Monday, October 28, 2019

The Sixth Great Prophecy of Scripture

Last time we saw Israel was promised a land. Now, in our sixth major prophecy, we look at the prophecy to the nation Israel of the land as an eternal possession. The Abrahamic covenant involved a land, a seed, and a blessing. It is through this covenant, the great Abrahamic Covenant,  that one finds not only the promise of a Savior for Israel, a nation of Israel, but the nation Israel will live in the land with a righteous King in peace.  Here we find the next major prophecy – the Prophecy of the Future of Israel in the land as an eternal possession.

This prophecy starts with the Abrahamic covenant, moves to the Mosiac covenant, and will find fulfillment in the kingdom age in what is called the land covenant.  The promise made to Abraham was to leave the land he was in, and go to a land the LORD would show him. So he packed up his family and left. The promise stated in unconditional covenant language (Gen. 12:1-3) and promised to him and his offspring (Gen. 12:7). This promise was repeated  over and over. However, as Hebrews 11:9-10 declares, “By faith he [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” As Dr. Walvoord says, “The reference to the city is commonly interpreted as meaning the New Jerusalem in eternity future” (Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies, p. 79). As Abraham never possessed the land, we understand this promise is yet future.

The boundaries of the land are defined in detail by God in Gen 15:18 as, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river , the Euphrates.”

While this covenant was made to Abraham and his descendants, the LORD hands control over to the Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:3-5). And when God brings a drought to the land, Israel leaves to dwell in Egypt,  and as promised and prophesied, He brought them back to the promised land. Notice the prophecy of Genesis 15:13-16:

13 Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.  14 "And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  15 "Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.  16 "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." (Gen 15:13-16)
  
The great story of the Exodus was fulfilled literally and the LORD delivered Israel out of bondage in Egypt and brought them back to the promised land. However, peace and prosperity in the land was now made conditional with the Mosaic covenant. And again, the prophecy was give of Israel’s idolatry, slavery, and restoration.

First the conditional promise found in the law of Deuteronomy:

Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess,  2 "that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.
 3 "Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you--`a land flowing with milk and honey.'  4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
 5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
 10 "So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build,  11 "houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant-- when you have eaten and are full--
 12 "then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
 13 "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.  14 "You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you  15 `(for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth.  (Deu. 6:1-15)


Next, the prophecy of idolatry and dispersion found in Deuteronomy 28:

36 "The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods-- wood and stone.  37 "And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will drive you. (Deu. 28:36-37)

Finally, the regathering back to the land prophesied in Deuteronomy 30:

Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you,  2 "and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
 3 "that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you.  4 "If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.  5 "Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.  6 "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.  7 "Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. (Deu. 30:1-7)


While this second dispersion occurred in history with the Assyrian devastation and the Babylon captivity, Israel’s regathering in 605 also occurred in history. However, Deuteronomy 30 also speaks of a future regathering in belief – the final regathering of Israel at the LORD’s second coming. This final regathering is the third dispersion/regathering prophesied in Scripture.

While the second dispersion/regathering occurred in history, we understand the third dispersion also is historical. This third dispersion involves the rejection of Jesus as Israel’s King.  Notice the language in Luke 21:

20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.  21 "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.  22 "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  23 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.  24 "And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)

The third dispersion of Israel started in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the temple and was complete in A.D. 132 when the emperor Hadrian expelled the Jews from the land and renamed it Palestine in an effort to remove any and all Jewish identity and claim to the land.

The final regathering is prophesied to have two stages. The first stage is a regathering in unbelief, the second stage, however, will be in belief, but both are by the hand of God. The Lord’s regathering of Israel in unbelief is occurring today as Israel exists today as a nation since 1948. The prophecy was given in Ezekiel 20:33-38,

33 "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.  34 "I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.  35 "And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face.  36 "Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you," says the Lord GOD.  37 "I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;  38 "I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.  (Ezek. 20:33-38)

The second phase of the third regathering will be in belief. This prophecy is found in Ezekiel 39:23-29.

23 "The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword.  24 "According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them."'  25 "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:`Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name--  26 `after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid.  27 `When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations,  28 `then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer.  29 `And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD." (Ezek. 39:23-29)

And,

7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts:`Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east And from the land of the west;  8 I will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness.' (Zech. 8:7-8)

This great regathering will be by God Himself with the assistance of His holy angels (Matt. 24:31):

30 "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  31 "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (Matt. 24:30-31)

This fulfillment of the final regathering is the fulfillment of the covenant prophecy made to Abraham and his descendants when the covenant was made official in Genesis 17 and specifically called an everlasting possession (Gen. 17:8; cf. 48:4).

8 "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." (Gen. 17:8)

 What a blessing it is to see the Lord God Almighty will fulfill His promise to Israel, for if He will keep His word to them, how much more for those who call on the name of Jesus Christ? Is God not the Rock of both Israel’s salvation as He is also the author and finisher of the salvation of all who call upon the name of the Lord?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Fifth Great Prophecy of Scripture

Our fifth major prophecy concerns the nation Israel. The Abrahamic covenant involved a land, a seed, and a blessing. It is through this covenant that one finds not only the promise of a Savior of Israel, but the nation Israel will live in the land with a righteous King in peace.  Jehovah-Tsideqenu (The Lord our Righteousness; Jer.23:6) will be Jehovah-shalomenu (The Lord our peace; Eph. 2:14) because He originated ‘eth-berity shalom (“the covenant of peace”; Num. 25:12).  Here we find Dr. Walvoord’s next major prophecy – the “Prophecy of the Future of Israel as a Nation.”

As Dr. Walvoord wrote, “For a gentile believer of the twentieth century, prophecy concerning the future of Israel may seem unimportant. However, from a prophetic perspective, the future of Israel is very important. In fact, the prophecies about Israel form the background of understanding prophecy as a whole. One of the main causes for current confusion in understanding prophecy is the failure to take Israel-related prophecies literally. Attempts to transfer the promises relating to Israel to the church have been a major obstacle to understanding God’s prophetic purposes as a whole. Once prophecies about Israel are distinguished from prophesies concerning the church or the Gentiles, the main programs of God as outlined in prophecy begin to be clear.”

When God gives us prophecy and it is fulfilled one finds it fulfilled literally! That should be the main statement of fact the we hold when we approach Scripture. However, that is not the central point that those who interpret the Bible from an amillennial point of view. That is, for those who interpret Scripture from an historical, grammatical, THEOLOGICAL perspective. What is the problem with adding theological to our method? It corrupts the historical, grammatical, turning the plain meaning into a meaning that is has a many interpretations as there are theological perspectives. We are responsible moral agents, and as such, we are responsible for how we handle and transfer God’s Word. We interpret Scripture like we interpret any other writing – we interpret Scripture like our elementary school teacher taught us – we interpret by the historical, grammatical method!

When we approach Scripture like the following:  

5 "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.  6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer. 23:5-6 NKJ)

We are not to approach this Scripture, take it out of context, and proclaim Jesus as our King reigning on His throne today in heaven. That is how the amillennial interprets it. Ignoring “executing judgment and righteousness in the earth,” and “Israel will dwell safely.” Even, if one were to replace Israel with the church as they do, how is it that the church dwells safely today.” This should be interpreted in context, Israel is national Israel, not the church, and execute judgment and righteousness on the each means Jesus’ second coming not His first coming, when Christ comes in judgment, not when Christ came as the Suffering Servant.

 Pattern of literal fulfillment. Dr. Walvoord points out that prophecy has a fundamental pattern throughout Scripture of a literal fulfillment of prophecy.  He wrote, “the prediction that from the line of Abraham would come One who would be a blessing to the entire world has already been fulfilled in Christ. Additional fulfillment is found in the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament as they contributed to the spiritual blessing God has bestowed on his people… Throughout history it has become obvious that the descendants of Abraham have emerged as a nation with millions of people. In Egypt the family of seventy may have become a people of two million or more at the time of the Exodus. Though for many generations they were persecuted and reduced in number, the people of Israel today are estimated to number from 15 to 25 million inhabitants In various parts of the world.”

The Scriptures testify of a future Israel that will exist in Israel proper with the Messiah ruling as King in a land blessed by fruitfulness. Indeed starting in Deuteronomy chapter six, one finds the Messianic kingdom is prophesied in great detail. So it is a question of the character of God that one must come to the conclusion that His Word be true and prophecy be interpreted in its plan sense and a literal, not some spiritualized interpretation applied to Israel’s future with their Messiah who will dwell on mount Zion! Dr. Walvoord observes, “Though some extremists of one kind or another attempt to explain away any literal fulfillment of the existence of Israel today, the fact is that the world as a whole has recognized Israel as a political state and has assigned her certain territories in the Middle East… The question of a future of Israel is important becauseit determines the interpretation of so many passages of the Bible. To some, the theological arguments may seem technical, but the question simply put is whether the prophecies about Israel should be taken in their plain and natural meaning as revealing Israe’s future.  The debate is between the amillennial view, which claims that there is no literal Millennium after the second coming of Christ, and the premillennial position, which believes Isreal has a future Millennium after this event.” 

What is at stake here, is the very character of God Himself! Did God not author the Scriptures by His Spirit? If God is just and unchangeable, why then would God change the interpretative technique for mankind when it comes to some Scriptures than others and different rules from basic interpretation of any document? He does not.  Everywhere Israel is used in the Bible means Israel, everywhere Jew is used in the Bible it describes those who are Israelite not Gentiles. This can be seen in Paul's letter to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 10:32, where a threefold division of mankind is defined today to be (1) Gentiles, (2) Jews, and (3) The church of God.   And Paul’s clear teaching concerning Israel’s future in Romans chapter eleven. 

25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;  27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins."
 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.  29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience,
 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.  32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!  34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?"  35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?"  36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.  (Rom 11:25-36 NKJ)   

One finds that both Testaments, the Old and New, testify to the future of the Messianic Millennial Kingdom reserved for the Jew first, so that Paul can say with clarity and certainty that all Israel will be saved.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Forth Great Prophecy of Scripture

Dr. Walvoord’s classic work, “Major Bible Prophecies,” gives us the subject of this forth article. The forth major prophecy involves not only the promise to Abraham of a great nation, but the most important aspect – the Messianic line. The Messiah will come through a specific genealogy – the Messiah will come through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The promise to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3 involved a physical descendant of Abraham and Sarai. Both were already in their advanced ages and were childless. This indeed was the test for them – would they wait on the Lord or would they take things into their own hands? The certainty of Abram’s calling was complete and the certainty of Abraham moving out of Ur to the land of Haran was complete, but what about a blood heir?

After ten years waiting for an heir, Abram suggested that his close servant Eliezer be the legal heir. Indeed, according to cultural norms, that was possible, but that was rejected by God: “This man will not by your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:4-6).

After waiting ten years in Canaan, Abram heeded Sarai’s advice to conceive a son with her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar. The result was Ishmael. Yet God rejected Ismael as heir also. Even as Ismael was from the loins of Abram, and it was legal and a custom to have offspring with the maidservant, Ismael was not the heir God intended. God did not mean Abram’s heir to come through their manservant, nor maidservant. God meant the legal heir to be from the loins of Abram with his wife Sarai.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old God reaffirmed His promise giving Abram the sign of the covenant – circumcision, and Abram’s name was changed to Abraham “father of many,” and Sarai’s name changed to Sarah “princess.” After reaffirming the covenant promises, Scripture records:

17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"   18 And Abraham said to God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!"  19 Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.  20 "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  21 "But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year." (Gen 17:17-21)       

Dr Walvoord writes, “Twenty-five years after Abraham left Haran, as he waited for some evidence of the covenant being fulfilled, the promise of God, impossible as it seemed to Abraham and Sarah, was fulfilled, and Isaac was born. In recognition that Isaac was a covenant child, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day (v. 4)…. The answer came in spite of Abraham and Sarah’s unbelief and their inability to contemplate the omnipotence of God in doing what is impossible to humans. The fulfillment of the promise illustrates again the unconditional and absolutely certain fulfillment required in the provisions and promises of the Abrahamic covenant.”

With the legal heir now established, God moves to reaffirm His covenant with Isaac’s offspring. However, Isaac and his wife Rebekah have twins – Esau and Jacob. Yet it is the younger, Jacob that will be the legal heir not the oldest Esau. From the womb, God proclaims to Rebekah, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23)

In Genesis 28, God reaffirms His covenant with Jacob (28:11-15). And the book of Genesis closes with the prophetic promise to the twelve sons of Jacob, most notable to Judah who is to be the prominent tribe. Scripture says:

8 Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father's children shall bow down before you.  9 Judah is a lion's whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him?  10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.  (Gen 49:8-10)

The promise of the seed, land, and nation brings the promise to the Davidic covenant found in 2 Samuel 7:5-17. It is here that one finds the Messiah comes from  Judah through the line of Israel’s best king David. Notice what Scripture says:

Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.  12 "When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  (2Sa 7:11-13)

This eternal house of David refers to the future Davidic Kingdom wherein Jesus Christ is declared to be the unique one qualified to be from that line. Both Matthew and Luke itemize genealogies of Jesus from different perspectives uniquely identifying Jesus as the child born, but a Son given. That is to say, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Son of David. As Dr. Walvoord wrote,” Matthew recorded this genealogy to show the legitimacy of the throne passing through Joseph, the legal heir of David, but actually, Jesus Christ had to come from a different line in the flesh through another son of David, Nathan. This leads to Mary, the actual mother of Christ. Accordingly, while the legal title passed to Christ through Joseph, the physical claim of being a descendant of David comes through David and Nathan instead of David and Solomon. This line of truth also tends to confirm the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ, for if Christ were the son of Joseph, he would not be able to sit on the throne of David in view of the curse put on that line.”

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Third Prophecy

Continuing with our series in honor of Dr. Walvoord’s classic work, “Major Bible Prophecies,” we look at the third major prophecy. The third major prophecy is the most important prophecy in the whole of Scripture – the call of Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant for it brings us the promise of salvation and deliverance through the line of Abraham.   As Dr Walvoord notes, “Beginning with Abraham, Scripture charts a new course for God’s people. The choice of Abraham marked a new narrowing of the redemptive purpose of God.” 

From the start God has always had His godly line. Adam and Eve had their offspring, and Abel was the one that exemplified the righteous line. After Abel was killed, the godly line followed Seth (Gen. 4:25), then Noah, and Shem. After the tower of Babel, God chose Terah (Gen. 11:26) and through Terah, Abraham was chosen.  But the godly line was specific as it continues with the great Abrahamic Covenant to Isaac and Jacob. Thus it was not a mistake that we come to Genesis chapter twelve and find God chose Abram out of the godly line and out of that godly line will come the Messiah – the Savior of the world.

From Genesis 12 through the rest of Scripture, Abraham’s seed, Israel, is the major focus. Notice the promise made to Abram as he is called to come out of the land of Ur.

Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.  2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.  3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  (Gen. 12:1-3)

The three aspects of the promise are:
1. I will make you a great nation.
2. I will bless you and make your name great.
3. You shall be a blessing.

When the God of the universe promises something then it is sure to come about, and in this case Abram is commanded to leave his current comfortable place to follow Him to a land He will show him. This is an unconditional promise which later turns into an official covenant in chapter seventeen. It is within these three promises that the nation of Israel is created, a future kingdom is established in the land of Israel, salvation is defined as coming through the Seed of Israel based on believing God and the righteousness that God provides through faith.

This promise was given to Abram about B. C. 2000. He and his wife Sari were childless and older established in age. God moved them to the land of Canaan wherein He told them they would have offspring that would inherit the land. So it is that we find expanded in Scripture a land covenant and the promise of eternal possession of the land. A seed covenant with king David promising an eternal king on the throne of David, namely, the Messiah, King Jesus seated on Him throne in Israel. And finally, a New Covenant that promises a new heart and eternal life in the eternal kingdom. 

Dr. Walvoord wrote, “First, the covenant anticipated prophetically how God’s hand of blessing would rest upon Abraham. This is illustrated throughout his life in that God made him a wealthy man, a powerful man, and a miraculous channel through which Isaac was to be born. Abraham was blessed above any other person in his generation, andthis promise, like other promises in the covenant, was literally fulfilled. Second, Abraham was promised that his name would be great – that is, he would be a major actor in God’s redemptive program. He is mentioned as Abram or Abraham about three hundred times in the Bible. Unquestionable, he is one of the most important characters of the Old Testament and is mentioned many times in the New Testament as well. This prophecy has been literally fulfilled. Third, God declared to Abraham, ‘You will be a blessing’ (Gen. 12:2). Unquestionably, Abraham was a blessing to his own generation and to his own family, and through the centuries he has been an illustration of faith and obedience that has challenged all who follow the Lord. God’s faithful dealings with Abraham, even when he fell short of perfect obedience, are a great encouragement to the people of God and help to fulfill this promise. The ultimate fulfillment, however, is found in the aspects of the covenant referring to blessings on the whole world… The greatest of all promises, of course, was the promise of blessing to all the peoples of the earth, and it is here that the church of the New Testament comes in (Gal. 3:6-9).”     

It is through Abraham, the man of faith, all peoples who trust in God as Abraham did will be blessed through Abraham and his posterity. While we find within the Abrahamic covenant eternal conditions, fulfillment is yet future and centers around the Messianic Kingdom. So it is that we find within the Abrahamic covenant the future Seed, Jesus Christ, who is prophesied and of which the whole of Scripture is speaks, for it is God who is faithful to fulfill His Word, and the His Word is true, as He is the way, the truth, and the life.  The importance of the Abrahamic covenant is significant only because there is One who is the significant, faithful, just, and true potentate who backs up His promise by His word.  
    

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Second Prophecy

In this second article in honor of Dr. Walvoord’s classic work, “Major Bible Prophecies,” we look at the true meaning of the rainbow, and yes, another instance of God’s provision of salvation by grace. The second major prophecy of the Bible is the curse of Noah’s offspring Canaan.

The growth in human population brought increasing sin to the world. The murder of Abel by Cain reveals the extent of the fall, and how the new reality of the statement,  “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Gen. 4:7).  The effect of the fall touched every aspect of creation – everyone born into this corrupted world is itself corrupt, not just a little, but every aspect of man has been corrupted. As Cain’s family is developed we find their character follows that of their father. Indeed, Cain’s  offspring personified sin. Their desire was for fame, they took multiple wives, the finest of things they could acquire, and the second murder was by the hands of Cain’s offspring.  As the apostle, John, defines,

16 For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)
    
As their family grew, wickedness grew to the point that God declared, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh” (Gen. 6:3a). “So the Lord said,  I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air” (Gen. 6:7a).

Yet there also sprung up a godly line that walked with God (Gen. 6:9a), meaning, Noah was a just man and in his daily walk he sought to do right in the eyes of the Lord. Noah had three sons and as Dr. Walvoord wrote, “Of the human race only Noah and his family, descendants of Seth, were still honoring the Lord. In His plan to destroy the earth, God determined to save Noah and his family and through them to make a new beginning of the human race.” 

After the waters of the flood receded, God established a new set of house rules. The new set of house rules is called by dispensationalists the dispensation of human government which covers the period of Genesis 8:20-11:32. The new rules were given by God along with a covenant with Noah (Gen. 8:20-9:17). God declared “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Gen. 8:21-22).  God’s covenant with Noah included a number of promises. (1) Noah was instructed to, “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). (2) God placed everything in creation under human authority, whether beasts or birds or fish (9:2-3). (3) For the first time God gave Noah the right not only to eat of the green plants but to eat meat from animals (9:3-6). But God made it clear not to eat of the animal flesh with its blood in it (9:4). (4) Capital punishment   was then instituted for anyone who takes a human life (9:5-6). (5) God promised Noah, “I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Gen. 9:11). (6) Finally, God gave the rainbow as a sign of the covenant.  What a beautiful sign which speaks of God’s protective glory that covers the sky as He provides us the blessing of rain in its season. In Hebrew a covering is the word used for a sacrifice. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the Lord provided an animal skin covering for them. Now, we find the rainbow serves as a kind of a metaphor of a covering in the ski for the sins of man – mercy provided by the One who sits on His Mercy Seat in heaven. The splendor of the colors of the rainbow reflects the splendor and glory of God.    

A fundamental change to the earth occurred with the flood. Seasons were now realized, rain for the first time was seen as the primary means of watering the earth. The age of mankind drastically decreased exponentially from around a thousand years down to around a hundred years. This decrease also reflects a change in both the atmospheric pressure and temperature as Noah is found drunk with fermented wine that he made from his vineyard (Gen. 9:20).

The text says, “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, backwards and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said: Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants he shall be to his brethren. And he said: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant” (Gen. 9:22-27).

Dr. Walvoord summarized, “The Canaanites, who were Ham’s descends, became a very wicked people and were perpetually enemies of Israel. They were particularly involved in sexual sin. Subsequent history recorded that the Canaanites occupied the place of slaves in relationship to Israel. This did not immediately stem from Noah’s condemnation but rather as a judgment of God upon them for their licentious lives. In Genesis 14 the Canaanites were enslaved by kings from the East, and later the Gibeonites, who also were descendants of Ham, became water carriers and woodcutters for the congregation and altar of the Lord (Josh. 9:27)…Eventually the Canaanites disappeared from the pages of history. 

This prophecy was fulfilled and as we read of it we find encouragement that God’s word is true. That is the purpose of prophecy – to bring a sobering word of encouragement. Dr. Walvoord concludes, “In contrast, Noah blessed Japheth, implying that his descendants would be a great people. Shem was blessed with Canaan as his slave: ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave’” (Gen. 9:26-27).

It is no mistake that God gave Israel a land that was predominantly called Canaan. The prophecy is much richer than at first glance. “A servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.”  As Israel was released from Egyptian bondage, the slaves were move north to the land of Canaan. And after entering the land Canaan, they became their servants! How improbable is this prophecy? How big is God? He is the One who places the rainbow in the sky! The One who provides salvation and the One who judges – the Lord is His name.  

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The First Prophecy

This year is the 28th anniversary of the publication of John Walvoord’s classic book “Major Bible Prophecies.”  In the book, Dr. Walvoord details 37 crucial prophecies that affect you today. Since the publication nothing has changed, sin and Satan still dominate world events, death, destruction and misery still dominates life around us. Yet with all the problems and conflict, God is still the sovereign of the universe, He is still in control, and He still saves today. This year Dr. Walvoord’s classic work will be the focus of each month’s article – starting from the first prophecy that promises victory over sin and death by our Savior, and ending with the great prophecy of our destination – the new heaven and new earth.

Our first prophecy found in the Bible is in Genesis 3:15. There, the context is Adam and Eve’s sin of disobedience to eat freely of any tree of the garden, but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As the Lord gives the serpent his consequences for his role in the great deception which Satan appearing as a serpent played, God proclaims,

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.  15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."  16 To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."  17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, `You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.  18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.  19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:14-19 NKJ)

Not only did that greatest destructive event in history bring a fundamental change in the human race as all sin in Adam, but as Dr. Walvoord wrote, “The entrance of sin had changed God’s beautiful creation into a world of conflict, sorrow, and death.” It is most important to understand that since this great destructive event of the fall, there required, as the prophecy of 3:15 declares, another great destructive event that must take place in order to bring a final end to the works of the devil by means of his head wound, the greatest event in all of history – the heel wound of the promised One. 

The curse on Satan affected the world. Dr. Walvoord wrote, “The original sin of Satan in heaven, when as a holy angel he rebelled against God, now spread to the world of Adam and Eve, the result was that both Satan and the created world came under God’s curse.” This curse upon Satan and the ground means that Satan’s battleground moved to the ugliest spiritual warfare imaginable. Not only is the battle between the unseen powers, Satan and his demons against Michael the archangel and his angels, but between the seed of Satan – those unsaved humans who are sons of the devil. Again Dr. Walvoord wrote, “Spiritual warfare continued not only in that which is visible between the righteous and the evil but also in the unseen contest between the demon world led by Satan and the holy angels led by Michael.”

Yet there is hope because God Himself will deliver us victory. God provided a proper blood sacrifice covering to Adam and Eve. Dr. Walvoord wrote, “God promised salvation. To replace Adam and Eve’s self-made garments of leaves, which were now inappropriate and inadequate, God provided for them garments of skin.  This provision involved the slaying of an animal and the shedding of blood. In this way, salvation and redemption by blood was symbolized as being the only way by which human sin could be temporarily covered or the victory could ultimately be wrought.”

Indeed this initial prophecy of the Bible deals with sin and the Savior’s victory over Satan’s works and sin’s dominion. It involves a work of the Only Begotten of the Father, as the triune Godhead planned, executed, and applied the blood of the Son of God in the greatest legal transaction in history where Jesus Christ redeemed mankind from the slave market of sin and conquered the last enemy death. Dr. Walvoord wrote, “Victory over sin and death is promised. In His final pronouncement upon Satan, God said, ‘He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel’ (Gen. 3:15). Through the preceding verse referred to individuals in the plural, the final victory will be caused by one who is declared here to be the seed of the woman, anticipating the Virgin Birth. ‘He,’ referred to Christ, ‘will crush your head’ – that is, inflict a mortal wond on Satan that will be devastating and lead to his ultimate judgment. This first promise of the Redeemer and Savior begins the long line of prophecy through the Scriptures of the godly seed leading to Christ, including Abel, Seth, and Noah (Gen. 4:4, 25; 6:8-10); Shem (9:26-27); Abraham (12:1-4); Isaac (17:19-21) ; Jacob (28:10-14); Judah (49:10); David (2 Sam. 7:5-17); and Christ as Emmanuel (Isa. 9:6-7).”