The Feast of Tabernacles

The Feast of Tabernacles

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            “And they found written in the Law, which the Lord had

             commanded Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell          

             in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that

             they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and

             in Jerusalem saying, “Go out to the mountains, and bring

             olive branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees

             to make booths as it is written.”

                                                                        Nehemiah 8:14-15

The yearly celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is one of the three great annual and biblically required festivals; the other two being Passover and Pentecost. These biblical Feasts have great significance in that they all speak of the glorious redemptive plan of God. Passover teaches us about the Door to the Kingdom of God in that we can only be saved from our sins by the spilt blood of a lamb. This serves as a glorious picture of the death of Christ. Pentecost reminds us of the Power of the Kingdom of God. That is, the giving of the word of God and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon blood washed believers on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4)

The Feast Tabernacles is a picture of the Triumph of the Kingdom of God since it reminds us that all of life is to be lived under the protection and sovereignty of God. The Israelites coming out of Egypt were required to build leafy booths and to live in them for eight days. These were very fragile and could not protect one from the harsh desert conditions. The lesson was clear; God would protect and care for them. We have to learn this lesson as well as so often, as Jesus pointed out, we are consumed with anxiety and worry about so many of life’s issues. Our Father in Heaven cares for us and watches over us every day because we are part of His Kingdom! How easily we forget this. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Jesus underlined this when on the Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, as He watched the water libation service in the temple, He cried out that if we believe in and follow Him a river of God’s love, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will flow out of our lives bringing joy and blessing to our lives. This is the triumph of the Kingdom of God in our personal lives and we should be living in it! (John 7:37-39)

The Feast of Tabernacles also points us to the future when, by the second coming of Jesus, the world will finally be subjected to the Kingdom of God. That is, Jesus will reign over the nations from Jerusalem and peace will for the first time envelop the world. War will be a thing of the past and for a thousand years the nations will live in the very light of the glory of God. What a day that will be and to celebrate it the nations will ascend every year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.  (Zechariah 14:16-19) We await then a glorious fulfillment of this great Feast and our annual celebration of it is a prophetic picture pointing to the coming Triumph of the Kingdom of God.

In fact this day is fast approaching and the restoration of Israel in our time is evidence of it. It is worth noting then that the Feast of Tabernacles is a joyful celebration and those living in the Kingdom of God are actually commanded to be joyful. All this reminds us that serving Jesus brings much joy to our lives and this Joy is supernatural and powerful. Paul noted this when he wrote:

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,  but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy  Spirit.”   Romans 14:17

Those celebrating the Kingdom of God at the Feast of Tabernacles carry a Lulav, which amounts to four species of plants. These tell us that we are all at different spiritual growth levels in that some are weak, others are strong, some are complacent and yet others are discouraged. God loves us all and desires that we should all celebrate His love with much joy at the Feast Tabernacles!

Malcolm Hedding

Yom Kippur 2018

Yom Kippur 2018

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                        “So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place,

                         because of the uncleanness of the children of

                         Israel, and because of their transgressions, for

                         all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabern-

                         acle of meeting which remains among them in

                         the midst of their uncleanness.”

                                                            Leviticus 16:16

 

                        “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost

                         those who come to God through Him, since He

                         always lives to make intercession for them. For

                         such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy,

                         harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and

                         has become higher than the heavens…”

                                                            Hebrews 7:25-26

 Yom Kippur is the Great Day of Atonement. It is an awesome day in which nothing moves, cities and their commerce come to a complete standstill in Israel and even the roads, just the day before congested and given to gridlock, are empty. It’s as if all of creation is holding its breath since this is the Day when sinners, living under the wrath of God, can be freed from it. It requires introspection, fasting and prayer and the courage to acknowledge one’s sins and cast one’s self upon the grace of God. Only God’s unmerited favor can save us from His anger and a lost eternity.

In days of old the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies on this day and there before the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant he would present the blood of the Lord’s Goat.  Around his one foot a rope was tied in case He was struck down dead and thus he could be pulled out by it. On the fringe of his High Priestly Garments were little bells, which, when the power and glory of God came down upon the High Priest, would tinkle together as a sign that God had accepted the atoning sacrifice made on behalf of His people (Exodus 28:31-36). It was a sound of joy and the whole nation would listen intently for it. If heard they knew that their sins were again overlooked (Romans 3:23-25)(Acts 17:30) and not attributed to them. They were free from the wrath of God! According to Jewish legend a ribbon dipped in the blood of the atoning goat was attached to the outer structure of the Temple for all to see and so when the atoning sacrifice had been approved and accepted by God it turned white as snow. This is a reminder of what the Prophet Isaiah had stated in chapter one and verse eighteen of his oracle:

 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord,

                         though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white

                         as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be

                         as wool.”

 The Scapegoat was at the same time brought before the High Priest who confessed the sins of the nation over it and then sent it away into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:20-22). This goat was called the Azazel, which also means “The one who opposes.” So, the Scapegoat not only carried the sins of the people away into the wilderness of forgetfulness but it also symbolized release from the Devil and his demons. What an amazing picture of God’s perfect deliverance in Christ Jesus.

The Day of Yom Kippur reminds us of the gravity of sin, the great price that Jesus paid to release us from its grip and the joy of being reconciled to God. The Scapegoat also symbolizes our complete deliverance from inbred sin and from the Devil. This is exactly what Jesus came to do (Acts 10:38). This is a Day that reminds us of God’s mercy and love and just how undeserving of these we are. It teaches us to fear God and live righteously before Him since Jesus, taking our place on the cross, spilt His blood to save us from the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 1:10). A great price was paid for our redemption and we should never forget it (1 Peter 1:18-19). This is precisely why we take the sacrament of Communion regularly. We surely must remember what Jesus did for us on the cross and thus Yom Kippur is an awesome reminder of the reverence we should hold in our hearts for God’s great redemptive act in Christ.

Malcolm Hedding.

The Ten Days of Awe

The Ten Days of Awe

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                        “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh

                         month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a

                         Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing trumpets, a holy

                         Convocation.”

                                                                        Leviticus 23:24

 

                        “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the

                         Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for

                         you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering

                         made by fire to the Lord.”

                                                                        Leviticus 23:27

             

                         “I, therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to

                         walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

                         with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering,

                         bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep

                         the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

                       

                                                                        Ephesians 4:1-3

 

Days of Reflection

 Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Great Day of Atonement, there are ten days. These are meant to be days of personal reflection, repentance and prayer and they are to fill us with a healthy fear of God. Therefore they are also called the Ten Terrible Days. Not only are we to awaken to righteousness and zeal as we hear the trumpet blast at Rosh Hashanah but we are also to think most seriously about our relationship with God and with one another.

Reconciliation and Unity

The message of the Bible is about reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). That is, reconciliation with God and with our fellow man. Sin alienates and divides people and thereby births conflicts, wars, murders, outbursts of anger and all manner of hatred between people, families and races (Galatians 5:19-21). Those who come to God by faith in what He has done for them in Christ, the Messiah, have this cycle of alienation and hatred broken in their lives. For the people of God to live in schism and disunity constitutes a denial of the very essence of what it means to be a Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). This should not happen and we should do everything to preserve the unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-6). In the end contentious people should be rejected and removed from the community of faith after having been appropriately warned (Titus 3:10). All of this dear friends is very serious business and we would do well to think deeply about it.

Humility and Grace

When living in Jerusalem a very dear friend of mine, and a beloved Rabbi of blessed memory, asked to see me during the Ten Days of Awe. He had promised to do something for me and had forgotten. While praying and reflecting upon his life he was convicted of this and felt that he had to ask my forgiveness and so it was that he came to my office and apologized for his lapse in memory, asked for my forgiveness and promised to rectify the matter; which he did. I was greatly moved by this and cannot help but wonder what would happen to the body of Christ if we all acted in this way. The Ten Days of Awe therefore enable us to take hold of the grace of God and to be the people that Jesus wants us to be (Ephesians 4:31-32). Five is the number of grace in the bible and so the Ten Days of Awe, two fives, remind us of the amazing, blessed and abundant grace of God that has come to our lives by Christ Jesus. We need to think about this and respond appropriately. This period reminds us of these wonderful things and challenges us to be all that God, by Christ Jesus, wants us to be.

Indeed the Ten Days of Awe help us to focus on what it means to truly be a child of God; just as Passover or Easter enable us to see more clearly what Jesus did for us on the cross. We need these times to refresh our souls and draw closer to God.

Malcolm Hedding

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

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                        “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, speak to

                         the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month,

                         on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath

                         rest, a memorial of blowing trumpets, a holy convo-

                         cation.”

                                                                        Leviticus 23:23-24

                         “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of

                         Christ, that each one may receive the things done in

                         the body, according to what he has done, whether

                         good or bad.”

 

                                                                        2 Corinthians 5:10

Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, is the Jewish New Year and as such is a proscribed biblical celebration. It is also known as the Feast of Trumpets because it constitutes a clarion call to the believers to take stock of their lives always remembering that God Himself is weighing them in His scales to determine how pleasing they are to Him. If we live for Him, in all that we say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31), we shall have a sweet year and so at this annual celebration apples and honey are eaten in the hope that we will all have a good inscription or assessment. Paul echoed the same sentiments when he stated that we should make it our constant aim to be pleasing unto the Lord (Colossians 1:10) (Hebrews 13:20-21).

There is no doubt that believers who are not pleasing to the Lord have limitations put on their lives and actions. For instance Paul says that if we live lives that are not clean and holy and consistent with what Jesus did for us on the cross and then, we take Communion without making the appropriate corrections, we can bring weakness, sickness and even death to our lives (1 Corinthians 11:23-31)! We are thus called upon to carefully examine or judge ourselves before sharing in the Lord’s Supper. This is the meaning and message of Rosh Hashanah and we would do well to embrace it. Of course this is not about works in terms of salvation but about the love for Christ that should flow out of our lives because of His death, burial and resurrection on our behalf. Jesus Himself stated that He cannot endure lukewarm Christians and that those Christians who are in this state should make some hard decisions (Revelation 3:16). Repentance is the only remedy!

Rosh Hashanah is therefore followed by the Ten Days of Awe wherein the believer should embrace with joy the blessedness of repentance. That is, godly repentance that truly and joyfully turns him away from everything that displeases God in his life (2 Corinthians 7:10). Paul writes in his Ephesian letter that Christ followers should awaken from their spiritual sleep and eagerly embrace the blessings of God (Ephesians 5:13-15). We should all heed these exhortations because it is so easy to slip into a spiritual routine that can make us deaf to the voice and presence of God.

Rosh Hashanah is therefore also a picture of that great final Day of Judgment that awaits all of us for we shall all stand before God one day to give an account of our lives (Romans 14:10-12). On that Day we shall not be able to hide anything or make any excuses since everything about us will be laid bare before Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. That Day will determine our place of standing in heaven and we should all live our lives in the light of it. Rosh Hashanah is a timely reminder of all these things and we should heed its message. May you have a good inscription!

Shana Tova,

Malcolm Hedding.

Israel in the New Testament

Israel in the New Testament

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            For many “there is the settled conviction that the Israel of the

            Old Testament has been ‘replaced’ or ‘fulfilled’ in the Church

            of the New…but the Jewish nation as a whole is no longer

            God’s chosen people and must be regarded, treated and judged

            like any other. The Jews as such no longer have a place in the

             plans and purposes of God…I believe that Israel has a future in

            God’s purposes; that He has not finished with Israel; that neither

            the people nor the place have been left behind in God’s purposes.”

 

                                                                        David Pawson

Today old and yet false theological schemes are emerging that challenge the biblical credentials underpinning Israel’s modern day restoration. The recent 70th year celebrations of Israel’s independence coupled with the democratic decision of the American people to move their embassy to Jerusalem has ignited intense debate in the wider Church about these things and consequently these false teachings are being asserted again. They all have one thing in common and that is that Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys no biblical significance and is nothing more than a political coincidence. The teachings of which I write are the following:

Replacement Theology

Fulfillment Theology…and,

Dominion Theology

In the first the Church is now the sole expression of the purpose of God on earth and as such is the “New Israel of God.” The Jewish people, having failed God, have forfeited the promises made to them in the Abrahamic Covenant and especially those that promise them everlasting possession of the land of Canaan for the purpose of world redemption.

In the second Jesus in His own life and body fulfills all the promises that God made to the Jewish people in the Abrahamic Covenant including those that have to do with bequeathing to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.

In the last of these, that is Dominion Theology, the Church is destined to take dominion over the world and set up a type of global expression of Christendom. Once this has been achieved, in that the seven mountains of human activity have been Christianized, Jesus will come again. In other words the Church ushers in the Millennium before Jesus comes and therefore there is no need for a restored Jewish state in the land of Canaan to do so. Only a restored Church can accomplish this and thus this false teaching asserts that a new type of empowered Christian is going to emerge who will bring the Kingdom of God to the world in a new and dynamic manner. Consequently, once again, Israel’s modern day restoration is irrelevant and therefore enjoys no biblical credentials. Dominion Theology is nothing more than the emergence of an old teaching called Post-Millennialism.

Those holding to these theological positions constantly claim that the New Testament does not support a restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Canaan. In fact for them the New Testament does just the opposite in that it teaches that in the light of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection men everywhere should now repent regardless of ethnicity, race, position or gender. This of course is true but only partly so! Indeed a careful examination of the pages of the New Testament will reveal a different story. A story that will confirm that no part of the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished or adjusted and that God still remains faithful to all the promises He ever made to the Jewish people in it. This in turn means that Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys significant and amazing support from the New Testament scriptures. Consider the following:

 

  1. The Abrahamic Covenant

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac,

 and he who had received the promises offered up his only

 begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall

 be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up,

 even from the dead, from which he also received him in a

 figurative sense.”

                                    Hebrews 11:17-19

 “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He

 could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying,

 “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply

 you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the

 promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath

 for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God,

 determining to show more abundantly the immutability of His

 counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things

 in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong

 consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope

 that is set before us.”

                                    Hebrews 6:13-18

It is the Abrahamic Covenant that promises the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession for the purpose of world redemption (Genesis 13:14-15; Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12). The Covenant was conditional upon Abraham’s obedience and was certainly “cut” with him by God in an unconditional manner. That is, God alone undertook to fulfill all the promises and obligations in it (Genesis 15:12-21). Indeed Abraham, having been put to the test, gave full obedience to the command of God that required that he, Abraham, should sacrifice Isaac upon whose existence all the promises of land, of a coming Messiah and of global salvation (blessing) rested (Genesis 22:1-2).

 

Abraham believed that God would still fulfill these even if Isaac were taken from him leaving him with no heir. Because he demonstrated unswerving faith in the promises of God, God considered Abraham His friend (2 Chronicles 20:7) and swore by Himself and by His word that He would be faithful just as Abraham His friend had been faithful! Theirs was a true friendship based on the fact that God does not lie. Those espousing the errors outlined above believe that God did in fact lie and has broken His friendship with Abraham by dishonoring His promises that He made to him. In fact the truth is just the opposite because God remains faithful to all His promises to the Jewish people because of His friendship with their Fathers, which includes Abraham! Paul picks up on this in Romans 11 when he makes a remarkable statement that goes like this:

Concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sake, but

             concerning the election (that is, God’s call over their lives)

             they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and

             the calling of God are irrevocable (that is cannot be changed

             or removed in any way).”

                                                Romans 11:28-29

In Galatians 3 Paul recognizes that while the Abrahamic Covenant has many parts actually as a Covenant it cannot in any way be annulled. It is one Covenant and no part of it can be changed because God is faithful and a true friend to Abraham.

“Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a

             man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds

             to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made.

             He does not say, “And to seeds” as of many but as of one, “And

             to your Seed”, who is Christ.”

                                                Galatians 3:15-16

For Paul then the Abrahamic Covenant cannot be adjusted in any way (‘no one annuls or adds to it”) but this is exactly what the preachers of these false teachings do. They adjust (add) things that the very nature of the Covenant precludes one from doing. Here Paul is referring to that part of the Abrahamic Covenant that promises that salvation would come to the world through one individual (seed) and not by the giving of the Law given to the many (seeds). In this vain, Luke admits that the many holy men of God who came to Israel, to fulfill their ministries, did so because of the promises that God made to the Jewish people in Abraham. So, John the Baptist came into the world precisely because God remembered His people and His promises to them in Abraham and this too was true of Christ. Speaking of whom he records Mary’s Song as follows:

“He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has

             sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remem-

             brance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and

             to his seed forever.”

                                                Luke 1:53-55

And then of John the Baptist he records Zacharias’ Prophetic word as follows:

“That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand

             of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers

 and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore

 to our father Abraham: to grant us that we being delivered from

 the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness

 and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives.”

                                                Luke 1:71-75

So, it is clear from these passages that the apostolic writers recognized that in the Abrahamic Covenant God made promises to the people of Israel that embodied land, deliverance, the coming of a herald to the nation and the arrival of a Messiah. In short in sending John and Jesus to the people of Israel God honored the promises that He had made to His friend Abraham.

In Galatians 3 Paul firmly entrenches the unshakable nature of the Abrahamic Covenant because for him:

It promised salvation in Christ and not by means of the Law (Galatians 3:16).

It is everlasting and cannot be annulled (Galatians 3:15).

It is, by virtue of being in Christ, the means to receive the promised Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14)…and,

It is, by virtue of being in Christ, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations (Galatians 3:29).

It is to be noted that in Galatians 3 Paul is seeking to combat those who were seeking to destabilize the Church by insisting that aspects of the Law had to be observed in order to be saved (Galatians 2:11-21). These people were called “Judaizes”. Paul is thus demonstrating that 430 years before the Law was given on Mt. Sinai God promised in the Abrahamic Covenant that salvation would come to the world through a “Seed” (Christ) who by His death on the cross would save us from the curse of sin (Galatians 3:13). The Law, writes Paul, serves as a  “tutor to bring us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24). Paul is definitely not here debunking the other parts of the Abrahamic Covenant that bequeath to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession as some erroneously assert. He was only dealing with the issues surrounding the Law and Grace.

  1. Jesus

 Jesus, recognizing the call of God over the nation of Israel, said:

“Salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22

 This is an amazing statement in that in reality Jesus is the only Savior and yet He recognized that the Jewish people, in their historical journey, undergirded only by the Abrahamic Covenant, are the custodians of redemptive truth. Even Jesus needed their historical journey because by it the Word of God was produced that gave Him context and credentials for His redeeming work. That is, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Paul reinforced the same truth in Romans 9:1-5.

Jesus knew then that the Abrahamic Covenant had made promises to the many (the Jews) and promises to the One who would bring blessing (salvation) to the world, that is, Himself. There is no other way to interpret this statement and to therefore assert that somehow God held true to all His undertakings to Abraham for 2000 years until Jesus came, and then broke them is ludicrous but this is precisely what these three false teachings claim.

It follows then that the modern day restoration of Israel is in fact no coincidence but the outflow of God’s word to “the fathers.” Also, the fact that salvation is of the Jews; means that their existence, revelation, land and Messiah are testimony to the irrevocable call that God placed over their national destiny for the blessing of the world. This call has nothing to do with racial superiority but rather with blessing (salvation) for the nations and yet the nations, and even segments of the Church, resist this call and thereby in fact resist the purpose of God. This was true of old and it is true today. Israel exists only for the blessing of the nations; even the Arabic speaking nations! If only they would recognize it.

It is also worth noting that Jesus foresaw an end-time return of the Jews to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and, in response to a question put to Him by His Disciples, affirmed that a day would come, known only to the Father, when the “kingdom would be restored to Israel” (Acts 1:6). This clearly implies a restoration of the Jews to Canaan with Jerusalem as their Capital!

 3.Romans 9, 10 and 11

             “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ

             for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

             who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the

             glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service

             of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and

             from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is

             over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

                                                            Romans 9:3-5

 It must be, and should be noted, that according to Paul the “Israelites” remain the recipients of “the covenants” and “the promises” and Paul is confirming this to Christians who come from a Gentile background. If this be true then who are we to assert that this is actually not true since he writes this after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? The false theological systems, mentioned at the beginning of this paper, actually claim that by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ the promises made to Israel in the covenants and especially in the Abrahamic Covenant have been altered, changed or abolished. Paul uses the present continuous tense in this passage meaning that all the covenants and promises related to Israel remain intact.

Actually the very fact that Paul dedicates an extensive part of his Roman Epistle to the question of Israel is highly significant in that this alone proves that the Jewish people take and hold a unique place before God in terms of His plan for the salvation of the world. If they were like any other nation, as is asserted by these false teachings, why would he bother for certainly he does not write about Australians or Canadians in this way. What is it about the Jewish people that demands a unique explanation? The answer is the following:

They are, “beloved of God”, even in their unsaved state “for the sake of the Fathers(Romans 11:28b). That is, God has remembered all the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and will not renege on them. Indeed He will not go back on His “election” of them. Meaning that though unsaved they remain “elected” in the sense that they carry the redemptive purpose of God in their national destiny.

They are, “enemies of the Gospel for your sake” (Romans 11:28a). This is a remarkable statement in that it acknowledges that Jewish unbelief has enabled the Gentile world to hear the Gospel. No other nation on the earth is an enemy of the gospel for our sake and this underlines the fact that even in their unbelief the Jews are a blessing to the world!

They are, not cast away from the promises of God because they “stumbled” over Christ and so they have not been disinvested from anything that God said to them. Paul writes:

“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall (be dis-

             inherited of God’s promises to them)? Certainly not! But

             through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has

             come to the Gentiles.”

            Romans 11:11

 In fact their “fall” is “riches for the world” (Romans 11:12). Again, if God has no other destiny for them as a nation then why would Paul write in these terms and indeed he goes on to declare that their recovery, spiritually speaking, will mean for the Gentile world “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). That is, the literal resurrection of the dead for Gentile Christians. Jesus is not coming again until the full restoration process now unfolding in Israel will be completed. Peter agrees fully with Paul on this as, when preaching to the “men of Israel”, he said:

            “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be

             blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the

             presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who

             was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until

             the times of the restoration of all things, which God has spoken

             by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

                                                Acts 3:19-21

 They are, to be dealt with by kindness and appreciation. Paul warns that if Gentile Christians despise unsaved Jews and deal with them arrogantly and wickedly God is watching and will in the end even remove them from the olive tree of salvation! This is serious business and it is here that vast segments of the Church have failed and have sinned before God and continue to. This reality only pertains to the Jewish people and no other nation and this in turn indicates that as a nation they stand in a unique place before God. We should read the following words of Paul very carefully:

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being

             a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them

             became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do

             not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that

             you do not support the tree, but the root supports you. You will

             say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”

             Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you

             stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if god did not

             spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.”

                                                Romans 11:17-21

 The historical record of Christian Anti-Semitism is wicked, awful and overwhelming and much of it has been driven by the three false theological systems mentioned above. These false teachings all have one thing in common; they disinvest the Jewish people of their unique national destiny and consequently assert that there is no biblical significance to their modern day restoration. The New Testament refutes these false claims everywhere. And so, finally:

They are, the recipients of a destiny given to them in Abraham that is “irrevocable(Romans 11:29). The word “irrevocable” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as: “That which is unable to be changed or reversed.” Paul here affirms that when God called forth the Jewish people in Abraham He made promises to them that He would never, in any way, go back on. How strange it is then that so-called Christian theologians have no understanding of what the word “irrevocable” means. Actually they have the same problem with understanding the word “everlasting” found in the pages of Genesis.  This theological ineptitude has robbed the Church of truth, displeased God and brought much misery to the Jewish people. If only we had properly read the New Testament after all, as concerning the Jews, “we share in their spiritual things (Romans 15:27)!

 Important Summary

 It is important to note then that any careful and honest examination of Romans 9,10 and 11 will reveal that unbelieving Israel enjoys a relationship with the God of the Bible that, while not saving, is real and unique and that no other nation on earth enjoys. According to Paul unbelieving Israel is “beloved for the sake of the fathers”, has not been rejected or “cast away”, enjoys a calling that is “irrevocable” and those who mistreat or despise her could be removed from the olive tree of salvation. This is New Testament theology and consequently two questions have to be asked:

  1. On what biblical grounds does unbelieving Israel enjoy these blessings? The answer is, and can only be, the Abrahamic Covenant…and,
  2. What other nation currently on the earth enjoys such blessings and protections? The answer is, none!

Malcolm Hedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel at 70

Israel at 70

Blog

“In Israel in order to be a realist you must believe in

                                                            miracles.”

                                                     David Ben Gurion

 

            “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances

             of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and

             its waters roar (The Lord of hosts is His name): If those ordinances

             depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also

             cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

                                                            Jeremiah 31:35

 

            “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the

             waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink

             wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat  fruit from them.

             I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up

             From the land I have given them.” Says the Lord your God.”

                                                            Amos 9:14-15

70 years ago, as a consequence of the United Nations partition vote, Israel came into existence as a nation with international approval and legitimacy. Though resisted at the time by five Arab armies that attacked her, she bravely withstood this unprovoked act of aggression and emerged proud and stronger than ever. Israel’s arrival in 1948 on the stage of the world was against the tide of history and in every respect a living miracle that has continued to unfold before our very eyes. There is in fact no explanation for Israel’s survival other than that the God of Israel and of the Bible has been, is and will be, behind it. In the end, because of His remarkable intervention in this regard all nations will come to know that He alone is the Lord of heaven and earth.

For some, even and sadly in the church, this miracle enjoys no biblical significance just as there were those who claimed this when the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile to rebuild their state some 500 years before Christ. They too shouted out in resistance and attempted to wage war against the returning exiles on the grounds that such a return was unjust and a violation of their concept of social justice (Nehemiah 4:1-14). Nothing has changed! They failed then and they will fail now.

Scripture clearly affirms that Israel will exist as a nation before God just so long as the sun, moon and stars are in the skies above us and it further states that a return of the Jews, to the very land of their forefathers, will take place one day wherein they will never be plucked up or removed from the land again (Amos 9:14-15). Quite clearly the prophet Amos is not speaking about their return from Babylon as they were indeed plucked up again and exiled in 70 AD. No, this amazing prophetic statement   by Amos has only found fulfillment in our day! We rejoice in the inspiration and remarkable accuracy of the Bible.

Of a truth all of this happened because of God’s faithfulness to His covenant made with Abraham some 4000 years ago. This covenant, having many parts, including that of a coming Messiah, guarantees that the land of Canaan is the everlasting possession of the Jewish people (Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12). According to Paul, and the writer of the book of Hebrews, this covenant can never be annulled or adjusted (Galatians 3:15; Hebrews 6:13-18). Because of these faithful undertakings God has always restored His people to His land that He, in His desire to bless the world, bequeathed to them. In short, we serve a faithful God Who has demonstrated in Israel’s restoration that He can be trusted because His mighty deeds are validated by scripture and confirmed in the earth. Most of all they are to be seen especially in His kindness to the Jewish people. Truly, the time to favor Zion has come (Psalm 102:12-15).

My friends, Israel will not be dismantled though many have tried and still will attempt to do so because the God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps as He watches over her (Psalm 121:4). They who would attempt to remove Israel from the earth in the name of their false gods will first have to remove the God of the Bible from His glorious throne! In the end, though great nations attempt to dismantle Israel, they will rupture themselves and, as in the past, vanish into oblivion (Zechariah 12:1-3).

So then, a people who have experienced such destruction and loss through the centuries can rightly rejoice on the 70th year of their restored and glorious third commonwealth. We rejoice with them and we bless and pray for them because their existence has only been for the blessing of the world and still will be, even for those who have been most set against them. This is a day of great rejoicing since it comes on the heels of a glorious jubilee year that has witnessed the decision to return the USA Embassy to Jerusalem. By the way this is only the beginning since our eyes will yet behold great and wonderful things in Zion as Israel moves closer and closer to the amazing destiny that God has for her. Blessed be the God of Israel!

Malcolm Hedding

Peddlers of Deception / The Social Justice Issue

Peddlers of Deception / The Social Justice Issue

Blog

 

                                “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives

                                 of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down

                                 to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there

                                 on account of My people Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations;

                                 they have also divided up My land.

                                                                                                Joel 3:1-2

                               

 

                “The Arabs have taken into their own hands the Final Solution of the Jewish problem.

                 The problem will be solved only in blood and fire. The Jews will be driven out.”

                                                                                Jamal Al-Husseini, May 1948

 

A new initiative

Segments and leaders of the evangelical church are being drawn away from the traditional and mainstream position on Israel by an initiative that claims to take the high moral ground by proclaiming a commitment to social justice. This invariably means that Israel constitutes an occupying oppressive regime and that the Palestinians are the ones requiring social justice. To bolster this narrative images of the defensive barrier wall are displayed to achieve maximum propaganda effect. After all images like this return our thoughts to the Berlin Wall, the Belfast Wall and the walls of one type or another put in place by the Apartheid regime. One has to admit that the imagery is powerful and it takes well informed minds to counter them. The lack of such information has duped many evangelicals; some of them very well known. This new initiative, designed to discredit pro-Israel evangelicals breeds on ignorance and in fact on lies! It also seeks to smear Christian Zionists as uncompassionate Palestinian and Arab haters. This is just not true! David Solway observes that, “The usual understanding of Israel as an aggressive, colonial, apartheid state robbing the Palestinians of their heritage is quite possibly the greatest political scam of modern times. It is the outcome of a mixture of historical amnesia, ideological prejudice and reflex hostility, which keep it mind-proof.” Those promoting this scam are peddlers of deception!

An old story

Newt Gingrich, an erstwhile Republican Party candidate for the US Presidency and an astute historian, recently shocked the media world when he stated that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” However, being the respected historian that he is, no one was able to challenge him; not even the liberal anti-Israel academic world! His facts were “water-tight!” This is just a reality. This however does not mean that he was demeaning the people who now claim a Palestinian national identity. It simply means that he told the truth and, as we found out, the truth hurts. Social justice must be built on the truth. This is why it was necessary to dismantle the Apartheid regime since the awful oppressive record of the white minority government of South Africa was true. It could not be disputed; but in the Middle East we have a claim to land by a people that were in fact invented and indeed never did have a history of national statehood in Palestine. The people who do are the Jews and their claim has a four thousand year history!! Isn’t that amazing; but you would never believe it if you listened to the narrative projected by the new peddlers of deception. When we “sell the truth” we will, in the end, fall.

At the beginning of the 20th Century and up until 1948 all peoples living in British Mandated Palestine were designated “Palestinian”, even Jews! I have personally seen many identity documents testifying to this. It is a fact. This means that there never was a Palestinian People, as we know them today. The truth is the new Palestinian people were invented by the PLO as a tool to further their struggle to completely destroy the State of Israel. Yasser Arafat, probably the most famous Palestinian, was in fact an Egyptian! This “invention” took root in 1964 at a time when the PLO and its various partners had everything they say they want now; even the Old City of Jerusalem, and yet they drew up a charter having “destruction clauses” that essentially called for the removal of Jewish sovereignty over all the remaining areas of the region. This they called the “Phased Plan” for the total destruction of Israel. Note; they drew up a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and not a constitution calling for Palestinian statehood even though they possessed Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (The West Bank). In short they created a people group as part of their strategy to destabilize all of Israel and, as they put it then, “to drive the Jews into the sea.” This is the truth and social justice activists must take this into consideration.  This in turn means that the Palestinians never actually existed as a state and therefore Israel has never occupied their so-called territory. Israel’s claim to all the territory west of the Jordan River is also legal under international law as it was verified by the League of Nations in 1922 under the San Remo Agreement and thereafter confirmed by the United Nations in 1948. This too is the truth.

This of course brings us to the Oslo initiatives of the 1990s. The fact that Israel, by a process of negotiation, agreed to cede territory to the Palestinians changed the equation but it did mean that Israel, that had a right to the land by international law, was demonstrating a commitment to social justice by agreeing to give it away. It also meant that if she remained on it after the Oslo Accords having been signed she would be designated an occupier.   However, it also meant that the Palestinians, through their leadership, would have to be honest peace partners and disavow violence and thus remove the destruction clauses from their charter. This they have never done. Thus up until the Oslo Accords Israel was not an occupying force. As we all know the Oslo agreements were hammered out between the Israeli leadership headed up by Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO leadership headed up by Yasser Arafat. The truth is, Arafat was a dishonest peace partner; he never intended to keep his side of the agreements and even said so in Johannesburg  in 1994; just five months after he had  shaken the hands of Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin on the lawns of the White House. All the while Israel, by September 2000, had fully withdrawn from the Palestinian territories in compliance with the Oslo dictates and yet the Palestinians began an Intifada (uprising) in September of that year on the grounds that Ariel Sharon, the then housing Minister, could not visit the Temple Mount. Years later Arafat’s wife Sulha admitted that the Intifada was strategically planned because her husband was not prepared to give away, as she put it, “The Palestinian inheritance.”

Arafat therefore, and by implication the Palestinians, did not negotiate in good faith. Thus, in what way do they now cry out for social justice? In the end, as it has always been, the Palestinian form of social justice is the complete destruction of Israel. This is the old story that never changes and, if you doubt it, just take a look at the school books given to their children and listen to the sermons preached by their Muslim clerics every Friday. Palestinian Media Watch will be more than willing to give you unedited copies of these. Golda Meir was right when she stated in 1957 that, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel.”

So, given the duplicity that was employed under the Oslo agreements, it is clear that those who require justice, given the painful concessions that they made up until September 2000, are the Israelis! They made ridiculous agreements in their pursuit of peace including being willing to hand over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians, arming them with weapons and offering them 97% of the West Bank and, if this was not enough, they unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and were rewarded with 12,000 missiles launched against their southern towns and villages.  You talk of social justice; well surely the displaced people of Gush Katif would like to receive it! But sadly this narrative is denied, distorted and conveniently ignored because of an old hatred coupled to a militant Islamic religious ideology that cannot abide the existence of a Jewish State in the region. And this too is the truth!

The fact is; the Palestinian leadership has time and time again robbed their people of justice and should be held accountable. By now they could have had a state with significant parts of Jerusalem as its capital but they do not; all because they could not embrace social justice, courage and honesty.

The new reality

That a people now exist called Palestinians is a reality. Three generations have brought this people to a place of viable existence. No one can or should deny it. This means that at least two generations have been trapped in the never ending cycle of violence and intrigue and yet it will surprise many to learn that today Palestinians on the West Bank enjoy a higher standard of living, education and economic prosperity than their counterparts in the region. Consequently, the gross domestic product of their region is in strong positive territory and expected to grow even more during the years to come. Why is this? Because their economy is intertwined with one of the most successful economies in the world today; that of Israel’s. Given the chaos of the so-called “Arab Spring” the West Bank is an island of prosperity. Sounds like economic justice to me!

Sadly at a political level the plotting and hatred continues unabated and so Mahmoud Abbas has recently cemented his relationship, and therefore that of the destiny of his people, with Hamas. There must be no mistake about the significance of this in that it puts the Palestinians on a collision course with Israel because it affirms their commitment, as it always has been, to annihilate Israel. The Israelis must respond, and have, by tightening security to protect their citizens from harm. At a joint statement after their meeting Abbas and Mashaal of Hamas said, “We are determined to resist the enemy and achieve our national goals.”  So, once again there will be no social justice for the Palestinians as the Israeli pullout from Gaza demonstrated. Hamas did not see this as a token of goodwill and an opportunity to build a new economic and social order for their people but rather as an act of weakness and immediately set about building assault tunnels and launching missile attacks in their thousands against the southern villages of Israel. Is this social justice? Jihad against Israel will continue and the Palestinian people will pay the price in having to be continuously subjected to checkpoints, searches, general security measures and barrier walls. We should all weep over this human tragedy and truly Jesus does weep at the checkpoint but not for reasons espoused by some evangelical leaders today! If you ask the attendees at the “Christ at the Check Point Conference” or the Sabeel movement, “Who is responsible for Palestinian suffering?” their answer will be Israel but the facts tell a different story. But this “different story” will never be heard because it is not politically correct to tell it. The peddlers of deception will make sure of it.

The need for compassion

So, where should the church be in all of this? The answer lies in first getting hold of the truth and the facts surrounding the big picture. I have very briefly given these above. When we do this we are better enabled to put forward the call for social justice. Social justice will take hold when leaders are transparent, honest and really committed to peace. What does the history of this conflict tell us? I will leave my readers to answer that question. No wonder Paul exhorted us to place leaders at the very top of the prayer list. Secondly, we need to recognize that there is a small picture that begs for our attention as well. That is, that real men, women, boys and girls are trapped in this conflict on both sides and they need help, care, love and compassion. In Jesus’ day whole communities of one type or another were caught in the conflict that Rome brought to the region. Jesus, almost exclusively ignored the conflict but instead healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the stranger (even the Roman one) and lifted up the broken-hearted. He blessed the children, sat with sinners and taught the multitudes about God. Scripture affirms that He moved from one check point to another as He traveled from the Galilee to Jerusalem and never said a word about them! He knew that the big picture was in the hands of the Father as it is today.

So, our hearts should break as we witness ordinary Palestinian people grappling with the trauma of having to live “caged in” behind walls and impeded on a daily basis by security checks etc. We should also weep for Jewish families that have had their children and loved ones brutally murdered and torn from them. This is no way to live and these images, projected in a way that divorces them from the bigger picture, can turn anyone into a radical activist and they do; on both sides of the divide. A distorted image is no foundation upon which to build social justice. The Second Intifada was given momentum because video footage appeared to show a twelve-year-old boy being shot by Israeli troops. The fact is the video was distorted and edited to make it look like this and a French journalist who witnessed the whole thing later testified in a French court that the boy was in fact killed by Palestinian gunfire. He fled to France because his life had been threatened if he dared to tell the truth. So, once again, the peddlers of deception pushed home their false narrative.

Thus, while some evangelicals gather  to reinforce their distorted narrative and lay blame for everything at Israel’s door let us ask them how many millions of Shekels they have invested in the social upliftment of Palestinians? I am the erstwhile leader of one of the biggest Christian Zionist organizations in the world. I therefore know for a fact that considerable amounts of money were constantly invested in Palestinian communities. In fact the organization I led distributed its social welfare relief into the region strictly according to its population demographics and still does. We cared for everyone just as Jesus did. This is social justice on the move!  It is not selective but gives “voice” to the biblical truth that Jesus loves all people the same. He has no favorites. Compassion is not endless words and an attempt to win an ideological battle. The truth is the truth and it must be well understood and embraced but compassion reaches to the heart and says, because God loves you I will help you. One cannot be unmoved by the tears that flow down children’s faces or by the distress that comes to mothers and fathers trying to get by in a world that traps them in endless discouragement.

The Christian message demands that we hold to the truth, that which is biblical and historical, and that we bring to all the peoples of the Middle East a message of love and hope. When we do this we will be mediators of social justice.

 

Malcolm Hedding.

Peddlers of Deception / Fulfillment Theology

Peddlers of Deception / Fulfillment Theology

Blog

 

                                “Cultivate the habit of reading prophecy with a single eye to the

                                 literal meaning of its proper names. Cast aside the old traditional

                                 idea that Jacob, and Israel, and Judah, and Jerusalem, and Zion

                                 must always mean the Gentile Church, and that the predictions

                                 about the second Advent are to be taken spiritually, and the

                                 first Advent literally. Be just, and honest, and fair. If you expect

                                 the Jews to take the 53rd of Isaiah literally, be sure you take the

                                 54th, 60th, and 62nd literally also.”

                                                                                Bishop J. C. Ryle-Liverpool 1867

 

In recent years a new form of Replacement Theology has arrived on the Christian scene called Fulfillment Theology. Like Replacement Theology it ends up contending that, since the time of Jesus, the Jews no longer enjoy a god-given national destiny in the land of Canaan. This time around it is not the Church that replaces Israel and takes over all her promises in scripture but in fact Jesus. He fulfills in His life and redemptive work all the promises that God ever made to the Jews; even the promise that Canaan would be the everlasting possession of the Jewish people! Jesus is the Promised Land. This allows the proponents of this theory to distance themselves from the awful evil deeds and anti-Semitic positions that those espousing Replacement Theology have been guilty of throughout the centuries. However, they end up believing the same thing and thus peddling the same deception.

Here for example is what Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College says in his book, “Jesus and the Land”:

“Jesus does not envision a restoration of Israel per se but instead sees Himself as embracing the drama of Jerusalem within His own life….In some manner, the initial restoration of Israel has already begun inasmuch as Christ, the new temple, the New Israel, has been resurrected. This theological agenda is called John’s messianic replacement (or fulfillment) motif…The replacement motif threads its way through the gospel as a controlling idea in the so-called Book of Signs (John 1-12).”

God and Israel’s modern day restoration.

Much of the above is backed up by scripture but falsely so! Therefore, it always comes down to the same thing and that is; to find a way to disinvest the Jews of any divine action or biblical significance in Israel’s modern day restoration. Once this position has been taken Israel can be viewed as any other nation state entangled in an internal and regional conflict. This usually means that any people can lay claim to the Holy Land, and they do, and Israel is constantly portrayed as an occupying bully robbing other peoples of their land and refusing to hand over to them the old biblical city of Jerusalem. The fact that the Jews have a three thousand year unbroken relationship with Jerusalem is routinely ignored and discarded.

Today many Christians back this thesis and even some evangelicals are beginning to abandon their traditional pro-Israel biblical position in favor of Fulfillment Theology. Also the fact that some leading Christian academics and Ministers have thrown their weight behind it is giving added momentum to its dissemination and acceptance. Nevertheless it remains a flawed theological thesis and those who propagate it are peddlers of deception.

Jesus and Fulfillment

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18

When Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law He meant just that! That is, He would perfectly fulfill in His life the moral demands of the Law on behalf of a fallen world. He would thus prove to be a perfect man and would give His life on the cross so as to remove the curse of the Law from our lives (Galatians 3:13). Jesus thus saves us by the power of a perfect and thus indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16). So, in Matthew five, six and seven He was not talking about the Covenant that God made with Abraham but about the Covenant that God made with Moses. The context of these chapters overwhelmingly proves this. Jesus was expounding the inward nature of the Law and our failure to keep it. He would thus fulfill the demands of it by living in us! This is the very essence of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-35; Romans 8:3-4). This, and only this, is what He fulfills. To suggest then that He was in some way by this statement debunking the Abrahamic Covenant and assuming that in His person only its promises would now be fulfilled is a giant leap into mere speculation and error.

Moses and Fulfillment

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” Deuteronomy 18:15

 Moses, referring to Jesus, said that God would raise up a Prophet like unto himself. Again Moses was the great Lawgiver of Israel and this coming Prophet (Messiah) would be like Moses unique and “one of a kind.” He would fulfill the obligations of the Law on behalf of a fallen world. Moses was not undermining the promises given to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant by this statement. No to the contrary he was in fact giving it “executive authority.” Abraham’s Covenant is God’s decision to save the world (Galatians 3:8) but Moses’ Covenant is God’s decision to teach the world that it needs to be saved (Romans 3:20). Moses empowers Abraham! That is, the world must be convicted of sin (Moses) before it can be saved from sin (Jesus). The Apostle John put it this way…”For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The fact that Jesus’ life then was in some measure a re-enactment of Moses’ life does not imply that God has torn up His covenant with Abraham. This is a leap of total presumption and those who make it are not on “biblical territory”. Rather it implies that God is going to “tear up sin” in our lives and that Israel would identify the Prophet who would do this by His likeness to Moses! Therefore the nation of Israel has no excuse for not recognizing Him. So, Jesus:

  1. Was born under the Law  (Galatians 4:4).
  2. Lived under the Law (John 1:14-18).
  • Was circumcised according to the Law (Luke 2:25-2).
  • Was taught by the word of the Law (Luke 2:46).
  • Was for forty days in the wilderness proved by the Law (Luke 4:1-13).
  • Went up to a mountain to deliver the Law (Matthew 5:1-2).
  • Died to fulfill the demands of the Law on behalf of all people (Romans 8:3-4).

This proved that Jesus was Moses’ successor but He did not abolish, in any way, the promises of God made to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant. These promises set aside the Jewish people as the “vehicle of world redemption” (Romans 3:1-2; 9:1-5) and they designate Canaan as the everlasting possession of the people of Israel (Genesis 17:7-8). Indeed the writer of the book of Hebrews holds up the Abrahamic Covenant, and God’s faithfulness to it, as proof that He can be trusted and will not fail believers in Jesus who have been saved by the New Covenant (Hebrews 6:13-20).  The writer makes these statements years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials. This is important to note because those espousing Fulfillment or Replacement Theology assert that Israel forfeited the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant because of their rejection of Jesus. To suggest then that these promises have been somehow abolished or are fulfilled by Jesus is just not true. The Hebrew Prophets clearly “see” a day of restoration for the Jewish people that goes beyond their return from Babylon (Amos 9:11-15; Isaiah 2:1-4; Zechariah 14). It is passages like the one in Amos that confound “fulfillment proponents” and lead some of them to state that these scriptures need to be “de-zionized!” That is, altered or removed from the Bible because they predict a future and final return of the Jews to the land of Canaan by which they will never be plucked up again and exiled. Clearly Amos, and for that matter Isaiah and Zechariah, is writing of a day far beyond that of 520 BC because the Jews were exiled again in 70 AD and were plucked up again.

Paul and Fulfillment

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” Galatians 3:16

In Galatians three Paul is not arguing for or suggesting that the Abrahamic Covenant has been reconstructed or entirely fulfilled in Jesus. Indeed then he is not referring to a re-arrangement of the covenant made with Abraham but to an aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant that was enshrined in it when God first made it with Abraham two thousand years before. That is, while the Covenant has clear promises to Abraham’s descendants (plural) (Genesis 17:7) it also holds a promise in a descendant (singular) (Genesis 22:18). In other words, from the very beginning a promise of land and purpose is given to the descendants of Abraham but, at the same time, a promise of salvation and reconciliation with God is given through a descendant; Jesus! The two promises are mutually interdependent. That is, the one cannot do without the other in that the coming of the “Seed” is totally dependent upon the return of the “seeds” to the land of Canaan and Bethlehem in particular in 520 BC. Therefore the gospel of Luke teaches us that Jesus and John the Baptist came into the world because of God’s faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant (Luke 1:54-55; 71-75).

The real point that Paul was making is that salvation is not received by attempting to keep the Law as the Law was only given to convict of sin (Galatians 2:16; 3:24). Only those who exercise living faith in the finished redeeming work of the “seed” can experience salvation. This promise was made 430 years before the Law was given (Galatians 3:17-18). Paul was not tampering with the Abrahamic Covenant and suggesting that it has been reconstructed or abolished; actually he affirms that in no way can it be annulled and this is why it enjoys an authority that he appeals to(Galatians 3:15).

It must be remembered that the promise that a Seed, as of one, would save the world was made two thousand years before Jesus came. If this was the full extent of the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant then God would never have led the “seeds” out of Egypt into the Promised Land. The peddlers of deception are constantly seeking to undermine the Abrahamic Covenant by the contextual abuse of Galatians 3:16. That is, they seek to eradicate the eternal promises in the covenant made to Abraham’s descendants and, if they can succeed in this then they can invalidate Israel’s modern day restoration by asserting that it enjoys no biblical significance.  One cannot and should not read Galatians three like that. This is the absurd position of those who hold to fulfillment theology. The Bible itself debunks this nonsense. It is a false theology just like its sister called Replacement Theology.

Conclusion

In Paul’s time there was only one cannon of scripture, the Hebrew Scriptures or, what many call the Old Testament. It was to these scriptures that Paul was chiefly referring when he wrote, “all scripture is inspired and given of God” etc. (2Timothy 3:16). The same goes for Peter when he wrote that scripture is given by holy men who were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:21). In other words the New Testament, though equally inspired, is in fact, a faithful exposition of the Old Testament scriptures. When we realize this we honor all of scripture and recognize that no “prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation.” Those who seek to disinvest the Jewish people of a biblical significance to their modern day return to Zion are in essence seeking to re-write great God-given covenants that God bequeathed to Israel. They are thereby ‘playing with fire” and placing themselves in conflict with the purpose of God. In all of this it is good to remember that we can do nothing against the truth. (2 Corinthians 13:8) This should make us all tremble!

 

Malcolm Hedding.

Peddlers of Deception

Peddlers of Deception

Blog

“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated
from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place
where you are-north-ward, southward, east ward, and
westward; for all the land which you see I give to your
descendants forever.”
Genesis 13:14-15

“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you
and your descendants after you in their generations, for
an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your
descendants after you. Also I give to you and your
descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger,
all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I
will be their God.”
Genesis 17:7-8

“What I protest against is, the habit of allegorizing plain
sayings of the Word of God concerning the future history
of the nation Israel, and explaining away the fullness of
their contents in order to accommodate them to the
Gentile Church. I believe the habit to be unwarranted by
anything in Scripture, and to draw after it a long train of
evil consequences.”
Bishop Ryle of Liverpool-1867

In a recent discussion with a group of people, who have taken it upon themselves to challenge biblical Christian Zionists, it was asserted that the Hebrew term here in these passages above for “descendants” is in fact “seed” in the singular. This is indeed true but they went on to state that consequently the God of the Bible had in fact made no promises of land to the descendants of Israel but rather only to the “seed” as referring to Jesus. Jesus inherits everything and the Jews have thus, by this devious theological position, been dis-invested of the promises made to them in terms of being the everlasting possessors of the land of Canaan. The fact is they have in so doing mishandled the Word of God and are thereby peddlers of deception!

The term “seed” though in the singular can also be translated as “seeds” or “descendants” because the context of the passage demands it. This is not uncommon even in the English language as we can use the term “man” which designates the singular in a way that it refers to “men”; the plural. We can therefore say, “Man cannot handle his technology” or “It appears that it is not possible for man to control his carnality.” Actually all the major and minor prophets do this by referring only to Jacob, one individual, when referring to all the people of Israel! (Micah 1:5)

Again it is the context, which demands how we interpret the Bible and every translator, of all the respected and revered versions of the Bible that we have today, translate “seed”, in the singular, as “descendants” or “seeds.” These are highly trained biblical scholars who have professional skills in dealing with Hebrew and yet, according to this group of antagonists, these scholars are mistaken. I think not! In fact I want to stress it again, there is not one translation of the Bible that translates the word seed in the singular in the two passages above as referring to anything else but the descendants (seed in the plural) of Israel.

Indeed if “seed” in these passages is to be taken only as the singular, that is as referring only to one individual, then this would make the whole history and journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land absurd and it would make their own understanding of their history false because God did not in fact promise them the land of Canaan as their eternal possession. Only a fool would advocate for this position! In addition the conquest of the land would then have been a huge mistake and Joshua’s leadership in this regard should be considered unjust. This is exactly the position that an Anglican Priest took a few years ago when he declared that, “Joshua was the patron saint of ethnic cleansing.”

David the great King of Israel understood the promises that God made to Abraham to be understood as referring to all of Israel as in descendants (Psalm 105:42-45) and the Major Prophets took the same position. Israel would be judged and corrected and even exiled but she would always return to the land of her forefathers (Amos 9:14-15). God gave the land of Canaan to the people of Israel as an everlasting possession, scripture plainly says this and it no where removes this promise; no where, and this is indeed the “Achilles’ Heel” of those subscribing to Replacement Theology or “Fulfillment Theology.” They have great difficulty in rightly dividing the Bible since they routinely abuse its context and have problems with understanding terms like “everlasting!” If everlasting does in fact mean everlasting then Israel’s modern day restoration has great significance and this is precisely what they wish to deny.

For them, that God would choose the people of Israel as the means by which to bless the world (Genesis 12:1-3) is totally unacceptable and even racist. The truth is, Israel is a servant nation and was never chosen by God because she was or is better than any of the other nations; in fact God saw her as the least of all the nations (Deuteronomy 7:6-7). He chose her only to be the vehicle of world redemption (John 4:22) and thus the means by which He could amplify His voice in the world (Romans 9:1-5) and give the gift of His Son to it. For some reason people, even Christian people, hate this and wish to resist it. Martin Luther did this as do many today and they will go to any place of theological error to achieve it. For instance the same group mentioned above welcomed a contributor to their discussion who boldly asserted that when Jesus comes again He would not do so visibly, physically and literally to the Mt. of Olives on the east side of Jerusalem. No, His return is to be understood in spiritual terms only. This constitutes a total violation of scripture but this person takes this position because He knows that, if Jesus is returning to Jerusalem, He must be returning to His people who have been restored there from the nations because He said this would happen (Luke 21:24) (Matthew 23:37-39). Thus, because no biblical significance must be given to Israel’s modern day restoration, the clear teaching on His return must be denied and waffled away. When he put forth this notion not one person corrected him but rather he was thanked for his contribution!

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made.
He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one,
“And to your Seed,” who is Christ.”
Galatians 3:16

This quote actually comes from Genesis 22, which tells us about the binding of Isaac. According to the book of Hebrews this episode in Abraham’s life constituted a picture of Christ’s death. Isaac is taken to Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, wood is placed on his back and he carries it to the place of his execution where he is placed on the wood and nearly sacrificed by Abraham. After God stays Abraham’s hand he assures him that He, God, will send a seed (singular) to be sacrificed as Isaac was for the sins of the world. God says, “In your seed all the families of the world will be blessed (saved)” (Genesis 22:18).

The context of this passage is indeed in the singular and thus it is a promise that Messiah would come one day and die for the sins of the world. It is His death alone that will bring redemption or salvation to the human race. This is true and the argument that Paul is making in his letter to the Galatians has nothing to do with the promises that God made to Abraham in terms of his descendants but everything to do with the fact that no one will be saved by keeping the law, which only came four hundred and thirty years after God had made the promise to Abraham of a coming saving seed, Jesus. The Law teaches us about sin or is our schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24)(Romans 3:20) but Jesus died for our sins, like Isaac foreshadowed, and is thus our Savior (Galatians 3:13). This is the context of Galatians three.

Those who seek to use Galatians 3:16 as a means to negate the other promises that God made to Abraham at the same time, which promises have to do with Abraham’s descendants and with the land of Canaan and are said to be everlasting, are deceptive peddlers of error. They have failed to rightly divide the Word of truth!

Malcolm Hedding.

Billy Graham

Billy Graham

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Today, with sadness and much joy, we learned that the world’s beloved evangelist, Billy Graham, has gone home to heaven to receive his eternal reward. The greatest of which for him will be to be reunited with his beloved Ruth! Millions of people all over the world have been touched by his powerful ministry and will join him in heaven’s mansions one day. Truly he plundered hell and populated heaven with a message that was simple, true, biblically sound and life changing. In one sense he was just a preacher of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. He told the message of the cross in words that the every day man and woman in the street could easily understand and so we shall ever remember those remarkable scenes of thousands of people streaming out to the center of a football field, rugby stadium or athletics field to repent of their sins and make Jesus lord of their lives. George Beverly Shea, accompanied by a huge choir sang, “Just as I am” and those responding had tears of repentance falling from their eyes and running down their cheeks. The power of the Gospel was evident everywhere and lives were forever transformed. Billy Graham was truly a gift to the world!

I first heard him preach in 1973 when he did so in a rugby stadium in Durban South Africa. He took John 3:16 as his text and believe me the whole country came to a standstill that day as they turned on their radios to hear the man of God. Thousands responded all over the nation and were truly redeemed from the ravages of sin and filled with the joy of salvation. Billy Graham touched the nation as he did many nations all over the world. We have lost a great man of God today!

America has not only lost a wonderful man of God but a prophet and pastor. He was in every way the nation’s Pastor even speaking into the lives of successive Presidents. Indeed up until the very end he was concerned with the welfare of the nation and wept over its sin. Truly Billy Graham was the “Gatekeeper of the Nation” and his loss will be felt everywhere. We feel a bit like Isaiah for, in the year that the godly king Uzziah died, he went before the Lord in anguish and despair essentially wondering what would happen now? How would the nation survive without a godly king? God’s answer was swift and sure and it was embodied in a question, “Who will go for us and who can we send?” Isaiah then realized that the time for him to step up had come and so he responded to God’s question by saying, “Here am I send me!”

Billy Graham’s life inspires us all to stand up and be counted. We must pick up his mantle and preach the Gospel of Jesus everywhere.  It’s time for us to say, “Here am I, send me.” This is Isaiah’s message and exhortation and we will best honor Billy Graham’s life by likewise serving His Lord and Savior. Truly we thank God for the gift of Billy Graham’s life and we thank God that his ministry will continue among us by reason of his many books and stirring crusade videos!

Malcolm Hedding