In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a SECOND TIME to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
The prophet Isaiah saw the threat posed by Assyria toward the northern kingdom of Israel. Samaria, the capital of Israel eventually fell in 722 BC to Assyria and the tribes of the northern kingdom who survived were taken into captivity and resettled in different areas of the Assyrian empire. The fate and eventual history of the so-called 'lost tribes' is the subject of much debate and conjecture.
Isaiah further saw a later exile of the southern kingdom of Judah into Babylon, carried out by Nebuchadnezzar. See 2 Kings 20:17-18. In time, Jerusalem's temple was laid waste in 586 BC and many Jews were removed to Babylon as Isaiah predicted, Daniel and his friends among them. Isaiah also predicted the first return, a first time of recovery back to the Land for the Jews. See Isaiah 45:1-13.
These events came to pass and are historically recorded in the Bible and contemporary sources outside of Scripture.
Isaiah understood that God would not leave His people wasting away in Babylon but bring them back to their land in due time. Daniel, also understood this and gave himself to prayer once he had grasped that the seventy years ordained for the Jewish exile were about to expire.
Actually, Jeremiah had prophesied the seventy year banishment, Jeremiah 25:12, and Daniel, aware of Jeremiah's prophecy, set himself to intercession for God to remember His promises and to regather His people back to their Land. This would be the first regathering of the Jews back to their God given land. You can read further about this first return from the narratives of Ezra and Nehemiah.
However, Isaiah makes an important distinction in his prophecy with the phrase, a "second time" - the first was the Babylon exile mentioned above, but his qualification of a second ingathering of the Jews looks to a more distant event, a second time Israel would be dispersed from their Land and then brought back under God's leading. This second time of dispersion from their Land, would be far longer in duration but the ending of it would come at a time that the Bible puts into the special category of "in that day" - a phrase usually synonymous with "the Day of the Lord", or the return of Christ to earth and the establishment of His millennial reign.
This second recovery of God's people would not be just a localised event from the surrounding nations, but a homecoming literally "from the four corners of the earth", verse 12. The Babylonian exile did not disperse the Jews to the ends of the earth, only regionally and not to the extent that happened later, as we shall see.
In the preceding verses, from 1 through 10, Isaiah tells of the Messianic era upon earth. It is a wonderful picture of co-existence, harmony and conditions close to life as it was in Eden, a literal heaven on earth. A time when natural enmities are removed between creatures and between man and his fellow human. The earth enjoys security with a pervading sense of God's righteousness experienced all over the world.
After establishing the conditions of this peaceful, future period, Isaiah then notes that "in that day", or in the same sequence of events of that period of time, another important sign is at work to show the imminence of this Messianic age:
He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
That sign, unmistakable and clear as to intent and meaning, is to be a second ingathering of the Jewish people into their Land once more after an extended exile. But the exile would end and be a precursor to the events to follow, "in that day", i.e. The coming of the Lord and the initiation of His earthly reign, when "earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." - Isaiah 11:9b
The second great exile of the Jewish nation occurred under the Romans. During the years 66-70 AD, Jews in Judea rebelled against the Roman rule. Under Titus' command, the Roman armies put an end to the insurrection by laying siege to Jerusalem and eventually destroying the Temple in 70 AD.
This destruction was prophesied by Jesus Himself: "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." - Mark 13:2
A second and final revolt against Rome took place from 132-135 AD. Jerusalem fell again, was ploughed over and the Romans renamed the former city Aelia Capitolina and the region of Judea as Palaestina, removing any Jewish connection to the Land, and named after Israel's nemesis, the Philistines. The Jews were forbidden entry and most exiled. Over the centuries they went wandering to the ends of the earth, exactly as Scripture said they would.
Through force or without alternative, Jewish life moved across the continents to retain its uniqueness and vitality despite immense suffering. Large communities were founded or extended throughout the Near East and other areas of the Roman Empire and beyond. They went as far as Siberia, China, India, the Americas, Northern Europe, to the ends of the earth.
The dispersion of the Jewish people to the four corners of the earth was a result of disobedience and was literally fulfilled in the way the Bible describes. Exile was always a last option for God. However, exile did not mean that the Land itself would be taken from the Jewish people forever. The people would be taken from the Land temporarily, but in time restored once more to their covenanted Land. The distinction is important.
God summarises what would befall the Jewish people as a consequence of rebellion against Him. This is recorded tragically in Deuteronomy 28:
64 And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. 65 And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the Lord will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. 66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life."
This is incontrovertible Jewish history over the past two millenia. All of this has been literally fulfilled in the fate of the Jewish people, in the Diaspora since the final exile by Rome: persecutions, pogroms, inquisitions, anti-semitism, forced conversions, scape goating, blood libels, the Holocaust to name a few.
Yet even throughout this awful exile, God never forsook His people. They were always a nation before Him and unto nationhood, He would recover and restore them. See Jeremiah 31:35-36.
Once again, the "second time", God began to regather His people as prophesied by Isaiah, in recent history. The aspiration of the Jewish people to once more return and dwell in their ancient Land began in waves in the 19th and 20th century, culminating in the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Isaiah's prophecy of a regathering of God's people from the four corners of the earth makes zero sense unless the Jews had first been expelled to such extremes from whence they would be regathered, and so give literal fulfillment and meaning to his words.
This is a fact of history, however controversial, and shows how God has honoured His word to bring about this great ingathering of His people to the Land He covenanted to give them.
This "second time" gathering from the "four corners of the earth" continues to this day - it is the sign Isaiah alludes to, for the nations to grasp, that God is at work and that His Kingdom is pressing and coming in fulness in a short time.
A regathered Jewish people once more back in Israel is a necessary prophetic precursor to the Day of the Lord, when events "in that day", look to the establishment of Messiah's reign, righteousness upon earth and the fulfilment of all of God's purposes for His people and for the nations.
Don't miss the sign, it is big enough - it's detractors, including a raging devil and a sleeping, indifferent church, only convince me the more that what is unfolding in our day, in Israel's recovery, is of the utmost significance for our world.
The second regathering of the Jewish people from a 1900 year exile, in our generation, is a massive declaration of intent by God. Wake up, the Kingdom is coming...