UPDATED June 8, 2020 – Amidst a covid world plague and severe national trouble.
Other than some warranted grammatical improvements and an added word or two to flesh things out or clarify a bit, this article is unaltered from its original wording. The Lord directed me to write and post this September 16, 2018, around the time of Yom Kippur, the solemn Jewish day of atonement, that happens to be date-stamped by our God as a forever-to-be observed holy-day.
How pertinent is this message to us now, in 2020.
Further to our Lord’s perfect timing, this past Saturday our progressively through-the-book Isaiah bible study had us in chapter 56.
AS WRITTEN AND FIRST POSTED SEPTEMBER 16, 2018:
I’ve read several articulate opinions that God only covenanted or covenants with His nation Israel. I believe those opinions are in error, being out of line with biblical revelation.
The door to intimate relationship with God is an open door, to all, both as individuals and I also believe, to nations. Whosoever will.
I wish there were better titles for those dispensational writings commonly referred to as NEW Testament and OLD Testament. “OLD” implies “done”. Meanwhile and to the contrary of the Old Testament writings being checked off as done and finished, the Jewish scriptures remain eternal and clearly alive and well in our times. Every writer of the New Testament referred to and even looked to the yet-to-be fulfilled prophecies of the Jewish scripture. That very-much-and-always-alive “OLD TESTAMENT” clearly presents itself as appearing more stringent and more Israel-focused then the NEW one, and yet look what our/the great God of Israel tells us, even then – to NOT allow: DO NOT ALLOW Gentile exclusion.
Verse 3, below, constitutes a pre-emptive strike against the exclusionary-error of no-covenant for the Gentiles/foreigners/non-Jews. That has huge promises and ramifications for all peoples, at all times, including our predominantly Gentile nation, in these days.
3 Do not let the son of the foreigner
Who has joined himself to the Lord
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”;
Nor let the eunuch say,
“Here I am, a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5 Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.
6 “Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
These verses clearly speak prophetically to future times, but their invitation is for all times. Ask Ruth the Moabitess – Moab and Israel were fervent enemies. And yet this woman saw God in Israel and fully entered into the Abrahamic faith, and is cited in the lineage of Christ. Go figure. THAT illustrates the heart and hopes of God.
It comes down to individual people, and also to people groups, being invited and in response wanting and willing to come into covenant relationship with God, on His fair terms.
Without any doubt, Israel is the poster-child for national covenant relationship. Always has and will always be. Yet special-Israel, clearly, in both testaments, is not alone in the invitation, both to the blessing as well as the accountability of covenant.
Furthermore, the scriptures make it clear that God works His purposes in all nations.
2 Kings 5:1
1 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.
Syria was an enemy of Israel, and yet we see God gave a Syrian army commander victories.
God’s sovereignty over all nations, tribes, tongues and people-groups is biblically asserted and deserves its own writing. Suffice to say:
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
It is clear that God’s plans center around Israel – always have and always will, whether the Jewish people are obedient or disobedient will impact how He deals with them. He is in covenant with them and that commitment and intimacy bring about the highest level of both blessing and also accountability.
All that said, let’s go back to Jeremiah and see what the Lord tells us regarding any nation. First the anointed prophet addresses Israel. Then that same anointed prophet, in the same breath of anointing, broadens the span of his message from the Lord to include all nations, any nations. This is not to be missed.
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying:
(Verses 2-6 specifically address Israel. Verse 7 and onward take things broader)
7 The instant I speak concerning a nation (Hebrew: “goy” – foreign nation, Gentile) and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,
(God is revealing His all-times plan to build and plant Gentile nations – the plan of His heart being to always bring them to Him – Acts 17:27 – including the end-of-age shaking-work to draw them to Himself – Haggai 2:7).
10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.
(Verse 11 refocuses on Israel – but we wisely ought not limit Verse 11 to Israel-only application – the invitation to “return” is an invitation to defuse upcoming troubling from the hand of the always-righteous King of kings when He is provoked by any nation’s disobedience).
11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ‘ ”
America is quite an amazing place. Ethnically/prophetically, it is a coat of many colors. Check out our Olympic teams.
Consider the Israel-covenant component for a moment, and America pertaining to Israel: America has historically also been THE nation of refuge for the Jewish people. Until most recently, an equal number of Jews dwelt in America as dwelt in Israel. God’s eye is on America for many reasons, including the reason that His eye is on His Jewish people wherever they may dwell. Gen 12:3 remains alive and well. I suggest the remarkable number of Jewish people populating America would speak volumes towards marking America as a unique and special place. This country has been blessed for being a refuge to the dispersed Jews, for which I personally thank you, America. And to the point of this writing, our primarily Gentile pilgrim forefathers, on that fateful Mayflower voyage, reached out to make covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am of the mind that God honored, honors, and holds to that covenant, including the accountability of the nation to fulfill its part.
God is looking for all men, everywhere.
2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Pilgrims left Europe in search of many things – freedom to worship, freedom from persecution, wealth, adventure, new life, etc. Some were running away from things. Other were running to new things. Likely they all were reasonably desperate, and/or visionary, and/or adventurous. Complacency and ease doesn’t take people thousands of miles on wooden ships, over often stormy oceans. Desperation and hope invites people into discomfort, seeking better conditions, seeking change.
Intending to land in the Virginia Colonies, weather and wave blew a little ship called the Mayflower to Massachusetts. William Brewster, a pastor onboard, is credited with the writing of the following brief document. The Mayflower was not a Christians-only, praise-the-Lord cruise ship. It was a ship of desperate, visionary, and sober people. More than only the onboard Christians anticipated the perils and jeopardies of new lands, new challenges, new life. They signed a covenant with one another, and with God who listens to the words of His people, and enters into covenant with them, even for the general good. Daniel’s chapter-9 prayer owned the sins of his people, and God showed mercy. Saints, in both testaments, divinely function as salt of the earth. It was Israel’s call from the beginning (sadly, for the most part they have failed). In our current Dispensation it has primarily been the call to the Christian church (sadly, for the most part we have failed). Meanwhile, God looks for, rightly and righteously expects covenant-people to maintain covenant (it’s part of the deal). Covenant people are sent forth to exemplify His goodness, and to attract others into divine covenant, and THAT having stalled and failed so often throughout the history of the world, we find ourselves in a world that screams louder, daily, about its condition.
Sadly, the refusal to receive correction and the ongoing disobedience of covenant people has time and again demonstrated to the world the necessary corrective components of covenant with a holy God
Back to the Mayflower.
Keep an eye on IN WHOSE NAME it is being written, for WHOSE, and WHAT advancements were desired to be undertaken, and WHY the concept of laws and ordinances was to be embraced and undertaken.
THAT is covenant. I’ll help the specific focus of this writing by underlining.
The Mayflower Compact said:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.
Through the lens of history we can now look back and see that the matters of “King of England” etc. took some violent and (to the Mayflower folks) unexpected turns, but meanwhile the divine intent of the covenant with God remains intact. Nations come and go. God remains.
America has made covenant with God.
America has been blessed beyond measure over these past 400 years (4’s being a notable number in God’s divine math – flood rains, bondage in Egypt, years in the desert, rules of the three primary kings of Israel – Saul, David, Solomon).
Hey – 1620 to 2020 = 400 years. Just sayin’.
BACK TO ISRAEL. Can we, upon whom the end of this age has come (1 Cor 1:10), learn from this particular admonition, below, from Jewish-prophet Isaiah? Here is God, revealing how He will work against any covenant-breaking people group (in accuracy we understand these verses were once again focusing upon Israel, but let’s not lose ground from the broader understanding we’ve come to in this writing – covenant-entrance means covenant blessing, and covenant responsibility to the Jew or Gentile):
1 For behold, the Lord God of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah
Both supply and support, the whole supply of bread
And the whole supply of water;
2 The mighty man and the warrior,
The judge and the prophet,
The diviner and the elder,
3 The captain of fifty and the honorable man,
The counselor and the expert artisan,
And the skillful enchanter.
4 And I will make mere lads their princes,
And capricious children (pretty much arrogant, unfit-to-rule) will rule over them,
5 And the people will be oppressed,
Each one by another, and each one by his neighbor;
The youth will storm against the elder
And the inferior against the honorable.
6 When a man lays hold of his brother in his father’s house, saying,
“You have a cloak, you shall be our ruler,
And these ruins will be under your charge,”
7 He will protest on that day, saying,
“I will not be your healer,
For in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;
You should not appoint me ruler of the people.”
8 For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen,
(HOW AND WHY did Israel stumble?)
Because their speech and their actions are against the Lord,
To rebel against His glorious presence.
9 The expression of their faces bears witness against them,
And they display their sin like Sodom;
They do not even conceal it.
Woe to them!
For they have brought evil on themselves.
10 Say to the righteous that it will go well with them,
For they will eat the fruit of their actions.
11 Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him,
For what he deserves will be done to him.
12 O My people! Their oppressors are children,
And women rule over them.
O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray
And confuse the direction of your paths.
I would humbly and in the fear of God put forth that it would require purposeful ignoring of scripture to consider the above admonition of Isaiah as being old, worn-out, no longer applicable to any covenant people, anywhere on earth, at any time. Current events weigh in favor of our acceptance of these eternal truths. Some of the above-cited sad conditions of heaven-sent discipline already appear to be at work in America.
DAYS OF AWE: This is being written between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah functioning as the prophetic “WAKE-UP!!!” trumpeting, by God, to His people, alerting them to the upcoming day of atonement (which comes with repentance). That day is Yom Kippur. The Lord presents Yom Kippur soberly and clearly.
26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
27 “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.
28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.
29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.
30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.
31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”
Verse 31 stamps this holy-day with what appears to be an eternal stamp – a statute forever throughout your generations, observed in your homes. Of course we as believers in Messiah are invited to prayerfully process and observe this most holy-day in the freedom of the Calvary redemption, covered under the blood. Still, it appears we would do well to prayerfully consider, and respond to, what the Lord might expect of us on that day.
Many eschatological (end-times/end-of-age) students feel (I am not in disagreement) that the perfect fulfillment of the SPRING holidays having been fully-filled during our Lord’s first Advent (appearance on earth), we can and should look to and expect the perfect fulfillment of the FALL holidays during His second Advent (in flaming fire, says Peter).
All that to say, the rapidly eroding social, political, family-value, bible-value, financial etc. conditions upon earth, and especially the notable madness and fracturing in our own covenant nation of America ought to point all of us to humility, repentance, and intercession, Jew and Gentile alike. Peter asks how we ought to be living our lives. Rabbi Paul speaks of us warning every man.
These are critical times, critical days, critical moments.
Paul told us to redeem the time because the days are evil.
How much more, now?
Daniel’s chapter 9 prayer is a good model for us all.
Most scripture NKJV. Jeremiah is quoted from NASB.