1-7-18 Lesson 9
Father, we’re grateful for this morning, grateful for the cool weather, grateful for a new year, grateful for a fresh start and so I ask, Father, that since this is the first Lord’s day in the new year that it would be a special time where You could just sort of direct us back to Yourself, back to Your priorities, and that we could live 2018 for Your purposes. And if some of us are misaligned in our lives and our thinking and our priorities my prayer is that You’d use Sunday School today and the worship service that follows to just sort of get us back into what’s important, into eternal things. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.
Happy New Year everybody. Why don’t we open our Bibles to the Book of Revelation, chapter 12 and verse 1. And if you need a handout Ron has one there for you. As you know we started a study, I think about eight weeks ago; we’re on session 9 on the subject of the doctrine of the church. Here’s the outline that we’re following. We’ve defined what the church is, basically the church is the called out ones; it consists of everyone, both Jew and Gentile, who have trusted in the Messiah rejected by national Israel in the first century. And from there we took a look at the differences between the universal church and the local church. And from there we went into seven word pictures of the church; a picture is worth a thousand words. We talked through what each of those word pictures are and how they sort of fill out the meaning of the church. And then from there, the last time we were together, about two weeks ago, we talked about the origin of the church and when did the church start? Acts 2, and I gave you six reasons why I think that’s so.
And what I’d like to do now is get into an area where there’s hardly, almost no, teaching on within evangelical Christianity and yet this area is so significant to interpret the Bible correctly. There’s so many errors in Bible interpretation that take place because there’s a lack of understanding that Israel and the church are different. Israel and the church are basically two programs of God on two different railroad tracks and unless you understand what verses go with Israel and what verses go with the church you’ll be confused a lot of the time as to how the Bible should be interpreted.
The fact of the matter is, the whole Bible is for us but not the whole Bible is to us. So a lot of people are going into the Old Testament to find commands that they’re supposed to follow today, which is sort of a dangerous practice because I can find a command there that says slay the Canaanites and bring an unblemished animal with you to Temple on Saturday. So obviously we can learn a lot from the Old Testament but we understand that when God told Noah to build an ark I don’t start building one in my driveway, Amen… even though there’s commands there for Noah to follow. So it’s kind of obvious that some of the Bible is not directed to us, although the whole Bible is for us. Does that make any sense?
So to get a handle on this you really have to understand the fundamental differences between Israel and the church. Now on Wednesday night I went through 24 differences, slowly, and so if you were with us here on Wednesday night this is going to be a little bit of a review. My plan is to pick up the pace and to go through these Israel/church differences a little faster and if you want something more than the Readers Digest version you can go back to the kingdom series that we were doing on Wednesday nights and study that.
But Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary, said there’s basically 24 differences between Israel and the church. I actually took that number, 24, I took some of his list but I added some things that I thought that he missed, if I can be so bold as to do that. And whether there’s 24 differences or 23 differences or 25 differences, really my point in this is to show you that Israel and the church are different.
So here we go: There’s the first eight so let’s walk through some of these if we could. You’ll notice that Israel is in the left column, the church is in the right column. Concerning marriage, Israel is the wife of Jehovah, that’s how she is portrayed all the way through the Bible. So when you look, for example, at a verse like Isaiah 54:5 to Israel the prophet Isaiah said, “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth.” So Israel is the wife of Jehovah.
And what’s interesting is when you get into the New Testament what you discover is the church is not portrayed as the wife of Jehovah because we, as the church, are not married yet, we are what? Engaged. So we, as the church, are referred to as the bride of Christ. And of course the famous passage that reveals that the best is Ephesians 5:22-33 where our relationship with the Lord in terms of bride/groom is analogized to a marriage. That would be one fundamental difference.
[Ephesians 5:22-33, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;  for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,  because we are members of His body.  FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”]
A second difference, and by the way, that helps you understand why a lot of the commands are what they are in the New Testament. We’re told as God’s people to keep ourselves pure, just like a woman dressed in white is signifying, when she walks down that aisle, that she has kept herself pure for her marriage day, her marriage bed. That’s basically the imagery that’s used to describe the church. So Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.  But I fear lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” So Paul is trying to keep the Corinthians doctrinally pure just as a woman who was engaged would keep herself pure for her marriage day. So when you understand that we are the bride of Christ a lot of the commands in the New Testament directed to us fit that motif. Another difference is our relationship to Christ. The nation of Israel birthed Christ; had it not been for God’s work with the nation of Israel, going back to Old Testament times, we would have no Messiah.
And that’s why I had you turn to Revelation 12:1-5 which says this: A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;  and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.  Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.  And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and he did cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.  And she gave birth to a son, a man child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” Interesting verses, a lot of symbols.
The son, s-o-n, who is brought forth from this woman who is to rule the nation with a rod of iron, who would that son be? It’d be Jesus Christ. He fits the imagery of Psalm 2:9. [Psalm 2:9, “’You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”]
Him being caught up to the Lord would fit the imagery of ascension, Acts 1. [Acts 1:9, “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.”  They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”’]
And then you’ll notice the dragon standing in front of the woman trying to devour the child the moment it’s born. Who would the dragon be? The devil, because the same chapter, verse 9, tells us that the dragon, or the serpent is Satan. So it’s really a picture of the spiritual warfare that went on when Herod, you recall, was trying to kill all those babies in Bethlehem. It was Satan using Herod’s insecurity over his own throne to thwart the birth of Christ. But this child that is going to come forth through a woman, Revelation 12:1, describes her as being “clothed with the sun, and the moon” and the “twelve stars.” Who would that be? Well, the Book of Revelation never tells you so what you have to do with a symbol like that is you have to find it in the Old Testament because the Book of Revelation has 404 verses in it; I think 287 or maybe it’s 278, right in there, of those verses are allusions back to the Old Testament. So when you go to Joseph’s dream that he had when he was 17 years old you read this language.
It says, Genesis 37:9, “Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, ‘Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon” does that sound familiar? “and eleven stars” now it doesn’t say twelve stars here because Joseph is the twelfth star, the “eleven stars were bowing down to me.’  He related it to his father and to his brothers;” now that was probably a mistake, he shouldn’t have done that, that’s why they wanted to kill him, because of jealousy. “He related it to his father and to his brothers and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?’”
So Joseph is 17 years old, he has this dream, we know from the rest of Genesis that it’s going to be fulfilled when he’s 30, when he’s going to be elevated to a place of second in command over Egypt and the nation is going to leave Canaan around Genesis 46 and is going to come to Egypt to receive grain in the midst of the famine and Joseph is the intermediary that God was going to use. So that’s why he says at the end of the Book of Genesis, “what you intended for evil” in terms of the betrayal by the brothers, “God intended for” what? “good.” [Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”]
So had Joseph not been betrayed by is brothers, sold as a slave to Egypt, he wouldn’t have ultimately been in this position, second in command, where he could help his nation out in the midst of a difficult time. But we know how the vision was fulfilled but Joseph doesn’t know that; his brothers and father don’t know that, so when he narrates it to them they rebuke him. His father rebukes him and in the process of the rebuke the father reveals what the imagery represents. So the sun is Jacob, the moon would be Mrs. Jacob. Now Rachael is already dead in Genesis 35 and Jacob had two wives, not that that’s a good thing, by the way, but that’s just how it worked out, so he was married to someone else named Leah. So the moon is the matriarch, the son is the patriarch of Israel, the eleven starts bowing down to Joseph would be Joseph’s brothers. The twelfth star is Joseph himself, so the twelve stars represent the twelve tribes.
So when John, going back to Revelation 12:1, talks about a woman clothed with the sun and the moon and the twelve stars under her feet and from this woman who is the nation of Israel the son, the matriarch… the moon, the matriarch of Israel, the son, the patriarch of Israel, the twelve stars, the twelve tribes of Israel, this is all imagery used to describe Israel. When John sees a child or a Messiah coming forth from that woman and Satan trying to thwart the birth of this child what it is revealing to us is something that we really already know, that Jesus came into the world through which nation? The nation of Israel.
And that’s why, when you go to probably the most Jewish gospel that we have, Matthew, probably the earliest gospel, written during a time when Christians were still what we would call Hebrew Christians, they might not even use the name “Christian” yet for all we know because they don’t start using the name “Christian” until the church makes its way up north into Antioch. But you sort of have to put yourself in the position of a Hebrew Christian and what they’re asking is if Jesus is the King, as we have believed He is, then where is His kingdom.
So Matthew’s Gospel, the whole thing is set up to answer that question and unless you put yourself into the position of the recipient of Matthew’s Gospel you can’t understand the Gospel of Matthew. So right at the beginning the genealogy of Christ is carefully documented, going back to, first of all David, and then ultimately Abraham. So Matthew is basically saying look, you believed in the right Messiah, it’s just the kingdom that you’re expecting has not been cancelled but it’s been postponed.
So very clearly what you see in this is Israel birthed Christ. Now how about the church? Has the church birthed Christ? It’s the opposite, isn’t it? Jesus birthed the church. Matthew 16:18 delivered in Christ’s ministry, Christ says, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock” that would be the rock of his confession, “I will build My church; [and the gates of Hades will not overpower it].” So when he says “I will build My church” the verb there, “build,” [oikodomēsō] is in which tense? Future tense. So the church didn’t exist yet when Jesus made that statement. And Jesus says I’m going to produce My church; I’m going to begat My church, I’m going to build My church and that process, as we’ve talked about started in Acts 2.
So when you start comparing Israel and the church what you start to see is Israel birthed Christ but that’s not how it is with the church at all; the church was birthed by Christ, two different concepts entirely.
How about the return of Christ; when is Christ coming back for Israel? When you go back to the Jewish gospel, the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus made this statement in Matthew 23:37-39. He said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” doesn’t that look Jewish to you, “you who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather” and the Greek verb [ἐπισυναγw]]]]]] there is very interesting, it’s episunagō, where we get the word synagogue, which is a Jewish gathering. Jesus said when I came the first time I wanted to have synagogue with you, My nation. “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” beautiful imagery there, but the problem wasn’t me, the problem was you, because he says, “and you were unwilling.  Behold, your house” that’s their temple, “is being left to you desolate!”
He used to call it My Father’s house, now He says it’s “your house,” you kicked Me out, it doesn’t belong to Me anymore. And I’m so happy the verse doesn’t end there, because then you get into verse 39. If the verse ended, or the chapter ended with verse 39 you would think God is through with Israel but verse 39, Jesus goes on and says, “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say,” now who’s the “you”? Jerusalem, Jerusalem, “until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” which is a citation from Psalm 1:18:26 which is a Messianic Psalm. [Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”]
And what He’s saying is I’m not coming back for this nation until you confess Me as Your Messiah. Well when is that going to happen? Matthew 23 is followed by Matthew 24. Matthew 24 is a description of the tribulation period, it talks about a time of unequal distress from the beginning of the world until now, and through that tribulation period Israel is going to be converted to her Messiah. She’s going to be put in a position where she will call Christ back to the earth and Jesus will come back and rescue her from the antichrist at the end of the tribulation period.
So in Matthew 24:31 it says, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET” this is NOT the rapture at all, God can have more than one trumpet, amen! People see the word “trumpet” and they ram, jam and cram the rapture into everything. Verse 31 says, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER” now the word “GATHER” there, what’s the verb… episunagō, the same verb we just read about at the end of Matthew 23. I wanted to gather you, have synagogue with you, when I came the first time; the problem wasn’t Me, the problem was you. So now you’re going to go into a time of unequalled distress called the tribulation period; you’re going to be converted. Through that process you’re going to call upon Me, you’re going to cite Psalm 118:26 and I’m going to return to the earth to rescue you. [Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”]
So a lot of people today, in their evangelism, are following the ABC method, you’ve got to Admit you’re a sinner, you’ve got Believe that Jesus is your Savior and what’s the C stand for? You’ve got to Confess Christ. And we here at Sugar Land Bible Church do not follow the ABC method, we follow the B method, there’s only one condition which is to Believe. And everybody says well wait, Romans 10:9, what does it say over there? You’ve got to make some kind of public confession of Christ, don’t we? Almost in every evangelistic tract someone tosses in Romans 10:9, it says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So when people put their evangelistic methodology together they go to Romans 10:9 and they include that. So they come up with the ABC method.
The problem is Romans 9, 10 and 11 is written to which group of people? Israel! Why is Paul dealing with Israel? Because he’s just made a bunch of promises to us at the end of chapter 8, like nothing can separate you from the love of God, and some wise guy in the back raises his hand and says wait a minute, God broke His Word to Israel and if God broke His Word to Israel, which is an inviolable covenant then God can break His Word to us too. So Paul goes on a digression; it’s actually not a digression, it’s central to his argument that God has not broken His Word to Israel. That’s what Romans 9, 10 and 11 is about. So Romans 9, Israel in the past—elected; Romans 10, Israel in the present—rejected; Romans 11, Israel in the future—accepted.
So when Paul talks about confessing Christ publicly He is not making a statement about what a person in the church age has to do to get saved. He is talking about what the nation of Israel will do in the future where they publicly confess Christ and Christ will return at the end of the tribulation period and rescue them. Paul, in Romans 10:9 is talking about what the Jew is supposed to do to trigger the Second Advent of Christ, so Christ can come back at the end of the tribulation period and rescue them from the beast. Romans 10:9 equals… in fact, you ought to just write that down in your study Bible, if you have a pen or pencil you ought to put right next to Romans 10:9, you should say “equals Matthew 23:29 which concerns Israel.”
So all of that to say when somebody says to get saved you have to publicly confess Christ they are not respecting the Israel/church distinction. See that? A person can get saved without telling anybody. Now I recommend you do tell someone but that’s not a condition God gave. In fact, so much for my “Reader’s Digest version,” look at this rabbit trail I’ve gone off on here. For example, John 12:42, what does that say? John’s Gospel, “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him,” why not? “for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.” So you’ve got a bunch of people in John’s Gospel that believed in Christ but didn’t tell anybody because they didn’t want to be kicked out of the synagogue which meant, if you were kicked out of the synagogue you were basically cut off from all of your religious contacts, social contacts, economic contacts. You would become a leper in society. So they just kept it to themselves.
Now here’s some people that believed but never confessed. Is anybody in their right mind going to tell me that those people weren’t saved? If anybody in their right mind is going to tell me that someone who somehow has access to a missionary or the gospel in some Islamic theocracy somewhere in the world that doesn’t have the freedom that we have here in America and they hear the gospel and they believe the gospel but if they say anything about it they know that their kids, their daughter could be raped, their kids could be stoned to death, they could be stoned to death, so they keep the whole matter to themselves. I mean, is anybody in their right mind going to tell me that that person is not saved? And yet they didn’t follow the ABC method. Well, I’m not really concerned whether they followed the ABC method, I’m concerned whether they followed God’s method. God puts one condition on the unsaved to be saved and that is to believe!
Now should we confess Christ publicly? I think it’s a good thing to do, I think God rewards us for doing it. But the reality is confessing Christ publicly is not some kind of condition that has to be fulfilled for a person to experience justification. To make that work you’ve got to grab some passages related to Israel at the end of the tribulation period and misapply them to the present church age.
So what was I trying to say with all that? I was trying to say that Jesus is going to come back for Israel at the end of the tribulation period; that’s when He’s coming back to them. Now when is He coming for the church? That’s completely different. He said in John 14… see where I’m going here, I’m not longer in the Olivet Discourse which concerns Israel, now I’ve gone to which discourse? The Upper Room Discourse, which concerns the church; that’s where you start to find your rapture teaching. He says in John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you;  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself,” after you’re almost martyred by the antichrist. It doesn’t’ say that, does it. “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and” that’s imminency, He’s coming back for us next, there is no event mentioned that precedes His coming for us which is the rapture. “If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am, there you may be also.”
So the coming of Christ for the church is in John 14:2-3 which is the rapture, which precedes the tribulation period. The coming of Christ for Israel is completely different; she’s thrust into that time period, called the tribulation period, in unbelief. Through that unbelief and that distress she becomes a believing nation and then she acknowledges Christ as her Savior, her Messiah. And then Jesus will come back at the end of the tribulation period and gather he together the same way He wanted to do when He was here the first time. So related to the return of Christ Israel and the church are under different programs. The coming of Christ for the church is the rapture; the coming of Christ for Israel is at the end of the tribulation period. See that?
How about leadership roles? The nation of Israel had a king, didn’t she? What was her king’s name? Jehovah! Over in Isaiah 33:22 written to Israel, it says, “For the LORD is our judge, The LORD is our lawgiver, The LORD is our” what? “king.” Now you can go through your New Testament all you want and Jesus is never called our King. I know that’s very disappointing to a lot of worship leaders because they’ve got a lot of songs about King Jesus and all of that, but the imagery that’s used in the New Testament related to the church is He is the head, (Ephesians 5) we are the what? Body. [Ephesians 5:30, “because we are members of His body.”] He is the groom, we are the what? The bride. [1 Timothy 6:15, “…He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”] That’s our relationship to Him, it’s just described completely different. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, meaning He’s going to reign as King one day. But He’s not currently functioning in that role as King; He is functioning in a role as high priest at the right hand of the Father after the order of Melchizedek. So our leadership to Him is described differently.
How about spiritual birthday; when did the nation of Israel have its spiritual birthday? When did it start? The nation of Israel started in Genesis 12 with the calling of Abram, whose name at that time hadn’t even been changed to what? Abraham. Prior to that point in time we had the tower of Babel, we had the flood, we’ve had the fall of man, we’ve had original creation, and it’s not until you get to Genesis 12 that you start to learn there’s going to be a special nation that God is going to use through the physical descendants of Abraham to bring forth His Messiah and ultimately His kingdom to the earth. And it’s not until Abraham, Genesis 12, is called out of the land of the Chaldeans, which probably is where Ur was, and is told to walk by faith. And it’s not until God starts to give Abraham, then Abram, certain promises that later get ratified into the form of a covenant, Genesis 15, it’s not until that happens that the nation of Israel starts. So it’s at that point in time that you have two people groups now on the earth, Gentile and Jew or Hebrew. Prior to that point in time you only had Gentile.
Now that’s completely different than the church, isn’t it? When did the church start; we’ve already studied that, haven’t we? Acts 2. The church doesn’t begin, the church doesn’t have its birthday until Acts 2 and it’s not until Acts 2 that you learn that God adds a third group to His dealings with mankind; Jew, Gentile and what? The church of God. That’s why Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:32 says, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;” Paul is acknowledging that a third people group just got added. Prior to Acts 2 you only had Jew and Gentile. Prior to Genesis 12 you only had Gentiles. See that? So our birthday, in terms of when the church started, is completely different than when God started Israel.
How about volume of Scripture? How much of the Bible is devoted to talking about Israel versus how much of the Bible is devoted to talking about the church. Well, if you have a hard copy of your Bible pick that up just for a second, this won’t work if you have a computerized version, but just pick this up because it’s sort daunting when people discover this, pick it up and with your left hand put your index finger in Genesis 12. Put your index finger of your left hand in Genesis 12 and with the same hand, which would be your thumb, the thumb of your same hand put your thumb in Acts 1. So left hand index finger, Genesis 1, same hand, left hand, thumb, in Acts 1. So if you’re doing your class project correctly you should be doing something kind of like this; can you just do that for a second. Now hold that up to your face, put it right up there by your eyeballs so you can see it. That stuff that you’re holding up is what God said to Israel. Now isn’t that a lot of information? This little dinky part over here is what God said to the church.
And in fact, a lot of the things He says in this little dinky part aren’t even directly aimed at the church. I already mentioned Romans 9, 10 and 11. Once you get beyond Revelation chapter 5 the church disappears and we don’t really see any references to the church during the tribulation period on the earth; the word “church” doesn’t even show up until Revelation 22. So my point is even this little tiny part over here, a lot of it relates to Israel; some of it relates to the church. So what I’m trying to get at is this; 80% of the Bible is talking about Israel. 20% of the Bible or a fifth of the Bible is talking about the church, and yet most of our preaching and teaching comes from which section? This little dinky part here. Most Christians know almost nothing about this big section here and yet I’m not sure if our teaching philosophy is correct on this because the great volume of material in the Bible is clearly aimed at the nation of Israel. If you just look at it in terms of volume or material covered Israel is a big, BIG deal to God. And yet I, as a preacher, to be honest with you, am far more comfortable teaching out of this little section here. Why is that? Because that’s the stuff that applies to us directly; that’s the stuff I understand the best. It’s the stuff that’s sort of less Jewish that as a Gentile makes me a little less nervous. I mean, all this feast stuff and sacrifices, to be honest with you that stuff scares me to death. I like these New Testament ideas better, about the body of Christ, and things like that.
But the reality of the situation is although we’re more comfortable in the 20% section that’s not how the Bible is set up. Most of the Bible is dealing with the nation of Israel. So the nation of Israel is bringing forth the Messiah and then the church that the Messiah Himself built up is the body of Christ that’s described in the final fifth.
How about the covenants; what is our relationship to the covenants? You know the covenants, have you studied the covenants? God gave to Abraham a covenant called the Abrahamic Covenant. The covenant’s promise to Abraham and his descendants was land, seed and blessing. Those are the three main promises. And then what the rest of the Old Testament does is it develops each of those promises. So the land covenant is developed with greater clarity and specificity in what’s called the land covenant, Deuteronomy 29 and 30. The seed promises is given more explanation of what’s called the Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7:12, 16. The blessings aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant is given greater development in what’s called the New Covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34. [2 Samuel 7:12, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  “‘Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”
Now with whom did God make these covenants with? Israel, and in fact you don’t have to guess about it at all, all you’ve got to do is open your Bible to Jeremiah 31:31-34 which is articulating the New Covenant, which you’ll see there on my chart. God says, “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with” First Baptist of Houston… NO, ‘“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,” talking about the northern and southern kingdoms. The covenants were never made with the church. In fact, how could the covenants be made with the church; the church didn’t even exist in Old Testament times.
So related to these covenants Israel is a direct party to the covenants. The only parties in the covenants are God and Israel, period! Now in the service today, and I noticed the deacons haven’t set up the table yet, hopefully they’ll do that at some point, we’re having communion today aren’t we? We’re going to be celebrating communion and Paul says that we ought to take communion because we are beneficiaries of the New Covenant. Well why are we taking communion, celebrating the New Covenant, when we aren’t parties to the New Covenant? The answer is this: while we may not be parties to any of the covenants we are… what our legal system in contract law calls we are third party beneficiaries to the covenants. We are not a party, we are a third party beneficiary. In other words, God made these covenants with Israel so that the spillover effect is to bless other people.
So what is the difference between a party and a third party beneficiary? Here’s the example I like to use to describe that: does anybody need their car washed? I’ll have to look out there and find a car unless someone raises their hand. Who needs their car washed? Mikey needs her car washed. And I drive in and I look at you all’s car and I say man, that’s just terrible, the car is dirty, and it just doesn’t look good at our church, I don’t even know what car you drive so this is all hypothetical. And we’ve got an image to protect in the community and so I decide to hire someone to wash your car. So who would like to wash their car? I notice all the hands aren’t going up. I will hire Tomalia to wash Mikey’s car. Now the moment… and you don’t even know that I’ve entered into this agreement with Tomalia do you? I just call her aside and say their car looks terrible, I’ll pay you… I don’t know, 30 bucks or whatever, to wash their car. So the moment that happens is the parties to the contract are myself and Tomalia. You aren’t a party to the contract at all; you don’t even know that the contract has been entered into; you are a third party beneficiary. See that?
So in this relationship Tomalia is Israel, and I can do this because I’m teaching and I have the microphone, I am god, isn’t that a sad thing to think about. So I’m god, she’s Israel, the two of us have a contractual relationship with each other, and in fact, this image might not even be the best because in God’s covenants with Israel they’re not bilateral, they’re what? Unilateral, in other words, God does all the work. So don’t push this imagery too far. So who would Mikey be in all of this? She would be the church. See that?
So yeah, we are benefits of a lot of blessings of these covenants and you can go through the New Testament and you can document, oh, there’s a blessing, there’s a blessing, there’s a blessing, but we were never parties to the covenants. The only parties between the covenants are God and the nation of Israel. So that’s another fundamental distinction.
Another distinction is the nation of Israel is a political entity. What does that mean? She is a nation. In fact, when the United Nations meets Israel has a seat at the table along with every other nation on the earth, whether it be Canada or Zimbabwe, or the United States or whatever, because that’s how God set Israel up. He set her up as a nation or we might even say as a country. So as a nation she had land, and the land has borders, doesn’t it? When you study Genesis 15:18-21 you can see the specific borders that God gave to the nation of Israel. She hasn’t even entered those [can’t understand word] borders yet but she will in the millennial kingdom.
And because the nation of Israel is just that, a nation or a country she has a capital. The capital of the nation of Israel, thank you Donald Trump recently for recognizing this, is not Tel Aviv, but it is Jerusalem. And then you get into 1 Kings 11, 1 Kings 12 and the ten northern tribes separate from the two southern tribes; the ten northern tribes take on the name Israel, the two southern tribes take on the name Judah, and the capital of the south is Jerusalem; the capital of the north is what? Samaria. So you’ll notice that the nation of Israel is always treated like a country; in fact, she actually has tribes. In fact, you get into the Old Testament and there is information about how you handle border disputes with your neighbors. I mean, what if your neighbor takes more property than they’re supposed to? Your Old Testament and the Mosaic Law covers those kinds of situations. What do you do with a wild animal that comes into your property and destroys it? What do you do there? Well, the nation of Israel is an actual nation, she has laws governing that kind of things, just like you would have here in our country, the United States of America.
Now compare that to the church; is the church a nation? No she is not. In fact, Paul, the apostle, in Romans 10:19 tells us specifically that we are not a nation; we are a non-nation making God’s nation, provoking her to a state of jealousy. As the blessings of God are poured out upon us and are currently absent from unbelieving Israel, the nation of Israel, the wife of Jehovah, is getting jealous that God has turned His attention to another woman. That’s the imagery that’s used here. Paul says, “But I surely say, Israel did not know, did they? “But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, ‘I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION,” that would be us, so we’re specifically called a non-nation because we consist of believers in Jesus Christ of how many nations? All nations.
Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:14 says, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.” So how then are we, as a non-nation governed? We are governed in local assemblies by leaders of the church called, it starts with an E… Elders. That’s the divine arrangement of God in the church age. The nation of Israel had no elders the way the New Testament describes Elders for us. The nation of Israel had… and the hint is there’s a great big book, two books in the Old Testament named after this office, they had Kings. The northern kingdom had 19 kings, the southern kingdom had 20 kings. And by the way, having a king is not the greatest thing because the northern kingdom had 19 kings and not a single one of them was good. The northern kingdom went 0 and 19 in their season. The southern kingdom went a little bit better; they had how many good kings? 8 or 20, so they went 8 and 20. I guess I’d take an 8 and 20 record better than an o and 19 record. But the fact of the matter is the kings didn’t do very well and so the message in all of that is Israel is to wait for who? The ultimate King, Jesus Christ, who will be untainted by a sin nature.
So the nation of Israel has kings; we don’t have kings, we have elders. Why the difference? Because the nation of Israel was a nation with political borders and a capital; not so the church, it’s a spiritual man spread out in all nations. And that’s sort of the danger of confusing one’s nationality with Christianity. A lot of people think America means Christian or Christian means America. And they think that probably because the gospel has germinated here more than any other place on planet earth and I praise God for it. But God never set up the church to be the possession of a single nation. It’s supposed to go into all nations. So all around the world today as I speak we have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world that are part of the same body. That’s not how it was with the nation of Israel; the nation of Israel was an actual nation with an actual country.
And you see, this is where people get confused about the subject of tithing. I don’t know if I even want to bring this up because I need to be winding down here. Israel had a tithe, in fact, they had three tithes. Did you know that? Two annual, one every three years; every Jew was required by law to give twenty-three and a third percent of their income to the nation of Israel. Why is that? Because it’s a country that has to support certain things. Like what? Like a priesthood, and an army, and people take that same mentality and they want to bring it into the church and they want to find a number… how much am I supposed to give to the church? Well, the Old Testament has a number because you’re dealing with a country. It’s like a tax system. The New Testament, for the church age, has no number. It’s very disconcerting to people who discover that, there’s not 10%, there’s no 23 and 1/3 percent. Now the United States government is not going to give you that same luxury; right? They don’t say well, just give as God has purposed in your heart; I mean, if you do that you’ll be in a lot of trouble, particularly around April 15th, is that the tax day? And in fact, we’ve got our tax things out for folks because they want to know if they can deduct things that they’ve given here, from their taxes, to the U.S. government. Taxes are not optional; they are obligatory.
That’s why you get into the New Testament and you don’t have a specific number because we’re not a nation and we don’t have a priesthood to support and we don’t have an army, and we don’t have borders and we don’t have a capital. So what are you supposed to give? You’re supposed to follow, not a number but adverbs; an adverb modifies a what? A verb; an adverb typically ends in “l-y”, Joe ran quickly, ran is the verb, what’s the adverb? Quickly, because when I run I don’t run quickly so [can’t understand name] would be running quickly. I would be running slowly. So we have different adverbs to describe the verb. See that.
So if you want to understand the divine expectation in your life concerning giving you don’t go back into a system where we’re dealing with a nation or country. You go into the age of the church where adverbs are given and you’re going to find those adverbs in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. They tell you not how much to give, as it was in the nation of Israel, but principles for giving. So you’ll find adverbs like this: when you give, “give” what? “secretly,” don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. In other words, don’t give money and expect a building to be named after you. When you give, give what? Generously. When you give, give hilariously, cheerfully, not grudgingly, because God loves a what? Cheerful giver. [1 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”]
When you give, give sacrificially, we should give sort of to the point that it hurts. That’s the New Testament model. Now what’s the point of hurt for you; it might be different for you than it is for me but you see, there’s no number given. There’s a principle given and we’re to follow that principle. So we’re to give sacrificially, we’re to give generously, we’re to give secretly, we’re to give hilariously, oh, and also we’re to give proportionately. It says, “give as the Lord has” what? “prospered you.” In other words, as your economic status increases there’s an expectation you would give even more. But you’re not going to find a number in the New Testament because the church is not a nation.
Another real fast one, and then I want to open it up for questions. Wars, what kind of wars do we fight? What kind of wars did Israel fight? Political wars; they went out and they fought the Amalekites, the Jebusites, the Girgashites, the electric lights, the out of sights, the termites, the mosquito bites, all the “ites,” they are actual people they’re fighting. There’s a body count you’ll see described in the Old Testament, the armies that they’re supposed to use are described in the Old Testament. Now you would expect that because the nation of Israel is a country. We are not a country so we… of course, applaud and support those who defend our country, the United States of America, we have a lot of vets and things like that in this church and we try to acknowledge their sacrifice but the fact of the matter is, fighting a war is not an obligation that God ever gave to the church. That is an obligation that God gave to the nation state which He created subsequent to the tower of Babel. We’re not dealing in the church with a nation state, we’re talking about a spiritual entity. So our struggle in the church, Ephesians 6, is “not against flesh and blood.” Well, wait a minute, in the Old Testament Israel Joshua, David, in fact, this is why David couldn’t build the temple; God wouldn’t let him because there was blood on his hands. Why was there blood on his hands? Because he was the king; he was supposed to go out and wage military conflict. But the church does not do that; the church is a spiritual man in a spiritual struggle because “we wrestle not against” what? Flesh and blood. So that’s another basic difference.
That takes us to number nine I think so we’ll stop there and we’ll pick up this list next time. I hope you find this interesting. Let’s open it up for some questions if you have any.