"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Friday, March 24, 2023

WALKING The COVENANT WAY: PART 6 of 8: the LAND (Palestinian) Covenant

~ by James Fire

When you’re reading a book or any printed instructions and you come across words or sentences that are underscored, you know that this is information you need to pay close attention to; that it’s something of vital importance.

GOD had already established His covenant with Abraham, which entailed three aspects:
1) His descendants would be as vast as the stars of heaven and the sands of the seashore.

2) That he and those of his kin with like faith would inherit “the land” (GEN 12 and GEN 17).

3) And that all the nations of the Earth would be blessed through his seed (specifically, that being Christ Jesus, the Messiah of Israel.
The Abrahamic Covenant as we know is an unconditional one – it was all left to GOD to fulfill; Abraham only needed to believe Him.

Having made these precious promises GOD decided to underscore one aspect of this covenant at the time when Moses had led the people of Israel to the eastern shore of the Jordan river, just on the other side of Canaan land. GOD wanted to make absolutely clear that this land was given by Him to His people – to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel.

Thus the term “Land Covenant” or more widely known (though it’s a misnomer) as the “Palestinian Covenant”. Some Christians unknowingly use this term, not understanding that Palestine was a name given to that land by Roman Emperor Hadrian as an insult, wanting to divest the Jewish people from having any identity to the land GOD had given to them.

The Land Covenant underscores GOD’s unconditional promise to give this land specifically to the Jewish nation.

In this article (6th of 8), we’ll take a close look at what the LORD has underscored for Israel, and for our learning, what He would have us (and the unbelieving world at large) pay close attention to!

Moses would soon pass away and be buried by the LORD (DEUT 34:5-6) and the leadership would then pass on to Joshua.

Consider how the final words of a person before they die carry a great deal more weight to them, than when they are in the prime of life with no expectation of their demise. We want to convey that which is most vital, crucial and dear to our hearts to those we love.

This was how it was with the apostle Paul and his protégé Timothy in the 2nd Epistle that bore the young pastor’s name. They were the last written words that the apostle would write to Timothy before Paul the aged was martyred by beheading.

No doubt it was the same with Moses and Joshua, and generally with all the Hebrew people as he declared – not just his precious and final words, but the last of the revelations that the LORD gave to the Prophet on behalf of Israel.

We will look at many verses today but starting with DEUTERONOMY 29 and 30.

1 These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb. 2 Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land 3 "the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. 4 "Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day. 5 "And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet. 6 "You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink, that you may know that I am the LORD your God. 7 "And when you came to this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out against us to battle, and we conquered them. 8 "We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh. 9 "Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do

So along with the Mosaic Covenant that GOD made with Israel at Horeb, there is also now this covenant He is making in the land of Moab (east of the Jordan River).
Moses testifies on behalf of the LORD on His faithfulness to His people:
The defeat of Pharaoh and his armies, His judgment on the king of Egypt, his people and his land (note that the land is also mentioned, GOD having pronounced judgment on it as well, in contrast to how GOD will bless the land of Israel “flowing with milk and honey”) and the grand and glorious exodus from Egypt.

Christ will do likewise for us the church as well as for Israel and the Earth that He created in defeating Satan – the ruler of this world, and his people, and deliver both to destruction, no longer inhabiting this world which at that time will be under new management! KING JESUS SHALL REIGN!

Israel’s every provision and need was met by the LORD as they traversed for forty years in the wilderness on their way to Canaan (a journey that would only take a couple of weeks, had Israel not been so rebellious! But even in their rebellion, the good and gracious LORD took care of them). Their clothes and shoes didn’t wear away due to the harsh climate, they had food and water to sustain them, a cloud by day to lead and shade them from the intense heat of the sun, a pillar of fire by night to warm and guide them.
Israel enjoyed even more military victories over the kings of Canaan land – the kings Sihon and Og.

In reminding them of the faithfulness of GOD, Moses then charges them to “keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do”. 

Remember that the relationship GOD had with the people of Israel was that of a suzerain: the LORD GOD was their King as well as the King of Heaven, and as He would reign in Israel, providing for them, caring and protecting them, instructing them in His commandments – that’s GOD’s role in this relationship. Israel’s role was to follow and obey, to worship and serve the LORD GOD (We covered this in some detail in the introduction of this series).

This was all by way of reminder, because the generation that was to enter Canaan were all very young – some not even born – at the time when Moses laid out the Mosaic Covenant back in EXODUS. As with that covenant, this Land Covenant was just as binding, though distinct from the Mosaic or Mt. Sinai Covenant (vs. 1 “…beside the covenant that He made with them at Horeb” )..

10 "All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 "your little ones and your wives-also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water- 12 "that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today, 13 "that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 14 "I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15 "but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today 16 (for you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by, 17 and you saw their abominations and their idols which were among them-wood and stone and silver and gold); 18 "so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; 19 "and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart' as though the drunkard could be included with the sober

All are included in this covenant among the tribes, the elders, the men, women, and children, even foreigners who converted to the Hebrew religion with equal solemnity as GOD swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (in vs. 13 the Abrahamic Covenant is here confirmed) – and this covenant would extend to future generations (including today’s and tomorrow’s generations!) as well: “with him who is not here with us today” (note that in this passage of Scripture the LORD says “today” five times, meaning that this day is different than days previously, pointing to a different covenant than what was already granted) – all Abraham’s “seed” (vs. 15; GEN 17:8).

GOD warns His people of what would result of their idolatry should they forsake the LORD and worship the false gods of wood, stone, silver and gold – and by such action bring about “a root of bitterness” and further warns any who hid in their hearts a desire for false gods and yet harbor the false hope of “peace” while doing so. GOD would find their sin out (NUM 32:23) and they would bear the fruit of what they had sown (GAL 6:7).

20 "The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven. 21 "And the LORD would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for adversity, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law, 22 "so that the coming generation of your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, would say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which the LORD has laid on it: 23 'The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and His wrath.' 24 "All nations would say, 'Why has the LORD done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?' 25 "Then people would say: 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt; 26 'for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. 27 'Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. 28 'And the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.' 29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law

The Mosaic Law entails blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience – the blessings listed in DEUTERONOMY 28 and the curses outlined here in DEUTERONOMY 29. Observe what severity the LORD brings down in judgment against those who violate His Law and disobey His commands. His abundant blessings on those who follow His ways – thus the severity and the goodness of our GOD (ROM 11:22).

What must be clearly understood in regards to Israel occupying and enjoying the land is that under the Mosaic Covenant, if Israel disobeyed GOD, they would (eventually) be cast out of the land (LEV 18:28; 20:22). If they repent, then GOD would restore them to the land (DEUT 30:3). Their dwelling in the land is conditional on obedience to the Mosaic Covenant.

Yet the unconditional promise of the land (in the Land Covenant) is tied irrevocably to the Abrahamic Covenant finally realized when the kingdom of Israel is commenced upon the arrival of the King! That time is safely in the Father’s keeping to be revealed in His time (ACTS 1:6-7).

I believe that while the blessings contained in these verses were observable during the times of Israel when the nation was in GOD’s favor, following after Him, the ultimate fulfillment of these promises will be fully realized – by the unconditional promises and graces of GOD alone – in the Millennium, when the LORD will have ultimately transformed their hearts to be fully devoted in loving the LORD their GOD!

Now on to the next chapter of which there is much to say:

1 "Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, 2 "and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 "that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 "If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 5 "Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers

Notice that GOD anticipates Israel’s disobedience; He doesn’t say “if these … curses … come upon you” but “when”! He also declares that they will “return to the LORD [their] God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul … and it will come to pass that the LORD will bring them back to the land, even if in judgment by GOD they were scattered to the farthest parts under heaven”.

On a side note, but an important one:
Those who endorse a post-tribulation rapture will almost always refer to MATTHEW 24:30-31 as a proof text to support their view. I contend that it’s not the church that’s in view there, but rather GOD’s other saints as represented in the nation of Israel – consider once again DEUTERONOMY 30:4-5!
6 "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 "Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8 "And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today. 9 "The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the LORD will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, 10 "if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul

The LORD promises that His people will be circumcised of heart (not just of the flesh) – and this will enable Israel to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” – the very greatest of all the commandments (DEUT 6:4-5; MARK 12:29-30). This will take a spiritual regeneration by means of the new covenant (to be addressed in the last article of this series), which will occur when Messiah returns to defend Israel from the armies of antichrist (ZECH 12:9-14; JER 32:36-44; EZEK 36:22-38) and bring such curses as have been mentioned on their enemies (vs. 7).

This is something that I personally long for and am excited to see realized: that these people will no longer live under the tension of constant vigilance against their enemies (some of which have sworn to drive them into the sea), to see them in peace and prosperity, overflowing with blessings from GOD and become a blessing all the more to the nations:
ROMANS 11:11-12
11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
Yet it’s because they’ve rejected their Messiah that they’ve been doubly cursed and under the oppression of Gentile nations, which actually began with Babylon, that GOD used to bring judgment upon His people for their flagrant disregard of His Word and blatant worship of false gods.

Yet the nation was dispersed once again by the Roman empire forty years after their wholesale rejection of their Messiah (with some notable, apostolic exceptions and those who followed their doctrine!). The most severe of GOD’s judgment on Israel has yet to be realized, but it will be like no other time previously or thereafter (MATT 24:21; LUKE 21:22). That will be the time of Jacob’s Trouble (JER 30:7).

Still, restoration of the kingdom of Israel is mentioned time and time again throughout the Old Testament (particularly the latter prophets in their final chapters) as well as the New Testament:
ROMANS 11:25-27
25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins."
11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13 "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14 "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. 15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, (See the parallel passage in ROM 10:6-8 in reference to such faith that is to be expressed in Christ and His resurrection!).
GOD has revealed Himself in His creation, and in the conscience of mankind (known as General Revelation) but has given us a greater and more glorious revelation – His Special Revelation in the Holy Scriptures.

I remember as a child I saw a Roman Catholic priest read out of this huge book at Mass; at the conclusion of the reading, he looked up at the congregation and said, “This is the Word of GOD”. My mouth dropped open as I wondered in astonishment, “I wonder how they got Him to write THAT?!?!” I envisioned that Book being dropped down out of heaven and discovered by astounded people!

Yet the LORD has brought His Word to this world, accessible to any who would want it in our modern world; pick a copy up at Walmart, or in a hotel room – or choose from any one of 40,000 Bible apps on your phone.

Indeed, His Word is very near you – but He desires that it would be “in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it” and be blessed, and pleasing the LORD your Maker and (potentially, your) Redeemer.

16 "in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 "But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 "I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 "that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."

Once more – if Israel obeyed the LORD’s commands, His statutes, His judgments, they would live, multiply and be blessed to enjoy the land. This is entwined in the Mosaic Covenant. They would be expelled for disobedience – and they were, twice. Yet in the final days of Earth, the LORD will fulfill His own promise to Israel, according to the Abrahamic Covenant and ensure Israel’s possession of the land, with all the blessings described.

For more of this, check out this awesome YouTube presentation from Holy Scriptures and Israel ministries with Gideon Levytam – The LAND of CANAAN COVENANT.

And for even more of this, check out the TTUF article: GOD’s RELATIONSHIP with ISRAEL

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