BUILDING THE CHURCH BY COMING BACK TO THE PROPER GROUND
Today there are about thirteen million Jews on the earth. Of these thirteen million, however, only about two million have returned to Israel. All the thirteen million claim to be Jews, but only those two million who went back can say that they are the nation of Israel. It is not wrong for them to say this. No one can say to them, “Why do you call yourself the nation of Israel? You are sectarian for claiming this. The nation of Israel includes all the members of the race of Hebrews.” Yes, it includes all members of the race of Hebrews, but most of them would not go back to Israel. Even the United Nations recognizes that only those who have returned are the nation of Israel.
Many dear friends have come to challenge me, asking, “Why do you call yourself the church in Los Angeles? Are we not also the church?” I have replied, “Thank God you are the church, but you are not at home. You are like the Jews who are in New York, not in Israel. You may be a ‘Hebrew,’ but you are in ‘Japan, Germany, or France’; you are not in your fathers’ land. As long as a Jew stays in New York, he should not and cannot blame those who say they are the nation of Israel. You cannot be the nation of Israel in New York. You must be the nation of Israel in the fathers’ land. In the same way, do not argue about the church. Rather, if you want to be the church in Los Angeles, come back home.”
No doubt, all the believers in Los Angeles are the members of the church in Los Angeles. Why then do they stay in the denominations? If they do not come back, that is their responsibility. They must not put the blame upon us. Therefore, if someone is a Jew today, I would advise him to go back to Israel at any cost. In the same principle, if someone is an honest Christian, I would advise him to come back to the church at any cost.
THE BUILDING BEING WITH THE RETURNING MINORITY, NOT WITH SPIRITUAL GIANTS
Under God’s economy, all His people in the Old Testament were in the good land. Due to their degradation, however, some were carried away to Babylon in the east and to Egypt in the south. Were they not Hebrews? Every one of them was a Hebrew, but many of them were Hebrews in captivity, in Babylon. The people, the persons, were right, but the place was not right. After seventy years the Lord gave the commandment, and some, a minority, a small number, went back to Jerusalem. The spiritual giants such as Daniel remained in Babylon. Among the returned ones there were almost no spiritual giants. Instead, they were a mess. Some even married Gentile wives. Regardless of that, however, the rebuilding of the house of God on this earth was not with the spiritual giants in Babylon. The rebuilding of the temple was with the returning minority.
Regardless of how spiritual the Hebrews were, in the captivity they never had the Lord’s glory. After the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, however, the glory of Jehovah filled the temple. In addition, the first coming of the Lord Jesus to the earth was brought about not through those at Babylon but through the descendants of the returning ones. This is not a small matter. The Lord Jesus was supposed to be born of a descendant of David in Bethlehem. If in the ancient times there had been no return from the captivity, how could Christ have been born? It would have been impossible. Regardless of how good the spiritual giants in Babylon were, they were useless for the Lord’s first coming. Only the little descendants of the returned captivity, like Mary and Joseph, were very prevailing to bring the Lord to this earth. We must care not only about our spirituality but about God’s economy. Whether one is spiritual or not spiritual in Babylon makes little difference, but whether or not he returns makes a great difference. With the return there is the rebuilding of the temple. With the return there is the glory coming down to the earth. With the return there is the first coming of the Lord Jesus. This is not a matter of our spiritual situation or condition, of our personal spirituality. It is a matter of God’s economy.
Today it is the same in principle. That is why I say that if someone is a Hebrew, he should do his best at any cost, to pay any price, to go back to Palestine to join the nation of Israel. This is a matter of God’s economy. If one is an honest Christian, however, he must do his best to get into the church. There is no argument about this. If someone does not do this, he will “miss the boat.” We cannot delay the Lord, but we may not be gained by the Lord. The Lord will still go on, but we may not “make the boat.”
We do not care for a large scale; we care for the standard and the principle. We are not here for any movement. We are not here for gospel preaching, although we have it. We are not here for the inner life, although we have much of it. We are not here for Bible study, although we know the Bible very well. We are not here for any gift, although we have the gifts. What are we here for? We are here for the Lord’s recovery. We are here for the building.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)