Were God’s Promises to Israel Forever?

“And I will establish my covenant between you and Me and you and your offspring after you through their generations for an everlasting covenant. . .  and I will give to you and your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 17:7-8; cf. Genesis 13:15; 48:4; Isaiah 60:21)

“The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as He has sworn to you, IF you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. . .  But IF you will not obey. . . the LORD will send on you curses. .  . until you are destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 28:9, 15, 20; cf. Zechariah 11:10)

Errors of biblical interpretation arise for several reasons, including:

  1. Failure to reconcile all passages that seem to be different.
  2. Presuppositions from errors arising from one’s denominational echo chamber (“mass formation hypnosis”).
  3. Confusing new covenant things with old covenant things.

The two passages above from Genesis and Deuteronomy appear to be contradictory. On the one hand, God’s promises to Israel are everlasting. On the other hand, they are  contingent on obedience. How do we reconcile these? Here’s how:
“God’s promises to Israel were forever so long as they were obedient. If they fail the obedience test, the promises are null and void. There is a limit to God’s patience.”

Was Israel obedient? NO. God took the blessings of the covenant away from the Jews as we see in such passages as this:

“Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. . . When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that He was speaking about them.” (Matthew 21:43, 45)― leaving a remnant of faithful Jews to be saved along with believers in Christ―the new Israel of God (Romans 11)

The New Testament declares that all God’s covenant promises were fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 1:54-55, 69-75; 2 Corinthians 1:20), the ultimate offspring of Abraham (Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16). The new covenant began at the cross, being announced at the Last Supper when Jesus declared “This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).

But we understand from the book of Hebrews that the Old Covenant was washed away in finality in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed―and along with it the animal sacrifices for sin ended forever and the priesthood ended forever:

“In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13)

Why did God take the blessings of the kingdom away from the Jews? ANSWER:

  1. They were exceeding sinful (Matthew 12:38-39; 16:4; 23:13-38; Luke 9:41).
  • They broke the old covenant (Hebrews 8:8-9).
  • They persecuted and killed Jesus’ followers (Matthew 21:34-36; 22:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; Revelation 18:20-24). Indeed, the first century Jews would suffer the penalty for all the righteous blood ever shed (Matthew 23:35-36).
  • They refused to accept Jesus as Messiah (Matthew 23:37).
  • They participated with Rome in Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 21:37-39; 27:24-26; John 19:15.)

The truly everlasting covenant would be the New Covenant in Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37:26-27; Hebrews 12:28; 13:20).

For more about this, see my article “Who Is the Israel of God” in the new covenant―and the fundamental change to God’s covenant community:


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