Saturday, October 21, 2023

Specific Promises of Repentance for Israel

 by James C. Morris – 

 Explicitly Stated Promises to Eventually Bring the Ancient Nation of Israel to Repentance

Many people think that, since Israel rejected its Messiah (Jesus) when He came, by that act they lost their promised blessings and have therefore been forever set aside. To prove that claim, they cite such scriptures as Jeremiah 18:7-10, where the Lord said, “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.”

On the basis of this concept, these people claim that ALL the promises of God are conditional, even when they are stated in unconditional terms. But is that correct? In considering this matter, we need to notice a promise made to David. In Psalm 89:28–35, the Lord said concerning David, “My mercy I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall stand firm with him. His seed also I will make to endure forever, And his throne as the days of heaven. If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, If they break My statutes And do not keep My commandments, Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes. NEVERTHELESS MY LOVINGKINDNESS I WILL NOT UTTERLY TAKE FROM HIM, NOR ALLOW MY FAITHFULNESS TO FAIL. MY COVENANT I WILL NOT BREAK, NOR ALTER THE WORD THAT HAS GONE OUT OF MY LIPS. ONCE I HAVE SWORN BY MY HOLINESS; I WILL NOT LIE TO DAVID:”

Here we see that our God explicitly said that His promise to David was so sure, so certain, that EVEN SIN could not cancel it. Sin, if it came, would be dealt with. But the punishment would NOT be a cancellation of the promise. And we need to notice God’s reflexive statement that He would have been lying when He made this promise if He were not going to ACTUALLY keep it.

So now we must ask, did God actually SAY that He had canceled the promises He made to Israel? And the answer to that question is a very decided NO. There is no scripture that says, or even that implies, that even one of these promises has been cancelled. Instead, we find that, long after “they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!’ ” (John 19:15) And long after, in the stoning of Stephen, they “sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us,’ ” (Luke 19:14) the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that “the promises” still pertain to his “countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites.” (Romans 9:3-4)

And two chapters later the same Holy Spirit inspired the sme Paul to write, concerning the Jews who were currently refusing to believe the gospel, that, “Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are IRREVOCABLE.” (Romans 11:28–29)

How, then can these promises to Israel, remain “IRREVOCABLE,” when God has so clearly said that Her would cancel promises of blessing if men turned to sin? It is because our merciful God has not ONLY promised to bring the ancient nation of Israel back to their ancient homeland, He has ALSO promised to b ring them to repentance, leading to a true and l,iving faith in Himself.

Like the promise to bring them back to their ancient homeland, this promise is ALSO explicitly stated, again and again, in the prophetic scriptures.

Their national repentance is graphically described in Zechariah 12:10–14, saying, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.”

And the result of this repentance is stated in Isaiah 4:2–4, saying, “In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing For those of Israel who have escaped. And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.”

This is repeatedly stressed in the prophecies of Jeremiah.

For Jeremiah 24:7 says, “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”

And Jeremiah 31:31–34 says, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of 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 lead them out of the land of Egypt, MY COVENANT WHICH THEY BROKE, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” We need to notice that this promise includes a specific reference to the fact that they “BROKE” the first covenant. So this promise of a new covenant was made in view of their SIN, in BREAKING that first covenant. So it could NOT have been cancelled because of that sin.

And in the next chapter, Jeremiah 32:38-42 says, “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’

For thus says the LORD: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.’ ”

And inn the next chapter after that, Jeremiah 33:7-8 says, “ ‘I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.”

And finally, as far as the prophecies of Jeremiah go, Jeremiah 50:19-20 says, “But I will bring back Israel to his home, And he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan; His soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; And the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; For I will pardon those whom I preserve.”

But going on in the major prophets, we find that Ezekiel 36:24-29 says, “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you.” ’ ”

From there, we go on to the so-called minor prophets, where we find that Hosea 3:4-5 says, “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness IN THE LATTER DAYS.” We need to particularly notice this clause, “IN THE LATTER DAYS.” This is NOT speaking about something that would take place after a delay of a mere 70 years.

And Zephaniah 3:11-13 says, “In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds In which you transgress against Me; For then I will take away from your midst Those who rejoice in your pride, And you shall no longer be haughty In My holy mountain. I will leave in your midst A meek and humble people, And they shall trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness And speak no lies, Nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.”

And finally, as far as the Old Testament prophesies go, Zechariah 13:8–9 says, “ ‘And it shall come to pass in all the land,’ Says the Lord, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ”

So there can be zero question that, as God has repeatedly and explicitly promised to eventually bring Israel to both repentance and faith in Himself. And thus, there can be no excuse for committing the sin of denying that God will actually KEEP these many and “IRREVOCABLE” promises He made to the ancient nation of Israel.

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