On Lord’s Day 20th March, 2022, Mr Matthew Eccles, a licentiate minister of the Free Presbyterian Church, was the preacher at the services in Kilskeery church. In the morning service, he took as his text Genesis 15:8. “And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” This was the request of Abram of God following the giving of a most wonderful promise to him.
Mr Eccles preached a very encouraging and instructive message from his text on how we need confirmation of God’s covenant and where such confirmations and endorsements are to be found.
When he turned the congregation to his text in Genesis 15, I noted that I had the numbers 4, 5, 6 written in the margin of chapter 15 and encircled. They were beside the verses 5, 7 and 18.
Following the service, when I returned home I traced the other numbers, one through to four and also number seven, which was in the margin of chapter 17, and saw that all the verses are linked to the clear promise of God to Abram, later called Abraham, and to his descendants.
I am going to list the verses I had so marked for your consideration.
1. “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee,” Genesis 12:1.
2. “And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him,” Genesis 12:7.
3. “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever,” Genesis 13:15.
4. “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be,” Genesis 15:5.
5. “And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it,” Genesis 15:7.
6. “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates,” Genesis 15:18.
7. “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God,” Genesis 17:8.
The words in these verses, which may be found repeated to the people of Israel on many subsequent occasions, settle for ever the question of the ownership of the land referred to, Canaan, later known as the land of Israel. God has given the title deed of this land to his ancient people the Jews. There are many who dispute this fact, the Muslim nations surrounding Israel in particular. Where there has been a knowledge of the Word of God, you find there a sympathy with the Jews’ claim to the land. I refer to the United Kingdom and the United States in particular.
May I just suggest some reasons why this wonderful truth is thus repeated.
I. THE LORD REPEATS THIS PROMISE BECAUSE IT IS A THING OF JOY TO HIM.
We are familiar with the practice of taking out a particular object which is precious to us from a place of safety where we store it and looking at it with renewed pleasure. We delight to have a visit from one we delight in and whose countenance we look upon with joy and love. I am sure that we all have a spot, a landscape which we love to visit for it brings great pleasure to us to view it again.
Well, for a reason similar to that which causes us to so gladly look again upon that which we cherish, the Lord so delights in this wonderful purpose which He has decreed for His beloved people, that He obtains pleasure in repeating His objective for Israel, not only for their comfort and encouragement but for His own delight.
Joshua said on that occasion when the spies brought back a most discouraging report about the ‘promised land’ and which discouraged the people greatly: “If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey,” Numbers 14:8.
He was right in saying that an evidence of the Lord’s delight in Israel would be His bringing of them into the promised land.
The fulness of that delight lies in the future. At best, Israel’s occupancy of the land has been but for brief periods, all of which were beset by threats of removal and dispersion. Indeed, not since AD 70 until 1948 did Israel have as much as a toehold in the land of promise. Even now, its occupation is constantly under threat. But a day of coming when the nation of Israel will occupy all the land within the borders set down by the Lord and their security within those borders will be divinely secured.
Isaiah spoke of that day. “Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off (or, ‘that has been enlarged’),” Isaiah 33:17. In that time when Christ shall return to rule over the earth, Israel will know His protection to a degree not known before. “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” Isaiah 32:1-2.
“Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. Thy children shall make haste; thy destroyers and they that made thee waste shall go forth of thee. Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee, as a bride doeth. For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me: give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob,” Isaiah 49:8-26.
Thus the Lord delights in repeating what it is He is going to do for His ancient people.
How sad that such statements of glorious intent should be ignored, twisted and misapplied, mocked and rejected as is the case today, even within the professing church!
Let me suggest another reason why the Lord repeats this wonderful promise.
II. THE LORD REPEATS THIS PROMISE FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE IT SPECIFICALLY REFERS TO.
It is Unto the ‘seed’ of Abraham. This is particularised more clearly in other Scriptures. Abraham had many offspring but the promise of God applied to his son Isaac ONLY and more specifically, to his son JACOB and his twelve sons. The Lord had told Abraham specifically, “ . . . . in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” Genesis 21:12, and then to Isaac were two sons born, Esau and Jacob. The Lord declared to Isaac that it was of Jacob that the seed He has referred to in His promises would come.
“And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them,” Genesis 25:21-26.
The blessing which Jacob, the ‘supplanter’, humanly speaking, deprived Esau of by the deception that his mother Rebekah and he engaged in, was bestowed upon him by his father Isaac. That blessing entailed the promise given of God to Abraham.
“Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee,” Genesis 27:28-29.
Whether men believe it or not, that blessing shall fall upon the elect of the offspring of Jacob in its fulness when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in glory.
“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD,” Isaiah 54:1-17.
One other reason I might suggest why this wonderful promise is repeated by the Lord.
III. THE LORD REPEATS THIS PROMISE IN DEFIANCE OF THE ENEMIES OF HIS PEOPLE
There is none who need to heed these words more than those who are the brazenly defiant opponents of Israel in these last days!
The devil is the enemy of God and a hater of all that the Lord loves and is forever bent upon frustrating the purpose of God. Since a remnant of Israel will feature in the final outworking of God’s purpose, the devil hates that people.
That deliverance of a remnant is referred to by Zechariah.
“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God,” Zechariah 13:8-9.
The fire spoken of there is the ‘fire’ of Antichrist’s persecution of the Jews in their land during the final three and half years of this age in what is termed , ‘the great tribulation’.
It is clearly seen today that the Jewish people, with the exception of those who have been brought to a saving faith in Christ, repudiate and reject all that God says in His Word, the sum of which is Christ!
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins,” Acts 10:38-43.
The rejection of the Lord Jesus is something that demands a very high price of all those guilty of such a folly and sin. None more so than those so privileged as were the Jews. Of this matter Pauls said, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God,” Romans 3:1-2.
As Moses had said earlier of Israel: “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons,” Deuteronomy 4:8-9.
These privileges were cast away ever so wickedly by the Jews at Calvary.
“And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written,” John 19:14-22.
From that time trouble unprecedented came upon Israel. The overthrow of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people and the dispersion of them throughout the Roman Empire saw the beginnings of the terrible harvest reaped by a favoured race who despised the favour they enjoyed from God.
That ‘trouble’ has continued through the centuries with times in which it was prophesied that the poor Jews would say, “Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning!”
In Deuteronomy chapter 28:15-68 are found the terrible consequences of rejecting God’s truth and which Israel was plainly warned of and which were withheld by God’s mercy for many, many generations, but which finally fell upon that people after Calvary and its rejection of the Messiah by His people.
Please read that chapter and tremble!
Truly, as God revealed Himself to Moses, so He is. “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation,” Exodus 34:6-7.
This is a day when the iniquity of the father is being visited upon Israel. And yet there is more to follow, even the great tribulation at the close of this age.
But let those who are instruments in Israel’s tribulation and who presently rejoice at all and every trouble that comes to that people just note what the Lord said to Abraham. “I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.”
God will deal most severely with the tormentors of Israel. As he did with Babylon, so He will deal with all who have and will yet put forth their hands against His people. The prophet Jeremiah, who so often prophesied of the destruction that would be wrought by the Babylonians against sinful Judah, also said this concerning Babylon. “And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations,” Jeremiah 25:12. When Babylon, God’s instrument of chastening against the rebellious Jews, had fulfilled God’s purpose, it in turn would be judged by the Lord for its cruelty toward His people.
Let all of today’s enemies of Israel take note. As the IRA leader, Gerry Adams, famously, though with an entirely different slant to the words, said: ‘Our day will come!’
Yes, there is a day coming when the focus of God’s wrath will be upon those who set themselves against God and His elect people, Jew and Gentile. It is a day in which they will cry out in the greatest distress imaginable! “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:15-17.
That day is coming and just before it dawns, Israel shall effectually pray:“Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name. Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually,” Psalm 74:20-23.
In the day that the aforementioned prayer is answered, what glory will be enjoyed by all the redeemed and indeed, by all the inhabitants of the earth! Paul teaches us of that day and shows how that if the casting aside of the Jews brought blessing to the Gentiles therefore, how much more wonderful will the results of the Jews being reconciled and gathered again unto the Lord!
“For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Romans 11:15.
Oh how such truths, repeated truth, eternal truths, unassailable truths, make us long for that day!
“Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” Revelation 22:20.
Rev Ivan Foster. (Rtd)
Lord’s Day, 20th March 2022.