ISRAEL AND THE
END OF THE AGE

November 4, 2000
by:
S.R. Shearer

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

- George Orwell

PART II

[This is the second in a series of articles dealing with the fighting in the Middle East; the first article, Part I, dealt with the question of who the REAL enemy of Israel is in the Middle East. Part II, this article, deals with the Scriptural basis for Israel in God's "Plan and Purpose in the Ages" - especially as it relates to the fighting that is currently raging in the Middle East over the question of Jerusalem. These two parts (i.e., Part I and Part II) form the basis for all the articles that follow. We urge you, therefore, to study these articles. If you don't, you will most assuredly lose your way in the articles that follow them.]

"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, ... And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." (Zech. 12:2-3)

INTRODUCTION

We stated in Part I of this series, "The Real Enemy of Israel, It's Not Who You Think:"

"What's occurring today in the Middle East is the climax of an "End Game" that has been going on since 1948. It signals the end of a long, 2,000-year period of time in which the Church has had history to itself; re-inserts Israel as a "player" on the world's stage; and introduces a coming age (i.e., the Millennium and eventually, even Eternity) in which both Israel and the Church (as separate, distinct, and independent entities) are destined to hold the stage together. This "End Game" is now reaching its climax in the fighting over Jerusalem."

And one needs to be very clear about what is occurring: the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not something that is being carried on in a casual or haphazard manner; it is implacable, extremely barbaric and appears to have no end in sight - and so much so that David Shipler of the New York Times says that the conflict resembles a "black hole ... a place so dense in passion that it emits no light by which (the one side) ... can ... (any longer) see the other's legitimacy as a people."

In this sense, the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians is following the direction of all culture wars - the course that Professor Samuel P. Huntington, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government and Director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, described in his book, The Clash of Civilizations.

And just how implacable and barbaric has the fighting been? Albert and Ruth Nessim, Israeli supporters of Antipas who live in the "Katusha belt" in Northern Israel, sent us a report by Mark Seager, a young British photographer, who was working on a pictorial study of Palestinian refugees when he found himself caught up in the horrific lynching of two Israeli army reservists in Ramallah. Seager was the only Western journalist to witness what happened - and he almost lost his life as he tried to report on it. He gave this account:

"I had arrived in Ramallah at about 10:30 in the morning and was getting into a taxi on the main road to go to Nablus, where there was to be a funeral that I wanted to film, when all of a sudden there came a big crowd of Palestinians shouting and running down the hill from the police station. I got out of the car to see what was happening and saw that they were dragging something behind them.

"Within moments they were in front of me and, to my horror, I saw that it was a body, a man they were dragging by the feet. The lower part of his body was on fire and the upper part had been shot at, and the head beaten so badly that it was a pulp, like red jelly. I thought he was a soldier because I could see the remains of khaki trousers and boots. My God, I thought, they've killed this guy. He was dead, he must have been dead, but they were still beating him, madly, kicking his head. They were like animals.

"They were just a few feet in front of me and I could see everything. Instinctively, I reached for my camera. I was composing the picture when I was punched in the face by a Palestinian. Another Palestinian pointed right at me shouting "no picture, no picture!", while another guy hit me in the face and said "give me your film!"

"I tried to get the film out but they were all grabbing me and one guy just pulled the camera off me and smashed it to the floor. I knew I had lost the chance to take the photograph that would have made me famous and I had lost my favourite lens that I'd used all over the world, but I didn't care. I was scared for my life.

"At the same time, the guy that looked like a soldier was being beaten and the crowd was getting angrier and angrier, shouting "Allah akbar" - God is great. They were dragging the dead man around the street like a cat toying with a mouse.

"It was the most horrible thing that I have ever seen and I have reported from Congo, Kosovo, many bad places. In Kosovo, I saw Serbs beating an Albanian but it wasn't like this. There was such hatred, such unbelievable hatred and anger distorting their faces.

"The worst thing was that I realised the anger that they were directing at me was the same as that which they'd had toward the soldier before dragging him from the police station and killing him. Somehow I escaped and ran and ran not knowing where I was going. I never saw the other guy they killed, the one they threw out of the window. I thought that I'd got to know the Palestinians well. I've made six trips this year and had been going to Ramallah every day for the past 16 days. I thought they were kind, hospitable people. I know they are not all like this and I'm a very forgiving person but I'll never forget this. It was murder of the most barbaric kind. When I think about it, I see that man's head, all smashed. I know that I'll have nightmares for the rest of my life.

"That night when I got back to Jerusalem, I found out that I was the only photographer there and people kept asking me if I'd got the picture, then telling me I would have made my name. I was so shocked that for the first time I didn't call my girlfriend who is back home in west London, five months pregnant with our first child. Of course, she was really worried because she'd seen on television what had happened and she knew that I was in Ramallah and then I hadn't called.

"She was horrified and, when I did speak to her the next day, she asked: "Did you see?" I just said yes, but I couldn't really talk about it. Afterwards, I heard even worse details like that the man's wife was phoning his mobile to see if he was all right and them telling her that they were killing him.

"From what I saw, I can believe that. I love this country, I'd love nothing more than to see Israelis and Palestinians sharing an argalah or waterpipe but, after the hatred that I've seen in the past few days, I don't think that will happen in my lifetime. Look how many years that they've been talking peace - since 1993. Then, within just a couple of weeks, they are at each other's throats. It seems that it's easier to hate than to forgive.

"I didn't get the picture that would have made me famous but at least I am alive to see the birth of my child."

The hatred and malice evinced by the events Seager describes in his report here are enough to take one's breath away. It seems to reach beyond what anybody would understand as "normal." The fact is, on a purely human level the fighting that is presently raging in the Middle East over Jerusalem cannot be understood on any kind of human level.

It can only be understood in the context of God's "Plan and Purpose in the Ages," and any effort to rationally digest what's happening outside such a comprehension (cognition) is destined to failure - a failure that will lead unswervingly to answers that will take people off in the wrong direction, and that will inevitably posit a CYCLE OF HATE based on "who's in the right" and "who's in the wrong" between and among the actual "players" on the ground.

The fact is, what's going on now in the Middle East transcends our human concepts of "right" and "wrong" - i.e., Who fired first in this or that situation? Who committed this or that atrocity? Who terrorized this or that person or group?

We reiterate: What's occurring today in the Middle East is the climax of an "End Game" that has been in the works since 1948. This "End Game" is now reaching its climax in the fighting over Jerusalem, and the fightin is going to be very, very BLOODY! Why? Because the elites of this earth - along with the indigenous masses who unwittingly serve those elites - are doing everything in their power to thwart the purpose of God in this respect.

QUESTIONS OF "RIGHT" AND "WRONG"

This doesn't mean that questions of "right" and "wrong" are of no importance, it only means that we will get nowhere in understanding what's happening in the Middle East insofar as that "track" is concerned. God's purpose in Grace insofar as Israel is concerned (and, for that matter, the church) simply cannot be "tracked" on this basis if only because it is beyond us; as the Bible says,

"Touching (i.e., concerning) the Almighty, we cannot find (i.e., understand) him out ..."(Job 37:23)

All this to say that, in the complicated matters of this life, we must be very careful - especially as these matters impact the Holy Land - to NOT vilify people, for when we attempt to make judgments against a whole people (whether the Arabs, or the Jews, or the Turks, or the Iranians, or the Pakistanis, or whatever) on such a basis, we run the very great danger of demonizing a people and in the process reckoning them ultimately "unworthy" of God's favor, just as many Christians in this country are doing today to feminists, homosexuals, abortionists, etc. The Bible says:

"For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23)

That includes all of us - Jews, Arabs, and Christians alike - whoever we are!! But the Bible goes on to say that -

"The Lord ... is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9)

God is not willing that ANY should perish!! That's what the Bible says!! And these verses apply to the Arabs just as much as they apply to anyone else. You say, but these people are thwarting the purposes of God in opposing Israel - and, yes, that's true. But isn't that what we were all doing before we were saved? If God had waited until we had "seen the light" insofar as His purposes in the earth are concerned, we most surely would still be lost. But He didn't wait! - the Bible says:

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)

AVOIDING THE DEMONIZATION OF WHOLE PEOPLES

If we insist on demonizing people because they are sinners and because they are thwarting the will of God, then who will there be left for us to preach the Gospel to? Remember!! - "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). We must, therefore, carefully guard against such a mindset. The Bible says:

"But I say unto you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

"THAT YE MAY BE THE CHILDREN OF YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

"For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

"And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? (Matt. 5:44-47)

And I remind you of these precious words of our Lord not as someone who has never seen bloodshed, but as one who has on several occasions been intimately involved in the kind of bloodshed that Seager describes. The fact is, more than any of us care to admit, given the right circumstances, we are all capable of becoming "animals" - and anyone who would deny this fact has never seen combat in an "up-close" fashion and been subjected to the rage and madness that is involved in such fighting (as opposed to the make-believe kind of conflict that is portrayed in the movies).

Make no mistake about it - Jesus means what He says here (i.e., Matt. 5:44-47)!!! TO DO OTHERWISE (i.e., to demonize your enemies) IS TO PLACE THEM "OFF LIMITS" INSOFAR AS THE GRACE (AND THE GOSPEL) OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS CONCERNED - and, again, the sad fact of the matter is, this is precisely what Christians in this country have been doing to feminists, homosexuals, abortionists and others who over the years have been demonized by the Religious Right. Indeed, one gets the distinct feeling that many in the so-called Religious Right would just as soon hurry such people on their way to hell, and the faster the better. There is no longer any room for the Gospel insofar as such people are concerned.

It, therefore, goes without saying that the demonization of any people is "UNACCEPTABLE" insofar as God is concerned - and this includes the Arabs, the Palestinians, the Iranians, and whatever. It is important that we keep this in mind as we take up the matter of Israel and the Jewish people. To say that one people is "chosen" is not to say that another people is "damned" - and certainly not the Arab people, for the Bible says concerning them:

"And God heard the voice of the lad (Ishmael - the father of the Arab people); and the angel of God called to Hagar (Ishmael's mother) out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.

"Arise, LIFT UP THE LAD, and hold him in thine hand; FOR I WILL MAKE HIM A GREAT NATION." (Gen. 21:17-18)

This is certainly more than He has ever said with regard to white Europeans - that's for sure!

We do well to keep this in mind. Ultimately, God will bring an end to the fighting between these two brothers [i.e., the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac (they are, after all, BOTH sons of Abraham)] - and we should bear in mind that it is not a wise thing to curse those whom God loves!

With this said, we are at last brought to a place where we can begin to examine God's ETERNAL and UNCHANGEABLE relationshipwith Israel. And as we examine this relationship, we should bear in mind that Israel's association with God is one of GRACE - i.e., "UNMERITED favor." What that means is that Israel (and the Jewish people) have done nothing to deserve it.

They are not intrinsically better (or, for that matter, worse) than any other people; they are not smarter or dumber, more noble or ignoble, deserving or less deserving than the other nations and peoples of the earth. And most especially, they are no more able to keep the Law than are the other nations and peoples of this world! - despite the fact that the Law came through them.

In the end, it is a relationship of Grace - AND ONE THAT PARALLELS IN EVERY RESPECT THE RELATIONSHIP OF GRACE GOD HAS WITH THE CHURCH. You're surprised? Well, you shouldn't be, because that's what the Bible, if not the tradition of the church, plainly teaches.

GOD'S RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL:
PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE

Prior to the rise of evangelicalism, the traditional view of the church was that God was finished with Israel. This is even today the view of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy (Greek, Russian, Armenian, etc.), and the so-called "mainline" Protestant churches of the West - i.e., the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians, the Dutch Reform, the Lutherans, the American Baptists, etc. They base their contention that God is done with Israel on the fact that the Jews were unable to live up to the conditions of the Mosaic Covenant.

For example, one well-known Presbyterian writer puts it this way in a primer distributed widely in Presbyterian and Dutch Reform circles:

"We stated … that God’s promises to Israel were conditional. (Those who say otherwise) … greatly error in teaching that God … gave Israel a blank check … They teach that God’s promises to national Israel are binding upon God - regardless of what Israel does or does not do ...

"… the crucifixion was Israel’s most heinous crime against God. It was at this point - their treatment of the Messiah - that Israel failed the most miserably to keep the conditions laid down in God’s promise to her … What was the penalty for Israel’s failure to meet the conditions laid down by Jehovah, and which climaxed in her heinous treatment of the Messiah? … God withdrew his presence from Israel as a nation. The Jewish state come to a bitter end in A.D. 70.

"Nor will national Israel ever again be a fruitful nation… The historic Christian teaching holds that national Israel was a type or forerunner of the church, and that the church replaced Israel on the day of Pentecost.This view holds that God made two sets of promises to national Israel - national promises, and spiritual promises. Allearthly promises to Israel have been either fulfilled or invalidatedbecause of disobedience

"All spiritual promises are being fulfilled through the church … The New Testament teaches that the church is the true heir to the Old Testament promises, that it alone fits the description of the chosen people referred to in the Old Testament, that it alone is God’s special instrument for consummating His eternal purpose, and that in the sight of God there is no longer any difference between the Jewish nation and all the other nations of the world … Once upon a time there was a real difference between the nation of Israel and the other nations of the world.

"At Calvary, however, that distinction vanished as the universality of Christianity replaced the provincialism of Judaism … The church is the new and spiritual Israel which has replaced the old, natural Israel.

"There are many people, however, even many believers who embrace instead the belief that God today does not have only one chosen body of people, which is the church, but that He has two bodies - the church which is His ‘heavenly’ people and the nation of Israel which is His ‘earthly people'.Israel was a type of the church, and as such its personalities, institutions and experiences are for the church ‘examples', … ‘figures', … ‘patterns', … and ‘shadows’ … of the new and better things that were unveiled at Calvary.

"The great lessons enshrined in the Old Testament are for the admonition … and instruction … of the church ... The Scriptures teach us that in all of God’s dealing with mankind, from the time of Adam … we may discern the same divine principle at work, namely, ‘first the natural, then the spiritual …' God has progressively revealed His purpose through, first, His dealing with natural Israel and, second and finally, His dealings with spiritual Israel. There is no Scriptural basis for the regressive idea that God’s dealing will again be centered ... in natural Israel at some future date."

FOR ALL HAVE SINNED

The writer above contends that God's promises to Israel - which he says rest exclusively on the Mosaic Covenant - were "invalidated"because of "disobedience." And, no doubt, Israel broke that covenant - and in that wise, there can be no question that the Mosaic Covenant was invalidated by Israel's disobedience! Such, however, would have been the case with any other people God might have chosen - for remember what the Bible says,

"... There is NONE righteous, no, not one:

"They are ALL gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is NONE that doeth good, no, not one.

"For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:10, 12, 23)

The contention of the diatribe directed against Israel above by advocates of the Presbyterian and Dutch Reform churches, however, seems to imply that such isn't the case. That there was something peculiarly evil and particularly depraved in Israel's disobedience that would forever set Israel apart from the other nations of the world, marking her as a pariah and as an outcast nation, never again to be numbered among the other nations of the world. Isn't that what is plainly implied when the writer says:

"… What was the penalty for Israel’s failureto meet the conditions laid down by Jehovah, and which climaxed in her heinous treatment of the Messiah? … God withdrew his presence from Israel as a nation.The Jewish state come to a bitter end in A.D. 70. Nor will national Israel ever again be a fruitful nation…" ?

Of course that's what's implied! But I repeat, Israel did nothing more here than any other people or nation would have done under similar circumstances and given the same chance. Again (and again, and again, and again) I must implore you to REMEMBER what the Bible says - "... There is NONE righteous, no, not one ... They are ALL gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable ... there is NONE that doeth good, no, not one ... For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:10, 12, 23). With regard to this matter, I have heard it said - and I believe that there is much truth in this saying - that "the lack of sin in any particular circumstance in this life is often no more than the lack of opportunity" - and that surely is true with regard to Israel's (and the Jewish people's) detractors here.

GOD'S ETERNAL AND IMMUTABLE COVENANTS
IN GRACE WITH THE NATION OF ISRAEL

But there is something more that we should take note of here, and that is this: THERE ARE FOUR OTHER ADDITIONAL COVENANTS THAT GOD MADE WITH ISRAEL BEYOND THE MOSAIC COVENANT - SPECIFICALLY, THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT, THE PALESTINIAN COVENANT, THE DAVIDIC COVENANT, AND THE NEW COVENANT - WHICH HAVE NEVER BEEN INVALIDATED BECAUSE THESE PARTICULAR COVENANTS DO NOT REST ON ISRAEL'S FAITHFULNESS (AS DID THE MOSAIC COVENANT) BUT ON GOD'S FAITHFULNESS! You say, I've never heard this before! - well, it's the truth. Let's back up a little and see, and in doing so, we will carefully adhere to the core doctrines of evangelicalism, the standard doctrines to which almost all evangelicals (i.e., the Conservative Baptists, the Regular Baptists, the Southern Baptists, the Assemblies of God, etc.) subscribe.

DEFINITION OF THE WORD "COVENANT"

Charles F. Lincoln defines the word "covenant" as follows:

"A divine covenant is (1) a sovereign disposition of God, whereby He establishes an UNCONDITIONAL or declarative compact with man, obligating Himself in grace, by the untrammeled formula, 'I WILL', to bring to pass of Himself definite blessings for the covenanted ones, or (2) a proposal of God, wherein He promises, in a CONDITIONAL or mutual compact with man, by the contingent formula 'IF YE WILL', to grant special blessings to man provided he (man) fulfills perfectly certain conditions, and to execute definite punishments in case of his (man’s) failure." 5 

Two additional points should be noted -

GOD’S COVENANTS ARE LITERAL.

First, God's covenants are literal. G.N.H. Peters writes:

"In all earthly transactions, when a promise, agreement, or a contract is entered into by which one party gives a promise of value to another, it is universally the custom to explain such a relationship and its promises by the well-known laws of language contained in our grammar or in common usage. It would be regarded absurd ... to view them in any other way ... The very nature of a covenant demands that it should be so worded, so plainly expressed, that it conveys a decisive meaning, and not a hidden or mystical one that requires many centuries to resolve in order to develop." 7

GOD’S COVENANTS WERE
MADE STRICTLY WITH ONLY ONE COVENANT PEOPLE:
THE JEWS.

Second, no Gentile nation (including so-called "Christian" nations like America, Britain, France, etc.) has ever received a divine covenant from God; there is only one nation that God has ever covenanted with - Israel. J. Dwight Pentecost writes:

"Finally, these covenants were made with a covenant people, Israel. In Romans 9:4 Paul states that the nation of Israel had received covenants from the Lord. In Ephesians 2:11-12 he states, conversely, that the Gentiles have not received any such covenants and consequently do not enjoy covenant relationships with God. These passages show us, negatively, that the Gentile (nations) were (and are) without covenant relationships (with God) and, positively, that God had entered into covenant relationships with Israel."

THE FIVE COVENANTS
OF GOD WITH ISRAEL

The Scriptures refer to five major covenants with Israel, all of them made by God with the Jewish people. Four of these covenants answer to the first formula defined above and are UNCONDITIONAL; one of them answers to the second formula and is CONDITIONAL. Lincoln writes:

"The four UNCONDITIONAL covenants, with the formula ‘I WILL’, are found in (1) Genesis 12:1-3, where the formula is found either expressed or understood seven times; (2) Deuteronomy 30:1-10, where it is found either expressed or understood, twelve times; (3) II Samuel 7:10-16, where it is found seven times; and (4) Jeremiah 31:31, where it is found seven times. The CONDITIONAL covenant, (5) with the formula ‘IF YE WILL’, is found besides in Exodus 19:5 ff., also in Deuteronomy 28:1-68; verses 1-14, ‘If thou shall hearken diligently ... blessings;’ verses 15-68, ‘If thou will not hearken ... cursings’."

Thus, it is to be observed that there are two kinds of covenants which God entered into with Israel: CONDITIONAL and UNCONDITIONAL.

THE CONDITIONAL
COVENANT
(The Mosaic Covenant)

In a CONDITIONAL covenant that which was covenanted depends for its fulfillment upon the RECIPIENT of the covenant (Israel), not upon the one making the covenant (God). Certain obligations or considerations must be fulfilled by the receiver of the covenant (Israel) before the Giver of the covenant (God) is obligated to fulfill that which was promised. It is a covenant with an "IF" attached to it. The MOSAIC COVENANT is such a covenant.

THE UNCONDITIONAL
COVENANTS

An UNCONDITIONAL covenant depends ALONE on the Giver of the covenant for its fulfillment. That which was promised is sovereignly given to the recipient of the covenant on the authority and integrity of the One making the covenant apart from the merit or response of the receiver.

It is a covenant with no "IF" attached to it whatsoever. In addition, it should be noted that the unconditional covenants made by God with the Jewish people are ETERNAL. Lincoln writes:

"All of Israel’s covenants are called eternal except the Mosaic Covenant which is declared to be temporal, i.e., it was to continue only until the ... (advent of a better covenant - the New Covenant). For this detail see as follows: (1) the Abrahamic Covenant is called ‘eternal’ in Genesis 17:7, 13, 19; I Chronicles 16:17; Psalm 105:10; (2) the Palestinian Covenant is called ‘eternal’ in Ezekiel 16:20; the Davidic Covenant is called ‘eternal’ in II Samuel 23:5; Isaiah 55:3; and Ezekiel 37:25; and (4) the New Covenant is called ‘eternal’ in Isaiah 24:5; 61:8; Jeremiah 32:40; 50:5; and Hebrews 13:20."

THE FOUR UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS OF GOD WITH ISRAEL

Let us now turn our attention to an examination of the four specific UNCONDITIONAL and ETERNAL covenants of God with Israel.

  1. THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
  2. The Abrahamic Covenant is the first of the four great ETERNAL and UNCONDITIONAL covenants made by God with the Jewish people (Genesis 12:1-3; 26:1-5; 28:10-15). It forms the basis for the remaining three. It contains seven promises:

    1. "I WILL MAKE OF THEE A GREAT NATION." This promise was to be fulfilled in two ways.
      1. NATURAL POSTERITY, i.e., "as the dust of the earth" through Isaac and the Jewish people.
      2. SPIRITUALLY, i.e., "as the stars of heaven" - that out from the Jewish people would come Christ (Messiah) and that out from Christ would come the church.
      [It should be noted that the first hint is made here concerning the two entities through which God planned to bring into subjection the earth and the heavens: Israel was to subject the earth ("a" above), and the church was to subject the heavens ("b" above).]
    2. "I WILL BLESS THEE."
    3. "AND MAKE THY NAME GREAT."
    4. "AND THOU SHALT BE A BLESSING."
    5. "I WILL BLESS THEM THAT BLESS THEE."
    6. "AND CURSE THEM THAT CURSE THEE."
    7. "AND IN THEE SHALL ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED."
  3. THE PALESTINIAN COVENANT
  4. In the closing chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy, the children of Israel faced a crisis in their national existence (Deuteronomy 28-30). They were about to pass from the proven leadership of Moses to the unproven leadership of Joshua. They were standing at the entrance to the land that was promised to them by God. BUT THIS LAND WAS POSSESSED BY ISRAEL’S SWORN ENEMIES who had shown that they would resist any attempt by Israel to enter the land promised them. It was impossible for them to return to their former status as a slave nation, and the land to which they were journeying seemed shut before them. As a result, many of them doubted the efficacy of the original ABRAHAMIC COVENANT. Had the inauguration of the MOSAIC COVENANT, which all agreed was CONDITIONAL, set aside the UNCONDITIONAL ABRAHAMIC COVENANT, the promises of which were now in doubt? To answer these important questions, God stated again His covenant promise concerning Israel’s possession of and inheritance in the Land of Palestine.

    The PALESTINIAN COVENANT promised the following:

    1. It reaffirmed title to Israel of the land of promise.
    2. It substantiated to Israel the fact that the introduction of the TEMPORAL and "CONDITIONAL" MOSAIC COVENANT had not set aside the UNCONDITIONAL and ETERNAL promises of the ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.
    3. It enlarged the boundaries of the promised land given in the ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.

    IN ADDITION, THE PALESTINIAN COVENANT contained certain statements:

    1. That the nation would be punished because of its unfaithfulness vis-a-vis the MOSAIC COVENANT (Deut. 28:63-68).
    2. That Israel would be eventually restored to the land of promise after an as yet future dispersion among the Gentile nations (Deut. 30:5).
    3. That Messiah would come (Deut. 30:3-6).
    4. That there would be a future repentance of Israel (Deut. 30:1-3).
    5. That Israel would embrace Messiah as a nation (Deut. 30:4-8; cf. Rom. 11:26-27).
    6. That Israel’s enemies would be judged (Deut. 30:7).
    7. That the nation would receive her full and eternal blessing (Deut. 30:9). 10 

    It is interesting to note that the exact conditions which prevailed at the time wherein the PALESTINIAN COVENANT was given, prevail again today.

    We do well to stand with Israel despite temptations to the contrary; it is a fearful thing to be found fighting against the God of Israel for ANY reason.

  5. THE DAVIDIC COVENANT
  6. These promises made by God to Israel are contained in II Samuel 7:12-16. The historic background of the DAVIDIC COVENANT is well known. Inasmuch as David had come to power and authority in the kingdom and now dwelt in a house of cedar, it seemed incongruous that the One from whom he derived his authority and government should dwell in a house of skins - a tent.

    It was David’s intention to build a suitable dwelling place for God. But because he had been a man of war, David was not permitted to build this house. However, God made certain promises to David concerning the perpetuity of his house. These promises pertained to the eternal nature of:

    1. David’s House.
    2. David’s Kingdom.
    3. David’s Throne.

    John Walvoord, past president of Dallas Theological Seminary, writes:

    "What do the major terms of the (DAVIDIC) covenant mean? By ‘David’s House’ it can hardly be doubted that reference is made to David’s posterity, his physical descendants. It is assured that they will never be slain in toto, nor displaced by another family entirely. The line of David will always be the royal line. By the term ‘throne’ it is clear that no reference is made to a material throne, but rather to the dignity and power which was sovereign and supreme in David as king. The right to rule always belonged to David’s seed. By the term ‘kingdom’ there is reference to David’s political kingdom over Israel. By the expression ‘forever’ it is signified that the Davidic authority and the Davidic kingdom or rule over Israel shall never be transferred to another family, and its arrangement is designed for eternal perpetuity. Whatever its changing form, temporary interruptions, or chastisements, the line of David will always have the right to rule over Israel and will, in fact, exercise this privilege."

    As with the PALESTINIAN COVENANT, certain prophetic implications resulted which naturally followed from the provisions of the DAVIDIC COVENANT:

    1. Israel must be preserved as a nation.
    2. Israel must be brought back into the land of her inheritance (including not just her 1948 boundaries, but also the so-called West Bank, the whole city of Jerusalem, and much of present day Jordan, southern Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, etc.
    3. David’s "Seed," the Lord Jesus Christ, must return to the earth bodily to reign over David’s promised kingdom.
    4. A literal earthly kingdom must be constituted over which Messiah will reign. Peters writes: "The fulfillment of the covenant promises implies, in view of this restored Davidic throne and kingdom, that the Messianic Kingdom is to be a visible, external kingdom, not merely a spiritual one ..."
    5. This kingdom must become an eternal kingdom.
  7. THE NEW COVENANT
  8. The NEW COVENANT as stated in Jeremiah 31:31-34 guarantees to Israel what the temporal and conditional MOSAIC COVENANT could never accomplish - a converted heart as the foundation of all her blessings:

    "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I WILL make a NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them out of the land of Egypt (the MOSAIC COVENANT); which covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I WILL make with THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL; after those days (i.e., the "last days") saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I WILL forgive their iniquity, and I WILL remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Ryrie writes:

"The NEW COVENANT promises:

  1. "An UNCONDITIONAL, grace covenant resting on the ‘I WILL’ of God. The frequency of the phrase in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is striking (cf. Ezekiel 16:60-62).
  2. "An EVERLASTING covenant. This is closely related to the fact that it is UNCONDITIONAL and made in grace ... (Isa. 61:2; cf. Ezek. 37:26; Jer. 3135-37).
  3. "The impartation of a renewed mind and heart which we may call regeneration ... (Jer. 31:33; cf. Isa 59:21).
  4. "Restoration to the favor and blessing of God ... (Hos. 2:19-20; cf. Isa. 61:9).
  5. "Forgiveness of sin: ‘... for I WILL remove their iniquity, and I WILL remember their sins no more’ (Jer. 31:34).
  6. "The indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is seen by comparing Jeremiah 31:33 with Ezekiel 36:27.
  7. "The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit will be manifested and the will of God will be known by obedient hearts ... (Jer. 31:34).
  8. "As is always the case when Israel is in the land, she will be blessed materially in accordance with the provisions of the NEW COVENANT ... (Jer. 32:41; Isa. 61:8; Ezekiel 34:25-27).
  9. "The sanctuary will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, for it is written, ‘ ... I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them'. (Ezek. 37:26-27a)
  10. "War shall cease and peace shall reign according to Hosea 2:18. The fact that this is also a definite characteristic of the Millennium (Isa. 2:4) further supports the fact that the NEW COVENANT is Millennial in its fulfillment.
  11. "The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of all the blessings of the NEW COVENANT, for ‘by the blood of THY COVENANT I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water’. (Zech. 9:11)

    "By way of summary, it may be said that as far as the "Old Testament" teaching on the NEW COVENANT is concerned, the covenant was made with the JEWISH PEOPLE. Its period of fulfillment is yet future, beginning when the Deliverer shall come and continuing throughout all eternity. Its provisions for the nation of Israel are glorious, and they all rest ... (solely) on the WORD OF GOD."

ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGY
AND EVANGELICALISM

Theologians from the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy (Greek, Russian, Armenian, etc.), and the so-called "mainline" Protestant churches of the West - i.e., the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians, the Dutch Reform, the Lutherans, the American Baptists, etc. (once again, those theologians who deny that modern day Israel has any biblical significance) have attempted to appropriate the provisions of the NEW COVENANT wholly and exclusively to the church. But to do so is to (1) deny the LITERAL nature of the Word of God which should be taken at face value (because the wording of all four UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS make clear that these covenants were made specifically with the Jewish people), and / or (2) make God out as a liar. There is simply no way to get around it: Israel is CLEARLY the recipient of these covenants.

Those theologians - called "Covenant Theologians" - who deny that the present-day nation of Israel has any relevance base their contention that the church is now the exclusive recipient of the UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS on certain passages in the New Testament which link the church to these covenants, specifically, Luke 22:20; I Corinthians 11:25; II Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; and 9:15.

Evangelicals, however, do not deny that the church, as a "MYSTERY" is "hinted" at in these covenants:

"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the MYSTERY, which was kept secret since the world began." (Rom. 16:25)

Moreover, these "hints" are substantiated and made real in the New Testament in innumerable passages as when Paul declares that Christians are children of Abraham by faith (Gal. 3:7 and 3:29). But these passages do not make void the original promises of God to Israel; they point out, rather, that in some "peculiar" way, Christians are to be made "joint heirs" with Israel. How? Not by displacing Israel or even making the church a partaker in the EARTHLY promises, but by GRANTING THE CHURCH THE HEAVENLY COUNTERPARTS OF ISRAEL’S EARTHLY PROMISES - so that now the following situation pertains and is made real:

So now, what do we have? A church that has replaced Israel? - by no means! Rather, two entities, one heavenly - the church; and one earthly - Israel, which compliment and mirror the other; both of which reflect the glory of God, each in its own respective sphere.

Lastly, one additional point: this is not simply an academic exercise in "peripheral matters." How one answers the question concerning "Replacement Theology" (i.e., the theology that postulates that the church has replaced Israel) as opposed to pre-millennialism has very grave consequences - and these consequences go far beyond whether it's permissible for the church to participate in the political and military activities of this world. Ultimately, it also colors one's attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people.

ANTI-SEMITISM & THE TRADITIONAL VIEW OF THE CHURCH ON JUDAISM AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE

The fact of the matter is, Replacement Theology leads irresistibly to anti-Semitism. IT WAS, THEREFORE, NO ACCIDENT THAT FROM THE MOMENT THE CHURCH ADOPTED THE PROPOSITION THAT IT WAS THE "NEW" AND "SPIRITUAL" ISRAEL THAT HAD REPLACED THE "OLD" AND "NATURAL" ONE, ANTI-SEMITISM PRESENTED ITSELF AS AN INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCE. And this is exactly what happened after the publication of Augustine's monumental work, De Civitate Dei (City of God), where that proposition was first logically expounded.

What other outcome could there possibly be? - if the church was indeed the "New Israel of God" [as church (i.e., Roman Catholic) theologians postulated] it stood to reason that after the establishment of the church [and the greater "reality" that the church seemed to represent], the Jewish community should have been absorbed into the church, and/or absorbed into the nations into which they had been dispersed. After all, was not Israel merely a "type" or "shadow" of the church, and when the reality appears, should not the "type" or the "shadow" disappear, there being no further need of it? But this was not what occurred. And not only that, but the Jewish community - despite the fact of its dispersion - gradually developed into an astonishingly tight-knit, well organized, and - in some countries - influential community whose organization and arrangement transcended national boundaries; a community that was international in scope at a time of growing particularism, provincialism, and insularism.

What possible explanation could there be for such a phenomenon? The continued existence of the Jewish people seemed to defy explanation by any normal standard. And that was the rub! - it could not be explained on a normal or rational basis. No people had ever before survived so long as a separate entity after losing their national homeland and being dispersed so widely. The explanation for such a phenomenon could only be accounted for on some supernatural ground. But if this was so - and all seemed to agree that it was - was the supernatural presence which so obviously seemed to surround the Jewish people malevolent or benevolent?

For Catholic theologians, there could be but one answer to such a question, and that answer was but the natural consequence of Replacement Theology. It was an "either/or" situation that the church had created for itself in relation to Israel and the Jewish people - either the church, OR Israel and the Jewish people. There was no middle ground. And if it one believed that the church was of God, than the presence which surrounded the Jewish people, and which empowered their continued existence beyond all reason, had to be of the Devil. There could be no other answer!! And once this conclusion was reached, than everything else followed - from the stories of their "apostasy" to the "Judeo-Masonic world-conspiracy" and the illuminati.

More text time!

God bless all of you.

S.R. Shearer
Antipas Ministries

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