Christian Churches of God
The Covenant of God
(Edition 2.0 19960217-19991204-20090129)
A common fallacy is that God has made completely different covenants in Old Testament times and in the New Testament era, as if God had made a mistake with ancient Israel and failed them and is now trying to correct the blunders with a New Covenant. The truth is that God is reliable and trustworthy and does not make mistakes. He deals fairly and consistently and the covenants illustrate these qualities. His Covenant with mankind throughout history is neither fragmented nor capricious. This paper examines the purpose of the Covenant and its involvement with three groups important to God: Abraham, Israel at Sinai, and New Testament Christians.
Part 1 - The Covenant
God has chosen to reveal Himself to man in a specific way. He has chosen to act in the affairs of men according to a set course of action, which will maximise the long term learning effect of the creation and minimise the damage to that creation. For that reason He chose to confine the activities of the human creation to this planet and set up a system with which He could interact. His activities demonstrate His nature and purpose, and provide guidance to His people. He has not chosen to deal with all men at this time. He chose one people with which to make His covenant. The activities of Jesus Christ in the Incarnation did not remove the covenant God made with Israel. Christ renewed that covenant and made a new and higher system of interaction available to humans through the activities of the Holy Spirit.
The Plan of Salvation has been discussed in various papers on the Holy Days. Each of these Feasts depicts the stages of the plan and serve as an annual reminder of what God is doing and how these things will be accomplished.
However, to fully understand God’s plan for us we must also understand how we fit into the picture and what our responsibilities are within the fulfilment of that plan. The most important part of our responsibilities is found in the covenant, which God made with Israel. The covenant sets out, like any formal agreement between two parties, the conditions under which the agreement is valid and the consequences of breaking that agreement. The parties to the agreement were confined to Israel as His chosen people on the one hand and God on the other. That covenant was extended in Jesus Christ to include all of the nations of the world as sons of God in Israel. The covenant with the Patriarchs and Israel was not removed as is commonly believed. It was rather extended to the Gentiles through the death of Messiah. There are thus not two separate covenants but, rather, two elements of the one covenant between God and His people. We will examine the terms and concepts below.
In simple terms, when we hold to the covenant with God, we will receive eternal life and if we break that covenant we will perish. Under His covenant with us God set out His promises to us and the consequences of our failure to keep our promises to Him. As from the time of Christ, our baptism is our promise to adhere to the covenant. This baptism is the sign with the nations, which acts in the same way as the original sign of circumcision acted with Israel. The symbolism was taken from a physical circumcision to a spiritual circumcision of the heart.
The Old Testament outlines the early covenant of God and shows how Israel prospered when abiding by the covenant and how captivity and disaster occurred when they failed to live according to it. Read Deuteronomy 28 for the blessings and curses incurred by keeping or failing to keep the commandments of God. This keeping of the commandments is our side of the agreement. This responsibility is also explained fully in the paper The Blessings and the Curses (No. 75)).
God had first established a relationship with Adam. Adam and Eve were offered the Tree of Life (Gen. 2:16-25). However, Adam had failed and the creation had to be removed to enable the plan of God to be implemented without interference or blemish.
For this reason the earth was judged under Enoch and destroyed under Noah. From that time God set about preparing for the covenant to be placed within a people that He could use as an example to the nations. From that people He would provide a saviour and first-fruits (Gen. 3:14-19). The redeemer was to come from the inner Host as one of the thousand (Job 33:23-28).
God made His covenant with Abraham, thus identifying his seed as the chosen through which the people of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). This blessing was to ultimately take the form of Messiah and the Church as Israel. The redeemer was the Angel of Yahovah, who was the elohim of Israel at the head of the elect (Zech. 12:8). This elohim is identified as Messiah from Hebrews 1:8-9.
Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." (RSV)
Firstly, Abraham had to prove his willingness to be obedient to God, and also to show that he trusted God to fulfil His promises. Abraham was to walk blamelessly before God and God would then make His covenant with him and his descendants. To walk blamelessly before God means to keep God’s Law. The Law of God proceeds from His very nature and is thus not variable. This law is expressed in the commandments which were given to Israel at Sinai but which long preceded that activity (see the paper Distinction in the Law (No. 96)).
Genesis 17:1-8 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly." 3 Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4 "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." (RSV)
This sets the base line and verses 7 and 8 are the focal point of the covenant.
The Angel of God or Yahovah, who we understand was Jesus Christ, tested Abraham to see if he would be faithful to God.
Genesis 22:1-18 After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2 He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori'ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8 Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together. 9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." 15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice." (RSV)
God knew what the outcome would be. He tested Abraham so that Abraham knew what it would be. Abraham was faithful to God in obeying His voice (The Angel of Yah[o]vah) and God re-enforced His covenant.
Hebrews 6:13-18 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you." 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. 16 Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, 18 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. (RSV)
The covenant was made of unchangeable purpose and two unchangeable elements. The main points of the covenant are:
1. Obedience to God’s will - “walk before me and be blameless” which is to keep the commandments of God (Gen. 12:1; 17:1; 26:5).
2. God’s promises.
· Abraham’s descendants would be multiplied greatly (Gen. 12:2; 17:5-6; 22:17).
· God would bless Abraham and make his name great (Gen. 12:2; 17:6).
· Through Abraham, all nations would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).
· They would receive a blessed homeland forever (Gen. 17:8).
This covenant was extended to Isaac and his heirs (Gen. 17:19; 26:1-5; 26:24).
Genesis 17:19 God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (RSV)
Genesis 26:1-5 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to Abim'elech king of the Philistines. 2 And the LORD appeared to him, and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfil the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give to your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves: 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (RSV)
Genesis 26:24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, "I am the God of Abraham your father; fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your descendants for my servant Abraham's sake." (RSV)
The covenant was then passed on down to Jacob.
Genesis 28:13-15 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; 14 and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you." (RSV)
There are important keys to understanding the deeper spiritual meanings within the Bible. In this issue there are such keys. The major principle is that God has established a relationship in the Host, which is reflected in the family of Abraham. Abraham, as patriarch, reflects the position of God the Father from whom came the Host. Isaac is a type of Jesus Christ and Jacob is a type of all the saints who overcome their human fleshly sins and, by walking in God’s ways, become sons of God being part of the first resurrection. Esau is a type of those who are of the birthright but reject it and thus are themselves rejected by God and therefore part of the Second Resurrection. This type/anti-type was first seen in the generations of Adam to Enoch. The right to take over the creation came from the obedience found in the Sethite line. The lineage of Cain reflected the fallen creation and for which the world that was had to be destroyed. This process was again seen in the seed of Abraham (see the paper Doctrine of Original Sin Part 2 The Generations of Adam (No. 248)).
The covenant then extended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (who was renamed Israel) to Jacob’s descendants, the whole nation of Israel. The rest of the book of Genesis deals with Jacob’s life, his family and the circumstances, which led to Israel as a nation being in captivity to the Egyptians. Read these chapters with those keys in mind, remembering that each event has deep spiritual meanings, with lessons to be learnt. From this point we see that the covenant is established with Israel as a physical people.
God is aware of the difficulties of His people and, never forgetting His covenant, promises to restore them to their own land.
Exodus 6:5-7 Moreover I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold in bondage and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, `I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment, 7 and I will take you for my people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (RSV)
The story of the Exodus has been dealt with in detail in the various papers dealing with Moses, the Exodus, Passover and Unleavened Bread (cf. the papers Moses and the Gods of Egypt (No. 105); The Passover (No. 98); The Seven Great Passovers of the Bible (No. 107)).
This brings us to the point where God restates His covenant with His people through the Angel of God who gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. At this time Moses was also given all the statutes and ordinances by which to govern the nation of Israel. And Moses explained these to the people who accepted the covenant.
Exodus 24:3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do." (RSV).
The covenant was not made with Israel because Israel was righteous. It was made because God was righteous and the nations were evil. God honours His promises and the purpose of the covenant is emphasised repeatedly.
The promise to Abraham was extended through Isaac. Then the covenant with Israel was extended to his progeny who became the nation of Israel, being named after him. The name Israel is derived from the Hebrew terms which mean He shall rule as God (El). This name reflects the ultimate purpose of God’s covenant. The elect shall rule as elohim (see the paper The Elect as Elohim (No. 1)). This is understood more fully from Zechariah 12:8. It was the common understanding of the early church (see esp. Irenaeus Adv. Her.).
Zechariah 12:8 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. (KJV)
Zechariah 12:8 On that day the LORD will put a shield about the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, at their head. (RSV)
This is the end time. It should be noted that the intent of the KJV before them means at their head (RSV). Messiah is the being at the head of the elect.
The reason for the implementation of the covenant is explained in Deuteronomy 9:4-5.
Deuteronomy 9:4-5 "Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, `It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land'; whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. 5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (RSV)
Thus the nations that were evil were to be over thrown and the rulership was to come through Messiah and the elect as Israel (see Dan. 2:1 ff.).
The main points of the covenant with the people are:
1. He would be their God and they would be His people.
· They would be His special treasure or people above all peoples (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 4:29).
· They would be a holy, righteous people (Deut. 6:25; 7:6; 10:15; 14:2,21, 26:18-19; 32:9; 1Kings 8:53; Ps. 33:12; 135:4; Isa. 41:8; 43:1; Jer. 10:16).
· They were to keep His commandments.
Deuteronomy 26:18-19 and the LORD has declared this day concerning you that you are a people for his own possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19 that he will set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honor, and that you shall be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he has spoken." (RSV)
2. God would give them a homeland forever (Deut. 4:1; 6:25; 8:7-10; 11:9-12; 30:20).
3. God expected obedience which would bring blessing upon His people (Deut. 6:2-3). Those who kept the commandments lived through the 40 years in the wilderness (Deut. 4:4). Also read Deuteronomy 6:24; 30:15-16; 19:20; 32:47 and Psalm 119.
4. Israel was to be the example to all nations. They would see her wisdom and understanding and so praise and honour God (see Deut. 4:6-8; 6:25; 26:19). This wisdom was evident only so far as they obeyed God. Obedience to His law established their thoughts (Ps. 119:1 et seq.; Prov. 16:3). They were to be the light of salvation to the Gentiles (Ps. 67:1-3; 117:1-2).
5. The period in the wilderness, led by the Angel of God, was to humble them and test them. The 40 years in the wilderness depicts the period we live endeavouring to overcome and live by every word of God so that we may enter the Kingdom of God at the first resurrection. The period also depicts the Church in the wilderness for 40 Jubilees. The Exodus was a time where it was proved whether they would faithfully obey God. In fact, most did not and only their children actually went into the Promised Land (Josh. 5:6-7).
6. The commandments were to be kept. This is repeated again and again. We are to live by every word of God (Deut. 30:15-20; 32:46-47). This was extended and repeated from the time of Christ (Mat. 4:4). The commandments of God and the testimony or faith of Jesus Christ are seen as the determining factor for membership of the covenant of the saints (Rev. 12:17; 14:12). The sacrificial law was integral to the law (see Ex. 20 to 34). The sacrificial law pointed to Messiah and was fulfilled in him. The law was not removed by this act. The sequence of the system of worship was not altered. The symbolism merely took on another meaning.
Israel was unable to maintain its agreement with God. Most of them failed in the wilderness. They did not believe or obey God. They did not have faith in God. Their punishment was that they were allowed to die and their children went into the Promised Land. Reading the Bible narrative we see that the whole history of Israel in the Old Testament indicates periods of blessings when they were obedient and periods of disaster, captivity and oppression when they turned to foreign gods and were not obedient to the commands of God. This has been set down in the Bible so that we can learn from these examples.
By understanding what God was doing with Israel, we can develop our faith and understand what we must do to enter the Promised Land (eternal life in the Kingdom of God). Most of Israel fell in the wilderness through disobedience (Heb. 3:16-19). They had the gospel preached to them, but they lacked faith (Heb. 4:12). The covenant promise still remained so the covenant is not yet fulfilled (Heb. 4:1,8).
Hebrews 8:7 tells us that the first covenant was not faultless.
Hebrews 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second. (RSV)
This second or deuteros (SGD 1208) covenant was as second in time, place or rank. It followed the first or protos (SGD 4413) covenant. This has the meaning of a foremost covenant in time, place, order or importance. There is no concept here of diminishing the importance of the first covenant.
It was not that the covenant was not perfect but the people were not able to keep it because the Holy Spirit of God was not made available to them. God knew that they would fail.
Deuteronomy 31:19-21 Now therefore write this song, and teach it to the people of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. 20 For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. 21 And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their descendants); for I know the purposes which they are already forming, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give." (RSV)
However, as already stated, it serves as an example to those who are called. It shows how serious our calling is and it shows what is expected of us (1Cor. 10:5-6; 1Pet. 1:10-12). It also shows the consequences of disobedience.
Hebrews 12:25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. (RSV)
Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, (RSV)
God foretold the coming of the New Covenant through His servants the prophets. The coming of the Messiah and the restoration of Israel were foretold in Isaiah 11:1 to 12:6. The return from the exile is also foretold in Jeremiah 30:1-24. In the latter days the activity and purpose will be understood. The text refers both to Israel and Judah, and concerns the restoration under a New Covenant. Judah is converted to the elect at the end so that the elect and the city of Jerusalem do not exalt themselves against Judah (Zech. 12:7). The return to Israel on a permanent basis was foretold.
Jeremiah 31:31-40 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." 35 Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar -- the LORD of hosts is his name: 36 "If this fixed order departs from before me, says the LORD, then shall the descendants of Israel cease from being a nation before me for ever." 37 Thus says the LORD: "If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the descendants of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD." 38 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the tower of Han'anel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Go'ah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be uprooted or overthrown any more for ever." (RSV)
The New Covenant here shows a fundamental distinction between the first and the second covenants. The second covenant is written on the hearts and the minds of the people so that the law can be kept by the people without assistance and without fault. It does not eliminate the law; it merely perfects the application of it within the individual such that they are able to execute the will of God through His law. This capacity and New Covenant involves Judah prior to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which is the mark of the completion of the sequence. Thus the restoration of Israel will not be complete until the placement of Judah to the New Covenant. The word for New Covenant in Jeremiah is chadash (SHD 2319) meaning fresh or a new thing, which is derived from chadash (SHD 2318) the prime root to be new meaning to cause to rebuild meaning to renew or repair. Thus God renews His covenant with the nation but renews or restores it so that it can be kept from the heart through the intervention of Messiah. The covenant is, however, still with Israel as we see. Modern teaching that the New Covenant does away with God’s law simply misapprehends the nature of the covenants and the activity of God. Those who diminish the law in the least form and teach men so are counted least in the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 5:17-20 "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (RSV)
Until heaven and earth pass away God’s law will stand and be taught and enforced by Jesus Christ and his true disciples. The measure of a teacher or prophet is as how they speak in regard to the law and the testimony. If they speak not according to the law and the testimony there is no light or dawn in them (Isa. 8:20) -- the Day Star is not in them (2Pet. 1:19). The covenant of God still stands and will be fulfilled. It will become integral to all people.
Hebrews 8:10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (RSV)
Hebrews thus quotes Jeremiah. Hebrews shows that the New Covenant has better promises.
Hebrews 8:6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (RSV)
The Old Covenant was physical and the New Covenant is spiritual, but nevertheless based on the same laws and principles. God promises or explains the following things:
1. He would be their God and they would be His people.
God was then dealing with the physical nation of Israel. Now he is dealing with the spiritual nation of Israel. All those who seek to do God’s will and are baptised become part of spiritual Israel, which is the Church that is keeping all the laws and Commandments of God. They are the people who walk through the narrow way and gate. The people that find it are few (Mat. 7:13-14). Thus God is dealing with few, not many in this matter and in this age.
Matthew 7:13-14 13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (RSV)
2. God would give them a homeland forever.
Christians today will receive eternal life in the Kingdom of God. The measure of the ability to receive eternal life is based on the knowledge of the one true God and His son Jesus Christ whom He sent (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20).
3. Obedience would bring blessings.
Christians are to live by every word of God.
Matthew 4:4 But he answered, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" (RSV)
They are to keep the Commandments.
John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (RSV)
Remember that God gave His commandments to Moses through the Angel of Yahovah who later became Christ. It is the saints who keep the commandments of God (Rev. 12:17; 14:12).
4. They will be a blessing to the nations.
Salvation will come to all peoples through the example and teaching of God’s people who preach the truth (Acts 10:34-35; 13:46-47; Mat. 5:14). God is not a respecter of persons -- everyone who fears Him and lives by His word is acceptable to Him and we are to be the light of the world.
Acts 13:47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, `I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.'" (RSV)
5. Christ tests the faithfulness of Christians (Rom. 8:27; Rev. 2:23).
Our faith is tested by fire (1Pet. 1:7), we are to be holy (1Pet. 1:15-16), we are under judgment now (1Pet. 4:17) and we are being chastened and disciplined in order that we may inherit the covenant (Heb. 12:1-10).
6. We are required to keep the Law (Mat. 5:17-18; Acts: 24:14; Rom. 2:13; 3:31; 7:12).
This law is the perfect law of liberty by which we are judged (Jas. 1:25; 2:12).
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (KJV)
The whole law stands, not just part of the law.
James 2:8-12 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. (KJV)
The levels of the law consist in respect of persons also so that the whole law is broken at this level. The complexity of the issue in terms of the Holy Spirit requires explanation. Those who teach that the law is removed seem not to comprehend even the fundamentals of the New Covenant. Paul’s comments are grossly misunderstood and misrepresented in relation to the law (see the paper The Works of the Law Text - or MMT (No. 104)).
So the covenant still stands, and has not altered greatly, but what makes the real difference between the Old and the New? It is the Holy Spirit. The Israelites of the Old Testament failed because they did not have the Holy Spirit. They were not converted. Christ said to Peter prior to his death at Luke 22:32 that when he was converted he was to strengthen his brethren. Christ knew that until they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost they would not be converted. This is the important difference. Christ said we were to repent and be baptised. On request after baptism, symbolised by the laying on of hands, the Holy Spirit is given and writes the law on our hearts. From that time we can start to overcome our weaknesses and develop our faith and knowledge of God and Christ. We continue to grow in knowledge and understanding of the law and the way that we are to live and worship God.
It follows, from the requirements of John 17:3 and 1John 5:20, that one must understand that Jesus Christ is not the one true God but rather His son sent by Him in order to qualify for the covenant and eternal life through the first commandment. Hence, Trinitarianism and its companion Binitarianism are breaches of the first commandment and disqualify one for the Kingdom of God. Very few indeed in the twentieth century thus inherit the New Covenant and eternal life.
The Israelites of the New Covenant are those who become children of God through Jesus Christ. Modern Israel constitutes the children of Abraham. They are those who do the works of Abraham and hear God’s words (Jn. 8:39-47). It is not the physical descendants who are the children but the spiritual descendants. God is able to raise up children to Abraham from stones as John the Baptist said (Lk. 3:8). The children of the promise are counted as seed (Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:7).
Romans 9:6-8 But it is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named." 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants. (RSV)
Each is grafted on to the tree of Israel (Rom. 11:17). They are grafted on to the tree of Israel because the covenant promise still belongs to Israel (Eph. 2:12). These children who comprise Israel today are the Church (Rom. 4:14,17; 11:17; Jn. 8:39-47; Gal. 3:26-29; 6:16). Also:
1John 5:1-5 Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
In other words, Israel is now a spiritual nation of people, called out by God and given to Christ, who:
· have repented;
· been baptised;
· are in receipt of the Holy Spirit;
· worship the One True God;
· obey His Commandments; and
· believe that Christ is His son whom He sent (Jn. 17:3).
These are they to whom prophets spoke and who the prophets served in their messages (1Pet. 2:12).
It is important to note that God’s love is only available on a continuing basis to those who keep the covenant (Ps. 103:17-18; Ps. 25:10). However, God will receive all who repent and their sins will be forgiven.
We have now looked at what the covenant is and to whom the covenant relates. We know that the covenant is an agreement by two parties to commit themselves to specified responsibilities. The two parties are God and Israel. The entire New Testament church takes its place as the Israel of God by designation (Gal. 6:16). These are the children of the promise (Rom. 9:6-8). The covenant of God is the goal of the creation and the plan of salvation as expressed in Scripture.
The Responsibilities of God and of Israel
God has steadfast love and keeps His covenant towards those that love and fear Him and keep His covenant (Ps. 103:17-18), and commandments (Ps. 33:17-18; 106:45; Neh. 1:5; 9:32; Dan. 9:4; 1Kings 8:23).
He receives those who repent of unfaithfulness but condemns the unfaithful (Rom. 3:3-8). He sends redemption and salvation (Ps. 111:9). He protects His people as He leads them to their inheritance (Ps. 5:11-12; 105:8-15).
His ways are mercy and truth to those that keep His covenant (Ps. 25:10). He teaches, protects and forgives. He is faithful and merciful, but He will withdraw from us when we are unfaithful. We can take refuge in His love (Ps. 36:7). His friendship is for those who fear Him and He makes known to them His covenant (Ps. 25:14). Thus the entire covenant is based upon the fear of God.
Israel must remember what God has done for them (Deut. 4:23,30-31; Ps. 77:5-15; Ps. 105). They must remain faithful and dedicated, and with trust and patience wait for Him with thanksgiving (Ps. 26:1-3; 33:20-22; 92:2; 125:1-2) always keeping the commandments.
To do this it is necessary to study the Bible and to pray and fast, thus developing a sound relationship with both God and Christ, so that one can grow in knowledge, faith and love of God and neighbour.
Only by keeping the covenant with God can we understand the Plan of Salvation, because the plan is only revealed to those who abide within that covenant. As stated previously, we make the agreement by repenting of our former ways and turning to God, being baptised (Mk. 16:16). Then we receive the Holy Spirit through prayer, symbolised by the laying on of hands by an elder of God. We are tested by fire and sacrifice and then we are gathered to God under the covenant (Ps. 50:5).
Psalm 50:3-6 Our God comes, he does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest. 4 He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: 5 "Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!" 6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! [Selah] (RSV)
These are the korban of the Feasts. They are the elect of the 144,000 (see the paper The Harvests of God, the New Moon Sacrifices and the 144,000 (No. 120)). The elect are persecuted for their commitment to the covenant (Rev. 12:17; 14:12). They form part of an army, which is aimed at the overthrow and the subjugation of the spiritual powers that rule the nations of the planet. The elect have power to bring down strongholds.
Through Christ’s sacrifice (Passover), the putting away of sin (Unleavened Bread) and the receipt of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) we are able to be reconciled with God as His first-fruits. On Christ’s return (Trumpets) we will be part of the first resurrection. Christ and the elect are reconciled to God from his ascension. The nations are reconciled to God when Satan is put away for the Millennium (symbolised by Atonement). Christ and the elect, using the Holy Spirit, teach all nations how to live within the covenant during the Millennium (Feast of Tabernacles).
At the end of the Millennium all those who have not previously had the opportunity will be resurrected (the second resurrection) and in turn be taught the requirements of the covenant and, finally, also receive eternal life (Last Great Day or Great White Throne Judgment).
Papers have been written on each of these holy days of God, which explain their meaning and how they should be kept.
What happens to those who do not respect the covenant of God? This group is of two kinds. Those, who like Esau had the opportunity but rejected it, and those who have never had the opportunity to know Christ.
Neither group enter the first resurrection which is the better resurrection (Heb. 11:35 KJV; Rev. 20:6), but they are all resurrected at the end of the Millennium and all will be taught the truth and be given the chance to live according to God’s will.
Those who still reject God will be allowed to die and their bodies will be burnt. However, it is God’s will that none should perish (2Pet. 3:9) so it would seem that in the end most will repent and will receive eternal life, which is the ultimate aim of the Plan of Salvation.
The covenant of God is comprised of a number of aspects. The covenant is placed on the nation of Israel as the elect. It also has aspects of rulership and control based on the concepts of war. This warfare is spiritual.
There are thus a number of interrelated matters of the election. The entire matter relates to the battle between the forces of the Host. The primary matter is, then, who shall rule and how shall they rule.
God’s covenant with David and to his descendants related to the throne and was established forever. The rulership was established in Israel under Messiah on the throne of David (Ps. 89:3-4). Psalm 89:5-7 shows that this rulership extends to the council of the Holy Host. This rulership and line are spiritual (Rev. 5:9-10). This line endures forever (Ps. 89:19 ff.). David is the first of a line of the covenant which stands forever (Ps. 89:28). It is based on obedience to the commandments of God, His laws and ordinances (Ps. 89:30-32). Violation of the law draws punishment but it does not violate the covenant God has promised (Ps. 89:33-37). It follows, from this text, that Messiah cannot inherit the throne of David and repudiate the terms of the covenant, which established the throne in David’s line. This extends to all of the elect, the household of David, who seek the priesthood and the kingship as elohim (Zech. 12:8).
To effect this matter the election of Israel into an army as the sons of God was the primary aim of the covenant. This will be examined in Part 2.
It is important to understand that the majority of the nations of the world at this time do not listen to God. They do not accept the Bible as His inspired word and do not follow the teachings and example of Christ. They will not accept the covenant of God. Because of this fact, God will chastise the people of the earth. He will call for their repentance and He will punish those who will not repent. This is achieved by releasing, from the restraint imposed upon them, the angels who rebelled over the creation of mankind in the first place. Many of the biblical prophesies tell of the end time disasters - wars, earthquakes, pestilence, famine and so on, caused by the rebelliousness of mankind to the laws of God. If the nations repented these could be avoided, but the prophecies tell us that mankind does not repent and mankind will nearly destroy this earth. Christ will come soon to save his people, the saints. These are those who have kept the commandments of God and the testimony of Messiah (Rev. 12:17; 14:12). To effect this conquest God requires an army of the new sons of God. We will see what this election is. Will you be one of them?
Part 2 - The Army of God
We have seen from Part 1 that the Church is the element of Israel we call Spiritual Israel. Indeed the nation of Israel is no longer a physical concept only. This aspect was changed from the Incarnation and the resurrection of Messiah. The concept of the aim and responsibility of Israel changed with that spiritual restructuring also. To understand the role of Israel in the last days we must understand what the role of Israel was when it was established in the first instance under Aaron and Moses.
Exodus 6:26 shows that Aaron and Moses were instructed to bring Israel out of Egypt according to their armies. The word is SHD 6635 and is the same as that used throughout the Pentateuch, namely tsaba. This means a mass of persons and is especially recognised as organised for war. This word is also used of the Host. The use of the term is most distinctive and perhaps curious. Tsaba is used throughout the Pentateuch and again in the Psalms (Ps. 44:9; 60:10; 68:12) and again in Isaiah 34:2. The singular form is used in 1Chronicles 20:1; 27:34; 2Chronicles 25:7; 26:13. The book of 1Samuel uses another term entirely with its derivatives, namely ma’arah (SHD 4630) meaning an open spot and by implication an army (from the marg.); ma’arakah (4634) meaning an arrangement or pile hence a military array thus an army set in order or concentration; machaneh (4264) meaning an encampment (of travellers or troops). 2Kings and 1Chronicles use chayil (SHD 2428) meaning a force whether of men, means or other resources hence also goods, wealth, virtue, valour, strength and Job 25:3 uses geduwd (SHD 1416) used of crowd, especially of soldiers but also of robbers, and the singular form is used in 2Chronicles 25:9,10,13. Song of Songs 6:13 uses machaneh (SHD 4264).
The Pentateuch uses the singular form of SHD 2428 in Exodus 14:9 and Deuteronomy 11:4 as does 1Samuel 17:21; 1Kings 20:19,25; 2Kings 25:5,10; 2Chronicles 13:3,14:8.
There appears to be a distinction made between the armies of Israel who are the tsaba or Host of God and the armies of the nations. An example can be seen from 2Chronicles 24:24 referring to the army of the Syrians using SHD 2428 meaning a force and 2Chronicles 26:13 using tsaba. This distinction appears to be retained in Nehemiah 2:9 and 4:2 in referring to the armies of Samaria. The same terms are used of the armies of Babylon (Jer. 32:2; 34:1,7 etc.). The same term is constant throughout Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Joel. The only difference is found in Zechariah 9:8 using matstsaba (SHD 4675) meaning a military guard. The king of Israel, Messiah, surrounds his house to protect it.
The distinction appears deliberate and continuous. The army of Israel is a host under the Lord of Hosts, Yahovah Sabaoth. The opposing forces are merely those forces arrayed against Israel as His chosen people placed under Messiah.
The Host of Israel was drawn out from Egypt as an army for the express purpose of being in distinction to the forces of the nations.
From this viewpoint we can then proceed to examine what is happening in the Bible narrative between God and the people of His covenant.
As we have seen, Israel came out of Egypt as the army of God (Ex. 6:26; 7:4; 12:51). They were selected and described as men of war (Josh. 5:4-6). All of those who were taken out of Egypt even the men of war, died in the wilderness. For this reason Joshua circumcised Israel at Gilgal. The people who had been born in the wilderness were not circumcised until Gilgal. Thus all men from 40 years downwards were circumcised at Gilgal as a new army. This significance relates to the Church and the forty Jubilees in the wilderness between the Incarnation and the Advent of Messiah. The story of Joshua and the fall of Jericho relates to the fall of the nations and the wars of Revelation (see the papers The Fall of Jericho (No. 142); The Seven Seals (No. 140) and The Seven Trumpets (No. 141)).
This selection was to proceed to the establishment of the kingship under David. David knew that Israel was the army of the living God (1Sam. 17:26,36,45). David saw that he fought for God in His army and that Goliath of Gath and the Philistines had defied God (see also the paper David and Goliath (No. 126)). The election as the army of God remained from the beginning and David recognised that it was the army of God before he was king under Saul. Thus the election is not leader specific.
The terms and viewpoint continue throughout the prophets and the writings of the Old Testament as we have seen.
The terminology is used by Messiah in the New Testament. Christ saw himself engaged in a war and used that terminology. Matthew 12:28-29 shows this.
Matthew 12:28-29 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. (KJV)
Christ was in the process of spoiling the house of the god of this world.
Paul used this terminology also.
Colossians 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (KJV)
The triumph of Christ thus began at the Crucifixion. From his success there, the Church was formed and began a new phase of the struggle. That process lasts over the forty Jubilees or two thousand years. The final battles are the greatest. The struggle is depicted in the empires mentioned in Daniel 2. Messiah is the stone that finally destroys the last phase of the empire of the ten toes and established his Kingdom forever (Dan. 2:34-35,42-45).
The wars of the end are described in detail in Revelation (see various papers). Messiah uses the forces of the nations against themselves. They will be brought down to Jerusalem to be destroyed through their own power and weaponry. The weapons and armaments will be enough to provide resources for Israel for the Millennium. This process is described as the winepress of the wrath of God. The sequence of the wars will be described separately (see the papers The Last Thirty Years: the Final Struggle (No. 219) and Outline Timetable of the Age (No. 272)).
Placed over the nations are the sons of God (Deut. 32:8 RSV, the MT and hence the KJV reads children of Israel from a late alteration, see LXX and DSS). These beings rebelled and they are also destroyed in power. These are the powers that are plundered. Thus, the war is spiritual and physical -- being against Satan and his kingdom. Satan uses and manipulates the nations being the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).
Christ as the Angel of Yahovah selected and trained an administrative system among physical Israel from Sinai. He selected and trained a new system from the New Testament Church with the ordination of the twelve apostles, the 70, the 120, and so on up to the 144,000. Each one of these people is selected by God and given to Christ for this struggle.
Christians are thus called to be part of the army of God. They were given power over unclean spirits (Mat. 10:1). The war is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). This warfare thus requires us to witness and struggle against these powers. Christians have an obligation to give their voice regarding the conduct of their society.
This warfare is not waged with carnal weapons.
2Corinthians 10:3-4 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (KJV)
Our fight is a fight of faith in which we lay hold on eternal life (1Tim. 6:12). Thus our status is elevated through this process. The elect are chosen to be soldiers and to war.
2Timothy 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (KJV)
Preparation for Battle as the Army of God
God would only fight for and with Israel if they were undefiled by iniquity and the powers of evil. The nation thus had to be sanctified and free from idols (Josh. 7:11-13). There were thus two aspects. The nation of Israel had to be free from idolatry or they were subject to invasion.
The next step is that they had to be reconciled to God and sanctified by the process of sacrifice. This system of sacrifice pointed to Messiah and he replaced the sacrificial process in the Church. The Church was placed at a level of responsibility of obedience to God’s law, which resulted from the circumcision of the heart (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 4:4). God wants obedience and mercy and not sacrifice (Hos. 6:6; Rom. 5:19; 6:16; 16:19,26), as Christ learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb. 5:8). To this end we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).
The direction of God was foremost in determining the actions of the nation in war. This also concerned the actions of the nation against its own tribes, as was the case with Benjamin (Jdg. 20:18). The king also took counsel with God through the prophets or by Urim (1Sam. 14:37; 23:2,4; 30:8). God answered by dreams, by Urim or by the prophets, but he would not answer if the king or the nation were defiled by idolatry.
The nation stood alone under God. For this reason idolatry was forbidden. The forming of alliances with other nations who themselves were idolatrous merely confused the issue of the activities of God and thus such alliances were forbidden being a betrayal of the covenant and a substitute covenant (Ex. 23:32; Deut. 7:2; Judg. 2:2-3; 2Kings 16:7; Jer. 22:9).
The allies of the nation were the forces of God only -- thus the angelic Host under Jesus Christ who was the captain of the armies of God (Josh. 5:14-15; see the paper The Fall of Jericho (No. 142)). The angels fought for Israel (Judg. 5:20; 2Chr. 32:21; Dan. 10:13-14,20-21). It is of note that Daniel was given the understanding that the conflict would be over a great period of time and entail the period known as the latter days (Dan. 10:13-14).
The forces of the world and the evil of its systems are to be overcome and thrown down and replaced with justice and righteousness by the sons of God (Jn. 16:33; Rom. 12:21; 1Jn. 2:13; 4:4; 5:4). This process of warfare was set in motion from the Pentateuch and is enshrined in the covenant conditional to the laws of God.
This alliance is predicated upon the understanding that God will fight for Israel with the Host if Israel is obedient (Deut. 7:2; Josh. 1:2-9). God will not break the covenant (Judg. 2:1-2).
As Israel extends to and forms the Church this condition is placed upon the Church. Thus the antinomian arguments of modern Christianity can correctly be seen as a satanic deception to place the Church of God in breach of the covenant. Thus the fiction of the New Covenant eliminating the Old Covenant and doing away with God’s commandments is employed to obscure or destroy the understanding of the covenant of God.
God is committed to the destruction of evil, commencing with and from Israel. Thus if Israel is subverted by evil, which is equated with a lack of knowledge (Isa. 5:13), or trusting in lies (Jer. 13:24-25), God will raise up other peoples to destroy the power of Israel and chastise it (Isa. 63:10; Ezek. 5:8-17; 35:3), taking it into captivity and destroying the land (Jer. 1:3; 13:19; 20:6; Ezek. 12:11; 39:23; Amos 9:4). He warns them of this from the beginning (Deut. 28:63-66). This punishment is applied to the entire period of prophecy and is applied to the latter days and spiritual and physical Israel should they sin (Amos 5:18-27; 7:7-17; Mic. 1:3-4,16).
Assyria is God’s rod or hammer, which He uses to shave His people and the land shall be briars and thorns (Isa. 7:20-25). God used Assyria in punishment through prophecy (Isa. 8:1-10). The storm of Assyria would chastise Israel (Isa. 10:22; 28:4) and rule over them (Hos. 11:5). Assyria gave way to Babylon, which became the hammer of the whole earth (Jer. 50:23). Nebuchadnezzar was sent to punish Israel and make it desolate (Jer. 5:15-17; 21:11-14; 27:6; 34:2,22; 43:10; Ezek. 21:8-17). Yet, Babylon would itself be broken by the vengeance of His temple (Jer. 50:23,28).
The ancient system revolved around plunder of the nation or from spoils of war either to Israel (Num. 31:11-12; Deut. 20:14; Josh. 22:8), or from Israel (Isa. 10:6; Ezek. 7:21).
God spoke through Isaiah to show Israel that a confederacy would not work to thwart His purpose. God was to be the object of fear and worship (Isa. 8:12-14). God is a sanctuary but He became a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both houses of Israel and to Jerusalem. They understood nothing, for the law and the testimony was sealed and bound up among His disciples (Isa. 8:16) because of their wilful disobedience. Thus, we see that the law and the testimony had to be replaced or relocated within a new system of the disciples of God. This was to be the Church under Messiah.
Thus, there are two elements to Israel, which take part in the battle. But the capacity of physical Israel was reduced until the Church and is now secondary to the Church and only while they obey the commandments of God. That is why Israel has been bled by war this century and after World War II the demons were allowed to build a new system on a clean slate so that Israel might be chastised at the next conflict.
Israel is unclean as a nation. She is defiled and more so than for centuries. The priests and prophets are defiled. There is none to stand in the gap or make up the hedge, or defensive wall, for Israel to be able to stand in the day of the Lord. Thus the priests are condemned and removed because they hamper knowledge and hinder entry to the Kingdom of God (Lk. 11:42). They are removed so that Israel can see at last (Ezek. 13:1-16; Mat. 23:13-39; see the paper Measuring the Temple (No. 137)).
The restoration occurs after Israel repents. The precedents for this are well documented. God deals with the nation in captivity. Israel seems only to turn to God under adversity. Israel was taken into captivity under Shalmaneser. They were dispersed to the north of Assyria. This was so that Israel could take up its birthright. Judah was taken into captivity under the Babylonians. God spared those who went willingly (Jer. 38:17) but turned against those who resisted or fled (Jer. 38:18 to 42:22, esp. 42:17).
The final purification is severe indeed. The third that remains is purified again and the remnant is the Holy Seed (Isa. 6:13). Thus survival in Israel at the last days is dependent upon conversion and entry into the army of God. The final elements are burnt again and the elect themselves are purified by fire. The sequence commenced with the destruction of Jerusalem (Ezek. 5:1-17). The next phase was found in the dispersion and the purification of Israel throughout the lands it occupied (Ezek. 6:1-14). The destruction and purification was to continue until the nation was cleansed (Ezek. 7:1-27).
God cleanses by trial but does not forsake His people. He has mercy on His people (Isa. 54:7-8; Jer 46:28). He judges the nations that deal with Israel, and deals with them accordingly (Mat. 25:31-46). This judgment applies both with Israel as a nation and Israel as the Church.
Babylon was used to punish Israel but it was judged according to its mercy. It was harsh (Jer. 30:16; Jer. 51:34-37) and consequently the Medes were raised up by God to deal with them (Isa. 13:17; 45:1-6). The destruction of Babylon is dealt with from the east and the sequence is spoken in Isaiah 46 and 47. The ravenous bird from the east is mentioned. The sequence seems to have a duality, which applies to the end days or the Day of the Lord. The Medes are again mentioned in Jeremiah 50 and 51. The setting is in the last days with the pardoning of Israel. That time will see the perpetual covenant established that shall not be broken (Jer. 50:5). It should be understood that Babylon is a system as well as a city. When Revelation was written it was non-existent. The city had been destroyed and another city was termed that, being in another location. However, Babylon was not understood as being that city either but rather the centre of world power and religion -- a city on seven hills referred to as mountains because they represent national powers (Rev. 17:1-18). This city could hardly have been other than Rome.
The Babylonian system will be destroyed and left desolate (as Sodom and Gomorrah) because it represents the antithesis of the covenant system God established. Thus the Day of the Lord is inextricably associated with the fall of Babylon (see also Jer. 51:6-10). Verse 11 associates the fall with the Medes, yet the wording is forward and prophetic. Note Jeremiah 51:7 uses the same language as Revelation 17:2.
Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. (KJV)
The conflict is against this system and the demons that it represents.
The message is that God has set aside a people to accomplish His purpose. All things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Israel, as the army of God, has no choice. It must fight or die according to the rules God has given. The nation will perish because of its iniquity. The elect cannot avoid judgment and involvement. They are in for the duration.
Whether the nation had a softer time in previous years and could avoid involvement, such is not the case now and as the nation declines in standards so too is the captivity hastened. Only repentance ensures salvation.
There is a remnant left to the nation (Isa. 1:9). This is the Holy Seed as we have seen. Israel is restored after judgment or correction (Jer. 4:27; 31:2; Ezek. 6:8-9; Joel 2:18-19; Mal. 3:17). This leads to repentance and reconciliation (Ezra 8:13; Isa. 10:20; Jer. 31:18-19; Ezek. 6:9; 14:21-23). The final restoration is to Zion which is the goal of the elect (Isa. 4:2-4; 37:32; Rev. 7:1-17; 14:1-5).
Thus the sequence of the rejection/restoration was firstly as the nation under the kingship. Then the rejection as the nation under the priesthood occurred through the silence of the prophets and the dispersal of the Temple and its priesthood.
The destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion enabled Israel, and not Judah, in the dispersion to become the nation showing the fruits of the conversion as the repository of the faith in the Church. All Gentiles could thus be called into the Church. The nations could be dealt with on a progressive basis and the elect could be called over the period of time between the Incarnation and the Advent.
The end will not come until the power of the holy people is scattered (Dan. 12:7). The dispersal ensues after the prince of the holy people stands against the nations and the elect are delivered. This commences the process of the resurrection-millennium-resurrection (Dan. 12:1-2). The period of the times had to be complete before the end could come.
The book of Daniel mentions the periods of seven times (Dan. 4:16) and also the lesser period of three-and-a-half times (Dan. 12:7). The lesser period lies within the greater. The greater period ended at 1 Nisan in the sacred year 1996/97. The period of the 1,260 years of Revelation ended in 1850. It was also almost 1,260 years or a time, times and half a time from Nebuchadnezzar’s ascendancy at the battle of Carchemish in 605 BC to the declaration of the Holy Roman Empire in 590 CE -- commencing the feet of iron and clay. The next three and a half times covered the period of 1,260 years until the disbanding of the Holy Roman Empire. The time difference of 64 years commenced the period of the wars of the end in 1914-18. From 1996/97, the time of the Gentiles is finished (see the papers The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13); and The Fall of Egypt (No. 36): The Prophecy of Pharaoh’s Broken Arms). The thirty years of the wars of Revelation commence. This sequence is delineated in the paper on that subject The Last Thirty Years: the Final Struggle (No. 219).
The restoration is a progressive takeover of the planet from Jerusalem over a period of time, which sees the planet subjugated. This period is represented by the month in which the shepherds are removed. This is the month at the end of the march in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. The war with the Amalekites that Israel fought at the beginning of the march through the wilderness is the prophetic conflict of the war against Israel and the Church, which was to last until the subjugation of Canaan at the end of the period. Amalek was the first of the nations (Num. 24:20). Seemingly, Amalek had pre-eminence over Egypt for that rank (perhaps as the Hyksos) -- yet he will be destroyed. The lead up from the Amalekite war to the fall of Jericho (see the paper The Fall of Jericho (No. 142)) is indicative of this process (see the paper Commentary on Esther (No. 63) for this conflict with the Church). Other aspects of this are dealt with at:
The subjugation of Canaan is also symbolic of the period of the restoration of the planet after the war and before the treble harvest of the Jubilee of 2027/8. The system will be enforced and thus the nations will be given the law and discipline.
The elect will be as spirit beings at this time. They will be as elohim as the Angel of Yahovah at their head (Zech. 12:8). The feeble of Israel will be returned to Jerusalem and Israel and they will be like David. This is the period of the restoration (Zech. 12:7-8).
God is seen as the deliverer of Israel and the force that destroys their enemies. His use of Israel is not through their own strength (see Ps. 18:29-50; 44:4-8). However, Israel was cast down by God even though they claimed they were blameless under the covenant (see Ps. 44:9-16, see esp. vv. 17-21). Psalm 44:22 continues: Yea for thy sake are we killed all the day long; We are counted as sheep for the slaughter. This text is quoted in Romans 8:36 and precedes the cry to the Lord for action and redemption of Israel. The text is thus also applied to the Church in the latter days. This covenant is thus a continuing matter and central to redemption.
There seems to be a physical aspect to the battle in the last days also which involve both Judah and Ephraim. Zechariah 9:9-11 shows that Messiah is central to the covenant and that the battle bow shall be cut off.
Zechariah 9:9-11 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. 11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. (KJV)
The battle is perhaps thus a spiritual battle between Zion and Greece.
Zechariah 9:12-17 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee; 13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. 14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. 15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. 16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. 17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids. (KJV)
This is more readily understood after the two millennia of religious conflict based upon faulty Greek theology. That process, based upon the epistemology of the Platonic system, set in train a false system which was adapted by the Romans and prevented the true conversion of untold millions of people.
Under Christ, Israel as the Church takes captivity captive (Eph. 4:8) and rules over the nations that oppressed them (Isa. 14:1-3; 48:1-22). This latter text forms the basis for the injunction for God’s people to come out of Babylon. Those that devour Israel shall themselves be devoured (Jer. 30:16; 50:37; Zeph. 2:9). The final phase is the rule under Messiah and the restoration of the nation Israel and the peaceful interaction of the Gentiles with Israel (Ps. 18:35-50; Isa. 60:1-22; 61:1-11).
From this time, the law is established and proceeds from Zion (Isa. 2:3). In this restoration the entire system will be re-established as it was given to Moses at Sinai by Jesus Christ as the Angel of Yahovah. The restoration of the law will be accompanied by an exodus of Israel (Isa. 66:1-2,10-24). The New Moons and Sabbaths will be kept.
All of the nations will keep the feasts and they will send their delegates to Jerusalem on the Feast of Tabernacles or there will be no rain in due season. Also they will be given the plagues of Egypt.
Zechariah 14:16-19 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (KJV)
This is the way that the earth will be controlled. The whole earth will obey God and His Law under Messiah who will enforce that law together with the elect who shall be as elohim in the assembly of God (Zech. 12:8).
Part 3 - The Individual within the Covenant
The individual exists within the covenant as a chosen member of the nation of Israel in a number of aspects. The person is called into a covenant relationship with God as His son. Females are also sons of God as there will be neither male nor female in the spirit world (Lk. 20:34-35). The feminine aspect is also reflected as a bride of Christ and, then, as part of the Body of Christ. The individual sons of God are then part of the saints or holy ones of God.
The individuals are also taken in as part of the vineyard of God. The individuals are thus vines of God and are cultivated as part of the vineyard within the parables of the vine (Jn. 15:1-9). Israel is then established as the vineyard of the Lord and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant (Isa. 5:7).
The individual is then used as a servant of God. The covenant relationship embraces all of these aspects on an individual basis before the nation of Israel can be perfected in its covenant relationship.
The covenant is thus seen as a multi-faceted ongoing relationship between the nation of Israel and the individuals who comprise that nation and the God who chose them as the nation in which He would establish His covenant for all time and with all people.
The Host of Heaven are the sons of God. They existed before the foundation of the planet and they constituted the family of God (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:4-7). The sons of God suffered rebellion and division through Satan (Rev. 12:4) who was a son of God (Job 1:6). God is healing that division and reconciling the creation to Himself through Jesus Christ (Rev. 5:1-14).
The first phase of this process was commenced in Adam who failed. Yet God had seen the new reconciliation as necessary after the flood and through the descendants of Abraham (Gen. 17:7-8).
God wanted to set aside a people who would be faithful to Him and He did this by covenant with Abraham and his descendants forever (Gen. 17:7-8; Ex. 7:4; 19:6; Lev. 11:45; 20:26; 26:12; Deut. 7:6; 14:2,21; 26:17-19; 28:10; 29:12-13; 2Sam. 7:24; 1Chr. 17:22; Jer. 7:23; 11:4).
The nation of Israel was set aside as the inheritor of the birthright as the firstborn son. Israel was called out of Egypt to become the firstborn son and children of Eloah (Ex. 4:22-23; Deut. 14:1; 32:8 (RSV), 17-19 (note Eloah as the object of sacrifice); Isa. 1:2). God called Israel to be holy through obedience to His voice and cling to Him as the sash on a man’s waist (Jer. 13:11) and obey Him with all their heart (Jer. 24:7; 31:1; 32:38; Ezek. 11:20; 14:11; 36:28; 37:23,27; Zech. 8:8).
God will carry and deliver His children from the womb (Isa. 46:3-4). He will not forget them (Isa. 49:15). God is Father and maker of Israel (Isa. 63:16; 64:8). The Father is the guide of Israel’s youth (Jer. 3:4).
God established Israel as His children so that they would not turn away from Him (Jer. 3:19). However, they did turn from Him (Jer. 3:22). God thus rejected Israel. God will again redeem His children (Isa. 43:6). He prophesied through Isaiah and Hosea that He would restore them as sons of God (Hos. 1:10). This process would be through Messiah who would again relive the call from Egypt and commence the restoration again from Egypt (Hos. 11:1).
Even though Israel was called to a worship of the Most High God, who is the Father, none would exalt Him (Hos. 11:7). This is true now of Trinitarians and Binitarians. The sons of God were called into a special relationship with God as a holy people. That did not mean they were holy when they were called. In fact quite the reverse. It is God who makes them holy.
Ephraim is termed God’s dear son and thus Ephraim also has the birthright. There are thus two aspects of the sonship, one in Judah and the other in Ephraim. Messiah, of the line of Judah, was to become the firstborn of Israel from the dead (Rom. 8:29). He was the first-begotten who God brought into the world (Heb. 1:6).
The kingship was established in the line of David and the Temple was to be built in his line. Solomon was the one designated to commence this work (1Chr. 22:10; 2Sam. 7:14) and the throne of the Kingdom would be established forever. The throne is thus also integral to the covenant (cf. the paper Measuring the Temple (No. 137)).
The covenant of the sons of God is established with the Gentiles, through adoption, from the New Testament Church (Rom. 8:14,15; 9:4,6-8; Gal. 4:4-7).
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (KJV)
This phase marked a transformation in the relationship of the nations from servants of God to sons of God. Thus the Gentiles became heirs to the promise as sons of God, becoming part of Israel. The concept of service and servant of God is examined below.
The elect are sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:26). The elect are then co-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 3:29; 4:7; Titus 3:7; Heb. 1:14; 6:17; 11:9; Jas. 2:5; 1Pet. 3:7). They are also God’s holy people (Rom. 1:7; 1Pet. 1:15-16; 2:9).
1Peter 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (KJV)
The concept of holiness is by extension of the power of God. This is delegated through the use of His name. Hence His name is holy and not to be used in vain or profaned (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 19:12). The nations would be afraid of Israel because it was called by the name of God (Deut. 28:10). Israel means he shall rule as God. Thus Israel was to be holy (Lev. 20:26).
The sons were given God’s name because they were to become sons of God (Deut. 32:2-3). They were to become His heirs and the first phase was a physical inheritance, as a separate people, with a pleasant portion of the earth (Gen. 17:7-8; Lev. 20:24; Deut. 4:20-21; 4:37-38). Israel honours God for its own good in its inheritance (Jer. 3:19 RSV).
The land was not to be defiled or profaned (Deut. 15:4; 19:10; 20:16; 21:23; 24:4; 25:19; 26:1). The extent of the defilement proceeded to the condition of the individual under the law as accursed of God (Deut. 21:23).
God gave the earth to the nations by division and boundaries (Deut. 32:8). He gives it to whom He chooses (Ps. 24:1). The inheritance is thus divided and allocated by God. God has allocated to the Host an inheritance and these are the people who were allocated the lands. The inheritance of the sons of God in the Host was allocated according to their number and the nations were divided according to their number (Deut. 32:8 RSV; see also LXX and DSS). Yahovah’s people are his inheritance (Ps. 33:12; 78:71; 105:10-11; 135:12; 136:21-22; Jer. 10:16).
Jeremiah 10:14-16 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. 15 They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. 16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name. (KJV)
Israel thus was reserved as a portion to Yahovah of Hosts. Israel was the rod of His inheritance. Thus Israel had a function to perform in the establishment of God’s inheritance. Yahovah of Hosts is the Father. Yahovah of Hosts works to Yahovah of Israel whom He anointed above his partners (Ps. 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8-9). Yahovah of Israel is thus the Angel of Yahovah who is an elohim (Zech. 12:8), as will the sons of God become.
However, flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1Cor. 15:50). Thus the Kingdom and the inheritance look forward to the spiritual. Israel could not become sons of God through the flesh. Neither can unrighteousness inherit the Kingdom (1Cor. 6:9). However, it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Lk. 12:32), which is our inheritance. From our resurrection we become sons of God and equal to the angels (Lk. 20:36).
Those who received Christ were given the right to become sons of God (Jn. 1:12). That was the purpose of the Incarnation so that we might see the love of God and be His sons (1Jn. 3:1-2; Rev. 21:7).
The first covenant can only be fulfilled or completed through the second.
Extension of the Covenant Through Rejection
This right of inheritance being transferred through Christ to the nations outside of Israel, consequent to the destruction of Judah, was because of the rejection of God as Father by Israel. He had promised them their inheritance as sons under the covenant (Ex. 23:28-31; 34:11; Josh. 3:10; 24:18; 1Chr. 17:21).
The inheritance was lost through Israel profaning the covenant through idolatry and iniquity (Isa. 59:3; Jer. 16:18; Ezek. 36:17).
God sent Israel into captivity and dispersed them among the nations because of the breach of the covenant (Lev. 26:33; Deut. 29:25-28; Jer. 7:15,34; 8:3; 13:24; 16:11-13; 18:17; 22:28; 27:10; Ezek. 12:14-15).
Jeremiah 16:11-13 Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law; 12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me: 13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour. (KJV)
Thus service of other gods is a punishment together with the desolation and hardship that it causes. Because God had made them His people, when He did not fight for them they became prey to the demons and the nations under their control and no one cared for Israel (Jer. 30:17).
The honour of bearing the name of God was also removed and the nation became lost. Judah was also not allowed to bear the name. Israel profaned the name and hence forgot it (Isa. 17:10; 51:13; Jer. 2:32; 3:21; 13:25; 18:15; 23:27; Ezek. 23:35; Mal. 1:6-8).
Jeremiah 23:26-27 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. (KJV)
God allowed Israel to be given up to be profaned because they had profaned His name (Ezek. 7:21:22; 20:21-26; 24:21). The lack of knowledge caused by profanation is compounded by the ignorance of the people. Israel is destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6) and they are no longer God’s people (Hos. 1:9).
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (KJV)
The priesthood that causes the moral decline of the people through failing to teach is removed completely and their children are forgotten. Indeed, this must be -- so that the errors taught to them are not preserved. Only those loyal to the truth are preserved.
The dispersion has occurred over the centuries in different situations but all for the same reasons. God established His system within men under Jesus Christ with the Incarnation. That covenant was renewed and the Holy Spirit was made available to those chosen by God on a scale far greater than previously known under the prophets. This group was predestined, chosen, called, justified and glorified (Rom. 8:28-30). This group is given the Holy Spirit so that the individuals may be obedient to God’s Law that stems from His nature. By putting on the nature of God, being in the image of Christ who is the image of the invisible God, they are obedient by nature being in His image as was Christ. The elect are the image of God, in the same way Christ is that image of the creator (Rom. 8:29; 1Cor. 11:7; Col. 1:15; Col. 3:10; Heb. 1:3). All of this group are sons of God in the same way Christ is a son of God, being the first of many brethren, as angels and elohim (Zech. 12:8; Rom. 8:29; Rev. 6:11; 12:10; 19:10; 22:9).
The restoration will occur on two levels. These are the physical and the spiritual levels. The full restoration, involving the physical Israel also, is prefigured from Isaiah 35:10; 48:20; 51:11; 52:1-12; Jeremiah 30:18-21; 31:1-14. The central figure in the restoration is God’s servant who is Messiah from Isaiah 52:13-15 (see also Isa. 53:4-10) and who confounds the nations from his sprinkling. This sprinkling is in the form of God’s chosen elect being sanctified by his blood and through the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 52:13-15 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. (KJV)
At the return of Messiah the restoration of Jerusalem in total occurs (Isa. 51:11; 60:1-5). This is a pivotal point in the governing structure and covenant of God. The adoption as sons rested from the Incarnation in the Church only and not in the nation. The restoration is extended from the advent and restoration of Zion (Isa. 49:14-16; Jer. 31:8-9,21; Hos. 1:10; 11:8-11), which God will not forget.
From this point Israel is given a name, better than that of sons and daughters, which shall not be cut off (Isa. 56:5; 62:2; 65:15). They shall be as elohim (Zech. 12:8). The keeping of the Sabbaths and the covenant of God are central and conditional to this status (Isa. 56:4; Jas. 1:25; 2:24; Rev. 12:17; 14:12). Thus, a teacher who advocates the elimination of the law of God as part of the second covenant has stolen the crown of those who listen to him (Rev. 3:11).
Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. (KJV)
Jeremiah 24:7 7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. (KJV)
Thus Israel is cleansed from sin and given a new heart and a new mind that will obey His laws and be faithful to Him and His covenant (Deut. 30:6; Ps. 147:2-3; Jer. 24:7; 32:40; 50:20; Ezek. 36:24-28; Hos. 14:4).
Part of this cleansing is the removal of the systems of the demons as it was established among the nations (Ezek. 34:29; 36:13-15,21-23).
The physical restoration is central to the new millennial system under Messiah (Ps. 105:43-45; Isa. 11:11; Jer. 16:15; 30:3; 31:4; Ezek. 11:17; 34:27; 36:8-12,24-38; Amos 9:14-15). This is supported by the wealth of the sea and the nations (Isa. 60:5).
The restoration of Israel is as a holy people and an example to the nations. Messiah will rule the world from Jerusalem (Isa. 60:13-14; 62:12; Mic. 4:6-7; Zeph. 3:19-20).
The adherence to the covenant of God is central to the resurrection of the saints in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6). They are then ever with the Lord in great joy (Isa. 51:1; Jer. 31:1-14; 1Thes. 4:15-17). The resurrection is to an administration also which is under David in fulfilment of the covenant God made concerning the kingship (Ezek. 34:22-24).
The kingship is extended to the elect and on the earth (Rev. 5:10 RSV). This administration is as the Temple, in addition to being kings and priests (1Cor. 3:9,16-17). The structure is built on Christ as the cornerstone and the apostles and prophets as the foundation (1Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20). The Philadelphians are the pillars (Rev. 3:12). The elect generally are the building as living stones (1Pet. 2:4-8). Thus, the elect are the members of the royal household and thus elohim as the Angel of Yahovah at their head (Zech. 12:8) (cf. also The Pillars of Philadelphia (No. 283)).
Thus the family of God is restored both in heaven and on earth. All are to be spiritual sons of God. In order to establish the family there needs to be the building elements present. To achieve this goal, there are two concepts that are central to the plan.
The first was that of service and Israel was called as servant of God. This was to give way to the sonship of the adoption so that we might become parents of our branch of the family. Hence the concept of the covenant as brides of Christ is central to the elect. Thus, the elect are both sons of God and brides of Christ regardless of the sex of the member of the body.
God is Heavenly Father and God of Hosts, but the human family is placed under the fatherhood of Christ, who is thus an everlasting father (Isa. 9:6). There are many fatherhoods in heaven and earth under the whole family of God (patria, Eph. 3:14-15 see Marshall’s Interlinear). The elect are brides of Christ to execute the family relationship over the earth under Messiah.
Israel was established as a servant of God in this process who was their master and king (Lev. 25:42,55; Ps. 44:4; 145:1; Isa. 41:8; 42:1,21; 45:4). God’s people should seek His courts (long for them) because in them is justice and blessings (Ps. 84:2-4).
The New Testament is the culmination or development of the servant relationship where the world is enslaved and sold under sin. The redemption of the world is thus the aim (Rom. 6:17; 7:14; Gal. 4:3-8). With the sonship we are no longer servants (Rom. 4:7). We were bought at a price to be freed (1Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 2Pet. 2:1; Rev. 5:9; 14:3). That price was Messiah and we were redeemed or purchased with his blood (Acts 20:28; 1Pet. 1:18-19). Thus the redemption was as slaves and the sonship is extended to us within the household of God. We are thus owned by God and hence subject to His law (Titus 2:14; 1Pet. 2:9).
Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. (RSV)
The iniquity here is in fact every lawless deed. Sin is transgression of the law (1Jn. 3:4). We know God if we keep His Commandments (1Jn. 2:3-5; 3:21-24).
The service of God in His family is within His system of law and worship where He chooses. It commenced with Moses from Sinai (Ex. 3:12) and extended to Zion. The feast system is central to this plan and system (Ex. 5:1). The commandments are encapsulated in the ten and developed under the ordinances (Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21). God called Israel to live His word and law and glorifying His name (1Kings 8:41-43; Isa. 42:6; 43:7,10,12,21; 44:8; 51:16; 59:21).
Messiah was the central key to the role of the prophets to Israel.
Isaiah 49:1-13 Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3 And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." 4 But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God." 5 And now the LORD says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength -- 6 he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." 7 Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the servant of rulers: "Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you." 8 Thus says the LORD: "In a time of favor I have answered you, in a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; 9 saying to the prisoners, `Come forth,' to those who are in darkness, `Appear.' They shall feed along the ways, on all bare heights shall be their pasture; 10 they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall smite them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. 11 And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be raised up. 12 Lo, these shall come from afar, and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene." 13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted. (RSV)
Sacrifice was central to God’s structure as established from the Exodus (Ex. 5:3). This was taken up from Messiah in the elect (see the paper The Harvests of God, the New Moon Sacrifices and the 144,000 (No. 120)).
Israel rejected God through evil deeds and He gave them up to false systems (1Sam. 8:8; 12:10; Judg. 2:14; 3:8; 4:2; 10:7) and oppression and slavery. God would not heed their cries (Deut. 28:68; Isa. 52:3; Jer. 5:19; Hos. 11:7; Mic. 3:4). Delivery from this punishment was dependent upon repentance. Only then would a deliverer be provided (Judg. 4:3-4). God then gathers them back from those to whom they were sold as slaves (Isa. 41:8-10; 52:3; Jer. 46:27-28). God is then again their king (Isa. 43:15; 44:6).
The aim of service in Israel as the army of God is thus to glorify God’s name and bring light to the nations and the gospel of salvation throughout the earth (Isa. 49:3,6)
The vineyard of the Lord is the whole house of Israel (Isa. 5:7). God prepared the vineyard by providing and preparing the land and causing Israel to take deep root. He expects it to be fruitful (Ps. 1:1-3; 80:8-11).
This metaphor is developed in the gospels as being Messiah as the true vine.
John 15:1-4 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (RSV)
The nation Israel is thus the vineyard. This nation is in fact the Kingdom of God (Mat. 21:33-43). The plants must be from Messiah and thus true to type. God prunes each of the plants. The elect thus must become part of the nation of Israel to enter into a relationship with Messiah. Thus, the elect become members of Israel when they enter the Church through baptism. The elect are thus God’s field (1Cor. 3:9). They must bear fruit (Isa. 5:1-4; Mk. 12:1-9; Jn. 15:1-6; Gal. 5:21). The branches of the nation are thus cut off and new ones grafted (Rom. 11:17-24). The Gentiles are thus the new vines and those of the blood that are not fruitful are cut off. Repentance and baptism into the body of Christ is thus mandatory for status as a member of Israel in the first resurrection (see also Lk. 3:9 for the tree metaphor).
Membership of the family of God as elohim is thus centred on and through Israel under Messiah.
The physical nation proved unfruitful because it could not obey God without the Holy Spirit and the earnest desire to be obedient. Israel, especially Judah, was unfruitful (Mat. 21:43). This was not God’s fault in that He kept His part of the covenant. However, the harvest was of no value (Jer. 12:13). It had to be chopped and burned (Isa. 9:18; 33:12; Jer. 45:4; Ezek. 19:10-14; Hos. 9:10; Jer. 11:16-17; Mal. 4:1; Lk. 3:8-9). He then chose to clear it (Ps. 80:12; Isa. 5:4-7; 7:23-24; 32:13; 34:13).
Isaiah 5:4-7 What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? 5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. 6 I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry! (RSV)
The restoration is also centred on the physical vineyard in the MILLENNIAL system (Isa. 37:31-32). These gleanings after the harvest of God (Isa. 17:4-6) are of varying types. Thus God has promised to restore Israel His vineyard and these will fill the earth with fruit (Isa. 27:1-6; Jer. 24:6; Hos. 14:6-8).
Israel as God’s Covenant Sheep
In addition to Israel as the vineyard Israel is also the flock of God. Israel rejected their shepherd (Ps. 95:7-10). Messiah is chief shepherd (Zech. 11:4; Heb. 13:20). God owns both the vineyard and the flock. He dresses the vines and He selects the sheep. Israel as the flock rejected the good shepherd in that they killed Messiah. The shepherds of Israel were apostate and so God removes them in one prophetic month (Zech. 11:7-9; see the paper Measuring the Temple (No. 137)).
The flock of God was devoured by wild beasts because of these apostate shepherds (Hos. 13:7-9). This occurred first under the Levitical priesthood but continues on in the Church.
Christ appoints others in caring for the sheep (Jn. 21:15; Acts 20:28-29; 1Pet. 5:2-4). Satan also places hirelings with the flock who scatter and kill the flock. They rend the sheep to the hooves (Ezek. 34:1-14; Jn. 10:8-10; Acts 20:29; see the paper Measuring the Temple (No. 137)).
At the end, the sheep are given over to be judged on how they treat each other (Ezek. 34:15-24) and they devour each other (Ezek. 34:17-21; Zech. 11:9). Messiah is set up over them to protect them even from each other.
However, God restores them and gives them intimate knowledge of Himself (Ezek. 34:30-31; Jn. 10:3-6; 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20). This is done in the feeding and shepherding analogy (Ps. 23:2; Ezek. 34:14). God is the teacher of the elect in the Holy Spirit which is the still water that is provided for them (Ps. 23:2; 46:4; Isa. 49:9-10; Rev. 7:17; 21:6; 22:1,17). Christ discharges his responsibilities within the framework established by God. Through the Holy Spirit, the sheep are restored to spiritual life through the sacrifice of the Lamb (Ps. 23:2; Jn. 10:11). From the example of Messiah the elect pursue righteousness (Ps. 23:3; 19:7-8). They are healed and live in the house of God forever (Ps. 23:6; Isa. 40:10-11; 66:5-24; Jer. 50:17-20; Ezek. 34:11-16; Mic. 2:12-13; Zech. 10:9-10).
David shall be king over them (Jer. 23:4-5; Ezek. 34:22-24; 37:24-25). Micah 2:12-13 shows that David is king and goes before them with Yahovah at their head. This being at the head of the household of David is the Angel of Yahovah or Yahovah, Elohim of Israel (Ps. 45:6-7; Zech. 12:8; Heb. 1:8-9).
Read Ezekiel 34 in entirety to establish the sequence for Israel.
There are thus various responsibilities placed on the elect. The nation of Israel is central to the plan of salvation and salvation outside of that nation, which is now spirit and flesh, is impossible. Those who remain unconverted will be part of the second resurrection regardless of how righteous or virtuous they consider they have been. The nation is called to be sons of God and, over the times of the nations, the Gentiles or people of the nations could be called out and placed within Israel. That period is now coming to a close. The nations were given seven times plus eighty years to consolidate their position and deal with Israel. They are now about to come into judgment at the return of Messiah in the near future. The covenant of God was established by and through Messiah. He gave the first covenant as the Angel of Yahovah at Sinai and brought Israel out of Egypt. He established the second covenant from his resurrection from the dead when he became a son of God in power through the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). He thus became the first of the new Israel and as the firstborn among many brethren. The second covenant did not remove one jot or tittle from the law. God’s laws and covenant will stand until heaven and earth pass away. From then our covenant relationship with God will be as elohim in his family.