Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Abrahamic Covenant - Part Seven

This material is being presented with the permission of Les Feldick's Ministries and may not be reproduced in any form or fashion for the purpose of resale.

Genesis 12:1-4; Genesis 15:1-20
Turn to Genesis 12, where we left off in Book Three.  We've been talking extensively on the Abrahamic Covenant.  I have always maintained the reason we have so much confusion in Christendom today is that folks just cannot differentiate between what God has determined to do with the Nation of Israel and what He did after Israel rejected it.  He then turned to the Gentiles aside from Israel.
We cannot begin to put these things together clearly unless we understand the Abrahamic Covenant.  So, I always spend a good deal of time on it. Genesis, Chapter 12 is where the Covenant is located.  From there we'll review what we covered in our last lesson, and then we'll move on. Remember that a covenant is always from God to man.  Man has nothing to do with the covenant whatsoever.  He may break it, he may do all kinds of things with it, but that does not destroy the covenant.  The covenant is from God and it is eternal.  Nothing that man or even the Nation of Israel can do can change that.  The covenant is forever.  It is here where God says to Abram, before he becomes Abraham:
Genesis 12:2
"And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:"
Previously, we looked at the references regarding Israel becoming a separated nation of people, different from all the other peoples.
Genesis 12:3a, b
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:"   The all encompassing part of this Covenant is next:
"...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
I'm afraid when I teach the unique Covenant role of Israel, people may get the idea I'm saying God has forgotten about the non-Israelites.  That is not true!  He will set aside the Nation of Israel, and deal with them.  This is a good time to illustrate this as we have before; showing that all the way from Adam until we get to Genesis 12, God has been dealing with one race of people...          One Race                                                                           
One Race Gentiles - Eph. 2:11, 12from 4004 BC to 2000 BC.
At the Tower of Babel we had the confusion of the tongues, and the sorting into the various segments of the world population by virtue of Noah's three sons.  But at Genesis 12, God lets the main race of Adam continue on like a river.  This will be what we now refer to as the Gentile people, or nations, who are going to continue on their way like a mass river.  I like to associate it with the old Mississippi, as it finds its way all the way to the Gulf. Then, out of that polluted river of the one race of Adam, God is going to pull out this one man, Abram, and out of him will come the Nation of Israel - or as we know them, the Jew.
He is going to deal with this nation particularly, and usually I go so far as to put it as `Jew only, with exceptions.'  I put it that way because God is dealing with Israel all the way from Genesis 12 throughout the Old Testament, but there are exceptions.  For example, He told Jonah to go to the Gentile city of Nineveh.   Jonah didn't want to go, did he?  He did everything to keep from going because he was under the same impression that the God of Abraham was only dealing with the Jew!   He didn't recognize that a Sovereign God can make exceptions.  So God told Jonah to go and minister to Nineveh. Jonah said, "They are our enemy.  I don't want to see Nineveh saved."  But God said, "I do."   Finally, He forced Jonah to Nineveh.
There was an exception with the Syrian General Naaman, who had leprosy.  We'll see that even in the ministry of Christ, that with a couple of exceptions it is `Jew only.' Keep this in mind as we look at this Covenant process.   As we leave Genesis 12, this Covenant is going to be a progressive revelation.   Within that Abrahamic Covenant we have the promise of:
1) A nation of people
2) A geographical area of land
3) A government
That is implicit, but dormant in the Abrahamic Covenant.   It will not all appear at once.  The promises of God are so sure, however, that as we move through the Old Testament you'll see all of God's dealing with the Nation of Israel is to bring this Covenant into fruition, where the Nation of Israel will now be a nation of people who are unique, separated, and different from all other nations.
God is going to put them into a land He will promise to them.  As we move on into Chapter 15, we'll see God actually deed that land promised to the man Abram …deed it according to Oriental custom.  Then we'll see His promise of a government.  That government will be headed up in their King. We know Him as the Messiah, the Son of God.  Now, a little review of the land:
Genesis 15:7
"And he said unto him, `I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.'" We'll see where God deeds it in short order.
Turn to Joshua Chapter 1. This will be more in reference to our other references regarding the King. We have the same promises now, not given to Abram, not even to Moses, but given to Joshua.
Joshua 1:2-4
"Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." In verse 4 we find the geographical outline.
"From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast."
It is clearly put there that God is giving to this little nation a particular territory, a particular part of old terra firma.  Most of you are aware of the following.  Unfortunately, the hierarchy of many of our mainline denominations is, for the most part, saying that the present-day Jew in Israel has nothing to do with the Jew of the Old Testament.  (Some 80% of the people in the pews are in opposition to such hierarchy.)  You and I know better, but that is the problem when people become wise, as the Scripture says, in their own conceit.  They lose sight of the very basic tenants of Scripture.  The Jew in Israel today is the same Jew of the Bible.  He hasn't lost a thing.  Over the years most of my class people have heard me put it, "a Jew is a Jew is a Jew"!  He's still a Jew, and after almost 3000 years of being out there amongst the non Jew people, a Jew is still a Jew!
Look at America!  We're just over 200 years old as a nation.  How many Americans are still pure from their original nationality?  Not many.  We've all intermarried to where there is no longer a pure Englishman, or pure German, or a pure anything else.  We've amalgamated and the Jew never did.
This is what makes the Word of God particularly believable.  As one has said, "If there is any proof that this is the Word of God it is the Jew, as all of the promises God gave to this nation back in Genesis 12, and through the Old Testament, are still valid promises as the Jew is still a Jew."  Now, had he lost his national identification, these promises couldn't hold.  The Jew would be gone.  But he's not.  He is still a Jew.                            
We pointed out in Book Three there are about 3.8 million Jews now living in Israel.    Remember, they've been coming in at almost 1000 a day. There is still at least that many in Russia; somewhere between two and three million.   There is another million or two scattered around the world. The largest Jewish community today is still in America; somewhere between five and six million!  So there are still a lot of Jews who are going to have to find their way back to this Promised Land.  But I want you to see that, over and over again, the Bible depicts it as the land that God gave to the Nation of Israel.
Another thing that is hard to comprehend is how the nations of the world today can debate whether Israel has a right to exist.   They're actually debating whether Israel has a right to be where she is.  There's no room for debate.  God has given it to them.  Granted, God, in His sovereignty, more than once over the years took them out of the land; took the ten tribes of the north clear up into Assyria. Later on He took the two tribes of the south out to Babylon for seventy years.  But they came back, rebuilt the Temple, and the Nation of Israel was on the scene for the coming of Christ the first time.  Then, when they rejected The Christ, and continued to reject all the overtures that Peter and the eleven made toward them forty years after the Crucifixion, around 70 A.D., once again, God saw fit to take them out of the land, let their Temple be ruined, destroyed; and they were dispersed…  But according to His promises, what is He doing?  He's bringing them back and they're coming in from, you might say, the four corners of the world. Now turn to Ezekiel.  We just have a couple more Scripture verses to look at with regard to God's promising them the land. Then we're going to look at the government - the promise of their King.
Ezekiel Chapter 37 is the account of the dry bones.  We looked at it in Book Three.  Ezekiel is given a vision of a valley full of dry bones.  They have been there a long, long time and they are well-bleached. Ezekiel is told to prophesy on those bones and what happens?  Suddenly they come together and there's a great shaking and rattling before Ezekiel's eyes.  But remember, it's a vision.  It's a symbolic picture that God is showing us.  Then the flesh comes upon them, then the skin, and finally breath comes into them. He writes:
Ezekiel 37:10,11
"So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Then he said unto me, `Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.'"
Israel has been graves, which is how God refers to the Gentile nations. Israel out of the land is desolate.  Remember, Israel out of the land is without a Temple, without priesthood, without an altar.   They are hopelessly out of touch with God when they are out of the Promised Land.         So the Word of God refers to these habitations in the Gentile areas as graves.  They are like a dead people insofar as God is concerned, but He is bringing them back to life. How?  By bringing them back to their Promised Land.
Ezekiel 37:12
"Therefore prophesy and say unto them, `Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.'"
He's going to bring them back to their homeland.  Through the Chapter, He is going to make this very plain with the vision of two broken pieces of sticks. He tells Ezekiel: "Put them together end to end.  The one stick will be for the Northern Kingdom, the ten tribes.  The other stick will be for the Southern Kingdom, the two tribes."  He said, "put them together and it will become one stick."  He has now put the two sticks together and they have become one.  Let's pick it up in verse 21 where God tells Ezekiel to say to them:
Ezekiel 37:21a
"And say unto them,’ Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen,...'"
Most of you know the word "heathen" in Scripture refers to the non-Jew. It doesn't refer to a pagan or someone steeped in idolatry. A heathen is simply a non-Jew.  We refer to them now as Gentiles.
Ezekiel 37:21b, 22
"...whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:'"  There is no room for argument.
"And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all."                                                                                              
This should be enough references with regard to the promise of a land.
I trust you study on your own.  The only reason I teach is to get you into the Book.  Study it!  It's not that difficult.  When studying, always establish the setting for a particular set of verses. Now to II Samuel, Chapter 7 for the third part of this Covenant, this is the promise of a government.      Here we have God speaking to King David through the prophet Nathan.  Beginning with verse 14, Nathan, as he addresses King David, says in the words of God:
II Samuel 7:14
"I will be his father..." He is talking of Solomon, but it goes beyond Solomon.  It's about the whole Nation of Israel in her future role.  Continuing He says:
"...and he shall be my son.   If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:"
Note the conditions.  In other words, God would use other nations to punish the Nation of Israel.  The first word in verse 15 is "but" - the flip side.  If they are disobedient, God is going to bring in other nations, down trod them and maybe even disperse them.  In spite of what God may have to do in disciplining Israel, watch the promise, "My mercy shall not depart from them."  There is a teaching amongst most of Christendom - Catholic and Protestant as well; that when Israel rejected their Messiah and crucified Him, God did away with all these promises to Israel and gave them to the new Israel - the Church.  That is man's idea.  That is not what The Book teaches.  The Book plainly states that regardless of what Israel does, God says, "My mercy shall not depart from him as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee."  Saul is merely used here as an example.  Verse 16 gives the promise of a government that is going to rule over this little nation within its geographical area.  "Thy house," that is, the Royal house, the Royal line, and "thy kingdom."
Just as I do with the word "Jew," I say, "The kingdom is the kingdom is the kingdom!"   When you see the word "kingdom" in Scripture, unless the text definitely shows otherwise, it is referring to the kingdom that will come as the result of the Abrahamic Covenant.  It is the kingdom that is going to basically be over the Nation of Israel, who is then in their Promised Land with the government all Scripture points to, when their Messiah will be their King.  The Messiah has to be of the lineage of David. (We'll look at that a little further down the line.)   
So He says, "Thy house."  That's where we get the term "the House of David."   It's a royal house.   It's a royal, kingly line out of which the King finally came.  So, "Thy house and thy kingdom shall be established forever."
That is why we know God is looking further than just the little kingdom of Israel under David and under Solomon.  This is the beginning of eternity's promises.  The other thing I want you to always remember is that even though this earthly kingdom is promised here to Israel, the Book of Revelation puts on a time limit of 1000 years.  Consequently, we refer to it as the `Millennium.'
It is a definitive period of time, but the 1000-year reign of Christ is merely the introduction for the eternal setting.  You get to Revelation, Chapter 21 and what do you have?  …A new heaven and a new earth!  This whole kingdom economy will move right on into eternity.  That's why I think most people, after they have been in my teaching for a little while, get what I think is a better concept of what Heaven is going to be.  I told one of my classes the other night that when I was young it used to almost scare me to death that Heaven would get boring.                                            
My, who wants to just sit some place on a cloud and strum a harp, and do nothing but shout `hallelujah,' or `holy, holy, holy;' and that will certainly be a part of it.  Eternity is going to be a viable exercise.  Eternity is going to be a place of intense activity, albeit without all of the problems, tribulations, sorrows and the things that we have now.   Don't ever look at Heaven as I had looked at it - some place that is going to be boring and monotonous.  It is going to be quite the opposite.  This kingdom now promised to King David, and which Solomon would extend (although it would be interrupted) will, over a period of time, become a viable reality. God the Son, the Messiah, will become the King, and it is going to be a glorious kingdom!  Turn to Psalm 89.  I am trying to take these in chronological order so you can see.  However, this is by no means all of the references; only a sampling.  Drop down to verses 36 and 37.    
Here the psalmist writes:
Psalm 89:36, 37
"His (David) seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me."  How long is that?  forever!  Then verse 37:
It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah."
That's this coming kingdom!  You might say, what has that to do with me?  Well, Paul writes, and John writes in Revelation, that when this kingdom is finally set up, you and I, as Church Age believers are going to be a part and parcel of that kingdom by ruling and reigning with Him; that is, with Christ. So it is important that we understand this kingdom that is going to be coming.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Abrahamic Covenant - Bonus Lesson #4

The Abrahamic Covenant
Bonus Lesson Four
“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”

God makes seven promises to Abram in the Abrahamic Covenant; but when you examine these promises closely they boil down, if you will, to these three
1.    Out of Abram would come a nation of people that The Lord God is going to take a special interest in and for His purpose.  To the nation of Israel, and Israel alone, were the oracles of God entrusted.  (Romans 3:1  Then what advantage has the Jew?  Or what benefit of circumcision?  2: Great in every respect.  First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.)
2.    This nation of people would be given a geographical area of land all their own.  (Deuteronomy 34:4 …Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants…)
3.    This nation of people would then have a government and God’s Son would be their King.  (Isaiah 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…)

The final promise to Abram is the one that includes us gentiles.  Because of Abram’s faith, and his obedience, all the nations of the world would be blessed. 
This is where you and I come in.  It was God who chose to separate mankind into two peoples.              The call of Abram is the starting point of this division.

Genesis chapter one thru Genesis chapter eleven covers the first two thousand years, or so, of human existence on earth.  During that time period, God has dealt with His creation as a whole; and during this time period mankind was given the opportunity to know God and to serve Him.  What did mankind, for the most part, do with this opportunity?  They rejected it. 

So, God calls into action a whole new plan , starting with the calling out of one man, Abram, who chooses to trust the LORD God, and begins a “walk” with Him from this point onward.                    God establishes this covenant relationship; therefore, it cannot be altered or broken by man.            This Abrahamic Covenant is still in affect today.  It has not been fulfilled.                                         Jesus Christ’s first advent was rejected by the Jews as was He.                     
John 1:46 - Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"               

This is why I am constantly saying to my classes, in order to understand what you are reading in your Bibles, you must learn to separate, or divide, God’s dealings with the Jews from His dealings with the Gentiles.  You cannot mix the two together and this is what most of Christendom does.

I believe this is what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “…rightly divide the word of truth.”

Once again, it’s important to have access to multiple Bible translations because here we have yet one more example of the original Bible language being altered by the Bible translators.  If you will take the time to read this verse in the KJV Bible, you will see the Bible translators use the word “dividingand not “handling.” 

II Timothy 2
15:  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  (KJV)

The New American Standard Bible has translated this same verse thusly:

II Timothy 2
15: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  (NAS)

Here’s how the New Living Translation presents this verse:

II Timothy 2
15:  Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.  (NLT)

I like this one from the NLT because it’s so fluent.  It’s written in clearly understood English.  But, if you’ll look more closely at the KJV Bible translation, I believe the word “dividing” is more accurate; and I’ll tell you why. 

In the Greek language the word “dividing” is the word Orthotomeo (pronounced: or-thot-om-eh'-o).  Now the word, orthotomeo, means, “To cut straight.”                              
This is a word often associated with carpentry.  And I believe this is why Paul chose this specific word.  A carpenter measures carefully before cutting the lumber.  In fact, it is a common practice in carpentry, to measure twice before making the cut.  Think about this.  A building structure has many angles.  Could you imagine what the finished product would look like if careful measurements and were not taken? 

Surgeons have adopted this philosophy as well.  Before the surgery takes place in the O.R., the doctor will often re-measure before performing the operation.  This reduces the chance of error on his part.  I was taught at an early age, by my father, to measure twice, and cut once.  It’s a safe practice and one that applies to interpreting and explaining Scripture as well.

Read Romans 15:8 and you’ll see that Paul makes his case that Jesus Christ, during His first advent, came to fulfill the promises made to the fathers.  Let’s go there now.

Romans 15

8: For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers

Who are “the circumcision” and who are “the fathers?”  This is where being a good Bible student comes in handy.  When you want to decipher a word, most generally you go back its origin or its first usage in Scripture.  If you’ll follow that rule here, you’ll discover that both the “circumcision” and the “fathers” refer to the Jews – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were the “patriarchs of the Hebrews. 

What are the promises “given to the fathers?”  …The covenants… from God to the Jews. 

Jesus spoke these words before sending His disciples out to preach the Kingdom of God message and to heal the sick.   If you have a red-letter version, you’ll see the words of Jesus in red.

Matthew 10

5: These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.
6: Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
7: As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.
8: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

If you read verse five above correctly, you see that this is a command from Jesus and not just a suggestion.  These chosen men of God were ordered to go only to the “lost sheep of Israel” and they were to avoid all others. 

This teaching flies in the face of what you’ll hear in most church buildings today.  But this is what the word of God clearly says.  Now there are a few exceptions to this command but only a few.  And these exceptions we find in the four gospels are made by the Lord Jesus Christ personally.
1.    There is the Canaanite woman (a gentile) in Matthew 15:21-28.
2.    There is the Centurion’s servant (a gentile) in Luke 7:1-10.

These are the two exceptions found in the gospels.  That’s it. 

Why were they treated differently?  Why were these two gentiles the recipients of God’s good grace? 
They demonstrated great faith in the One whom God had sent.  That’s why.

There are a few exceptions God made to gentiles in the Old Testament as well.  The female, Rahab, in the city of Jericho comes to mind. 

Hebrews 11

1: By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

And there is the gentile city of Nineveh.  God told Jonah to go there; but Jonah was more than a bit reluctant to heed God’s command.

Jonah 1

2: "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."

So, there are exceptions in the Bible but precious few. 
God does not almost exclusively focus on the gentile nations until the call of Saul, later to be known as Paul, in Acts chapter nine.  Since then, there are some Jewish exceptions in this age of God’s Grace, but primarily God has blinded the nation of Israel.  This does not mean that God has forgotten or forsaken his covenant people.  God's prophecy will be fulfilled concerning the Nation of Israel.  You can bank on that!

Gary Heitzman