Israelology and Theology of the Old Testament, Part Three
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Abraham was an idol-worshipping gentile in Babylon (Joshua 24:2) when God called him to become the founder of the Jewish nation. He was called Abram (which means father is exalted) until God changed his name to Abraham (father of a great nation). He married his sister Sarai (My princess) who became Sarah (Princess). This change was in accord for God’s plan for her, namely that she would becomeNations. Abraham comprised the truth on several occasions to protect himself. Some say he might have been the wealthiest man on the earth at that time. He was able to muster an army for the Battle of the Kings of 318 men from his own household (Gen 14:14). (cir. 2500 B.C.)
God has made some irrevocable, unilateral commitments – formal covenants or promises -and one of His most essential characteristics is that He delights in making and keeping His promises. Most churches do not realize the seriousness of these covenants as well as God’s love for the Jews. The Bible records six occasions on which God appeared to Abraham to make, restate, or enhance the promises (Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 3:14-18; 15:4, 5, 13-18; 17:1-8; 18:17-19; 22:15-18).
The provisions of this covenant, which ultimately would result in bringing blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3), were extended to Abraham’s descendants after him. In a group of predictions found in Genesis 12-28, God clearly defined the chosen line through which Messianic blessing would come into the world: Abraham, Isaac (son of Abraham and Sarah), and Jacob (Isaac and Rebekah’s son). Toward the end of the Patriarchal period Jacob (whose name was changed by God to “Israel”) singled out Judah while granting blessings, as the chosen one among his twelve sons. Judah’s line would produce the Messiah symbolized by receiving the scepter (symbol of rulership) as stated in Genesis 49:10.
In the culture of that day, if the contract being made was a conditional covenant, there were certain actions that the parties to the agreement would do in order to certify the agreement. In a situation where a conditional covenant was being made, both parties making the contract would walk together between cut pieces of an animal (e.g., Jeremiah 34:18-19). This action meant that both parties to the agreement would carry out the terms of the covenant. If one party became guilty of violating any single term of the covenant, it would free the other party from the necessity of fulfilling his own promises contained in the covenant. Similar actions are found in modern contract law. If one party violates their promises to the other party, the offended party is free from keeping the terms of the contract.
But in Genesis 15, Abraham and God did not walk together between the pieces of the animals. God put Abraham in a deep sleep and only God – in the form of a smoking oven and a flaming torch (Genesis 15:17) – walked between the pieces of the animals. This meant that the fulfillment of the covenant was based purely upon God’s grace (unconditional), in spite of how often Abraham or his descendants would fail to keep their side of the agreement. Abraham could not be a participant in the covenant, but could only be a recipient of the covenant. This covenant was entirely one-sided.
Abraham was a Gentile when this covenant was first made. It first occurs in Genesis Chapter 12, and includes fourteen aspects.
- A great nation was to come out of Abraham, namely, the nation of Israel (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:1-2, 7; 22:17b)
- Abraham was promised a land — specifically, the Land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1, 7; 13:14-15, 17; 15:17-21; 17:8). Later in Scripture God explains that the privilege of Abraham’s descendants, the Jewish people, for living in their land under God’s blessing is conditioned upon their obedience (see, for example, Deuteronomy 28-29). Regardless of whether the Jews are in or out of the land they still hold title to it by divine right.
- Abraham himself was to be greatly blessed (12:2b; 15:6; 22:15-17a)
- Abraham’s name would be great (12:2c)
- Abraham will be a blessing to others (12:2d)
- Those who bless will be blessed (12:3a)
- The one who curses will be cursed (12:3b) — again and again this principle is operative in the prophets as they pronounce judgment on the nations surrounding Israel for the treatment of His chosen people.
- In Abraham all the earth will ultimately be blessed, a promise of Gentile blessing (12:3c; 22:18)
- Abraham would receive a son through his wife Sarah (15:1-4; 17:16-21)
- His descendants would undergo the Egyptian bondage (15:13-14)
- Other nations as well as Israel would come forth from Abraham (17:3-4, 6; the Arab states are some of these nations)
- His name was to be changed from Abram to Abraham (17:5)
- Sarai’s name was to be changed to Sarah (17:15)
- There was to be a token/sign of the covenant — circumcision (17:9-14).
From these fourteen promises flows God’s entire plan for all of mankind. All other covenants build on this one. Items 6 & 7 are the basis for the “Sheep and Goat Judgment” of the nations in Matthew 25:31-46, which closes the “times of the Gentiles.” God foreknew Satan’s anti-Jewish efforts. All history is patterned and destined after this reality (cf. Zech 2:8). This also gives us a primary inference that the Church will not be in the Tribulation, as this judgment emphasizes the distinction between Jew and Gentile.
Christ alludes to item 8 when He was talking with the woman at the well in Samaria, when He declared, “Salvation is of the Jews.” There is no other such promise to any other people!
The Covenant was confirmed to the next two generations of Abraham.
Gen17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him.
Gen 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Gen 26:2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
Gen 26:3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
Gen 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
It was given to Jacob (Israel) and his descendants not Essau Genesis 28:13-15
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Gen 28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I [am] the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
Gen 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Gen 28:15 And, behold, I [am] with thee, and will keep thee in all [places] whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done [that] which I have spoken to thee of.
The Covenant is Eternal
God made universal promises, which would affect all peoples of the world. God vowed that all families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s physical line of descent (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 28:14). This great spiritual blessing has been made available to all peoples through Jesus Christ and the Jews.
Jesus’ statements in Matthew 25:31-46 (especially verses 40 and 45) indicate that, when God promised to bless those who blessed Abraham and to curse those who cursed him, He intended this to be applicable, not only to Abraham, but also to Israel. In other words, God’s blessing or cursing of the peoples of the world would be determined to a large extent by their blessing or cursing of Israel. Jesus’ statements in Matthew 25 promise blessing to saved Gentiles (sheep) who will aid persecuted Jews of the future Tribulation period and judgment to unsaved Gentiles (goats) who will not aid them.
The Land Allocation of the Abrahamic Covenant
The Land Covenant promised that Israel would become the prime nation of the world if the Jews were obedient to God (Deuteronomy 28:1,13). But the covenant warned that many curses would befall the people if they were disobedient (Deuteronomy 28:15-37), including exile from the land (Deuteronomy 28:38-57). The covenant warned further that if exile did not restore the Jews to obedience, they would suffer worldwide dispersion and persecution (Deuteronomy 28:58-68). But nowhere are they told that their disobedience would lead to a loss of their title to the land.
In fact, the Land Covenant ends in chapter 30 with a prophecy and a promise that a day will come – after the Jews have experienced the curses of the covenant – when the Lord will restore them to their land once again:
Deu 30:3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
Deu 30:4 If [any] of thine be driven out unto the outmost [parts] of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
Deu 30:5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
For almost 1900 years the Jews wandered among the nations and suffered severe persecution, just as prophesied in Deuteronomy 28. During that time, their land became desolate as prophesied in Deuteronomy 29. But in the 20th century, God has regathered them form the four corners of the earth, re-established them in their land, and reclaimed their land from wilderness to milk and honey — as prophesied in Deuteronomy 30.
The only prophecy left to be fulfilled in the Land Covenant is the spiritual salvation of the gathered remnant (Deuteronomy 30:6-8). That will occur soon when they repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah.
The Abrahamic and Land Covenants make it clear that the Jewish people have both the right to the land of Israel and the right to be back in it today.
The Blessings and Cursings:
The blessings have been confirmed many times in Scripture including Balaam’s observation of God’s relationship to Israel.
He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed [is] he that blesseth thee, and cursed [is] he that curseth thee.
From secular history we have many examples of the blessings and cursings of which God spoke. Spain was one of the world’s mightiest powers and most developed cultures in the 15th century. In 1492 it reached its highest point of accomplishment when it sent Christopher Columbus on a voyage to discover the Americas. But the same year, it also expelled all its Jews and intensified the Spanish Inquisition against the Jews and forced them to convert to Catholicism. Spain then descended into a 500-year status as a non-entity.
Germany and Austria were the cultural and intellectual centers of Europe before World War I. Then Germany (with Austrians’ help) murdered nearly every Jew in Europe. Germany lost over seven million people, was divided for a generation, and while it now thrives materially, culturally Germany has become irrelevant.
It is interesting to note that After Germany killed the Jews, they were divided up by the allies and Berlin was divided further. Any German attempting to climb over the Berlin wall was killed. Within a few years after the last Nazi, Rulolph Hess, died in Spandau Prison the Berlin wall was removed. Is this a Coincidence?
When one examines the nations in today’s world it is apparent who blesses the Jews and who curses them. Do this then consider the promises of God in the Abrahamic Covenant.
It is interesting to consider the contributions to society of both the Jews and the Arabs. There have been 43 Jewish Nobel Laureates in Physics, 48 in Biomedical, 19 in Economics, 26 in Chemistry and 11 in Literature. These are just the Nobel Prize winners. This does not count the many significant contributions the Jews have made to the world in business and science that don’t get Nobel recognition.
The United States of America has blessed the Jews beyond what any other country has done and does so almost alone. It provides much support to the Jewish state against those who wish to exterminate it. By almost any reckoning, America has been, and remains, the most blessed of countries.
And it is the Arab world that curses the Jews. It rivals Nazi Germany for the universality and intensity to its hatred toward the Jews. When considering these concepts it is interesting to then look at the extent of world Arab accomplishments. According to Arab scholars appointed by the United Nations to report on the state of Arab society, they lag behind the rest of humanity, including in most instances sub-Saharan Africa, in virtually every social, moral and intellectual indicator. And there is no question but that its half-century long preoccupation with destroying Israel has only increased the Arab world’s problems. Their chief accomplishments are what: suicide bombing and terrorism?
It is God alone who actively blesses those who bless the Jews and curses those who curse them. The evidence historically and at this very moment demonstrates that there is indeed a real connection between the state of a society and its treatment of the Jews.
Most, if not all, of the nations in the West, are under God’s judgment. Judgment comes as a result of a nation’s relationship with Israel. One can trace the rise of Great Britain from Jewish toleration in the late 1500’s through Lord Balfour’s declaration to the fall of the great British Empire when Winston Churchill divided modern day Jordan from the Palestinian mandate that was supposed to be given to the Jewish people. After World War II the Great British Commonwealth of which it was said; “The Sun never sets on The British Empire,” disaggregated quickly when it refused to allow the Jews to come home to Israel.
One can trace the events of America’s fall from 1956 when President Eisenhower forced Israel out of the Sinai. Soon after that, prayer and eventually also the Bible were taken out of schools. In his autobiography, Eisenhower recognized that this was the worst mistake he ever made in office. You can probably trace the downfall of any nation from when it touched the apple of God’s eye, because God is in the process of restoring Israel, not just for the Jews’ sake, but also for His glory.
One hundred years ago, 1 million Jews fled from Tsarist Russia to the United States after a wave of pogrom atrocities. Russia’s loss was the United States’ gain. The Russian Empire had violently collapsed in just a decade and the United States, which entered the 20th century as a third-rate power, emerged from it as the world’s unchallenged superpower.
When we consider the fate of all once-powerful enemies of the Jewish people: the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Inquisitor Spain, the Russian Tsarist Empire, the Nazi Reich we see that they all suffered a brutal end.
In the Abrahamic covenant God said He would curse those who curse the Jewish people and world history seems to confirm it. Not one nation that persecuted Jews had escaped very bad consequences. This law has no exception for the Arabs or any other Muslims.
The Muslims will also be judged through their individual nations according to Scripture. (Isaiah 13-27)
2 Samuel 7:21-24 NKJV
For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. 22 Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name-and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land-before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods? 24 For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God.
One must ask the following questions:
- Why are 1.2 billion Muslims obsessed with the idea of “erasing this small group of Jews from the face of the earth” syndrome?
- Why do so many desire to write disparingly about the Jews?
- Why is the KKK obsessed with Jewish thoughts?
- Why is the former Malaysian prime minister virtually addicted to blaming Jews, in a country that is Judenrein (the term “Judenrein” was used by the Nazis to designate areas that had been ‘cleansed’ of Jews) and where 95% of Malaysians never even saw a real live Jew?
- Secular society seems to have an obsession with seeing everything from politics to business to deciding on the next war to the reason that the Arab/Muslim world has failed to produce significant world achievements as the fault of the Jews. Within the past 60 years, this has spread from Nazi Germany to The Middle East into Europe to most recently, college campuses and other leftist organizations worldwide.
- The ultimate question is, “Why haven’t anti-Jewish people become obsessed with other competing religions which are much larger and more direct competition?”
The answer is simply the text from the Bible. It is God’s promises to Abraham and the Jews. He will bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse the Jews. The world is no longer interested in hearing the message of God from His Word. This is the Laodicean, lukewarm, apostasy generation of these last days.
The real cause of Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism is that its adherents have major doubts about the validity of their own religion. That is why there is so much hatred toward Jews and Christians coming from Imams and Ayatollahs in mosques. They see a system of Christianity in America for which God blessed a great country with everything, including incredible power, strength and influence. Even worse, they see a system in their own back yard, The Middle East, where a country with no natural resources and just a few million Jews has surpassed every single Arab and Muslim nation in any measurable achievement. Here is God acting in our world and they are not receiving their fair share.
Religious figures in the Islamic world cannot announce to followers, “Look at the success of Islam in our world. Pray to Allah for thanks.” Instead, they say that, “Judaism and Christianity have stolen our successes. So let’s destroy the infidels.” When one is looking for a Scapegoat, any old Jew will do…..
With over 50% of UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel, not North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Iran, Libya or Iraq, one cannot say that this is simply blame Israel for all these crimes. When people hate or feel threatened about a belief system, it can only mean one thing. It threatens their own system and in all likelihood, renders it somewhat invalid.
The idea of Jewish “Election” has always been looked upon as arrogant and conceited by the biblically ignorant. The truth is that America has taken on the role of sharing “Election “from God with the Jews. It is no wonder there are protests in Great Britain today. No wonder President Bush’s effigy has been burned in almost every Arab and Muslim country. No wonder a large part of Europe has criticized America for bringing down another evil dictator, Saddam Hussein.
What Does This Mean To Us?
The day of Israel’s full restoration is near. Messiah will make it possible and we shall all live in peace. Until He comes, we, who believe the Bible to be God’s Word and that every promise of God will come to pass, must stand and support Israel’s right to its land. It is a Divine right. We should be patient with those who do not believe the Bible, and do not accept Israel’s right to the land. Yet, with love for all, we must strongly support Israel’s right. We cannot do otherwise and have clear consciences. We cannot say on the one hand that we believe there is a God Who has revealed His perfect will in His Holy Scriptures, and on the other hand, deny Israel its right to the land God promised to her.
We cannot be like the many so-called Christian denominations that have taught “Replacement Theology” and joined the world in its war against the Jews.
Rom 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Rom 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
Rom 11:27 For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Rom 11:28 As concerning the gospel, [they are] enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, [they are] beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
Our commitment to Israel was penned by the Psalmist so long ago in ;
Psa 102:13 Thou shalt arise, [and] have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. This is that day.
Again the Psalmist exhorts us:
Psa 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
Psa 122:7 Peace be within thy walls, [and] prosperity within thy palaces.
Psa 122:8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace [be] within thee.
Psa 122:9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.