Israel

Challenging Covenantalism: Daniel’s Seventieth Week

It is amazing to me how little is ever taught on this crucial section of Scripture. Most pastors simply never address it in their preaching. I can understand how daunting it is. However, it is still in Scripture and foundational to the future history of the world. In order to understand Jesus’ teaching on His return, one must comprehend Daniel 9:24-27 (see Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). The reader of Jesus’ teaching concerning the future must include a proper comprehension of Daniel 9:24-27, to start with.

The prophet was exiled to Babylon in 605 B.C. in the first of three exiles. King Nebuchadnezzar, recently appointed as king over the newly dominant empire after his father’s death, desired to bring the best of young men from Judah to be his servants in his court. Thus, we have Daniel, and his friends, being taken captive in order to be indoctrinated in Babylonian instruction (Daniel 1:1-7). Being taken captive there around 15 years of age and died in 535 B.C. He was about 85 years old, having lived almost his entire life in Babylon. Tradition indicates that he was buried in Babylon. This was a man given some of the most graphic and specific visions from God. His writings tell us what is happening in the world, and about to happen in the world in great detail.

There is much to be studied from Daniel. However, we want to focus on chapter 9:24-27. Last post I introduced this section. Here, I want to understand specifically what this section means by what it says.  Daniel wrote,

Daniel 9:24–27 (NASB95)

Seventy Weeks and the Messiah

24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Verse 24 states that God has decreed 490 years for the Jews and for Jerusalem. Thus, Israel’s history is to be summed up in 490 years. A collection of 70 Sabbath cycles of years (see Leviticus 25:1-12) is decreed for Israel. These Sabbath cycle of years is the same amount of time indicated by the 70 Sabbaths that Israel broke and landed them in Babylon in the first place. God just did not include the 6 years in the Sabbath cycle, only the 70 Sabbath years of each cycle, thus 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21; Daniel 9:2). Thus, those years are now decreed by God as the future for Israel. There are six events that form the conclusion to Israel’s history:

  • to finish the transgression.
  • to make an end of sin.
  • to make atonement for iniquity.
  • to bring in everlasting righteousness.
  • to seal up vision and prophecy.
  • to anoint the most holy place.

Although these are not possible apart from the death of Jesus Christ, these are not completed with the death of Jesus Christ. For example, we cannot agree that everlasting righteousness has been brought in since the cross. Further, notice that these six things pertain to Israel, not the world. This is the decree that is meant for Israel, national Israel. At the end of 490 years, these things will occur.

Verse 25 tells us that the chronology of 490 years begins at the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Whose decree? Some say King Cyrus in 538 B.C. Some say King Artaxerxes I in 458 B.C. Others would say King Artaxerxes’ second decree in 445/444 B.C. The facts and figures surrounding this discussion is mind-boggling. However, it would appear that the best answer is King Artaxerxes’ decree given to Nehemiah in 445/444 B.C. From that time (seen in Nehemiah 1:1-2:1-8; cf. Ezra 4:13). It is apparent that Nehemiah’s concern is with the city in which God’s name would dwell (Nehemiah 1:4-10), repeating the promise of God in Leviticus 26 that if Israel would confess their sins and repent, God would bring them back to Jerusalem forever. Thus, Nehemiah confesses on behalf of himself and Israel, and God did indeed bring them back…to some degree (incidentally, Daniel follows the same pattern in Daniel 9). From this decree, given in Nehemiah 2:4-6, to Messiah the Prince will be a total of 69 weeks (i.e. 483 years = 69 x 7 Sabbath cycles of seven years). From 445 B.C. to 483 years later, using a 360-day calendar usual for biblical prophecy (which is the only point of reference given the nature of the context. That is, since Daniel is reckoning not from popular calendars of the day, but from prophetic material in the Law) we arrive at Friday Nisan, 14, or April 3, A.D. 33 as the death of Jesus Christ, and four days earlier the exact date of the end of Daniel’s 483 years (See Matthew 21; Luke 19:41-44).

However, notice that Messiah will be cut off and will have “nothing.” The teaching of Messiah in the OT indicates that He would arrive on the earth and reign (2 Samuel 7:13-16; Isaiah 2; 9:1-7; cf. Genesis 49:10). Yet, when He comes, He will be killed and have nothing. That is, He will die and not inherit the Messianic kingdom as prophesied in the OT. He would not reign on David’s throne. This is precisely why we understand that Jesus is not reigning on David’s throne in heaven.

According to Daniel’s prophecy, there is one more unit of seven years’ Sabbath Cycle left. That is yet future. We know that because that year presents the end of the total of 490 years decreed for Israel by God. Once that 490th year ends, the six accomplishments for Israel will be inaugurated. They are not here at this time and thus we wait, 2,000 years later, for that seventieth week, or 490th year. The Scripture indicates that the week in question is none other than the Tribulation, or Jacob’s distress (Jeremiah 30:7). It is a time of unparalleled pressure upon Israel, and, consequently, the whole world. It is during this final week that the prince who is to come, that is the Anti-Christ (he is one who will set himself up as the christ attempting to fool the world into thinking that he is the messiah) will come and break a covenant of peace which he made with Israel for that entire week (Daniel 9:27). Until then, we are in an age not prophesied of in the OT. We are in the mystery age of the kingdom (Matthew 13). We are the church. We are elect from every tribe, tongue, and nation (including Israel). But we are not Israel. Their day is coming in which they will physically see the One whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10) and they will repent of their sins once for all and be restored nationally just as God promised (Leviticus 26:40ff).

Covenantal Theology teaches that there is no future for the nation of Israel, for the twelve tribes of Jacob, the collected descendants of Abraham. They, instead, aver that Christ Himself is Israel, true Israel, and thus the church receives the blessings of Israel through Him. That is an apostate position. To deny all that the Scripture clearly teaches on the subject of God’s promises to the nation of Israel and their restoration in the land with the forgiveness of sins, including and especially Daniel’s seventy weeks’ prophecy, is to deny the veracity of Scripture and the integrity of God. Regardless of the hermeneutical justification one adopts, to do this is to commit serious error and, in effect, denies inerrancy. Those who hold this teaching should repent of it (see R. Scott Clark here as a demonstration of this kind of teaching). Paul rightly identified these men as those who

1 Timothy 1:3-7

…teach strange doctrines,

4 [and who] pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,

7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

God says,

Ezekiel 37:21–28

21 “Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;

22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms.

23 “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.

24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.

25 “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.

26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.

27 “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.

28 “And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.” ’ ”

Challenging Covenantalism: The Future Of Israel According To Daniel.

We have been considering the false claims of Covenant Theology. The assertions are summarized as follows:

  • God made a covenant with Adam.
  • God made a covenant with the elect.
  • God made a covenant with Christ.
  • Israel, as a national entity, is subsumed by the church, the true Israel.
  • All of history will be consummated into the eternal state apart from a Millennial Reign of Christ.
  • All of Scripture, but primarily the prophetic portions, are subject to a “type and shadows” hermeneutic.
  • The actual covenants of Scripture, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New mostly, are simply expressions of the asserted Covenant of Redemption and, therefore, are of lesser importance.

These assertions, as demonstrated beforehand, are false. The assertions are based primarily upon a contrived philosophical belief system using passages of Scripture shaped the way they want. I am glad that Covenantalists support the dire need for sound hermeneutics. I just wish they would extend that to these issues.

At this point, I want to take a bit of a break and work on a subject that will be helpful to our discussion concerning the future of Israel. It also ties the covenants discussed beforehand together. Further, this discussion will demonstrate for us a hermeneutic that is sound and supported by the Lord Himself.

We are going to discuss Daniel’s Seventy Weeks’ vision as interpreted to him by Gabriel. The passage is found in Daniel 9:24-27. This little section is so very intense in its information and intense in its implications, that it deserves treatment in this discussion. It concerns God’s timetable for Daniel’s “people and [his] holy city” (Daniel 9:24).

Daniel 9:24-27

24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Daniel is in Babylon. He has been there since the first deportation to Babylon in 605 B.C (Daniel 1:1). Daniel was approximately 15 years old when deported. He would go on to become learned in the literature and language of the Chaldeans (1:4) along with his friends. After three years of education in the Babylonian culture, they would become personal servants to the King Nebuchadnezzar (1:5).

In the first year of King Darius’ reign, Daniel had the Torah and other portions of the OT writings before him, including the writings of Jeremiah, who prophesied just prior to and during the initial years of the siege of Babylon (see Jeremiah 25:3; 32:24ff) against Jerusalem. Daniel, being broken over the condition of his people and his city, goes back to the books of the Law in order to understand what will happen with Israel. He notices in Jeremiah that the judgment of God is for seventy years-one year for each Sabbath-year they refused to follow (Daniel 9:2; cf. Jeremiah 25:11,12; 34:12-17). Calculating from the original siege 70 years, he realizes that framework of time is coming to an end. The year of Nebuchadnezzar’s first siege was 605 B.C. Seventy years from that arrives at 535 B.C. Daniel wrote this prophecy in 539 B.C. (see 9:1-2). Thus, he was nearing the end of the seventy years’ exile to Babylon. It is also historically accepted that Daniel died just before the return of the exiles. Thus, he prays to God concerning his sins and those of his people Israel. They have sinned, committed iniquity, and acted wickedly (9:5). He asks that God forgive them and consider their desolate condition (9:16-18). For His name’s sake, Daniel begs that God take action for the restoration of His people and His city (9:19). In the midst of his prayer, Gabriel attends to Daniel and teaches him what God will do with His people and His holy city.

This prophecy gives us the comprehensive picture of the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. It is vast, detailed, and accurate. Gabriel says, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city.” Remember, Daniel’s prayer was concerning God’s people and holy city (9:19). So, in response to that concern of this saint, God gives him understanding about the decree. This decree is about Israel, the nation, and the holy city, Jerusalem. It is not related to the Gentiles specifically. However, as we determined with the covenants, what happens to the nation of Israel alters the entire planet.

One note here concerning hermeneutics of this passage. Just like Daniel could read the prophet Jeremiah and understand “seventy years” as “seventy years” and not seventy ages of time or some indeterminable amount of time, so we too must see these numbers in Daniel 9:24-27 as exactly what the natural reading of the text demands-literal, plain, precise, non-figurative language.

Israel is in exile because they refused to keep the Sabbath Year. It was a part of the Law that Israel would take a year off from farming every seven years in order to refresh the land (Leviticus 25:1-8). Israel refused to do this at least 70 times during their 860 years of existence (Exodus from Egypt, 1446 B.C. to Babylonian captivity/destruction of Jerusalem, 586 B.C.). Because of this, Israel would be in exile to make up for the 70 years that they worked instead of resting from their labors (Jeremiah 34:12-17). The issue was the Sabbath-Year rest. That same motif is used in verses 24-27 as well. Before the exile, the cycle of Sabbath-Year rest was used for calculating their punishment. Post-exile, the Sabbath-Year rest would also be used to communicate their future. So, seventy “sevens,” or “periods of sevens” is in view here. Specifically, seventy periods of seven-year cycles corroborating with the Sabbath-Year rest of the Law. Further, the use of the Sabbath-Year rest as a judgment was spoken of in the Law of Moses. Moses taught in Leviticus 26:34-35

34 ‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

35 ‘All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.

 

Thus, it is completely natural to consider these as seventy cycles of seven-year periods of the Sabbath-Year instruction.

Further, at the end of the 490 years, six things will happen:

  • “To finish the transgression”: to complete the ordained transgressions of Israel.
  • “To make and end of sin”: to stop sin.
  • “To make atonement for iniquity”: to ultimately atone for Israel’s iniquity.
  • “To bring in everlasting righteousness”: to introduce the righteousness of eternity.
  • “To seal up vision and prophecy”: to end these components of God’s plan.
  • “To anoint the most holy place”: to install the most holy permanently.

Thus, the seventy sevens equaling 490 years will exist from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. At the end of such time, all six of these magnificent actions will be introduced. Obviously, that has not happened yet. We are still waiting.

Next time, we will discover more specifics about the starting point of this 490 year period and what will happen during.

Challenging Covenantalism: The True Covenantal Structure of God’s Redemptive Plan

At this point in the series, we must move to the offensive. We have been challenging Covenant Theology (CT) and attempting to show its invalidity. However, what I want to do at this point is to explain, in positive terms, what the Scripture does present as a covenantal structure of history and redemption.

I must say, first, that Scripture is not silent on these things. It is not as though the Bible does not specify clearly the covenants that it does contain. On the contrary, God has revealed them, and done so sufficiently for us to understand and appreciate. It is a falsehood to say that you must have any kind of theological structure, Covenantal or Dispensational or anything else, in order to understand the Scripture. If that were the case, how would Jesus and the apostles have handled the Prophets apart from that framework?

In the interest of maintaining this topic in one post, I will only review with the true biblical covenants with comments explaining them and their pertinence to history and/or Scripture in general. This is also a series that we are conducting at our church, Berean Bible Church of Kalispell, Montana (www.bbckalispell.org). It has been a very wonderful series that has opened our eyes to the plan for the history of the world and God’s eternal plan of redemption.

From the beginning I will say that history does not make sense unless a correct understanding of the covenants to Israel has been gleaned from Scripture. In one sense, we must be covenantal in our understanding of Scripture. However, we must get our understanding of the covenants from the Scripture itself, plainly spoken, and not our own philosophical dispositions:

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 1 Corinthians 4:6 (NASB95)

Paul and Apollos, two major preachers in the life of the Corinthian church, took the posture of slaves of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1-5). They spoke to the Corinthians in such a way that the Corinthians were capable of passing judgment upon them. However, in taking the posture of a slave and steward, Paul and Apollos (who were both capable orators and teachers), exampled the posture we should all take-we are only managers of another man’s possessions. It is not our word that we are preaching, but God’s. He has entrusted His truth to us and we dare not go beyond what has been written in it. Otherwise, if we do, we WILL become proud and boastful against one another. The church, then, will be divided into the ‘have’s and the have-not’s.’ The Corinthians are a perfect example of that kind of schism.

Therefore, by not adding nor taking away from God’s Word, we can, and must, arrive at an accurate conclusion about the truth, which CT has not done concerning the covenants.

Let’s begin with an overview of each covenant, and then we will demonstrate how they coincide.

THE COVENANTS:

The Noahic Covenant:

Genesis 9:9–11

9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;

10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.

11 “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

This covenant is the first covenant that God made with any man. This “covenant” actually reads like a promise. However, because of Noah’s sacrifice on the altar after coming after the ark, God spoke within Himself that He would never again curse the ground for man’s sake. We still live in light of this “everlasting covenant” (cf. Genesis 9:16) that God made between Himself and “every living creature” that came out of the ark “for all successive generations” (Genesis 9:12).

 

The Abrahamic Covenant:

Genesis 15:17–18 

17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.

18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,

From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

This next covenant is a focal point for the rest of the covenants. This covenant that God initiated and promised to fulfill is the foundational covenant for redemption. Its extent is vast and eternal. Further, it is built upon the promise of Genesis 12:1-3, which itself is and extension of the promise of Genesis 3:15. For our purposes, it is critical to understand that the nature of this covenant was the inheritance of the world (Romans 4:13), a world in which righteousness dwells (Hebrews 11:8-16). This covenant secured an eternal dwelling-place for the descendants of Abraham in the land outlines above. There are further components of this covenant given in the chapters following Genesis 15. However, the heart of that covenant is here. The sign of the covenant, that God would give them the land, was circumcision, which was given while Abraham was uncircumcised (Romans 4:11), thus identifying the faith that he had apart from circumcision as more “creditable” than the works of covenant-keeping (Romans 4:16-25). In this covenant, the seed of Abraham would “possess the gates of his enemies” (Genesis 22:17), which teaches us that this singular seed (Galatians 3:16) would conquer all who oppose Abraham and his descendants. By the way, the seed of Abraham would include believing biological Jews as well as believing Gentiles (Galatians 3:28-29; cf. Romans 4:16). However, that does not nullify a covenant previously ratified, e.g. the covenant of the land. Biological descendants of Abraham will receive the land which was covenanted to them. Being “in Christ” does not make that covenant based upon a promise null and void. It only secures its possibility.

 

The Mosaic Covenant:

Exodus 24:3–8

3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!”

4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.

5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord.

6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

God introduced Himself to the newly-formed Israel on Mt. Sinai as recorded in Exodus 19:16-19. Israel trembled, and rightly so. Holy God took up residence upon that mountain and would then reside in a soon-to-be-constructed Tabernacle. Because of the righteousness of God, these people needed the Law in order to live righteously before Him (Genesis 20:2). The commandments of Almighty God were given and a covenant ceremony secured this agreement between God and Israel. That day Israel, national Israel, made a covenant with God to obey all that God had commanded (Exodus 24:1-8; cf. Ex 19:8; Deuteronomy 5:27). This covenant ritual included the blood of an animal that instructed the people that if either party, God or Israel, should renege on this covenant, may what happened to this heifer happen to them. It needs to be understood that this is a binding covenant dependent upon the obedience of Israel. Just because Israel never truly accomplished this agreement, does not mean that God will simply throw it out. Otherwise, God’s integrity is at risk because not only did Israel make a covenant to God, but God made a covenant to Israel!  Further, as part of the Law, the day that Israel repents from her sins and confesses their iniquity and the iniquities of their fathers, is the day that God will enact the covenant based upon the promise to Abraham (Leviticus 26:40-46). This is why Jesus came preaching repentance (Matthew 4:17). Until Israel repents and submits to God, that they might be God’s people and He their God in reconciliation, none of the covenanted promises which were given to Abraham will occur. So, we wait for God’s nation (Deuteronomy 7:6-9) to repent. However, since they can’t repent and “circumcise their hearts",” God must do it, and He will (see Deuteronomy 30:6).

 

Priestly Covenant:

Numbers 25:10–13

The Zeal of Phinehas

10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.

12 “Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace;

13 and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’ ”

Phinehas, a grandson of Aaron, checked God’s wrath against sinning Israel by killing two people in the midst of their sin (Numbers 25:6-9). This zeal was commendable. In fact, because of this zeal, God made a covenant with Phinehas to have one of his descendants serve Him in the Temple forever (Number 25:10-13). God also confirms this in the Millennial Temple with a descendent of Zadok, himself a descendant of Phinehas (1 Chronicles 6:48-53), serving as High Priest (Ezekiel 40:46; 43:19; 48:11) and will be eternally fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:3).

Davidic Covenant:

2 Samuel 7:16

16 “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ”

The line of the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) continues and includes David of Bethlehem. David, replacing the enigmatic Saul, as king of Israel, had it in his heart to build a permanent dwelling place for God (2 Samuel 7:1-2; cf. 1 Chronicles 17:1). However, God’s plan did not include that kind of Temple, which is made with human hands (cf. 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Isaiah 66:1). Instead, God communicated to David, through the prophet Nathan, that He, Himself, would establish a “house” for David. this house would include the eternal lineage of the name of David, as well as the Davidic Dynasty, including his throne and nation (kingdom-2 Samuel 7:13, 16). That is to say, the place of rulership over a nation called Israel would be secured for eternity (see Genesis 35:10-12). So, this establishes forever the nation of Israel, as well as a “throne” which God Himself will establish. That indicates that the rulership of a Son of David will continue eternally upon a throne over the nation of Israel, and they themselves would possess all the gates of their enemies (Genesis 22:17-18). Further, that Son, being also the seed of Abraham, will rule over not only Israel, but also the world (see Romans 4:13). Again, God made a covenant with Israel to be their God, and they His people forever. Their dwelling-place is secure, regardless of the turmoil in the Middle East. God is righteous and has promised and covenanted that the nation of Israel will dwell before Him forever and He will not change (Psalm 89:30-37). Jesus Christ Himself is that Son of David who will reign upon that throne from Jerusalem forever (Luke 1:32-33; cf. Revelation 21:10-22:5).

New Covenant:

Jeremiah 31:31–34 

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Finally, God’s redemptive plans are consummated by the promise of a New Covenant to the house of Israel. Remember, all these covenants are interwoven, not separate. That is, they build upon one another. However, all of them depend upon this New Covenant to begin their fulfillment. Why? Because, in order for the Abrahamic Covenant based upon the promise of restored Edenic conditions, which itself is the reversal of the curse upon the earth (Genesis 3:17; see esp. Romans 8:19-22), Israel must repent and have their hearts circumcised. Then, they will obey God’s statutes and ordinances (see Ezekiel 36:27). However, since they are not able to regenerate themselves, it would seem impossible for these blessings to come to fruition. To God’s glory, though, God Himself will institute a New Covenant that will accomplish a new heart and new spirit for the house of Israel. The Lamb slaughtered to inaugurate this covenant is none other than God’s own Son (Luke 22:19-20). Israel’s greatest need is what God will provide, and thus will bless the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:8). They will look upon Him whom they have pierced (Acts 2:22-23) and will have the Spirit of supplication poured out upon them and thus all biological, national, Israel will be saved (see Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:26). This will display the power of God and thus God’s name will be vindicated among the nations for His work with the salvation of the entire nation of Israel (see Ezekiel 36:21-32). To deny the forgiveness of sins of the entire nation of biological Jews is to serious defame the power of God and to blaspheme His righteous character. He will do it, whether we believe it or not.

I will leave us to review this information from the Scripture. All that I ask is that the Word of God be examined to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11).

The Future And The Gospel.

Current Evangelicalism’s understanding of the gospel is shallow at best. Is it any wonder that that is the case when speaking of the gospel, we usually hear something like this, “Trust Jesus as Savior”, or, “Invite Jesus into your heart.” What is interesting about these appeals is that they are not truly biblical concepts. Certainly, we are to trust in the Lord, and certainly we are to call upon the name of the Lord. However, these formulas are not referring to that. They are often, if not always, understood and presented as a kind of mantra that is repeated in hopes that Jesus will respond in like manner and obey. Further, oftentimes we make a certain distinction between the gospel and future things. Again, this is superficial, arbitrary, and unbiblical. To distance the future of the world from the gospel itself is to have a shallow view of the gospel. In this post, I hope to demonstrate that the gospel is brought to fulfillment in the events that will take place yet to come. To separate the two, the gospel and eschatological events, is short-sighted.

To begin, turn to Galatians 3:8. Paul writes a very amazing thing here that serves as our starting point.

      8      The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”

This Scripture is interesting on many levels. First of all, the Scripture is the preacher. Second, the justification of the Gentiles was a foundational component of the Abrahamic promise/blessing. That is fascinating in light of the fact that oftentimes the Jews of the OT are seen hating the Gentiles. Did they forget/disregard God’s promise to justify them? But, for our purposes here, Paul makes a correlation between the Abrahamic promise and the gospel that I don’t hear in many evangelistic sermons. The proclamation of the gospel to Abraham is summed up by Paul (and Moses, for that matter) as, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” This reference is from Genesis 12:3. It is the foundation of the Hebrew nation in that it is from this promise and subsequent covenant that the nation is formed. The Jews were not delivered from Egypt, and consequently made their own Theocratic nation because they were wonderful people (see Deuteronomy 7:7). He chose them and delivered them because He had made a covenant with Abraham, based upon the promise of Genesis 12:3, and God cannot break His covenant, although Israel did (see Deuteronomy 7:8). This blessing that God promised to all the nations through Abraham is summed up by Paul as justification by faith. What that means is, the calling, sanctification, regeneration, glorification (all OT terms by the way), which is what we all understand as the benefits of the gospel, are bound up in Genesis 12:3.

But what else does it mean, especially in regards to future things? The promise of God is that He will restore Israel as a demonstration of His perfect ability to keep His promise, in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness and rebellion. That restoration of Israel is promised and prophesied and will come to pass. Isaiah prophesied,

         1      The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
         2      Now it will come about that
      In the last days
      The mountain of the house of the LORD
      Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
      And will be raised above the hills;
      And all the nations will stream to it.
            3      And many peoples will come and say,
      “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
      To the house of the God of Jacob;
      That He may teach us concerning His ways
      And that we may walk in His paths.”
      For the law will go forth from Zion
      And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
            4      And He will judge between the nations,
      And will render decisions for many peoples;
      And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
      Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
      And never again will they learn war.

Is 2:1–4 (cf. Micah 4:1-5).

Joel writes,

         1      “For behold, in those days and at that time,
      When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
            2      I will gather all the nations
      And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
      Then I will enter into judgment with them there
      On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
      Whom they have scattered among the nations;
      And they have divided up My land.
            3      “They have also cast lots for My people,
      Traded a boy for a harlot
      And sold a girl for wine that they may drink.

Joel 3:1–3.

 

The entire chapter of Zechariah 14 is a prophecy concerning the Lord’s judgment on the nations that attack Jerusalem and the restoration of the earth so that Israel will prosper, according to His covenant with them.

All of this (and the entire literature of the prophets lists all these things in detail and with tremendous clarity) is a result of the promise to Abraham, “In you all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” Paul writes in Romans 11:11-12, with exclamation, “

   11      I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 
   12      Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

Israel has rejected their Messiah. That has lead to Christ being preached among the Gentiles exclusively (as per the Abrahamic promise). However, there is coming a time when they, Israel, will not reject her King but will bow down Him (Romans 11:25-27)! In that day, according to the prophets, all the world will be affected. The earth will be leveled, Jerusalem will be raised up higher, all the nations will be subjected to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and judge by Him, and worship will once again resume in the Temple (see Zechariah 14). All of this because God promised to bless Israel and the nations through Abraham (since Israel is a nation of the earth which is included in the “all nations” of Genesis 12:3).

If, then, the gospel is Genesis 12:3, as Paul says it is, then I would have to conclude that the gospel of Jesus Christ has eschatological ramifications! We cannot separate the gospel from future events. In doing so will do damage to the gospel, and thus the promise of God.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: