Promises delayed

The Israelites spent 400 years in Egypt.  They were invited to settle in Egypt to escape the famine in their own land.  At first they were honored guests but that status changed.

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 

Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.  (Exodus 1:8-11)

The people prayed to God for freedom from their bondage and God chose Moses to answer their prayers.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”   (Exodus 3:7-10)
 

You are probably familiar with what happened next.  Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go and God sent ten plagues to force him to change his mind.  He opened the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape and sent manna to feed them during their journey.

Then at last they reached the land he had promised to give them.  Twelve men were sent to explore the land.  They reported that the land was rich and fertile but that the inhabitants were too strong for the Isrealites to overcome.

Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 

So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”  (Numbers 13:31-33)

In spite of the miracles God had done for them they didn’t have enough faith to believe that he would enable them to conquer the land.  As a result they were condemned to spend another 38 years wandering in the wilderness.  It appeared that God had failed to keep the promise he had made to Moses.

During the 38 years the adults who had come out of Egypt, including Moses, died off and were replaced by the next generation.God chose a new leader, Joshua, to replace Moses and commanded him to lead the Isrealites in conquering the land he had given them.

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 

Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.”  (Joshua 1:1-4)

When God makes a promise he will fulfill it.  Lack of faith may cause him to postpone keeping the promise but it won’t prevent its eventual fufillment.

This wasn’t the only time the unbelief of the Jews led to the postponement of something God had promised them.

God told Abraham to leave his home and go to a new land.  He promised to give the land to Abraham’s descendants as a permanent home.  He repeated this promise and even revealed to the prophet Ezekiel what life would be like when the promise was fulfilled.  You can read his prophecy in Ezekiel 40-48.  God also chose David to be king of Israel and promised to give him a descendant who would rule the land forever.

Finally the time came for God to keep the promises he had made.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  (Matthew 1:18-25)

God disclosed publicly that Jesus was the promised king.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  (Matthew 2:1,2)

(A lot of people believe the wise men came while Jesus was lying in a manger immediately after his birth.  By the time they arrived the family had moved into a house in Bethlehem and it is possible that as much as two years had passed since his birth.  A lot of misunderstanding can arise when people rely on manger scenes rather than reading the Bible for themselves, and when those who set up those scenes aren’t careful to follow the Bible exactly.)

When Jesus began teaching many believed and followed him but many, including the rulers and religious leaders, rejected him.  When Jesus was on trial they declared that Caesar, rather than Jesus, was their king.

They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!”

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”  (John 19:15)

Even after Jesus proved the truth of his claims by rising from the dead the Jewish nation refused to believe in him and persecuted those who did follow him.  As a result Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were driven from their land and scattered throughout the world.  God formed a new body, the church, to carry out his work.  It is made up of all who believe in Jesus, both Jews and gentiles.

Some teach that God has permanently rejected the nation Israel and has fulfilled the promises he made to it through the church.  God promised Israel a land here on earth; he has made no such promise to the church.  Our home is in Heaven.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.  (Philippians 3:20,21)

A lot of evil has resulted from a failure to understand this difference.  Many nations have set up established churches and allowed these churches to dominate them and use secular means to promote their beliefs.  Wars have been fought between nations because they embraced different forms of Christianity.  One of the greatest evils was the Crusades.  Instead of preaching the gospel to Muslims and urging them to become followers of Christ the church impelled the governments under its control to raise armies and wage war against the Muslims.

Romans 9-11 describes the present state of the Jews.  They have rejected God; God hasn’t rejected them.  God promised Abraham he would bless those who blessed his descendants and curse those who cursed them, and he is still keeping that promise.  Perhaps one reason the United States has been blessed is that we have been a place of refuge for Jews and we have supported the nation of Israel.

The present state of affairs will not continue forever.

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”  (Romans 11:25-27)

When the work of the church is done God will remove it from the earth by means of the rapture and once again begin working through the nation of Israel.  Ezekiel described the process of Israel’s conversion.

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 

Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”   

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.  (Ezekiel 37:1-10)

The first step was physical restoration.  This has been fulfilled by the establishment of the nation of Israel.  The Jews have their own nation with a strong army but they are still spiritually dead.  The next step is their spiritual restoration, which will come after the rapture of the church.  The existence of Israel is a sign that the time of the rapture could be very close so we need to make sure we are ready for it.

If you want to learn more about what to expect in the future I suggest that you visit this site:  raptureready.com.

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Posted on March 8, 2018, in Bible study, prophecy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You do a great job w/ biblical exposition, Clyde.

    Liked by 1 person

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