FOURTH IN A SERIES
This is the fourth in a continuing series on Abraham. In this piece, we will focus on key biblical texts that demonstrate covenantal faithfulness to the descendants of Abraham and the land God has given them. It refutes Replacement Theology and answers the question, “Who owns the land?” In this piece, we are going to look at key scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, the Abrahamic covenant reaches into the future.
Olam Is “Everlasting”
There are several scriptures that tell us of God’s love for His chosen people. His love is “everlasting” (olam) (Jer.32:40). Does olam really mean “everlasting,” depicting God’s eternal love for His chosen people?
God is olam. “And Abram planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting [olam] God” (Gen. 21:33).
God’s Word is olam. “For ever [olam], O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89; see also Isa. 40:7–8).
God’s covenant is olam. “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee [Abraham] and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting [olam] covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7).
God’s name is olam. Scripture tells us that Moses asked God His name. God replied, “I Am that I Am” (Exod. 3:14). Then the Lord said, “this is my name for ever [olam], and this is my memorial unto all generations” (vs. 15).
A Legacy of Blessing
In Genesis 12:1 the Lord calls Abram to leave home and go “unto a land that I will show thee.” In verse 2, the Lord promises several things, and says, “and thou shalt be a blessing.” Abram did not realize how much of a blessing he would be. He would be a conduit of grace to untold multitudes.
When I jettisoned my belief in Replacement Theology, one of my former Replacement buddies thought I was crazy, and said: “So, now you believe that salvation is tied to genes.” It was his way of saying that now I believe that Jews are a special people that God had chosen simply because God is a racist.
Do I believe that salvation is tied to genes? Yes and no. Yes, because God chose Israel to be a special people. No, because His plan is to work through Jews to bless everyone in the whole world, Jew and Gentile. Yes, God loves Israel, but His love for Israel is not the kind of love that was intended to be limited to Jews. God would bless them in a special way so that divine love could extend to all people.
We see this in several Scriptures. Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” Matthew 4:13-16 ties this into Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, an area populated by Gentiles: “And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up,” cited from Isaiah 9:1–2.
A similar truth was uttered by Simeon, who took the baby Jesus up in his arms and said, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:30–32).
We must never forget, however, that the broadening of the scope of God’s grace to reach great numbers of Gentiles never cancels God’s plans for Israel. It is “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). “I say then,” we read in Romans 11:1, “Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Many Replacement theologians see it as an either/or matter—either Jews or Gentiles—but Scripture presents it as a both/and issue: both Jews and Gentiles.
God’s Earthly Promises To Israel
I often challenge Replacement theologians to study Ezekiel 36. They claim we “Christian Zionists” glorify Israel’s millennial blessings which, they claim, are earthly and carnal. Let’s examine Scripture to see if this claim is correct. And I must point out that Dr. Charles Ryrie helped me see this whole question in the light of the Word many years ago.
First, we must remember how the blessings upon the Jewish people and blessings on the land of Israel are a marvelous unfolding of the Abrahamic covenant which involves: 1) the return of the Jewish people to their covenantal land; 2) the restoration of the land itself; and 3) the spiritual quickening of the Jewish people. Ezekiel 36:24–28 focuses on these points: “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Here we see the land promise, and we see a radical change of heart in the people. They will “loathe” themselves for their sins (vs. 31). I see nothing carnal and fleshly about this.
Dry Bones Will Come To Life
In Ezekiel 37, the prophet is carried in the Spirit of the Lord to a valley that is full of dry bones. Bones left out in the hot sun become bleached and white. They are dry and lifeless. Has God forgotten His promises to Abraham? Did the ritual of the slain carcasses and the pillar of fire moving between them mean nothing? Has God gone back on His unbelievably wonderful promises regarding the land of Israel and Abraham’s seed?
“And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?” (vs. 3). The natural answer is “no,” but the prophet knows the power of God: “And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.” In verse 5, God lays out His plan: “Behold, I will cause breath [ruach; breath, wind, spirit] to enter into you and, and ye shall live.”
Is this just some kind of weird dream, or is there some significance to it? “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. 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 our graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves. And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord …” (vss. 11–14).
So what’s happening? A miracle of staggering proportions. A nation that was not a nation, and now is a nation, that is cursed by the Palestinian and Shi’ite militants, “that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden” (Ezek. 36:35).
But what about Ezekiel 38 and 39? We read about an overwhelmingly huge invasion from the north, coming upon God’s land, strengthened by allies that are Muslim and hostile to Israel. Is this the end of the Jewish State? Has God forgotten His unconditional promises to Abraham? Not at all. Yes, friction between Israel and Russia seems to be causing sparks and perhaps an outbreak of war. We can see what’s happening. Recently Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, former chief rabbi of Moscow, was charged by Russia for disseminating “false information” about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the Kremlin.
How does this Russian invasion turn out? In Ezekiel 39, the Lord promises to knock the bow from the left hand of the invaders and the arrows from their right hand. The invading armies will die in the mountains of Israel. God will feed them to the vultures and wild animals. It will take seven months for the people of Israel to bury the bodies of the invaders and cleanse the land.
“And I will set my glory among the heathen [“nations”] and all the heathen shall see my judgment … the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward” (Ezek. 39:21–22).
God is faithful. He has not forgotten His promises to Abraham.