Samson was a blind Jew. The Gentiles put out his eyes. Judges 16:21. “But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.”
Zedekiah was a blind Jew. The Gentiles put out his eyes. Jeremiah 52:11.
“Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.”
Both Samson and Zedekiah were captives of the Gentiles until they died. They disgraced and dishonored the name of the Lord.
With the blindness of Zedekiah, “the times of the Gentiles” (politically) began—about 600 B.C. Note what the Lord Jesus declared concerning “the times of the Gentiles”. “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Luke 21:24. “The times of the Gentiles” began with Zedekiah’s blindness and Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem.
A Jew blinded. God turned governmental and political affairs over to the Gentiles. From 600 B.C. down to the present time, the Jews have been prisoners, servants or subjects of the Gentile governments.
Note what God said by the mouth of a Jew, who had been blinded by God for three days (Acts 9:9), to another Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus. Acts 13:6.
“O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.” Acts 13:10 and 11.
“O full of all subtilty.” This word “subtilty” is the same Greek word translated “guile”, in John 1:47. “Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith unto Him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
Nathanael was without guile. Bar-jesus was full of guile. A great difference. Each of these Jews had significant names “Nathanael”, the “gift of God.”
Note Romans 11:29—“The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” If you will read carefully Romans 11:25 to 29, you will learn that Israel is blind; but Israel is going to be saved because the gifts of God are without repentance. God declares—“For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Romans 11:27.
Note how Israel’s blindness is to be taken away. “But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” Malachi 4:2. Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, is coming as “the Sun of righteousness.” Until then a blindness has come upon Israel. They will not see the Sun for a season.
Now note Paul’s words to Bar-jesus:
“And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the Sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.” Acts 13:11.
“Bar-jesus” had a splendid name. But he was “the child of the devil.” “Barjesus” means, “the son of Jehovah the Saviour”. The nation Israel was Jehovah’s “Bar-jesus.” Isaiah 64:8— Isaiah 43:1.
“The son of Jehovah the Saviour” was the child of the devil. Bar-jesus was a Jew, but a false-prophet. He sought to turn the Gentile away from the faith. Israel was chosen to be God’s witness to the Gentiles. Isaiah 43:12. They were to turn the Gentiles to the faith. Bar-jesus should have helped Paul turn Paulus to Israel’s Messiah, but he did all that he could to keep the Gentile from believing, in spite of his good name (Bar-jesus).
Why did Paul turn from the Jews to the Gentiles?
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Acts 13:46.
When and why did God send salvation to the Gentiles?
“For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief.” Romans 11:30.
“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid; but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” Romans 11:11.
“According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day.” Romans 11:8
Who sent blindness upon the Jews? God. Who has miraculously preserved the Jews scattered among all the nations of the earth? God. What is going to happen when the fulness of the Gentiles comes in? Israel will be saved. Of course not Israelites who reject the gospel during the age of grace.
Note how Bar-jesus’ blindness and unbelief brought faith and salvation to Sergius Paulus.
“Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.” Acts 13:12.
God’s past and present dealings with the Jews is enough to cause all Gentiles, as well as all Jews, to be astonished at the doctrine of the Lord; to believe and be saved.
Most assuredly the Jews are now where the Lord Jesus said they would be, in Luke 21:24. So also is Jerusalem. “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Luke 21:24
“The times of the Gentiles,” which began with blind Zedekiah will be fulfilled when the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings to take away Israel’s blindness. “Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Luke 21:27.
The Sun of righteousness is coming as the Son of man to save the Jews in the great tribulation. Luke 21:27 to 32.
Blind Samson at the end of his life took the Gentiles with him to destruction. (Judges 16:30.) So will Jacob’s time of trouble engulf the unbelieving Gentiles. Remember that Samson’s hair grew a little before this destruction. Judges 16:22.
In connection with these three blind Jews there is a message concerning, and to, the Gentiles.
Notice how the obligation has been reversed
“For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” Romans 11:30 and 31.
Nathanael, “the gift of God”, was under the “fig tree”. John 1:48. The “fig” tree in the Bible, speaks of Israel. Christ said, “behold an Israelite in whom is no guile.” What did Nathanael say? “Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.” John 1:49.
By carefully reading Ezekiel 36 and 37, we will learn that the Lord is going to take all guile out of Israel, and they will then say to Jesus Christ, Whom they rejected and killed, “Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.”
But until the Son of man comes to redeem and purify His nation, Israel will continue to be as Bar-Jesus. “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” Acts 13:10.
But what about the Gentiles? “Well; because of unbelief they (Israel) were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear; For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.” Romans 11:20 and 21.
When and because God sent blindness to Israel, God sent His messenger of reconciliation to the Gentiles.
“For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Romans 11:15. Dispensationally this is one of the most important verses in the Bible. It brought the message of II Corinthians 5:16 to 21.
Since that time we have been living in “the times of the Gentiles” spiritually. We are also in “the times of the Gentiles”, politically.
Read the morning papers to see what the Gentile rulers are doing to and for humanity. What a mess! We need a change. We need the Prince of Peace. Politically we are in an awful predicament.
Well, is the spiritual or religious condition any better? Take an inventory. God recognizes one and only one true Bible Church during this age. And His desire for the members of this one true Church is, that they walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called, and obey Ephesians 4:3 to 6:
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, Who, is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Where is this unity? Divided unity is a sad paradox.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:11 to 14
How we should praise God for His reign of grace for the human race. Jews and Gentiles should be so eager and ready to receive God’s grace, trust in the shed blood of the Son of God and be saved by grace, without religion or good deeds. But alas! the human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful. Many are incurably religious and self-righteous. Not believing God’s Word, “he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.”
Then, of course, the devil is very, very busy.
“If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” II Corinthians 4:3 and 4.
To some church members the Lord has written this message
“Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:17.