Last time we began a new series that I have entitled: Israel’s Prophetic Future – Rightly Dividing The Word. Last time, if you will recall, we made reference to the words of the Apostle Paul to Pastor Timothy, given of course by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in 2 Timothy 2:15; Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Every servant of the Lord has the responsibility to diligently carry out the task that the Lord has assigned to them. Not everyone is called to a ministry office such as Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, or Teacher. Many are called to be a light in the secular world in business or some other type of employment. Those of us who are called to minister the Word must do so carefully and accurately, knowing that we will give an account for our ministry. We must, as we shared last time, “cut it straight” with respect to how we handle and apply the Word of God.
We shared two basic principles last time for rightly dividing the truth – 1) Recognize the different Dispensations, 2) Recognize the three people groups that God sees in the earth (Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God). We went into some detail with these two points, so I will not reiterate all of that material again. If you missed the first part, see: https://pastorkj.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/israels-prophetic-future-rightly-dividing-the-word-pt-1/. You can review all of that teaching to get you to where we are now. This time I hope to look at two areas as we lay additional foundation: 1) Recognize Israel’s Covenant Right To The Land, 2) Recognize Modern Israel’s Place In Prophecy. I must say that both of these are “hot button” topics in the Church today, and Christians have strong opinions on both sides of these issues. There is a fairly strong and vocal group arising today within the Christian community that is quite anti-Israel, at least as it regards the modern State of Israel. I have spoken with and read after many of these, and there are a couple of common denominators that I have seen repeated over and over again. First, many of the arguments being espoused by these individuals are based on pure emotion. Secondly, they are based on a particular political point of view.
I want to make it clear from the outset that I do not intend to base that which I will share upon emotion or politics. Truth is not determined by either. Jesus said in His High Priestly prayer of John 17, Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. The Word of God, the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21, is the revealed truth of God. I did not say it is the only thing that is true, I said it is the only revealed truth. If a person professes a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, then each of us need to acknowledge the authority of scripture in our lives. God’s Word must settle every matter. As it has been said, the Bible must be our first court of arbitration, and our final court of appeal. This is especially true in matters of eschatology, or the doctrine of end-times. With that said, we look at;
- RECOGNIZE ISRAEL’S COVENANT RIGHT TO THE LAND:
Here is a point that the people who base what they believe on emotion or politics really get up-set over. They say things like, “How dare the Israelis deprive the poor Palestinians of a home land and think that they alone have a right to the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem!” If we were going to take the political track, I could mention right here that, as Newt Gingrich correctly stated, the Palestinians are an invented people. They have no right to any part of Israel. I know that is a controversial statement, but I do not base it on opinion or on politics. It is true that both the Arab nations ( so-called Palestinians) and Jews have a common ancestry through Abraham. However, that is really where their similarities end. Arguments go back and forth over the Palestinians right to share Israel with the Jews. Some politicians propose a so-called, “two-State” solution with the Palestinians and Jews sharing the land, and dividing the city of Jerusalem. With all due respect those who propose such a notion demonstrate their ignorance of the whole Israeli/Palestinian issue. The Palestinians aren’t interested in co-existing or sharing anything with the Jews. In fact, they won’t be happy with anything short of the annihilation of the Jews, whom they believe have no right to even exist. You can’t very well negotiate with someone who desires to wipe you off the face of the earth, can you? While I am at it, all of the “bleeding hearts” and terrorist sympathizers need to realize that the Palestinians already have a homeland, and it is Jordan not Israel.
In understanding Israel’s Covenant right to the land, we must understand two things: 1) Abraham’s call, and 2) The Abrahamic Covenant. First, Abraham’s call. We read in Genesis 12:1 – 3, 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: 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: 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. [Gen. 12:1 – 3] This was actually Abram’s second call. He received the first call while living in the midst of paganism and idolatry in the Ur of the Chaldees. The Jewish Targums (historical commentaries of sorts) tell us that Abram’s family were idol makers. If this is true, Abram and his family made the idols to the moon god, Ur, for which the city was named. At any rate, at Abram’s first call Abram’s father, Terah, set out with his family, including Abram, Sarai, and Lot; to go to the land of Caaanan.Think what this call entailed for these people. Ur of the Chaldees was the most modern city of the time. This call must have been so powerful, and so evident, that it made an impression on Abram, and apparently his father Terah that would cause them to leave a modern city (for the time anyway), to go to a land that they had no idea where it was and live a nomadic lifestyle for the rest of their life.
Notice the three-fold promise given to Abram (Abraham) This is really the hub of the Bible. All the rest of scripture really deals with the unfolding of this three-fold promise. It concerns: 1) The land – God says, “I’m going to show you a land and give it to you.” 2) The nation – God said, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great. 3) The blessing – God said, “In thee shall all of the families of the earth be blessed. This is God’s three-fold promise. The question can be asked, has God made good on these promises? He has certainly brought from him a great nation. In fact, it has the longest tenure as a nation of any people in the world. No one can match them. Has Abram (Abraham) been a blessing to all mankind? Through the Lord Jesus Christ, the “seed”, he certainly has. [See Gal. 3:16] God has fulfilled all of His promises to Abraham and his descendants, except the first one. God said He would give them the land. Can I tell you? They may have come back to the land and been recognized as an official sovereign state in May of 1948, and regained control of the city of Jerusalem in the six-day war of 1967, and secured a temporary peace (at least with Egypt) in the 1973 Yom Kippur/Ramadan war, but they still don’t have the land. They are there, but they don’t possess all that was promised to them. Has God failed to make His promise good? Not at all. He is doing exactly what He said He would do. He fulfilled two-thirds of the promise, and will fulfill the remaining one-third.
There is coming a day, during the coming Kingdom Age, when they will have the land all the way East to the Euphrates River, and all the way North to where the Hittite nation was and all the way south to the River of Egypt, which is a little river in the Arabian Desert. They have never occupied all of the land God gave them. At their zenith during the United Kingdom period they occupied some 30,000 square miles, yet that was not all that God had given them. He actually gave them 300,000 square miles! They have a long way to go, but they will get it in God’s time, and on God’s terms. There is nothing the United States, or any other nation can really do to help. We see Abram’s (Abraham’s) call here, now let us take a look a the Abrahamic Covenant.
We turn now to Genesis 15, arguably one of, if not the most important chapters of the Bible. Let’s examine this account. There are many important lessons here. 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. [Gen. 15:1] The Lord appears to Abram (Abraham) in a vision here. Based on what the Lord says to him, apparently there was some fear in his heart. It seems that he feared being killed by enemies before the promise of bringing forth an heir could come to pass. The Lord assures him that He is his (Abram’s) shield. He is his protector. He also tells Abram (Abraham) that He is his exceeding great reward. In essence the Lord is telling Abram not to get his eyes so fixed on the promise that he loses sight of the promise keeper. Not to look more at the gift than the giver, if you will. We read on,
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? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. [Gen. 15:2, 3] Abram is basically questioning the LORD with respect to the fact that He had told him descendants would as the sand of the sea, and yet he didn’t even have one son as yet. He didn’t need more riches, he had plenty of that. What he needed was a son. Eliezer was the steward of Abram’s house, and according to the code of Hammurabi, Eliezer’s offspring would be the heir of Abram’s household if he did not have a son. The Lord assures Abram once again that this will not be the case. [See Vs. 4] 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. [Gen. 15:5]
This is quite remarkable when you think about it. At another time, the Lord had told Abram that his seed would as the sands of the sea. [See Gen. 22:17, 32:12] Here He tells him to look at the stars. The Lord assures Abram that if he is able to number the stars, so will his descendants be. As Abram looked up into the sky he could see about 4,000 stars. There were probably 50,000 in that area. The point is, Abram couldn’t number his descendants and you cannot today. This man actually has two seeds. He has a physical seed, Israel and the Jewish people, and a spiritual seed, the Church. Paul wrote to the Galatians, And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. [Gal. 3:29] The Bible says,
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. [Gen. 15:6] Here we see that Abram was justified, declared righteous, righteousness was credited to his account; by faith. This is the true “Blessing of Abraham”. We are partakers in this blessing, justification by faith, when we too take God at His Word and believe the Lord. Drop down to verses 8, 9. The Bible says,
And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? 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. [Gen. 15:8, 9] Notice in this chapter Abram asks the Lord two questions. He first asks, what will you give me? Secondly, How do I know I’m going to receive it? The answer to the first question is Christ. Through Abram’s loins sprang the Nation of Israel and the Jewish people. From that chosen race came Christ, the Messiah, the “seed” of Abraham that blessed the entire earth. The answer to the second question is the covenant. The word, “covenant” is translated from the Hebrew word, berit and literally means, “to cut.” Notice if you will what the Lord instructs Abram to gather. He tells him to take a heifer three years old, a she goat of three years old, a ram of three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. This is rich in symbolism, and it all points to Christ and what He accomplished at Calvary’s Cross. He is instructed to offer up five living creatures. In the scriptures, five is the number of grace. The entirety of the foundation of God is grace.
This covenant is unconditional since God is the only contracting party. That the heifer, goat, and ram were to be three years old signifies the earthly ministry of the Son of God. As well, the “heifer” speaks of His Priestly Office. The “she goat” symbolizes His prophetic ministry. The “ram” his Kingly office. Jesus in His present-day ministry stands as Priest, Prophet, and King. The turtledove symbolized Him being led and guided by the Holy Spirit. The “young pigeon” symbolized His complete obedience to the Spirit.
Abram, as he was instructed of the LORD then divides the heifer, goat, and ram in two, and lays the pieces opposite of each other. He did not ,as the Bible says, divide the birds. This was a legally binding contract. This is how contracts, or covenants were entered into in that day. In this type of covenant goods or services were going to exchanged. Every covenant included some basic elements. They included a prepared sacrifice, spoken words, and a symbol. In this type of covenant spoken of here in Genesis 15, the party of the first part would join hands with the party of the second part, they would state their contract and walk between the pieces of the sacrifice, thus ratifying the contract. The two pieces of each divided animal were laid in a shallow gully opposite each other. The blood from the animals would run down and fill the gully, thus making a pool. The individuals entering into covenant would look at those pieces and the blood in the gully and say, “May this be done to me if I fail to keep my part of this treaty.” That is how serious Covenant is.
The thing I want to drive home here is the fact that Abram didn’t participate in the actual covenant. Yes, he gathered the animals for the sacrifice, and yes he drove the birds away from the animals after that they were divided. However, when it came time to actually walk among the pieces and enter into the Covenant, Abram was asleep. We read, And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. [Gen. 15:12] Many commentators point to this “great darkness” that fell upon Abram as pointing to the great suffering of the heirs of promise. This is spelled out in greater detail in verses 13 – 16.
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. 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: The Kennites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. [Gen. 15:17 – 21] Israel has never occupied all of this land. They came the closest during the United Kingdom period under the reign of King David. It will be totally fulfilled during the coming Kingdom Age.
The land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem belong to the Jews and the Jews alone by virtue of Covenant. This is an everlasting Covenant that God Himself began, and He will finish it. Abraham’s only responsibility in this was to believe. The descendants of Ishmael have no part in this land. This Covenant was given to Abram (Abraham), and was repeated to both Isaac and Jacob. [See Gen. 26:3, 4; 35:11, 12] The Lord loved and loves Ishmael, but He did not give him Israel. He has blessed the descendants of Ishmael, and they inhabit some of the most oil-rich land in the world today. For Israel to fail to receive all that the Lord promised them, God would have to abdicate His throne and cease to be God! That, my friends, is how serious a matter this is. God will not fail to fulfill His Word.
Next time we will examine the role modern Israel plays in God’s prophetic program. Some contend they have no place. Is that true? We will examine this question in the light of God’s Word next time.