Four thousand years ago God appeared to Abraham (His name was Abram at the time) and told him to leave his country and his father's house and go to a land that God would show him. God promised to bless him and make him a great nation.
Abraham obeyed God and he went to that land. God promised to give that land to his descendants but Abraham had no son to become his heir.
After many years had passed, God appeared to him and He told Abraham that He would establish His covenant between Himself and Abraham and his descendants after him.
He told Abraham, “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. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the
land of your sojournings, all the
told Abraham that his wife, Sarah, would have a son to be his heir.
God would establish His covenant with Isaac and his descendants
after him as an everlasting covenant.
Much of the Christian world has misunderstood what God is saying in His covenant promise to Abraham. They keep asking the question, “When is God going to fulfill His promise to Abraham and give back to the Jews all of their
They are not
hearing what God was telling Abraham. God told Abraham that His covenant
was an everlasting covenant between Him and Abraham and his descendants after
him and it included giving them the
If God meant what He said, then there is a problem. God promised to give that land to Abraham and to his descendants and Abraham never received that earthly land.
Not only did God not give it to Abraham, his descendants will not enter that land and take possession of it for more than six hundred years after the promise was made.
By the time that Joshua will lead God’s people in to take possession of that land, tens of thousands of Abraham’s descendants will have lived and died having never seen that land. What about God’s promise to them, as well as to Abraham?
The reason why God never gave Abraham that
writer confirms that in his book. He speaks of Abraham and
of that land of promise and says, “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of
promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow
heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has
foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).
If scripture says that Abraham was living as an alien in that land but he was looking for a heavenly city, then Abraham knew that the true promise was never for the earthly
true promise was always the promise for a heavenly
Paul says, ”Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)
When we read about that covenant promise in
Genesis, chapter 17, most modern translations say that God’s promise was to
Abraham and to His descendants after him but the Hebrew wording actually means
seed, referring to the Christ to come.
God’s true covenant promise to Abraham was the promise of giving that
The promise was only to Christ but we can also obtain that promise by having become one with Christ. We do that when we become clothed with Him (Galatians -29). If we have been clothed with Him, we will belong to Him and we will become descendants of Abraham and heirs to the promise.
God gave Abraham both the old covenant and the new covenant promises at the same time. God was promising the earthly land to Abraham’s earthly descendants and He was promising the spiritual land to his spiritual descendants. That old covenant, however, was a faulty covenant.
The Hebrew writer tells us that old covenant was faulty when he wrote, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second” (Hebrews 8:7).
He tells us why it was faulty in the next few words, saying, “For finding fault with them”. It was a faulty covenant because man is faulty.
Man must be made perfect to have an everlasting home with God
If that old earthly covenant was a faulty covenant when the Hebrew writer wrote those words in the first century it was faulty when God made it with His people. That being true, why did God ever bring into being that old covenant?
Was it done to help Abraham’s spiritual descendants (His
descendants by faith) to obtain their everlasting spiritual
In that old story, God’s people were in
bondage in the
God had previously told Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let the people go. It was only after God’s great power was displayed with signs and wonders that Pharaoh would let them go free.
Moses led God’s people out of Egyptian bondage and he led them through the sea, on dry ground. When the Egyptian army pursued after them, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the waters returned to their place. The entire Egyptian army was drowned in the sea.
God’s people had been brought out of slavery but they find themselves in the wilderness. They will be required to follow the LORD and His servant, Moses, all the way there in order to receive the promise.
They must travel through the wilderness to that land and be willing to fight for it. It will not happen for most of them. Most of them will be disobedient and rebellious and God will strike them down in that wilderness.
Remember when they sent the twelve spies in to spy out the land? Ten of them came back and gave a bad report. They told how it was truly a land of milk and honey but they also said it was inhabited by strong nations and giants.
Only Joshua and Caleb gave a good report and encouraged the people to enter and take possession of that land. That nation had been saved from slavery and the land of promise was before them but they wanted to return to slavery, instead.
What happened that day was the last straw. God told them that their corpses would fall in that wilderness (Numbers ). Not one of those of their numbered men would enter that land except for Joshua and Caleb.
God’s army consisted of all men twenty years old and older who were able to go to war (Excepting the priestly tribe). Of God’s army, only Joshua and Caleb would enter that land because they had followed the LORD fully. God also told them that their children would enter.
In Deuteronomy, chapter 1, Moses recounts to the next generation what had happened. Forty years had passed and the rebels had all died in the wilderness. Moses repeated God’s promise of how none would enter except Joshua and Caleb and adds, “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it”.
Their little ones would enter that land because they had no knowledge of good or evil. They were under the age of accountability. Everyone in God’s army, except for Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness.
That was their story. Now we will look at our story. Just as Moses was sent to bring God’s earthly chosen people out of bondage, Jesus has been sent to bring God’s spiritual chosen people out of spiritual bondage.
Just before he died Moses had foretold how, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)
There would be many prophets after Moses but Christ was the only prophet who would be like Moses in leading God’s people out of slavery. Christ told His people about that when He came.
In John, chapter 8, Jesus spoke to the Jews, saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John ). He tells them, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed”.
When Jesus said that all sinners were slaves of sin, He included all mankind. Every person on earth (Who has reached the age of accountability) is guilty of sin and is in bondage to sin. To be set free from slavery to sin, we must follow Jesus out of that slavery.
Just as they were led through the sea and into that wilderness, we have been brought through the waters into our spiritual wilderness. We have not yet, however, received our land.
We must follow Jesus through our spiritual wilderness of this world to receive our land. Unlike that old army, God’s spiritual army includes both men and women, everyone who has been baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-28).
Just as with that old story, only those who follow the Lord fully will receive that land. They will receive it, along with the little ones who do not know good from evil. It sounds like God created that earthly story as a copy of our spiritual story.
We need to look at how God does His creation work. In the first verses of his gospel John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." (John 1:1-3)
A few verses later he tells us how the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ was the Word of God from the beginning and He is the creator of all things. When we read scriptures that tell us how God spoke the creation into existance we can now see how it happened through Christ, before He became flesh.
Paul spoke of the creation works of Christ in his Colossian letter. He says that Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Of His creation work he says, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
If Christ’s creation work includes rulers and thrones and authorities, then His creation work is still under way and it includes who is in power and over what. It includes every ruler since Adam and it included the Pharaoh that led his army into the sea in pursuit of God’s people.
When the scriptures speak of the creation works of Christ, we are seeing both the old creation and God’s new creation. His first creation was completed in the garden when He created man in the image of God. Scripture tells us that work was very good.
It was very good until man sinned and messed
it all up. From that time on, Christ has been working on God’s new
creation, a creation that will create man in the image of God by creating him
in the image of God’s Son. We have just seen where He is the image of the
invisible God, so if we are created in His image we will have been
created in the image of God.
If Jesus is placing all rulers and authorities into their positions of power does He direct the decisions they make? Remember how that old salvation story began? When Moses was sent to bring God’s people out of slavery God told him before-hand that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let His people go.
God caused that story to begin to happen the way it did when He caused Pharaoh's heart to be hard, which caused him to refuse to let God's people go free until God's signs and wonders had been displayed in Egypt.
Paul spoke of that Pharaoh, saying, “the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH” (Romans 9:17).
Christ was the creator and He put Pharaoh into his position and then He make that old story begin to happen as it did when He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. He did it to demonstrate His power and that His name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth. Wow! What does that mean?
Was the Creator causing an earthly copy to come about to show what was to come in the spiritual new covenant? Was it done to demonstrate Christ’s power to save in the gospel message?
Paul said that the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) We have been commanded to proclaim that gospel message in the name of Jesus Christ to all nations.
It sounds like the creation works of Christ include his causing things to happen in this world so as to bring about true life stories. Is He really creating true life stories? Did He cause that old Hebrew story to happen as an earthly copy of our story for our instruction? That almost sounds like Christ speaking in parables except the story is true.
We heard Paul tell us how the scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH”? The next verse tells us that He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
This is the same chapter that speaks of the potter and the clay and of the potter making some vessels for honorable use and others of common use. Jesus is the creator so He is the potter and we are the clay.
Paul asks the question, "Or does not the
potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for
honorable use, and another for common use?" (Romans 9:21)
He has mercy on some and He hardens others, as He desires. That almost sounds like God decides what kind of vessel we will become and He creates our life story according to His will.
After Paul spoke of how God has mercy on whom He desires and hardens whom He desires he addressed an obvious question. Paul will ask that question for us. He writes, “You will say to me then, Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”
He also asks how we can
answer back to God because the thing molded can not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like
this," will it?”
How can this the true when we know that God has given us free choice. How can it be our choice to believe and obey the gospel or reject it if God makes that decision for us? Do we have a choice or not?
Paul, you asked the question for us. Can you answer it for us? How can He find fault if He makes us into the vessel of His choosing?
Paul had already answered that question. We can see that if we back up just a few verses. Paul began to speak of how Christ does His creation work in our lives in the previous chapter. He speaks of how God causes things to happen in our lives but, remember, Christ is actually doing God's creation work.
Paul says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)
It sounds as if His new creation work includes having mercy on those who are to be created in the image of Christ Jesus and hardening the hearts of others.
As Christ is doing His new creation work He is causing all things to work together for good in the lives of those who love Him so as to create them into the image of Him-self.
He is the potter working with the clay. We are the clay and for those He foresaw making the choice to love Him, He is making us into vessels of honor.
That is how we have input into the kind of vessel that we will become. We must make the choice to love Him. For those who make that choice, He foreknew them and He predestined them to become children of God. The Potter will make it happen.
God is not limited in time. He is in all time now and He was in all time in the beginning. He foreknew the future because He was there before it happened. We can see God's forknowledge of those who would choose to love Him in what David said about himself.
David says to God, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it." (Psalms 139:4-6)
God's knowledge is too wonderful for us to understand because it includes His foreknowledge of us. God knew what David would say before he said it. God could hear and answer his prayers before David offered them up.
God must have heard all of his prayers and answered them all before David was born because he then says, "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them." (Psalms 139:16)
Every day of his life had been determined and recorded in God’s book before he was born. God knew him and recorded his life beforehand because God had foreseen him as a man after God's own heart.
Just as God foresaw every day of David’s life before he was born, He also foresaw every day of our life before we were born and based on what He foreknew about us, He predestined our future. The Potter knew what kind of vessel He would create from the clay before He started His work.
When Paul said that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, he is speaking of a good spiritual story, not a good earthly story. Paul wrote this scripture and he did not have a good earthly story. He had a very bad earthly story but he had a good spiritual story. That is what God is promising to us.
We are involved in the creation of our life story when we pray for God to make things happen for us. When we pray and God answers our prayers, we have input in the creation of our life story. God heard our prayers and planned our story before we were born.
Paul says it will happen for those that God foreknew would choose to love Him and He has predestined them to become sons of God.
Regarding God's promise of our being created in the image of His Son if we choose to love Him, Jesus tells us who really loves Him in John . He says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”.
He makes sure we get the message when He tells us, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me” (verses 23-24).
Having an abode with God is the covenant promise. Only those who choose to love God with obedience to His word will have that heavenly home with Him. The Father will love those who choose to love His Son and who show it with obedience and the Son will love those that the Father loves.
We heard Paul tell us how God will cause all things to work together for good in our lives if we love Him. We said that shows how we have a choice of what we become by our making the choice to love God.
We can hear Paul confirm that we have input into what we will become when he tells Timothy there are some vessels of honor and some vessels of dishonor in any large house.
He says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)
Remember, the promise has been made to those who love God and only those who obey Him really love Him. They are the ones who make the choice to obey Him and abstain from wickedness.
God foresaw which ones would make that choice and He is helping them to overcome this world.
Just as Christ is creating our life story today, He created the events that brought into being the old covenant story. We saw how He caused that story to begin to come about like it did when He hardened Pharaoh's heart.
When He hardened his heart that last time, God brought about the event that washed the Egyptian army away in the sea.
After the death of the
firstborn, the Egyptians let
If God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart that last time, God’s
people would have continued their journey without that
God caused the event to happen that destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the sea to create a parallel of our spiritual journey. When the Israelite nation went through the sea, their Egyptian slave-masters tried to overtake them to bring them back into slavery but they were washed away in the sea. Scripture says that not even one of them remained (Exodus ).
Was that not a copy of how we are brought out of slavery to sin? Were not our slave-masters (Our sins?) all washed away in the sea of baptism?
When Paul was told to, "Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (Acts ), was that not foretold in the old earthly copy? Is Christ washing our sins away in the sea of baptism when we obey the gospel?
God tells us more about our salvation story in
that old earthly copy in what happened next.
After the Israelites saw what God had done, scripture records, “When
They were a nation of saved believers that had been saved from slavery. They have the promise of a land of milk and honey but they have not yet received that land. They have been saved out of slavery but they must travel through the wilderness to that land and be willing to fight for it. It will not happen for most of them.
Most of them will be disobedient and rebellious and God will strike them down in that wilderness. They had believed in the LORD when they saw what happened to the Egyptians but their belief will become unbelief in the wilderness.
Did God cause that old story to happen as a copy of what is taking place in our spiritual story for our instruction just as Christ spoke in parables for our instruction? Most of Christ's parables were fictional earthly stories but that old Hebrew story was a true story. God, however, caused it to happen.
Paul is telling us that in his letter of 1 Corinthians, when he speaks of that old salvation story and says that what happened to them happened as examples for us.
He says, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5).
After reminding them of that old covenant story and how God struck most of them down because He was not pleased with them, he tells us, “Now these things happened as examples for us”.
He says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).
Paul wrote what the Spirit told him to write. We need to listen to God because what happened to that earthly nation, happened as our example and God had it recorded by Moses for our instruction.
He says that we need to take heed lest we fall in our wilderness (This ungodly world) like they fell in their wilderness.
The Hebrew writer referred to that same story and he says the same thing about it that Paul said. He tells us how that nation could not enter their land of rest because of their hard hearts.
He writes, “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS.” (Hebrews 3:7-8)
Our warning is to, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Verses 12-14).
Do we really believe in Jesus? He is speaking through the scriptures. He is telling us to look at their story and be careful not to let it happen to us like it happened to them.
They believed in the Lord when they came through the sea. They believed when they were watching the Lord do His awesome work but when their journey became difficult, they fell away.
We will have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast in our faith (“the beginning of our assurance”) firm until the end.
The Spirit is speaking and He
tells us, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one
will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).
He is giving us their example of disobedience and He says that we can fall if we follow their example. That is the same thing that Paul told the Corinthians. He said that what happened to those Israelites happened as our example and it was written for our instruction.
Just as they were a nation of saved believers (After their slave masters were washed away), we are also a nation of saved believers after we have been brought through the waters of baptism and our slave masters have been washed away. We must, however, be like Joshua and Caleb and be faithful until the end.
The others who will receive that land are the little ones who do not know good from evil. Little ones who have not reached the age of accountability when they pass from this life will enter that land.
If you have come through those waters but have been rebellious toward God, you need to repent or else your body will fall in this wilderness and you will not reach that land.
If you have never left the land of slavery and your slave masters have not been washed away, you will die in that land of slavery.
The promise is only to those who choose to love God and that only includes those who choose to keep His commandments.
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