Is Israel Still the Apple of God's Eye?
An excerpt from a new book 'The return of Christ - A line in the sand' by Michael Storey.
Scriptures are gathered that explain this enigmatic subject that has important implications for everyone.
‘Does Israel still have a future significance for the New Testament’? Religion, politics, history, and human lament all mix and fidget in this uneasy commingle, which constantly threatens to blow up rather than blow away.
Preterists in particular hold that Israel has no biblical relevance for us at all, the biblical Israel ended in 70AD. Another popular view is that the Church has superseded biblical Israel.
When opinions within ‘one Church with one faith’ are so far apart, the need to reconcile these opinions with scripture has become paramount.
The question: Is Israel still the apple of God’s eye? Zech 2:8
He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God… they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? Acts 1:3
After forty days of direct instruction on the kingdom from Christ, why would the disciples hone straight in on the question of Israel being restored? Had the disciples really missed the point; were they suffering a flight of fancy? Or, could it be that we are missing an important point? The bible is God’s word being communicated to us. What is written is what God considers necessary for us to know. Because of Christ’s insistence that not a word be changed, left in or taken out, it is apparent that every word is important. The fact that it is recorded ‘wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ said in these circumstances sheds a different light on this subject.
Bear in mind that after Christ’s resurrection and ascension to the Father He is no longer the same Jesus the disciples were familiar with. To understand this point, an important one that is not recognised and understood to the degree that it should be, more background would be helpful.
On the Sunday morning after His resurrection Christ instructed that He should not be ‘touched’. Later that afternoon on the same Sunday He said to the disciples ‘ now you can touch Me’.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John 20:17
As the day progressed, Peter and another disciple had met with Christ on the road to Emmaus. Not recognizing Christ and thinking that He was a stranger to the area they began explaining the recent events.
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel. Luke 24:21
Once again, we need to be clear the disciples after a solid three and a half years with Christ were still certain that a future Israel was on the agenda. As their conversation with Christ progressed He began to fill in some of the blank spots in their understanding.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures things concerning himself. Luke 24:21
After eating some food with Christ ‘within the same hour’ they returned to Jerusalem, met the other disciples and described their experience. As they did so, almost immediately Christ appeared and joined with them.
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Luke 24:36
Christ now removes the prohibition to touch Him, ‘handle Me’. What has happened for the circumstances to change? The reason for the restriction was ‘I am not yet ascended to my Father’. The significance of that expression is what we are after.
Christ had been resurrected but had not yet been ‘presented’ to His Father in the formal sense.
‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God’, there is a degree of formality in the way this is being expressed suggesting a procedure that needs to be followed.
From the Old Testament the order of events start with the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb, a biblical pattern now fulfilled by Christ ‘our Passover’.
For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. 1 Cor 5:7. That much is clear.
Less known is the next function to be completed, which is the ‘wave sheaf offering’. This takes place in conjunction with the Passover (the sacrifice of Christ) on the Sunday that occurs after the Passover. The very first sampling of the new harvest, the first fruit offering is to be ‘waved’. This represents acceptance of the first fruit harvest by God for ‘us’, meaning for our benefit.
And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. Leviticus 23:11
Christ is the wave sheaf offering, the very first ‘sample’ of the new harvest, and the first of the firtsfruits.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 1 Cor 15:20
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. I Cor 15:23
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Rom 8:29
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead. Acts 26:23
The complete firstfruit harvest of which Christ was the initial sample is the Church membership that will become the bride. They qualified to become the Saints by ‘overcoming all things’. (Rev chapters 2 and 3)
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. Rev 14:4
For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. Rom 11:16
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Rom 8:23
The full meaning of the Leviticus 23 verse could now be seen as follows, paraphrasing:
‘God shall accept the first wave sheaf of the firstfruit harvest (Christ) for and on behalf of you’ (the Saints).
This formal ‘presenting and acceptance’ Christ was referring to when He said ‘do not touch Me yet, I have not been presented to the Father’ took place during that Sunday in accordance with the scriptural procedure. The new King of the kingdom of God had been formally accepted and inaugurated by the Father.
Once that had been completed Christ could now formally confirm to His disciples full authority had been given to Him:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matt 28:18
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philip 2:9
…Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. 1 Peter 3:22
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Eph 1:21
This last Ephesians verse leads to a conclusion for this train of thought. Back in the Leviticus verse the wave sheaf (Christ) is waved, representing being presented to the LORD ….for you.
That is, for our benefit. Christ being formally accepted and given His new official status and title was not for Himself alone. At the same time the first of the first fruits, Christ, was resurrected and inaugurated as the King of Kings, the doorway was opened to those that will later join Him as the bride. The kingdom was formally created on the day when Christ was presented to the Father.
This is an important point to understand. Why? For a start it answers the question the Preterists pose concerning the promise in Mattew16:28 There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. For forty days they not only saw Christ; He taught them facts and details specifically to do with the kingdom. He had told them ‘all power and authority had been given Him’; He was the newly appointed King of that kingdom. The disciples now were under no illusion ‘the kingdom was open for business’.
Equipped with this knowledge their future purpose was to go and raise more disciples, the remainder of the firstfruit harvest for the kingdom. With the knowledge and first hand ‘real’ experience of knowing the full reality of the kingdom they were charged up with all the determination and zeal they would need. This supercharged dose of enthusiasm is more than evident on the day of Pentecost a few days later. It gave them a foundation of faith that in conjunction with the Holy Spirit would allow them to perform a superhuman task for the rest of their days.
If we review some details concerning this question of Israel and the kingdom, at least we can make a start in drawing some conclusions.
The disciples working alongside Christ had been informing people about the kingdom of God for three and a half years.
On the road to Emmaus, the disciples point out (recorded for our benefit) that they had expected Israel to be reinstated by Christ. We should be seeing by now that Israel and the kingdom were synonymous to the disciples. Never in three and a half years had Christ corrected that assumption. He was acutely sensitive to what was on their minds and from the details we see in scripture He was quick to step in and explain what they needed to know. Still on the road to Emmaus Christ went into some detail explaining scriptures. He was in ‘set the record straight’ mode yet still no correction is made of their expectations for Israel despite them making a point by raising the issue. After forty days of further training on the specific subject of the kingdom, Israel is still the topic of greatest interest to the disciples. When you analyze the situation, the disciples are told the kingdom has been established, the King is there, everything is set, the most logical question they could ask therefore is ‘are You now going to reinstate Israel’.
This one burning question they had to ask Christ before He finally leaves them is based firmly on the assumption Israel will be reinstated. All they want to know is ‘when’. ‘If’, is a complete non issue to them; it is solely ‘when’. Once again, clearly recorded for our benefit Christ does not dispute the fact of Israel being reestablished, He only comments on the timing of when that will be.
Our overriding conclusion therefore can only be that at some point in time Israel will be established as the leading nation of the world and Christ tacitly affirms that.
Israel still is very much in the blueprint for future world ‘government’.
Having discussed this subject from the perspective of the disciples we can also use Paul’s words as a system of cross-examining our conclusion. Invariably the bible comes at any subject from multiple angles giving us the needed cross referencing that acts as a brace to strengthen and secure our understanding.
Paul had the same degree of ‘personal training’ from Christ but at a different place and different time. If Israel as a future nation were still clearly on his mind also then it would neither be coincidence or a pipe dream.
Keep in mind this independent and personal training from Christ would have been thorough and completely accurate and effectual. Christ, not being the ‘author of confusion’ would have left nothing to chance. What Christ gave to Paul would serve as the whys and wherefores that the Church will be relying on so heavily in the future.
Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. Acts 24:17
This verse is shown to demonstrate Paul’s thinking after many years of preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. During this time he would have discussed the issues in great detail with Peter and other apostles. At times angels comforted and advised him on what was happening. The Holy Spirit guided and when necessary ‘withstood’ him. The point being ‘after many years’ Paul is not mixing up the facts. Both what he is stating and the way in which it is stated and recorded for us is a calculated move on God’s part. All scripture is ‘given by inspiration of God’. 2 Tim 3:16
But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. Acts 24:14
For a start Paul believes and acts on Christ’s instructions Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matt 4:4
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. Acts 26:6
For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain… 23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. Acts 28:20
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Rom 11:25
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Heb 8:8
From these verses it is very clear that Paul firmly holds out for a future that will entail Israel. In Hebrews chapter 8 Paul ‘sums it up’ v1. An explanation begins on the transition being made that Christ initiates. Part of this transition will be a major change in the way Israel and Judah relate to Christ. A new covenant will be enacted with them and as a result each and every one will become a true and faithful Christian. That has not yet happened; it is a promise that remains to be completed.
Evidently everyone involved at the start of the New Testament Church was committed to the concept of a future Israel.
With that said, 2000 years later in the twenty-first century a cloud of mist hangs over the whole question of what is meant by the term ‘Israel’?
Who And What Is Israel?
The best way is to just gather the evidence and look at the facts as God has given them. What we will see is how intense and how passionate and methodical God is on this subject.
The Early Promises, The Future of Israel
Many scriptures allude to an overall plan being in progress. In Ephesians 3:9-11 we are told ‘yes, there is a mystery taking place’, it involves an eternal purpose that called for the creation of the world and humans in order for it to be carried out.
Understanding where Israel fits into this overall design is an essential factor for Christians to come to grips with.
When Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and promises concerning the future of his children emerge, a blueprint of God’s purpose started to take shape.
And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. 11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. Gen 35:10
In Genesis 49 Israel gathered his family together before he died to tell them (we are also being told as we are reading about it in the future) their long range projected outcome.
And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. 2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father. Gen 49:1
Jacob then gives an analysis of the moral quality of his sons and how the personal nature of each will in turn influence and be reflected in the nations that descend from them.
However in the preceding chapter, Gen 48, Jacob had met with his reunited son Joseph previously sold as a slave to Egypt in his youth. Jacob was entering his final days, so Joseph took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim to meet their grandfather.
And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine...8 And Israel (Jacob) beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them…16 The angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. Gen 48:5
Israel then placed his hands on the boy’s heads and gave them his blessing. Ephraim, the younger son had the right hand placed on his head giving him the greater blessing. Manasseh would be a great people:
…but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. v19
A quick summary so far:
(1) Nations (plural) and kings are going to descend from Jacob’s family.
(2) In particular the descendants of Joseph are going to evolve into a great nation and a multitude of nations. It is the house of Joseph that receives the greatest national and physical blessing for the future.
In determining who and what Israel is in the ‘last days’, if we wish to remain inline with God’s word, if we do not want to argue with God’s word, we are looking for many nations. Since there are twelve tribes to start with and Joseph in turn alone will become many more nations, it may be we are weighing the possibility of up twenty nations in all.
Simeon and Levi however would be assimilated into the other tribes: Gen 49:5
Precisely how many nations that do evolve is not the issue. A reality you can’t escape is to understand the word ‘Israel’ in biblical prophecy does not necessarily refer to the ‘Jews’. The Jewish people are the tribe of Judah alone, one of the tribes of Israel, representing just one of the many nations of Israel. In most cases where Israel is mentioned in the bible it is distinctly not referring to the ‘Jews’.
A modern case in point to illustrate this situation would be to use the European Union as an example. Germany is in the EU and France is in the EU. They are even neighbours, but try to tell a Frenchman that he is a German or vice versa and someone will get their dander up.
Despite the Jewish people being the most readily identifiable, God’s word adds that they will not be the most predominant nation of Israel, that nation will come from the house of Joseph.
This issue of understanding who and what Israel is represents the tip of the iceberg on a whole range of biblical issues. A vast percentage of scriptures we need to understand are still under the surface, still not incorporated into Church understanding.
A Line In The Sand
Believing God’s word is the real line in the sand. Either we are able to put aside all preconceived ideas and become one with God’s word or we will stagnate in the mindless rut where the Church has been wallowing. This book has chosen the issues of the Preterists and Futurists to show just how much of a farce understanding scripture within the Church has become. Did Christ return, resurrect the Saints and establish the kingdom in 70 AD or are we still waiting for the moment when a sudden rapture sends taxis, aeroplanes and ships running riot? Both of these extremes and everything in-between are taught and believed by millions of churchgoers. Where do these ideas come from? Not from scripture as we shall see. God’s word is very clear in the vast majority of cases; it is only pride and a stubborn clinging to independent tradition that prevents reconciliation on the straightforward meanings within scripture.
Is it possible for the Church to be Christian enough to face up to these extremes of bipolarization? The evidence of a completely dysfunctional Church is mountain high. Nowhere can it be said that there is one faith, one hope, one Church. From that point of view when using the word ‘Church’ it is used in an all encompassing manner that includes the good, the bad and the ugly; the true and the false.
Will they voluntarily look in the mirror to see where it all went wrong? The alternative; Christ’s ‘mirror’, is a very sharp two edged sword. When Christian nations and Churches turn their back towards God, then He will act.
Why does Christ return? What is the overall purpose? What is the day of the Lord?
We will come to scriptures that show Christ has used ‘the stripes of men’ in the form of invasion and captivity to correct his people in the past. The day of the Lord is different; this time Christ Himself steps in with patient but single minded pursuit to sort this world out once and for all.
The principal reason for the day of the Lord is not only to correct His people; the whole world will now be turned to Christ. He will ‘restore all things’, something the Church through history failed to accomplish, and in addition to failing itself dragged others down with it. Why else does Christ need to return?
For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law Mal 2:7
We either walk hand in hand with Christ in every respect or we will not be able to take part in the kingdom of God.
Understanding the part that Israel plays in the bible as a whole and particularly the return of Christ to establish the kingdom is to dig into the underlying principles of everything God is doing. Without this key, any chance of understanding why and what God is achieving is seriously hamstrung.
All the warnings given by Christ with reference to His return come down to one thing: correctly discerning the truth, the real factual details given in the bible. Malachi is scorching in the condemnation of ministers that prior to Christ’s return are ‘partial’ in the law. They only use the scriptures that fit their purpose. If guilty, Christ says their noses will be rubbed in the dung.
A Background To The Nations Of Israel.
After David’s death, his son Solomon reigned. In turn Solomon’s son Rehoboam succeeded the throne. Under his rule the kingdom split in two. To the north ten of the tribes, the bulk of the population, became independent under their own king. The other two tribes remained in Jerusalem. This southern nation was known as Judah, the Northern tribes retained the name of Israel. It was not long before rivalry between the alternate kings erupted into civil war. The nation of Israel was at war with the nation of Judah. Rephrased that would be: Israel was at war with the Jews.
The new nation of Israel became based in Samaria, a hill city forty-two miles north of Jerusalem. In 720 BC, Shalmaneser from the Assyrian empire to the north invaded and captured the nation of Israel. They were carried off to an area adjacent to the Black Sea, and after that appeared to vanish from history, hence the expression ‘the lost ten tribes’. Judah would have suffered the same fate as they were next in line to the south, however the Assyrians in turn were being invaded and had to suddenly retire their troops from the area to defend their own capital. The nation of Judah would be spared defeat from invasion for another 120 years until Nebuchadnezzar succeeded.
With this background, that the nation of Israel and Judah were two separate nations, and that other nations of Israel in the ‘last days’ are being referred to, it means great care is needed in reading biblical contexts to distinguish which one is being referred to.
Here are a series of scriptures that outline the separation of Israel into its independent states.
And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD… 11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. 13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen. 1 Kings 11:6-13
And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: 32 (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) 1 Kings 11:31
But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. 36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. 37 And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. 1 Kings 11:35
Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6 ¶ In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 2 Kings 17:5
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. 2 Kings 17:18
For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; 23 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. 2 Kings 17: 22
And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land. 2 Kings 25:21
We will pause here and reflect on some specifics. God is responsible for and conducts the way in which the kingdom is divided. Ten tribes are separated from Judah. The ten tribes are now referred to as Israel and for the rest of the bible Judah is referred to as Judah. This is consistent throughout the rest of the bible. Where ‘all Israel’ or the ‘whole house of Israel’ is mentioned then it refers to both Israel and Judah.
The northern nation of Israel includes the house of Joseph whose two sons will branch into independent states. Manasseh will become a great nation and Ephraim a ‘company of nations’ of even greater achievement. However for the time being, once the nation of Israel is carried off to North Western Assyria they disappear from history.
Approximately another 120 years passes until the nation of Judah is defeated and carried captive to Babylon.
The expanse of time from when God “removed Israel out of His sight” (2 Kings 17:18) and the tribe of Judah returning from Babylon is a similar period of time from when Napoleon fought the battle of Waterloo until today. Two hundred years had separated the two nations. After a similar period of time would we still think in terms of America as being just a colonial by-product of England?
Just as much water had gone under the bridge separating the destiny of Israel and Judah.
Now we can place who came back from Babylon into a more accurate perspective. Only Judah was taken there so only Judah is available to come back. The nation of Israel had completely disappeared from historical view. Recognising it was Judah alone that came back from Babylon is a passport to interpreting many prophetic passages.
The next subject to be looked at is King David having an extraordinary promise or covenant made to him by God.
When you analyse how forcefully God words this promise, it would not be unreasonable to say that the whole bible, even the very existence of God stands or falls on this one promise. God makes that plain Himself and delivers the whole concept as a challenge. Christ delivered a similar imposition, something that seemed a stretch of credibility to His listeners. He was testing their readiness to accept His word at face value or try to rationalise their own way round the issue. Only the core twelve disciples survived the challenging demand to ‘eat My flesh and drink My blood’.
Either we believe what He says or there is no such thing as God as we understand it in the bible.
The Specific Promises Made To David
For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; 18 Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually. 19 And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, 20 Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; 21 Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. 23 Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. 25 Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; 26 Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them. Jer 33:17
God is stating several points here as fact.
• There will be a descendant of David in the position of king (or queen) on an unbroken throne over one of the nations (house) of Israel ‘forever’. NB: God does not say a throne over Judah. (See note on Gen 49:10 shortly).
• ‘Such is My promise that if anything at all can stop the sun in its orbit, or stop the moon shining, then you can stop this promise from being carried out’.
• There will always be a ‘minister’ serving the spiritual needs of His people. (Hades will not prevail over the Church).
• If you think the nations of Israel no longer exist, that they have been ‘cast off’, look out of the window and see if the moon and stars are still there.
• At a particular time in the future a ‘captivity’ of the seed of Jacob and David (the whole house of Israel, many nations) will end and circumstances for them will then become much better. This would require going into captivity first. Very many passages detail those circumstances, covered later in this book.
• Particular emphasis is placed on what is being meant by a descendant. This is to be very clear God is talking about literal people and not a spiritual king, Christ. This human level of fulfilment is repeatedly emphasised in all the scriptures on this subject.
This covenant is completely unconditional and repetition of ‘for ever’ is used for emphasis:
He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: 15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. 16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. 2 Sam 7:13
His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. 30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; 31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; 32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. 34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. 35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. 36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. 37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah. Psalm 89:29
Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever. 2 Chron 21:7
The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. 12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. Psalm 132:11
Let’s pause and take stock of the circumstances that we have added. To be consistent with what God has said will take place:
• We have several nations, one a great nation and the other a group of nations. Somewhere amongst the nations of this world is one that has had an unbroken line of kings and queens sitting on a throne originally descended from David. God fully realises that these nations will go unrecognised for who they are. Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? Jer 33:23
• God is going to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that they do not stray too far from His principles. If they drift away from God He will visit them with ‘the rod’ and ‘stripes of men’ until they come back. ‘Nevertheless, He will never leave or forsake them’, ‘nor let it be said that God did not carry out His word’.
• Any nation that is following God and Christ would be recognisable in our time as a Christian nation by default. Therefore all Israelite nations in the ‘latter days’ would be Christian (Judeo/Christian ethic) nations.
Note on Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Does this verse contradict Jer 33:17 above? The Jeremiah verses are a repeat of Gods words spoken here. The ‘scepter shall not depart from Judah’ is maintained since the scepter became David’s and from there it will always be with one of his descendants (from Judah) but not specifically over the house of Judah. The Jeremiah verse states David’s line will retain the throne but over ‘the house of Israel’ not necessarily Judah. The Genesis verse also runs in tandem with Jeremiah saying that from the same lineage there will always be a spiritual leadership in perpetuity. There is no contradiction.
‘Until Shiloh come’ refers to the second coming of Christ when ‘all the nations shall be gathered and worship Christ’: Rev 15:4, Heb 8:11 and many other passages. The context could not be at the time of Christ’s first coming since none of the promises concerning the nations that would take shape from the children of Israel had yet been fulfilled.
We will now continue cross referencing this considerable body of scripture with yet another additional line of reasoning: A very large quantity of verses that point out there are two nations in the discussion. In complete consistency with all other scriptures one is referred to as Israel the other as Judah.
A Closer Look At Scriptures
That Show ‘Two Nations’
Where the bible speaks prophetically of ‘the whole house of Israel’, it refers literally to the descendant nations of all the twelve tribes. Where it speaks of Judah in the end time, it does refer to the modern nation in the Middle East. When prophecies speak of Ephraim and Manasseh or the collective term for the two; ‘the house of Joseph’ other large powerful nations of this world are being discussed. These verses make it very difficult to draw any conclusion other than there are different nations that form the collective body of Israel. We can and should go further, God’s word makes this indisputable.
At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD: and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. Jer 3:17
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. Jer 3:8
For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD. Jer 5:11
The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. Isa 11:13
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD. 29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: Jer 31:27
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. Jer 33:14
Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Jer 33:24
Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there: 11 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee. 12 And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume. 13 Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them. 14 Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate. Ezek 35:10
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. 18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? 19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. 20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. 21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Ezek 37:15
Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. Hos 1:11
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. Jer 50:4
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: Heb 8:8
We may not understand how God will accomplish some of His promises (we don’t understand how Jesus walked on water), but what God says He will do is said in very clear language. Nothing is obscure, in fact how could anyone make it any more obvious? God even pre-empts our doubts at several points and just simply states ‘this is what I am going to do and only if you can stop the sun and moon in their orbits will it not be so’. If we really are a Christian by definition we believe and accept God’s word exactly as it is. What He has said is unmistakable, that is how it will be.
Once again we are back at the line in the sand.
The first book of Acts gives only a few brief words to describe the disciple’s reaction as Christ departed from view. Victory was in the air, excitement must have been running high. Forty days of discussing the kingdom with it’s King must have felt like already having the winning ticket for the lottery. When was it going to be drawn?
They were expecting a literal kingdom. No surprise there, considering how well informed they were from both scripture and their additional teaching. ‘When’ was the only unanswered question.
What was the point in keeping the time element from them?
One answer would be in telling them that information; by default we would also know. From a prophetic standpoint giving future generations a ‘crystal ball’ could easily defeat that purpose. ‘Purpose’ is the operative word we need investigate to put all the information into perspective.
What is the purpose of Israel?
Stepping back and looking at the very big picture, a kingdom that lasts ‘forever’ indicates that this current life is of little consequence compared to an eternal one except for two points. The fully grown tree needs a seed from which it will spring forth. In turn the quality of the tree, its shape and feature and complete embodiment is also dependant on the integrity of the seed.
The analogy of plant life depicting our sojourn in this world is used by Christ and Paul. We are sown a ‘seed’ but raised as something different.
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 1 Cor 15:36
Our temporary physical structure and how we develop the initial ‘spiritual genetics’ will determine our future eternal state. From God’s outlook that is our sole purpose in being human. It is our resurrected state that He is after. Christ was the very first to be transformed from physical to eternal. He is described as a ‘firstfruit’. Those that are ‘called, faithful and chosen’ (all three Rev 17:14) will be the next wave in the process of regeneration. Paul talks of a ‘better’ resurrection, a more honorable one to be involved in (Heb 11:35). Technically Christ was the first resurrection, however the participants of what is referred to as the first resurrection elsewhere are referred to as ‘firstfruits’ or ‘firstborn’ also. They are the balance of the ‘first fruits’ in effect those that are the forerunners or examples of what is to follow. Much more on that in the next section of the book on the Church.
For now we need to equate the concept of ‘firstfruit’ as a forerunner. Christ is the firstfruit, the first resurrected being in the new configuration of spirit being. Those that qualify from the many called will join Christ as his bride as the balance of the firstfruits. Paul refers to this group as the ‘them and us’, a collective body of called, faithful and chosen from both the Old and New Testament periods.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Heb 11:39
Unquestionably the future for these people is as an eternal being whose bodily make up matches Christ’s in that they are His ‘wife’. They are to be kings and priests with Christ in his kingdom.
‘Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matt 19:28
If the twelve disciples are each to be a king over a nation of Israel as resurrected spirit beings what form do the nations take? Are they physical people or spiritual in make up? All the scriptures refer to them as normal people that survive through the period known as the day of the Lord and live on to be ‘in the kingdom’. Dan 2 describes Christ ‘the stone cut out of the mountain without hands’
a spiritual being, interacting with physical nations to take over the government of those nations.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. Dan 2:44
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one… 11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction. Zech 14:9
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. Isa 10:20
This subject of Christ taking over sovereignty of the world is virtually the main theme of the bible. It is the kingdom of God, it is the message that He came with; it is the message all the disciples of Christ were to preach until the day He returns.
And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand… 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. Matt 10:7
(The ‘cities of Israel leading up to the return of Christ’ now will make a lot more sense. They do not refer to Judah the modern nation in the Middle East but to all the cities of the modern nations that make up the many nations of Israel around the world). Hundreds of verses could be chosen to demonstrate a physical literal kingdom in this world and some more to show what it would be like to ruled by Christ and His ‘wife’ the Saints. Isaiah 19 will suffice to demonstrate what Christ meant by ‘glad tidings of the kingdom of God’:
And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day… 24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: 25 Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. Isa 19:21
Israel As The Leading Nation
Just as Christ is described as the ‘firstfruit’, the forerunner example of becoming an eternal being and likewise the Saints, so is Israel described as a firstfruit or ‘firstborn’ nation.
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: Ex 4:22
Israel initially was called out to be an example, a model nation demonstrating the benefits of following God to other nations.
Israel is the ‘firstborn’ the eldest child, the one that is to act responsibly and wisely to maintain the family honour. On every count they failed, however there are hard and fast promises God gave them that God will keep. He cannot lie or go back on His word. The timing to fulfill these promises however is an entirely different matter (as the disciples found out) and the circumstances have something to do with it too. Only when the whole house of Israel – all the nations of Israel turn without any reservation to serve Christ with real conviction will this take effect.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. 5 They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. Jer 50:4
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Heb 8:8
Having come this far, studying all the scriptures, specific wording such as ‘the house of Israel and with the house of Judah’ should bemaking a lot of sense. After the battle at Armageddon, after all the trials and tribulations of the day of the Lord those that have survived will live on into the most wonderful world imaginable. The whole world will turn to Christ ruling with the Saints from Jerusalem. All the nations will need to be reorganized and those that comprised the nations of Israel will well and truly recognize their own real identity. They will be relocated, brought back to the Middle East and will possess the Promised Land – as promised! This time it will stretch from the Euphrates to the Nile – as promised. Gen 15:18
The world will need to be completely rebuilt from the ground up after years of devastation that was self-inflicted by resisting Christ during the day of the Lord.
Israel, the new Israel reunited, God’s firstborn nation now fulfills their role as the premier example nation benefiting all the rest of the world.