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Heirs of Promise

22 Aug

Since the day faith came under the New Covenant ethnicity is no longer the requirement to be a descendant of Abraham. Only those of faith in Christ receive the promises given to Abraham.

What was the promise?

Land

  1. “Get thee out of thy country…unto a land that I will shew thee” (Gen. 12:1).
  2. Abraham “went on his journeys…to Bethel (in Central Israel) And the Lord said unto Abram…Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever…walk through the land…for I will give it unto thee” (Gen. 13:3,14-17).
  3. “The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Gen. 15:18).)
  4. “I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8).
  5. “The promise that he (Abraham) should be the heir of the world” (Rom. 4:13).

Seed

  1. “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:2,3).
  2. “I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered…all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Gen. 13:15,16).
  3. “Look now toward heaven, and tell (count) the stars, if thou be able to number them…So shall thy seed be…Unto thy seed have I given this land” (Gen. 15:5,18).
  4. “I will give unto…thy seed after thee…the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:8).
  5. “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:17,18).

Neither Jew nor Greek

Galatians 3

Verse 7 “Therefore be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham”.

Verse 28-29 ” There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams offspring, heirs according to promise.”

To be an heir of Abraham is not based on ethnicity, gender, race etc but is based on faith in Christ. Why? The law did not nullify the promise given to Abraham, however it couldn’t enable us to receive the promise as we were shut up under sin (verse 22) but is given to us not on the basis of our works, ethnicity or race but on the basis of who Christ is. He is the author, fulfiller and rightful heir of the promise. Therefore the promise can only be received in Christ by faith (not based on merit).

Romans 9:6-13

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s [d]descendants, but: “[e]through Isaac your [f]descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as [g]descendants. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would [h]stand, not [i]because of works but [j]because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Geographical or heavenly?

When coming to the Old Testament we must view it through a New Testament lens. With this in mind we can say that the things of the Old Testament pointed to something greater, namely Christ.

Hebrews 11:8-10

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

The land of promise that Abraham dwelt in pointed to something far greater which he looked for. Not a geographical dwelling place but a dwelling place with foundations God has built, namely the eternal land of promise, a dwelling place in God that can only be accessed in Christ. This is indicated by the fact that he is described as an “alien living in a foreign location”. So the promise of land points to a greater completion of the promise fulfilled by Jesus, the nations having access to dwell with God in Christ, not in Canaan geographically but a heavenly Canaan, the Kingdom of God.

The writer goes on to say, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”

In revelation 21:1 John writes “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”

This is the city Abraham longed for. He had knowledge of him being part of a much bigger plan, namely Christ’s bride. He looked forward to the heavenly marriage, the heavenly city that will be established on earth by Christ at his return. He looked to something greater than an earthly land or location we know presently.

Hebrews 12:22-24

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Similarly, this scripture states that we have now come to the city of the living God, In contrast the preceding verses compare Mount Sinai with Mount Zion. Sinai was a mountain that could not be touched or commonly accessed; it represented law, judgement and Gods holiness. Now, however, we have come to an accessible Mount Zion, which represents Grace and Gods righteous judgment through Christ. Those who have come to it are made perfect by Jesus who’s covenant is far greater/gracious than the punishment/judgment for the shedding of Abels blood which Cain describe in his own words as “too great to bear” (Gen 4:13).

Then, under the Old Covenant, Mount Zion where the temple was located was a place of bloody sacrifice and offering which God had no desire for. Now, under New Covenant, Mount Zion is a place where we find grace and refuge from the wrath of God, where the Son of Man offered a perfect sacrifice reaching all eternity.

Therefore no longer do we seek an earthly Zion, but a heavenly one, a heavenly City for which we are enrolled in now and will be partakers of through Gods grace at his coming.

We align our hearts with the writer of Hebrews, “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” Hebrews 13:14

So we can rule out two questions.

1/ Does ethnic Israel have a basis for receiving the geographical land today? No

2/ Do those in Christ (heirs of promise) have a basis for receiving the geographical land? No

The picture is not the church or ethnic Israel taking possession of an earthly nation, but a heavenly nation is formed in Christ through the gospel. One day Christ will return to establish this heavenly Kingdom on earth where He will reign over all creation.

Conclusion

So we can conclude as follows

1/ Inheritance of the promise given to Abraham is not based on ethnicity, gender or race but is based on faith.

2/ The land promise has been fulfilled in Christ, we look no longer to an earthly city but a heavenly one in which we are enrolled in now and will partake in at Christ’s return.

3/ There is a bigger picture than a receiving of an earthly location as an inheritance but a heavenly nation is formed in Christ in which we harvest the benefits of through faith.

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Thoughts on The Temple

15 Aug

The Temple

The temples destruction in 70AD signified the end of the old covenant. The Jews who now worship at the old temple are as people who are nursing a dead corpse. The destruction of the temple and its ruins are a sign to us that God cannot be contained in a temple made with hands. The temple in its glory once represented an old covenant life. The destroyed temple and raised Christ (living temple) now represent a new covenant of living.

 Luke 19:44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

The Romans in 70ADravaged the city of Jerusalem and the temple, just like Christ had forewarned, but the Jews didn’t recognise the true temple in front of their very eyes.

Mark13:1-8 

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

The signs that were to follow his warning to his disciples indicated the end of era. The end of the old covenant period would be marked by the destruction of the temple where no stone of its walls would be left upon another, never to be physically built again, but access to God would now be through faith, not through geographical location but through an embodied raised temple, namely Christ.

Issues of land

 Under the old covenant in the Old Testament Israel were to return to Jerusalem from exile to Gods holy city, where he dwelt in the temple. Under the new covenant God no longer dwells in a physical temple but dwells in creation. He is not confined to land or geography. Therefore the promises given to Abraham are fulfilled in Christ in that Abrahams seed, (that is Christ) Gods people of faith (not of ethnicity) are the Israel of God (Gal 6) who were once in exile (spiritual bondage) but now have direct access to God in his temple through Christ, not in a physical location but a heavenly one. An example from the New Testament would be the patriarchs in Hebrews 11 who looked for a heavenly country, not a physical location.

Nowhere in the New Testament is a solid basis for ethnic Israel to inherit a physical land. We must view the Old Testament through a New Testament lens which means viewing the Old Covenant through a New Covenant lens. Gods purpose is one of transformation and expansion to the nations and all of creation, (Mark 16:15) not one of confinement and limitation to an ethnicity or geography.