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    Chapter Five. The Promises To Israel

    God chose the children of Israel, and separated them to himself, and made them the depositaries of his truth, not only for them, but for the whole world. And so our relation to the truth committed to them involves the whole question of our duty to God. Therefore, no subject can be of more importance than this relation; as on a correct understanding of it depends an understanding of the purposes of God under both covenants. And yet there is no subject upon which a greater misunderstanding exists. But if two points be settled, the controversy must end. These are:RDAC 73.3

    1. The conditional nature of the promises made to the Jews.RDAC 74.1

    2. Under which of the two covenants the special blessings to them were to be conferred.RDAC 74.2

    On the first, it may be remarked, that all of God’s promises to man are conditional. To deny this is to advocate Universalism, and even to deny free agency. True, he chose that people for the love he had to their fathers; but their fathers obtained the blessings by faithful obedience, and continued obedience was necessary on the part of the children to retain the promises. When God required Pharaoh to let them go, it was not merely that he might bless them, but that they might serve him. Exodus 10:3. Also he said unto them, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me,” etc. Exodus 19:5-8.RDAC 74.3

    As the blessings set before them were conditional, they could claim them only on fulfillment of the conditions. But the Scriptures abundantly prove that they were “a disobedient and gainsaying people.” Therefore, it must be admitted that they can receive nothing in the future for any consideration rendered in the past. And therefore, again, if any promise is fulfilled to them in the future, it must be on the future performance of the conditions on which such promise is based. Otherwise the promise is forfeited, and cannot be fulfilled.RDAC 74.4

    On the second point the conclusion is equally evident. The first covenant has passed away, and nothing can be claimed or granted under an abolished system. Of course, all future blessings must be granted under the new covenant, subject to its conditions and restrictions. So we are now shut up to one single point of inquiry: to wit, Do the Scriptures teach that the natural descendants of Jacob are entitled to any special privileges or blessings under the new covenant? We say they do not, and appeal to the Scriptures on the subject.RDAC 75.1

    Under “objections” we shall further notice the testimony of the word of God on the subject of the passing away of the old covenant and the introduction of the new. We confine ourselves for the present to the question immediately under notice.RDAC 75.2

    Many of the advocates of the Age to Come, perhaps a large majority, contend that the offerings of the Levitical system will be re-instituted in that age. But, according to Paul, they make themselves transgressors against the gospel; and make the gospel a system of transgression against the divine economy, by its setting aside that which must be re-instituted. They pervert and confound the testimony of the word, having the first covenant done away to establish the second; and the second not yet made (see objection, page 99); but, when it is made, it will be by the re-establishing of all the peculiarities of the first!RDAC 75.3

    If all would candidly accept the proof that the new covenant has been made, and the relation it sustains to the purposes and promises of God, this confusion would be avoided. But the promises are read without considering their connection with the qualifying declarations of the New Testament. And yet, it is considered by some that the New Testament, especially Paul’s letter to the Romans, sustains the Age to Come, by maintaining the future fulfillment of special promises to the Jews. If a few expressions only are considered, a construction may be put upon them altogether at variance with the tenor of the whole. But this is treating the Scriptures unjustly, and the most positive declarations of Scripture, in many places, forbid the construction which Judaizers place upon it.RDAC 75.4

    In the first chapter of that letter the apostle describes the sinful condition of the world. That his remarks are general in their application is proved by the commencement of chap. 2. “Therefore, thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art, that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest, doest the same things.” If any should be inclined to consider this judgment too severe, and that the iniquity described in Romans 1 is very far beyond that of the generality of the unconverted world, they may have their ideas corrected by referring to Galatians 5:19-21. “The works of the flesh” are those things inherent in the “carnal mind;” and as God’s law is spiritual, and may be violated by thoughts and desires, Romans 7:14; 1 John 3:15; Matthew 5:28, these works are in every natural heart. So, from the apostle’s application it is vain to appeal. He then shows that Jews and Gentiles are all condemned-all subject to the judgment of God for disobedience, and are alike dependent on the grace of God for salvation, through patient continuance in well doing, “for there is no respect of persons with God.” The circumcision of the Jew, if he be a transgressor of the law, is thereby made uncircumcision; he is even as a Gentile. But if the Gentile keep the law, his uncircumcision is made circumcision. The “outward” Jew is an Israelite no longer if he is disobedient to God, while the obedient Gentile is “inwardly” a Jew, and as such accepted of God.RDAC 76.1

    The advantage which the Jew possessed is stated in chap. 3:1, 2, but in verses 9, 10, it is said, “What then? are we better than they? No, in nowise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” After thus involving the whole world in guilt, justification by faith (the only hope of the guilty) is again introduced, and again it is declared that “there is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Of course boasting is excluded, and the apostle may well exclaim, “Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also; seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.”RDAC 77.1

    Those who claim a special blessing for the natural descendants of Abraham should carefully read chap. 4. It begins with the important question as to what “Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?” This is important, for surely none of his children according to the flesh, can claim more than he, their father, obtained on that basis. But the argument shows that he received nothing on such a consideration. Abraham’s blessing or justification was by faith, by believing “on him that justifieth.” And the children of Abraham can claim nothing from their birth, but must seek the blessing as he did, by faith. But in that manner it may be obtained by all alike, both Jews and Gentiles, circumcised and uncircumcised; for Abraham himself received the promise in uncircumcision. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”RDAC 77.2

    As all are sinners, all are under condemnation of the law, and there can be, therefore, no justification by the law. The children of Israel promised to keep it, but they did not; and, therefore, the covenant under which they received the law could not confer the blessing. If that covenant could have secured the blessing, they would have stood independent of Abraham, and have thus set aside justification by faith, and destroyed the hope of all believers; as it is said in verse 14: “For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.” And the same is repeated, Galatians 3:18: “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” Thus it is proved that the theory of the Age to Come, for the fulfillment of the Scriptures, is destructive of the faith of Abraham.RDAC 78.1

    This subject is again brought up in Chapter 9. Although Paul was by birth a Jew, and had a strong feeling for his “kinsmen according to the flesh,” he could not contradict himself, and destroy the facts set forth in the preceding chapters; but he cuts off the claim of the unfaithful to the name of Israel, or of Abraham’s children. And it is of those-the unbelieving descendants of Jacob-that he speaks in his comparison of the vessels of the potter. God had endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. He had certainly endured much of that rebellious people, considering the privileges conferred upon them; and the application is evident from all the connection, and from chapter 10:21: “But to Israel he saith, All day long have I stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” The believers in Christ, “not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles,” are vessels of mercy, prepared unto glory; and the prophecies, as well as the promise to Abraham, are brought forward to attest this truth. Hosea says, “I will call them my people which were not my people; and her beloved which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called, The children of the living God.” These promises are fulfilled in the new covenant; and we learn from this, that where God speaks by the prophets of his beloved and his people, he refers to those who are Gentiles by birth, as well as to Jews; for they are “fellow-heirs, and of the same body,” and partakers of the same promise.RDAC 78.2

    Chapter 11 is most often quoted as favoring Judaizing notions, but of it we say as of chapter 9, it does not contradict the positive statements of the apostle in other places which disprove those notions. Two points are claimed on this chapter, to wit, 1. That a difference is recognized between Israel and the believing Gentiles, and, 2. That all Israel will be saved after the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. These two points we now consider.RDAC 79.1

    When speaking of that people nationally, there must of necessity be recognized such a difference; but this fact does not at all favor their theory. To maintain their view, they must not only show a difference of birth, but they must also show that the Gentiles are not fellow-heirs, and partakers of the same promises. See Ephesians 3:1-6. But this they cannot do.RDAC 80.1

    1. To maintain the second point, reference is made to the declaration that blindness has happened to’ them only in part. We admit that God hath not cast them away in the sense of utterly rejecting them, but still calls on them to be reconciled to him, and to receive the blessing of Abraham through faith in Christ. In part expresses extent, but not duration. For the duration of their blindness, see verses 9, 10, and Isaiah 6:9-11: “Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate.” If blindness had happened to them wholly, not even a remnant could be saved; and “all Israel,” to whom the promises are made, is only a remnant. There are others who are of Israel, but the remnant alone are Israel. Will any one claim salvation for any more of them than that remnant? If so, where are the promises? See chapter 9:27-29: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.” “And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed [a very small remnant, Isaiah 1:9], we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.” Paul claims no more than this in any place; and as the promise is made only to the remnant, and to them only through faith in Christ, and also in common with all believing Gentiles, we can see no need of a change of dispensation, or of their having any special privileges in order to its fulfillment.RDAC 80.2

    But the Judaizers assert that the fullness of the Gentiles must come in first. There is the great mistake. The text does not say, And then, nor, after that time, shall all Israel be saved; but it says, “And SO shall all Israel be saved.” The word so expresses manner, and not time, and by examining the context, we find that it refers to the act of grafting into the good olive-tree, through faith. “So answers to as, either preceding or following.” And as the fullness of the Gentiles shall be brought in through their faith, and grafted into the good olive-tree, so (in like manner) shall all Israel (the remnant) be saved; for “they also, if they continue not in unbelief, shall be grafted in again.” But the question of time is settled in another place; verse 5: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” And to this remnant, the promises are made.RDAC 81.1

    We have now ascertained to whom the promises are made, and the time and manner of their fulfillment. We will now inquire in regard to the promises themselves, confident that an examination of these, as to the things promised, will confirm the view we have taken.RDAC 81.2

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