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Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” A Creator owns that which He creates by His own labor. Man uses what God creates and adds value to it by shaping and forming trees, rocks, and elements into something useful, and so man is said to own that which he has made. In reality, he owns his labor which he put into it, but God still owns the building material itself.
His Kingdom consists of all that He created; therefore, His Kingdom includes both heaven and earth. These two dimensions were supposed to function in unity, the earth reflecting the will of heaven at all times. Sin, however, put a division between heaven and earth, because the two began to pull in different directions. God’s Kingdom is fully manifested when the earth fully submits to the will of heaven. So Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” His prayer will be answered, even if it takes thousands of years to accomplish.
In the course of history, the revelation of God has been progressive. To know God is not something that happens overnight. The same is true with the history of nations. God began teaching men through an elementary education, based on what the Bible calls the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant was designed to teach men the ways of God and to avoid sin. The law defines sin and righteousness, but it does not give us the ability to be perfect.
Broadly speaking, the Old Covenant is man’s commitment to obey the laws of God, both in one’s personal life and in governing society with justice. The New Covenant is where God takes personal responsibility to bring the entire creation back into alignment with His laws. He does this by changing the hearts of men, rather than by trying to force mortal men into compliance against their natural tendencies.
The Old Covenant is man’s vow to God, as we see in Exodus 19:5, 6, 8,
5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!”…
The New Covenant is God’s vow to man, as we see in Jeremiah 31:31-33,
31 Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers… 33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
The first covenant, being based on the will of man (and his good intentions) failed to bring righteousness into the earth, both individually and nationally. For this reason, God exiled Israel to Assyria. Judah’s exile to Babylon was temporary, and they were allowed to return after 70 years in order that Jesus Christ might be born in Bethlehem according to prophecy (Micah 5:2). Forty years after Jesus was crucified, however, Judah too was expelled from the land.
It is evident, then, that a new covenant was needed to fulfill the purposes of God. This was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31, one which was based on the promise of God. This ensured the success of this covenant, so that God’s goal would be guaranteed.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 4:22-26,
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh [natural childbirth], and the son of the free woman through the promise. 24 This is allegorically speaking, for these women are the two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
A slave wife bears children who are also slaves, according to the law in Exodus 21:4. Paul shows how the Old Covenant is a system of slavery, because when a man vows obedience, he becomes a slave, obligated to fulfill his own vow. Furthermore, because man is imperfect, there is no way for him to fulfill his vow perfectly, regardless of his good intentions. Every sin, then, puts him further into debt-bondage which he cannot possibly pay off by his labor or his good works.
The New Covenant releases slaves from their slavery, because it is based on God’s promise and upon Christ’s death on the cross which paid for the sin-debt of the world. Hence, those who believe in the promise of God become the children of Sarah, the New Covenant, and are able to join the company of Isaac as free men. One’s status is a matter of faith, not genealogy.
In the course of Paul’s discussion about this historical allegory, he identifies Jerusalem with the Old Covenant and with Mount Sinai in Arabia, the inheritance of Ishmael. Jerusalem was an Old Covenant city and was therefore subject to Mount Sinai and its king, Ishmael. When the Jews, as a whole, rejected the Mediator of the New Covenant, they confirmed their legal status under the authority of Mount Sinai in Arabia and, by extension, under the jurisdiction of Ishmael and his descendants.
The land originally promised to Abraham and his descendants (“seed”) was the land of Canaan, later known as Palestine. The land was certainly given to the tribes of Israel at the time of Joshua’s conquest. However, after repeatedly turning to false gods and sacrificing children to them, God finally expelled them. This tells us that the Israelite claim to the land was not unconditional. In fact, God had warned them through Moses in Deuteronomy 8:20,
20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
Again, in the laws of tribulation, God warned Israel that if they persisted in violating the covenant by casting aside His laws, He would cast them out of the land. Deuteronomy 28:63, 64 says,
63 It shall come about that as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you [when obedient], and multiply you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it. 64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth…
The Impartial God showed no partiality toward the Israelites when they followed the example of the Canaanites. The ten Israelite tribes were cast off and never returned. This historical fact was confirmed by Dr. A. Neubauer in The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1888, Vol. 1, page 15,
“The captives of Israel exiled beyond the Euphrates did not return as a whole to Palestine along with the brethren the captives of Judah; at least there is no mention made of this event in the documents at our disposal.”
The Jews know this, and so for thousands of years they have prayed to be reunited with the lost Israelites. The Jews know that they themselves are not the biblical Israelites, yet they chose to call the name of their nation Israel in order to deceive the world into thinking that they were fulfilling the biblical prophecies given to Israel.
The question facing us today is this: In the absence of the Israelites, who has the next claim to the land? To answer this question, we must trace the history back to the two sons of Abraham—Ishmael and Isaac. Genesis 21:12, 13 tells us,
12 … through Isaac your descendants [“seed”] shall be named. 13 And of the son of the maid [i.e., Ishmael] I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.
Hence, Isaac was the primary inheritor of Abraham’s estate and calling, but at the same time, God gave a promise to Ishmael as well. Isaac’s son, Jacob, was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, who were given the land of Canaan. These are the tribes who were later exiled and who never returned. In their absence, then, Ishmael was the secondary inheritor of the land.
A third claimant arrived in the next generation when Esau and Jacob contended for the birthright. That story is too long to relate here, but we are told in Genesis 25:23 that “the elder shall serve the younger,” which means that Esau was to serve Jacob. Because Jacob deceived his father to obtain this blessing, the law was broken, and this gave Esau a claim to the inheritance as well.
Esau is Edom (Genesis 36:8), which was later known in the Greek language as Idumea. Idumea was conquered by Judah in 126 B.C. and subsequently absorbed. The Idumeans then converted to Judaism and, as Josephus puts it, were “hereafter no other than Jews” (Antiquities of the Jews, XIII, ix, 1). The legal implication of this was that from then on, Judah had two sets of prophecies to fulfill, because the nation of Edom had ceased to exist as a separate nation.
Judah-Edom was destroyed by the Romans from 70-73 A.D., the last stronghold being Masada, an Edomite fortress. They were all expelled from the land and were scattered throughout many nations, where they were simply known as Jews. In the interim, the land reverted back to Ishmael’s descendants, known as Arabs.
In the late 1800’s, some of these Jews formed a movement known as Zionism, by which they laid claim to Palestine.
The law of God, however, blocked Judah from returning until they had repented of their hostility to God (and, we believe, to Jesus Christ). Leviticus 26:40-42 specifically forbids any of the exiled tribes to return while yet in a state of hostility to God. But God had not forgotten that Esau-Edom had a standing case in the divine court, dating back to Genesis 27:40 KJV, where Isaac prophesied to him, “when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.”
In other words, Jacob would have to give back the birthright to Esau in order to allow Esau to prove himself unworthy, so that he could be disinherited in a lawful manner. God allowed the Zionists to succeed (temporarily) and to supersede Ishmael’s claim on the land. Technically, Esau-Edom was third in line to claim the land, because he was born in the generation after Ishmael.
Unfortunately, very few people (if any at all) understood the biblical history of Abraham’s descendants, and even fewer understood the laws of God which govern inheritances. The bottom line is that the true Israelites had first claim to the land, followed by the Ishmaelites, followed by those Zionist Jews who were (and are) motivated by the spirit of Edom.
For a fuller account of the history of Edom and of Zionism, see my book, Origins of Zionism.
The land of Canaan was never meant to be the inheritance of the sons of God. The sons of God are those who are begotten by the Holy Spirit through their ears by hearing the word of truth (1 Peter 1:23-25). In regard to the land of Canaan, the earthly inheritance, Moses said in Deuteronomy 8:7,
7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks and water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills.
At that time, it appeared that the land of Canaan was the ultimate inheritance for God’s people. However, this inheritance did not prevent them from worshiping false gods and from departing from the laws of God. No land inheritance could change the hearts of men. Something greater was required. Yet God established Israel in the land in order to show that they were unworthy and that their Old Covenant vows could not be fulfilled, regardless of good intentions.
The people inherited that land under the Old Covenant, based on the will of man. They were yet unaware that this covenant could not succeed and that a new covenant would be required. So the people of Isaac and Jacob-Israel were cast out and disinherited according to the terms of the Old Covenant, making it necessary to establish a second covenant that was based upon the will and promise of God who cannot fail. This is the main topic of the New Testament, although the prophet Jeremiah spoke of it 600 years earlier in Jeremiah 31:31. In fact, even Moses himself prophesied about the New Covenant obscurely in Deuteronomy 30:6, saying,
6 Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
This is the great hope of the followers of Jesus. The New Covenant is designed to change one’s nature, whereas the Old Covenant commands men to change their behavior through self-discipline. In addition, the land of Canaan/Palestine and Jerusalem is the inheritance of the Old Covenant, but the New Covenant gives believers a greater inheritance.
Moses’ revelation of heart circumcision became the basis of the Apostle Paul’s teaching in regard to who are truly of the tribe of Judah and who are not. Romans 2:28, 29 tells us,
28 For he is NOT A JEW who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But HE IS A JEW who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Paul says that one cannot claim to be a part of Judah on the basis of physical circumcision, which may alter one’s behavior but does nothing to change the heart. Judah means “praise,” and so Paul says that “his praise is not from men, but from God.” In other words, his status as a Judahite is linked to the manner in which he praises God. Physical circumcision is a sign of the Old Covenant; heart circumcision is the sign of the New Covenant.
Those who are of the Old Covenant, born of natural parents, are given a land inheritance in the earth; but the sons of God, who are begotten by the Spirit, have a greater inheritance. The New Testament book of Hebrews 11:8-10 explains it this way:
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
What “city” is this? The answer is given in verses 13-16,
13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country [Canaan] from which they went out, they could have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
It is clear that this new “city” is the heavenly Jerusalem—not the earthly city by the same name. Abraham was given a promise from God. It was a New Covenant promise, because it did not originate with Abraham himself. Abraham simply believed that what God had promised, He was able to fulfill.
The land of Canaan was the first step toward the fulfillment of God’s promise, but it was not the ultimate goal. Abraham’s real inheritance was not the land of Canaan at all but “a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” The capital of this better country is the heavenly Jerusalem. Those who share the faith of Abraham are those who have the same vision of this greater inheritance.
To drive home this point, Hebrews 11:15 tells us that if our inheritance had truly been in the land of Canaan, then the exiled Israelites “would have had opportunity to return.” To return would have been relatively easy. Just move back to the old land. But if the true inheritance under the New Covenant were a heavenly city, it would serve no purpose to return to Canaan/Palestine.
Canaan (and later, Jerusalem) was the inheritance under the Old Covenant; as followers of Jesus Christ, we have a greater inheritance under the New Covenant. While Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant (Galatians 3:19), Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6).
The dispute over the land of Palestine is largely a dispute between various forms of Old Covenant religions, of which Ishmael is the king. Christians should never have gotten involved in this dispute, except perhaps as mediators to prevent conflict. And the bottom line is that the land which the Zionists claim as their own is not theirs, except by the Judge’s accommodation to give Esau the justice that is due to him. And this is only temporary.
In the end, the angel’s promise to Hagar at the well means that the Ishmaelite nations will be given the water of life from the Well of Living After Seeing (God). In other words, they too will receive the greater inheritance, the “better country” that Abraham sought. Meanwhile, prior to that time, the land of Palestine still belongs to Ishmael, even though the land had to be returned to Edom temporarily at the end of this present age.
Because of Edom’s tendency toward violence and bloodshed, the reign of Edom has resulted in much injustice. Esau-Edom has now proven itself to be unworthy of the birthright and unworthy of the name Israel. Even now in 2023, as the Israelis engage in ethnic cleansing and pursue violence as a means to occupy Gaza, they are proving to the world that they are unworthy of the birthright. This is quickly becoming apparent to the entire world.
My study of timing indicates that this time of injustice is now drawing to a close and that we will see many changes occur by the end of 2024. (This is 70 Jubilees since Israel crossed the Jordan River under Joshua’s leadership.) Those who are interested in timing should study my book, Secrets of Time.