I woke up this morning with a lot of things stirring in my spirit about the Land promise and its guiding use by God to not only inform but to shape and even constrain what we might call, ‘the eschatology of the covenant’. This is because the Landward side of the promise in particular, would crowd the later prophets to many necessary inferences that would become revelatory in the developing eschatology of Israel. The Land, with other key elements of the promise, would demand for its fulfillment the coming in of an ‘everlasting righteousness’, not for a few (the remnant) but for every remaining survivors of the last tribulation. This miracle of grace would continue forever, without interruption, extending to every child born to Jewish parentage. It is the Landward side of the promise that would underscore the necessity of an eternal salvation that would guarantee the abiding and irreversible regeneration of ‘all Israel’ throughout the millennium (see Isa 4:3; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 39:22;
Through the landward side of the promise, Abraham would see Jesus’ day, as we discussed. Joseph would give commandment concerning his bones. Moses would see the tribulation of the latter days that would accomplish the great national turning and transformation that would come at the end of Jacob’s power (Deut 32:36 with Dan 12:7). The veil is significantly lifted at the end of power, such a crucial principle here.
At the outskirts of the Land, soon to be entered on the basis of divine gift alone, apart from any righteousness of their own (Deut 9:4-6), Moses protests to Israel that their days on the Land will not be prolonged, because he knows that “to this day, the Lord has not given you an heart” (Deut 29:4). Yet, it is Moses that sees ahead to the time of an ultimate, ‘great tribulation’ (Deut 4:29-31) when the nation would receive that corporate circumcision of heart that would secure abiding inheritance of the Land (Deut 4:29-31; 30:1-6). This is how covenant conditionality is not able to prevent the unconditional certainty of the promise, because it is God Himself who is the true source of all true doing of the law through the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way, no flesh can glory.
You see then how the problem of eternal inheritance of the Land would tend to shut the reflective OT believer up to the necessity of an eternal regeneration that must extend to all the nation. It is Abraham’s conviction of the literalness of the Land promise that shuts him up to the expectation of his own bodily resurrection. The promise of eternal possession of the Land is not only to Abraham’s seed but to Abraham personally as well. The Land of his sojourn would become his as an everlasting possession, not now, since he would die in a good old age, but later, after his yet unborn son’s family returns after an absence of four hundred years. This is how I believe Abraham saw Jesus’ day.
Remember, when Abraham is commanded to offer Isaac, it is after the covenant promise of Gen 15 that the nation that would proceed from the promised son would spend four hundred years in another country. How does a man die and yet inherit a literal tract of Land together with this son and his son’s progeny after an absence of four hundred years? Not only so, but how else could Abraham have reckoned that such a promise could be fulfilled if the seed of promise is put to death? We know that Abraham reckoned on the resurrection of Isaac, in no small part, we may infer, because he reckoned on his own resurrection sometime after the four hundred years, according to the promise of Gen 15. Remember, the promise of the Land is not only to Abraham’s surviving children but also Abraham personally, “to you and your seed.” This sets up the dilemma through which Abraham saw ahead to Jesus’ day.
It seems evident that Abraham conceived of Isaac as the seed of the woman whose sacrifice and resurrection would accomplish the reversal of the fall and the power of death. I believe it was precisely when Isaac was spared that Abraham could see ahead to the more perfect sacrifice who would not be spared. In the receiving again of sacrificed Lamb, the seed of the woman destroys the work of Satan and of death through sin. The power of the fall is reversed so that Abraham, together will all the seed of promise, can be raised to inherit the Land forever through a righteousness that is forever. This is Abraham’s faith in the God who raises the dead. The logic of all is the revelation of God’s own righteousness imputed to us, living and working in us and through us through the sacrifice of the woman’s seed.
Apart from this conviction of the promise of eternal inheritance of a literal land by means of bodily resurrection through the reversal of the fall by the seed of the woman, none of the promises to Abraham would have pointed so clearly to the later developments of the promise through Moses and the prophets. If Abraham was wrong; if the promise of a literal Land was not the catalyst to so many holy inferences pointing to the coming of the Just One, it is hard to see what is not also wrong in the eschatology of the covenant and the hope of a future post-tribulational day of the Lord deliverance of Israel to real, physical national inheritance, so manifestly expected by all the prophets.
When the law is fulfilled in the new heart and new spirit, not only by the remnant, but all the nation, then and only then can Israel lie down in permanent safety with none making them afraid anymore again forever. That’s the goal of the covenant and it is the promise of the Land and real physical, literal inheritance of the Land that makes sense of the whole. It is the ‘necessary’ eschatological salvation of ‘all Israel’ whereby an all righteous “Jewish” nation (‘natural branches’) is able to preserve themselves and their children’s children on the Land without interruption of further threat of curse or exile “forever” The rule is this: To inherit the Land forever, Israel must have a righteousness that is forever. This is exactly how I understand Paul’s understanding of that much disputed phrase in Ro 11:26, “and so all Israel shall be saved.” It is not a mere addendum to God’s abiding will that more Jews be saved; it is a covenant necessity! God’s Name and Word is bound up with their salvation and return to the Land. Until the time comes when every Jewish person on the earth is saved (Jer 31:34), the everlasting covenant, secured in the Savior’s blood, has not reached its full goal in the salvation of ‘all Israel’.
The revelation of the day of the Lord that secures the eternal inheritance of the Land is the climactic solution and eschatological resolution to what we might call ‘the dilemma of the covenant’. By definition, Jacob’s trouble, the ultimate travail and tribulation of Zion, is the last stage of covenant curse and discipline threatened in the law. Until then, Israel remains under covenant jeopardy so long as the disposition to backslide continues to threaten curse and exile. What will end this threat? Answer: the coming in of an ‘everlasting righteousness’ (Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24), not for a remnant only, but for the entirety of the nation, from the least to the greatest, i.e., ‘all Israel’ (Jer 31:34). As surely as Jer 31 follows chapt 30, this extravagant promise, so often spiritualized as too fantastic to be conceivable for historical fulfillment, is here on earth AFTER Jacob’s trouble.
Only as the nation is saved in its entirety in a way that preserves them in abiding covenant obedience (new heart and spirit), can the chronic problem of backsliding be finally overcome. That is why the regeneration of a mere remnant can never be sufficient to guarantee an end to the curse that must always follow sin and the continued threat of judgment and exile. Unless and until ‘all Israel’ is saved eternally, even the righteous remnant is subject to the cycles of judgment and exile, as in the case of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
Of course, we know that the DOL is only the partial solution to the dilemma of the broken covenant. The basis for all is the mystery of the gospel, which addresses not only the future of the promise but the very foundation of God in the calling out of His elect throughout all ages by an atonement that was eternally established before creation in the counsel of the Godhead. As we said last night, this means that many enjoyed the working of the Spirit that was based retroactively on an atonement that was not yet accomplished in time but counted as accomplished from the standpoint of God’s eternal predestination. Since the mystery of the gospel was not yet revealed, this means they enjoyed the benefit of much more than they understood.
This is how the day of the Lord ends the age long ‘discipline of the covenant’. Not only does it realize an abiding righteousness whereby the Land may be inherited safely forever; it also subdues and brings under the rod iron rule of Messiah the pride and power of the gentiles, forever ending the divinely allotted ‘times of the gentiles’ in the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, the time of “their fullness” (Ro 11:12). The day of the Lord brings a final end to what we might call ‘covenant jeopardy’ since it ends the threat of the broken covenant by the gift of the Spirit and new heart that keeps it in truth forever.
This means a mere remnant is not enough, else the problem of backsliding and judgment remains. What the promise requires is a nation that is entirely holy, not in the part but the whole. This alone can guarantee abiding inheritance without fail unto children’s children (Isa 59:21), By a guaranteed preservation through the ‘everlasting righteousness’ that is made sure to all the seed, the Land is assured of abiding inheritance, forever free from covenant jeopardy, because eternal regeneration fulfills the law and secures abiding blessing, not off in an invisible heaven, but here in open demonstration through Spirit filled saints dwelling securely in the Land without threat of invasion or any of the curses of the broken covenant, as threatened in Lev 26 & Deut 28-32.
This is how Israel’s hope developed along the lines of the inviolable covenant law of the blessing and the curse but in the context of an unconditionally certain everlasting covenant that supersedes all human weakness through the determination of God to overcome all conditionality by real and actual fulfillment in our mortal bodies through grace by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Now it remains to show how and why the post-tribulational deliverance of Israel is no less the church’s hope, and how and why the foundation of all is the atoning death of a twice coming Messiah. Then there are the questions that rise concerning the new covenant believer’s relation to the law and how Israel’s unique and abiding election to millennial headship over the nations agrees with the revelation of the one new man, etc. The answer to these questions will materially affect how we conceive of the church’s role towards Israel, always, but especially the last seven years and the unequaled tribulation of the last 3 1/2 years in particular.