Scripture: Genesis 12:1-5; Genesis 15:18-21; Genesis 17:6-8; Exodus 23:31

This message is a basic history lesson to help you study the Bible related to the Jewish people.

The history of Israel is a major theme of the Old Testament. The gospels and the book of Acts give additional insight on the state of Israel in the first century, with other allusions to Israel both historic and prophetic in the rest of the New Testament. Israel’s history revolves around dispensations and covenants.
•    A Dispensation is a period of time determined by God during which He deals in a particular way with man in respect to sin and man's responsibility. Each separate Dispensation is based on  human decisions and actions at the time. The word means “administration.”
•    Covenants were contracts between God and His chosen people.

Israel is involved in all the dispensations.
•    In the Dispensation of Promise beginning in Genesis 12, the covenant with Abraham lays the broad basis for all God's dealings with Israel in subsequent generations.
•    The Dispensation of the Law beginning in Exodus 19 is the major dispensation of the Old Testament. Most of Israel’s recorded history relates to the this dispensation which established conditions in Israel's life until Christ fulfilled it on the cross as He stated in Matthew 5:17.
•    Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, Israel shares with Gentiles the privileges of grace, both in salvation and as the rule of life.
•    In the future Dispensation of the Kingdom, Israel again has a prominent role in possessing her promised land and being subject to Jesus Christ as her King.
Although disproportionally small compared with the Gentiles, Israel plays a prominent role in the entire history of the world from Abraham to the end.

Closely connected to the dispensations are the five Biblical covenants which are major factors in Israel's history and prophecy.
•    The Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12 is the basis for Israel's program.
•    The Mosaic Covenant in Exodus 19:5 gives conditions for the life of Israel in the Dispensation of the Law and covers all the Old Testament.
•    The Palestinian Covenant in Deuteronomy 30:3 relates particularly to Israel's possession and dispossession of the land, anticipating the future the ultimate  permanent, possession in the Millennial Kingdom.
•    The Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:16 gives conditions of Israel's relationship to the Davidic kingdom and anticipates prophetically the future kingdom where Christ will reign on Earth in the Millennium.
•    The New Covenant referred to in Hebrews 8:8 was prophesied in the Old Testament and relates to Israel's blessings in the Kingdom and replaces and contrasts with the Mosaic Covenant.

Israel’s actual history begins with Jacob whom God renamed Israel. However, the history must include the lives of Abraham and Isaac, the grandfather and father of Jacob.
•    In obedience to God, Abraham brought his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, and all their property to the Promised Land, a thousand miles southwest from Haran where God began to deal with Abraham.
•    God had promised Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant that he would become a great man, that he would be the father of a great nation, and that through his posterity the entire world would be blessed.
•    Miraculously, after Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children, Isaac was born.
•    Jacob and Esau were born to Isaac and Rebekah, with Jacob the younger twin chosen by God to be the head of the nation Israel.

The account of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is in Genesis chapters 12 to 50. Evidently this history is important to God when considering that the whole creation narrative took only two chapters (Genesis 1 and 2) and the whole record of the fall into sin took only one chapter (Genesis 3). From the divine standpoint, the history of Israel is the key to history as a whole.
•    In keeping with the prophecy to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-14, the Israelites made their way to Egypt in the time of famine. Their way was  prepared by Joseph, who had risen to great authority in Egypt. Abraham and his family were welcomed to the land of Egypt and were cared for during the lifetime of Joseph.
•    The Israelites' several hundred years in Egypt ended disastrously when a change of rulership took away their privileged status, and they became slaves. In their bondage they cried to the Lord, and the Lord raised up Moses and Joshua to lead them out of Egypt into the Promised Land. We read in Numbers chapter 14 that Israel failed God at Kadesh-barnea, and they wandered for forty years in the wilderness as a result. Ultimately God enabled them to conquer the land on the east side of Jordan and, after Moses' death, to cross the Jordan and conquer much of the Promised Land.
•    Their return to the Promised Land and establishment as a nation prospered through the lifetime of Joshua, but Israel soon departed from God and went on a moral spiral downward as recorded in the Book of Judges. God then raised up Samuel the prophet, who in large measure reestablished Israel spiritually and laid the basis for the glories of the kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon. Saul failed as the first king of Israel. His successor David was a great warrior was able to conquer much of the territory belonging to the Promised Land.
•    David's son Solomon extended his sway until he put under tribute most of the area originally mentioned to Abraham, from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates. His violation of God's command in Deuteronomy 17:16-17 not  to have multiple wives and depend on horses for military strength prepared the way for the divided kingdom and the rapid decline of Israel's strength.
•    Solomon's children were raised largely by heathen wives unsympathetic to the law of God. Shortly after Solomon's death, the ten tribes of the North (Israel) withdrew and had a succession of wicked kings. God's judgment descended on them in the Assyrian captivity in 721 B.C. The two remaining tribes of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), although having some godly kings, followed the same downward course and were led into captivity in 605 B.C. by the Babylonians.
•    At the conclusion of the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity, in keeping with the promise recorded in Jeremiah 29:10, Israel again was able to go back to the land. The Book of Ezra records the people's return and their struggles for twenty years to rebuild the Temple. Nehemiah completes the project with the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the city itself about a century later. Israel still did not follow the Lord and was under the dominion of the Medes and Persians for 200 years. Then she was caught in the warfare between Syria and Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.
•    Meanwhile, the power of Rome began to expand with the conquest of Sicily in 242 B.C. Jerusalem itself was subdued by the Roman General Pompeius in 63 B.C. Israel was treated cruelly by the Romans, who carried off hundreds of thousands of Jews into slavery. Ultimately, on Roman authority, Jesus Christ was crucified. Later, in  A.D. 70, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, with Israel subsequently scattered all over the world and driven from her homeland. It was not until the twentieth century that Israel began to return to her land and became re-formed as a national entity and a recognized political state in 1948.

History in the Old Testament is largely in fulfillment of  hundreds of prophecies.
•    In keeping the prophecies given to Abraham, Israel became a great nation.
•    The Old Testament predicted three dispossessions of the land of Israel, and these were fulfilled
            (1) in her descent into Egypt, subsequent bondage and release, and the return to the land,
            (2) the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities which removed Israel once again from the land, and her subsequent return after seventy years in Babylon,     and
            (3) her dispossession after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
•    The broad movement of Israel possessing the land and being dispossessed of it formed the important background for her entire history (Genesis 15: 13-16; Deuteronomy 28:62-67; Jeremiah 25:11-12; Leviticus 26:3-48; Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Nehemiah 1:8; Psalm 106:1-48; Jeremiah 9:16; 18:15-17; Ezekiel 2:14-15; 20:23; 22:15; James 1:1).
•    Important to the history of Israel are the prophecies given concerning the character and destiny of Jacob's Sons (Genesis 49:1-28).
•    Numerous other prophecies are given in the Old Testament concerning God's dealings with the twelve tribes of Israel.
•    Another important theme of prophecy and its fulfillment relates to the Davidic kingdom. In keeping with the Davidic Covenant, the throne is promised to David and his seed forever (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:35-36; Jeremiah 33:21; Daniel 7:14). Promises both of blessing and cursing were fulfilled literally as God dealt with Saul,  David, and Solomon and succeeding kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

One of the major prophecies given through Daniel is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. According to the information given by the angel Gabriel to Daniel, "seventy weeks" or seventy sevens (490 years) were to Israel's future history. Daniel 9:24 says,
        Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
The prophecy was to begin with the command to restore and to build Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25), and 483 years of the total of 490 years were to be fulfilled before the Messiah the Prince would come. This period of 490 years is the time of Nehemiah's prophecies (Leviticus 26:32-39; Deuteronomy 28:63-68; Nehemiah 1:8; Psalm 44:11; Jeremiah 9:16; 18:15-17; Ezekiel 12: 14-15; 20:23; 22:15; James 1:1).

In no case would Israel's national entity be lost even through centuries of dispersion (Jeremiah 31:36; Matthew 24:34). They refused the divine offer and provision for their regathering and kingdom, glory which was made by their Messiah at His first advent (Matthew 23:37-39) and at Kadesh-barnea, where their wilderness experience was extended (Numbers 14:1-45). Their chastisement was continued and will be continued until He comes again. At that time He will re-gather His people into their own land and cause them to enter into the glory and blessedness of every covenant promise of Jehovah concerning them (Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:3-8; Ezekiel 37:21-25; Matthew 24:31).

As intimated in Daniel 9:27, Israel will have a dramatic future role in end-time events leading up to the second coming of Christ. According to Scripture, there are four major events in Israel's future in relation to the end of the age.
1.    Israel was prophesied to be reconstituted as a political state to be able to make a covenant with the “prince that shall come.” Her territories have been enlarged and her strength increased, until Israel today is a major factor in world affairs. This is a prelude to other prophecies to be fulfilled.
2.    Israel will enter into a covenant with a Gentile Roman ruler of the Mediterranean, the Anti-Christ. This seven-year covenant  introduces the period in which Israel will have a measure of peace and security. Undoubtedly many more Jews will return to the Promised Land, and Israel will prosper financially as well as politically.
3.    The covenant with Israel will be dramatically broken three and one-half years after it is formed, and Israel will become a persecuted people instead of a favored people. This is "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7) and the Great Tribulation (Daniel 12:1; Matthew '24:21; Revelation 7:14).
4.    Israel's glorious restoration in the millennial kingdom will follow the second advent of Christ and continue throughout the thousand years of Christ's reign on Earth.

The first event has already taken place, and the second one will not take place until after the Church is raptured. The stage is being set for dramatic end-time events in which Israel will have a major role.

Regarding the amount of Scripture involved, there is no theme of Old Testament prophecy comparable with that of the Messianic kingdom. Lying beyond all predicted chastisements that are to fall on Israel is the glory which will be hers when her people are re-gathered into their own land with unmeasured spiritual blessings under the glorious reign of their Messiah-King. This vision was given to all the prophets. As certainly and literally as Israel, in fulfillment of prophecy, was removed from the land and caused to suffer during these many centuries, so certainly and literally she will be restored to marvelous blessings in a redeemed and glorified Earth. (Isaiah chapters 11-12; Isaiah 24:22-27:13; Isaiah 35:1-10; Isaiah 52:12; Isaiah chapters 54 - 55; Isaiah 59:20-66:24; Jeremiah 23:3-8; Jeremiah 31:1-40; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Jeremiah 33:1-26; Ezekiel 34:11-31; Ezeliel 36:32-37:28; Ezekiel 40:1-48:35;Daniel 2:44-45; Daniel 7:14; Hosea 3:4-5; Hosea 13:9-14:9; Joel 2:28-3:21; Amos 9:11-15; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Zechariah 8:1-22; 14:9-21).

Old Testament predictions concerning the kingdom are often part of predictions concerning the return of the King. When these two themes are combined into one, it is termed "the Day of the LORD” referring to that period extending from the Rapture of the Church and the judgments on Earth following this event to the end of Christ’s millennial reign (Isaiah 2:10-22; Zechariah chapter 14).

A number of indications show that the Day of the LORD will begin as soon as the Rapture of the Church occurs. The major events of the Day of the LORD include:
•    the Great Tribulation
•    God's judgments on the world preceding the second coming of Christ
•    judgments which attend the second coming of Christ
•    the entire thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth.
Because many of the great prophecies were not fulfilled by the time the Old Testament was completed, the additional revelation of the New Testament is essential to presenting the complete and detailed account of many fulfillments of the Old Testament and also many prophecies yet to be fulfilled. The account of Israel in history and prophecy has to a large extent been fulfilled, but great future events are yet ahead. Evidence is accumulating that the end time when Israel will again come into its own is very near.

We do well to pay careful attention to these words of Jesus in Matthew 24:25,
        I have  told you ahead of time.
He wants to make quite sure that when the sudden fulfillment takes place, you will not be able to say,
        "I didn't know."
Be careful, because as surely as Jesus once came and ascended into Heaven, He will come again. The Bible gives us unmistakable signs that directly precede His coming.
•    The mighty sign is that the light of grace is gradually receding from the nations and is once again being  concentrated on Israel.
•    Israel will move more and more into the limelight.
•    God is engaged in building the throne of His Son, so the focus of history will increasingly be on Israel.

The brighter the light becomes over Israel, the darker it will become over the nations (Isaiah 60:1-2). Do you know the reason for this darkness? Jesus told us that the time of His return would be like the days of Noah. God protected Noah and his family so the human race could survive. God’s chosen people, today’s Jews, are being protected as a remnant.

The tiny nation of Israel is the geographical focal point of Bible prophecy.
•    On December 8, 1917, British troops arrived at Jerusalem. Early Sunday morning, December 9, the Turks began fleeing the city without firing a shot. After being ruled over by the Turks, whose very symbol of authority was that of a slashing sword, the Holy City now came under British protection.
•    During the 30 years of British control of  Palestine, hostilities continued between Arab and Israeli populations. After World War II, the British determined to relinquish control of Palestine, giving part of the land to Israel and part to Jordan. The 30-year British rule was over.
•    On the evening of May 13, 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion, Executive Head of the Jewish Agency/the World Zionist Organization, called President Harry S Truman who also was required to sign the formal paper [of Israel's statehood] the next day. On the phone, they discussed and agreed the name should be 'the State of Israel.'" (Several were being considered.)
•    On May 14, when the typed document came to Mr. Truman for signature, it read, "the Jewish state." President Truman crossed out "Jewish," made an insertion mark, and wrote in ink, "state of Israel" as agreed the previous evening with Ben-Gurion. At the same time, "Ben Gurion declared 'the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,' a state independent upon the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine."
•    At sunrise on May 14, 1948, Great Britain's flag, the Union Jack, was hauled down from its staff over the government house in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, over 100,000 Jews listened by radio to the Tel Aviv ceremonies, unable to attend, being cut off and surrounded by Arab armies.
•    At 5:00 P.M. in New York, a special emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly was held to consider the war clouds of the Middle East that would certainly unleash their fury at 6:00 New York time (midnight in Palestine). They had one hour to do something. Suddenly, an amazing and totally unexpected news bulletin from Washington, D.C., was received at the UN.  President Harry S Truman had just recognized the new Jewish State. The time was 6:11 P.M. in New York, but six hours later than Jerusalem. Mr. Truman had recognized the Israeli State just 11 minutes after it had come into existence! His message read as follows:
            "This government has been informed that a Jewish State has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the Provisional Government thereof. The United States Government recognizes the Provisional Government, the "de facto" authority of the New State of Israel."
•    Three days later, on May 18, Russia recognized Israel. So, for the first time since September 8, A.D. 70, the Holy Land officially belonged to the Jews. Israel had been reborn in her ancient land in fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
•    Israel's' War of Independence began on November 29, 1947 and continued (with some interruption) until February 24, 1949. Through God’s protection and against insurmountahle odds, Israel defended herself against the onslaught and eventually emerged victoriously. It was an incredible victory. After 2,500 years of oppression and dispersion, the nation of Israel was reborn in her original homeland.
•    By 1952, the population of Israel doubled, and it has been exploding ever since. Today, over 6 million Jews live in Israel. It should he obvious by now that Israel is back in her land by a miracle of God.  God spoke through the prophet Amos:
            I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to he uprooted from the land I have given them. (Amos 9:14,15)
God is clearly fulfilling His promise. I am convinced that the literal fulfillment of these prophecies is intended to strengthen our confidence in all of God's prophecies about future events.

The spirit of the Antichrist is already at work in the world. The Ant-Christ's rule will be limited. His reign destructive, and his doom will be permanent.
•    Satan’s strategy is formulated against Christ.
•    He is waiting for the right moment in time to indwell the one who will become the Beast.
•    He could he alive and well on planet Earth. He could be rising to power somewhere in the Western world, promising peace and offering hope for the world's great problems.
•    Something is holding him back. He cannot be revealed until the restraining influence of the Church is removed at the Rapture.
•    Then all hell will break loose, and the deceiver will rise to power for seven years (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12).
•    Satan cannot begin his diabolical work until our task of world evangelization is finished (Matthew 24:14). Jesus has commanded us to go into all the world with the good news of God's grace until the body of Christ is complete, and He calls us home to be with Him. Only God the Father knows that day.
•    Satan's ultimate humiliation will come at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; 19:11-20:2). There, all the forces of evil will be defeated by the triumphal return of Christ. The Beast and the False Prophet will be cast into the lake of fire, and Satan will be chained in the abyss for 1,000 years. Then, after his final rebellion, Satan himself will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). The judgment of Satan will then be complete. Satan is:
        1. forbidden access to Eden (Genesis 3:14, 24).
        2. forbidden to reside in heaven (Revelation 12:7-12).
        3. forbidden to dwell on earth (Revelation 20:2,3). and
        4. cast into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20: 10).
We are blessed to know the end of the story–SATAN LOSES.

Visit the Truman Museum in Independence, Missouri, to see for yourself the document that is more than just a piece of world history. It is physical proof of fulfillment of God’s prophecy.

★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
         Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.
      Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
      I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
      Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.

    Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   2015