THE FIVE COVENANTS WERE NOT UNCONDITIONAL
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matt 28:18-20).

EXCEPT THE JEWS.
Believe it or not, there are perhaps 20 Christian organizations and denominations which today oppose the practice of witnessing Christ to the Jews. The reasons given vary, but essentially, the belief is that they have a separate covenant with God, and don't need to be saved by the Blood of Jesus.

But Jesus never said anything about excluding Jews from "all nations." In fact, the Gospel was to go out to the "Jew first," and then to the Gentile. But for years Christian Bible scholars have put forth Scripture interpretations which have reversed the order given by Christ. They move Jews into second place on the witnessing list. We look at a prime example of such teachings before delving into the nature of God's Covenants with Israel.

In the Bible we read: "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:" (Acts 15:14-17)

The first problem appears in the NIV, which changes "Simeon" to "Simon." Those who teach that Israel has a glorious future awaiting the "restored nation" have universally adopted this change, and falsely attributed some of the sayings to Simon Peter. Of course, whether the Bible translators followed the lead of Futurism, or the other way around, could be the proverbial chicken and egg story, and really doesn't matter; it is a forced interpretation, a modification of the Word of God, if you will, and can be easily proven wrong.

Dr. John Walvoord makes this statement: "God was to visit the Gentiles first 'to take out of them a people for His name.' James goes on to say that this is entirely in keeping with the prophets, for they had stated that the period of Jewish blessings and triumph should be after the Gentile period...,He states, in effect, that it was God's purpose to bless the Gentiles as well as Israel, but in their order. God was to visit the Gentiles first, 'to take out of them a people for His name.'" (Things To Come, p 110) I don't know how Dr. Walvoord came to this conclusion, but he is greatly mistaken. And nowhere does the Bible say that "the period of Jewish blessings and triumph should be after the Gentile period." This is a Dispensational fabrication.

But if God's first visit to the Gentiles had to do with building the present Gentile Church, the words of the prophets couldn't possibly have agreed to it because, as every astute Bible believer knows, they were never told anything about the Gentile Church. How could they have agreed to something they knew nothing about?

Where the present Church is concerned, God did not visit the Gentiles first; He visited the Jews first. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:11-12). Christ's first visit was to the Jews; He came to Israel, not to Gentiles. Most did not receive Him. Verse 12 is still speaking of Israel. All the Jews that did receive Him became the sons (or children) of God. As part of a longer story, the Jews, through continued rebellion and sin, lost their special status as the people of God, and in an effort to restore His people, who had become no people, Jesus came "...to save that which was lost" (Matt 18:11). "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God" (Hos. 1:10).

When Jesus later said, "...I will build my church..." He was speaking to Peter, a Jew, and it was Peter who expressed the kind of faith which was the "rock" on which Jesus would build His church. And when Jesus commissioned the eleven disciples to take the Gospel out into all the world, those disciples were Jews.

This Simeon, of course, was not Simon Peter, as the interpreters suppose. It would have been quite ironic had this been Simon Peter, because Peter said that God chose him to take the word of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Get it? Peter was a Jew, and God told him to take the Word to the Gentiles. It didn't happen the other way around.

So, as far as the present day Church is concerned, God visited the Jews first, and used them to take the Word of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Interpreting this passage with a Dispensational predisposition, scholars have completely reversed the meaning of Scripture.

So what was Simeon (not Simon) talking about?

Thousands of years ago, God visited the Gentiles first to take out of them a people for His name (God brought Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis chaps. 11 and 12). We all know the story. Later God established the nation Israel to be a kingdom of priests to Him. They would be a peculiar people. They would show to the Gentile world the mercies of God. They would show Gentiles the way of God's salvation. (Exodus 19) This is what the words of the prophets agreed to. It was the only thing they could agree to; they didn't know anything about the future Gentile church.

But what does "After this I will return" mean? After what? Again, it does not mean "after the Gentile period." It is a quote from the prophet Amos: "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breeches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old." Verse 12: "That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this." In verse 13 God promises Israel property, in verse 14 He promises freedom and liberty for Israel; they would rebuild waste cities and inhabit them. In verse 15 God would plant them permanently in their own land.

At the time Joel wrote, Israel was in a mess. God promised to lift them up and out. Did it ever happen? No it did not. Is it going to happen in the future? That's what Dispensational scholars think. But it would be impossible. Joel sets the time frame in verse 12 for all this to happen, "That they may possess the remnant of Edom." There hasn't been an Edom for nearly 2000 years, and all the remnant of Edom, known as Idumeans, are gone. Herod the Great, the vile king who tried to murder the Child Jesus, was among the last of the left-overs of Edomites. Of course, Dispensationalists consider it no big deal to restore Edom in the future, and give them another run at it, as they do the Roman Empire, but there is nothing in the Bible about that.

Things would have happened just as Amos had prophesied, just as God had covenanted with the nation, but for the fact that Israel broke the covenant, rebelled against God, rejected the promise, and crucified Him who came to confirm the covenant with them. Scholars mistakenly believe that the covenants with Israel were unconditional, that no matter what Israel had done, or would do, God had obligated Himself to fulfill the promises. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Among the common fallacies is that God unconditionally promised them a 1000 year kingdom, which He has to deliver in the future, and which is detailed in Revelation 20. That is not true at all. God never promised to keep His part of the covenant unconditionally, and oddly enough, He did not promise a meager 1000 year kingdom. He promised to keep His covenant for a 1000 generations to those who love Him and keep His commandments. "Know therefore, that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations"(Deut. 7:9).

But the day came that Israel did not love Him: "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father" (John 15:24). Read this verse again and again, and commit it to memory. "They had seen me..." You will often hear, in Dispensational circles, that there is coming a day of "Great Tribulation," when God will chastise Israel for rejecting and crucifying the Saviour. That is clearly unscriptural and untrue. If the end should happen today, there would not be a Jew alive who had seen Jesus do the works among them. The generation that saw those things, and still rejected Him, was destroyed in the holocaust in A.D.70. Those Jews who didn't hate and reject Him helped Christ build the Church which took the Gospel to the Gentiles.

The tabernacle of David was not raised up when it was scheduled to be raised up 2000 years ago. As matter of fact, it was even further demolished. It will never be raised up. God's ultimate purpose was "that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." Israel refused, and God found another way - and another nation.

Interpreting Scripture in accordance with some predetermined doctrine often results in unusual teachings. Believe it or not, Dispensationalists, whether they realize it or not, teach that God will someday reward Israel handsomely for crucifying Christ. Follow carefully the written word of the Futurist: "The new covenant guarantees Israel a converted heart as the foundation of all her blessings...the new covenant that guarantees salvation to the nation Israel must be apart from all human agency and therefore unconditional... it must be viewed as yet future... the death of Christ is that which makes a new covenant possible" (Pentecost, Things To Come, pp 116,117,120,122).

So, in short, Israel could not have received salvation until it murdered Christ! But how did Israel lose it's salvation in the first place? Was it not by rejecting and crucifying Christ? This kind of confusion proves that Scriptures cannot be forced to fit a pet doctrine if that doctrine is unscriptural to begin with. And futurism is an unbiblical doctrine.

One of the unsupported teachings of futurism is that God made some covenants with the nation of Israel which He had obligated Himself to fulfill no matter how the nation responded to those covenants. They also teach that when God made covenants with Abraham and David, those covenants were everlasting, therefore unconditional, and Israel was to automatically be the recipient of those covenants, no matter how wicked or evil that nation might become.

But is it reasonable that God would make an unconditional covenant with mortal, sinful man, obligating Himself to fulfill that covenant, no matter what the man did? Then, if that man committed the worst sin possible, such as turn from the Lord in unbelief, how could God fulfill any promise to him? Suppose God made an unconditional covenant with a poeple to make them a priesthood kingdom, to show His mercies and speak of His holiness to all Gentiles. Now suppose that nation rejected Him, murdered the King, and went their own ungodly way. Ordinarily, one would expect that God would hold off giving them the Kingdom, or cancel it outright. But the problem is, this is an "unconditional" covenant. It means that there are no conditions attached whatsoever. The integrity of God, therefore, would prevent Him from cancelling the Kingdom, nor could He postpone it. You can't make an unconditional covenant with another party, and when that party does not comply with the terms, cancel your end of the bargain. The reason is very simple: If it's an unconditional covenant, there can be no terms imposed on the other party. I don't know how Dispensationalist scholars could have missed that.

This section will prove that God never made an unconditional covenant with the nation of Israel. Any promise of blessing in return for hearing and obeying His Word carried with it an equal promise of judgment, to be fulfilled if His Word was not obeyed. There were no promises made in the Old Testament that were not fulfilled by A.D.70. And there is no such thing as a "guaranteed converted heart" (Things To Come, p 116) to any heart that is unwilling to accept Christ as Saviour. As far as can be determined from Scripture, God never forced salvation upon anyone.

THE COVENANTS
Pentecost lists five major covenants which God in the past had made with Israel. One, it is supposed, was conditional and temporal. The remaining four, it is supposed, were permanent and unconditional. Pentecost quotes Charles Fred Lincoln:

"The four unconditional covenants, with the formula 'I WILL,' are found in

(1) Genesis 12:1-3, where the formula is found, either expressed or understood, seven times [the "Abrahamic Covenant"];

(2) Deuteronomy 30:1-10, where it is found, either expressed or understood, twelve times [the "Palestinian Covenant"];

(3) Samuel 7:10-16, where it is found seven times [the "Davidic Covenant"]; and

(4) Jeremiah 31:31-40, where it is found seven times [the New Covenant].

1 The conditional [Mosaic] covenant, with the formula 'IF YE WILL,' is found (5) besides in Exodus 19:5 ff., also in Deuteronomy 28:1-68; verses 1-14, 'If thou shalt hearken diligently... blessings'; verses 15-68, 'If thou wilt not hearken...cursing.'"

Dr. Lincoln defines a divine covenant: "A divine covenant is (1) a sovereign disposition of God, whereby he establishes an unconditional or declarative compact with man, obligating Himself, in grace, by the untrammelled formula, "I WILL," to bring to pass of Himself definite blessings for the covenanted ones, or (2) a proposal of God, wherein He promises, in a conditional or mutual compact with man, by the contingent formula "IF YE WILL," to grant special blessings to man provided he fulfills perfectly certain conditions, and to execute definite punishment in case of failure" (p 68).

Dr. Pentecost elaborates: "In an unconditional covenant that which was covenanted depends upon the one making the covenant alone for its fulfillment. That which is promised is sovereignly given to the recipient of the covenant on the authority and integrity of the one making the covenant apart from the merit or response of the receiver. It is a covenant with no 'if' attached to it whatsoever" (IBID p 68).

And Lincoln adds: "All of Israel's covenants are called eternal except the Mosaic covenant which is declared to be temporal, i.e., it was to continue only until the coming of the Promised Seed" (IBID p 69).

Wrong! According to Scripture, the inference that the old Mosaic covenant was temporary from its inception is false, even though the Futurist says,

"The quotation from Jeremiah [chapter 31] is used to show that the old covenant itself was recognized as ineffectual and temporary and was ultimately to be superseded by an effectual covenant, so that the Hebrews should not be surprised that a new and better covenant should be preached, nor should they place further trust in that which has been done away ...the prediction of a new covenant automatically declares the Mosaic covenant as a temporary, not an everlasting covenant" (IBID p 125).

But the facts are distorted here. Jeremiah 31 shows that the old covenant was to be replaced, not because it was temporary, but because by that time Israel had alreaady broken it. After someone drops a light bulb, and breaks it, that is not the time to declare it breakable. The Bible does not say that planned obsolescence was built into the Mosaic covenant from its inception, for in Jeremiah 31:32, the Bible says, "Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt; WHICH COVENANT THEY BRAKE, ALTHOUGH I WAS AN HUSBANDMAN UNTO THEM, SAITH THE LORD." Why was the Mosaic covenant replaced by a new one? Because Israel broke this covenant, just as they broke all the covenants God had made with them. Like all the other covenants God made with Israel, this was a conditional covenant. But God is a merciful God. When Israel broke one covenant, He replaced it with another covenant which was easier for the nation to keep. Unfortunately, Israel broke that one, too.

As for the eternal nature of the covenants, it is true. God intended them to be eternal. But simply because a covenant is intended to be eternal, it should in no way be construed to be unconditional. Had Israel not defaulted on her part, God would have kept his promises eternally. But in the case of Israel, He could not do so.

THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
Contrary to common teaching, the "Abrahamic Covenant" could not have been unconditional, not even to Abraham.

"Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen 12:1-3).

Notice that God said, "Do this, AND I will do that." This covenant has the "I WILL," but that "I will" is clearly contingent upon Abraham obeying and going to the land that God would show him, because of the all important coordinating conjunction "AND," inserted at the critical point in the statement. This one little word, plus a little common sense on the part of the Bible reader, confirms the conditional character of this covenant.

THE NIV DOES A STRANGE THING
New Bible translators, as is often the case, seem to "translate" in accordance with popular interpretations. The NIV renders the chapter in a very strange way. It begins verse 1 as normal Scripture, but abruptly changes to poetry in verses 2 and 3. And we notice that the word "and" is missing. All this seems suspiciously contrived, seemingly intended to hide the fact that the covenant is conditional.

Whenever Scriptures speak of the agreement between God and Abraham, it stresses the fact that Abraham received the promises AFTER he obeyed. If the promise to make of Abraham a great nation had been unconditional, his obedience would have been irrelevant, and Scriptures would hardly have made an issue of it.

But the grammar of the passage speaks for itself, and we can draw no other conclusion from this passage but that God gave Abraham a command by which he would be blessed only if he obeyed. Abraham obeyed, and God blessed him. Dr. Lincoln's "I WILL" formula is found to be quite ineffectual. This covenant contained the "formula," "I WILL," and though the exact words, "IF YE WILL" were not present, the condition was clearly implied. Common sense reveals that if Abraham had not obeyed God, he would not have so been blessed. The blessing entailed, among other things, a new country, a new home. How could Abraham have possibly received the promise if he had not left Haran as he was commanded, and had not gone to this land that the Lord would show him? If the covenant were unconditional, and if Abraham had disobeyed, and not gone to Canaan, God would have had to pick up the Promised Land, and bring it to Abraham in Haran, or perhaps to his original hometown. Ur of the Chaldees. I don't think God works that way.

The exact wording, "IF YE WILL," is not needed to make a covenant conditional. Picture the case of a father who makes an agreement with his teenage son. "Son, go wash the car, and I will give you ten dollars," says the father. Is the father obligated to give the money to his son whether the son washes the car or not? Now, some theologians may have a problem with this question, but I can assure, it's very clear to the teenager. This is a covenant made between the father and the son, and it is a conditional covenant. If the son doesn't wash the car, he needn't expect the ten dollars on the basis of the promise. And so was the covenant God made with Abraham. Abraham received the promises because he obeyed. Scriptures repeatedly make that clear.

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise" (Heb. 6:13-15).

Because Abraham obeyed, and kept his part of the bargain, his son was the automatic recipient of the promise - if he, too, obeyed God. God told Isaac, the son of Abraham: "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; BECAUSE THAT ABRAHAM OBEYED MY VOICE, AND KEPT MY CHARGE, MY COMMANDMENTS, MY STATUTES, AND MY LAWS" (Gen. 26:3-5).

God made it clear that He was going to perform the oath which he promised to Abraham BECAUSE Abraham obeyed. But notice that here, too, we see a condition imposed. "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee..." Like Abraham, Isaac obeyed the Word of the Lord. He did not reject the promises of God. If he had, we may be sure that God would have fulfilled His promise to Abraham through someone else. We see, then, that this Abrahamic Covenant, hyped by Dispensationalism to be unconditional, was not so at all. The promise to Abraham was fulfilled only because Abraham obeyed. It was then fulfilled through Isaac because Isaac was faithful. It is being fulfilled even to this day through Christ, because Christ is faithful. But it is not going to be fulfilled to Israel.

GOD DID NOT CALL ABRAHAM OUT OF UR OF THE CHALDEES
Dispensational Bible scholars have seized upon a small glitch in the memory of a great New Testament Saint, using a small, insignificant error, to try and show that the Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional, and that Abraham was slow to obey God to leave his father's home. This is what Pentecost writes: "While Abraham was living in the home of Terah, an idolater, God spoke to him and commanded him to leave the land of Ur...and made certain specific promises to him that depended on this act of obedience. Abraham, in partial disobedience inasmuch as he did not separate himself from his kindred, journeyed to Haran. He did not realize any of the promises there. It was not until after the death of his father (Gen. 11:32), that Abraham begins to realize anything of the promise God had given him, for only after his father's death does God take him into the land (12:4)..." (p 74)

Few passages of Scripture have been more botched than the story of Abraham's call to the Promised Land.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
For as many years as any of us care to remember, we have been taught that God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees to go into an unknown land which would later become known as the Promised Land. That is what we find in Stephen's speech given in Acts chapter seven. Most of us have never bothered to check out his story, for the simple reason that Stephen, a man approved of God, full of faith, and full of the power of the Holy Ghost, just couldn't be wrong. But he was. This is what he said:

"And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, "And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell" (Acts 7:2-4).

Ur of the Chaldees was in Mesopotamia, where Abraham dwelt before he moved to Charran, a city which in the Old Testament is called Haran. Stephen apparently wasn't thoroughly familiar with relevant history. Even though a careful study of the Bible reveals that God did not call Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, a number of expositors, for reasons of their own, accept Stephen's version as the ultimate and final account of what happened. Genesis, however, tells a different story. Some expositors try as best they can to reconcile the two versions as, for example, the Wycliffe Bible commentary: "God's call to Abraham did not come in the Promised Land but when he was far away in Mesopotamia. Stephen related a divine visitation while Abraham was still in Mesopotamia, as a result of which he went first to Haran, where he lived for some time, and then later journeyed from Haran to Palestine. Genesis 11:31,32 does not record this earliest divine visitation; but Gen. 15:7 and Neh. 9:7 both indicate that God's call came originally to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia." (page 1135).

That is false. The Bible records no divine visitation while Abraham was still living in Ur of the Chaldees. The visitation came when Abraham was living in Haran. And the Bible does not say how long Abraham lived in Haran. Neither do Gen.15:7 and Neh. 9.7 indicate that God's call came originally to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. We shall see later what these two verses really indicate.

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost concurs with the accepted - and erroneous - Dispensational view: "While Abraham was living in the home of Terah, an idolater, God spoke to him and commanded him to leave the land of Ur...Abraham, in partial obedience inasmuch as he did not separate himself from his kindred, journeyed to Haran. He did not realize any of the promises there. It was not until after the death of his father that Abraham begins to realize anything of the promise God had given to him, for only after his father's death does God take him into the land" (Things To Come, page 74).

None of this is correct. God did not command Abraham to leave the land of Ur. Abraham was not in "partial disobedience" when he left his father's land. When God called Abraham to go into the Promised land, Abraham departed as he was told, and his father was very much alive. In fact, he would live for another 60 years. Furthermore, the Bible shows that Abraham realized virtually all of the promises while his father was still living.

1 MOSES TOLD IT LIKE IT WAS
This is Moses' account: "And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran" (Gen. 11:26). And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran" (Gen. 11:31,32).

It is important to notice that God didn't call Abraham at this time. But Terah, for reasons probably unknown to himself, packed up the family and headed toward Canaan. They got as far as Haran, and settled there. Terah, head of the clan, was in control. He took Abraham and the rest of the family. Abraham didn't take him. It is true that the intended destination was Canaan land, so we may safely assume that Haran was a stopover in the ultimate plan of God to bring Abraham into the Promised land. But the question is, did God call Abraham out of Ur, or did He bring him out? The difference is important.

Study Gen.15:7 and Neh. 9.7 closely. Can you see where the Bible scholars made their mistake? "And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it" (Gen. 15:7). "Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham" (Neh. 9:7); Did you notice that these verses do not say that God CALLED Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. They say that He BROUGHT him out. How did God do it? Not on wings of eagles, or a flying carpet, or anything like that. He did it in the most natural way one might expect. God inspired Terah, Abraham's father, the head of the clan, to load up his family, and journey to Canaan land. Terah himself probably didn't know why he suddenly had the urge to move to Canaan. But he did just that. Only he travelled northward, got as far as Haran, and settled there. Terah was an idolater - no doubt an incorrigible idolater. This we suspect, is one of the reasons why God did not let him get any closer to the Promised land with his family. The other reason is obvious. God was going to make a covenant with Abraham. Abraham would have to leave his father's home, and travel to Canaan land on his own. This would be a test of Abraham's faith and obedience. So God did not CALL Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, He BROUGHT him out, and CALLED him out of Haran. Why did God bring them to Haran? The Bible doesn't say. Perhaps for reasons of safety. Terah's household was much larger than Abraham's would be, and large numbers may have been safer when traveling through that country. Or perhaps they took that route to avoid the harsh Syrian Desert. The Bible doesn't say, therefore we really don't know. Nor does it matter.

GOD'S CONDITIONAL PROMISE TO ABRAHAM - THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
While Abraham lived in Haran: "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came" (Gen. 12:4-5).

Now, with a little adding and subtracting...

Terah lives in Ur of the Chaldees. There, at about the age of 70, three sons are born to him, Abram, Haran, and Nahor. Some years pass, Abram grows up, and marries Sarai. Afterwards Terah takes Abram, Sarai, and Lott, the orphaned son of Abram's deceased brother, Haran, and they head in the general direction of the land of Canaan (I say "general direction" because actually they headed rather northward instead of directly westward to Canaan land. They get as far as the city of Haran, and settle there. We presume that Terah buys land, and establishes his household there, because that apparently is where he's going to stay for the rest of his life. While in Haran, God tells Abram to get out of this country, and go into another that He would show him. Abram is now 75 years old. Terah is 145. Abraham leaves as he is told. Terah dies at the age of 205.

Simple arithmetic shows that this story is not the same as Stephen's. If Terah was 70 years old when Abram was born, and Abram was 75 when he was called to go into the promised land, then Terah was 145 years old at the time. But Terah died at the age of 205. Subtract 145 from 205, and you find that Terah lived another 60 years AFTER Abram left.

Here is a seeming "contradiction" in the Bible. Stephen says one thing, Moses another. Whom should we believe? The answer is simple. Moses writes what the Holy Spirit inspires him to write, and Luke also writes what the Holy spirit inspires him to write. Neither man makes mistakes. But while Moses is inspired to tell it like it is, Luke is inspired to tell it like Stephen thought it was. So there is no contradiction in Scripture, but Stephen was wrong. Abraham was not called out of Ur of the Chaldees. He was called out of Haran. And Abraham left BEFORE his father died, not AFTER.

We often hear that Abraham dilly-dallied in Haran, or perhaps in Ur, waiting until after his father died before leaving. The Bible nowhere says that. God called him, and he left just as he was told: "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran" (Gen. 12:4). Notice how careful the Holy Spirit was in giving the ages of Terah and Abraham at just the right places. Someone much later wasn't going to get it quite right, and others, later still, were going to take advantage of that slight error to help promote an unbiblical, futuristic agenda. But the given ages of the men make things right.

Stephen's error was only an error in detail, and would have been of no consequence. After all, he did get his message across to the unbelieving Jews, and stirred them up so much so that they stoned him. It is not unusual that a man of God, even one filled with the power of the Holy Ghost, could now and then be found in error. There was a point in time when Peter, who himself wrote inspired Scripture, was not always perfect in his knowledge and actions, and Paul didn't hesitate to tell him so. "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed" (Gal. 2:11). But when the Holy Spirit had him to write Scripture, He made sure this mortal man could make no error. Being inspired by the Holy Spirit is a guarantee that a believer will make no mistakes whatsoever when writing down Scripture; being filled with the Holy Spirit, apparently, is not.

Today, many Bible scholars, even when they know that there is a difference between the two accounts, prefer Stephen's version over that of Moses, as though a choice were optional. But the stories are different, thus only one can be true. And it requires only common sense, not high level reasoning, to determine which one is true, and which is not.

Bible teachers often tell us that when we study the Bible prayerfully and diligently, the Holy Spirit will teach us. They get some of that from Scriptures such as this: "For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say" (Luke 12:12). But the context clearly shows that this applied to the disciples, and for a specific purpose: "And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say" (Luke 12:11): It is generally taught that this applies to every Christian. But how many of those same Christian teachers, when they themselves have to face a magistrate for one reason or another, hire smart lawyers to coach them in what they ought to say?

"These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:25,26). Whether this applies to Christians today as they study the Bible is questionable. If one had never been a Christian before he begins to study his Bible, then he didn't know anything, and there is nothing that could be brought to his remembrance. But Jesus taught the Apostles for a space of about three and a half years, and then ascended into heaven. It is reasonable to expect that the apostles, being human, would forget much of what they had learned in those three years. So the Holy spirit would help the apostles remember all the things that Christ taught them, especially when the time came to write those things down on paper.

Does the Holy Spirit teach us as we study the Bible? Probably not. I believe that there is a good, practical reason why He doesn't. No matter who gets what revelation from where ever, or by whomever, we are not obligated to believe it unless we ourselves can prove it from the Bible. So, if a man claims that the Holy Spirit gave him this truth, or that truth, or that "God spoke to him" about this or that, how could we verify it unless the Holy Spirit did the same for us? And if He did the same for us, He would have to do the same for everyone, all the time. Why, then, would it have been necessary to write the Bible in the first place? He gave us a brain. Perhaps we should use it more!

Now, from observation, we know that many good, godly, sincere men study the Bible, but not all men understand the Bible in the same way. If that were not so, we would all have one mind, and there would be no divisions among us. But there are more denominations in the nation and the world than anyone would care to admit, each with its own pet doctrines, and every member believing, at least to some extent, that his denomination is "the true Church." And we do not doubt that many denominations have been founded by men who diligently studied the Bible. But the Holy Spirit is not confused, or divided. So how could He have taught them all as they studied? And if He didn't teach all, then which ones did He teach? Which one was holy enough to qualify for that special attention by the Holy Spirit? Which one was greater than Stephen? Which one was more full of faith, and of the power of the Holy Spirit?

It stands to reason, then, that no one can claim revelation by the Holy Spirit on the basis of greater spirituality, for who can claim greater holiness than Stephen? And if the Holy Spirit did not teach Stephen, even at the critical time when his words would be entered into Scriptures, are we so much holier than Stephen that we should expect the Holy Spirit to do more for us?

I think the Holy Spirit DID teach us. He gave us the written Word, and gave us all the natural ability to think in a simple, rational way. He warned us against subtle deception which was sure to come. He went even further, He gave us written instructions in how to understand the written Word:

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken" (Isa. 28:9-10,13).

Although Isaiah was here prophesying specifically of the time when Jesus would speak of the kingdom of heaven to the Jews in parables, I believe that it can well apply to all Bible study. Sometimes we have to do a little searching here and there in the Scriptures to find the whole truth; it isn't always handed to us in the first verse or two we happen to read.

A man may claim that the Holy Spirit taught him a truth as he studied the Bible. But who is obligated to believe him if it can't be verified by Scriptures? To claim, then, that the Holy Spirit teaches us as we study the Bible, things which cannot be proven by the Bible, is to claim direct revelation; it is to claim a measure of spiritual superiority or even infalliblity, and that is the mark of a cult. Many men, even good men, have made such claims. But by doing so, by giving credit for some of their teachings to the Holy Spirit, they sometimes place error on the same level as truth.

ABRAHAM WAS NOT IN "PARTIAL DISOBEDIENCE."
Some believe that by taking Lot with him, Abraham did not fully obey the command to leave his kin. But let us not misunderstand the purpose of the command. God wanted Abram to get out of the idolatrous environment of his father's dominion. There was no disobedience on his part to take the young son of his brother with him. When Abraham left his father's house, he was now the head of his own clan, and ruled, even in matters of worship. Surely the Lord God knew he would. Speaking of Abraham, the Lord said, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him" (Gen. 18:19). Since he didn't worship idols, neither would anyone in his household, including Lot.

Things actually turned out quite well, because later the Bible refers to Lot, even with all his shortcomings, as a "just man," and a "righteous man" (2 Pet 2:7-8). So Abram snatched the youngster out of the hands of the idolaters, and Lot was saved. Abram was an obedient servant of God. He may have strayed from the will of God at other times (who hasn't?) but when he was ordered to leave, he left, just as the Lord had spoken to him, thus he had kept his part of the covenant. After that, God would fulfill the promises to him and his children. And if his natural children wouldn't accept it, then God would find other children to fulfill the covenant to. He would keep His part of the bargain, even if He had to raise up stones as children of Abraham (Matt. 3:9). Nowhere does the Bible say that Abraham was in "partial disobedience" to the commandment to leave his kin and his father's country.

Scripture after Scripture tells us that Abraham obeyed, and none say that he only "partially obeyed." "Abram departed as the Lord had spoken unto him..." (Gen 12:4). "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God" (James 2:23).

In Genesis 12 we read, after Abraham and Lot separated, Lot chose all the plain of Jordan, in the direction of Sodom, and Abraham dwelled in the land of Canaan. Later we find that Abram was a wealthy man. "And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold" (Gen. 13:2). "And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents" (Gen. 13:5). The two men had so much livestock that the land couldn't hold them, so they had to split up. Lot moved to the plains of Jordan, Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan. After they had separated, God offered Abram all the land that he could see. "For all the land that thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever" (Gen. 13:15).

Scholars of the futuristic persuasion make much of the fact that God didn't give this land to Abram until after he and Lot had separated, implying that Lot's presence was a result of Abraham's disobedience. I don't think that this was because of any "disobedience" on Abram's part. But the covenant was between God and Abram; Lot had no part in it. God gave the land to Abram, not to Lot. So it made good sense that God did this after Lot had gone his own way. Again, we must repeat, that Lot was not the bad influence from which Abram was commanded to separate himself. Lot was apparently no influence upon Abraham. It seems to have been just the opposite. In the Scriptures Lot is called "just."

Later, when Abraham was 100 years old, Isaac was born. That was 25 years after he left Haran. After 25 years, he was fully settled in the land of Canaan. He was rich; all the promises of land that God had made to him were fulfilled. Now he also had an heir which God had promised. And his father, believe it or not, would live for another 35 years! So the fact is, Terah was alive when Abraham received virtually all of the promises God made to him. Bible scholars, who preferred Stephen's view, simply did not read their Bibles closely enough.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD
> Some Bible scholars believe that Abraham and Terah both recognized the true God, and worshipped Him. Walvoord writes: "The fact that Abraham and his father started out for the Promised Land is evidence that though they may have participated in the worship of pagan deities of the time, at this important juncture in their life they recognized the true God and henceforth obeyed and worshipped him" (Major Bible Prophecies, p 41).

The Bible does not support this conclusion. It is never said that Terah recognized the true God. Long after Abraham's departure, the Bible says that he worshipped false gods. "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods" (Josh 24:2). Joshua never says that Terah gave up his false gods. The "other side of the flood," by the way, means that they lived across the Euphrates River from Canaan land. Haran was across, on the far side of the river, Ur was on the near side.

It would have been a marvelous thing had Terah repented from his practice of idolatry, and recognized and worshipped the true God of Abraham. Perhaps he, too, would have had a place in the Promised Land. But history cannot be rewritten. And obviously God foreknew the heart of Terah, that he would never change. So God commanded Abraham to leave his father's domain.

WHY THE EFFORT TO MAKE ABRAHAM A "PARTIAL" VILLAIN?
Dispensationalists predict a bright future for the nation of Israel, even after she had rebelled for the last time (Matt. 21:37). They entertain the mistaken idea that the promises God made to the nation were without any condition whatsoever and so her disobedience did not nullify the covenants. They believe that to this day Israel is only in "partial disobedience," and that the day will come when God will change her heart, and she will return to the Lord, and receive the promises. So it would help this cause if the world could be convinced that Abraham also was rebellious to begin with, and in "partial disobedience," but did receive the promises of God when he became fully obedient.

But that is a faulty interpretation. Scriptures show beyond any doubt that Abraham obeyed the commandment to leave his father's estate immediately and fully, and that he received the promise because he obeyed.

THE PALESTINIAN COVENANT
The Palestinian Covenant is found in Deuteronomy, chapter 30, verses 1 thru 20. That's the whole chapter. If you read Dispensational prophetic literature, you will notice a strange phenomena; they often quote Deuteronomy chapter 30, verses 1-10, as being the "unconditional" Palestinian Covenant, the covenant wherein God promised the nation eternal possession of the land. But they are not being true to the Word of God. They are concealing something! These dedicated Dispensationalists almost never tell us that the whole covenant is found in the whole chapter - all 20 verses. Instead, they tell us that the covenant is covered in verses 1 to 10, but when they list the verses, they never even go that far, and stop at verse 9, or verse 8, or even verse 6. We think we know why.

Deuteronomy chapter 30 has 20 verses. The first half of the chapter itemizes all the good things God will to for Israel if they obey, but the last half reveals what would happen to the nation if they should break that covenant. In the book of Deuteronomy we see the formation and establishment of Israel as the priesthood nation of God, where God promised the nation a long and blessed existence in their own land if they obey the Word of the Lord, but total annihilation if they don't. Read Chapter 30:

Verse 1: And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, v 2: And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; v 3: That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. v 4: If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: v 5: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. v 6: And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. v 7: And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. v 8: And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. v 9: And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers: v 10: If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul."

In spite of clear Scriptures to the contrary, Dr. Lincoln is persuaded that the [Palestinian] covenant in Deuteronomy 30:1-10, where the formula, "I WILL," is found, either expressed or understood, twelve times, is unconditional. That is impossible, of course. A hundred "I WILL'S" cannot make this covenant unconditional, even if we read no further than verse 10. But as we continue reading, we find the conditional nature of this covenant becoming more and more powerfully established:

v 11: For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. v 12: It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? v 13: Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? v 14: But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. v 15: See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; v 16: In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. v 17: But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; v 18: I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. v 19: I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: v 20: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."

It is plain to see that these promises are not without condition. Verse 10 says, "If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God..." Verse 11 says that it is a commandment, and verse 15 reveals that if Israel disobeys, she will not live: "See, I have set before thee life and good, and death and evil;" God urges them to "...choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." Unconditional? Absolutely not! How scholars could have possibly determined that this is an unconditional covenant is one of the great mysteries of Christian scholarship.

It is regrettable that some Bible scholars and teachers, when quoting, or expounding this covenant, stop short of the whole covenant. It indicates an attempt to hide the truth from their readers.

Dr. Pentecost tells us that "The Palestinian covenant is stated in Deuteronomy 30: 1-10, where we read..." Then he quotes the covenant. True to form (Dispensational form) he stops abruptly before he reaches verse 10, which verse has a very definite "If thou shalt..." (Things To Come, pp 96,97)

Dr. Hal Lindsay: "...after Moses predicts the curses and judgments that will befall Israel for breaking their covenant (see Deuteronomy chapters twenty-eight and twenty-nine, he then predicts their ultimate restoration..." Dr. Lindsay then quotes the Palestinian covenant, and breaks off at verse 8! This, again, is a serious misapplication of Scripture. The curses and judgments given in chapters 28 and 29 are also given in chapter 30 - if we read the entire covenant, without stopping at verse 8.

Dr. John R. Rice: "After all the warnings of the terrible punishment God would bring on Israel when they forgot God, it is refreshing to know that He will one day turn their hearts beck again. Israel has been dispersed. Israel will be regathered. God has not cast away His people. Deuteronomy 30: 1-6 is a very important passage showing God's plan for Israel in the future..." Dr. Rice then quotes the Palestinian Covenant and, he too, stops at verse 6!

Dispensational futurists believe wholeheartedly in a glorious future for a restored Israel. They cannot find it in themselves to read the Bible thoroughly, because the whole counsel of God is contrary to the faith of Futurism.

THE DAVIDIC COVENANT
The third "unconditional" covenant listed is that given in 2 Samuel 7:10-16. Here Dr. Pentecost is correct in asserting that the covenant is unconditional, because there are no conditions imposed upon David. The fulfillment of the promises given to him is certain. But we must note that this promise was made primarily to David, the nation was to be only the secondary recipient, without any guarantee. And the promise was made to David after the fact; after David had already served God, and served Him well. God referred to him as "my servant, David." So it was more in the nature of a reward for a job well done, as it were, rather than a covenant with conditions attached. Although Israel was to be the recipient of the promises, this covenant was made with David, not with the people of Israel. The fulfillment to David was certain - through the people of Israel if they proved themselves worthy, but definitely through Christ, the descendant of David, Who was worthy. As it turned out, the Son of David rules and reigns, though not from the throne of David; He rules from His own throne. And not over the house of David, but over His own Kingdom.

Verse 10: Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, v 11: And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. v 12: And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. v 13: He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

Because of the term "for ever," Bible scholars apparently mistake verses 12 and 13 to speak of Jesus Christ. The verse says that God will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. "For ever" sounds very much like "for all eternity," but the following verse shows that this is not necessarily so. This verse, in fact, makes it impossible to believe that God is speaking of Christ.

v. 13: I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:"

Verse 13 suggests the possibility that this son of David might commit iniquity. Can we say that of Christ? Of course not. If "for ever" means what we erroneously think it means, then God the Father was not yet Christ's Father, and the Son of God could possibly have committed iniquity! What an unholy dilemma Dispensationalists face!

Not to worry, though. "For ever," in this case, does not mean for all eternity, therefore we know that the passage is not speaking of Christ. There are times when it takes a little extra effort to ferret out the meaning of some Bible words and phrases (forget Greek and Hebrew Lexicons. Unless you're a better-than-average Bible translator, they won't help you much). To us today, "for ever" almost always means for all eternity, but this is not necessarily true in the Bible. Consider the following verse: EXODUS 21:6 "Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever." If "for ever" meant for all eternity, then the servant is to be the property of the master, and is to be subject to him throughout all eternity. But let's do some thinking on the subject. How far could we really take this? What if they both went to heaven when they died? One could possibly visualize that in heaven the servant wouldn't mind serving the master for all eternity. No problem there. But suppose they both don't make it to heaven. Suppose one dies a saint, and goes to one place to spend eternity, while the other goes in the opposite direction to spend his forever? If the servant dies a saint, and the master dies a wicked, condemned man, one could hardly expect the servant desiring to commute "to hell and back" each day to serve his master. And surely God would not impose such a burden on any of His elect. So, "for ever" here cannot mean for all eternity, but must mean only the lifetime of the individual, or individuals concerned. Sometimes "for ever" extends to the end of a generation or generations of a certain category of people.

GENERATION
There is no such thing as a generation lasting beyond the lifetime of the longest living member of any particular group of people referred to as "this generation." According to the Zondervan Pictorial Dictionary, the word "generation" is taken from the Hebrew word meaning to beget. That is about as good a definition of generation as can be expected, and not as some seem to think, that it is a "class of men characterized by a certain quality," or a "period of time," or, as Scofield would have it, that a "generation" refers to the entire nation of Israel from its beginning to the future Millennium. If you're tempted to believe him because he seems to be a great scholar who produced a Reference Bible, just take a quick look at Matthew 1:17, where the Word of God says that from Abraham to Christ there were 42 generations of Israelites. Scofield never bothered to explain that verse in light of his definition of "generation." 1 "Generation" simply means the generation, or the procreation of progeny. The old gives life to the new, then dies away, and the process is repeated by the offspring. So the time period of any one generation is no shorter than the time it takes for a newborn to grow up and have a child of his own, and no longer than the lifetime of anyone member of a particular group called a "generation."

The following examples show that the the Bible specifies "for ever" to last only to the end of "their generations," showing that any generation has a limited lifetime, and that the "end of their generations" continues through the lifetime of the last generation in question, but not beyond.

These verses speak of the statutes, which were nailed to the cross. They continued until the end of Israel in A.D.70, and afterward no generation has been commanded to live under them.

"So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations" (Exo. 30:21). It is important to note that the Bible says "throughout THEIR generations," using the plural term for generation. It applied to many successive generations.

Likewise, the law of the Sabbath no longer exists, though the Bible says it shall be for ever: "It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever"(Lev 16:31).

The context, therefore, determines the definition of "for ever."

THE PASSAGE IS SPEAKING OF SOLOMON, NOT CHRIST
The Scriptures, 2 Sam 7:12 thru 16, had reference only to Solomon, not to Christ. These next two verses make that clear: 1 "I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee" (2 Sam. 7:14-15). As always, when interpreting Scriptures, interpret the vague in terms of the clear. "If he commit iniquity" should be a loud enough signal that this is not speaking of Christ.

Read again verses 12 and 13: "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. v 13: He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever." It was Solomon who built a house for God's name, and God established the throne of his kingdom for ever, "for ever" meaning throughout the lifetime of Solomon. This fact is evidenced by the following Scriptures.

God kept His promise to David. When the heathen wives of Solomon caused him to sin to the point that he forfeited the throne, God did not take the kingdom away from him during his lifetime, because of His covenant with David, as these next verses reveal. "Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son" (1 Kings 11:11-12). Notice that he maintained Solomon on the throne throughout his lifetime, as a fulfillment of the promise to David. So when God said that He would establish his throne for ever, He was referring to Solomon, and forever meant the lifetime of Solomon, and not beyond.

This is not to say that the Seed of David is not to occupy His throne forever (Christ's own throne, not David's). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of David. His Kingdom has been set up, and He shall rule for ever. In this case, for ever really means forever. But this fact is established in other passages, not in 2 Samuel 7:13.

"And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever" (2 Sam. 7:16). It is well known that the house of David, meaning the former kingdom of Israel, no longer exists. Has it been postponed? Will it be reinstated? Will Jesus some day rule from the throne of David? According to Scripture, interpreted just as it was written, this will not happen. Christ rules His Kingdom today from His own throne. We shall see that.

ISRAEL PRESERVED?
Dr Pentecost quotes G.N.H. Peters, "The Theocratic Kingdom," as stating that: "The covenanted Davidic throne and Kingdom, allied as it is with the Jewish nation...necessarily requires...a preservation of the nation. This has been done; and today we see that nation wonderfully continued down to the present, although enemies, including the strongest nations and most powerful empires, have perished. This is not chance work; for, if our position is correct, this is demanded, seeing that without a restoration of the nation it is impossible to restore the Davidic kingdom. The covenant language, the oath of God, the confirmation of promise by the blood of Jesus, the prophetic utterances---all, notwithstanding the nation's unbelief, requires its perpetuation, that through it God's promises and faithfulness may be vindicated. God so provides that His Word may be fulfilled. Every Jew, if we will but ponder the matter, that we meet on the streets is a living evidence that the Messiah will yet some day reign gloriously on David's throne and over His kingdom, from which to extend a world-wide dominion" (p 114, Things to Come).

If anything is clear and self-evident, it is that Israel has not been preserved all these two thousand years. Quite the opposite. From the time that the Romans destroyed and scattered the nation in the first century, Israel has not existed. To say that God has preserved Israel all these years is to deny all the warnings in the Old Testament, which foretold complete destruction if the nation didn't heed the commandments of God. The final sin from which the nation could not escape was the unbelief and rejection of the Son of God, even when He was there among them, doing many miracles and signs. Bible scholars, those with a futuristic bent, deny clear Scripture, and argue with the proverbial signpost. That there are "Jews" in the world today, or that there is a nation of Israel (chartered with UN blessing in 1948) gives no evidence of the nation's special importance to God over that of any other nation of unbelievers, or that it has been "miraculously" preserved by God.

In the simple words of the Bible, "Jews" today may be circumcised in the flesh, but not in the heart. It therefore makes them no Israelites in the biblical sense. Wonderfully continued? Not at all. Look at Egypt, the heathen nation, which has a history of continuation greater than Israel. This little nation, often despicable in the eyes of God, has been far better preserved than Israel; it has never needed the ungodly United Nations to re-declare it a nation, as Israel did, after nearly two thousand years of desolation and aimless wandering of its people. To look at "restored Israel" as evidence that God has preserved this nation is squeezing more out of prophetic Scriptures than common sense allows.

Does God really have to preserve Israel as a nation in order to fulfill the Davidic, or the Abrahamic promises, if that is what He intended to do? Was the existence of the nation necessary? This is what the Pharisees believed. But John the Baptist set them painfully straight on that point. He said, "Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham" (Matthew 3:9). This statement has great significance. What John is saying, in essence, is not that God would fail to fulfill the promises to Israel; that He has done. The covenant promised blessings if they obeyed God, and terrible judgments if they didn't. Either way, the promises of the covenant would be fulfilled. And they were. John is saying, in brief language, what the epistles of the New Testament have expanded on, that not all Israel that is descended from Abraham is Israel. Paul said; "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel" (Rom 11:6). Then he compared the children of Isaac, the children of God, with the children of the slave girl as the children of the flesh, though both were fathered by Abraham. Paul also writes, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit...Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom 8:6,9). That agrees with 1 John 2:23, which says, "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." No Israelite was exempted from that edict, not then, not now, and surely not in the future.

"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Rom. 2:28-29). Careful consideration of these and other relevant Scriptures confirms that, in the days of Paul, a "Jew" was an Israelite who believed in the Son of God. An Israelite who denied the Son of God was not a Jew; he was, in fact, an antichrist. But Jewry ended with the destruction of the city, and the temple, and the nation, in A.D. 70. Today there is no Jew; one is either a believer or an unbeliever, either a Christian or a Gentile."For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him" (Rom. 10:12).

To say that there is still an Israel of God, and that there are still Jews in the world, preserved and protected by God, people who are the "apple of His eye," who are above Gentiles, is to deny and contradict 1 John 2:23, and other clear Scriptures. The Jews today call themselves Jews because they reject Christ, and hold to the Old Testament ways, which Christ had done away with on the cross. They worship the Father, but to what avail? We repeat 1 John 2:23, which says, "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." Reject the Son, and you may as well reject the Father. So saith the Word of God.

THE MOSAIC COVENANT
Lincoln states,"All of Israel's covenants are called eternal except the Mosaic covenant which was declared to be temporal, i.e., it was to continue only until the coming of the Promised Seed." (p 69)

According to Dispensational Bible scholars, the Mosaic covenant is conditional and temporal. It is given in Exodus 19:5, and also in Deuteronomy 28:1-68. (p 67). Notice that this scholar acknowledges the whole chapter of Deuteronomy 28 as the covenant, and separates the verses of "blessings if thou shalt hearken diligently"; and "If thou wilt not hearken...cursings." This is precisely what he should also have done in the case of the Palestinian covenant, Deuteronomy chapter 30.

Here is Exodus 19:5,6:"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..."

Pray, tell, where does it say anything about this being a temporal covenant? It was intended to be as permanent as any of the other covenants. Permanent, but not unconditional. It was conditional, just like all the other covenants that Israel broke.

So where, and how, does the Bible declare this "Mosaic" covenant to be temporal? Nowhere. In fact, the covenant in Deuteronomy chapter 28, and in Exodus 19:5, is no different from the covenant in chapter 30; one is a continuation, expansion, and elaboration of the other. All these covenants were permanent, made to be kept by Israel. Why did they end? And why were they replaced by other covenants? Not because of planned obsolescence, but because Israel broke them. In fact, the majority of Israel broke every covenant God made with the nation, right down to the very last one.

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with Israel, and with the house of Judah; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Dr. Pentecost introduces the "New Covenant" in his book: "The new covenant guarantees Israel a converted heart as the foundation of all her blessings" (p 116).

Dispensationalists not only believe that the new covenant guarantees Israel a converted heart, but that the Palestinian Covenant also carries that guarantee. Pentecost writes of the Palestinian Covenant: "...this covenant has the guarantee of God that He will effect the necessary conversion which is essential to its fulfillment. Romans 11:26-27; Hosea 2:14-23; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 11:16-21 all make this clear."

Do they indeed? Let us check these verses given, beginning with Romans 11:26-27:

"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins."

If the Deliverer has not already come out of Sion, if He had not already turned away ungodliness from Jacob, and if He had not already taken away their sins when He died for the sins of all mankind 2000 years ago, then He must come back to die on the cross again in the future, because that is the only way sins can be taken away. How incredible! And how very wrong! Notice that Paul said, "as it is written." He is not saying that this was going to happen, but that it was prophesied in the Old Testament to happen. From the prophet's perspective, it was going to happen. From Paul's perspective it had already happened, perhaps some 20 or 30 years before. From our perspective, it happened 2000 years ago.

But how can the term "all Israel" be applied today? If "all Israel" is to be saved, then that would, by necessity, include all the Israelites that have lived and died since that fateful war in A.D.70. But what about the unbelieving Jew? According to Dr. Rice: "Let it be understood that God's plan of salvation for the Jew is the same as for everybody else in the world. Jews are sinners as are the Gentiles. To be saved, they must turn by faith to Christ as others must do. A Jew who dies unsaved, not having trusted in Christ, does not have any part in the promises made to Abraham" (p 34).

Dr Rice has stated Scriptural truth. But what happens to that "guaranteed converted heart" proposed by futurists? Dr. Rice's solution is only half a solution: "Even when the whole remnant of Israel is converted, each individual must put his faith in Jesus as the Saviour, the only way anyone has ever been saved, or ever will be saved...and so all Israel shall be saved...but that will come when individual Jews all turn, as one day they will, to receive the Saviour..." (page 34).

So Dr. Rice does not seem to propose a "guaranteed converted heart," when he says that one day all Jews will turn to the Lord, and then the promised Kingdom will be delivered to them. But, given the history of Israel's continual disobedience and rebellion, is that view not a bit too optimistic? Two thousand years ago the time was ripe for Jews to accept Christ. The Messiah arrived right on schedule, He walked among them, He did miracles and signs before their very eyes, He healed them, He restored sight to the blind, He taught as no man had ever taught before, yet the majority did not turn to Him in faith. In the past 2000 years only relatively few have turned to Christ. What makes anyone think that they will all suddenly turn to Christ in the future "Great Tribulation," when the Church is gone, and the Holy Spirit is taken away, and the Antichrist is in the world working full throttle to hinder such a turning to the Lord every way he can, as Futurists teach? That kind of conversion can only be done by means other than a voluntary turning to the Lord in belief, and God never forces salvation upon anyone. Besides, if God did that for the Israelites then living, He would have to do it for all the Israelites who are dead and gone, else He would be grossly unfair to millions of Jews who have lived and died in unbelief. So how is this "mass conversion" to take place?

The futurist says that things will be so bad in the terrible "Great Tribulation" that Jews will be ready to turn to their Lord. But if that will be the purpose of the "Great Tribulation," history shows that it doesn't work very effectively. In World War Two, when six million Jews were persecuted, and gassed by the Nazis, there was no massive conversion to Christianity.

Hosea 2:14:23:

This was part of the great Kingdom promise which Christ came to deliver to Israel, the Kingdom which the nation rejected. If Israel had only obeyed their God, and accepted His beloved Son, all this, and more, would have been hers.

Deuteronomy 30:6:

"And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live" (Deut 30:6).

It would seem that this is a "guaranteed converted heart," that Israel has to do nothing but reject Christ, and live in the sin, until that time comes, then God will come and automatically make saints of all unbelieving Jews. But it does not work that way, because in the same chapter God also says this:

"But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them" (Deut 30:17);

"I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it" (Deut 30:18).


The Dispensationalist argues that the Jew does not worship and serve other Gods, but that there is a continuing "remnant of faithful Jews" who worship God the Father in synagogues. But let us be reminded again of 1 John 2:23, which says, "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also."

Ezekiel 11:16:21:

"Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezek 11:16-21).

This, too, was part of the promise of good things to come to Israel. But read that last verse: "But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD" This is clearly not a passage of Scripture which supports the theory of a "guaranteed converted heart."

Of all the people God has ever created and placed on this earth, has He ever given one of them a "guaranteed converted heart?" Did Adam or Eve receive a guaranteed converted heart? Did Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob? They did not. Did any of the Old Testament saints receive a "guaranteed converted heart?" Even today, does anyone ever receive a "guaranteed converted heart?" Absolutely not. The Bible repeatedly says things like:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12):

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

"And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace" (Luke 7:50).

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17).

"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31).

It is safe to say that everyone receives a "guaranteed converted heart," but only after believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation does not come before belief, nor is it ever forced upon anyone, Jew or Gentile.

But now prophecy experts would tell us that God suddenly and arbitrarily will select a generation of unbelieving Jews, and give them a "guaranteed converted heart," as the foundation of all their blessings. In other words, He will force salvation upon them, willy-nilly. The prophecy expert of course, would prefer to say that God is going to change their hearts so that they will receive Him willingly. But that's the same thing. He would still be creating mindless, heartless, robots. I don't think that God wants any such to worship Him.

Dr. Pentecost writes:"It has been agreed that the time of the New Covenant was future. It was always viewed as future when reference is made to it in the Old Testament prophecies... It must be viewed as yet future..." (p 120). That conclusion rests on shaky ground. It was future to the Old Testament prophets. It happened 2000 years ago, even before Paul wrote about it. It is not still future.

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jer 31:33).

But if God meant all this to happen in our future, what did He mean to happen 2000 years ago, when the Son of God came to earth? He didn't come specifically to redeem Gentiles; He came unto His own. His own were Jews. The nation was scheduled to be redeemed at that time. The prospect then was better than it is now. At that time there was a remnant of Jews who where faithful to God, and who accepted Christ as Saviour and King. Today there are none. Anyone who is faithful to God the Father must necessarily be faithful to God the Son. If he is, he's a Christian. If not, he is an unbeliever. If Scripture is to be adhered to, it cannot happen any other way.

"After those days" refers to the time after the 490 odd years of the Lord's indignation toward His people, the darkness Israel experienced between the Old and New Testament eras, prior to the arrival of the Messiah, Christ.

The Dispensationalist says things like, "The sequence of events set up by the prophet [Jer. 32:37, 40-41] is that Israel will first be regathered and restored to the land and then will experience the blessings of the new covenant in the land. History records no such sequence. God cannot fulfill the covenant until Israel is regathered as a nation. Her complete restoration is demanded by the new covenant, and this has not yet taken place in the history of the world...Fulfillment of the prophecies requires the regathering of all Israel, their spiritual rebirth, and the return of Christ."

On the contrary, history does indeed record that many Jews were regathered into the land in anticipation of this great event, the fulfillment of the covenant. We know that Christ came to confirm the covenant that God had made with the ancients of Israel. He came to deliver the promised Kingdom to Israel. Jews from all over the world were there. "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5).

But, ignoring Scripture, Pentecost then reaffirms that, "This covenant must follow the return of Christ at the second advent. The blessings anticipated in the covenant will not be realized until Israel's salvation, and this salvation follows the return of the Deliverer." and he quotes Romans 11:26-27: "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins."

To say that Israel's salvation will not take place until the second advent of Christ does a great deal of injury to Scriptural truth. It borders on blasphemy, because it ignores what Christ accomplished on the cross at His first advent. The Bible is replete with references to salvation which came to Israel 2000 years ago. Those Israelites who believed in Christ didn't have to wait until His Second Coming to receive salvation.

"To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins" (Luke 1:77), "For mine eyes have seen thy salvation" (Luke 2:30), "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham" (Luke 19:9). "Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent" (Acts 13:26). Who can deny that salvation came to the Jews at that time?

But when the Jews steadfastly rejected that salvation, God turned to the Gentiles: "Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it" (Acts 28:28).

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom 1:16). "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:2)) Can anyone say that salvation had not yet come to Israel?

"(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Co 6:2)) When was the accepted time? Was it then, or is it still to come? The Bible plainly tell us:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him [Luke 4:20]. And he began to say unto them, THIS DAY IS THIS SCRIPTURE FULFILLED IN YOUR EARS" (LUKE 4:18-21).

In the acceptable year, Christ, the Messiah came, and this is what the Scriptures say, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:11-12).

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt 28:18).

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt 28:19):

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matt 28:20).


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