I wanted to share a book my daughters Faith, Grace, and I have been working on …
I wanted to share a book my daughters Faith, Grace, and I have been working on …
God’s Remarkable Promises – Why we have Christmas
God is active throughout history, and active in our lives today. Some people do not believe this. Some people do not believe God exists, or if He does, He is creator but not active within His creation. This is very far from reality. God shows us remarkably how He is actively at work in history, interacting with His creation and revealing Himself to us through the promises He makes to us, and the fulfillment of those promises. My intent in this paper is to show exactly how this is the case, taking some of God’s covenants and prophecies diachronically and examining them and His fulfillment of them in the past, and how this demonstrates God’s love for us, and the hope we have when He will fulfill His promises that are still yet to come.
The beginning of the journey is creation, the beginning of humanity and God’s interaction with us, as this sets the stage and framework for the covenants and promises that we will examine. Creation can be quite the controversial subject, and since my intention with this paper is not to provide a comprehensive apologetic for creation, I will only be able to talk through some of the detail surrounding this topic that is germane to the intent of this paper. I will attempt whenever possible to provide footnotes to additional information for the topics I talk about, so the interested reader can go learn more. The Biblical account of creation is found in Genesis chapters 1-3. We are told that in the beginning, God created everything in 6 days (Gen 1:1-31), and rested on the 7th day (Gen 2:1-4). I am going to highlight a few of the really important conclusions that can be drawn from this account. First, God existed prior to creation. In order for God to have been creator, and spoken the world and everything in it into existence, God existed prior to creation, and is not something created. God existing before creation, and being creator, is just a logical conclusion from the creation account. It points to a larger concept, that God has always existed and will always exist. God tells us many other places in scripture that He is eternal, meaning that He has no beginning or end in time (Psalm 90:1-2, Gen 21:33, etc). You will see God referred to as eternal, the great I AM, the everlasting God. This is important, both to their being a God who could create all things, but also a God who can create everlasting covenants, and will always be, in order to carry out those covenants. A skeptic would challenge this concept of an everlasting God as something that we cannot measure or prove, and this is true from a the standpoint of one inside of creation looking out. But, this concept can also not be disproved either – the finite cannot measure the infinite. It is a concept in one just has to look at the evidence there is, and draw the conclusion you will from the evidence that there is to which proposition is more probable. It is a matter of faith. Scripture, and the activities of God throughout history, over thousands of years, as well as God’s natural revelation to us should point one willing to examine the evidence more toward the eternality of God being true. All of the evidence that we can measure, regardless of your views on some of the other points I will bring up regarding creation, point to a beginning of this universe. Beginnings have causes, and the cause very strongly points to a creator outside of creation. (For more information on the attributes of God, including eternality, “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer is an excellent resource. For a discussion on causality and the creation of the universe, please see “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel).
The second directly germane topic that we learn from the creation to God’s promises and the intent of this paper comes with the fall, and it is also where we see the first promise pointing us to God’s plan of restoration and redemption. Genesis 3:1-24 tells of of the fall, where Adam and Eve are deceived by the serpent, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in direct violation of God’s command to them that they are not to eat from this tree. This original sin is how evil and death entered into the world. God created everything and declared it good. There was no death and evil until this original sin. God is not responsible for death, nor evil, but it is the result of sin. God created us as free moral agents, capable of obeying or disobeying Him. Our experience, and the evidence from the fall clearly shows that we have free will, and aren’t preprogrammed automatons. As a consequence of the fall, we see God making a promise to Eve. Genesis 3:15 states: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” We see a very important concept started here, that will be a recurring theme throughout scripture. God is promising a seed to Eve, one who shall come and bruise the serpent on the head. This is the first promise of the coming Messiah. The Messiah shall bruise the serpent’s head, which would be a fatal found, while the serpent will be able to bruise the Messiah. We don’t know a lot from this promise, other than the Messiah will be a descendant of Eve (which of course all of humanity is) and that the Messiah shall overcome the serpent. This gets clarified further with the coming promises.
One other important concept that we should take from the fall, and this is kind of a tangent to the discussion of God’s promises, but it does fit very well with the discussion of Biblical authority and redemption history which are also important themes of this paper. If death and suffering entered creation at the fall, is it possible that a constant series of random mutations in lower lifeforms, with the most beneficial mutations surviving and leading to survival of the fittest be an explanation for how mankind came into existence? Or, put more directly, is it possible that Darwin’s hypothesis of evolution, or some type of guided theistic evolution led to the creation of Adam and Eve? The answer is most certainly no. Evolution and creation are most certainly mutually exclusive explanations for the world that we see today. There is no syncretism possible between the two. Either God is creator of everything, and created man and everything else as scripture tells us, or another hypothesis like evolution is the explanation. The secular world will try to tell you that evolution is a proven fact, but that is far from true. There are many problems that evolution cannot account for. All of the evidence that we can see and measure points us to a definite beginning for the universe, and that this universe is fine tuned and designed to support human existence. Evolution has no answer for how the universe came into existence, or why the universe is fine tuned to support human life. The best that an atheistic worldview can come up with is if you have enough time, and enough random universes, then you’ll eventually get one that matches the universe we are in that is stable and can support human life. Even in that, there is no explanation for cause. I’ll refer you to external material if you want to read more on why I make all of these assertions. Similar problems exist with the origin of life. Despite numerous attempts to simulate what is believed to be primordial conditions on the earth, with all of the “right” conditions and ingredients pre-staged, life cannot be created in a test tube. Other problems that cannot be credibly explained without a creator are the information content of DNA (additional info, additional info) and irreducible complexity (additional info) within a cell (additional info). Techniques used for dating of fossils are based on assumptions that appear not to be valid. (additional info, additional info). Again, the purpose of this paper isn’t to focus on apologetics for creationism, so I won’t dwell any longer here and will continue to work through God’s promises, but I do hope the teasers I have included will stimulate interest in researching more about this yourself. The important concept that I want to make surrounding creation and the fall, is that prior to the fall, death did not exist. Creation was perfect and good, as God declares in Genesis 1 and 2. So, a process that utilizes death and survival of the fittest does not fit against the Biblical account of creation (additional info, additional info). It is impossible to combine evolution with the Biblical account of creation. Without the fall, we would not be in a world in which sin exists, and in which we are in need of the promised seed of Eve that will bruise the serpents head. We would not need the seed promised in the covenants and promises that we will see later. The fall happened, but it was not to God’s surprise, and God has always had a plan of redemption that we will see given and executed as we look forward through the rest of the Old Testament.
We’ll see as we examine the promises that God makes regarding this seed that they serve to define and refine who the seed is. Obviously a seed of Eve is very broad from our standpoint now, as that could be any person who has ever lived. As history proceeds in the Old Testament, and God interacts more with people whom He chooses, we’ll see the seed promise get further refined and narrowed. I try to highlight each of these places, as they are where God makes a promise to us. I’ll also focus on the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and New covenants and their applicability.
So, the next place where we see a prophecy serving to further define the lineage of the Messiah is in Gen 9:25-28. Although it doesn’t seem like it at first glance, there is really a great deal of prophecy in these few verses. First, v26 is a blessing where we see that the Lord is the Lord of Shem. Verse 27 continues, stating God will extend the numbers and territory of Japheth, and God will dwell in the tents of Shem and Canaan will be Shem’s slave. (most probably – “he” could point to Japheth possibly, but the subject of the phrase proceeding is God, where He almost certainly refers back to the subject, God. This also fits with v26 where Canaan is declared Shem’s servant also). In this, with a careful reading, we see that God will dwell with Shem, and the Shemites (semites) will rule over Canaan, and God will dwell in their tent. We see this realized in approximately 800 years when the Israelites conquer the people’s of Canaan following the Exodus, and God most certainly literally dwelled in the tabernacle He instructed the Israelites to build on their way to the promised land. This also points to and narrows our search for the Messiah to the line of Shem, from the line of Eve. I would agree that the text doesn’t completely support the conclusion I am drwaing here that the seed will come from the line of Shem by specifying exactly that explicitly. This is a strong clue, and excluding these verses from the argumentation would not have a devastating effect. We will see that this conclusion is supported though by the next person that God makes an amazing promise to.
Abram was a descendant of Shem (Gen 10:22-31; 11:11-32). Abram was married to Sarai. Sarai was barren, and they were very old and without a a child (Gen 11:30). God called out to Abram, and made him a remarkable promise. Here is God’s promise to Abram:
(Gen 12:1) Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;
(Gen 12:2) And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;
(Gen 12:3) And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
There are some remarkable promises here to Abram that I’ll highlight, and which God will clarify even further in subsequent talks with Abraham. First, God will make Abram a great nation. The implication of this is that Abram will have many descendants, and that they will have a land also. So we see a promise of offspring, to a barren couple past child bearing age, which in itself would be remarkable. But, from Abram’s descendants, a great nation would form. Second, we have a promise of Abram being a blessing and having a great name. All of the families of the earth (all – not just some) will be blessed somehow through Abram. It is really hard to say at this point exactly what that would have meant to Abram. God does clarify this further so we have no doubt how all of the families will be blessed.
Here we have the start of the Abrahamic covenant being made between God and Abraham. We will get a great deal of additional clarification and detail on this covenant through the interaction between God and Abram, throughout the next few chapters in Genesis. At this point, we should examine exactly what a covenant is and how one was made, as this will have a great deal of relevance as we look at the covenants that God makes with mankind. In the ancient world, a covenant was “an agreement between two parties which binds hem together with common interests and responsibilities, and which is composed of certain component parts; that is, a Bundesformular and is concluded or consummated by certain ceremonial acts”. (“The Covenant with Abraham and Its Historical Setting”, Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., p 243) “The following points are said to be the ‘classic form.’ (1) The introduction of the speaker; (2) historical prologue; (3) stipulations; (4) the document; (5) the gods; and (6) curse and blessing.” (“The Covenant with Abraham and Its Historical Setting”, Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., p 245) One other important aspect to think about when reading Biblical covenants is the conditionality of the covenant. Is God promising to do something, no matter what the other party does? For this paper, we’ll call this an unconditional covenant. God will fulfill this, and there are no conditions on the other party. The second would be a conditional, or suzerain covenant. In this type of covenant, God is setting up a list of conditions that must be fulfilled, in order for the covenant to be fulfilled.
God speaks to Abram again in Genesis 13:14-18 about the promise He made to him in Gen 12:1-2:
(Gen 13:14) The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;
(Gen 13:15) for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.
(Gen 13:16) “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.
(Gen 13:17) “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”
(Gen 13:18) Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.
and then in Genesis 15 we get the formal covenant ceremony:
(Gen 15:1) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”
(Gen 15:2) And Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
(Gen 15:3) And Abram said, “Since Thou hast given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”
(Gen 15:4) Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”
(Gen 15:5) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
(Gen 15:6) Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
(Gen 15:7) And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”
(Gen 15:8) And he said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I shall possess it?”
(Gen 15:9) So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
(Gen 15:10) Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds.
(Gen 15:11) And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
(Gen 15:12) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.
(Gen 15:13) And God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.
(Gen 15:14) “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.
(Gen 15:15) “And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
(Gen 15:16) “Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
(Gen 15:17) And it came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.
(Gen 15:18) On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:
(Gen 15:19) the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite
(Gen 15:20) and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim
(Gen 15:21) and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”
In Genesis 17, God talks about the covenant again:
(Gen 17:1) Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.
(Gen 17:2) “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.”
(Gen 17:3) And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,
(Gen 17:4) “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.
(Gen 17:5) “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.
(Gen 17:6) “And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.
(Gen 17:7) “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
(Gen 17:8) “And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
(Gen 17:9) God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
(Gen 17:10) “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
(Gen 17:11) “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
(Gen 17:15) Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
(Gen 17:16) “And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
(Gen 17:17) Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
(Gen 17:18) And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!”
(Gen 17:19) But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
(Gen 17:20) “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.
(Gen 17:21) “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.”
(Gen 17:22) And when He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
As well as in Genesis 18:17-19:
(Gen 18:17) And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
(Gen 18:18) since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
(Gen 18:19) “For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
Finally, also in Genesis 22:15-18:
(Gen 22:15) Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven,
(Gen 22:16) and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son,
(Gen 22:17) indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
(Gen 22:18) “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
What are the conclusions that we can draw from the scripture where the Abrahamic covenant is revealed to us? Is it a conditional covenant, or unconditional? I would try to summarize the promises into three main categories, and then talk about the conditionality of the covenant. First, Abraham’s (as we know, Abram was renamed to Abraham) progeny will form a great nation, with descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth (Gen 13:16), the stars of the sky (Gen 15:5, 22:17), and the sands of the seashore (Gen 22:17). So, his descendants will be a great and numerous people. Second, there is a land promise to Abraham. The land described (Gen 15:18-21) would be an everlasting possession (Gen 13:15; 17:7-8, 13, 19). Third, there is a promise of a seed, whom would be a blessing to all families (Gen 12:2-3) and to all of the nations of the earth (Gen 18:8; 22:18). So, we get further clarification on the lineage of the Messiah, that He would come from the line of Eve, from the line of Shem, and finally from the line of Abraham. Now, what about conditionality of this covenant? Is it based on Abraham performing a list of conditions, or is it God promising to fulfill this regardless of what Abraham does? I believe the preponderance of evidence points to this being an unconditional covenant. The strongest evidence of this is the covenant ceremony itself in Genesis 15. God alone passes between the sacrificed animal parts, not God and Abraham together. This is a sign that God is assuming the role of the one who is going to fulfill the covenant’s conditions – not God and Abraham together. As previously stated also, the covenant also refines the lineage of the Messiah, which was an unconditional promise that God made both to Eve (Gen 3:15) and in the prophecy to Shem (Gen 9:26). Even if you don’t agree with this analysis and believe it to be conditional, Abraham did fulfill the parts that could be interpreted as conditions on him. Abraham did leave Ur as requested (Gen 12:1), and Abraham did place Isaac on the altar as a sacrifice before being stopped (Gen 22:16). In conclusion, while I believe strongly that this is an unconditional covenant that God promised to fulfill, even if I am wrong and it was conditional, Abraham did fulfill the conditions so the covenant would continue to stand and God would also need to fulfill the conditions of the covenant.
God reiterates this covenant with Isaac and Jacob, and we see at the beginning of Exodus that it was also God remembering this covenant (Exodus 2:24) that leads us to the Exodus from Egypt and the next covenant I’ll highlight. God truly did have a remarkable plan for his people, through Joseph and the slavery in Egypt, to bring about His purposes. The next covenant is the Mosaic covenant. This is the covenant God made through Moses with the people of Israel. We see the Mosaic Covenant laid out in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. We also see that the Mosaic covenant is conditional. Take a look at Exodus 19:3-8:
(Exod 19:3) And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel:
(Exod 19:4) ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.
(Exod 19:5) ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;
(Exod 19:6) and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
(Exod 19:7) So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him.
(Exod 19:8) And all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.
Notice the if…then structure of Exodus 19:5. If you obey and keep my covenant, then there is a list of blessings that will be bestowed upon the people of Israel. God’s voice and covenant with the Israelites gets clarified further with the definition of the Mosaic Law that follows (Ex 20:1-17 which is a list of moral laws; Ex 20:22-23:33 which is a list of civil laws). These moral and civil laws are written down, and the blood sacrifice for the covenant is made (Ex 24:1-6) and the covenant is ratified (Ex 24:7-8). We also get a list of ceremonial laws for how Israel is to sacrifice and worship, that are given to us in the rest of Exodus, and the first 25 chapters of Leviticus. These are followed by a list of blessings if the law is kept (Lev 26:3-13), and a list of curses if it is not kept (Lev 26:14-39), and finally what will happen when the law is not kept and the people of Israel repent (Lev 26:40-42).
Some very interesting questions come out of this covenant. One of the curses is that the people will be scattered from the land. Does this mean that the Abrahamic covenant would be conditional, based on the adherence to the law of the people in the Mosaic covenant? Did the Mosaic covenant then supercede the Abrahamic covenant? God answers this in Leviticus 26:40-45:
(Lev 26:40) ‘If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me–
(Lev 26:41) I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies–or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity,
(Lev 26:42) then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.
(Lev 26:43) ‘For the land shall be abandoned by them, and shall make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them. They, meanwhile, shall be making amends for their iniquity, because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes.
(Lev 26:44) ‘Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.
(Lev 26:45) ‘But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD.’”
So the answer is certainly no. The people could disobey, which would result in them suffering the curses for their disobedience including being removed from the land, but the Abrahamic covenant with the land would still stand, and God would remember it and restore the people to the land. This of course has very significant implications to the rest of the Abrahamic covenant also. The promise of the seed, the Messiah, was not dependent upon the people’s adherence to the Mosaic covenant. We also see the generation of the Exodus did indeed disobey the Mosaic covenant, and God did not permit them to enter the land of Israel. But, God was faithful and remembered the covenant to the next generation, and Joshua did lead them into the promised land.
Righteousness through the law was much different than the righteousness Abraham showed. Righteousness through the Law comes from strict obedience to the Law. It could come through human effort, by one keeping the conditions of the suzerain covenant and receiving God’s blessing, of which one was being declared righteous. In contrast, Abraham was declared righteous by God only because of his faith, only because he believed God when God spoke to him. This is a model still for us today. We cannot keep the law perfectly. At some point we will fail, and deserve the curse of death. Also, for me, as a gentile and not part of the Mosaic covenant with God, I am not part of this covenant. But, I still can study and see the wisdom that God provided within the Law, for how the people of Israel were meant to live, and how holy and righteous our Lord and God is and the impossibly high standard the Law sets for us. Righteousness on our own is something that we just cannot attain, but it does point us forward to the seed promised through Eve, Shem, and Abraham – the Messiah.
The next covenant we’ll study was given to David. This covenant again serves to show God’s unfolding plan, and to further refine and point us to the seed who is to come, the Messiah. It is given to us in 2 Samuel 7:4-16:
(2Sam 7:4) But it came about in the same night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying,
(2Sam 7:5) “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in?
(2Sam 7:6) “For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle.
(2Sam 7:7) “Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”’
(2Sam 7:8) “Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be ruler over My people Israel.
(2Sam 7:9) “And I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.
(2Sam 7:10) “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly,
(2Sam 7:11) even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.
(2Sam 7:12) “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
(2Sam 7:13) “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
(2Sam 7:14) “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
(2Sam 7:15) but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
(2Sam 7:16) “And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”
David desired to build God a temple, a house. God turns this desire on it’s head, and declares instead that He will establish David’s house, and that one from David’s line will rule from the throne of David forever (2 Sam 7:13). Notice that this is an unconditional covenant. God places no stipulations upon David for fulfillment, but promises that God will fulfill all that He is promising. It doesn’t promise that David’s line will rule non-stop, uninterrupted from the throne of David. In fact, it builds upon the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. The Abrahamic in defining the lineage of the seed, the Messiah, the one who would rule forever as coming from the lineage of David. The Mosaic, in that the weight of obedience for following the Mosaic covenant falls on the king. If a king disobeys the Mosaic covenant, that king would suffer the curses and be overthrown and their rule end, to be replaced by their son – ultimately pointing to the king to come (the Messiah), who would obey the covenant and rule forever.
The final covenant we’ll look at is the new covenant, the covenant God promised to Jeremiah and Ezekiel. At the time the new covenant was given, we see the nation of Israel divided and exiled, due to the sins of Solomon and subsequent kings. The nations of Israel and Judah have been taken captive, scattered, and exiled by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Yet God still remembers the Abrahamic covenant, and the Davidic covenants, that He will unconditionally fulfill and gives through the prophets the new covenant. Here is the scripture speaking of the new covenant:
(Jer 31:31) “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
(Jer 31:32) 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.
(Jer 31:33) “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.
(Jer 31:34) “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, 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.”
(Ezek 11:19) “And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
(Ezek 11:20) that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
(Ezek 36:24) “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.
(Ezek 36:25) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
(Ezek 36:26) “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezek 36:27) “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
(Ezek 36:28) “And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
(Ezek 37:15) The word of the LORD came again to me saying,
(Ezek 37:16) “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’
(Ezek 37:17) “Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.
(Ezek 37:18) “And when the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’
(Ezek 37:19) say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’
(Ezek 37:20) “And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
(Ezek 37:21) “And say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
(Ezek 37:22) and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms.
The new covenant is made with Israel and Judah (Jer 31:31) – whom also which the Mosaic covenant was made. But, if you look closely, this time it is unconditional. God is promising the people of Israel and Judah a new heart, one with the law written on it which will allow them to keep the law and obey God’s commandments. God will cleanse their sin and forgive their iniquity, enabling them to know the Lord. God will also restore the nation, and bring it back to the promised land forever. It builds on all of the previous covenants we have discussed, restoring the great nation to the land (Abrahamic), ruled by a righteous king, the Messiah (Abrahamic, Davidic), with the Law written internally and people able to keep the Law and receive the blessings of the Law (Mosaic). It doesn’t nullify any of the previous covenants, but instead supplements and supports them, and further fulfills God’s plan.
All of the covenants point to one who was to come at the time they are made, one who would be a blessing to all of the families on the earth, one who would rule from the throne of David forever, one whom through there would be forgiveness of sin. They are very clear that such a person is to be expected, and will be coming. We’ve also learned that it will be a descendant of Eve, refined to a descendant of Shem, to a descendant of Abraham, and finally a descendant of David. What else are we told regarding the Messiah? The prophet Isaiah tells us:
(Isa 7:14) “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
(Isa 9:6) For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isa 9:7) There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
(Isa 52:13) Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.
(Isa 52:14) Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men.
(Isa 52:15) Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand.
(Isa 53:1) Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
(Isa 53:2) For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
(Isa 53:3) He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
(Isa 53:4) Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
(Isa 53:5) But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
(Isa 53:6) All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
(Isa 53:7) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
(Isa 53:8) By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?
(Isa 53:9) His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
(Isa 53:10) But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
(Isa 53:11) As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
(Isa 53:12) Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
The prophet Micah tells us the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem:
(Mic 5:2) “ But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. ?His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”
These are but a sample of the messianic prophecies, but I believe only these should remove all doubt that Jesus was the one promised as Messiah, fulfilling the virgin birth and birth in Bethlehem. Jesus is the one who came, and through whom all families of the earth have been blessed.
But, have all of the promises given in the covenants been fulfilled already? Has the new covenant been fulfilled, with the people of Israel and Judah been given new hearts, with the law written on their heart? Have the land promises been fulfilled? Is Jesus ruling from the Davidic throne presently? I believe the answer to all of the above is not yet, but just as Jesus came the first time fulfilling so much prophecy, the rest soon will be fulfilled also. God is still actively at work in history, and there is still prophecy being fulfilled, and as certainly as the first coming of Jesus happened, the covenants will be completely fulfilled. We’ve seen powerful examples of God acting to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt, into the land of Israel, and the Messiah being born to a virgin, living a perfect life underneath the Law, and dying on the cross as the perfect paschal lamb, a sin offering in our place. We’ve seen Jesus rise from the grave to eternal life, offering us the gift of eternal life by grace through faith. Jesus has claimed His people, and claimed His throne during His first advent by all that He accomplished. We’ve seen the formation of the church, and a period of grace where we have an opportunity to believe in the Messiah, and accept what He has done for us. But, there is still more to come. Daniel perhaps gives us the greatest picture of what has happened, and what is yet to come:
(Dan 9:24) “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.
(Dan 9:25) “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.
(Dan 9:26) “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
(Dan 9:27) “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
This detail is taken from a previous blog post Prophecy fulfilled: Daniel 9, Zechariah 9, and the triumphal entry:
The angel Gabriel was revealing to Daniel the meaning of a vision that Daniel had seen regarding the things that were yet to come. In verse 25, we are told of a prophecy with a fixed timeline, in which the Messiah would appear as King. The word used for week here is shabua, which is a time period of 7. So, literally, it is speaking of 70 7?s, where the 7 is a time period. But, what are the units of this time period?
The answers come from the surrounding context, with the Babylonian exile close to coming to an end (Daniel 9:1), and the length for the exile coming from the failure to obey the sabbath year for the land every seventh year:
(2Chr 36:20 [NASB77]) And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,
(2Chr 36:21 [NASB77]) to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.
the time period in mind for the shabua (7?s) is 7 years and this would have been understood by Daniel and the intended meaning of this passage.
So, from Daniel 9:25, we are told it will be 69×7 years until the Messiah comes as Prince. For the Jews and Babylonians, the year was 360 days long. So, this gives us 69x7x360=173,880 days. The start of the prophecy is the command to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, which we are told about in Nehemiah 2:1-8. This occurred in most likely 444 BC, in the month of Nisan. The 1 of Nisan in 444 BC corresponds to March 5th, 444 BC. 173880 / 365.24219879 = 476.067662981 = 476 years, 25 days. This would put with date for the end of Daniel’s prophecy when the Messiah would present himself as King as March 30, 33 AD. Passover in 33 AD was on April 3rd.
How does the Messiah present himself as King? Zechariah 9:9 predicts this:
(Zech 9:9 [NASB77]) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Now, read the account of the triumphal entry, of Jesus entering Jerusalem from Luke 19:28-44
(Luke 19:28 [NASB77]) And after He had said these things, He was going on ahead, ascending to Jerusalem.
(Luke 19:29 [NASB77]) And it came about that when He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples,
(Luke 19:30 [NASB77]) saying, “Go into the village opposite you, in which as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it, and bring it here.
(Luke 19:31 [NASB77]) “And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ thus shall you speak, ‘The Lord has need of it.’”
(Luke 19:32 [NASB77]) And those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them.
(Luke 19:33 [NASB77]) And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
(Luke 19:34 [NASB77]) And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”
(Luke 19:35 [NASB77]) And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it.
(Luke 19:36 [NASB77]) And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road.
(Luke 19:37 [NASB77]) And as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen,
(Luke 19:38 [NASB77]) saying, “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
(Luke 19:39 [NASB77]) And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
(Luke 19:40 [NASB77]) And He answered and said, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
(Luke 19:41 [NASB77]) And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it,
(Luke 19:42 [NASB77]) saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
(Luke 19:43 [NASB77]) “For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side,
(Luke 19:44 [NASB77]) and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
Up until this time, when anyone had tried to declare Jesus king, He responded – “my time has not yet come”. The triumphal entry was the only time Jesus presented Himself as King – perfectly fulfilling the prophecy in Daniel 9:25 made over 500 years before these events, and in Zechariah 9:9 in the method of His entry and declaration. Jesus was crucified and cut off, just as the prophesy in Daniel 9:26 predicts also in remarkable accuracy.
The part I didn’t discuss in detail in the previous blog post and where I will pick up here is after the 69th week and the 70th week. We see the 69 weeks occur in history, culminating with Jesus presenting Himself as Messiah (Daniel 9:25). Daniel 9:26 picks up after the 69 weeks, with the Messiah being cut off (Hebrew: karath – literally cut off, killed, executed) at the cross as the prophets predicted. During the period in Daniel 9:26 after the 69 weeks, we see a reference to the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem in 70 AD by Titus Vespasianus. The verse talks of the destruction being carried out by the armies of the one who is yet to come. Who is this person? Is it Titus (who was yet to come in Daniel’s day), or is it speaking of someone else in the future? I would lean strongly that this is not Titus Vespasianus. Daniel 9:27 speaks of the final week starting, so the time period in Daniel 9:26 is at an absolute minimum the 38 years (or 34.5 if you believe the destruction of the temple was the desolation spoken of after the first half week of the 70th week), versus the 7 years the 70th week should be understood as based on the first 69 weeks. There is an indeterminate amount of time between the 69th week ending and the 70th week starting. This is logical. The 70 weeks are specifically identified as time in which God is dealing directly with Jerusalem and the Jewish people. In the Olivet discourse, Jesus tells a small group of the disciples that there will be a time of the gentiles including the destruction of the temple, in which the gentiles trample Jerusalem, and only when this period is complete, then the end will come (Luke 21:7-28). Daniel 9:27 deals with the end, the final week, in which “he” (the one who is to come) will enforce a covenant with the many Israel and we begin dealing specifically with the Jewish people again. Verse 27 tells us of the enforcement of a covenant, but broken at the 3 and ½ year mark until a complete destruction comes for the one who makes desolate. This enforcement of a covenant for 3.5 of 7 years wasn’t fulfilled by Titus. We are seeing and are in the middle of a great ellipsis – an age of grace and the church until the 70th week begins. So, the exact details of 70th week based on Daniel 9:27 alone is just a bit of a mystery, but it tells of one who is to come who will make a covenant with Israel, and break it and put an end to offerings in the temple. This leads most interpreters to believe that there will be a 3rd temple built by the Jewish people before the 70th week begins. We do get a great deal of detail surrounding the 70th week though elsewhere. Revelation 6:1-19:21 talks about this 7 year period.
This paper isn’t intended to be a detailed Bible study of the 70th week. I will leave that to the interested reader to undertake. But, at the climax of the 70th week, we see Jesus returning, and conquering the forces of evil and the prince who is yet to come in Daniel 9:24-27. After this, we are told that Jesus will set up a millenial reign in Jerusalem, where He will reign from the throne of David, fulfilling the Davidic Covenant. At the end of the millenial reign, Jesus will be challenged again by the devil. The devil will be defeated, and condemned. Jesus will have an everlasting reign, as promised to David. This also sets the stage for the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and New Covenant’s also. Jesus ruling will fulfill the land promise to Abraham permanently, and will allow the fulfillment of the New Covenant also, where God will dwell with His people, forgive their sin, and give them new hearts. I personally believe the absolute fulfillment of the Davidic covenant and Abrahamic covenant will start with the millenial kingdom, and the new covenant after the final rebellion spoke of in Revelation 20:1-10, in the eternal kingdom, although I could be wrong in my interpretation. Ultimately though, the covenants will be fulfilled, even if my interpretation of when is flawed.
How do I know this for certain? I know that Jesus Christ in His first advent fulfilled many of the promises we have been looking at. I know that Jesus was born under the Law to a virgin (Luke 1:31-38, Luke 2:1-39), fulfilling that prophecy (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7), fulfilling that prophecy (Micah 5:2). I know that Jesus lived a perfect life, keeping the Law. I know that Jesus was the perfect paschal sacrifice (Hebrews 9), without sin (Hebrews 4:15) or blemish, and laid down His life for the forgiveness of my sin (not just mine – but the world’s) (Isaiah 53:5-8; Hebrews 10:10). I know that Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, and that by faith I have eternal life with Him through His grace (John 14:6; Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:20-26; Rom 8:11). Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the one promised to Eve, bruised at the crucifixion. I know Jesus, as Messiah, through all that He is, but specifically His life, death, and resurrection is the blessing to all nations promised to Abraham. Jesus has secured this already and removed all doubt that He is the one promised. If you don’t know this for certain yourself, please use this paper as a framework for doing the studying yourself. I believe God’s word in the covenants, history, and nature all testify to the fact that Jesus is our Messiah, Lord, and Creator. I believe there is ample evidence for anyone searching to be able to way this evidence, and come to faith in Jesus as their Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. I know their will be people that refute the apologetics I reference as “non-scientific”. I know there are those who will ridicule the faith I have, and the beliefs I write of in this paper. I will say that I believe whole heartedly I have done the research, and that I am not placing blind faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I trust with all of my heart that Jesus is who He says He is. I hope that anyone willing to read this can say that whatever they believe, they have done the same and are willing to live with the consequences of their belief, and I hope that the conclusion you draw will lead to faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah. Will you take the challenge to look at the evidence, and make up your own mind?
This was probably too large of a section to tackle. I could have spent a lot more time here, and should probably come back. At a high level, on an initial read, this seemed to all fit, but when studied in detail, there are 2 or 3 sections here. Here it is – I hope it is a blessing to someone.
Attached are tonight’s exegesis notes and commentary. I hope they are a blessing to someone.
Attached are my exegesis notes for Romans 1:16-32. I hope they are a blessing.
Attached are the exegesis notes from tonight’s study. I hope they are a blessing.
It has been a long time since I posted the last study. After a summer break, and using some pre-prepared curriculum the past couple of months, we started studying Romans tonight. Here are the notes. I hope they are a blessing.
We completed our study of Galatians tonight. What a blessing it was to study and discuss this epistle.
I hope this is a blessing to someone.
Very interesting study tonight. When I read this through casually, I thought it was the potential for a lot of proof-texts because there wasn’t a lot of continuity. Boy was I wrong, when I dove in and studied it diligently.
I hope this is a blessing to someone.