Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Future of Israel-Part 1

"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Romans 11:29

  There is a currently a growing  resurgence of an old heresy, which goes something like this: God is done with Israel as a nation, and all promises he made to them have  been bequeathed to the church.  Some call this 'replacement theology', or 'continuance covenants' or 'kingdom dominion' depending on what flavor of this philosophy you  encounter. I call it  sloppy handling of the scriptures.The fact is that Israel  has several promises on the books that are still unfulfilled and are unconditional , the bulk of which nobody else  qualifies for.  The only way you can make these very specific  promises apply to anyone else is to ignore the particular provisions of them. Time would fail  us to look at them all (after all God did give you a Bible)  and many of them intertwine but we will take a look at a few.
The Land
   In what is probably the second best promise in the Bible, God promises to Abraham and  his descendants a  piece of   land in Genesis 12:7, which says "And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said , Unto thy seed will I give this land.."  This land is given to Abram unconditionally, there is nothing he can do to  earn it and nothing he can do to lose it.  The promise is repeated in Gen 13:5 as "For all the land which thou seest , to thee will I give it , and to thy seed for ever." Once again, it's unconditional. The borders of the land are spelled out in Genesis 15 and in Genesis 17:8 God spells it out in black and white that it is an "everlasting possession".  In case there was any question about which seed gets the land, God tells Jacob in Genesis 35:12 "And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it , and to thy seed after thee will I give the land." It's not enough to be related to Abraham, like Ishmael was. To qualify for this land you have to be related to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  When Joseph is in the dungeon of Egypt, he even refers to it as "the land of the Hebrews" in Genesis 40:15, and Israel promises his family in Genesis 48:21 that God will return them to "the land of your fathers". Joseph's deathbed testimony is that "I die : and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob"  God makes it plain that this covenant is with a group in Exodus 6:4 which says  "And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers" 
  From this very cursory examination of the foundation, we can easily deduce that  unless you are descended from those three men, you have no promise from God regarding that piece of property.  Being merely a spiritual child of Abraham through faith (Gal 3:7 among other places) is not enough just like being a physical child of  Abraham via Ishmael wasn't enough.  But if you are descended from those three men, God has sworn  to you and your family a piece of land, unconditionally.  
  But its not enough to  have the land if God doesn't allow you to live there, and while owning the land is condition-free, living there has a pretty steep price.  God warns them going in
"Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety."  God spend whole chapters in  the Bible laying out this dynamic; obedience in the land brings blessings, disobeying brings   hard times and eventually expulsion. God is willing to  cast them out for as many generations as it takes to get obedience and then that obedient generation will be allowed to return to the land God promised to their fathers.   
  Repeatedly in the Old Testament this cycle  of rebellion, expulsion, repentance and restoration is played out. but it's imperative to understand that even while they are expelled from the land, the land still belongs to them.  Lev 26:20-38 says "And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins  I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children , and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number ; and your high ways shall be desolate . And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me:Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy .
  And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat , and not be satisfied .And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.   And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation , and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.   And I will bring the land into desolation : and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate , and ye be in your enemies ' land; even then shall the land rest , and enjoy her sabbaths.  As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest ; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies ; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee , as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth .And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth : and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies . And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up ."
   Keep this in mind; God wants them to live there, even though they don't deserve it according to Deut 9:6.  Because of this desire, regardless of the reason for the expulsion, or the length of time  of the expulsion, God leaves the door open for His people to repent and do the things necessary to return to the land that He promised. Meanwhile it would just sit there, sometimes desolate and  sometimes inhabited by their enemies while they toiled away in Babylon or slaved away in Chaldea or spun their wheels amongst  the Gentile nations.  This is the history of  the children of Israel.
  But this article isn't about  Israel's past, it's about Israel's future. So the question at hand is, will this ever happen? Will there ever be a generation of Abrahams descendants who see the complete fulfillment of God's promises?
  In order to lay the groundwork to properly answer that question, we have to put some more   pieces of the puzzle together.  Stay tuned for part 2.

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