● Isa 51:3 . .Truly The Lord has comforted Zion, comforted all her ruins; He has made her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the Garden of The Lord. Gladness and joy shall abide there, thanksgiving and the sound of music.
Some of that passage is written in the past tense, as though the events promised had already happened; which should assure the reader that what God has in mind for Israel is sure to come to pass.
Israel truly has a great future out ahead. One day she will be the seat of all political power, world economics, and the center for religious studies. For now she is sidelined while God accomplishes special purposes with the Gentiles. But she is only on the back burner, not out of the picture.
● Hos 2:1-2 . .The number of the people of Israel shall be like that of the sands of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted; and instead of being told, "You are Not-My-People," they shall be called Children-of-the-Living-God. The people of Judah and the people of Israel shall assemble together and appoint one head over them; and they shall rise from the ground-- for marvelous shall be the day of Jezreel!
● Jer 31:8-9 . . I will bring them in from the northland, gather them from the ends of the earth--the blind and the lame among them, those with child and those in labor-- in a vast throng they shall return here. They shall come with weeping, and with compassion will I guide them, by a level road where they will not stumble. For I am ever a Father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.
In this topic, we comment on some important covenants God made with Israel. Some are contracts stipulating conditions for both God and Man; and some are promises stipulating conditions for only God, with Man intended as a beneficiary of the promises, i.e. an heir.
Most of Israel's covenants are unconditional, that is; God alone is responsible for making good on certain promises that rely not at all upon the beneficiary's compliance with any duties, conditions, or responsibilities. Actually, the only one we have on our list of a conditional nature is the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; a.k.a. Moses' Law.
attempted to fuse all of Israel's covenants into one single indiscriminate mega
pact. I sincerely believe that to be a huge mistake; because Moses' law has the
potential to cause beneficiaries of the promissory covenants to lose out on some
very valuable blessings.
● Gen 17:7-8 …I will maintain My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring to come, as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages, to be God to you and to your offspring to come. I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God.
I believe we can safely assume at least three "givens" for Abraham's covenant.
1) It is a literal covenant and should therefore be interpreted literally. Its very wording conveys a decisive purpose rather than a hidden or mystical meaning.
2) It is a permanent covenant. Actually it is said to be precisely that in Genesis 17:7, 17:13, and 17:19. And in other places too; for example:
● 1Chron 16:15-18 …Be ever mindful of His covenant, the promise He gave for a thousand generations, that He made with Abraham, swore to Isaac, and confirmed in a decree for Jacob, for Israel, as an eternal covenant, saying: "To you I will give the land of Canaan as your allotted heritage."
3) It is an unconditional covenant and depends solely upon the integrity of God for its fulfillment. When God confirmed this covenant with Abraham, The Lord walked alone between the pieces while Abraham was anesthetized: so to speak. (Gen 15:7-21)
"To your offspring I assign this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kennites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."
If there's a map handy, it's instantly apparent just how huge a piece of real estate that God assigned to Abraham and his posterity. It's very difficult to precisely outline the whole area but it seems to encompass a chunk of Africa east of the Nile, (including the delta), the Sinai Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Onan, UAE, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
The "river of Egypt" is very likely the Nile since there was no Suez Canal in that day. The Euphrates is Iraq's eastern border. The distance from Cairo Egypt to Al Basrah Iraq is about 983 miles as the crow flies.
That's roughly the distance from San Diego to Abilene Tx. The distance from Aden Yemen to Hilab Syria is about 1,698 miles as the crow flies; which is just a tad under the crow-flight distance from Los Angeles to Chicago.
I'm talking about some serious square mileage-- roughly 1,538,370 of them; which is more than Ireland, United Kingdom, Scotland, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Finland combined!
Currently, Israel, at its widest east to west dimension, across the Negev, is less than 70 miles; and south to north from the Gulf Of Aqaba to Shemona, about 260; comprising a square mileage of only 8,473: a mere half of 1% of the total land promised to Abraham and his posterity.
God has yet to give Abraham and his posterity complete control over all the land promised him. In point of fact, the boundaries were very early-on temporarily reduced for the time being. (Num 34:1-12)
The temporary boundaries run from the Mediterranean Sea eastward to the Jordan River; and from the southern tip of the Dead Sea northward to a geographic location which has not yet really been quite accurately identified. Ezk 47:15 says the northern border passes along "the way of Hethlon" which some feel is very likely the valley of the Nahr al Kubbir river which roughly parallels the northern border of modern day Lebanon, and through which a railroad track lies between An Naqib on the Mediterranean coast to Hims Syria.
● Gen 22:18 . .The angel of The Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said: "By Myself I swear, The Lord declares: Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your favored one, I will bestow my blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes."
Abraham's compliance with God's request to sacrifice his son Isaac, didn't earn him the blessing. He had that already from an earlier chapter in Genesis. His obedience earned him the security of an oath.
How has Israel managed to survive all these years after so many attempts to extinguish her light? Because she is so strong and persevering? Because she is so obedient and respectful of her God? No. I think we can rule out every one of those possibilities right from the get go. Israel has survived because God has integrity, and is a man of his word. That oath He swore, which was witnessed by Abraham and his son Isaac, guarantees the survival of Abraham's posterity right on into eternity. And they will one day be the head of this planet; the center of all political power.
So by two immutable things-- the promise and the oath --Israel's future is secure; and impossible to make go away.
● Jer 31:35-37 . .Thus said The Lord, Who established the sun for light by day, the laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is Lord of Hosts: If these laws should ever be annulled by Me-- declares The Lord-- only then would the offspring of Israel cease to be a nation before Me for all time. Thus said The Lord: If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth below could be fathomed, only then would I reject all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done-- declares The Lord.
● Gen 17:18-21 …And Abraham said to God: "O that Ishmael might live by your favor!" God said: "Nevertheless, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac; and I will maintain My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring to come. As for Ishmael, I have heeded you. I hereby bless him, I will make him fertile and exceedingly numerous. He shall be the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation. But my covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year."
Although God's promise to give Palestine to Abraham included Abraham's posterity, it doesn't include every one of them-- only the line that leads directly to Jacob. So neither Ishmael, nor any of Ishmael's posterity, have the right to a permanent settlement in Palestine. Ishmael's clan are Gentiles; and they have no special privileges just because they can trace their origin to Abraham. Ownership of Palestine, since somewhere around 585 BCE, has been often decided through the machinations of political struggle. However, in the future God has to restore the land to Abraham and his posterity once and for all because He swore it was theirs forever.
The line has to include Sarah too. She was just as much a part of the promise as her husband. So Ishmael was never a serious candidate for the benefits of Abraham's covenant because he was Hagar's son. Ishmael was out of the running even before he was born, and Abraham should have known better than to think Ishmael might substitute for the long awaited son promised to he and Sarah. God would quite literally have been forced to break his word in order to accommodate Abraham's feelings about Ishmael; and that is never going to happen under any circumstances.
The covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy wasn't made with Abraham, nor with Isaac, nor with Jacob: nor even with any of their offspring clear on up until the time of the Jews' rescue from Egyptian slavery. So; no Hebrews prior to that time were effected by Moses' law in any way at all. Only the people who came up out of Egypt with Moses and Aaron, and then, as time went by, with all the Hebrews who have ever been engendered down through the centuries even until now.
● Deut 5:2-4 . .The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our fathers that The Lord made this covenant, but with us, the living, every one of us who is here today.
● Deut 29:13-14 . . I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before The Lord our God and with those who are not with us here this day.
Today's Hebrew children are born under the jurisdiction of Moses' covenant. They have no choice about it because their ancestors agreed to it, and swore them into it, many, many years ago. (Ex 19:4-8 & Deut 29:10-12)
The land of Israel will always be a Jewish possession. That is secure because of God's unconditional promise to Abraham. But their occupancy is determined by stipulations in Moses' law. Out in the future, Jeremiah's new covenant will remedy the problem of human nature and then Abraham and his posterity will settle in Israel for good.
The covenant God made with Abraham regards promises made to a specific Gentile. The Mosaic covenant regards terms and conditions God enacted with a specific nation. This next covenant regards promises that God made to a specific Jew.
● 2Sam 7:16 . .Your house and your kingship shall ever be secure before you; your throne shall be established forever.
● 2Sam 23:5 . . Is not my House established before God? For He has granted me an eternal pact, drawn up in full and secured.
● Ps 89:4 . . I have made a covenant with My chosen one; I have sworn to My servant David: I will establish your offspring forever, I will confirm your throne to all generations.
That pact permanently designated the selection of a royal family for Israel; kind of like a Jewish house of Windsor. So Israel's final, and permanent, form of national government will be a monarchy, and the king will be one of David's descendants.
NOTE: The most exciting part of David's covenant is an additional promise, contained in its wording, of one last restoration of Abraham and his posterity to permanent occupancy in Israel.
● 2Sam 7:10 . . I will establish a home for my people Israel and will plant them firm, so that they shall dwell secure and shall tremble no more. Evil men shall not oppress them any more as in the past, ever since I appointed chieftains over my people Israel. I will give them safety from all your enemies.
Those promises are not just chipped in rock; they are words right out of the mouth of David's God. So Israel has a great political future out ahead. And one day they will dwell secure, without fear, and without anxiety. Which means that all of their enemies must be crushed first before God's promises can become a reality.
Today they are not secure, nor without fear in that land. The Gulf war with Iraq proved that much; and Islamic terrorism continues to buffet the people of Israel. So the promises that God made in David's covenant have not been realized yet because there is no monarchy, and because there is no peace and safety in Israel.
So, since they are not safe, nor secure, nor free from worry about war and terrorism, and especially since there is no monarchy ruling in Israel at this time; then there is good reason to believe that Israel is still very much at risk of once again being conquered and dominated by foreign powers.
The New Covenant
Israel's tenancy in her land, and control over her own destiny, has been intermittent down through history. That's because Moses' law forces her eviction because of non compliance with the covenant they agreed upon with God.
But we saw in David's covenant, that there is a day coming which will be her last, and final, return. God has promised a perpetual occupancy for her; never to be evicted, nor dominated, ever again.
But what about the Moses' law? Its provisions mandate that God must punish Israel whenever she becomes grossly non compliant. And if history is any evidence at all, then we know that she will continue to stumble again and again; requiring a never ending string of evictions, economic problems, and war-- as far into eternity as you might choose to go. That has got to be remedied somehow so Abraham and his posteirty can occupy their land indefinitely, as God promised to David.
Even if there was no such a thing as the New Covenant, reason would cry out for one because it is so desperately needed to secure Israel's future and to prevent recurrences of the loss of her sovereignty, and the humiliating heels of foreign domination. The only really practical solution to her problem is a tough, righteous government operating under a different covenant with a new set of laws.
● Jer 31:31-34 . . See, a time is coming-- declares The Lord-- when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, though I espoused them-- declares The Lord.
. . . But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days-- declares The Lord: I will put my Teachings into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, "Heed The Lord"; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me-- declares The Lord.
Ezekiel said something about it too.
● Ezk 11:17-20 . .Yet say: Thus said The Lord: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall return there, and do away with all its detestable things and all its abominations. I will give them one heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove the heart of stone from their bodies and give them a soft heart, that they may follow My laws, and faithfully observe My rules. Then shall they be my people and I will be their God.
● Ezk 36:27-28 . . and I will put My spirit into you. Thus I will cause you to follow My laws and faithfully observe My rules. Then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people and I will be your God.
Isn't that incredible?!? Not only will the individual Jew himself be given a new spirit, which implies a change of attitude, but his will to serve God will be augmented by God's spirit; so that each Jew will be a little human mini temple, housing God's spirit. In that day, every single Jew living in Israel will be a priest, and all, collectively, will finally be a kingdom of priests serving God acceptably like He intended for them to do in the first place. Only at that time will Hosea's prophecy come true. The nation, as a whole, will finally once again be His people, and He will be their God.
● Joel 2:2 . . I will even pour out My spirit upon male and female slaves in those days.
● Deut 30:4 . . Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there The Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And The Lord your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers. Then The Lord your God will open up your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love The Lord your God with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live.
So everything will fall into place: David's descendant Messiah will be installed upon his throne and empowered to rule the country. Israel will get her land, along with peace and prosperity. And God will finally get some respect. And too, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will return home for their fair share of the property that was promised to them so long ago.
The new covenant also includes a provision to completely, and totally, absolve all sins. And that word *all* has to include both intentional, and unintentional sins, because the word *all* loses any real meaning if we tack on a qualifier.
● Ezk 36:25 …I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your fetishes.
● Jer 31:34 . . for I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more.
Jeremiah's covenant is far superior to Moses' because Moses' doesn't permit forgiveness for intentional sins nor for certain specified capital offenses. But Jeremiah's absolves everything. And on top of that, there are no threats in Jeremiah's covenant to evict the people of Israel from their land if the nation should ever fall into sin again.
Moses' law is an outstanding religious, and civil code. But it lacks provisions to cure the lawbreaker's tendency to prefer sin over righteousness. Moses' Law is valuable for law and order and punishing violators; but it doesn't rehabilitate anybody. The new covenant does rehab sinners. We can tell from the wording of Jeremiah's covenant that the new heart and the new spirit promised in it creates a new nature in people so that they will be inclined to listen to God with a willingness to comply.
Just exactly when God will make the new covenant an Israeli national policy is uncertain because Jer 33:19-22 guarantees the Aaronic priesthood will remain as long as the cosmos continues. So the Temple and the Aaronic qorbanot system will remain in effect in Messiah's kingdom for a while until such a time as the next Genesis and God destroys the current universe. (Isa 65:17, 2Pet 3:10, and Rev 21:1-5)
Out in the future at some time, the Diaspora will rounded up from all over the world and assembled in one place. At that time each individual Jew will be evaluated to determine which ones qualify to return to Israel under Messiah's regime. The evaluations will be according to Moses' law, viz: for those Jews who failed to buy into Jeremiah's covenant when they had the chance.
The ones who don't measure up to Moses' law will be denied entry into Messiah's kingdom; and many will be summarily executed on the spot.
● Ezek 20:33-44 . . As I live-- declares The Lord God-- I will reign over you with a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with overflowing fury. With a strong hand and an outstretched arm and overflowing fury I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples; and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face.
. . . As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you-- declares The Lord God. I will make you pass under the shepherd’s staff, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will remove from you those who rebel and transgress against Me; I will take them out of the countries where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am The Lord.
It's been my own personal experience that the average Jew honestly considers themselves righteous enough to survive their day in court face to face with The Lord God. Well, just think back to the time when God entered into judgment with the Jews when He brought them out of Egypt. How many adults over the age of 20 entered the promised land? Only two: Joshua and Caleb. Not even Moses himself made the cut; nor even Bezalel and Oholiab, the two artificers endowed with special skills and aptitudes by God's own spirit.
And remember the Jews who were killed by snake venom when they complained about manna? And the entire family of Korah the Levite, and his allies, who were incinerated and swallowed down into the ground alive when it split open and they all fell in? And the Jewish men who were slain for fathering children by pagan women in the incident with Balaam, the prophet for profit?
Being Jewish is not an eo ipso guarantee folks will make the cut and partake of the benefits of Isa 11:1-14, Ezk 36:28-38), Mic 4:1-7, and Joel 2:19-27. Modern Jews just don't know who they're really dealing with.
● Dan 12:1-2 . . At that time, the great prince, Michael, who stands beside the sons of your people, will appear. It will be a time of trouble, the like of which has never been since the nation came into being. At that time, your people will be rescued, all who are found inscribed in the book. Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence.
At long last will come to pass Isa 60:21 which says:
"Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever."
Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus
by Michael L. Brown
Volume 1 ISBN 0-8010-6063-X
Volume 2 ISBN 0-8010-6334-5
Volume 3 ISBN 0-8010-6423-6
In Memory Of Trees (Enya)