Heirs To The Promise - 2

   Now Abraham already had a son, Ishmael, by Sarai's Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, but this great covenant was not to be made with Ishmael, but with Isaac. This is made plain in verses 19 thru 21:
   And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. [These are the 12 Arab nations]. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year (Gen. 17:19-2l).
   Isaac, the son of Promise, was born according to God's Word. Isaac later married Rebekah, and she was given a blessing in Genesis 24:60:
   And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, ''Thou. art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those ' which hate them."
   To Isaac and Rebekah were born twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau, although the elder, sold his birthright to Jacob, who then became the rightful inheritor of these covenants. God appeared to Jacob to confirm these covenants in Genesis 28, including verse 14:
   And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
   These and other verses make it plain that all the covenants pertaining to Abraham's blessings were passed to Jacob, whose name later was changed to Israel. In Genesis 35 God appeared again unto Jacob.
   And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob; thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name; and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins (Gen. 35:10, 11).
   Again we see this same thing repeated over and over again, that. these descendants of the patriarches of Israel would be a great number of people and would become a multitude of nations.

   While Jacob was yet alive, Joseph was sold into bondage in Egypt. A few years later the other 11 sons and their families moved to Egypt, where Joseph saved them from the famine. While still in Egypt, Jacob-Israel adopted the two sons of Joseph-Ephraim and Manasseh as his firstborn in place of Reuben and Simeon. This adoption as Israel's firstborn is verified in 1 Chronicles 5:l and 2. In verse 16 of Genesis 48, Israel said,

. . . Let my name be named on them, and the name of my father Abraham and Isaac; and let them Brow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
   In verse 19, Jacob prophesied that Ephraim would become greater than Manasseh and that his seed would become a fullness of nations.

   After Joseph's death, Israel continued to multiply, but a new king rose up over Egypt, who put the children of Israel in cruel bondage. He attempted to reduce Israel by ordering all of the male Israelite babies killed in Egypt. Moses was saved by his mother, raised in Pharaoh's household, but eventually was driven from Egypt. We read in Exodus 2:23 that during Moses' absence . . .

   And it came to pass in the process of time, that the king of Egypt died; and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

   And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
   God then sent Moses and brought the now 2 million or more Israelites out of Egypt with great signs and wonders and brought them to Mt. Sinai in the wilderness. There God made a covenant with these several million descendants of Abraham, saying to them in Exodus 19:5-8:
   Now therefore if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

   And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him.

   And all the people answered together and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.
   God had said to Abraham, "I will be a God to you and to your seed after you." That covenant was formalized with Abraham's seed in what we recognize as a marriage ceremony, with the bridegroom saying, "Will you obey?" and the bride answering, "I will." Israel became God's wife. That the wife-husband relationship is correct is verified in several passages, including Isaiah 54:5-
   For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
   God gave Israel The Ten Commandments in stone and several hundred other statutes and judgments, usually called God's Law. The first Commandment began,
   I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
   While Israel was in the wilderness, learning the statutes and judgments, God gave further promise of future greatness. In Deuteronomy 33 He gave a separate blessing to each of the tribes, with the greater blessing recorded for Joseph in verses 13-17:
   And of Joseph he said, "Blessed of the Lord be his land. For the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,

   And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,

   And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,

   And for the precious things of the earth and fullness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush; let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
   This blessing can only mean that the descendants of Joseph were to have a land blessed with great agricultural harvests, wealth from the seas, and ores and minerals from the earth. The greatest portion of the Israel blessings would he fulfilled in the two sons of Joseph who had been made the inheritors of the Abrahamic covenants, as we read in Genesis 48.

   After 40 years in the wilderness, Moses died, and Joshua brought Israel into Canaanland and established them there as a nation. They had been commanded to observe God's statutes and judgments and to destroy the Canaanites out of the land, so they would not be tempted to follow their gods and participate in their abominations. This Israel did not do, and as a consequence, they suffered a series of captivities during the 400 years up to the time of David, as recorded in the book of Judges.

 

   David came to the throne in Israel in approximately 1050 B.C., and in 40 years of war enlarged and secured Israel as one nation in Canaanland, ruling them from Zion and Jerusalem. At one point, according to 1 Chronicles 21 , David had over one million, 500 thousand men under arms, which would indicate that God's promise of increasing the seed of Abraham was being fulfilled, with 10 to 15 million people living in Palestine at that time.

   When David died, his son Solomon ruled for another 40 years, establishing an era of peace and prosperity and building the great temple to Jehovah. The Israel kingdom was so blessed it became the marvel of that part of the world. It seemed as if God's promises and prophecies of great increase and material blessings were being fulfilled.

   But after Solomon's death came a terrible blow. The nation was divided. The 10 northern tribes established their capital in Samaria. Jerusalem now ruled only the southern half of Israel. The rivalry between the two kingdoms, Judah and Israel, brought wars, corruption, and sin-even worship of Badl and the other gods of the wicked Canaanites who still lived among them. God sent prophets to them, warning them he would send alien nations against them, who would take them captive into other lands.

   God called Israel's sin adultery and told her through Jeremiah and Hosea that he was divorcing her:

   And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce (Jeremiah. 3:8).
   God said to the northern kingdom in verse 2 of the second chapter of Hosea:
   Plead with your mother, plead; for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband.
   The northern house of Israel, therefore, was divorced and no longer the wife of Jehovah.

   God sent Assayer to conquer the northern Israel kingdom. The wars and deportations are recorded in 2 Kings, chapters 16, 17, and 18. Here are a few pertinent verses;

   In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assayer took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assayer, and placed them in Halah, and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

   Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah only (2 Kings 17:6, 18).

   This was bad enough, but the Israelites in the Judah kingdom were also following the corrupted ways of the Edomites and Canaanites, so 7 years later, we read in 2 Kings 18:13-
   Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assayer come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.
   This would have left only a small remnant of Israelites in the fortified city of Jerusalem by 700 B.C.

   According to both the Bible and ancient historic accounts, these pagan empires used forcible evacuation as a means of preventing rebellion at a later date. They moved non-Israelites into the vacated land of the northern kingdom, according to 2 Kings 17:24

   And the king of Assayer brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and placed in the cities thereof.
   So the two conquests of Assyria would have removed the vast majority of the Israelites into Assyria and out of the land of Palestine. The number removed would have been in the millions.

   The prophet Jeremiah continued to prophesy to the tiny remnant in Jerusalem; and in the seventh chapter of Jeremiah, he told these Judahites that because of their sin, God would abandon Jerusalem.

   Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh (Jeremiah 7:14).
   Shiloh was the place of the Ark of the Covenant, which God had turned over into the hands of the Philistines, because of the sin of Israel.

   In Kings and Chronicles we have another 100 years of the history of the Judah kingdom, a history of continuance of sin, some revivals, but always turning away from the God of Israel. During that time, Assyria's power declined, and she lost control over much of her empire, and Babylon grew. The Judahites remaining at Jerusalem made a peace treaty with the king of Babylon, and they continued to sin against the God of Israel. They also tried to enlist the help of Egypt.

   God sent Jeremiah to tell Judah that Babylon would conquer them. They planned to resist, but Jeremiah told them:

   And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.

   Thus saith the Lord; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us; for they shall not depart.

   For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire (Jer. 37:8-10).

   And it came to pass. Jerusalem was destroyed in about 595 B.C. and the Judahites were taken into Babylon for the 70-year captivity prophesied by Jeremiah.

  In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:2).
   All seems lost. What has happened to the covenants? What has become of the great promises of God?

   70 years later, Ezra did bring back from Babylon to Jerusalem a handful of Judahites to rebuild the city and the temple. In Ezra 2 that number is given as less than 50,000.

   The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,

   Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women (Ezra 2:64-65).

   This remnant of Judah and Benjamin provided the small Israelite community that existed in Jerusalem at the time Christ was born, 500 years later.

   But what happened to the other tens of millions of Israelites who never returned to Jerusalem? Are their descendants lost from the covenant promises of God?

   years later in Romans 11: "Hath God cast away his people?" Paul answered,

   God forbid; for I also am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew.

To Be continued after;  A Study Into
The Meaning Of Several Words Used In The Bible

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