The Millennium – Part 2
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #31
October 28, 2014
"Father, we are thankful for the opportunity to come before Your throne of grace this evening. We are very thankful that we have the opportunity to study Your Word this evening, to fellowship around Your Word, to be reminded of Your faithfulness that You always fulfill Your promises; and though it may appear to us that a lot of time goes by; it may appear to us that You’ve forgotten us or You’re distracted with other events in the world; we know that Your omniscience and omnipotence that You are in complete control and that You are working things out according to Your purposes and Your plans and it is our responsibility to relax, to rest in You, and to learn Your Word, to learn of You, and to walk consistently by the Holy Spirit. Father, keep us mindful of the fact that we are not just here to perform our jobs, or to be mothers or fathers, or faithful sons or daughters, but we are here to give evidence of Your grace. We are here to glorify You and we are here to grow and mature spiritually that we might give evidence for all eternity before the angels and humanity that You are a true loving and righteous God; and we pray that tonight as we continue our study of the Kingdom that You will help us understand where history is headed and our role in that event. We pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen."
We’re in the second part (slide 1) looking at the Millennial Kingdom (slide 2) and this is the thousand year rule and reign of Christ. Looking at this particular slide (slide 3) we see that we’ve advanced through the dispensations. We’ve gone through the Church Age, which ends with the Rapture. There is a brief interlude between the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the Tribulation, a transition period. We don’t know how long that’s going to be, but the Tribulation actually begins when the Antichrist signs a treaty with Israel. That starts the stopwatch for Israel going again. It will last for seven years, through the Tribulation, and during this time the unsaved of all the previous generations all go to Sheol or Hades. When Christ was raised from the dead He went and proclaimed victory in Hades and Paradise, which was then part of Sheol, whose inhabitants were taken to heaven. So now the only inhabitants of Hades or Sheol are unbelievers and those unbelievers are not resurrected until the great white throne judgment, which is what comes at the end of the Millennial Kingdom; all of the unbelievers who die in the Church Age, Tribulation period, and the Millennium go to the Lake of Fire.
Right now we’re at the end of the Tribulation, the Second Advent of Christ, the Campaign of Armageddon; we’ve covered all of that. The judgments that occur there, at the end of the Tribulation period, we’ve covered or will cover; and then, we go into the Millennium itself, which is of its essence a Jewish kingdom. As I pointed out last time (slide 4), the word “millennium” is a word that comes from the Latin word mille meaning a “thousand” and it is based on the fact that the Greek word for “thousand” is used five times in Revelation 20:1-6. In the early church they were called chiliasts from the Greek word chilioi for a “thousand.” We went through (slide 5) Revelation 20:2-5 each time the “thousand years” is mentioned the devil, Satan, is bound for a “thousand years.” He won’t deceive the nations for a “thousand years.” The (slide 6) Church Age believers will live and reign with Christ for a “thousand years.” That’s us. We will be ruling and reigning with Christ for a “thousand years.”
In (slide 7) Revelation 20:5 we are told that “the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.” The fourth reference; and then Revelation 20:6 “Blessed and holy” are those who take “part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years,” another good verse for the priesthood of the believer. But again it is a thousand years.
In terms of vocabulary (slide 8), we learn that amillennialists do not believe in a literal millennium. We are living in a spiritual kingdom today. Christ is ruling from heaven. So they have spiritualized the promises of the Old Testament (OT) so that the land isn’t the literal land; a thousand doesn’t mean a literal thousand. Israel doesn’t literally mean Israel; a kingdom doesn’t literally mean a literal kingdom on the earth. So they don’t have a literal millennium. This age will end with the second coming of Christ. As far as they’re concerned, the term Church Age and Kingdom are synonymous concepts. Now who believes that? Roman Catholics believe that; most Presbyterians believe that, or they are postmillennialists (postmil); Lutherans believe that. Outside of most Baptists who tend to be premillennial, although some are not, but most Baptists are premillennial, Bible churches, people influenced by Dallas Theological Seminary, a lot of evangelicals, a large number of charismatics and Pentecostals are not amillennial. They are premillennial. So this involves a lot of people who are in your mainline denominations. That is why they are working for the “Kingdom” today.
One of the things that’s a little pet peeve of mine is that you constantly hear this and those who go to seminary and those who are taking classes need to be aware of this. You’ll hear people talk about we need to do such and such today for the “Kingdom.” What are we doing for the “Kingdom?” And this concept of the Kingdom is used very loosely by a lot of evangelicals today and the question is: “Are we in the Kingdom?” And even among premillennialists there are many who believe that we are in some form of the Kingdom today and they refer to that position as the “already not yet” view of the Kingdom. It is already here, not fully. So it is not yet fully here but it is partially here so we are doing Kingdom work. Jesus is never referred to as a “king” until He returns at the end of the Second Coming. He is never viewed as the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords.
We sing certain hymns. I remember there was somebody who was part of this congregation when it first got started, the first two or three months, who took exception to the fact that we sang “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” because it talks about crowning Jesus. But if you take it literally, in the sense that it is talking about something in the present time, yes, that would be wrong. But you also have the hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” stating the same sort of thing. It is poetic license where the hymn places us in an end-time scenario, at the time when Christ comes to establish His Kingdom. Poetry does that and that is what hymns are. They are poetry. And some of the things in “Joy to the World,” since Christmas is coming up like a freight train. It won’t be long before Thanksgiving will be past us and we’ll be busy trying to buy all the grandkids and kids and everybody else presents. What we see in “Joy to the World” is a couple of lines in there that make it appear that Isaac Watts, the hymn writer, is talking about the Kingdom as if it is today. But remember, he is talking in part of the hymn about the birth of the King. When Jesus was born He was born as the King to present Himself as the King to Israel. So when you view those lines within that framework that’s totally legitimate. Isaac Watts was a premillennialist; and then later on in other aspects of that hymn he does the same thing. He puts us in the place of the coming of the Kingdom when it finally comes into existence. So he is not amillennial; he is not confused; this is just typical poetic license. If you are a hyper-literalist you have more problems then just that, so relax a little.
Postmillennialism (slide 9) talks about the Church Age bringing in the Kingdom. Jesus doesn’t return until after the Kingdom. “Post” after the kingdom. To be fair to them, a lot of premillennialists have misrepresented them. They do not see the church as militantly bringing in the Kingdom. That is not their view. They believe that God the Holy Spirit will, toward the end of the Church Age, expand His influence more and more through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God and more and more people will respond until the Kingdom comes in. So he sees this as a product of the work of God the Holy Spirit. Ultimately it is a utopic view. That’s all it is is a utopic view. I think there are many other problems because they, like the amillennialists, do not have a consistent literal interpretation of Scripture. And then we have premillennialism (slide 10), which is our belief. We believe that Jesus will return to establish the Kingdom. He will judge the nations. He will judge the unbelievers who survive the Tribulation. He will judge the Antichrist, the false prophet, and Satan. All those judgments take place at the end of the Tribulation period; and then He will establish His Kingdom and that will last for a thousand years.
Now just a couple of other historical quotes for you (slide 11): Philip Schaff, who is a well known late 19th century author who wrote an eight-volume work on the History of the Christian Church. He only goes from the beginning up through the Protestant Reformation. He doesn’t even finish, I don’t believe, the Protestant Reformation. He goes into quite a bit of detail on the early church, quite a bit of detail in the millennial period, and he writes that “The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age…” Now that is a good word for you. Ante with an ‘e’ means “before;” “post” means after. Ante means before. Nicene refers to the Council of Nicea, which was held in A.D. 425. It was the first great ecumenical council of the church when the Emperor Constantine saw the Christian community just falling apart over the issue of the identification of Christ; was He eternal God or was He somehow generated from God? Was He eternal or was He created or generated at some time in eternity past? And so that was resolved at the Council of Nicea. But what Schaff points out is in the eschatology of the ante-Nicean period, in the period from Christ to A.D. 425, so those first four-hundred years of the church, he says that is dominated by the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth.
Excuse me; I missed that one phrase that is underlined: “the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas...” That is the Epistle to Barnabas, not the biblical Barnabas, probably another Barnabas or a pseudonym. That was written probably around A.D. 70. “Papias,” who is at the turn of the century into the early A.D. 100s, Papias was a disciple of John the Apostle, “Justin martyr,” early second century, “Irenaeus,” mid second century, “Tertulian,” takes us into the third century, “Methodius, and Lactanius” are in the third century. All of these held to a premillennial view of the coming of Christ.
Then he goes on to say that “Origen (slide 12).” Origen is considered one of the great church fathers, but not great because he was orthodox. He did some great things; especially he had a work that he translated called The Hexapla, which was great for textual criticism where he had a column of the OT in Hebrew and the old Greek texts and the Septuagint text and two or three other Greek translations of the OT. There were five parallel OT texts as it were. So it is great for doing textual criticism work. He did some good things, but he was a great heretic because he is the one who introduced allegorical interpretation into the early church. Schaff notes that “Origen opposed chiliasm as a Jewish dream, …” See allegory introduces anti-Semitism and that came in and began to lay its roots in the second century. An allegorical interpretation gave it a way of interpreting and twisting the Scriptures to attack the Jewish people.
Schaff says, “chiliasm as a Jewish dream,” he “spiritualized the symbolic language of the prophets… The apocalyptic millennium he understood to be the present reign of Christ in the Catholic Church,” see he’s amillennial. He introduces that. Augustine will make it absolute. He will make it the orthodox doctrine for Christianity. And for a thousand years the idea of a premillennial view of the return of Christ is a great heresy. That is why nobody thinks about a Rapture or things like that, or talks about it much. There were a few, but it pretty much disappears because everybody is thinking within the wrong framework. So Schaff says, “the apocalyptic millennium he understood to be the present reign of Christ in the Catholic Church, and the first resurrection, the translation of the martyrs and saints to heaven where they participate in Christ’s reign… From the time of Constantine (c. A.D. 425) and Augustine chiliasm” that is the view that we hold, “took its place among the heresies…” So we would have been great heretics for well over a thousand years in the church.
Now there are three basic biblical reasons why we believe that there is a future Jewish kingdom (slide 13):
1. First of all is because the eternal covenants that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, and the Davidic Covenant, as well as the New Covenant have not been fulfilled. These unconditional eternal covenants that God made with Israel have yet to be fulfilled. Therefore, if God is faithful, He must fulfill those according to the letter of the covenant. So that is the first reason that we believe in a future Jewish kingdom.
2. There are specific promises related to the Messiah. There are dozens of these, a hundred or more promises in the OT that were not fulfilled by Jesus in the First Advent. Just sit down with a rabbi someday and ask him why he doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah and he will go through prophecy after prophecy after prophecy that Jesus didn’t fulfill and tell you that if He was the Messiah, He would have fulfilled all of these prophecies. And you are going to sit there with your mouth open without an answer. Some of you might have one, but you see, they have to understand that there is a difference between the prophecies related to a suffering Messiah and a glorified Messiah. So the prophecies related to the glorified Messiah have not been fulfilled yet. So they must be fulfilled.
3. It is clear from the many, many passages in the OT text. In the prophets especially, of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel, that the central characteristic to the future kingdom is that it is Jewish. It is in Israel. The capital is Jerusalem. David rules over the future kingdom in Israel as a subordinate to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we have seen this chart (slide 14) back when we were studying the covenants earlier in the series. There are promises that are made in the OT and are not yet fulfilled. Some of them are partially fulfilled, but they will not come to completion until the Second Coming. We’ve looked at these in terms of the four great covenants: the Abrahamic Covenant, the Real Estate Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant, and we’ve seen that they are all fulfilled only when the Millennium begins. There is an application of the New Covenant to today, but only because the sacrifice was laid at the Cross and Christ will come and initiate that covenant at the Second Coming. So we’ve looked at the Abrahamic Covenant (slide 15), the three basic elements: land, seed, and blessing that have been developed in the three subsequent eternal covenants: the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant (slide 16), and the New Covenant. That is what, as we continue today, to look at these covenants.
We start with Genesis 13 (slide 17). I am building on what we’ve studied already, in terms of the covenants. I just want to make some different points of some of these passages and pull all of this together for us. In Genesis 13 we have a story of Abraham. Those of you going to Israel pay attention. Abraham entered the land from the north and he traveled to south. The first place he stopped he built an altar to God at Shkm or Shechem as we pronounce it in English. Then Abraham proceeded from Shkm to camp out the first night of his travels going south of Shkm at a hill between Bethel and Ai. We’ll go along a highway that goes right between that hill that will be on our left and the location of Ai on our right. Then from there he went south to Beersheba. That is where we’ll go the first day that we’re in Israel. Abraham made his home there. In fact Abraham ended up living most of his life there.
But by Genesis 13, when he comes back from his little vacation in Egypt, where he thought he would find succor from the famine in Israel and in so doing leaving the land and disobeying God. He comes back to the land and he moves north from Beersheba up towards Skhm and he stops again at Bethel and at Bethel, which doesn’t have this name at this point; it’s named later by Jacob. Abraham stops there and he goes to the altar that he had built there on his way south and he calls upon the Name of the LORD and the LORD comes to him and says you’ve got a problem with Lot and you guys need to separate and this is where Abraham had told Lot you pick wherever you want to go and you go there and me and my herdsman will go to the other part of the land, and Lot headed down toward the beautiful green valley of the Salt Sea, which probably, my guess is that it wasn’t called the Salt Sea at that point. We have a lot of anachronisms in Scripture, just as Bethel is not Bethel at this point; it is later called Bethel and it is still referred to earlier by the name Bethel. I think the Salt Sea became the Salt Sea after the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. So it was called by that name and that name was read back into history.
After Lot separates “and the LORD said to Abram after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, north, south, east and west; for all the land.” Notice, “all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” This has not yet happened. In fact the only piece of land that Abraham owned was a burial spot down in the cave of Hebron where he and Sarah and later Isaac and Rebecca and then Jacob and Leah were buried. (Slide 18) Genesis 13:16, God goes on to promise “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth” and that hasn’t quite happened yet. There is only about thirteen million Jews on the face of the earth right now. That is not quite like the dust of the earth, but if you add them all up over the generations I guess it might begin to qualify. And he says to Abram in Genesis 13:17, “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” That hasn’t happened yet. The so-called Palestinians, the Arabs who are living in the land, still want to dispute that, so that hasn’t been fulfilled yet.
We skip a couple of chapters and we have the actual covenant cutting ceremony in Genesis 15:18 (slide 19) and we are told, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, 'To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.' ” This is the first place we see the boundaries laid out. Now what I am getting ready to tell you is about as thrilling and exciting as reading a title deed; okay, so wake-up. This is kind of interesting because I’ve read different things and different people down over the years, in fact I got an e-mail about three or four months ago from another pastor, a friend of mine, who sent me an e-mail and I’d happened to read something on this before, and he said, what do you think the river of Egypt is? And I said, I don’t think it is the Nile. I know a lot of dispensationalists think it’s the Nile. You probably heard somebody teach in the past that it was the Nile. If you go read certain books like Clarence Larkin and some others, they will tell you it was the Nile, but there are some problems with that. At the time I decided to do a little research on it and it is really nebulous in the commentaries. They will say it is one place or the other and then they fudge. So it is really some interesting stuff there.
First of all, the word translated river of Egypt is the same word translated for the great river and the river Euphrates and that is the word on the left side (slide 19) nahar. Nahar means river. That is your standard word for “river.” There is another word that comes into play here and that is this word on the right, nachal. The ch in nachal is the rougher guttural. That is the ‘hey’ in Hebrew. The ‘h’ you will see the difference in the transliteration. It is a ‘ch’ here and an ‘h’ here (on slide 19). This really means “brook.” It can mean a torrent, a brook; it’s an intermittent stream or a wadi is how it is described in the Middle East. This refers, like in Numbers 34:5 and Joshua 15:4 describes the Wadi el-Arish. I’ll show you a map of that in just a minute, which is in about the middle of the Sinai.
So here we have a map (slide 20), you can’t read it too well here. Logos just jumped from Logos 5 to Logos 6 and I got stuck this afternoon trying to find the maps and they redid the whole thing. I really like it better in Logos 5 or I haven’t figured out how to use it in Logos 6. So you have here a faint blue line you might be able to see running down this way. That’s the Wadi el-Arish. And so that’s what I believe is the actual southern border of the land. I believe that for a couple of different reasons. Now you see right here, this is the eastern delta of the Nile River. There are some, Arnold Fruchtenbaum takes this view, that it is not the Nile per say, it is just this eastern tributary or this eastern part of the delta, and it is not the Wadi el-Arish that is located here. Others take the view that it is the Wadi el-Arish. The problem that you have in most maps and granted I think the issue here is that a lot of people aren’t sure where Goshen was. Remember, Goshen was the territory that the Pharaoh set aside for the Hebrews to live.
Now most maps that I’ve consulted and most of the atlases that I have that I have consulted have put Goshen in this area where Goshen is either west of that eastern most river that comes into the Nile delta or straddles it. Now if you are a Jew and you are in Goshen and Goshen is to the east of that tributary and God says I want you to leave and go to the Promised Land and the borders of the Promised Land are from that river here all the way up here or if it is from the Nile all the way up there, the problem is Goshen is in the Promised Land! Did y’all get that? That is just the blinding flash of the obvious. If Goshen is located here then that means that the Nile River or this river to the right that has two or three different names, that river (pointer on map). If it is either one Goshen is to the east of it, which means everything from here (pointer on map) roughly across is in the Promised Land. So Goshen would already be in the Promised Land, so the Jews just say, why do I need to go to the Promised Land? I’m there. So it can’t be that far west.
The Wadi el-Arish has historically been identified by many people in a number of passages in Scripture as the southern border of the Promised Land. Furthermore, when Israel goes to Kadesh Barnea, which is located here (pointer on map) roughly, just somewhere in this general area. Here is the bottom of the Dead Sea. It is located right in there, right at that junction point right there. That is where Kadesh Barnea is located. So that is just inside the southern border of Israel if it borders the Wadi el-Arish that would make sense because from Kadesh Barnea God told Moses to send out the twelve tribes to recon the land. Now why would they need to recon the land from here if they have already left all of this area, the Sinai Peninsula behind them as part of the land? Again, that doesn’t quite make sense.
Here is another map (slide 21). [Question] The Red Sea that they had to cross … that’s a good question … The Red Sea is down somewhere along in here (slide 20). People identify these different bodies of water here (pointer on map). There is a lot of debate as to where they crossed, but this area right here (pointer on map) is the Sinai Peninsula and the traditional site of Mt. Sinai is down at the base of this peninsula just off the map, just off the screen. So they would have come down this way (pointer on map). I don’t think it is the traditional site. There are a couple of other places that fit the biblical narrative better, probably the historic. The actual Mt. Sinai was probably in the middle of the peninsula and then they would’ve headed up this way (pointer on map). The Wadi el-Arish was historically the border between Israel and Egypt.
Here is a map that is a little better (slide 21). Here is the Wadi el-Arish right here in this area (pointer on map). Here is Kadesh Barnea right here (pointer on map) and this is where they would’ve sent the spies from. This area here is the Negev. Here is Beersheba. Here is the Wilderness of Zin; and right about here at the end of the pointer there, probably a little further south, right about in this area, just about 15 miles from where they think Kadesh Barnea is is where we’re going to spend the first night when we’re in Israel. That just gives you a clue. We are going to be doing the wilderness wanderings the first two or three days. Okay, that gives you a little bit of an idea there.
Now (slide 22) the point that I’m make here is that God hasn’t fulfilled those promises to the Covenant. In Leviticus 26, which is part of the five cycles of discipline, God says that He is going to eventually take them out of the land. In Leviticus 26:44 He says “when they are in the land of their enemies, I won’t reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them.” He is predicting, even though they disobey Me I am not going to break My covenant with them.” Leviticus 26:45 “But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors.” So God says again and again He is going to be true to what He promised their ancestors.
In Isaiah 27:12 (slide 23) he says, “And it will come about in that day” he is talking about the future kingdom “that the LORD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt.” I hadn’t thought about this verse, but we went through those eight stages of the Campaign of Armageddon, if you remember. Stage one was the Antichrist moves into the Middle East, sets up his staging area in the Valley of Esdraelon or the Valley of Jezreel, the Valley of the mountain of Megiddo, the Valley of Har Megiddo, which is where we get the name for the Campaign of Armageddon. I said the second stage is that Babylon is destroyed. Where is Babylon located? It’s on the Euphrates River. So here we see God predicting that He will start His threshing, the judgment that occurs at that time, from the flowing stream of the Euphrates and then he moves west and south to the brook of Egypt, the nachal of Egypt, not the river of Egypt. The only place in all of the OT that you have the phrase “river of Egypt” is in Genesis 15 in the dimensions God is giving to Abraham. That is the only place where you have the word nahar.
In fact I left something out on that slide (slide 19). Nahar is a word that is used in Genesis 15:18. Nahar is the word used there. Nahar is never used with Egypt again in the OT. It is always nachal, which refers to the brook of Egypt, the Wadi el-Arish. Everywhere else that you have the Nile River mentioned it is ye’or. It is never called anywhere else in Scripture a nahar. There is a distinct word used for the Nile, the ye’or; and what is interesting is that in many of these passages in Exodus, where it will translate it the Nile, the word that is there is ye’or. And in other passages it is just translated “the river” because you already know in context that it is talking about the Nile. So if that southern border of Israel is suppose to be the Nile it doesn’t work because:
a. That puts Goshen over in the Promised Land to begin with, so why leave?
b. The term that is used to describe the Nile throughout Scripture is a different word. It is ye’or, not nahar, and most of the time you have the use of the word nachal.
Okay, Isaiah 27:12 (slide 23) talks about the brook of Egypt and in Ezekiel 48:28 (slide 24) this is a passage talking about Ezekiel 38-39 talking about the battle between Gog and Magog that comes sometime in relation to the Tribulation, and you have a great difference of opinion on that, as to whether it is before the Tribulation, in the beginning of the Tribulation, in the middle of the Tribulation, toward the end of the Tribulation, and nobody is exactly certain, although some people are more dogmatic than others; trust me, nobody is absolutely certain. But in Ezekiel 48:28, from Ezekiel 40-48, you have the description of the millennial temple and in Ezekiel 48 it describes the borders of Israel during the Millennial Kingdom. The borders are stated in Ezekiel 48:28 “by the border of Gad, on the south side toward the South, the border shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah….” Remember the waters of bitterness the second time coming out near Kadesh, “and along the brook to the Great Sea.” There’s that word nachal, the brook, the Wadi el-Arish. So the boundary that’s clearly stated in Ezekiel 48:28 is that brook the Wadi el-Arish. It goes across the Sinai.
Isaiah 30:23-26 (slides 25-26) describes the wonderful nature of the fecundity, the productivity of the land of Israel. God “will give them rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground,” no famines, no drought, the yield will be rich and plenteous. Isaiah 24 says the ox and donkeys will work the ground, “will eat salted fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork.” And all the description (slide 26) that goes on in Isaiah 30 there just talks about how wonderful the environment will be during the time of the kingdom. Later on in Isaiah (slide 27) it talks about how they will build cities, houses, inhabit them, plant vineyards, eat their fruit, they shall not build their house and have somebody take it away from them, somebody else inhabit it. Isaiah 65:23, they won’t labor in vain or bear children for calamity. They will have great productivity and peace in the land.
Jeremiah 31:1 (slide 28) says, “At that time… I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” This is talking about that restoration in the land. He will be true to His promises. He says in Jeremiah 31:4 (slide 29) “Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt.” So He’s going to rebuild the nation. That has not yet happened yet. All of this shows us that there is yet a future kingdom.
Ezekiel 20:42 (slide 30) says, “And you will know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel into the land which I swore to give to our forefathers.” This hasn’t been fulfilled yet. He said that to Ezekiel who is outside of the land. He is in Babylon when he is writing as a writing prophet. He is not in the land and yet God is promising restoration. This hasn’t taken place yet. In fact I am always looking for something a little more precise than I’ve even gotten at this point. I was reading one source this last week that said that only about 20% of the Jews in the world in the 1st century had returned to the land of Israel. I’ve seen as high as maybe 35%. But today we have, I think it is close to 49% of all the Jews in the world live in the land of Israel. More Jews live in Israel than live in anywhere else in the world and that is the highest percentage of Jews living in the land since 586 B.C. or 722 B.C. We can take it all the way back to 722 B.C. because you had the Assyrian dispersion. That just tells us this is something unique and distinct today that yes, indeed, the nation has been rebuilt and this is significant. Never since before the destruction of the northern kingdom has such a high percentage of Jews lived in the land, of course at that point it was close to 100%.
Now the second covenant is the Land Covenant (slide 31). And in the Land Covenant we see the promise of a regathering of Israel to the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is grounded in the Land Covenant, which is articulated in Deuteronomy 29:1. Now we believe that Deuteronomy 29:1 is talking about a distinct covenant. There are many today you might read or hear about who just think this is a re-articulation of the land promise. It is not a distinct covenant, but it clearly says, “These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab.” The land of Moab, for those going to Israel … When we cross over into Petra after we leave Petra; and we head north, we will drive about 3½ hours north of Petra. Some of you’ve been there with me before and we went to Mt. Nebo. Mt. Nebo, as you are looking kind of to the north and east is overlooking the plains of Moab; right there near where Joshua crossed over the Jordon. We’ll cross close to that point at the General Allenby Bridge. This is where Moses gives his sermon of Deuteronomy and then he went up on Mt. Nebo and died. So Moses makes this reiteration or he makes this new covenant, a distinct covenant, from the one God had made with them at Horeb; and I believe that that means this is a different promise related to the land.
What this covenant promises (slide 32) is that they (Israel) will turn away from the LORD in Deuteronomy 29:24-38. God will then disperse them from the land as judgment for their disobedience in Deuteronomy 29:2-29; and then God promises in Deuteronomy 30:1-10 that He will restore them. He will return them to the land. That hasn’t been fulfilled yet. That has to be fulfilled in the future. That is what takes place at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. This covenant promises that they will turn away from the LORD and that they will be dispersed out of the land, and eventually they will come back.
This second regathering is confirmed numerous times by the prophets. A key passage (slide 33) is Isaiah 11:11. We talked about this before but I will remind you where God says, and I believe it is that regathering to establish to the kingdom. He says, “I will regather you from all the nations where I have scattered you.” Not some of them, not one of them, but all of them, a second time. So if that regathering that occurs at the end of the Tribulation, the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom is the second regathering from all the nations where I’ve scattered you, when was the first regathering? Was that when they came back from Babylon? Now wait a minute, they just came back from Babylon. Remember, I just said, even at the time of Christ at the most even a third of all the Jews in the world has returned to the land. So you still had probably 25-30% at most living in the land. So that wasn’t a regathering and they did not come from all the nations. They just primarily came back from Babylon. There were a few that dribbled in from Egypt and from Turkey, Bithynia, Pontus, Cappadocia, those areas. But most of them had come back from Babylon in the return under Zerrubabel and Ezra and Nehemiah.
So when else did they come back? Well there really weren’t any. Until the first aliyah that started in about 1881 after the assassination of Czar Alexander II. It was blamed on the Jews because there was one Jewish woman in the group of conspirators; so they blamed the whole thing on the Jews, and he was succeeded by a virulent anti-Semite who sought to blame the Jews and kill all of the Jews. So a lot of Jews started returning to Israel. That is the first aliyah.
There was a second aliyah in the late 1890s and then a third aliyah in the early part of the 1900s and so on. That was just a ground swell until now you have over the last 130 years you’ve seen almost half of the Jews in the world return to the land. That is significant, I think. That is the first return. They are still returning. In fact, if you read the papers you’ll see because of the increased Arabic anti-Semitism and European anti-Semitism, in France, and I think Sweden was declared Judenfrei, which is a horrid term meaning “Jew free.” Sweden was declared Judenfrei a couple of years ago. There’s a wave of Jews leaving France and heading back to the land right now. It’s a constant pouring of Jews into Israel. So this is the first gathering. I believe it is a gathering of unbelief prior to the Tribulation.
And then (slides 33-34) the regathering will be from all over the world, which it hasn’t been prior. So they are coming from everywhere. They are coming from Australia, coming from China, and India, and all over Iraq and Iran, and all through North Africa, all over Europe, South America, Mexico, the United States, they are coming from all over to return to the land, but it is a time now in unbelief. Isaiah 43:5-7 (slide 35) God said, “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back’… Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” So this tells us this is going to be this massive regathering.
Jeremiah 16:14-15 (slide 36) God says, “… behold, days are coming…, when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He has banished them.’ ” So it is no longer going to refer back to the exodus and the return then, but to this return.
By the way, the other day I went to see a movie and they showed the previews to “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” This is a fun thing for you to do between now and Christmas. It’s going to open up on Christmas Day. So between now and Christmas read through the book of Exodus, probably just the first twenty chapters, and read it through about ten times; make notes, write down the order of events, and then go with your whole family. Make it a family day. Go see “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and see who in your family can come up with the most contradictions with the Bible. That will teach you to look at the film, not only enjoy it for all its special effects and everything; it looks like it is going to be tremendous, but there will inevitably be the contradictions with Scripture. So you can make a little game of it and see how many you can pick out.
Jeremiah 23:3-4 (slide 37) “Then… I shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them… I’ll raise up shepherds over them.” We talked about that in our passage just the other day in Matthew. That they are right now without those spiritual leaders, so this is an important passage. Jeremiah 23:5-6 (slide 38) “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness.” So this is talking about the messianic prophecy. “A King who will reign and prosper and he will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” And so all these passages (slide 39, Jeremiah 23:7-8), Jeremiah 23 going on into Ezekiel 11 (slide 40, Ezekiel 11:14-16) talking about the fact that the land is going to be given to Israel. All of this section (slide 41, Ezekiel 11:17-18) emphasizes that not only is God going to fulfill His promises to Abraham, but (slide 42, Ezekiel 36:24) He is going to fulfill His promise specifically in terms of the land.
Amos 9:14-15 (slide 43) “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them, they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them.” God fulfills His covenant promises. If we take anything away from this in terms of an application for us, it is the faithfulness of God. That when He makes a promise He keeps it; and no matter what the circumstances may be God is always going to be true to His word.
Now the last part of this that we’ll look at (slide 44), but we will look at it after I return from Israel, is going to be the reestablishment of the throne of David. Then we will work through that last part and the Millennial Kingdom. I thought we might finish the Dispensation series before I went to Israel, but we’ll finish it up probably in the early part of December before we move on into some other areas. We’ll finish Romans very soon, maybe this week, maybe after I get back. But then the next two books we are going to study are going to be 1 and 2 Samuel, which is just a tremendous book. It is a continuation of Judges. If you haven’t listened to the old Judges series I taught in Preston, which is just an audio, you really need to listen to that. It is a continuation. No books are more germane to what is going on in our country today then those books in the OT. They really address what it is like to live in a paganized culture, and they remind us of the grace of God and that He’s the only One who has a solution. Because we’re not as screwed up as Israel was in the period of the Judges. The period of the Judges extends all the way up through the first seven or eight chapters in the book of 1 Samuel. So by the end of 1 Samuel you have David on the throne and things are tremendous. Things can turn around by the grace of God. We need to keep that in mind, but we are going to do 1 Samuel and also 1 Peter. We will be doing some firsts when I get back.
"Father, thank You for this time that we’ve had to study these things, to be reminded of Your faithfulness, to be reminded of what You are doing with Israel; that what we see today may be argued whether or not it is fulfillment of prophecy or not it is clearly setting the stage for the fulfillment of prophecy in the events that will take place following the Rapture, following the Tribulation. And Father, we pray that this will give us great pause to think about the fact that at any moment the Lord Jesus Christ could come back for us. Nothing needs to happen for that to take place. But the Lord could return for us at any moment. We need to be ready; we need to anticipate the fact that we are looking forward and preparing for our future time to rule and reign with Him when He comes to establish that Kingdom; and we pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen."