Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; Isaiah 51 v1

Our Legacy as Baptists

Many today believe that the State of Israel is nothing more than a political mistake, and is irrelevant to the purposes of God. These folks say that Christians who believe Israel to be the fulfilment of prophecy are a modern aberration. Some even go so far as to side with the forces that are fighting to destroy Israel, claiming that Israel is an imperialist state oppressing its poorer neighbours.

There is much that can be said to refute these political arguments, but the essential truth is that Christians who believe in God's purposes for Israel are not a recent aberration.

Hatred of Israel is not our inheritance.

Our true Baptist heritage is that of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

As well as his preaching, he is remembered for founding, just over 150 years ago, the highly respected college that still bears his name; Spurgeon's College.

Consider the following extracts from the Sermons of CHS.

"The Church of Christ" delivered on June 3, 1855 at New Park Street Chapel, Southward:

The hour is approaching, when the tribes shall go up to their own country; when Judea, so long a bawling wilderness, shall once more blossom like the rose; when, if the temple itself be not restored, yet on Zion's hill shall be raised some Christian building, where the chants of solemn praise shall be heard as erst of the old Psalms of David were sung in the Tabernacle. ..I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough about it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this. I imagine that you cannot read the Bible without seeing clearly that there is to be an actual restora­tion of the Children of Israel ... For when the Jews are restored, the fullness of the Gentiles shall be gathered in; and as soon as they return, then Jesus will come upon Mount Zion with his ancients gloriously, and the halcyon days of the millennium shall then dawn; we shall then know every man to be a In-other and a friend; Christ shall rule with universal sway.

"Once a Curse But Now a Blessing" delivered on December 6, 1863 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington:

But the day is coming, yea it dawns already, when the whole world shall discern the true dignity of the chosen seed, and shall seek their company, because the Lord hath blessed them. In that day when Israel shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for their sins, the Jew shall take his true rank among the nations as an elder brother and a prince. The covenant made with Abraham, to bless all nations by his seed, is not revoked; heaven and earth shall pass away, but the chosen nation shall not be blotted out from the book of remembrance. The Lord hath not cast away his people; he has never given their mother a bill of divorcement; he has never put them away; in a little wrath he hath hidden his face from them, but with great mercies will he gather them. The natural branches shall again be engrafted into the olive together with the wild olive graftings from among the Gentiles. In the Yew, first and chiefly, shall grace triumph through the King of the Jews. 0 time, fly thou with rapid wing, and bring the auspicious day.

"The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews" delivered on June 16, 1864 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newing ton:

There will be a native government again; there will again be the forma of a body politic; a state shall be incorporated, and a king shall reign. Israel has now become alienated from her own land. Her sons, though they can never forget the sacred dust of Palestine, yet die at a hopeless distance from her consecrated shores. But it shall not be so for ever, for her sons shall again rejoice in her: her land shall be called Beulah, for as a young man marrieth a virgin so shall her sons marry her. "I will place you in your own land, " is God's promise to them ... They are to have a national prosperity which shall make them famous; nay, so glorious shall they be that Egypt, and Tyre, and Greece, and Rome, shall all forget their glory in the greater splendour of the throne of David ...1 there be anything clear and plain, the literal sense and meaning.

If this passage (Ezekiel 37:1-IO) has a meaning not to be spirited or spiritualized away, it must be evident that both the two and the ten tribes of Israel are to be restored to their own land, and that a king is to rule over them.

"The Leafless Tree" delivered on March 8, 1857 at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark:

If we read the Scripture's aright the Jews have a great deal to do with this world's history. They shall be gathered in; Messiah shall come, the Messiah they are looking for-the same Messiah who came once shall come again shall come as they expected him to come the first time. They then thought he would come a prince to reign over them, and so he will when he comes again. He will come to be king of the Jews, and to reign over his people most gloriously; for when he comes Jew and Gentile shall have equal privileges, though there shall yet be some dis­ tinction afforded to that royal family from whose loins Jesus came; for be shall sit upon the throne of his father David, and unto him shall be gathered all nations.

Spurgeon interpreted the text quite literally, he took its promises at face value. He refused to retreat to a "spiritualized" interpretation which either negated or obfuscated what he viewed as a clear teaching of the text.

Spurgeon repeated the theme of the restoration of Israel to the land on many other occasions. He clearly linked that restoration together with the Jews national acceptance of Christ as their Messiah.

"It is certain that the Jews, as a people, will yet own Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David as their King, and that they will return to their own land, and they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the old cities, the desolations of many generations."

Regarding the restoration of national Israel to its land Spurgeon consistently and clearly taught to the following key points:

  • Israel as a nation will come to faith in Christ.
  • Israel will have a national or geo-political identity.
  • The political system will be a monarchy, "a king shall reign"
  • Israel will be in the Promised Land
  • The borders will correspond to the promises given to Abraham and David.
  • Israel will hold a special place among the nations in the millennial kingdom.
  • However, Israel remains spiritually part of the church.
  • There will be a national prosperity that will be the admiration of the world
  • That the prophecies of the Old Testament should not be handled in a non-literal fashion


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The end of the story

There is a sting in the tail about Spurgeon the Prince of Preachers and Baptist hero.

Spurgeon spent the last few years of his life in disagreement with the Baptist Union and was eventually censured by them for rocking the boat.

This story has both negative and positive implications for us.

See Downgrade Controversy and Censure.


Updated 23/01/09

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