Abraham And The Land Promised
The subject seems so familiar to Bible readers. Need it be considered again?
It is always timely to examine Scripture, to look closely at God's words, and determine again if previous conclusions be approved. Sometimes incorrect opinions on points only incidental to the overall plan of God may result in a distorted view of the divine purpose.
Is not the harmonization of Scripture with Scripture the way to learn what is truth?
Yes, and that is why it is important that each conclusion be as taught by Scripture. Minor elements in a system of interpretation may, under fresh examination, be found in need of modification. Careful consideration in study is essential because each element of doctrine is a component in the whole. Each student has the responsibility to carefully search Scripture and context.
Is it possible that something as simple as God's promises to Abraham regarding the land may be misunderstood?
Yes, it is possible. In studying this subject, what Abraham himself understood should receive close attention. We should examine everything that God promised regarding the land. The first revealment to Abraham of God's purpose was when he lived in Chaldea. The record of that is in Genesis 12:1. After he came into a land which would be shown him, God would do certain things. The record of what God first said to Abraham regarding the land is in verse 7. "Unto thy seed will I give this land."
But is it not frequently heard that God promised to give the land to Abraham himself as a personal possession?
It may be often heard, but that does not make it a truth. As quoted above, God first promised to give the land to his seed, not to Abraham himself. And the LORD reminded Israel of this just before Moses died. It is recorded in Deut. 34:4. "This is the land which I sware unto Abraham,...saying, I will give it unto thy seed."
Did Abraham ever believe that he personally would both control and live in the land?
There is no indication in the Bible that he did. Abraham would have understood every subsequent assurance regarding the land as in accordance with the first promise. The first repetition of the land promise was shortly after Lot separated from Abraham. There was at that time good reason to restate it. Even though Lot made choice of part of the promised land, this did not affect God's promise. The promise to give it to Abraham was firm. "For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever...for I will give it unto thee." (Gen. 13:15,17) Lot was to receive no part of it.
But does not that plainly say that God would 'give' the land to Abraham?
Yes, the English word 'give' does appear. But when the Hebrew word translated 'give' is considered, what God said is harmonious with all other statements on the subject. Nahthan, Strong #5414, is used over 2000 times in the Old Testament, translated into at least 63 different English words or phrases, among which are: assign, ascribe, bestow, give, put down, make it over. It is this word for 'give' that is used in all of God's promises to Abraham regarding the land. It is often used with a meaning other than to give something for a personal possession.
In view of that, is it proper to say that God 'gave' the land to Abraham?
Indeed it is, and the Bible says that in so many words, as will soon be noted. But that does not say the land would sometime be owned, controlled and lived in by Abraham personally. The statement, "to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever...for I will give it unto thee," is not a change. God assigned the land to Abraham and his line, and when he died its assignment was to his seed.
What was the situation at the next repetition of the promise of the land?
Abraham was concerned because he had no seed, no son, to whom the land promised would come in due time. His advanced age made him wonder if God purposed that his heir be a man born in his house, though not his own offspring. But God did not purpose such an arrangement. "This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 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. And he believed in the LORD, and He counted it to him for righteousness. And He said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it."--Gen. 15:4-7
Doesn't this say the land would be given to Abraham?
Yes, but it does not say that Abraham himself would come into control and occupancy as a possessor of the land. As noted above, 'give' means that God would assign, ascribe, bestow, put down, make it over to Abraham on behalf of his seed, which would be numerous.--Gen. 12:2, 13:16, 15:5
So Abraham would not come into it himself personally, as owner, inheritor, though it was for him "to inherit it"?
That is correct, and the events of that day make evident that Abraham then, as well as before, did not expect to ever occupy the land as personal controller and possessor. God had in view the promised posterity. Abraham's response--"whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?"--should be viewed in the light of the promise and his faith that his seed would become a multitude.
In this connection, remember the testimony to Abraham's faith in that promise and its importance to Christians. "And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness...For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness...Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed [counted] to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead." (Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:3,23,24) Paul also pointed out to the Romans, many of whom were Gentiles, that the blessedness of faith justification came to Abraham when he was yet uncircumcized.--Rom. 4:9-13
Does Scripture elsewhere use the faith of uncircumcized Abraham as an encouragement to Gentiles?
Yes, in his discussion in Gal. 3:1-14 Paul mentions God's promise to Abraham first seen in Gen. 12:3 that "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Abraham was then uncircumcized as well as without the law; thus Paul wrote that his justification was by faith, not by works. Paul wrote to Galatian Gentiles, who were also without law, showing from God's justification of uncircumcized Abraham that their justification was similarly through faith.--Gal. 3:8
What was the next repetition of the promise of the land?
Before going to that, two other points could be considered. God likened the number of Abraham's seed to the dust of the earth in Gen. 13:16, to the stars in Gen. 15:5, and to stars and sand in Gen. 22:17. Every time Abraham's seed is compared to the heavenly stars, the word number, multitude, or multiply appears, indicating the meaning God wished to convey. See Gen. 15:5, 22:17, 26:4, Ex. 32:13, Deut. 1:10, 10:22, 28:62, I Chron. 27:23, Neh. 9:23, Jer. 33:22, Heb. 11:12.
'Sand' is used to denote a multitude or large quantity: of corn, enemy soldiers, wisdom, camels, Philistines, feathered fowl, enemies, and God's thoughts, as well as Abraham's seed. See Gen. 41:49, Joshua 11:4, Judges 7:12, I Sam. 13:5, II Sam. 11:11, I Kings 4:20, 4:29, Job 29:18, Psa. 78:27, 139:18, Isa. 10:22, 48:19, Jer. 15:8, 33:22, Hosea 1:10, Hab. 1:9, Rom. 9:27, Heb. 11:12, Rev. 20:8. 'Dust' is used three times to illustrate the number of Israel. See Gen. 28:14, Num. 23:10, I Chron. 1:9. Gen. 32:12 shows Jacob claimed to himself, no doubt because he was Abraham's grandson and heir, God's promise that his seed would be made "as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude." God's words to Jacob: "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. 28:13
Does Scripture indicate that 'the stars of heaven' are symbolic of the heavenly phase of God's kingdom?
There is no Bible statement to that effect. Heb. 11:12 indicates that both stars and sand represent a multitude, agreeing with Old Testament usage. Ministers are always fewer in number than those ministered to, and the reigning ministry is always fewer than the ruled. Moses likened the number of Israel to "the stars of heaven" when they were gathered "on this side Jordan, in the land of Moab" before they entered the land promised. There is no basis for thinking that stars, sand, and dust represent three antitypical classes.
What is the second point now to be discussed?
Just noted was the special blessing accounted to Abraham because he 'believed' that his seed would be many, even though as yet he had no heir. This impressed the need of the land promised, but he lacked certain knowledge regarding its inheritance. So he asked for a sign. "Lord God, whereby shall ['how may'--NAS] I know that I shall inherit it?"--Gen. 15:5-8
How did the LORD respond to this question?
Very dramatically. Abraham was instructed to select three mature animals each three years old, and two birds (of the kind later required of Israel to offer in sacrifice), and arrange them in a covenant-making ceremony not uncommon in those days. (Jer. 34:18) The animals were "divided" [Strong #1334, "to chop up"; Brown--"cut in two"] "and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not." In past ages, God often represented His presence in fiery things or places (Exod. 3:2, 13:21, 19:18), and here God's presence was represented by "a smoking furnace and a burning lamp that passed between the pieces." Only God is represented as passing between the pieces because He was the one covenanting. The events assured Abraham that his seed should inherit the land promised, and the animals involved provide an intimation of God's future covenant relationship with that seed.
Before God's presence was manifested, birds of prey came down upon the carcases, perhaps symbolic of the dangers that would threaten the covenant. These were driven off by Abraham, perhaps foreshadowing faith in and compliance with the divine program by his heirs who were eventually to receive the land promised. "And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him." This experience would have prepared Abraham to learn of the four-generation delay and of his seed's extended affliction, particulars apparently imparted during or immediately following that sleep.--Gen. 15:9-21
Is any chronology represented in the details of the ritual?
Probably not, although some have extrapolated from the numbers a representation of millenniums. We may be sure of the plainly stated 400 years, and of "in the fourth generation." The message is simple. "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land..." Then He defined the boundaries. The promise regarding the land is the same as in Gen. 12:7. The only time God covenanted regarding the land, he said "Unto thy seed have I given this land."--Gen. 15:18
What was the next reference to the land?
The third reassurance pertaining to the land is in Gen. 17. The opening words suggest that God was about to invite Abraham's cooperation in a solemn undertaking. The instruction came after Abraham for 24 years had done all that God asked. But now the LORD admonished him to "walk before Me, and be thou perfect," that is, be upright, sincere, completely fulfill my requirements.
Wait a moment. That sounds like God is requiring something of Abraham. But some teach that God's covenant with Abraham was unconditional.
Regardless, the covenant with Abraham was surely conditional. The fulfillment of God's promises depended on obedience. Abraham was required to leave 1) his country, 2) his kindred, and 3) his father's house, and 4) move "into a land that I will shew thee." (Gen. 12:1) He must 5) move throughout the land, Gen. 13:17. He became father of the faithful because he believed in faith and acted on that faith, as must Christian believers if they are to be blessed. And now the LORD is laying before Abraham further promises, the fulfillment of which require that he 6) "walk before Me, and be thou perfect." His name is now changed from Abram to "Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee." Then God reaffirmed the land promise. "And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God," God to thy seed.--Gen. 17:1-8
Were there any other conditions in God's dealing with Abraham?
Yes, 7) fleshly circumcision was mandatory, symbolic of the godly devotion of a circumcized heart. (Gen. 17:9-14, 23-27) Without heart circumcision none of Abraham's posterity would be recognized as his seed. Furthermore, Abraham must 8) "command his children and his household after him, and 9) they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him." (Gen. 18:19) The instruction of Moses in Deut. 16:18-21 indicates that Abraham was obedient in this. And 10) having obeyed the LORD's instruction to offer Isaac in Moriah, God testified that because Abraham did that, He swore by Himself that He would bless.--Gen. 22:1, 16-18
Does not Gen. 17:8 say that the land would be given to Abraham's seed "for an everlasting possession"?
Yes it does, and it is the first of the Bible's three uses of Hebrew for 'everlasting possession'. (Gen. 48:4, Lev. 25:34) Some teach that Jews today occupy the land toward fulfillment of that original promise. But the promise does not support that idea. 'Everlasting' is from the Hebrew olam, Strong #5769. Strong's definition: "prop. concealed, i.e. the vanishing point; gen. time out of mind (past or future)..." Gesenius' definition: "pr. what is hidden; specially hidden time, long; the beginning or end of which is either uncertain or else not defined;..." Olam has been used to express time of vastly different lengths. Eternity is one of its meanings. But it is also used to describe the length of a man's servitude, of a woman's pregnancy; the longevity of a king; the time preceding an individual's repentance, of rejoicing in song, of obedience; the duration of enmity between nations, of the Levitical priesthood.
In light of both the meaning and usage of olam, God's promise that Canaan would be given to Abraham's seed for ever, that is, as "an everlasting possession," cannot be understood as meaning that, once given, it would belong to Abraham's fleshly seed for all time, nor even from age to age. It meant that it would be given to Abraham's seed for as long as they were worthy to have it.
The termination of that "everlasting possession" became clear to Israel when its end was reached. Canaan was both given to and lost by Abraham's fleshly line. None should conclude from the promise of Gen. 17:8 that God obligated Himself to restore to fleshly Israel as an everlasting possession land once their's but which their progenitors lost through unfaithfulness.
But doesn't that explanation diminish the promise?
Not at all. Those to whom the promise was made understood the meaning. The importance of the promise is not affected. The continuance of Israel's blessing was conditional upon their faith and behavior. This was further indicated just a few days after God promised Abraham's seed "all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession." Before Sarah conceived, God expressed to a faithful servant His appraisal of Abraham. Words in that narrative indicate the condition upon which God would give the land to Abraham's seed 'after him'. "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him." (Gen. 18:19) God had said that He would 1) "give unto thee and to thy seed after thee, all the land of Canaan, 2) for an everlasting possession; and 3) I will be their God."--Gen. 17:8
So what exactly is the condition in the statement in Gen. 18:19?
There are two: "that Abraham would command his children and his household after him"; and that "they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment." The blessings depended upon both requirements being met. Divine foreknowledge saw that Abraham would teach his children to, and that at least a remnant would do justice and judgment. The majority in Israel failed to do justice and judgment, despite the instruction of Abraham and Moses. It must therefore be concluded that only the faith seed, those who have the faith of Abraham, are his children. No doubt Jesus had in mind those words which Abraham heard, when He taught in John 8:33-39: "I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but...If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham."
Gen. 18:19 means that for the LORD to "bring upon Abraham that which God had spoken of him" his children must keep "the way of the LORD." The fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham was contingent upon his seed having a faith deserving of reward. The importance of this verse is its teaching that faith is essential to the fulfillment of God's promises to His people.
Who should be understood as Abraham's promised seed?
Abraham's promised seed and the antitypical Isaac is Christ Jesus Himself, without whom there could be no salvation, no resurrection, and no blessing. Heb. 11:19 indicates that Abraham was so fully involved in obeying God's instruction to slay Isaac, that when he was stopped, "he received him in a figure" as from the dead. Isaac, in whom Abraham's seed shall be called, pictured Christ Jesus raised from death by God's power. God foresaw the continual chain of faith which would reach even unto and motivate Jesus to offer Himself. Upon His sacrifice depended the eventual bringing "upon Abraham that which God had spoken of him." Peter's testimony soon after Pentecost affirms that Jesus is Abraham's promised seed.--Acts 3:25,26
In Gal. 3:16,19,24, Paul emphasizes that Abraham's promised seed is Christ. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." "Which is Christ" states Paul's understanding of whom God meant by "And to thy seed." The Law Covenant was added to the experiences of the children of Israel "until the seed should come to whom it has been promised." "The law has become a trainer of us to Christ, in order that by faith we might be justified."
Is anyone else part of "Abraham's seed" which God said shall "bless all the families of the earth"?
Yes, all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, having been baptized into Christ, having put on Christ, if being Christ's, are "Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:26-29) The Apostle also teaches in Rom. 4:16,18 that faithful believers in Jesus are Abraham's seed. These passages help make plain the obscure promises of Messiah's seed in Isa. 53:10,12 and 59:20,21. God promised Abraham regarding Sarah that "nations" and "kings of people shall be of her." (Gen. 17:16) Inasmuch as Isaac is also referred to in the statement, the nations and kings refer to either the 12 tribes or their two kingdoms, and their respective kings. Represented among the "nations" from the spiritual point of view would be the firstfruit believers since Pentecost which I Pet. 2:9 calls "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people." They are the "children of promise" mentioned in Gal. 4:27,28.
What is the significance of other promises in Genesis 17?
In verses 4-6 God assured Abraham that "my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations"; "a father of many nations have I made thee"; "I will make nations of thee"; "kings shall come out of thee." These expressions reveal that Abraham was the "heir of the world." It should be noted that this conclusion, expressed by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 4:13-18, is based on the same principle which directs that God's promise to give the land unto Abraham was fulfilled by its being given unto his seed. All eventual inheritors of life would have Abraham's faith. The intimation is that all who possess the same faith as Abraham will yet be so numerous as to possess all the earth.
What did Stephen understand regarding God's promise to Abraham of the land?
Stephen perceived why Abraham insisted on buying land in which to bury his wife Sarah. Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah as a testimony of instruction to his seed. His purchase testified to succeeding generations that the inheritance did not come in Abraham's lifetime, so his seed would confidently expect to possess Canaan. (Acts 7:5,6) Moses in particular anticipated the promise. It was the information in Gen. 15:8-21 which prompted his premature action recorded in Exod. 2:11-15. Stephen referred to it in Acts 7:17. "But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt." 'Promise' here refers to God's pledge that the land would be given "for an everlasting possession." Stephen realized that Abraham had no thought of later receiving it himself, for it had already been 'given' to him.
What further evidence is there that Abraham believed the land had already been given to him?
When Isaac sent Jacob to Padan-aram in search of a wife, he assured Jacob that he would inherit the land "which God gave unto Abraham." (Gen. 28:4) That reveals Isaac's understanding that God had given it to Abraham, and where did he learn it but from the father commanded to instruct his son "in the way of the LORD." Being the link between Abraham and Jacob, it is evident that Isaac considered the land had already been given to himself too, though he continued but a stranger in it.
One night during his journey, Jacob in a dream heard the LORD identify Himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac, and promise "the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." (Gen. 28:13-15) When the LORD instructed Jacob to return to Canaan, God himself called Canaan "the land of thy fathers." (Gen. 31:3) The plural 'fathers' surely must have meant Abraham and Isaac. And when Jacob had come out of Syria, God said to him, "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." (Gen. 35:10-12) Inasmuch as Jacob must surely have known of the prophesied 400 years, he would have believed God's gift to him of the land would be in the same manner as it had been given to his fathers. His commandment regarding burial of his bones in the field of Machpelah left the same testimony of faith and instruction to his seed as did Abraham's purchase of it.--Gen. 49:29- 32, Heb. 11:22
What Bible testimony is there that God fulfilled His promise to Abraham regarding the land?
Several passages affirm that God gave the land to Abraham's seed through Isaac and Jacob. The first is in Joshua 21:43,44. "And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein." "Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof." (Joshua 23:14) Solomon acknowledged that "there hath not failed one word of all His good promise."--I Kings 8:36,48,56
More than a thousand years after God's promise in Gen. 15:18, and in direct reference to it, a chorus of Levites in Jerusalem raised a loud prayer. It was just after the rebuilding of the city walls was finished. "Thou foundest [Abraham's] heart faithful before Thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land...to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed Thy words." (Neh. 9:7,8) Those words refer back to Josh. 21:43,44, and acknowledge that God's promise had been fulfilled centuries earlier. The Levites were not proclaiming that their return indicated God's performance of His promise to Abraham. See Neh. 9:9-38.
Why did God dispossess Israel of the land given them "for an everlasting possession"?
Because of their uncircumcized hearts. They despised God's statutes, abhored His judgments, broke His commandments, and ignored their covenant. They walked contrary to the Lord, polluted the land, did not give it rest, and were not reformed by His punishments.
But was it not impossible for imperfect people to keep perfectly the law of commandments?
Of course it was impossible, and God foreknew that they would not keep it perfectly. He desired them to walk before Him in faith and serve Him diligently. This had been expressed by Moses. "What doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul...Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Deut. 10:11-16) That is an expanded expression of God's requirement of Abraham: "walk before Me, and be thou perfect...keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment."--Gen. 17:1, 18:19, Micah 6:6,8, Deut. 16:18-21.
Are we to understand that this was within their ability?
Yes, it surely was, as Moses himself said. "For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it...That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."--Deut. 30:11-20
So God did not require perfection of them to continue in His providence and care, and remain in the land?
Clearly not. And the Lord does not require actual perfection of thought, word, and deed of believers in Christ, either. But each sincere Christian makes diligent effort through confession of sin and purging of conscience to seek God's forgiveness through Christ, that the earthly body and faculties may be in subjection. Paul realized how appropriate were the words of Moses for both Jews and Gentiles of his day. In Romans 10:6-13 he quotes from that Deuteronomy exhortation.
Was return from captivity in Babylon by members of the twelve tribes in fulfillment of any promise?
Yes, it was. God promised that return by the mouth of almost every prophet. Three chapters in Deuteronomy need examination to gather the counsel of Moses on that subject. Promises are seen in Deut. 28:1-14 to an Israel that would "hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God." Verses 15-68 prophesy punishment "if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God." The seriousness of their covenant with God is noted in Deut. 29:1-17, and the curses to come if they would not hearken are reviewed in verses 18-28. Their overthrow and captivity came because they would not.
The next chapter records a promise of return to their land if they repent, circumcize their hearts, and worship the LORD in the land of their captivity. "It shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 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...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."--Deut. 30:1-5
Would the LORD fulfill that promise more than once?
There is no intimation that He would. God makes specific promises, and He fulfills every one He makes. Particularly note the one quoted above, Deut. 30:1-5. It contains no suggestion that Israel would again receive the land "as an everlasting possession." Moses looked ahead to their one 'everlasting possession' of the land, referring to those then to enter Canaan as 'fathers' of those whom God would later "have compassion upon."
The promise to give the land "as an everlasting [Hebrew olam, age-lasting] possession" to the "seed" was made to both Abraham and Jacob." (Gen. 17:8, 48:4) God kept that promise, but Israel lost their land through disrespect and idolatry. After their return they were as "servants in it" (Neh. 9:36), a subject people. They remained so until the destruction of the temple and the passing away of the Levitical priesthood and Judaistic system. Their national rejection was prophesied by Jesus in Matt. 23:35-39. Verse 38 is commonly misquoted. He said in all finalty, "Behold, your house is left [abandoned] unto you." There is no Greek equivalent in the passage for 'desolate'. The generation then living witnessed the end of God's special dealing with fleshly Israel.
Are the Jews still God's favored, covenant people?
Not since the Law Age heavens and earth passed away. (Heb. 1:10-12, Psa. 102:25-28, Isa. 50:1-3, 51:6) God had known only them "of all the families of the earth," and He punished them for their iniquities. (Amos 3:2) Because they were stiffnecked and uncircumcized of heart, God reminded them that He was "a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward." "Will He regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts." "Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him." "For there is no respect of persons with God." (Deut. 10:17, Mal. 1:8, Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11) In connection with this question, please consider again suggestions on Gal. 3:8,9 in this folder on panel three.
Most prophecies written before or during the captivity promised the regathering of Israel to the land. It is believed that only Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were written after the return. They are rich with promise of the blessings into which we and all Christians since Pentecost have entered.
Some readers may agree with the foregoing expressions, while some may be startled at hearing views not familiar in their fellowship. They have been put forth in positive tone to manifest how clearly Scripture presents its message. If every element does not harmonize with an accustomed belief, let each one examine the Word and implement whatever adjustments one's Bible study may direct. Request other papers which consider the abundant prophetic testimony describing the spiritual realities which have opened under the king promised to sit upon David's throne.
How readest thou? It is probable that additional close readings of the foregoing suggestions with careful consideration of every Bible passage cited will bring a deeper understanding of the thoughts presented. Only when the viewpoints are fully understood is one in a position to properly evaluate whether or not they be true.
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