Spurgeon Approved

It is not widely known that the eminent Baptist preacher C. H. Spurgeon was deeply interested in Jewish mission and, in particular, our own society. In April 1934, on the hundredth anniversary of Spurgeon's birth, our magazine The Jewish Missionary Herald ran an article which noted that the great London minister had preached the Annual Sermon for our society on no fewer than four occasions. On 13th May 1859, Spurgeon preached on the text, "He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11) and in 1864 and 1865 he preached on our behalf at the Metropolitan Tabernacle on Ezekiel 37. In 1878, he again approved our cause when he addressed his vast congregation on 'The Vine of Israel' from Psalm 80:14.

 The General Secretary of our mission in 1934, Frank Exley, commented, 'In other ways also, the great preacher whose memory all the churches honour, manifested his keen sympathy with our society, and he was ever ready to forward its work.'

Spurgeon was not known for commenting very much on the end times. Indeed, he recognised his own guilt in saying too little rather than too much. However, he made it clear he believed that before the end, the world would experience a moral and spiritual downward spiral, and that the only hope of stemming that decline would be the divine intervention of the Second Coming. For our purposes however, it is his interest in the Jewish people that draws our attention and his declared support for our own missionary society was very evident.

'I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews,' he said. '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' ('The Church of Christ' in The New Park Street Pulpit, vol. 1, pp. 213-14).

On The Spurgeon Archive website eschat2.htm#55, Dennis M. Swanson comments that, regarding the restoration of national Israel to its land, Spurgeon clearly and consistently taught the following key points:

1. Israel as a nation will come to faith in Christ.

2. Israel will have a national or geo-political identity.

3. The political system will be a monarchy: 'a king shall reign'.

4. Israel will be in the Promised Land.

5. The borders will correspond to the promises given to Abraham and David.

6. Israel will hold a special place among the nations in the millennial kingdom.

7. Israel remains spiritually part of the Church.

8. Israel will enjoy a national prosperity that will be the admiration of the world.

9. The prophecies of the Old Testament should not be handled in a non-literal fashion.

Whatever Spurgeon's views on the End Times may have been, they never deflected him from the primacy of the gospel, a most vital lesson that needs to be learned by some eschatological star-gazers who regard Israel and the Jewish people as little more than indicators of the nearness of the End.

'I am rather called to minister the gospel than to open prophecy,' Spurgeon declared in the sermon on Ezekiel 37 he preached for the society. 'Those who are wise in such things doubtless prize their wisdom, but I have not the time to acquire it, nor any inclination to leave soul-winning pursuits for less arousing themes.'

For Spurgeon, soul-winning was more important than eschatology. To this we say a hearty 'Amen' and labour on in our mission, gladly noting the great man's personal approval of our historic mission to God's ancient people. Our hope is that all who today respect that mighty saint, approved of God, may similarly respect our 'approved' labours.

This article was first published in the Spring Herald 2012

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