Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1998
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 3: Kingdoms in Decline: The Discipline of Cursing
Lesson 85 – Kingdom in Decline, Discipline of the King
02 Apr 1998
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Continuing on in the prophets, we entitled this section of the biblical history as the king’s discipline because this internal. The other events were contrasting the kingdom of God coming into the world in conflict with the world. What we’re now studying is the dynamics going on inside the kingdom. Basically it’s a revelation of how God reigns. I won’t call it an experiment because that sounds like the outcome of it isn’t sure, so rather than call this God’s experimental version of the kingdom, we’ll just call it a historical demonstration of the kingdom. What God is demonstrating is His faithfulness and man’s unfaithfulness.
We looked at the golden era of Solomon and that teaches an area of the doctrine of sanctification, but in particular growth and wisdom. Then we went to the kingdom divided and that spoke of sanctification again, but this time the doctrine of God’s chastening, and how that was to lead to repentance. We’re now finishing with the kingdoms in decline period, again doctrine of sanctification, and this one is a little more intense, instead of just chastening to repentance it’s chastening to repentance and it raises the whole spectacle of a promised final solution to this thing. It’s that that we want to look at tonight. As we come to the prophets we want to remember that these guys are all serving a function under the sovereign of God in history.
When we studied David we saw that David’s heart was sensitive toward God and you have conviction of sin, the confession of the sin and the restoration to fellowship. That restorative process is the thing that’s being revealed through the Davidic narratives. But when we come later in time, after David in history, the prophets have to cope with something else. That is the hardening of the nation’s heart, a group that has basically disobeyed long enough, many of them probably believers, who disbelieved long enough that carnality became compounded in their lives and when this process occurs, one of the corollaries, one of the things that happens, is that we get false pictures in our heads about God. A. W. Tozer said that all the church’s problems can be laid at the door of one simple problem: whenever the church has gotten a wrong answer to the question “what is God like,” she’s always in deep trouble. Every heresy, EVERY heresy in church history has proceeded fundamentally out of a wrong answer to the question “what is God like.”
So the prophets begin, not by attacking merely the social issues. Those are involved, but only involved to the extent that they illustrate the primary issue. Social issues are revelations of deeper issues, and the deeper issue is the destruction of the mental strongholds and demonic idolatries, demonically agitated or demonically energized images of God that men carry around in their hearts. These become fastened, as it were, or glued to the flesh. So when we operate in the flesh, when our patterns, our thinking, is carnal, these things build up they have to be cleaned out and the cleaning out process is very painful. The prophets were engaged in this ministry, and they had to do it by showing that the opposition, the rebellion, the sin, was fundamentally wrong and in collision with the Mosaic Law.
On the right side of the chart we show the illustration of Elijah’s ministry: a total failure of economic security and religious promises of the Baalist agenda, in direct contrast to the Word of Jehovah. Those two phrases illustrate Deuteronomy 13 and 18. Those are the two canons of truth. Men are evaluated in terms of two issues, what we call the rational test, does the belief line up with the Word of God or not, that’s the test of Deuteronomy 13:1-4. The test goes on to say don’t expect miracles, miracles are not proof of orthodoxy. They never have been proof of orthodoxy. Pharaoh’s magicians did many miracles; it’s not a proof that Pharaoh was a believer. Deuteronomy 13 cuts to the quick and says the issue is whether or not there is rational and logical consistency with the Word of God previously revealed. In this case the Word of God previously revealed was the Pentateuch.
The second test that is given in Scripture is an empirical test, that’s Deuteronomy 18 but it’s a negative empirical test. It’s a test that says if you have a genuine prophet, who is genuinely telling you what the Word of God is, then it will surely come to pass. Not 90% come to pass; not some obscure partial coming to pass that can be interpreted 500 different ways like Nostradamus or somebody. The Scriptures will come to pass in 100% truth, with clarity. That’s the issue that’s going on in the overall ministry of the prophets. We developed that and we said that the prophets used many devices, and we’ve been studying those devices.
We said that the prophets largely operated trying to deal with a two-track problem. On the one hand, the prophets insisted that God’s promises in the Abrahamic Covenant would be true. God’s sovereign announcements that the land, the seed and the worldwide blessing will come to pass, will come to pass. But they also had to deal with the fact that in terms of the Sinaitic Covenant we have something that makes God’s blessing continent on human obedience. What this covenant argued was that God is a holy God, He cannot compromise His holiness. God has integrity and it doesn’t make any difference what we do, He is not going to alter His character. He will never alter His character. Any concept of the plan of salvation has to deal with the integrity of God.
That’s why it’s an unanswered question in the Old Testament, the prophets are trying to show that if you have obedience you have blessing; if you have disobedience you have cursing. Over here God promises blessing, so the question that the prophets had to address is over here you have God’s sovereignty; over here you have human responsibility. They’re dealing with that all through the books of the prophets, trying to balance this.
On page 41 of the notes we started with the first of three themes that you see in the books of the prophets. These themes are repeated in all the books under different expressions, different ways, in a slightly different manner by the different prophets. The first theme is that Jehovah, or “Yahweh ruled surrounding pagan nations as much as He ruled Israel and Judah.” That’s something we want to remember, that He’s not sovereign over part of the world and not sovereign over the other part. That was a temptation for the Hebrew people to believe. When they were getting creamed it was very easy for them to think that the guy with the paddle was some monster from the outside out of control, over which God exercised no sovereign. So the prophets are very careful to point out, whether it’s the Assyrians, the Aramaeans, the Moabites, no matter who it is, those nations are called to do their job by the sovereign God of Israel. The God of Israel rules over the gods of the other nations.
Then we went on in the notes to the second theme, page 42, “Israel and Judah had broken the Sinaitic Covenant and could therefore have no claim on Yahweh’s protection.” We dealt with this format, the rib which variously translated as lawsuit, case, and sometimes the King James will say a dispute. You have to watch it because unless you have a concordance you’ll see these words “case” and “dispute” and they look so innocent and every day that you don’t realize that when you hit it in the text you’re hitting a technical word. It should be capitalized to draw out attention to it. This is a formal proceeding, this rib proceeding. What it reveals is that God is bringing a case against the nation before the witnesses, the witnesses being the angels, God is bringing a case before the angels saying that this nation that I promised blessing, they have disobeyed. They have disobeyed! I have been faithful to do the things that I promised; they have not been faithful to do the things they promised. That’s the case the prophets are bringing, all sixteen books of the prophets are bringing this case. We examined four passages, Deuteronomy 32; Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah, where that same rib proceeding occurs, and I listed those verses on page 43 of the notes. That’s to show you that regardless of which prophet you read, you’re still reading the same theme.
At the bottom of page 43 is a paragraph I want to draw your attention to, we don’t have time to do it but it’s an exciting study, in the Q&A people brought this up one night. “To empower the prophets’ communication of His disgust and hurt over the nation’s disloyalty, the Lord put them through many carefully-designed personal trials. Hosea was called into an adulterous marriage so he could personally experience something of the Lord’s own grief over the nation. Jeremiah spoke also in the analogy of the marriage and the Sinaitic Covenant.” The prophets often had to live out in their personal lives a situation that was analogous to the way God saw the situation. It’s very interesting because apparently what God is saying is only if you do that can you experience what I experience.
For example, this is why God had Abraham offer Isaac. That passage in Genesis where Abraham offers his son, it’s interesting if you check in the concordance, that’s the passage that introduces the term “the only begotten son.” That’s where that term first occurs. This is not a New Testament theological term first applied to Jesus. That’s a term that occurs in Genesis describing Isaac, and it’s an adumbration, so it’s a forward look, it’s a preparation of the ultimate, the only Begotten Son and the Father who loses that Son. So by experiencing these sorts of things God is having a communication process take place.
We mentioned, page 44 of the notes, that the Davidic monarchy was announced to have terminated, that the line of David, and here’s where you have to watch the fine print of Scripture, several things here. The Davidic Covenant promised the continuation of the seed of David and the kingdom of David. That’s the language. Watch what’s happening. In Jeremiah the royal seed of David has gone down through the southern kingdom and stopped at Jehoiakim. He was one of the klutz kings toward the end of the fall of the southern kingdom. So the prophets come in and they announce discipline extends not just to the people in the kingdom, but it extends to the king of the kingdom, and in particular the house of David. It’s a very stunning announcement. Jeremiah announces this twice, that the house of David through Jehoiakim, through this king, will be stopped; there will be no more of that particular line of David sitting on the throne of Israel.
This leads to all kinds of genealogical issues that arise through the Gospels in the New Testament, because many scholars believe that Joseph, the human husband of Mary, traces his lineage back here, whereas Mary traces her lineage back to the seed of David but not through this line. That makes Joseph and Mary a very unique couple. It also explains a lot of genealogical problems that people appear to have trouble with in the New Testament. The idea for our class is that this is just another sign that God has set up; He’s terminating the blessings on the nation. He’s doing something else here; He’s basically eliminating the Law in one sense, as an active covenant. The lawsuit is it, this is all over.
Now we’re going to look at the third theme and that’s the resolution to this problem that’s created in the Old Testament: “Yahweh, solely because of His sovereign, elective grace will Himself bring about the righteousness necessary for the blessing of Israel.” Watch that sentence; I tried to structure that sentence carefully. Notice what the sentence doesn’t say. It doesn’t say “Yahweh, solely because of His sovereign, elective grace will bless the nation.” What it says is that “Yahweh, solely because of His sovereign, elective grace will Himself bring about the righteousness necessary” for the nation to be blessed with. There’s a difference. God will supply the righteousness, but in the end the blessings that accrue to the people are by their submission to His righteousness. The will, the human responsibility, is never eliminated here. So God is going to bring about the final blessing, but He’s going to do it totally respecting the responsibility of people. People are going to have to believe and trust Him for this righteousness. But He will provide it.
This is the theme that we’re going to study tonight. Just to review, Deuteronomy 32:26, the national anthem of Israel, outlines the history of the nation. It provided the rib format for the prophets to use. They went back to Deuteronomy 32. In verse 26 the rib proceeding is abruptly stopped. Had this been a document from other nations in the ancient near east it would have continued. But it stopped, there’s something different that happens. This is unheard of outside of Israel, that a rib proceeding is cut off, it’s stopped. It’s stopped for a reason. In verse 27 notice the reason why God doesn’t pursue the extermination, which He legally could have, of His nation. “Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy, lest their adversaries should misjudge, lest they should say, ‘our hand is triumphant, and the LORD has not done all this.’” In other words what God is saying is the enemies I am using to discipline you, I’m sovereign over them, and however I deal with you I’m not going to deal with you that ruins My integrity with them either. So I’m not going to lose My integrity dealing with you, and I’m not going to lose My integrity dealing with the other guys.
So to protect God’s integrity and His holiness, going back to the Abraham, “what He had promised He was able also to do,” now He says, in verse 28 He begins to announce a new thing. Here we have God’s prophetic program. Now we’re going to really start into biblical prophecy, not in all the details but the basic outlines of biblical prophecy, the millennial issue, the pre-, post-, and a-millennial issue, because here’s where we get involved with it. “For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them.  Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future!  How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up?” In other words, God’s saying when I start causing these things to happen in history it should be intuitively obvious, if you’re trapped in these circumstances, that you draw conclusions. It’s really interesting that He expects in verses 29 and 30 believers involved in history to draw conclusion just from the circumstances, utilizing the insights in the Scripture, but being able to evaluate your circumstances.
He goes on and He discusses what He’s going to do. Verse 35 should look familiar to those of you who have read Romans, “Vengeance is Mine,” that’s where Paul gets this from. It’s very interesting that he quotes from this. That’s one of the exciting things about the Old Testament, if we taught the New Testament the way we should be teaching it, because most of us don’t know the Old Testament, we would start in and get in Paul’s epistle, we’d hit this verse and he’s quoting the Old Testament, then what we’d have to do is go over for weeks the Old Testament to get the context of that one verse before we could go to the next verse. Paul taught people who knew the Old Testament, and he refers casually to it. To us when we read it it looks like these are just casual things and he’s quoting; they’re not casual things. He cites things assuming … ASSUMING that the hearers of his message have enough training in the Old Testament to pick up the nuances. We don’t because we have Gentile backgrounds and most of us have no background in the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 32:35, “Vengeance is mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” In other words, this is a judgment upon the nations who are judging Israel, this is a judgment on the judgers, this is a resolution to history. Then it goes on, it concludes in verse 43 with something that looks tremendously like the Psalms. The language in verse 43 should remind you of the language of the Psalms, particularly in the 90s. All the 90s Psalms are called the Enthronement Psalms, and they’re looking to the end of history when God reigns. “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.” Right there is revelation of what’s coming down the pipe, but it’s couched in such a language that the people to whom it was first addressed probably didn’t understand what was implied there.
That’s the idea that Jehovah is going to stop the rib and somehow He’s going to bless the nation. In the notes on page 45, in the Bible in Deuteronomy 29, we want to trace a theme. We’re going to pick up a covenant that we have not studied, it is not a major one, therefore I have not emphasized it in this series. It is a biblical covenant, and we want to study this covenant, because by studying it we’ll see how God sets up history. What was one of the three promises of Abrahamic Covenant? A land, a seed, a worldwide blessing. Now we’re going to face the issue of the land, and by the land we don’t mean the church, we don’t mean heaven, we don’t mean some religious experience, we’re talking about land. Land means land, sometimes called the holy land, but actually most of the time it’s been quite unholy. This is God’s land, and that’s the covenant we’re looking at, real real estate here, real political boundaries. All of that, Judah and Israel, that land was said to belong, and would forever eternally belong to Israel. Now we want to study that a little bit.
In Deuteronomy 29:1 Moses introduces another covenant. This was inside the Sinaitic Covenant, so at Sinai we have the blessings and cursings covenant; we also have along with it this other one that’s embedded in it. “These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab,” notice it’s a second covenant because the next clause says, “besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.” This is an additional covenant, second contract. What we want to do is figure out what is this second covenant talking about. Verse 2, “And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, ‘You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt …” etc.
Then verse 14, “Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath,  but with both those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today,” in other words the whole generations. Verse 21, “Then the LORD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law.  Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it, will say,” it’s talking about the fact that there’s a curse that’s going to come upon the land. In verse 24, “And all the nations shall say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to the land? Why this great outburst of anger?’  And then men shall say, ‘because they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.  And they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them,” describing the theological apostasy. Verse 27, “Therefore, the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book.”
Verse 28, “The LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land, as it is this day,” that is during the exile, that’s the exile coming up. We’re talking about something that’s going to happen; the next event we’re going to study is the exile, when the nation went into captivity. Deuteronomy 32 is written as though the exile has happened. Notice the context of verse 29, which we all quote as the limitations of our knowledge. Verse 29 is the Old Testament mystery of how is God going to, if He’s damned the nation, if He’s chastened them into oblivion through the exile, what happens to the promise of the land. How is God going to arrange history to make His word come to pass? That’s the context, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”
I’ll come back to verse 29 before we finish tonight. That’s a key verse on how we walk by faith and how knowledge for the Christian is different than a pagan claim to knowledge. Now we want to move into the first five verses of the next chapter, and observe carefully. This covenant has been called in biblical theology the Palestinian Covenant. Hebrew Christians are not excited about that term because the word “Palestine” is a Roman term that was coined in the 2nd century, after the revolt of Bar Kokhba, and it was deliberately created by the Romans to de-Judaize the land. The word “Palestine” is a manufactured term, not biblical at all. It was introduced to mask over the Judaistic nature of this land. If you go to Israel today, I guarantee, they don’t call the land Palestine. The Hebrew people refer to it as eretz Yisrael, this is the Hebrew word,אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל eretz Yisrael meaning land. That’s their term for it, not Palestine, eretz Yisrael.
When you hear Netanyahu negotiates with Arafat talking about giving up the land, this is why they have a hard time giving up land. The Moslems have a hard time because it’s written in the Koran and in their Islamic theology that once Islam has triumphed, you never can retreat. Islam can never retreat from real estate it’s taken; that’s why there’s such a collision. There’s a theological collision in the Middle East that Dan Rather can’t understand. The collision is between the belief of Islam that once Islam attains control of a piece of acreage, it shall not, on denial of Allah ever retreat from that. But on the other hand, you have the Jews that believe it’s eretz Yisrael given to them by the sovereign God of the Scripture. That’s the collision, and you can negotiate peace forever, but as long as you have people on both sides of the table that believe they have a divine right to the same acreage, you’ve got a big problem. It’s a theological, not a political problem. The politics and the wars are just manifestations of a religious and theological collision.
Here is why the Jews believe in eretz Yisrael, watch the verses here. Deuteronomy 30:1, “So it shall become when all of these things have come upon you,” watch this slowly and carefully, “the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you.” That’s a mouthful. The first clause, “it shall be when all of these things have come,” past tense, after these things have come upon you. What things have come upon you? The blessing and the curse. What is the blessing? Golden era of Solomon, the great kingdom reign. What is the curse? The decline of the kingdom. So the picture of this verse is when “the blessing” there’s Solomon, golden era, then the kingdoms go into decline through the cursing, then we go into exile. When the blessing and the cursing has come upon you, “and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you,” or moved you.
Verse 1 speaks of the fact that the people are now in exile and they’re looking back on the days of the blessing and the days of the cursing. In fact many of the books of the prophets were canonized during this time; this is why there was such a study of Jewish history. The issue is what went wrong with us. They didn’t have Kings written when they were going through what we’ve gone through. We sit here, Monday morning quarterbacking the whole thing, telling how every little play should have been made. They didn’t have all this great omniscience when they were walking through this, and the Holy Spirit put it all together for them, finally, and the books we casually read as 2 Kings are really post mortal analysis of why did we fail. That’s why they have to be read seriously. They are the pleas and analysis of a suffering group of people who have seen their homeland destroyed, who have been moved thousands of miles. These people were literally moved thousands of miles, again look at the map. They moved, literally, by the tens of thousands.
The Syrians and the Babylonians had a neat way of conquering people to make sure they never had any more problems. They transported people from area A and moved them to area B, C, and D, then they took people from B, C, and D and moved them into the land. Guess how the Samaritans arose that are despised in the New Testament. Do you know who the Samaritans are? They are imports. Those are people that were moved into the land to occupy the land and they were not Jewish people. Therefore they were always looked upon with disdain. When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman there’s a lot of history behind Jesus little talk with this Samaritan woman at the well. The well happened to be the well of Jacob. It was perfectly picked by Jesus to have this import, Gentile import, half Jew, probably by intermarriage, and He’s talking to her about eternal life over the well of Jacob. There’s a lot of imaging that’s going on in the New Testament.
We have this eretz Yisrael and the perspective now is from the exile. Verse 2, they’re in the exilic time, “And you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons,  then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.” Right here we have the summary of history. That has not happened. It happened partially in the restoration but the restoration is not, as Daniel found out, the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 30:2-3. Deuteronomy 30:2-3 hasn’t yet been fulfilled; it is a prophecy of things to come. It is talking about the future of the land of Israel, and that Israel will be re-gathered. This is literal Israel. Notice to whom it is said. This is not addressed to the church.
Again, what does it say? Who’s in exile? It’s not the church in the exile; it’s Jews in the exile. So all this prophecy so far, we’ll get the church into it later, but right now let’s read the Old Testament the way the Old Testament should be read. Covenant Theology and a lot of things that pass in Protestantism, we have these pastors say well, that’s the church. It’s not the church; the church isn’t there. This is a contract made with Jewish people, with a written contract. They are parties to the covenant; the church isn’t there when the covenant is made, so the church is not included in that covenant in a direct way.
We have then, a future time, question mark, and the question mark concerns the fact that Israel will do certain things. What did Jesus do on Palm Sunday that week? What was the famous thing He said when the nation rejected Him, He saw the nation was rejecting Him, after they threw palms and welcomed Hosanna who comes, then they turned against Him. Jesus lamented this and He turned to the people in the capitol city, and He said, I will not come back until you say “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” [Luke 13:34-35] That was Jesus’ announcement, and that’s why Israel is a key to world peace. Until Israel repents and recognizes the person of Jesus Christ for who He is, the Messiah, there cannot be world peace because this verse requires something to happen. It says that “you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today,” and then verse 3, “then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and …will gather you again from all nations where the LORD your God has scattered you.” That means the Jews are going to go back to eretz Yisrael.
How are they going to go back? They’re going to go back only on the condition that they submit to the righteousness of God. Why were they excluded from the nation? Because they refused to submit to the righteousness of God. How are they going to get back in the land? By submitting to the righteousness of God. Who is the righteousness of God? The New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ. So who are they going to have to submit to? They have to have a source of righteousness that doesn’t violate the integrity of God’s holiness. And it can’t be on works, it can’t be their works, it will not cut the mustard when it comes to fellowship with God because of His holiness. So not to compromise His holiness means somehow there has to be righteousness made available, and they are going to return to it.
Verse 5, “And the LORD our God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.” Notice verse 5 is not talking about heaven, this is the kingdom of God, this is not heaven here. The kingdom of God is on earth, not in heaven. And it is involved with the real estate of the Middle East. He says He “will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed,” what was the land their father’s possessed? We saw it on the map. That’s the land the fathers possessed. I will bring you back into the land and you will possess it, “and he will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.” That means Israel’s golden ear under Solomon is but a glimpse of what her glorious future will be. That’s the promise here, an amazing promise. And there’s a whole future out here, and this kingdom of God is where we get from the New Testament the word “the millennial kingdom.” That is the kingdom of God that is talked about here; Jesus Christ will bring the nation of Israel back into the land and reign with them for a thousand years.
So we are starting to work our way into prophecy and it starts with this Palestinian Covenant which I mentioned tonight because the Palestinian Covenant sets up part of the answer to the dilemma, Lord, we have been thrown out of our land, we have been thrown out of our blessings by disobedience, what happens to the Abrahamic Covenant promised? Land, seed, worldwide blessing? The land is going to be Israel’s. The Palestinian Covenant or the covenant of eretz Yisrael answers that clause in the Abrahamic Covenant. Will the Abrahamic Covenant come to pass? The land will be theirs. Yes! Will it literally come to pass or is this just spiritualizing? It’s a literal interpretation; it literally will come to pass. How will it come to pass? We’re not given all the details. All we know from this passage is it will come to pass. The Jews returning in unbelief to the land of Israel is not the fulfillment of this prophecy. It may be a forward movement to get ready for the return of Christ, but what you see today with the Jews coming into Israel…, they’re not coming into Israel because they’re submitting to Jesus Christ, that movement that we observe today is not the fulfillment of the Millennial Kingdom.
On page 45 of the notes, we won’t have time to go through all the verses. “The prophets repeatedly reminded the nation of these truths which had been originally revealed to Moses. Isaiah spoke of a future time when Israel would be again settled ‘in their land’ and ‘in the land of Yahweh, (Isaiah 14:2).” I gave you the reference, I urge you to read these references, pick up the terminology so you get a feel for the flow of the prophets. “Ezekiel wrote that after” notice the word “after,” “after a future judgment Israel would serve ‘Yahweh in the land’ (Ezekiel 20:40).” You see, the idea that there has to be a judgment prior to returning to the land, we know the judgment is the return of Christ and that’s why we are premillennialists. “Pre” means the judgment comes before the Millennial Kingdom: premillennialism. Postmillennialism is the belief that the church brings in the kingdom; silly! The church brings in the kingdom? What does the church have to do with the kingdom? Is this talking about the church here? No. Jesus brings in the kingdom. That’s why all the prophets talk about a judgment, and then the return to the land.
“Amos saw a time in Israel’s future when its ancient cities would be rebuilt and the people would be planted by the Lord ‘on their land’ (Amos 9:15). Clearly these prophets were not inventing a new message as Bible critics try to say to their students. Far from any new message, the prophets’ visions and teaching had to pass the truth test of Deuteronomy 13:1-5 which required theological continuity with Moses. From this foundation in the Torah, they were led by the Holy Spirit to expand upon Moses and deal with their contemporary scene so each prophet is slightly different in style and emphasis.”
We find out that Jehovah is going to establish the righteousness. In page 46 in the notes, we come to Habakkuk. [blank spot; quote from notes, “An excellent example of how clearly these Old Testament prophets saw the necessity of faith in Yahweh to supply the righteousness is Habakkuk. He writes toward the end of the nation’s decline that the proud or autonomous man is unrighteous but the one who ‘lives by faith’ is righteous (Habakkuk 2:4)”] … Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, then you go Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, then the HGHG, so turn to Habakkuk 2:4.
Habakkuk is complaining about the suffering of the people. If you want to see how biblical believers in the Old Testament prayed, how bold they were to bring their complaints to God, they weren’t reticent to cry out to God, it’s phony piety to be really ticked at God for doing something and then coming into His presence with all sweet little religious words because He sees right through it. So the guys in the Old Testament, if you read the Psalms, they come in with pretty heavy stuff. I can show you a Psalm where if you translate it from the original Hebrew the guy is so mad at God for what’s happening in the temple, he says You get your hands out of Your pockets and walk through this mess; and that’s a prayer. Can you imagine what would happen if somebody said that at prayer meeting, looked up at God and said “get Your hands out of Your pockets and move it!” Is this kind of disrespectful of God? Well, yes in one sense, but what’s more honest? If you feel that way, tell Him that.
Look at Habakkuk 1:13; see the complaint there, “…Why dost Thou look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why art Thou silent when the wicked swallowed up those more righteous than they?  Why hast Thou made men like the fish of the sea, like creeping things without a ruler over them?” This guy is angry, and he’s got a problem. Habakkuk, as a prophet, has administered the rib. Remember the rib, what does a rib say? The rib says God is throwing the nation out; He’s had it, that’s it. Yet Habakkuk knows that God is righteous, and it’s a struggle in this guy’s heart, what are you doing here Lord? There are believers in this country; there are people that honor You, how come we’re getting swept away with all this? Why are our families getting killed and slaughtered, what is happening, why us? So he goes on, and at this point God speaks.
In Habakkuk 2:2 the Lord intervenes and this little monologue suddenly becomes a dialogue. “Then the LORD answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.” In other words, put it on a billboard, I don’t want any excuses for somebody who doesn’t read this and understand it.  “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;” this is a prophecy, “it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail.” God’s sovereign promise, what is that rooted in? Sinaitic Covenant or Abrahamic Covenant? The Abrahamic Covenant, it will not fail! “Though it tarries,” though it’s delayed, you “wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.  Behold,” now this is the verse that opens up the entire book of Romans in the New Testament, here it is, and it’s a great revelation through the prophet Habakkuk. Here it is: “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him, but the righteous will live by his faith.” Paul didn’t invent justification by faith, it’s right here in Habakkuk.
Look at what’s going on here because this is a great discovery and if you catch the glimpse of this, you’ll see that the New Testament is not new at all. Very little in the New Testament is new and what is new in the New Testament hasn’t anything to do with what we think of as new; Jesus for example, Jesus prophesied; all the prophecies of Jesus are in the Old Testament, so that’s not new.
What the prophets have done is they’ve lived from the time of Abraham, they’ve seen the Exodus happen, the Exodus was the birth of the nation, and then we have the destruction of the nation. Here are all the prophets, and Habakkuk is one of these guys down here. They’re watching the collapse of a nation that entered into a covenant treaty with God. These guys, down at this point in history are realizing something. They said, you know, after all this, after our sin, after how much we’ve been disloyal to God, we have to conclude that we can never ever please Him by obeying the law through natural means. All this period of history has shown one thing, it has shown that the flesh cannot obey the Word of God. It is depraved; it cries out in rebellion, it cannot consistently obey the Word of the Lord.
The failure of the nation weighed heavily on the hearts of these men. They had to administer the funeral of their own country. They didn’t do it lightheartedly. It drove them to their knees to cry out to God, why has this happened? The answer to several of them, and Habakkuk has it right here, verse 4, what he says, notice the word “right” it occurs twice, “Behold, as for the proud one,” in context what do you suppose the “proud one” is? What has he said in verse 3? He said I have a promise, now you wait on it and stop the gimmicks, because everybody in Habakkuk’s day had all kinds of plans, they’re going to solve the problem, we’re going to do this, we’re going have this program, and we’re going reform ourselves, and we’re going to pledge to God we’ll never be bad boys and girls again. We’re going to go through all this hoopla, and that will assuage God and we’ll be right. That’s “the proud one.” And God says the person who is trying to manufacture works of the flesh, “His soul is not right within him.” But the one who waits on it, the soul that is righteous, the guy that really has righteousness is the guy that you can tell because he’s going to walk by faith and what in context is faith? It’s waiting for God’s solution to the problem. In the Old Testament it was all future.
In the New Testament the revelation of the righteousness of God is past. This is why Paul picks up… by the way, in Romans guess who the two men are that Paul quotes to build the doctrine of justification by faith? Who are they? Abraham at the beginning, and Habakkuk at the end. Read Romans; watch the marginal references and you see where Paul gets the doctrine of justification from. It’s from these two guys, the beginning and the end of Old Testament history. Abraham, justification by faith, God gave him righteousness or He couldn’t have entered into a covenant with him, God can’t enter into a covenant with sinners. So Abraham was given or credited righteousness. And Habakkuk concluded that the only way anybody could ever live in the land or in Israel is by faith; we have to wait on God’s provision.
This led to another idea that is now revealed in Old Testament history, and this prepares us for the New Testament as to what the church is doing. Second paragraph, page 46 of the notes, “Tightly bound to this realization of the necessity of faith to be counted as righteous enough to enter Yahweh’s kingdom, was the perception that not all Hebrews would so believe. Beginning with the prophet Elijah we read more and more about the ‘faithful remnant.’” That’s a technical word, “‘…faithful remnant.’ Yahweh Himself claimed in Elijah’s day that there were seven thousand believers in the northern kingdom (1 Kings 19:18).” Remember Elijah was depressed; I’m the only guy around, boo-hoo sniff, sniff. And God says never mind Elijah, there’s 6,999 other guys around besides you so just relax, there are some other guys that have not bowed the knee to Baal, I have a faithful remnant within the nation. Look further, “Isaiah foresaw the” quote, and here’s a technical quote from the text, “‘remnant of Israel’ who would ‘return’ (Isaiah 10:20-30) and whom the Lord would surely deliver (46:3-4).”
Now the prophets begin to catch another theme, “Aha,” they say, “we start to see something here; the promises to Abraham are promises not to all the physical seed of Abraham, but to the seed of Abraham who believed.” So in the future, however this question mark will be resolved, in the future when God offers His righteousness to the nation, those who accept it are going to come into the land, and they constitute the nation at that point because what happens to all the unbelievers? They’re removed. Here you might have had 25% believers, 75% unbelievers. What’s going to happen when the Lord Jesus Christ returns and He applies the test, do you welcome Me in the name of the Lord? Those who do, obviously by definition are believers, so what happens to the percent of physical Israel once Christ returns? Answer: 100% believers. So at that point is all of Israel in the land? Yes, all the living Israelites are in the land. But the glitch on understanding this is that there’s all during this time period of the centuries of the Old Testament there has been a remnant, and the remnant are now seen by the prophets to be those people who walked by faith.
That’s what was going on all during this Old Testament period. It doesn’t become clear to them until the end of this process. This is why Paul in Galatians mentions that thing that we all hear about, the law was a pedagogue, a teacher. Why? How was the law a teacher? To bring us to Christ. What has the law done here, what have we seen as we’ve looked over this? We’ve seen the law given, we’ve seen the law disobeyed, we’ve seen the law judged, and now we’ve seen at the end of Old Testament history guys are starting to say ah, I think I get it, that the Lord, to get that promised blessing He’s going to have to provide the righteousness to get that blessing. We’ve tried David, we tried the northern kingdom, we tried the southern kingdom, we tried this, we tried that, we tried everything and we couldn’t get the blessing. We couldn’t keep it secure because if we didn’t sin today we’d sin tomorrow. It was never secure. So to get security with peace and righteousness, God has to do a work. Which brings us to the momentous announcement in Jeremiah at the bottom of page 46.
Look at Jeremiah 31; this is one of the greatest announcements ever made by any of the prophets. It was made by one of the last of the prophets, the weeping prophet of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was chosen by God for the assignment of talking about yet another covenant. So now we’ve had the Mosaic Law Covenant, we’ve had the Abrahamic Covenant, we’ve had the Noahic Covenant, we’ve had Eretz Yisrael Covenant and now we’ve got another covenant. Does God operate history through contracts? You’d better believe it. One contract after another. Why do we have contracts? Contracts are written so you can monitor the behavior of the parties to the contract.
Jeremiah 31:31, “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant,” notice, not with the church, let’s not get the church in here, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,” with whom? “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,  not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD.  ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’” talking about the judgment, so when is this covenant going to be happening? After the days of judgment, that means after Christ returns. The New Covenant comes into effect with Israel, it will answer the mystery of what Jesus was doing on the Passover when He said “this is the new covenant in My blood” which we celebrate every communion. We can’t get to that because we’re not talking New Testament now. We’re reading the Old Testament through the eyes of Old Testament believers, “…after those days,” after the days of judgment. So when they go into the land after Christ returns, premillennial reign of Christ, then this New Covenant comes into effect.
What does the New Covenant do? Verse 33, “‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me,” in other words, no witnessing and no evangelism, so something is going to happen. How many believers in Israel? 100%, no evangelism required. Verse 33 refers to a circumcision of the heart that God asked for throughout. On page 46 I give you reference to Deuteronomy 10:16, where God says Israel, “Circumcise your heart,” meaning that the remnant of believers were regenerated back here, but only the remnant, not the nation as a whole. In the future, when 100% are believers, the entire nation is circumcised in their heart. Now regeneration is universal.
Continuing, he says, “…for they shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’ ” Total forgiveness. Something takes place at this future moment in history, when the entire nation is restored to fellowship with God. That’s the hope of Israel in the Old Testament, that’s the hope that is sort of half forgotten to day by the people now dwelling in eretz Yisrael, and when you start telling them about giving up the land they freak out, because to them to give up the land somehow means wait a minute (I’m not saying this is right thinking, I’m just saying this is how they think) if I give up the land I’m giving up my future, and it’s not just my personal future, this is the future of the meaning of our existence. When people feel that strongly about real estate you’ve got to believe they’re going to fight hammer tooth and nail for it.
It’s a failure of our analysts to understand you are never going to introduce peace into the Middle East while you have two absolutely conflicting religious beliefs. It can’t happen, never, never will happen! If the Lord tarries it will go on for hundreds of years more, as long as we have this theological collision.
Verse 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.” He’s the God of creation. Verse 36, “‘If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever.’” As I am the Creator of the universe and hold it together in My physics and My chemistry laws, Israel shall always live. No one shall eliminate Israel, Arafat to Hitler, no one will ever destroy the Jew from history; it can’t happen. The Jewish existence in history is a physical reminder to the human race of God’s promises.
We’re going to conclude with a chart on page 47; if you’re interested in chasing down these covenants I’ve tried to summarize the references to it. Next week we’ll start on page 48, the unresolved mystery left by the prophets. In other words, as the Old Testament concludes this period of history the prophets are left with a problem. I said we’d get back to Deuteronomy 29:29, what are “the secret things belong to the LORD our God,” which He has not revealed? That’s the dilemma of the Old Testament saint; he didn’t know how this was going to come to pass. He only knew that it would come to pass. But he didn’t know the details. Paul refers to this in Romans 3. In Romans 3 there’s a mysterious statement made which now, if you know the Old Testament, will click with you. As Paul is discussing justification by faith he comes down and he makes this statement, “that God might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” [Romans 3:26.] We’ll see next week that that’s the resolution to the mystery of the Old Testament.