~~ by James Fire
Bible scholars and theologians study with a methodology known as Systematic Theology. This is a study that organizes biblical subjects and topics into categories that makes it more accessible and easier to study and understand.
Some of the subjects in Systematic Theology are such as follows:
Soteriology - the study of salvation.
Pneumatology - the study of the Holy Spirit
Ecclesiology - the study of the church.
Christology - the study of the Person of Jesus Christ.
Eschatology - the study of prophetic last things and events.
And many others subjects...
One subject however is missing in any version of Systematic Theology you might look at:
Take your Bible and find Genesis chapter 12 and place your thumb there; now find Acts chapter 2 and place your finger there and pick up your Bible holding it in between these two chapters.
There are a lot of pages there between your two digits! What primary (among hundreds of secondary others) subject that this section deals with? ISRAEL!
Do you suppose that Israel is important to God?
You would sure think so, judging by how much Scripture He has given that deals with this nation (and there is a lot more said about Israel well past Acts chapter 2 as we shall soon see)!
So why is Israel important to you and I?
That's a question I'd like to consider today.
In answer, first of all, because it's important to God!
Now let's look at some Scriptures:
The LORD God called Abram from his native land and gave him the promise of blessing in the creation of a nation through him:
1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
7 And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.
Abram, a Gentile from the land of Ur was given a holy calling by God; the LORD would produce a great nation with Abram and would bless everyone that blessed him, and would also curse those that cursed him! This should be a warning to those who would speak against God's chosen people because Balaam found out in Numbers - he couldn't curse God's people either, but rather proclaimed blessing instead!
The LORD God promised Abram a son, and a multitude of descendents:
1 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Abram believed in the LORD and because of this, he was considered righteous before Him; this was the substantiation for Abram's justification by faith, the same as it is for all who come to the LORD by faith. The promises then that came upon Abram (later Abraham as his name was changed) would follow his heir, Isaac (GEN 21:11-13; 25:11), as well as Jacob (GEN 28:13-15; 35:9-15), and the patriarchs, the twelve sons (and later tribes) of Jacob or Israel (GEN 28:13; 35:12; see also NUM 23 and NUM 24).
Of course not all that were of that nation received the promises because of unbelief. In fact, of all the original generation of Hebrews that left Egypt in the great exodus only TWO survived to inherit the Promised Land (her is the concept of a believing remnant which we will look at more, later on) and neither of these two were Moses! Not even Moses made it! Joshua and Caleb were the only ones of the original generation, along with the subsequent generation (the children) that inherited the land.
The LORD God promised Abram a land that he would inherit:
7 And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
8 And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
A strange custom to us, to be sure, but in the Middle East at the time of Abram it was a well known concept where animals were sacrificed, split in half and thus make a 'pathway' of sorts through which the parties would walk, reciting the terms of the agreement (See JER 34:18 for an example of this practice).
The LORD God made this promise and Unconditional Covenant
11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.
18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Note: the presence of God in the form of a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed through the sacrificed animals...but Abram did not!
What does this tell us?
That God did not obligate Abram to any terms of this agreement, that it was all on Him, the LORD God Himself; in other words, this is an unconditional promise by God, one that cannot be annulled or broken by Abram, or any of his descendents - this we will see more of, when we examine the promises of God to King David.
God actually promised Abram a LOT MORE LAND than what Israel ever actually possessed! Yet will God fulfill His promise to Abraham and his descendents? YES!
God isn't finished revealing to Abraham all that He is going to give him, and by him God will bless the entire world! Let's look at another chapter in Genesis 22:
Abraham is Commanded to Sacrifice his 'only son'
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
Abraham Obeys God's Command but Receives His Son Back (vs. 11, 12) along with a Revelation!
GEN 25:5-8, 14
5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.
7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.
Here we see Isaac as a type f Christ, in that though he was as good as dead in the sight of Abraham (HEB 11:17-19), yet the LORD retracted His command to slay the young man, and provided a ram instead.
Abraham received Isaac in allegory, from the dead and also received a substitute in the form of that ram. And in making such a willing sacrifice, Abraham received the knowledge from the LORD of how He would provide HIMSELF-the Lamb of God: the LORD Jesus Christ - as "a lamb for a burnt offering"! Astounding!
The LORD Jesus verified this in John's Gospel that Abraham 'saw' - perhaps in a vision that God gave to him - His day where He would provide salvation - to Abraham's descendents that would have faith in the Messiah (the King of Israel), both Jew (Israel) and Jew and Gentile (in the church).
JOHN 8:56, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
God's Promises All Tolled:
- So God promised Abraham a son.
- An entire nation as his descendents.
- And a huge land from the Nile to the Euphrates.
- And also the promise that God would provide HIMSELF as a Lamb for a sacrifice.
God not only made a covenant with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant), but He also made a covenant with King David (Davidic Covenant); let's move forward in time and visit the land of Israel during the days of the kingdom under David.
One day King David was sitting on his throne in his luxurious palace, when it dawned on him, that while he lived in this very fancy house, God was dwelling in a tabernacle - that's a fancy name for a tent!
He expressed a desire to the LORD's prophet to build God a fabulous house, for His glory. Yet God, even though He was touched by David's intention, turned around and declared how He would bless the king with a 'House'!
Here is what God said:
The Davidic Covenant - God promises to build David a 'House'
2 SAM 7:10-1610 Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house.
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
The LORD declares that He would plant His people in their own land and that they would "move no more" nor would "the children of wickedness afflict them anymore". Yet Israel DID move out of the land in judgment, not once but twice (The Babylonian Captivity and the Diaspora in 70 AD when Rome attacked Jerusalem), and children of wickedness have afflicted them, and continue to do so today.
So this time when they will "move not" and "the wicked will not afflict them" must still be future, a future that is credible now that Israel has returned to the land after being dispersed for over nineteen centuries (an unprecedented event)! They will not be moved again out of their land, for God has regathered them "the second time" (Is. 11:11) and there is no mention of a third or fourth regathering in Scripture at all.
Not only the people and the land, but also the government will be established by the LORD God (both the kingdom and the throne) and last forever! No termination date!
Observe verse 12 with me: The LORD states: "I will set up thy seed after thee".
One would typically suppose that the LORD here is speaking of David's offspring, and that He is, but in a very peculiar fashion. This single word carries with it a double meaning (the physical offspring of David such as Solomon and Nathan, etc (see vs. 14); but also the Messianic "son of David" which is Christ the LORD (see vs. 15)) with the more significant part exposited by the apostle Paul in Galatians chapter Three:
15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
The seed spoken of to Abraham, as well as to King David in 2 Samuel is the same seed, that is, Christ. According to these passages the seed of David will have a kingdom established by the LORD God and He will establish the throne of His (Christ's) kingdom over Israel forever. This see, Christ, will build a house (in Israel)for the LORD's name's sake.
This throne and kingdom of Israel will be eternal just as the KING of kings Who will sit upon that throne and rule in that kingdom of Israel is eternal! Because it is established by Christ, the covenant made to Abraham and to David regarding Israel cannot be broken; the promise cannot be disannulled or be made void!
As Paul stated above, since this promise was made before the Law was given, it was not a covenant based upon Law and conditional, predicated on obedience to the Law (as was the Mosaic covenant; see DEUT ch. 28, beginning at vs. 1 and also vs. 15 for blessings and curses respectively).
It was, and is, a covenant based upon promise and unconditional, predicated on God's Word to Abraham and David! David is blown away by God's goodness and generosity!
Listen to what he says:
2 Samuel 7:21-25
21 For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.
22 Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
23 And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?
24 For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, Lord, art become their God.
25 And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.
Then we have more of God's promise and covenant to David revealed in Psalm 89:
God Repeats Himself Regarding His Promises to David -
3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,
4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.
20 I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:
21 With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.
27 Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.
28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.
29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.
36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.
In verse 29 God declares regarding David's "seed" He will make to endure forever and His throne as the days of heaven. Again this "see" is singular not plural-that is, this seed refers to a particular person: the "Son of David" Who is the Messiah, that is, Jesus Christ!
Notice how God emphasizes that He will NOT break His covenant with David in vs. 34; nor will He alter that which He has declared. This shows how God's Word is binding in regards to Israel (and to us, His church!).
We've looked at many verses in the Old Testament, now let's look at a few in the New Testament, starting in Luke's Gospel:
The Mother of the King of Israel -
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Those that would suppose the promises made to Israel under Old Testament Law cannot explain away these verses that the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary. Here it's clearly stated by the messenger of God that the LORD will giver her Son, the throne of His father, David and He will reign over Israel and obtain an eternal kingdom there.
Jesus never ruled upon a throne in Israel, but that doesn't mean that He won't! Prophecies abound in nearly all the Old Testament prophets declaring that while judgment will fall on Israel, her consolation is that, afterwards she will receive the kingdom as promised by God.
For your own consideration, browse through the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Obadiah, Haggai, Zechariah and others and pay close attention to their final chapters and words and see whether or not they speak of a coming kingdom to Israel!
The Promises and Covenants with Israel Have Been Broken?
There are those that believe that since Israel has rejected their Messiah, the LORD Jesus Christ that the promises of God to build them an everlasting kingdom where Jesus, the Son of David, would rule from His father's (David) throne have been done away with.
Jesus was crucified, being rejected by Israel's ruling authorities, and so these people believe that the promises once given to Israel have been given now to the church.
This is called Replacement Theology and is unbiblical. We will see why this is so in part Two, along with many other pertinent passages of Scripture that supports Israel as a part of God's plan for the ages, in this article!