Monday, December 22, 2008

Can God Break His Promises?

According to Exodus 32, when the people were waiting for Moses the 40 days he was on Mount Sinai, they became impatient saying, "Get up, make for us a god who will go ahead of us, because as regards this Moses, the man who led us up out of the land of Egypt, we certainly do not know what has happened to him." (Exodus 32:1) Evidently, Moses was the glue that held the Israelite camp to Jehovah God. Without him, they didn't want his God.

So Aaron, the brother of Moses, gave them what they wanted. He took their gold jewelry, threw into a fire, and "formed it with a graving tool and proceeded to make it into a molten statue of a calf." (Exodus 32:3) He told them that this was the god who had led them out of Egypt. What did Jehovah do?

Before we take a look at that, let us see why this is so important. Go back in time over 500 years. We find a man named Abram. Abram is a righteous man. So much so that God decides that this is the man that He is going to use to fulfill His promise made at Genesis 3:15. So Jehovah tells Abram to get up, leave his home country in Ur (a very rich, prosperous land), and dwell in tents as a nomad. Abram, "not knowing where he was going" showed his faith by traveling there anyway. Where did he end up? In the land of Canaan.-Hebrews 11:8; Genesis 12:1-5

Once in Canaan, God told Abram this: "To your seed I am going to give this land." (Genesis 12:7) God promised Abraham that his descendent's would inherit the land of Canaan--the Promised Land. After some time, God narrowed it down some and said that this seed that would inherit the land would come through Isaac and then Jacob. Finally, Jehovah said to Jacob. "The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong."-Genesis 49:10

There would be a king coming from the son of Jacob, Judah. This was a promise of God and God cannot lie. (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2) Now that had been established. There would be a people coming from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who would inherit this land and then a king would come out of Judah.

Going forward to this incident on Mount Sinai, after Jehovah commanded Moses to go down Mount Sinai He said, "I have looked at this people and here it is a stiff-necked people. 10 So now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them, and let me make you into a great nation."-Exodus 32:9-10, see also Numbers 14:12

Was there a problem with this? God said that a king would come through Judah and that Abraham would be the father of the nation of Israel. Yet Moses was through the line of Levi. If Jehovah destroyed everyone how could He fulfill His promise to Jacob and make a king through Judah? No one from Judah would have been alive.

Now we have to think: Who broke the promise at this point? God or the Israelites? The Israelites had already accepted a relationship with God by word and action. They agreed to do the things that Jehovah asked when they allowed themselves to be saved by Him but even more so when He brought them through the Red Sea alive. (Exodus 12:24-27, 43-50; 13:1-5; 15:2, 13, 16-18) So, when the God of their forefathers was left off from being worshiped in exchange for the golden calf, that was breaking their promise to "have no other gods against [Jehovah's] face."-Exodus 20:2-5

To look at another example of this, think of King Solomon. God said to Solomon after he prayed at the dedication of the temple: "I have heard your prayer...And you, if you will walk before me, just as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and with uprightness by doing according to all that I have commanded you, and you will keep my regulations and my judicial decisions, I also shall indeed establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel to time indefinite, just as I promised David your father, saying, 'Not a man of yours will be cut off from sitting upon the throne of Israel.'"-1 Kings 9:3-5, see also 2 Samuel 7:16

What happened with King Solomon? Solomon went bad and Jehovah took Israel away from his son, Rehoboam for this. He gave ten of the twelve tribes to Jeroboam, leaving Judah with Solomon's son.

Did God break His promise in this instance? Absolutely Not! God has set standards as to what is allowed and what isn't allowed. If we humans break that rule, then God is free as to His part of the bargain.

Today, God has made a new promise, one that will never be changed even if one who has been the recipient of the promise breaks their end of the bargain. To seal this promise, God sent His Only-Begotten Son into the world to save humanity from sin and death. (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Timothy 2:5-6) He as promised that this One, Jesus Christ, will rule in heaven as King and High Priest forever. (1 Timothy 6:15, Hebrews 6:20) What is more, God has promised to take 144,000 humans from the earth to be co-rulers with Christ in the heavens. These too are kings and priests.-Revelation 14:1-3, 20;6

By doing this, is God breaking His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? No. He said that someone from the tribe of Judah would reign on the throne forever. Jesus Christ is of the tribe of Judah. (Luke 3:23, 33-34; Revelation 5:5) Isn't it interesting, though, how Christ is also a priest, for Paul mentioned, "For it is quite plain that our Lord has sprung up out of Judah, a tribe about which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests." (Hebrews 7:14) And those other 144,000 co-rulers? They are out of every "tribe and tongue and people and nation", not just from the tribe of Levi.-Revelation 5:9-10

It is true that the Jews were at one time the chosen people of God. However, God rejected them because they rejected His Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 21:43; 23:37-38) After this, a new covenant was put into effect, "a covenant...for a kingdom." (Luke 22:28-30) In this new covenant, people would now have the opportunity to go to heaven. When did this new covenant start?

Evidently, the New Covenant started at Pentecost 33 C.E. with 120 disciples when holy spirit was poured out upon them. How do we know? Well, this new covenant was for a kingdom, as Christ said. A kingdom in heaven. In other words, this new covenant will take people from earth to heaven to rule with Christ. After that day on Pentecost, the disciples began speaking of a heavenly hope, something that is absent in the gospels and the first chapter of Acts. Throughout the gospels, God's people always spoke of an earthly hope. (Luke 19:11; 24:21; Acts 1:6) After that day, they always discussed a heavenly hope.-Ephesians 2:6-7; 1 Peter 1:3-4

This hope had been open only to Jews at first. (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; Luke 14:16-21a) When they rejected Christ, it was opened to everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike. (Luke 14:21b-24; Romans 1:16; 2:10) Now, this people became something new. The Bible says of them, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people for special possession."-1 Peter 2:9a

From then on out, the new race of people would be the Anointed Ones, the spiritual brothers of Christ. These were not literal Jews for those were no longer God's people. So if the Jew's were no longer God's chosen people, how could Jehovah keep His promise to Abraham? Paul answers that question.

"You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise." (Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 3:7-8) There you have it. By doing what is right and following Christ, these Anointed become descendent's of Abraham. They are "heirs with reference to a promise." What promise? The promise that they will one day become God's children and joint heirs with Christ in the heavens.-Romans 8:14-17

Yes, not all who are from Israel are really Israel. This is not in the sense that they are not natural descendent's of Abraham but that they are not God's children. (Romans 2:26-29; 9:6) To be Abraham's children, you need to be righteous--and Anointed! Those are the ones who inherit the promise to rule forever.

Now how do we of the "Great Crowd" benefit from this promise? (Revelation 7:9-10) Our most important blessing is that we can wash ourselves clean in the blood of Jesus Christ. We are able to worship God forever in His spiritual temple and be shepherded by the Lamb of God to waters of life. Finally, we will have all tears wiped from our eyes! (Revelation 7:13-17) What benefits! Through the reign of the Christ and his spiritual brothers, we have the hope of all those blessing mentioned in Revelation 7:9-17. As the bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem, the Anointed will be able to, like their heavenly husband, shower rich blessing on all of us on the earth forever. (2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2, 9-10) May we all strive to remain faithful so as to live under the blessings of Jesus Christ and the 144,000 of God.-Psalm 37:29; Revelation 21:4