S. Lewis Johnson was a pastor, teacher, and theologian who lived from 1915 to 2004. He was a wonderful expositor and blessedly, his sermons are archived and available for free at the SLJ Institute from Believers Chapel, the church he pastored for many years.
In 1967 he began a series expositing the text verse-by-verse from Zechariah. In the second sermon of the series, he said something I appreciated. From his own vantage point, having lived through most of the twentieth century and into the 21st, he saw a lot of history. In 1945, Israel was reborn, an astounding prophetic fulfillment. (Isaiah 66:8). In 1967, the year Pastor Johnson preached this prophecy series, Israel was reunited with Jerusalem after their miraculous win of the Six Day War.
In this portion of the Medeba Map (“the Madaba Mosaic Map”), the Greek letters in red above Jerusalem say, “Holy City, Jerusa___”; the final characters are missing. Image by David Bjorgen, from Wikimedia Commons.
Johnson was a young adult when the Second World War broke out. He has seen the ascendancy of Britain and the Allied powers, Europe at its most powerful, and the ancient biblical empires all but forgotten. However after WWII all that changed. Here is Pastor Lewis.
In this particular sermon, Johnson said,
Now, the other astonishing thing, which may have some relation to it, is the reappearance and re-emergence of the ancient biblical powers. I know when I first started studying the Bible twenty-five years ago(in 1942) and read of Egypt, and Ammon, and Moab, and Persia, and Assyria. And noticed the tremendous prominence that they had in the prophetic portions of the word of God, I wondered if it were even conceivable credible if such a thing could really come to pass in our day that these powers should become powers again. And today as we open up the newspapers we read of Syria, of Lebanon; we read of Iran, which is ancient Persia; we read of Iraq, which is more or less Assyria; we read of Jordan, which is more or less Ammon and Moab; we read of Egypt, and of course, now, and perhaps most remarkable of all we read of Israel. Is there a connection between the eclipse of Europe and the re-emergence of the Middle East as significant in world history? … It is remarkable this connection. In other words, God marches on to the consummation of his program and time is his servant.
I don’t have any technical fine points of anything in the discernment department. I don’t have any profound insights for encouraging you. But I hope the mere fact of the pendulum of history marching inexorably toward prophetic fulfillment of all that the great I AM has said and the knowledge that God is supreme master of His own plan encourages you. It does me.
To Your Name Give Glory
1Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
2Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.