Why An Obsession with Eschatology is a Waste of Time, Part 3

Posted By on May 17, 2010

To this point, we’ve talked about a single dispute that divides biblical scholars and students on eschatology: whether or Israel and the Church are to be kept distinct when interpretating prophecy. The question matters since any position that wants a literal millennial reign of Christ in the future must (to be coherent) argue that the land promises given to Abraham and his descendants are still in effect — and so literal fulfillment is expected. If the Church has replaced Israel as the people of God, and if the land promises are now fulfilled via the Great Commission to overspread the earth with God’s people (i.e., the Church is the kingdom), then no literal millennium would be expected.

Or so it goes.

To be more precise, the ground we’ve covered thus far has effectively raised related questions, both on my part and the part of commenters. And there are some questions that stem from the “Israel and/or the Church: Yes or No?” problem that I haven’t thrown out there yet. For example:

1. While Galatians 3 explicitly says that the Church (Christians) have inherited the promises given to Abraham, does Paul *restrict* those promises to those that promise a seed (descendants – literal and/or spiritual) but exclude the land?  In other words, since there is no mention of the land in Galatians 3, might *that* part of the promises still be out there for national Israel?

2. While it makes sense that the Great Commission would translate to fulfilling the land element — the oversweeping of the nations via evangelism to reclaim those lost nations — what we we to think of the fact that there is no *verse* that makes that explicit connection?

3. Since Paul is clear in Romans 9-11 that

(a) “Israel” refers to “natural Israelites (Jews); and

(b) “Israel” also refers to “spiritual Israelites” (believers); and

(c) “all Israel is not Israel” (that within national Israel there is a spiritual Israel, composed of Jew and Gentile); and

(d) there is this thing called the Church (Jew and Gentile)

… then can we really *neatly* separate OR merge these groups with respect to prophecy? Some would say yes; others, no.  And THAT is the problem. You can make a coherent case in any regard. All we can really say is that, for sure, with respect to the New Testament, Paul (and other writers) do not restrict “Israel” to only ethnic Israelites — the term now means much more.

The question really comes down to this: Would Paul (or other NT authors) say that national Israel had no eschatological future apart from being members in the new, spiritual Israel, the Church? Are the destinies of the Church and national Israel tied together en toto, or can they be tied together “mostly” and yet there still be an eschatological future involving national Israel?

Again, there’s no way we can know for sure. So everyone gets to be humble (or ought to). This is just one reason (of a whole list I’m working on here) I just cringe when I get an email from someone utterly captivated by their eschatological position to the exclusion of any other (and they probably don’t even know there are others). I find myself praying and hoping that person’s faith isn’t really built on the latest lame prophecy novel or TV prophecy preacher.

All of the above takes us into today’s topic: Did the covenants that God made with Abraham and David, and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), come with conditions for fulfillment? Are these covenants conditional or unconditional?

Seasoned prophecy nerds know this question is important since, if these covenants came with conditions, there may have been a chance that they were dissolved or nullified due to Israel not meeting the conditions. The picture looks bleak, too. Since Israel (all 12 tribes) were exiled, it would be easy to argue that the promises were voided to national Israel and handed over to the Church as recipients of fulfillment. The kind of perfect obedience required by the covenants would be fulfilled in and by Jesus. He is the ultimate son of Abraham, the king in David’s line, and it was he who sent the Spirit after his resurrection to inhabit the hearts of believers according to the New Covenant. Looks pretty tidy. But that would mean that the Church has displaced national Israel in its entirety. Israel (frankly) was no longer useful. The Servant of Isaiah — and chapter 53 is the *only* place in Isaiah where Servant is a singular person — is actually the representative of the corporate Servant in Isaiah — Israel (the rest of the occurrences of “Servant” in Isaiah refer to the nation of Israel – look it up). Hence Jesus is everything and all the covenants find fulfillment in Him.  And His body is the Church. Again, a very tidy picture — one that would make Left Behinders pretty sullen, since there is no need then for a literal kingdom, and without that, the whole rapture idea doesn’t even make it to the table.

I hope you see (again) how tenuous the whole framework is for this undeniably common view of end times. It is *far* from being self evident. But the other views can’t claim absolute certainty, either.  We’ll get to them.  For now, let’s talk about the conditional (C) vs. unconditional (UC) problem.

The short answer to my question is “yes” – the covenants are BOTH C and UC. Those who believe in a rapture have been taught they are unconditional. Wrong. So let’s start there.1

The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12:1-3; Gen 15)

For sure there are UC elements in this covenant. God initiates the covenant and its promises. The first six verses deal with the promise of descendants (Gen 15:1-7). Gen 15:7-16 deals with promises of the Land. Then God alone passes through the rirutally slain and prepated animals sealing the covenant (Gen 15:17-21). The fulfillment of the covenant’s promises therefore depend on Yahweh alone. Case closed, right? Wrong.

While the fulfillment of the promises depend on Yahweh’s ability, it is an entirely different question as to WHO will be on the receiving end of the promises Yahweh fulfills. That’s where the conditional elements come in to play. Put succinctly, receving the promises depends on a spiritual relationship with Yahweh — obedience to his revelation.

In Gen 12:1-3, the first passage concerning the covenant with Abraham, we see Abraham obeying what he is told (“and he [Abraham] went”; Gen 12:4). After the covenant ceremony of Genesis 15, God reiterates the covenant in Genesis 17:2. But Gen 17:1 lays down a clear condition. Here are the two verses together:

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, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

Notice that the language of v. 2 is clearly drawn from the covenant of Gen 12 and 15. But this time there is a clear condition. God goes on in Gen 17 to repeat all the elements of the original covenant. Then he demands that Abraham and all in his household be circumcised. Here’s the point: Only Abraham’s circumcised descendants — those who obey — are eligible to receive the promises Yahweh will give. Refusal to obey meant you weren’t going to be part of the promises. God would make sure the promises got fulfilled, but the person who refused to obey wouldn’t be on the receiving end. We see more of this conditionality in Genesis 18. The dual elements are crystal clear:

17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

To sumamrize all this, Yahweh unilaterally committed himself to do certain things He promised to Abraham. But these promsies only extend to Abraham’s spiritual descendants — those who, like him, would follow Yahweh. At first this was basically operating only within Israel, Abraham’s physical seed. Eventually, it expanded to Gentiles. But the premise was the same: the “obedience of faith” as the apostles liked to call it was necessary to receive the promises. The Abrahamic covenant was both conditional and unconditional.

And so now the questions: Did national Israel corporately forfeit the promises? Since it is those who *believe* that inherit the promises, what Paul says in Galatians 3 makes perfect sense — but is that the end of the story?  Is the kingdom the Church? On what grounds would we look to a national kingdom in Israel in the future?  If it is, it isn’t because the covenant was unconditionally given to THE NATION of Israel. Both testaments agree that those who were given the promises were those who BELIEVE.

It’s about the obedience of faith, not nationality. At least that much is clear. So we can stop now with defending a literal millennium on the basis of convenant unconditionality. For that idea you need a different argument. That one is DOA.

Next up, the Davidic Covenant.

  1. Readers who would want a more technical discussion of this issue are referred to Bruce K. Waltke, “The Phenomenon of Conditionality within Unconditional Covenants,” in Israel’s Apostasy and Restoration: Essays in Honor of Roland K. Harrison, ed. Avraham Gileadi, Baker: 1988, pp. 123-140.

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37 Responses to “Why An Obsession with Eschatology is a Waste of Time, Part 3”

  1. Jason says:

    I thought I would respond here to some of your remarks under part 2 comment instead of posting it there.

    I think Paul answers your questions: In Romans 11 Paul explicitly says that Israel is ‘blinded’ and in Galatians 3 Paul does not say the ‘Church’ but that Gentiles are ‘included in’ the promise (singular) of righteousness by faith which results in the indwelling Spirit (verse 14) which is the guarantee of our inheritance – the Church is both Jews and Gentiles. Verses 7-9 ‘Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham [in being declared righteous]. And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith…. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.’ The promises (plural) spoken in verse 16 were only to Abraham and Christ. Now Christ is the one who is going to inherit all the promises of God to Abraham, therefore only those who are in Him will participate in those promises. This is the true Israel and the elect. But this does not mean that physical Israel is not part of God’s plan. Paul tells us that God is using the Church to provoke them to jealousy so that the majority will repent and be grafted into the vine (Christ) in order to receive the promises when he returns to set up the Kingdom. Christ will inherit the earth, and those who are His, when He decides to take it – when he decides to return. So at this time physical Israel is not the elect because they have refused to believe and they are blinded until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in and then the majority, as was and is the desire of God, will believe. This desire or will of God is what the ‘election’ of verse 28 of Romans 11 is about. Concerning that election or purpose for being elected is what makes them (physical Israel) beloved for the sake of the fathers. Why would God be concerned with physical unbelieving Israel for the sake of the fathers if that which God promised the fathers was conditional? Furthermore, it might not even matter if it was conditional or unconditional – God might just want to do this for his own glory. God has surely given all the promises to Christ and only those found in Him are to receive them but that does not mean that God is not concerned that his purpose in electing the nation failed with their unbelief. He now is including the Gentiles and using them as tool to draw back the majority to belief. Until that time they cannot be elect and the Gentiles did not replace anything because they were included or grafted into the Jewish minority that believed in the Messiah and both were declared the Church – the Body of Christ – the inheritor of all the promises of God – because all the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Him. I do not see why it is a problem to say that God still wants physical Israel, as a majority, to believe and be grafted back into the vine? Saying this does not mean that they are elect or some sort of parallel spiritual entity along side of the Church. It was simply God’s purpose when He elected them to have the majority of them believe in the Messiah. Their failure brought about the incoming Gentiles whom God is now using to fulfill that purpose. Paul makes it clear that their disobedience is not a factor in fulfilling this desire. This does not mean that they do not have to believe – they do – it is that they will in the future believe as a nation not just a minority of individuals as when Paul wrote Romans. This is what Paul declares to be true and God’s intent. I guess I do not see any contradiction between a physical national entity (unbelieving Israel), that is not elect in the sense of righteousness or preparedness to receive the promises of inheritance in the Kingdom, and God being in favor or willing of them to be grafted back in and this being in conflict with the Church and its blessed state of as a result of belief in Christ. The church is the fulfillment not the replacement of the spiritual promises for physical Israel but that does not mean that physical Israel cannot and will not believe as a whole in the future. If so then their being a nation once again and living alongside of the Church is as Paul declared – the plan of God as an instrument to provoke them to jealousy and to fulfill His original intent of having the nation as a whole accept the Messiah. Yes, physical Israel will not inherit anything apart from being found in Christ – but that is just the point God is seeing to it that they will be found in Him so that they will inherit all the promises along with the Gentiles thus fulfilling His purposes – ‘For who has know the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to Him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.’

    So we know at least that there is a plan for a physical Israel to be incorporated back into the vine. So surely they cannot be completely replaced. As long as there is a physical Israel there is no replacement because they at anytime can believe and be grafted back in. Paul is telling us that at a certain point the majority will do this to the glory of God. I do not see an either/or dichotomy here. I do not think in terms of replacement but fulfillment – and for both Gentiles and Jews that door is always open. Paul is saying that corporate physical Israel is still part of God’s plan not just individual Jews. In saying this he does not muddy any waters for me in regard for who inherits what – it is clear that all inheritance is in Christ – period. Now can God work in both spheres? Of course He can. I do not think this position is a ‘prophecy high horse’ but what is clearly taught in Romans 9-11. Whether it is unconditional or conditional may be beside the point if God’s desire is to do this regardless. If conditional – ok they failed – God’s plan is still that Israel as a whole be grafted back in. If it was unconditional – well no argument is needed – the same result. The reason this is so is because the means and end of the inheritance is the same – God – the former is the Father – the latter is the Son. So you have to be in the Son to inherit anything. No one inherits anything apart from Christ. Jews and Gentiles inherit it together as the body of Christ. But how is God going to get the majority of Jews as a corporate entity to believe in order to inherit the promises as a nation per His desire and purpose in electing the nation. Well Paul laid it out in Romans. That all I can say.

    I am trying to stay humble – it is just the way I see it. I am reading and taking your thoughts seriously. :)

    • MSH says:

      so if the Church accomplishes so much so nicely, why can’t that be the end of the story (except for a second coming). It is VERY easy to explain the “Israel brought back into the vine” from a non-millennial perspective. Here goes. Yes, Israel is and will be brought back into the fold. They had been forsaken in exile, but all who believed in Yahweh’s revelation would be saved. When Jesus came, all Jews who believed in him (and who will believe in him) will be brought back into the family of God along with the Gentile. One big happy family. The “bringing” back then = faith in Christ and membership in the Church. No rapture or millennium needed for that. This is why the “real” Israel = Jews who believe in their messiah, the ultimate end of the line of Abraham. Again, Jesus and the Church fulfill the whole picture, every prophecy. Why isn’t this enough? (and please don’t say because that isn’t how Left Behind laid it out).

  2. Kevin says:

    Wow Mike….I totally get the point….I get the point.
    Obession with studying Endtimes and be a real problem in the church.
    I know poeples whole theologies are based more on endtimes and the rapture then christ
    Not to mention the cash cow powering the subject
    endtimes and self-help books= good Christian dollars.

    Thank you for gently making your point

    • MSH says:

      FWIW, when I get to the end of all this, I’ll let people know where I’m at on end times — somewhere between apathy and interest, closer to the latter.

  3. Jonnathan Molina says:

    MSH said: “Again, Jesus and the Church fulfill the whole picture, every prophecy. Why isn’t this enough?” I really hope you answer that in the series; can’t wait to hear your opinion of it. It is obvious to me that what you say is true, there’s really no “need” for all the literal trappings of the popular eschatology of Left Behind (I used to be a fan). But isn’t there a difference between the whole millenial kingdom hoopla and THE Second Coming? We all do still believe in a physical Second coming of Christ at *some* point–rapture/national kingdom or not–right?

  4. Kevin says:

    Yes…Mike as Paul says ALL Isreal is saved….
    Isreal’s salvation is the end of the line…

  5. Kevin says:

    I think there may be issues with the Jewish/Christian relationship that causes all these end-times debates.

  6. Jason says:

    Being brought back into family is not just an individual Jewish decision. Paul’s focus is regarding ALL Israel, hence the distinction between the former remnant and this latter majority – it is a the national aspect that Paul is focusing on. Paul also, already used himself as an example an individual Jew believing in Messiah – so he is not talking about the failure of individual Jews. This is why he quotes ungodliness will be removed from JACOB not just an individual Jew. The rapture and the millinial kingdom are seperate issues. Like I said I am post-trib so I do not subscrib to the Left behind doctrine.

  7. Fendreas says:

    I think p[art of your blog set assumes, or at least seems to, that the whole earth WILL be taken by envagelism. I question that due to Zexhariah

    14 1Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. …

    ….16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

    While I agree that the whole earth is the idea, I see no reason to believe that the scriptures in anyway state that it WILL be accomplished through evangelism of the Church. The above, in Zechariah, seems to me to set a geographical place from which the teachings of God would flow to the nations, as was the idea in the first place. This seems to me to place a future for the area now called Israel.

    • MSH says:

      nope, never said that the whole world will be evangelized. Sure, that’s the intent of the Great Commission, but there is nothing that guarantees that.

  8. Janina says:

    It is all about rulership, about the kingdom – there was only one nation that had “kingly authority” over all others and that was Israel. Israel was chosen to be the leading nation – God’s “firstborn” – God’s showcase. Yes they messed up, but that did not nullify God’s faithfulness – Rom 3:3
    Covenants belong to Israel (Rom 9:4) and others could only enter when they became a part of that nation whether in a physical or spiritual sense.
    Is the ‘new covenant” with Israel already in place? Looking at the present world I don’t see it.
    Jer 31:31 and Heb 8:8-13 indicate that it is still future. Those passages speak explicitly about the House of Israel and the House of Judah – national distinctions. Eze 20:33-38 – God will bring Israel back to enter into a new covenant.

    The Millennium is real – and again it’s all about rulership – “firstborn” indicates a right to rule, and God has three “firstborn” sons: Christ the ruler above all, “born again” by first resurrection Christians (now immortal) will rule under Christ and physical Israel – a leading nation in the Millennium

    Where do 144,000 from every tribe – specifically named in the book of Revelation – fit in?
    Pre-trib rapture seems like a wishful thinking – hope I’m wrong. There seems to be a sense of arrogance displayed by some “pre-trib” proponents.

    • MSH says:

      good reply for discussion – what parts of the New Covenant don’t you see fulfilled in the Church?

      Did you notice that, in the 12 tribes of Israel in Revelation that the tribe of Dan is missing? Wonder why.

  9. Nobunaga says:

    Elsewhere in the Bible tribes are left out and not mentioned.

    Simeon is not mentioned in Deut 33 I think because it was small and Judah covered it so they came under Judah.

    Benjamin also named with Judah frequently.

    I have looked at the Targums and there seems to be a dislike of Dan by the Rabbi’s this it seems was for Idolatry and resulted in the attack by Ameleck when Dan was dragging at the back during the journey to the promised land and the cloud did not protect them because of this.

    are you going to spill the beans about Dan ? I’ve been waiting since the first post lol

  10. Kevin says:

    Also…in Chronicles Dan is not mentioned when the tribes are listing thier descendants….
    Another real quick note…in Joshua..it stressed over and over that the Levites get no land inheritance…yet in Revelation they are mentioned instead of Dan.

    I know its off the topic….do modern day Jews have of track thier tribal heritage.
    For instance…since they are still awaiting thier Messiah….how could they prove that he is from a Jewish royal line like Luke and Matthew did with Jesus since jewish blood has been mixed with other nationalites.

    • MSH says:

      The short answer is Jews cannot trace their tribal history. The closest one gets is with the Cohen line (Cohen = kohen, the word for “priest” in Hebrew). There are reasonably good records for them and some genetic signatures.

  11. Janina says:

    Come to think of it church has not received the promises yet, the same as all other men of faith. That will happen only when they are truly “born again” by the resurrection Heb 11:13 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises…”

    God called Israel to be a special nation of priests and kings. They have rejected God’s offer. Then Christ came with the same offer, again to the nation of Israel. He made it quite clear – Mat 6:10 “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”
    Mat 15:24 – “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
    When they as a nation rejected that offer Gentiles were given that opportunity for the time being.
    But – Eze 20 declares that Israel will be brought back and the offer will be again on the table. This time they will accept it – gog will be their God and they again will be His people.

    I think Revelation is talking about conversion of Israel 12, 000 from each tribe- probably during the time of tribulation. They will be the ones spreading the gospel of the kingdom.

    As for the tribe of Dan – personally I think God was not pleased with them for their idolatory, Ephraim and Manasseh of the tribe of Joseph are separated – double portion of the “birthright”?

    After Christ’s return though Dan will be under grace again, as Eze 48 mentions – they will get again their portion of the land.

    • MSH says:

      all of the tribes were guilty of idolatry (but of course not every person). There is more to the Dan enigma than this, of course.

  12. John says:

    When’s the new book due, Facade was fantastic.

  13. Jonnathan Molina says:

    Facade sequel= me drooling :)

  14. Tom Bionic says:

    this is great stuff MSH.

    You’re killing me with this Dan thing though. May I humbly ask that you talk about it briefly so’s I can go to bed without racking my brain?

  15. Nobunaga says:

    At least a hint about Dan, the targums are not exhaustive and cant find a link to eschatology in any practicle sense.

    We are all definetly buying the book anyway :)

  16. blop2008 says:

    So Mike, you are writing two books, Facade 2 and The Myth that is true, those two alone is a lot of stuff.

    Looking forward to reading both.

    • MSH says:

      the sequel is a ways out. I’m actually working on another book that is top secret (non-fiction). That will take precedence for the most part. Still have to squeeze the last two Myth chapters out so my comrades here can start hacking it (editing). Progress is slow when it’s just you. No secretary, no researchers, and the equivalent of almost two FT jobs (I have something else under development that’s been under wraps for a year, too – I’ll announce that shortly after Memorial Day, Lord willing).

  17. blop208 says:

    MSH: Funny, you have too many FT jobs. Do you even sleep? :-)

  18. Lisa says:

    Mike, If you need a secretary of sorts – or at least someone who can help with editing – you are welcome to contact me. I’ve got good editing skillz:) I’m qualified to teach English as a foreign language and scored honours in English in college. My husband has been unemployed for almost 18 mos – and I’m a stay at home mother. My children are older now, so I could easily assist as I have more time now. Please consider (prayerfully).
    Yah bless. And thanks for doing this series.

    • MSH says:

      wow; thanks. Have you read my Myth book draft at all? I can’t recall if you had offered this before (quite a while back).

  19. Larry says:

    Hippolatus, disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John states in his writings that the antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan.

    If there is no need for a millinium why did Jesus through John mention one in the Revelation?

    • MSH says:

      nice catch on Dan; the reference to 1000 years has been taken by many (from the end of the first century up to today) as merely indicating a long time of indeterminate length. Since other numbers in Revelation and other books of the NT have meanings that transcend literal counts, this is certainly possible.

  20. Jerome Smith says:

    The Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants are both unconditional.

    The Abrahamic is entirely so, so the land promise is still in effect.

    Those who think the land promise was fulfilled in the past have neglected to note carefully what Stephen in his sermon by divine inspiration and accurate Bible knowledge on his part states. The promise MUST be fulfilled to the party to whom the promise was made, and that has not happened yet. But it will. Matthew 8:11.

    The Church has not replaced Israel, nor has the Church inherited any of those Covenant promises meant exclusively for the nation of Israel.

    National or natural Israel has in no way been replaced by the Church in terms of the provisions of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. I suspect that the Church has replaced Israel in some measure in terms of future unfulfilled prophecy regarding Exodus 19:5-6 in the light of Matthew 21:43 with Micah 5:3 and the statement of Peter in 1 Peter 2:9.

    The Abrahamic Covenant has not been fulfilled. Stephen in his sermon in Acts 7:5 explicitly states this truth. I was surprised that, reading all the posts above on this thread, no one mentioned this highly significant statement by Stephen. Someone did mention Hebrews 11:13, “not having received the promises,” which is an important reference in this regard, along with Hebrews 11:39.

    The Davidic Covenant, though unconditional as to its ultimate fulfillment, was conditional for the immediate physical descendants of David. We must never forget that in Isaiah 55:3 this Covenant is called “the sure mercies of David.” The “sure mercies” are also referenced in the book of Acts (Acts 13:34).

    I find it a good “test” of a person’s knowledge of Bible prophecy to ask them to explain what is meant by “the sure mercies of David.” I’ve used this question several times with Jehovah’s Witnesses who happen by my door. But they don’t seem to come any more. Neither did they have the answer. I have written an article about the power of cross reference Bible study on my website which relates the true but tragic story of a local leader from the Kingdom Hall who actually looked up all the cross references I have given in the New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (I printed the page for him off my computer file here at home). He came back a very shaken man, certain I was correct in my faith, and certain he was wrong. He said he could not return, but must shake the dust off his feet as he left. He said at least he was sure that there was no hell and he would just die like a dog.

    As for Psalm 89, this is a remarkable testimony to faith in the unconditional promises of God buttressed by faith in His miraculous works in the history of the nation as grounds for hope when in a position of dire and unpromising circumstances.

    In my personal Bible study I have identified about 25 distinct provisions in the Abrahamic Covenant, and about 46 provisions in the Davidic Covenant, using a plain text English Bible on Robinson Crusoe’s Desert Island.

    • MSH says:

      The Abrahamic covenant actually isn’t completely unconditional (Gen 17:1-2). Abraham couldn’t just not obey.

  21. Jerome Smith says:

    Your observation is both debatable and beside the point.

    In my enumeration of the 25 provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant, Ge 17:1, 2 does not form a part of any one of those provisions.

    God declared he knew the character of Abraham (Genesis 18:19, 20).

    Chronologically (the very basis of Paul’s argument under Divine Inspiration, by the way), Abraham was justified by faith alone (Genesis 15:6) before this point in the narrative.

    Besides, your argument (if it were even an argument) is a supposition after the fact.

    Even if your assertion could be sustained from Scripture, it does not negate the twenty-five provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant that are clearly unconditional.

    I know you are very busy.

    But my point regarding the Biblical statement under Divine Inspiration that the Abrahamic Covenant has not yet been fulfilled to the person the Covenant was made (Acts 7:5) still stands!

    • MSH says:

      The character issue isn’t the point – the point is that the command was issued (and this theme extends through Exodus, leviticus, and Deuteronomy – the Abrahamic covenant is married to the Sinaitic covenant – including the land promises; when I do my church thing on prophecy, this is the first week’s topic, and I will post it – see today’s blog post for that).

      So, your chronological arguments are not effectual; the theme runs through the Torah.

    • MSH says:

      Acts 7:5 affirms that the land of Judea = Canaan = Israel. Big deal. It’s geography.

      Paul says the the believing Gentile (and the believing Jew) inherit the Abrahamic covenant (Galatians 3 – he really couldn’t make it any clearer). The Jewish state did in fact inherit the land according to its ancient dimensions (given in half a dozen passages – again, I will post the video).

      All that said, I believe in a literal kingdom, but for entirely different reasons. Argument of unconditionality simply do not work since the Abrahamic covenant and Sinaitic covenant were married (and also the Davidic).

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