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Doctrine of Promises of God

July 23, 2010

Doctrine of Promises of God

Will God keep His promises? The Bible is a promise book in many ways. In our study of the
doctrine inspiration and canonicity in point 1 of this doctrine, we noted that the Bible is the
inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. So we can conclude that God’s promises can be
trusted, because the promises that are in the Word of God, are inspired of God.
They express God’s will, purpose and plan for our lives. The promises in the Word of God
can be trusted because of who and what God is. We can trust the promises of the Word of God
because of the perfect virtue and integrity of the author of these precious promises. We can trust
in the promises of God because, as we noted in our study of the divine essence, God is veracity,
He is also immutable; therefore, God can never lie.
Heb 6:10-20, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you
have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full
assurance of hope until the end.”
We exegeted this passage this verse in our introduction to this doctrine and it reads as
follows: Hebrews 6:11, “Now, we desire each one of you continue to demonstrate this same
diligence (serving the body of Christ) for the absolute assurance, that which produces
confidence until the end.”
Hebrews 6:12-17, “so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith
and patience inherit the promises. For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He
could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS
YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.” And so, having patiently waited, he
obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater {than themselves} and with them an
oath {given} as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even
more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed
with an oath.”
The word for “unchangeableness” is accusative neuter singular form of the adjective
ametathetos (a)metavqeto$), which is ametatheton (a)metavqeton). Ametathetos should be
translated with the English adjective “immutability.” It describes the immutable will, purpose
and plan of God the Father in eternity past.
Immutability is a part of the divine essence. It is an absolute attribute of God, which cannot
be comprehended by men.
The word for “purpose” is the genitive feminine singular form of the noun boule (boulhv),
which boules (boulh~$). The noun boule denotes an “intention,” a “deliberation” and “taking
counsel.” Boule refers that which has been purposed or planned. Here the word in Hebrews 6:17
refers to the divine counsel of God in eternity past. It denotes the will, purpose and plan of God
the Father in eternity past which is accomplished in time through the Person, Work and Life of
the Lord Jesus Christ.
Look at Hebrews 6:18. “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for
God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the
hope set before us.”
There are 2 immutable things that are expressed in Hebrews 6:17-18. The believer’s
assurance flows from 2 immutable things. The first is clearly stated in Hebrews 6:18, which is
that God, cannot lie. God is veracity…He is truth…veracity or truth is Who and What God is.
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God will always tell the truth and will always keep His promises because He is immutable. The
certainty of His promises to us are rooted in His perfect character and nature.
The promises of God are based upon His divine essence and are expressed in writing in the
original languages of Scripture. God’s Word is His bond.
The 2nd immutable reality is implied in the oath. Even though God cannot lie, He has taken
an additional step of interjecting an oath based on His own immutable nature. The purpose of
this oath was to strengthen the assurance of those who inherit the promises of God. God will
keep His promises and fulfill His oath because He cannot deny His own righteous character…He
cannot deny His own perfect integrity. The immutable nature of God assures the believer of the
fulfillment of everything, which God has promised in the Word of God!
So we can trust the promises of God that are expressed in the Word of God because of who
and what God is. So if we can trust God’s promises, then what is our part? Quite simply, we
must have faith. We must trust that God will come through on His promises. He can be trusted
because of His perfect divine essence, His perfect virtue and integrity. So we receive the
promises of God by means of exercising faith.
Gal 3:22, “But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by
faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” The promise of salvation is
received by anyone who exercises faith alone in Christ alone. Eph 2:8-9, “For by grace you
have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result
of works, so that no one may boast.”
Our part at salvation was to trust that God will fulfill His promise and save us through Jesus
Christ. Not only are we promised things at the moment of salvation but we are also promised
rewards for being faithful to God after salvation. Heb 9:15, “For this reason He is the mediator of
a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions
that were {committed} under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the
promise of the eternal inheritance.”
So we need to exercise faith in the promises of God after salvation in order to receive our
eternal inheritance, which is reward for remaining faithful to God in this life. After salvation we
are to operate on the same basis in which we were saved, namely, faith. Col 2:6, “Therefore as
you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, {so} walk in Him.”
Rom 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for
salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it {the}
righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE
RIGHTEOUS {man} SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Gal 3:11, “Now that no one is justified
by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY
FAITH.” 2 Cor 5:4-7, “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened,
because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be
swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave
to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that
while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord–for we walk by faith, not by
sight.”
So the believer after salvation must exercise the faith rest life. Faith brings the power of God
into the life of the believer. We became children of God and were justified at the moment of
salvation by means of operating in faith. After salvation, we are to operate under the same
principle of faith. The Christian way of life from start to finish is of a necessity, a life of faith.
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We cannot experience the Christ-life, new nature, eternal life without exercising faith in the
Word of God as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual life is totally dependent upon us
exercising faith or trust in the Word of God. Our prayer life is totally dependent upon us
exercising faith or trust in the Word of God. The believer who operates by means of faith after
salvation is demonstrating his dependence upon who and what God is and what He has provided,
namely, the Spirit and the Word. The believer who does not operate by means of faith after
salvation is sinning and demonstrating his independence from God.
Gal 3:1-5, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus
Christ was publicly portrayed {as} crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from
you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you
so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you
suffer so many things in vain– if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you
with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing
with faith?”
Faith is the means by which we please God. Without faith, we cannot please Him. In fact, the
heroes of the Old Testament were men and women operating according to faith meaning that
they trusted in the promises of God (Heb. 11).
Faith means learning to trust God for what we cannot see with our visible eyes. It means
learning to think and act on the principles and promises of the Word of God regardless of how
things seem to us. We are told to walk by means of faith and not by sight. Faith is the modus
operandi for the Christian life. It is God’s desire and plan that we learn to live by faith because
faith acknowledges our insufficiency and rests in God and in His provision. God is glorified
when we exercise faith in His promises.
There are 3 Greek words that are directly related to the Christian way of life that express this
principle of faith: (1) Pisteuo (pivsteuvw) (verb), “to believe, to be confident in, to be convinced
by.” (2) Pistis (pivsti$) (noun), “faith, doctrine, trust, confidence, belief.” (3) Pistos (pivstov$)
(adjective), “trustworthy, reliable, trusting, faithful, believing.”
The NT Word for “faith” is pistis. It means conviction of the truth or reality of anything. It is
belief in someone or something. Pistis is used in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting
man’s relationship to God and spiritual things, generally with the included idea of trust or
reliance. Its cognate verb pisteuo means, “to believe, rely on, trust in.” It often occurs with
prepositions to stress the concept of “personal trust and reliance as distinct from mere credence
or belief.”
Faith consists in 2 concepts: (1) We must believe that God is, that He exists. (2) We must
believe that He is also a rewarder of those who seek Him. We must first believe that God exists
and He is who He said He is. Furthermore, we must personally love God and trust Him to
provide for us on a daily basis.
The 1st concept involves understanding the transcendence and essence of God. The 2nd
concept involves understanding the immanence of God, that although He is transcendent, He is
nevertheless involved actively in His creation, especially He is involved in the lives of His
children.
Mankind is totally dependent on God for his existence, for his happiness and for his security
and significance. God cares intimately for you and I. So Biblical faith is confidence and trust in
the ability, power, skill and promises of another, namely, the God of the Bible as He is revealed
in the Scripture. Biblical faith is trusting in the authority of the Scriptures. It is reliance,
dependence, confidence on the work God and His grace plan for our lives. We must exercise
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faith or trust upon God as He is revealed in Scripture in every phase of salvation and
sanctification: (1) Past: deliverance from the penalty of sin. (2) Present: deliverance from the
power of sin. (3) Future: deliverance from the presence of sin.
Biblical faith is non-meritorious. Faith consists not in doing something but rather in receiving
something. Salvation is a gift that is received by means of faith. Faith must have an object. The
object of the Christian’s faith has merit with God, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, we
are saved based upon His merits and His work at the cross. Our faith is the only system of
perception that God will accept because it is compatible with His grace policy. John 6:26-29,
“Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you
saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food,
which perishes, but for the food, which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will
give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal. Therefore they said to Him,
“What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to
them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
The object of faith at the moment of salvation is the Living Word of God, the Lord Jesus
Christ. The object of faith after salvation is the written Word of God, which is the mind of
Christ. Biblical faith is not a blind faith. God has provided abundant evidence in creation for the
fact of His existence. Ps 19:1-6, “{For the choir director. A Psalm of David.} The heavens
are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to
day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are
there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and
their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, Which is
as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there
is nothing hidden from its heat.” Rom 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from
heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in
unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God
made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His
eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what
has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
We also have abundant evidence from archaeology, history, fulfilled prophesy that
demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt the reliability, inspiration and acceptance of Scripture.
Lastly, we have an abundance of evidence for the truth of the resurrection of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. Biblical faith is based upon facts, upon evidence concerning a historical
Person, namely, the Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.
Hebrews 3 begins with a comparison between Christ and Moses (3:1-6). This naturally leads
to a comparison between their followers. The writer uses the failure of the Exodus Generation as
a means of challenging his readers to a walk of confident faithfulness, with God through a faith
that rests in the sufficiency of Christ who is the fulfillment of all that is seen in the Old
Testament.
Heb 3:5-19, “Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of
those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ {was faithful} as a Son over His
house– whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm
until the end. Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS
VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN
THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED {Me}
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BY TESTING {Me} AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. “THEREFORE I
WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, “THEY ALWAYS GO
ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’; AS I SWORE
IN MY WRATH, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.”‘ Take care, brethren, that
there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living
God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is {still} called “Today,” so that
none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of
Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN
THEY PROVOKED ME.” For who provoked {Him} when they had heard? Indeed, did
not all those who came out of Egypt {led} by Moses? And with whom was He angry for
forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to
whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?
{So} we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”
Outline for Hebrews 4: (1) Hebrews 4:1: The Danger of Failing to Live the Faith-Rest Life.
(2) Hebrews 4:2-3: The Means of the Faith-Rest Life. (3) Hebrews 4:4-9: The History of the
Faith-Rest Life. (4) Hebrews 4:10-16: The Characteristics of the Faith-Rest Life.
Heb 4:1-16, “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any
one of you may seem to have come short of it.”
“Promise” is the genitive feminine singular form of the noun epangelia (e)paggeliva), which
is epangelias (e)pangeliva$). In classical Greek epangelia is actually a legal term for a
“declaration of a claim” or a “public denouncement” of someone who had violated a public trust.
It further progressed to mean an “offer” or a “promise,” which approximates the New Testament
usage. Later it became a technical term for “voluntary payment.”
Epangelia appears only 6 times in the LXX, 3 of which are canonical. Despite the absence of
the terminology of “promise” in the LXX, the concept is obviously familiar in the OT. What God
promises meaning what He says He will do is fulfilled again and again and is inherently
necessary to any OT understanding of God.
The word is found 54 times in the NT. Epangelia in the NT denotes the “content of what is
promised.” The New Testament states that the promises that God made with Old Testament
saints and in particular the nation of Israel are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. His finished
work on the cross is the basis for the fulfillment of the promises of God in the Old Testament.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the consummation of the promises made to Abraham and David and to
the nation of Israel. This word epangelia is used in the NT of the promise of the Holy Spirit,
which was literally fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Paul’s writings are replete with promise
language. Paul argues in his writings that the promises of God are received by means of faith. He
makes it clear in Romans and Galatians that the fulfillment of the promises of God are
guaranteed only because of God’s faithfulness and grace policy.
In the book of Hebrews the “promise” is related to Abraham (6:15; 7:6; 11:17), as are
covenantal promises (8:6; 9:15). “Promise” is also regarded as the eternal life to be inherited by
those who exercise faith alone in Christ alone (9:15; cf. 10:35-36; 11:17-19; 1 Jn. 2:25). The
Book of Hebrews demonstrates the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ. 2 Cor 1:20a, “For as
many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes.”
Hebrews 4:2, “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but
the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who
heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY
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WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished
from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh
{day:} “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; and
again in this {passage} “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” Therefore, since it
remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them
failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying
through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR
HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” For if Joshua had given them rest, He
would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the
people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works,
as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall,
through {following} the same example of disobedience.
“Let us be diligent” is the 1st person plural aorist active subjunctive form of the verb
spoudazo (spoudavzw), which is spoudasomen (spoudavswmen), “to apply oneself to a task with
diligence, to do something with intense effort and motivation.”
Spoudazo is employed 11 times in the NT (Gal. 2:10; Eph. 4:3; 1 Thess. 2:17; 2 Tim. 2:15;
4:9, 21; Titus 3:12; Heb. 4:11; 2 Pet. 1:10, 15; 3:14),”
Eph 4:1-3, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner
worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness,
with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” 2 Tim 2:15, “I solemnly command you to
diligently apply yourself to study in order to present yourself to God approved, a workman
not ashamed, accurately communicating the Word of Truth.” 2 Pet 1:10, “Therefore,
brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for
as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.” 2 Pet 1:12-15, “Therefore, I
will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you {already} know {them}
and have been established in the truth which is present with {you.} I consider it right, as
long as I am in this {earthly} dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the
laying aside of my {earthly} dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made
clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able
to call these things to mind.” 2 Pet 3:14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these
things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”
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Here in Hebrews 4:11 spoudazo means “to diligently apply onself” in order to enter God’s
rest. In other words, the believer must be “diligent in applying” the promises of God in order to
enter God’s rest. This is a hortatory subjunctive (a.k.a. Volitive), which is used to urge the
believers to unite with the writer in a course of action upon which he has already decided. The
writer is urging these believers to unite with him in diligently applying the promises of God in
order to enter God’s rest. This is an ingressive aorist meaning that the writer is urging his readers
to enter into a particular state or condition, namely, God’s rest. The active voice indicates we are
to perform the action of the verb…we are to be diligent in applying ourselves to the task of
entering God’s rest by trusting in the promises of God and not what our circumstances say or
what people say.
So the corrected translation of Hebrews 4:11 is as follows: Hebrews 4:11, “Therefore let us
begin to apply ourselves diligently in order to enter that rest, so that no one will fall,
through {following} the same example of disobedience.
Diligence is one of the attributes of champion in athletics and the same holds true in the
spiritual realm. Diligence is constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken. The
believer is to constantly and earnestly apply God’s Word as revealed by the Holy Spirit while
under the Spirit’s enabling power in order to enter God’s rest.
Mark 12:28-30, “And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing
that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’
Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God is one Lord; And you
shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your
mind, and with all your strength.’”
Hebrews 11:6, “And without doctrine it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes
to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek
Him.”
1 Cor 9:24-27, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but {only} one
receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the
games exercises self-control in all things. They then {do it} to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a
way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I
have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Hebrews 4:12-16, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any twoedged
sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and
marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no
creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him
with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed
through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not
have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been
tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin. Therefore let us draw near with
confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in
time of need.”
The word “rest” is the noun katapausis (katavpausi$), which appears 8 times in this
passage (3:11, 18; 4:1, 3 twice, 5, 10, 11). The writer of Hebrews, Paul, is quoting from the LXX
to a great extent in this epistle. Each of his 8 usages of katapausis makes a direct allusion to
Psalm 95:11. Ps 95:8-11, “Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of
Massah in the wilderness, When your fathers tested me, they tried me, though they had
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seen My work. For forty years I loathed {that} generation, and said they are a people who
err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. Therefore I swore in My anger, truly
they shall not enter into My rest.”
This passage is a reference to Israel and the rest is the promised land…the land of Canaan.
Paul was combining this thought with the thought of the Sabbath rest in Hebrews 4:9 and spoke
to the issue in this Christian community of disobedience and unbelief. So the noun katapausis
means “a putting or causing to rest.” It means “resting” in the active sense and “rest” in the
passive sense. It is common in the LXX for God’s rest (Isa. 66:1), the rest of His people (1 Kgs.
8:56) or the Sabbath rest (Ex. 35:2). The cognate verb of katapausis is katapauo (katapauvw),
“to cause to cease or rest.” Katapauo has various shades of meaning: (1) “to end” actions or
conditions (2) “to restrain” used of persons (3) “to give rest” the cause suffering to cease. It is
usually used in the LXX with God as the subject meaning “to rest or cease from works” (cf. Ex.
20:11).
The verb katapauo is employed 3 times in this passage in Hebrews 4: Verse 4: Of God who
rested after He finished creation. Verse 8: Of Joshua’s failure to give rest in the ultimate sense.
Verse 10: Of those who enter God’s rest as He rested from His works in creation.
God rested when He finished the work of creation and a rest for His people has been
available ever since. This rest is appropriated by means of faith. So the term “rest” is a
descriptive synonym of God’s various provisions for man, ultimately including His provision of
salvation. It describes God’s provision from the standpoint of means, resting by means of faith in
God’s work as it is expressed in Scripture.
Furthermore, it describes God’s provision from the standpoint of results meaning ceasing
from works, enjoying and resting in who and what God is and what He has provided.
The Greek word for the phrase “Sabbath rest” is word coined by Paul, which sabbatismos
(sabbatismov$), “a sabbath keeping, sabbath observance, sabbath rest.” This word expresses the
rest of God anticipated in God’s creation rest and in that of the Old Testament ordinance.
There was a promise in the Old Testament that God’s people would enter into God’s rest, one
anticipated by God’s rest after creation. The writer of Hebrews sees this promise as ultimately
fulfilled only in Christ.
Matt 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you
rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and
YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is
light.”
The term “rest” is used because it portrays the results of God’s work as historically
illustrated in creation (verses 3b-4). The term “rest” is used because God’s provision is entered
by faith apart from human works. The term “rest” is used because, as God rested because of His
creative labors, so He gives man rest in the sense of repose, deliverance or salvation: (1)
Deliverance from the penalty of sin (2) Deliverance from sin’s power (3) Deliverance from sin’s
presence. This is the primary focus of Hebrews 3 and 4. Reigning with Christ is dependent upon
faithfulness as members of the household of Christ. To be faithful, however, we must hold fast
our confidence in Christ meaning resting in the sufficiency of the Savior rather than turning back
into legalism of religion, ritual without the reality.
The faith rest life is a life which encompasses 3 aspects: (1) A life in which the believer rests
through faith in the finished work of God in the Person of Christ as God’s final word to man. (2)
A life which the believer enters through faith into God’s daily rest, His provision for strength and
faithfulness, prayerfully and dependently laboring in the strength which our great High Priest
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supplies (4:16). (3) A life in which the believer, through faith, anticipates God’s final rest, the
rest of His inheritance in the kingdom of God.
The faith rest life includes all 3 phases of God’s salvation or deliverance: (1) Past (2) Present
(3) Future.
Works or divine good, fruit in the Christian way of life are to be a direct result of the faith
rest life!
The failure of the Exodus Generation to enter into God’s rest is an example for us and a
warning for us here in the church age.
1 Cor 10:1-13, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were
all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the
cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual
drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was
Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in
the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave
evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written,
“THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor
let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor
let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble,
as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to
them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the
ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No
temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will
not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide
the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
“Rests” of Scripture: (1) Creation Rest: Gn. 2:1-3 (2) Sabbath-Keeping Rest: Dt. 5:15; Ex.
16:23; 23:12; 31:13-17 (3) Canaan Rest: Dt. 12:10; Josh. 21:44; Ps. 95:11; Hb. 3:11-19; Nm.
14:23. (4) Salvation Rest: Eternal-Jn. 1:12-13; 3:16; Daily-Ga. 2:19; 5:5; Eph. 5:18;
Eschatological-Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21
Characteristics of the Faith-Rest Life (Hebrews 4:10-16): (1) Hebrews 4:10: It is a life that
rests in God’s finished work by faith. (2) Hebrews 4:11: It is a life that is diligent to enter God’s
rest. (3) Hebrews 4:12: It is a life that is responsive to God’s Word. (4) Hebrews 4:13: It is a life
that knows we are accountable before God. (5) Hebrews 4:14: It is a life that perseveres with
God in the midst of adversity. (6) Hebrews 4:15: It is a life that is aware that Christ intercedes for
us. (7) Hebrews 4:16: It is a life that confidently goes to the Father in prayer.
Hindrances to the Faith-Rest Life (Hebrews 5:11-6:6): (1) Arrogance (2) Ignorance (3)
Indifference.
Biblical faith is based upon facts, upon evidence concerning a historical Person, namely, the
Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. Biblical faith is based upon the inerrancy, immutability,
veracity, infallibility Word of God, which presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the way, the truth
and the life.
2 concepts that are essential for operating according to the Faith Rest Life: (1) Responsibility
(2) Dependence.
There is a great danger among Christians who adopt the idea of “letting go and letting go!”
This is not a biblical concept. Many believers think that a life of faith sitting back and let God do
it all. This is wrong! The faith rest life demands a balance between personal responsibility on the
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part of the believer to exercise faith in God’s promises and dependence upon the resources and
provisions that God has provided, which include, the Word of God, the Spirit of God and prayer.
The believer must take personal responsibility to appropriate God’s provisions. The believer
must take personal responsibility to apply God’s Word as it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
There must be the balance of disciplined dependence upon God’s provisions. God does not walk
by means of the Spirit for us, nor does He apply the Word of God for us. We are responsible to
obey the Word of God as it is revealed to us by means of the Spirit.
The Faith Rest Life is not passive but active. It is not painless. There are 2 passages in the
writings of Paul that demonstrate this balance between personal responsibility and dependence
upon God. Col 1:29, “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which
mightily works within me.” 1 Cor 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His
grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I,
but the grace of God with me.”
God’s dealings with the nation of Israel make an excellent case study in regards to the
promises of God. Over and over again God has demonstrated His faithfulness in delivering on
what He has promised and He ultimately fulfill everything He has promised to the nation and the
world during the Millennial Reign of Christ.
There have been 8 Covenants that God has made throughout history. 3 were made with
Gentiles and 5 with the Jews.
So what is a covenant? A covenant is a compact or agreement between 2 parties binding
them mutually to undertakings on each other’s behalf. Theologically (used of relations between
God and man) it denotes a gracious undertaking entered into by God for the benefit and blessing
of man, and specifically of those men who by faith receive the promises and commit themselves
to the obligations, which this undertaking involves.
The word used most often in the OT to express the covenant concept is the Hebrew noun
berith (tyr!B+ ). A general characteristic of the OT berith is its unalterable and permanently
binding character. There 2 categories of covenants: (1) Conditional (2) Unconditional.
The fulfillment of unconditional covenants depended entirely upon the faithfulness of God
rather than the man whereas the fulfillment of a conditional covenant depended upon the
faithfulness of man.
In a conditional covenant, that which was covenanted depended on the recipient of the
covenant for its fulfillment, not on the one making the covenant. Certain obligations or
conditions would need to be kept by the recipient of the covenant before the giver of the
covenant would be obligated to fulfill what was promised. This type of covenant has an “if”
attached to it. The Mosaic Covenant made by God with Israel is an example of a conditional
covenant.
In an unconditional covenant, on the other hand, that which was covenanted depended for its
fulfillment solely on the one making the covenant. That which was promised was sovereignly
given to the recipient of the covenant on the authority and integrity of the one making the
covenant, entirely apart from the merit or response of the receiver. It was a covenant with no “if”
attached to it whatsoever.
Now we need to clarify an important aspect of an unconditional covenant. An unconditional
covenant which binds the one making the covenant to a certain course of action, may have
blessings attached to it that are conditioned on the response of the recipient. That response is
simply faith or to trust that God will deliver on His promise. We must understand that an
unconditional covenant may have certain blessings attached to it. Faith or trusting God to deliver
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on His promises is the condition. Faith manifests itself in obedience to God’s Word. The
fulfillment of unconditional covenants does not depend on the continued obedience of the
recipient but rather the integrity and faithfulness of God who instituted the covenant.
Facts about the covenants to Israel: (1) Literal (2) Eternal (Except Mosaic) (3) Unconditional
(Except Mosaic) (4) Made with a covenant people Israel (Rm. 9:4; Eph. 2:11-12).
So God has made 8 covenants with man throughout history and they all relate to the earth.
Each one introduces a new dispensation. Six of them were given to individual men and are
named after them, as in the case with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and David and went into effect
during their lives except the one given to David, which took effect at the birth of Jesus. Each one
has a time element and runs out or expires at a particular time. Four of these covenants are
known by a “sign.”
4 Covenants marked by a “sign”: (1) Noahic: Rainbow (2) Abrahamic: Circumcision (3)
Mosaic: Sabbath (4) Davidic: Son.
Expiration of the Covenants: (1) Edenic: End of human history (2) Adamic: End of human
history (3) Noahic: End of human history (4) Abrahamic: Eternity (5) Palestinian: End of human
history (6) Mosaic: Cross (7) Davidic: Eternity (8) New Covenant: Eternity.
8 Covenants: (1) Edenic (Gen. 1:28-30; 2:15-17). (2) Adamic (Gen. 3:14-19). (3) Noahic
(Gen. 8:20-9:17). (4) Abrahamic (Israel) (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:16; 22:15-18; 26:4; 28:14; 35:11; Ex.
6:2-8) (5) Palestinian (Israel) (Gen. 13:15; 15:18-21; 26:3-5; 28:13-15; 35:12; Ex. 6:4, 8; Num.
34:1-12; Deut. 30:1-9; Josh. 1:2-4; Jer. 32:36-44; Ezek. 11:16-21; 36:21-38) (6) Mosaic Law
(Israel) (Gen.-Deut.) (7) Davidic (Israel) (2 Sam. 7:8-17; Psa. 89:20-37) (8) New Covenant
(Israel) (Jer. 31:31-34; cf. Heb. 8:8-12; 10:15-17).
8 is the number associated with Resurrection and Regeneration. It is the beginning of a new
era or order. Once these 8 covenants have all been literally fulfilled, and then human history will
come to an end, followed by the creation of the New Heavens and New Earth.
7 conditions contained in the Edenic Covenant: (1) Restore the earth (Gn. 1:2). (2) Subdue
the earth (3) Dominion over the animal creation (4) Restrict themselves to a vegetable diet (5)
Cultivate the Garden (6) Abstain from eating of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”
(7) Spiritual death resulting in physical death as a result of disobeying the 6th condition. The
Adamic covenant is noted in Genesis 3:14-19.
Adamic covenant was without conditions and entailed the following: (1) Curse (2) Promise.
The Curse was 4-fold: (1) As to the serpent (2) As to the woman (3) As to the man (4) As to the
earth. The Promise stated that the Lord would provide a Deliverer who would redeem them and
the earth from the Curse.
The 3rd covenant or agreement made by God with members of the human race was with Noah
(Gen. 9). The Noahic covenant contained the following provisions: (1) God would never again
curse the earth on account of man and that day and night and seasons would never cease. (2)
Noah and his descendants would multiply and replenish the earth. (3) Noah and his descendants
would have dominion over the animal kingdom. (4) The diet of the human race would not be
restricted to a vegetable diet. (5) Capital punishment instituted. (6) A flood shall never destroy
the earth again.
The 4th covenant is the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3). The Abrahamic Covenant was an
unconditional covenant meaning that the agreement was based upon the Lord’s faithfulness and
not Abraham’s. The Lord was responsible to fulfill the agreement and Abraham’s part was to
take God at His Word and accept it by means of faith. The Abrahamic covenant is related to the
race of the nation.
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The Abrahamic Covenant contained 7 promises: (1) “I will make from you a great nation”
(National Posterity: Gen. 17:20; Spiritual Posterity: Gal. 3:6, 7, 29. (2) “I will bless you”
(Temporal: Gen. 13:14-18; 15:18-21; 24:34-35; Spiritual: Gen. 15:6). (3) “And Make Your
Name Great” (4) “And You Shall Be A Blessing” (Gal. 3:14). (5) “I Will Bless Them That
Bless You” (6) “And Curse Them That Curse You” (7) “In You All the Families of the
Earth Will Be Blessed” (Dt. 28:8-14; Is. 60:3-5, 11, 16). This covenant with Abraham was
reaffirmed and confirmed after Abraham’s faith was tested (Gen. 22:15-18).
This covenant with Abraham became an “everlasting” covenant. Circumcision was the
“sign” of this covenant with Abraham and the covenant extends to the end of human history,
entailing the New Earth. The Abrahamic covenant was confined to the Jews (Gen. 17:1-14).
The 5th covenant is the Mosaic Covenant and was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai shortly after
the Exodus from Egypt. It ushered in the dispensation of the Law. The Mosaic Covenant was a
conditional covenant meaning that it was conditioned on the obedience of the Jews to the
covenant. The Mosaic Law was perfectly fulfilled by the impeccable humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union during His 1st Advent (Rm. 10:4). It details the policy of the nation. The sign of
the Ceremonial Law was the Sabbath (Ex. 31:12-18).
The 6th covenant is the Davidic Covenant. This covenant was of course given to David
through the prophet Nathan. The Davidic Covenant was an unconditional covenant, which was
based upon the faithfulness of God rather than the faithfulness of Israel. The Davidic covenant
deals with the dynasty that will rule the client nation (2 Sa. 7:4-17). God promised David that a
descendant of his would sit on his throne forever. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David, will
literally fulfill this covenant during His millennial reign.
The Davidic Covenant contains 4 promises: (1) A Davidic House: Posterity of David will
never be destroyed. (2) A Davidic Throne: Kingdom of David shall never be destroyed. (3) A
Davidic Kingdom: David’s Son (Christ) will have an earthly sphere of rule. (4) It Shall Be
Unending. The “sign” of the Davidic Covenant is a Son (Lord Jesus Christ).
Provisions of the Davidic Covenant: (1) David is to have a child, yet to be born, who will
succeed him and establish his kingdom (2) This son (Solomon), instead of David, will build the
temple. (3) The throne of his kingdom will be established forever. (4) The throne will not be
taken away from him (Solomon) even though his sins justify God’s discipline. (5) David’s house,
throne and kingdom will be established forever.
The essential features of the Davidic Covenant are found in 3 words in 2 Samuel 7:16: (1)
House (physical descendants): A line stemming from David would continue indefinitely and
would be the divinely recognized royal line. (2) Kingdom (political body): the political body that
David would rule and over which David’s descendants would successively reign. (3) Throne
(right to rule): refers to the authority as king vested in him.
Just as important as these 3 terms is the word forever. The word “forever” refers to any time
during which the descendants of Abraham would exist. Even though there might be temporary
interruptions in the exercise of royal authority because of divine discipline, the authority would
never transfer to another line. As in the case of the Abrahamic covenant, this covenant with
David is restated and reconfirmed elsewhere in Scripture.
Ps 89:34-37, “My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure
forever and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever like the moon,
and the witness in the sky is faithful. Selah.”
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The Davidic covenant is also confirmed in the following passages: Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5-6;
30:8-9; 33:14-17, 20-21; Ezek. 37:24-25; Dan. 7:13-14; Hos. 3:4-5; Amos 9:11; Zech. 14:4, 9.
One of the royal titles that the Lord Jesus Christ possesses is that of the “Son of David,”
which denotes His rulership over the nation of Israel (Matt. 1:1; 20:30; Mark 10:47-48; Luke
1:32; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16). The Bible anticipates a future literal fulfillment of the
Davidic Covenant.
The prophetic implications of the Davidic Covenant: (1) Israel must be preserved as a nation.
(2) Israel must have a national existence and be brought back into the land of her inheritance. (3)
David’s descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ, must return to the earth, bodily and literally, in order
to reign over David’s covenanted kingdom. (4) A literal earthly kingdom must exist over which
the returned Messiah will reign. (5) This kingdom must become an eternal kingdom.
The 7th Covenant is the Palestinian Covenant. The Palestinian Covenant was given to Israel
through Moses and was unconditional. The Palestinian covenant is related to the land that the
Lord will give the nation of Israel. It will be literally fulfilled during the Millennial reign of
Christ. This is an awesome covenant. It is the land grant to Israel. The largest Jewish Kingdom
was during the reign of David and it was not even 1/20 or 1/30 of the land grant. The land grant
was first promised to Abraham in Genesis 13:14-15 and Genesis 15:18.
Gen 13:14-15, “The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift
up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and
eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your
descendants forever.”
Gen 15:18, “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.”
It was confirmed to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-4) and was confirmed to Jacob (Gen. 35:12). It was
reiterated to Moses (Ex. 6:2-8). Moses described the geographical boundaries of the land in
Numbers 34:1-2. Moses prophesied the fulfillment of this covenant during the Millennium in
Deuteronomy 30:1-9.
To encourage the Jews to enter the land God confirmed the land grant to Joshua in Joshua
1:2-4. Josh 1:2-4, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all
this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the
sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and
this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as
far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.”
Jeremiah and Ezekiel both confirmed the fulfillment of the land grant and related it to the
New Covenant with Israel. The Land Grant under the Palestinian Covenant: (1) Most of the land
in Turkey (2) Most of East Africa (3) Saudi Arabia (4) Yemen (5) Oman and Red Sea (6) Syria
(7) Iraq (8) Jordan. The land grant has boundaries on the Mediterranean, on Aegean Sea, on
Euphrates River and the Nile River.
7 Features of the Palestinian Covenant: (1) The nation will be plucked off the land for its
unfaithfulness (Dt. 28:63-68; 30:1-3). (2) There will be a future repentance of Israel (Dt. 28:63-
68; 30:1-3). (3) Israel’s Messiah will return (Dt. 30:3-6). (4) Israel will be restored to the land
(Dt. 30:5). (5) Israel will be converted as a nation (Dt. 30:4-8; cf. Rm. 11:26-27). (6) Israel’s
enemies will be judged (Dt. 30:7). (7) The nation will then receive her full blessing (Dt. 30:9).
The prophets of Israel prophesied of the Palestinian Covenant’s literal fulfillment (Isa. 11:11-
12; 14:1-3; 27:12-13; 49:8-16; 66:20-22; Jer. 16:14-16; 23:3-8; 30:10-11; 31:8, 31-37; Ezek.
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11:17-21; 20:33-38; 34:11-16; 39:25-29; Hos. 1:10-11; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 4:6-
7; Zeph. 3:14-20; Zech. 8:4-8).
The Tribulation is a period in which God will significantly deal with the nation of Israel to
bring it to repentance, thus setting the stage for the fulfillment of the covenanted blessings
believers will experience and the establishment of the kingdom after Christ’s 2nd Advent.
The 8th and final covenant is the New Covenant. The number 8 as we noted is the number
associated with Resurrection and Regeneration. It speaks of a new era and new order of things.
The fulfillment of the New Covenant during the Millennial Reign of Christ will mark the
completion of human history and will be followed by the creation of the New Heavens and the
New Earth.
The New Covenant is unconditional meaning that it is based upon the faithfulness of God
rather than the faithfulness of Israel (Jer. 31:31-37). The New covenant is related to the
restoration of the nation during the 2nd Advent and subsequent Millennial reign of Christ.
There were additional blessings added to the unconditional Abrahamic covenant. Before the
covenant nation could enjoy the covenanted blessings it must walk in obedience to the laws of
God. The obedience required was outlined for the nation in the Mosaic Law, which was given
alongside the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 17:19) to define what God expected as a prerequisite
for blessing. The nation of Israel as we have noted was unable to fulfill the obedience the Law
required. The Mosaic Law cannot justify an individual before God (Rom. 3:20-28; Gal. 2:16).
The Mosaic Law could not provide eternal salvation for men (Gal. 3:21-26). The Mosaic Law
could not provide the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:3). The Mosaic Law could not solve the problems of
the old sin nature (Rom. 8:2-3). The nation of Israel was characterized by God as being stiffnecked
(Jer. 17:23). They were hardened and obstinate (Ezek. 3:7).
If the nation was to experience the blessings of the covenant they would need forgiveness for
their sins, they would need to be regenerated (born-again), a new heart characterized by
obedience, and empowerment from the Holy Spirit. A covenant that guarantees Israel these
divine provisions is given in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Within the original Abrahamic Covenant were promises concerning the following: (1) Land:
Palestinian Covenant developed the land promises to Israel. (2) Seed: Davidic Covenant
developed the seed promises to Israel. (3) Blessings: New Covenant developed the blessing
promises of the original Abrahamic Covenant.
The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel have a great deal to say about these blessings that will
flow from the New Covenant, which they speak of often. In spite of the disobedience of the
nation, this covenant necessitates the continuation of the nation. Even continued disobedience
cannot remove Israel from her covenanted position (Jer. 31:34-35). Further the nation is
promised a restoration to the land (Jer. 32:37; 33:11; Ezek. 11:17; 36:28-35; 37:21-22, 25). The
prophets speak of the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Jer. 31:38-40). The temple will be rebuilt (Ezek.
37:27-28). The blessings the nation of Israel will receive are based on the New Covenant (Isa.
61:8-9; Hos. 2:18-20). The greatest blessing in this covenant is that of being brought in close
relationship with God (Jer. 30:22; 31:33; 32:38-41; Ezek. 11:20; 34:25-27; 37:27).
We must reiterate that these 4 unconditional covenants (Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and
New) are all related to Israel and not the church. The church has not been given covenants but
rather the Baptism of the Spirit. Rom 9:1-5, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying,
my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing
grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, {separated} from Christ for
the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom
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belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law
and the {temple} service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the
Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
Distinctions Between Israel and the Church:
Israel Church
Shadow Christology Historical Christology
Covenants Baptism of the Spirit
Jewish Client Nation Gentile Client Nations
Old Testament Canon New Testament Canon
Shekinah Glory indwelt the Holy of Holies Every Believer indwelt by the Shekinah
Glory
Limited power-1% were endued with
power
100% Availability of divine power
Faith Rest Drill Filling of the Spirit
JHWH-Jehovah Elohim Iesou Christou-Jesus Christ
Limited spiritual gifts Every believer has a spiritual gift
Levitical Priesthood Universal Royal Priesthood
Mosaic Law Mystery Doctrine
Ritual Plan of God Plan of God for the Church Age
Earthly Promises Heavenly Citizenship
New Racial Species New Spiritual Species
Prophecy No Prophecy-Historical Trends
Visible Heroes Invisible Heroes
Dispensation of Extraordinary believer Dispensation of Ordinary believer
Incomplete Canon of Scripture Completed Canon of Scripture
Visible signs preceding 2nd Advent No visible signs preceding Rapture
There are 7 great features that are distinct in each of these unconditional covenants to Israel:
(1) Israel will be a nation forever. (2) Israel will possess a significant portion of land forever. (3)
Israel will have a King ruler over her forever. (4) Israel will have a throne from which Christ will
ruler, forever. (5) Israel will have a kingdom forever.
God will make a New Covenant with them in the future. As a result of this New Covenant,
there will be abiding blessings.
The New Covenant with Israel was based upon the voluntary substitutionary spiritual death
of the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union. Luke 22:20, “And in the same way
{He took} the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the
new covenant in My blood.” 1 Cor 11:25, “In the same way {He took} the cup also after
supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink
{it}, in remembrance of Me.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator of this New Covenant to Israel. Heb 12:24a, “and to
Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.”
William E. Wenstrom Jr., Ministries
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