent relationship between justification and sanctification. If we get one wrong, we’ll likely get the other wrong also.

Generally, I use ‘justification’ to describe what God does through Christ to save us from the legal consequences of our sins, and ‘sanctification’ to describe what God does through the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ. They are two different but related things, and they are both the work of God through faith.

Notes:

  1. In my writings, I’ll use the phrase ‘practical righteousness,’ as distinct from judicial righteousness, to mean holy living. This sanctification-type righteousness is spoken of in Titus 2:12, 1 John 2:29, 3:7.

Is Sanctification By Law Or By Faith?

We tend to misunderstand what was going on in the Galatian church. Well, let me rephrase. I have misunderstood what was going on in the Galatian church, …but I do think many of us share the same misunderstanding.

What I mean is, as we read Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, we assume they were trying to be saved by the works of the Law of Moses. It’s real easy to come to this conclusion when we see warnings of “a different gospel,” and read statements like “a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through the faith of Jesus Christ,” and “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” There is so much justification-by-grace-through-faith doctrine in Paul’s letter that we think he was correcting their misunderstanding about how we come to salvation. And there is nothing wrong with applying the doctrine in this manner. We are saved by faith, not by works. Any gospel that says otherwise is a false one. But salvation by works was not their main problem.

While there may have been exceptions, for the most part, the Galatians were not trying to earn their salvation. They had already received the true gospel (Galatians 1:9,4:9), and as a result they had already received the Holy Spirit by faith (Galatians 3:2, Ephesians 1:14). Getting saved was not their problem. The issue was how they lived after they were saved. They had a misunderstanding of sanctification.

That their problem was a practical one can be seen in Galatians 2:10, where Paul mentions Peter, James and John’s instructions on how believing Gentiles are to live, while leaving out any instructions on how Gentiles are to be saved 1. But it becomes much more evident in chapter 3 where Paul really starts chewing them out:

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

– Galatians 3:3 (KJV)

This is the first place where Paul directly confronts them with their error. Notice the word ‘Spirit’ here. This is a gigantic clue he is not talking about how to become or stay saved …otherwise he would have said something like, “having begun in Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit’s role to make us practically righteous, not to declare us righteous before God.

The Greek word for ‘perfect’, epiteleo, is used nine times elsewhere in the New Testament. Every one of those usages refer to accomplishing something through actions 2. Epiteleo is never used in reference to our gaining or maintaining a right standing before God. In other words, we have no need to perfect our righteous status before God, because Jesus has already perfected it.

Also notice Paul did not condemn his readers merely for seeking perfection. He condemned them for the manner in which they sought it. This is another clue that sanctification is the topic at hand. The Galatian believers were trying to attain practical perfection through the Law. They thought they could achieve sanctification by works of the flesh. But sanctification is purely God’s work (John 17:17, Romans 15:16, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 5:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 2:11, 10:10, 13:12, 1 Peter 1:2, 3:15). They began their walk correctly (‘by the Spirit’), but then they ceased submitting to the leading of the Holy Spirit and let the Judaizers divert them. No wonder Paul was upset with them!

Although we apply the doctrine of justification in this epistle to our evangelism of the lost, it was written primarily to us believers, because we are vulnerable to the Galatians’ error. Sanctification by works is a much subtler error than justification by works, because it infects our minds so easily without knowing it. In some churches today, the Holy Spirit’s role goes no further than doctrine. Practically speaking, the Trinity becomes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scriptures. Perhaps this is a reaction against the errors of some who tend to have a fixation on the Holy Spirit at the expense of good doctrine. I don’t know. But I do know there are serious dangers in trying to live by the Law:

• It actually empowers sin in our lives (Romans 5:20, 7:5,8, 1 Corinthians 15:56). The more we seek to live by the Law, the more power sin has over us, even if that sin is only a prideful self-righteous attitude over others. It’s not the Law’s fault – the Law is righteous and good. But our flesh still has sinful desires which attempts to use the requirements of the Law to make itself look good.

• We downplay what Paul said in Galatians 3:10, that those who insist on living by the law are under a curse, because they put themselves in debt to keep the whole law, with its sacrificial system, holy days, circumcision, etc. While this is not the curse of Galatians 1:8,9, it is still a very bad thing.

• And a legalistic sanctification mindset slowly infects our justification mindset, eventually sowing seeds of doubt about our salvation.

I think a big part of the problem is our lack of appreciation of the gospel. When we read or hear a message about the death of Jesus, or the importance of trusting in Him, we file the information away under the heading ‘How To Be Saved’, not realizing the gospel is also good news about what God does to enable us to overcome sin in our day-to-day lives 3. Jesus’ death on the cross not only has justification benefits, it has sanctification benefits (Romans 8:3-4), and both come on the same basis: by grace through faith.

The Christian life is not one of following a standard but of following a Person. Many believe the only way to avoid sin is by keeping the Law. They are unaware that walking in the Spirit and abiding in Christ prevents sin, and does so much better than trying to obey the Law. (I’m not advocating lawlessness – that would lead to sin. Instead, we are to live by a different law: the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2-4).)

But we lack faith to live this way. We’d rather hold on to our own works through law-keeping because we’re afraid to trust God to make us holy. As a result, we find no real victory over sinful habits.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

– Galatians 3:24-25 (KJV)

Justification happens as a one-time event, but sanctification is a process that continues for the rest of our lives. We don’t drop law-keeping at the point of salvation, and then immediately take it back up again afterwards. We are no longer under that schoolmaster 4. We live by faith. Faith is not only the beginning of the way of life but its entirety. The faith that trusts God to justify us when we abandon our self-righteous works and believe in Jesus is the same faith that trusts that He will sanctify us as well when we abandon our self-righteous works and walk in His Holy Spirit. It is part of the same gospel. This is why Paul uses the doctrine of justification to address how the Galatians lived the Christian life. Sanctification is tied inseparably to justification.

We do not partake of a partial grace that gets us into heaven but doesn’t make us fit to live there. The gospel is the good news of all that God does to restore us to Himself. If we continue to rely on law-keeping to make ourselves presentable to God, it would be well to ask ourselves what Paul asked the Galatian believers: “Are we so foolish?”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of {i.e. ‘in’} the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

– Galatians 2:20-21 (KJV)

Notes:

  1. This is also seen in the practical words “our liberty in Christ” in verse 4, and “walked” in verse 14. Even the word ‘gospel’ in chapter 2 is repeatedly used in the context of how believers are to live, showing the gospel includes the doctrine of sanctification as well as justification. When Paul rebuked Peter in Galatians 2:11-21, it was over a practical issue of how he lived, not about his lack of faith in Jesus to save him.
  2. The word is used elsewhere in Luke 13:32 (‘perform cures’), Romans 15:28 (‘I have performed this’), 2 Cor. 7:1 (‘perfecting holiness’), 2 Cor. 8:6 (‘he would finish‘), 2 Cor. 8:11 (‘perform‘), Php 1:6 (‘He will perform‘), Heb. 8:5 (‘make the tabernacle’), Heb 9:6 (‘accomplishing the service’), 1 Pet. 5:9 (‘afflictions are accomplished‘).
  3. Another confusing point is that Paul uses the word ‘justified’ six times in his letter, while never using ‘sanctified’. We like to separate the meanings of the words into how to get saved and how to live. But these words are sometimes used interchangeably. We need to pay attention to the context. In this letter, even though we see Paul using the word ‘justified’, he writes about how we are live.
  4. The Law still has a purpose: to convict men of sin and to lead them to Christ. As the standard, it remains. But the Mosaic Law is eliminated as a means of living (Romans 7:1-6). Look at Paul who used to follow the Law “blamelessly” before he was saved (Philippians 3:6). After he was saved he didn’t use his salvation as an opportunity to keep the Law more perfectly. Instead, he counted law-keeping a total “loss”. This is what he meant when he called the Galatians (and us) to “be as I am; for I am as you are.” If you find this difficult to accept, I suggest reading straight through the epistle to the Galatians once a day for at least a week, so you can get familiar with the flow of Paul’s argument.

Note on ‘Galilee of the Nations’

We’re studying Matthew in my church adult class, and this little tidbit came to me during the study, which seems to give some insight into why Jesus began His ministry in Galilee rather than Jerusalem.

Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up to prison, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great Light, and upon those sitting in the region and shadow of death, Light has sprung up.

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven has drawn near.

– Matthew 4:12-17

The context of Jesus’ message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” is closely related to the prophecy of “Galilee of the nations.”

Galilee was divided into two parts: upper and lower. The boundary dividing the two parts was roughly in an east-west line through the Sea of Galilee. The upper (northern) part was called “Galilee of the Nations” because this was where gentile invaders first entered Israel (see Jeremiah 1:13-15 for example), and gentile influence was felt strongly there. At the time of Christ, there were also Egyptians, Arabians, and Pheonecians living there. The gentiles influenced the Israelites in various way, including their speech (Matthew 26:73). As a result, Galileans were not held in high regard in Judea.

When Jesus preached His message, He was announcing a new invasion. He chose Galilee of the Nations because it was the appropriate place to begin this new invasion. His call to repent was a call for the people to cease their hostility against the new King and allow Him to rule.

Thoughts On Running The Race

Picture of older runner

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

– 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (ESV)

The way a runner runs depends on the kind of race he’s in. When the distance is small, an all-out sprint to the finish line is probably best. But when the distance is great, more self-control must be exercised.

For the best possible chance of making it to the finish line first, a runner must control his expenditure of energy such that he has just enough strength to make it across the finish line. If he runs the course with some energy left over, he hasn’t run as fast as he could have, and someone else might win. If he seeks to be the fastest at all points in the course, he exhausts himself before he gets to the finish line… and again, someone else might win. The goal is not being the fastest on the course or not being out of breath at the end. Getting to the finish line first is the goal, and sometimes that is only possible by treading the fine line between running too fast and too slow.

Paul compares our lives with running a race, but how does this control-of-energy idea play out in the spiritual realm? We don’t know how far away our finish line is (i.e. how long we are going to live), so how can we know if we should be trying for speed or endurance? What if I try to pace myself spiritually for a long life, but I die early? Or what if I go all out for Jesus, and burn out decades before I die?

Most of us don’t know how long our race is. But the writer of Hebrews tells us to assume we are in it for the long haul:

…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith …

– Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

We are in a spiritual endurance race, and so we must seek to make the most of the strength we do have. We must avoid stumbling blocks, making level paths for our feet. And we must seek out and remove whatever will slow us down unnecessarily.

Many of today’s athletes wear high-tech outfits designed to minimize wind resistance (or water resistance for swimmers). The tiniest detail of these clothes may make the difference between first and second or third place. In ancient Greece, runners would run naked for even greater speed advantage. They were not concerned with appearances. Their eyes were fixed only on the goal: a temporary crown of leaves.

In our race, our eyes are to be fixed on Jesus Christ. Like those ancient runners, we are also commanded to lay aside everything that hinders. The most obvious candidate for what hinders us is sin, but we must be aware that our fleshly nature will also slow us down tremendously. It’s those little details we tend to overlook that can take our prize away from us – details like false humility, love of money, apathy, jealously, and the like. We usually overlook these things because we think if we haven’t outright sinned, we aren’t hurting ourselves …but we are. These internal attitudes of the flesh will drag us down unless we deal with them as seriously as sin.

The finish line is the goal, but notice Paul does not tell us to merely make it to the finish line. He tells us to run as if there is only one prize, and you intend to be the one to obtain that prize, whatever it takes. Not knowing if our race is long or short, I believe the only right way to run this race is to rely on the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11, Ephesians 3:20-21). When we learn to rely on God’s power, we will be able to run the spiritual endurance race as if it is a sprint. We will be able to go all out, exhaust ourselves, and yet continue running on God’s power.

May you finish your race and receive your prize! (2 Timothy 4:7)

Counting All Your Blessings

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (VW)

Here’s a thought that can either be very uncomfortable or very comfortable, depending on the strength of my faith: When bad things replace good things in my life, I still have just as many reasons to give thanks to God.

Faith is essential for this to be a comforting thought, because I must trust that God works all things to my good, including allowing the bad things to happen to me. Even if I violently lose my life for the sake of the gospel, I have a crown of life waiting for me, and an eternal weight of glory that far surpasses the light and momentary trials of this life. The eternal blessings are no comparison to the worst that can happen to me here.

…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

– Hebrews 12:1-2 (VW)

Lord, strengthen my faith!

New page: The Greater Miracle (Full)

Many times the greatest miracles are those that don’t seem impressive to outsiders, but are appreciated by those who experience them. Such is the miracle of forgiveness.

Some time ago I had posted part of a message I gave in 2007 on the subject of forgiveness called “The Greater Miracle”. The full message is now available to read here. In the message I describe why forgiveness is greater than any physical miracle, and I also describe what makes God’s forgiveness so special. Both of these still amaze me. Give it a good read and see why!

Is Jesus an honored Guest?

Today’s Christians, myself included, tend to think of God wrongly. We think of Him as the honored guest in our lives.

My wife and I like to have people over for dinner at times. Wanda likes to cook, and whenever we have guests, she’ll cook up something special – and maybe go overboard with it. And that is a good thing. It’s part of being hospitable.

We also spend time talking with our guests, and maybe we’ll watch a movie together. But eventually, it’s time for the guests to leave. We then clean up and retire for the evening.

That’s the nice thing about guests: you can enjoy the fellowship, and then enjoy getting back to your own lives when they leave. Generally, guests don’t overstay their welcome.

A guest may be greatly honored, but a guest does not have the same rights as the home owner does. A guest can’t rearrange furniture, move his stuff in and yours out. He can’t dictate what kind of food will be served and when. None of that. A guest just comes, and then leaves.

When we enter into a relationship with our heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, it is not a guest relationship. Rather, it is one where God now becomes the Owner and Master, and we become His children. He has the right to dictate what stays and what goes in our lives. We don’t have the right to kick Him out when we feel He’s overstayed His welcome – when we think He’s getting a little too demanding.

We worship God, but do we seek His will and obey Him? That also is worship.

Just Published: How to Gain Victory Over Sin

I just published the e-book version of my new book, How to Gain Victory Over Sin. It is available through Amazon (for Kindle), Google Play, and Smashwords. This is a free e-book, although Amazon will show 99 cents until they realize it’s free elsewhere.

Links to get the book are on my new ‘Books’ page, where you can also download the PDF version.

New Book: How to Gain Victory Over Sin

Victory Over Sin book cover

I am in the final stages of publishing a new free book called How to Gain Victory Over Sin, which is based on something I had posted last year called Victory Over Sin. This book will be made available in e-book form from Amazon.com (for Kindle), Google Play, Smashwords (other formats), as well as here in PDF and other formats. Eventually a paperback edition will be available for a minimal cost.

The book’s subject is understanding why we Christians have such a difficult time withstanding temptation, and why we need the Holy Spirit to do so. It’s a subject we can all benefit from… I know I have in studying this.

The first and main part of the book can be read on this website here. I hope to have the e-book versions available next month (if not sooner).

Personal Apologetic: The Restoral Of National Israel – Pt 1

We’ve looked at a few Bible passages that deal with God’s punishment and preservation of the people of Israel over the millenia. There are plenty of additional prophecies similar to the ones mentioned. But I think the strongest prophetic evidence for the existence of God today comes from another related group of prophecies. These prophecies predict the restoration of the nation of Israel in the last days, and the conditions the Jews would find themselves in at that time.

We saw how Deuteronomy 28 accurately predicted the history of Israel to their dispersion throughout the world. But the story of Israel does not end in that chapter. Two chapters later we see God’s promise to gather His people together again into their homeland after all the curses have been completed:

It shall happen, when all these things have come on you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, where Yahweh your God has driven you, and shall return to Yahweh your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul; that then Yahweh your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples, where Yahweh your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of the heavens, from there will Yahweh your God gather you, and from there he will bring you back: and Yahweh your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers. …

– Deuteronomy 30:1-5

For thousands of years, the Jews were a people without a homeland. Most thought they would never again have a nation of their own. Even in the church, many thought God was finished with His ancient people. In their minds, all of the promises of future blessing on Israel were transferred to the church, or to some Christian nation such as England or America (i.e. Anglo-Israelism). But some still believed God would literally fulfill His promise, and they patiently waited for the Jews to return to their homeland. In 1948, their faith was vindicated. God had kept His promise.

Deuteronomy 30 is not an isolated prophecy. The return of national Israel is one of the main themes of prophecy in the Bible. Here is a quick overview of some others:

The Dry Bones Prophecy

The hand of Yahweh was on me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Yahweh, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass by them all around: and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and behold, they were very dry. He said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? I answered, Lord Yahweh, you know. …

– Ezekiel 37:1-3

The prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision a valley full of bones that had been dead for a long time. When God asked if the bones could live again, Ezekiel responded wisely, for what is impossible in the natural order is not so with God. If He wanted them to live, then they would live. God then told Ezekiel to prophecy over the bones:

Again he said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and tell them, you dry bones, hear the word of Yahweh. Thus says the Lord Yahweh to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am Yahweh.

– Ezekiel 37:4-6

As he spoke, the bones started to move on their own and connect with each other. (The well-known African-American spiritual Dem Bones was based on this prophecy.) As they assembled, tendons, muscles, and skin covered them until they became complete bodies. But they had no life in them.

Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.

– Ezekiel 37:9

When he did so, the bodies came to life… “an exceedingly great army.”

If the prophecy ended here, we could interpret it to meaning any number of things. But immediately after the bodies came to life, God explained the meaning so there would be no mistake:

Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. You shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, my people. I will put my Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land: and you shall know that I, Yahweh, have spoken it and performed it, says Yahweh.

– Ezekiel 37:11-14

The elements of the vision symbolized what would happen to the people of Israel in the last days. Those who were hopelessly scattered among the nations of the world (their ‘graves’), would be brought back to live in the homeland God gave them thousands of years earlier.

An important point about this prophecy is that it would be fulfilled in stages. The vision said there would be a time when the bodies would be whole, but without life (verse 8). This is the state of Israel at this time. It has been regathered, but it is not yet spiritually alive. I believe this will occur when Jesus visibly returns (Revelation 1:7, Zechariah 12:10, Jeremiah 23:6).

Other Regathering Prophecies

Here are more prophecies about the regathering of Israel to its homeland. This is by no means a complete list, and I have only quoted a portion of them. Please look up the complete passages in a Bible to read them in context.

I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and multiply. … Therefore, behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that they shall no more say, As Yahweh lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As Yahweh lives, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries where I had driven them. They shall dwell in their own land.

– Jeremiah 23:3-8 (WEB)

I will bring you out from the nations, and will gather you from the lands where you are scattered, … I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, … Then you will know that I am the LORD when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land I swore to give to your fathers.

– Ezekiel 20:33-44 (NET)

…'But you, mountains of Israel, will grow your branches, and bear your fruit for my people Israel; for they will arrive soon. … I will multiply your people – the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities will be populated and the ruins rebuilt. … Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will lead people, my people Israel, across you; they will possess you and you will become their inheritance.

– Ezekiel 36:1-12 (NET)

…At that time I will lead you – at the time I gather you together. Be sure of this! I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you when you see me restore you," says the LORD.

– Zephaniah 3:14-20

"I (says the LORD) will strengthen the kingdom of Judah and deliver the people of Joseph and will bring them back because of my compassion for them. They will be as though I had never rejected them, … I will signal for them and gather them, …

– Zechariah 10:6-8

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good and his loyal love endures! Let those delivered by the LORD speak out, those whom he delivered from the power of the enemy, and gathered from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south. …

– Psalm 107:1-43

At that time the sovereign master will again lift his hand to reclaim the remnant of his people from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the seacoasts. He will lift a signal flag for the nations; he will gather Israel's dispersed people and assemble Judah's scattered people from the four corners {literally ‘extremities’} of the earth.

– Isaiah 11:11-12

…in that time they will affirm them with 'I swear as surely as the LORD lives who delivered the people of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.' At that time I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors."

– Jeremiah 16:14-15

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake that I am about to act, O house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy reputation which you profaned among the nations where you went. I will magnify my great name that has been profaned among the nations, that you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the sovereign LORD, when I magnify myself among you in their sight. “‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land.

– Ezekiel 36:22-24

In the next part, we’ll look at more specific prophecies about Israel in the last days… prophecies that talk about the manner in which the Jews will return to their land, the condition of Jerusalem and the land, and more.