Overview of topics will be addressed
This very interesting Bible-study I composed in response to what others have taught me. Only the part Israel-Church is the result of my own thinking.
- THE PATRIARCHS
God gave the patriarchs promises:
- national and international growth. " I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands."
- spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ. "and through your offspring (seed-K.J.V.cf.Gal 3:16,27) all nations on earth will be blessed."
The promises are to be separated in:
- Right of Firstbourne and
- The scepter
After Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the promises that have to do with his birthright and the promises associated with the scepter passed to different people.
Understanding these promises is very important. Many prophecies can only be properly understood if one examines the promises well.
- THE NATIONAL START
The people of Israel begins its national existence in the land of Canaan. The twelve tribes are one people.
- THE DIVISION IN THE TWO NATIONS
After a time of judges and prophets the people want a king. After Saul David and Solomon were kings. Because Solomon's 'heart was averted from the Lord' God punished him by tearing the kingdom from him, his son only got one tribe to govern. This division of the empire was in 931 BC. From that time there were two nations, each with its own king, each with its own government.
The largest nation was Israel. The smallest: Judah.
- THE END OF ISRAEL
After 18 kings, the latter is Hosea, the ten tribes were taken away in exile. The Assyrians took them in 722 BC. into their own country.
- THE TEMPORARY END OF JUDAH
Approximately 120 years after Israel is removed in exile, Nebuchadnezzar takes the Jews in exile. At the time of the Babylonian exile, there were three prophets who spoke the words that God gave them to speak. Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Especially the last two have passed prophecies of great interest for our study.
The last king, of the line Judah-David, appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, was Zedekiah. After him there is no king on the throne of David, despite an unbreakable covenant that God concluded with David.
After 70 years of exile, as Jeremiah had prophesied, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem.
- THE DISPERSION OF THE JEWS
In 70 AD. the Jews were defeated by the Roman 10th legion. The temple was destroyed as Jesus had prophesied, and the people were scattered across the earth.
- THE RETURN OF THE JEWS
In 1948 the returned Jews (re) established the nation Israel.
- THE RETURN OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
The people of Israel, the ten tribes, will, as Jesus comes back, return to the land that God gave them. "'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.
I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms."
- THE RELATIONSHIP: ISRAEL-CHURCH
The natural "old" people of Israel has a certain relationship to the church. How is that relationship now? And how will that relationship be?
God's way with Israel
In the following Bible study we will examine God's way with Israel in more detail. Not only as it was to Jesus' arrival on Earth, but we also will see that God, after Jesus ascended to heaven still continues with Israel.
Israel occupies a special place with God. It is a nation which He has given many promises. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans some important things about the Israelites.
"...the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, for ever praised! Amen."
"I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!"
"...but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,
'for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."
Israel has not been disposed by God! God has a comprehensive plan with the world, but particularly with Israel. But is it not true that the church is now spiritual Israel? Are the promises not passed to us?
On these questions we will try to get some answers in the this Bible study. But in this introduction, I would make a few things clear in advance. Nowhere in the Bible we can read that Israel is replaced by the Christians in God's plans. We became part of God's plans. In Ephesians 2, Paul explains that the Gentiles, and biblically seen that are us, were previously excluded from the citizenship of Israel. We were without hope and without God. But through Christ Jesus we are no longer excluded. He has made Jew and gentile one.
"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (the Jews) (that done in the body by the hands of men)--
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you (gentiles) who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by wich he put to death their hostility"
Paul says this not only to the Ephesians, he writes the same, albeit in other words, to the Romans in the eleventh chapter:
Romans 11:17, 23 and 25-26
If some of the branches have been broken off (Israelites), and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches!... (23) And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again... (25-26) I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
The Deliverer will come from Zion
He will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them,
when I take away their sins."
Paul writes this after the Savior appeared. Jesus was already in the world. If Paul quotes this in Romans 11 that way, then that means that this prophecy refers to the coming of the Redeemer. That is when he comes back as King. Then God will remove their sins. The natural people Israel must exist when Jesus returns. So, Israel is fully involved with God's Kingdom on earth.
The believers from the Gentiles, the Christians, are made one with the believers of the people of Israel. Previously we were far away from everything that was given to Israel. We lived without hope of eternal life and without God. But now we are made one, in Christ Jesus, with Israel. The promises and covenants that God had given to Israel are now also for us. When we want to understand those promises and covenants, then we should be studying the history of Israel.
That history begins with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God has given them promises, which are of great importance to the people of Israel and thus also for us. These promises and covenants have often other fulfillments to us, Christians, than for Israel. When we want to understand well what those promises and covenants, given to Israel, mean to us, we have to study them.
Another point which will be raised is: The distinction between Judah and Israel. It is very common in the Bible that God speaks to Israel and separately to Judah. If we do not understand why God does this, then many of the prophecies are difficult to understand.
"The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.""
With this section of the Bible in fact the history of the people of Israel begins. And to get an idea how important this people is in God's eyes, look to Bible. We see how the Lord describes 2000 years of history in ten pages (Genesis 1-11). Ten pages are devoted to history prior to the emergence and existence of the people of Israel. Then comes the main part of the Bible, (that is over 1000 pages), and we then we speak only about what we call the Old Testament. And in those thousand pages, the story is told of God's act with the people of Israel. But even in the latter, thin piece of the Bible, the so-called New Testament, the greatest part is about the Jews. But the whole story starts in Genesis 12.
God calls Abram to build him to a great people. Abram will be the ancestor of the people later called Israel. Not only of Israel Abraham will be the ancestor, but of a crowd of people. So God changes Abram's name to Abraham.
Genesis 17:1-8 (Please read)
"and God said to him,
4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. "
To Abraham and his descendants were given all the promises of God. About the first two promises, we just read in the first three verses of Genesis 12. God does in fact two promises to Abraham:
- " I will make nations of you...."
This is a promise for his offspring, a natural promise.
- "...and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
The words: "through you", are completed in Genesis 22:18 with: "your seed". (K.J.V.)
If we compare this text with Galatians 3:16, we see that this is a spiritual promise.
"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:29)
A SPIRITUAL AND A NATURAL PROMISE
The spiritual promise, as read in Galatians 3:29, is known by almost all Christians. And they have no difficulty to see the spiritual aspect. But the first promise, the natural, is often overlooked.
Maybe you say, just as I did, why is the first promise natural? Can't it also easily be interpreted spiritually? Yes, you would have thought that the great people is the church of Jesus Christ. But a further investigation of the promises, especially those which were given to Isaac and Jacob, and through them were passed to their children, it is clear that this still is a natural promise. Even before Abraham's son is blessed, it is clear that this is a natural promise. When Abraham was 99 years old. God said to him:
'...You will be the father of many nations,"
It will be clear that these many nations are not the single seed.
Verse 6 says it even clearer:
" I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you."
The scattered, individual Christians are not nations.
But doesn't Peter says that we are a holy nation? Let's just read what Peter says.
l Peter 2:9
'But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..."
Do we read here that the church is divided into "many nations"? No, the church is one holy nation!
But nevertheless God gives promises to Abraham and He blessed him with the words: "You will be the father of many nations." This is a promise that in a natural way will be met. What God promised to the patriarchs is important for many people (nations), although it is about natural promises.
God also gave a spiritual promise, the promise of grace by the "one seed" Jesus the Messiah. The only hope of life after death for everyone, regardless of race, color or religion is the spiritual part of the promises.
Both the natural and the spiritual promises must be well understood to understand the Bible better. And if we understand the Bible better, we will better understand God. And as we understand God better than He can also use us better in the implementation of His plans.
GOD'S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
Abraham did obey God's call: "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. He trusted God that He would fulfill the promises. The natural and the spiritual promise.
Later, when Abraham was tested by God, when Abraham had to sacrifice his son Isaac, God confirmed those promises.
"I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
God is so impressed with Abraham's total surrender to Him, that He confirmed emphatically the promises. God did not set conditions. These are unconditional promises.
We all know that Abraham had one son, for the fulfillment of those promises eligible: Isaac. If the promises were fulfilled, it was by Isaac. We don't read in the Bible the story that Abraham passes promises of God. However we see that God himself blesses Isaac and passes the promises.
"The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.
3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.
4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws."
Here we see again the two promises that God made to Abraham:
l. THE NATURAL PROMISE:
"For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as thestars in the sky and will give them all these lands."
Clearly God speaks here on promises of lands-ownership. And that the above called offspring are not the spiritual descendants of Abraham is shown by that this offspring "all (lands) countries" will possess.
2. THE SPIRITUAL PROMISE:
"and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed."
"and through your offspring" is translated in the K.J.V. as: "Unto thy seed". This promise has everything to do with the blessing that comes to us through Jesus. (Galatians 3:16)
Later Jacob was blessed by Isaac.
"There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring."
Again the first part of the blessing is a promise, which is on the purely natural level, and again is the second part of the blessing a promise of spiritual blessing. The promise that its effect is in Jesus Christ, the "one seed".
Abraham gets both promises. His son Isaac also and Jacob finally too. But from Jacob both promises were divided unto multiple people. We see also increasingly clear what these promises mean.
THE FIRST BIRTHRIGHT AND THE SCEPTER
We will see that the natural promises have to do with the first-birthright. And the spiritual promises have to with the scepter.
BIRTHRIGHT is any right that is acquired by birth. It has nothing to do with grace. Birthright is usually from father to son.
THE SCEPTER is the symbol of royal dignity, royal power. It is a sign of (supra) rule.
When Jacob passes the promises made to Abraham, then he does not do that to his eldest son. Moreover, these promises were not passed anymore to one son, but the promises are passed separately. Jacob blesses two grandsons each with a separate blessing. Read the remarkable story in:
Genesis 48:1-22(read in your Bible, or open a separate window with this text by clicking on that button ->)
First, Jacob makes Efraim and Manasseh as his sons (vs.6). Then he blesses them with crossed hands, so the one was put above the other (vs.14, 21).
Of great significance in this context is that Jacob was given a new name by God. From the time of his struggle with God Jacob was called Israel.Genesis 32:27-28
God asked Jacob: "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered". Then He said: "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel...."
Israel (Jacob) blesses Efraim and Manasseh with the words:Genesis 48:16
"....may He (God) bless these boys. May they be called BY MY NAME (Israel), ... and may they increase greatly upon the earth...."
Joseph, the father of two boys, thinks it's not good that Jacob is blessing the boys with crossed hands and he says to his father:Genesis 48:16-17
"No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head."
"I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations."
Manasseh will be a great people and Efraim, a fullness, or a crowd or a community of nations. Both Efraim as Manasseh have a natural promise.
To who was the spiritual promise, the promise that has to do with the scepter, passed? It was Judah who gets that blessing. After Jacob has blessed Manasseh and Efraim has blessed, he blesses his sons. All these blessings are interesting, but we will restrict ourselves to the blessings that Jacob gave to Judah, and especially the following section:Genesis 49:10
"The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his."
Just a reminder: There were promises that has to do with the first birthright. And there were promises that has to do with the scepter. We already saw that "The Scepter will not depart from Judah..." But the first-birthright was given to Joseph, actually to his children.l Chronicles 5:2
though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph"
The scepter, which has to do with the king line, went to Judah. Salvation, or the fulfillment of the spiritual promise, came through Jesus, who is a prince from the tribe of Judah. The descendants of Judah are Judahers(?), later they were called Jews. Joseph, nor his descendants, was from the tribe of Judah. They are not Jews. Later in our Bible study this will prove to be important.
The knowledge of the first-birthright is of great importance and is a key to understanding many prophecies.
Again, birthright is a right obtained by birth. It has nothing to do with grace. No one can receive eternal life as a right obtained by natural birth. Salvation is by grace. We can only obtain "substantive" rights of property by birth.
In the next section we talk about:
THE START OF ISRAELS NATIONAL EXISTENCEContinue to Part 3 Continue to Part 2
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2 I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers." 3 Abram fell face down, and God said to him, 4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."
"16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds", meaning many people, but "and to your seed", meaning one person, who is Christ."