It's time to derive your worldview from the Bible

Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”

by Charles Clough
The biblical view of history contrasted with the pagan view. Distinctions between measures of progress for Israel and the church. To understand the Word of God, you must understand God’s covenants with Israel. The covenants with Israel, blessings and cycles of national discipline. God follows through on His promises for His own glory. Questions and answers.
Series:Chapter 5 – The Destiny of the Church
Duration:1 hr 27 mins 56 secs

© Charles A. Clough 2002

Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003

Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 5 – The Destiny of the Church

Lesson 208 – Biblical View of History:
Israel and the Covenant Framework

21 Nov 2002
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD

Again to have kind of a compass to where we’re going, why are we doing what we’re doing? In order to sort through eschatology, that is the prophetic sections of the Word of God, you have to have a background coming from the Old Testament, because the guys that God used to reveal these prophecies were people who had very, very good Old Testament backgrounds. They lived it. So it’s necessary for us, particularly because it’s not Jewish, we’re Gentiles, most of us, don’t have that background, we’re separated by centuries from what these people went through. We need to get this background down in some detail.

Chapter 5 which is “The Destiny of the Church,” which is the last chapter in this series, we started off talking about what does it mean to say the church is completed, because when the Church Age is finished, i.e., the age of history in which we live, this age is coming to an end. By the way, that’s a concept that we want to remember. The Bible, over against paganism, believes in two kinds of view to history. The Bible’s view of history is that you have a series of ages that are progressing toward a final goal. It had a beginning, it has an end, it has a purpose, and there are distinct ages that can be identified in history. Those ages have various names; one of them is a dispensation, an age in which God works certain ways. That’s one element of biblical history. To make that clearer, I’m going to show you what the pagan view of history is by way of contrast.

Pagan views of history generally look like this: an infinite line left and right, just straight, no progress, just the same old thing. In a humorous note, Henry Ford once quipped to someone when asked for the definition of history his definition was “one damned thing after another.” But the point was that it was just meaningless, it was just one thing after another, just marbles. That was my view when I was going through high school because not being a Christian I had no idea of purpose. History to me was just a course to ace by memorizing all the dates and spitting them back on next week’s test, then you forget them and memorize an all new set of dates for the next test. I went through all the history courses that way.

The point is that my way of thinking was that it was a boring subject because all it was was a collection of marbles. No teacher at any time in my schooling ever sat me down and talked about a purpose in history; so it’s not going anywhere. I believe that’s probably rampant in the school system. The problem is that if students really think that there’s no purpose in history, students aren’t stupid, they’re going to draw the conclusion that if there’s no purpose in history there’s no purpose in learning it so why should I bother to study history? It’s self-defeating. This is the purposelessness of the non-Christians position. Others have believed in a cyclic view of history, the history goes around and comes around. Those are ideas out there, you see it phrased a thousand different ways but in their basic essence this is it.

The Bible does not view history this way. The Bible views history as a sequence of events and that the sequence of events are critical to be pointers or milestones in the ongoing program of God. When we get toward the end of this as a review I’m going to, hopefully, get a video and show you some missionaries who have locked onto this idea of progress through events in history as a device for clarifying the gospel in a pagan environment. In any case, that’s the idea.

On page 112 we’re looking at the church completed. What we mean is this age in which we live, when is it going to finish? When is the church completed? To understand that we have to under­stand that if we live, say in the Church Age, we don’t live in the Age of Israel. And if we don’t live in the Age of Israel there’s a difference between the Age of Israel and the Age of the Church. God works slightly differently in these different ages.

On page 112 we cite two ways you can see this unfold. First you can see that Israel is treated to a clocking system or calendar system that from time to time, not always, but from time to time during this Age of Israel it’s as though God starts a clock and then He stops the clock and during this clock time certain things have to happen. It’s integrated to a standard clock and the standard clock is the calendar given to Israel. That calendar had certain days in it that were set by the moon, it had Passover, Pentecost, the fall Feast of Trumpets, etc. We don’t have to go into all the details, it’s just that Israel had a national calendar and that was the clock standard. So when days, months, etc. are spoken of in the Bible they are generally 360- day years because there are 30-day months, they are lunar months. So Israel’s clock isn’t quite the same as our solar time; it just tends to be that way for reasons I’m not sure why God chose to do it that way but He did so there’s calendar time.

My only point in bringing that up is this: you never find the Church Age timed. There’s no clock that runs, there’s no calendar standard for the church because the church doesn’t have a calendar. The church are believers in Timbuktu, believers in North America, believers in the middle of Australia, believers in AD 500 and believers in AD 2000 and they can all have different calendars, they don’t necessarily always have different calendars. That’s one feature and it’s not debatable, it’s just an observation, it’s a fact. That’s the way Israel works different from the church.

The second part of page 112 I say that the enemies of Israel are always other nations, they’re always identified as Moab, they’re identified as the Syrians, they’re identified as the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, or the Egyptians, the Canaanites. It’s always a political definition. But now we come to the New Testament and the enemies of the church aren’t identified politically. They’re identified as the heavenly powers, the principalities; “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.” So the church’s enemies are defined differently than Israel’s. God hasn’t changed, none of His attributes have changed, the method of salvation hasn’t changed. What has changed is the administration that God is using for that increment of history.

On page 113 we’re talking about measures of progress for Israel and the church. We’re going to get some detail here on the measures of progress for Israel. Israel is progressing in history toward its goal. Here’s the problem. There are those, and they are the majority of believers down through the Church Age that believe when this happened, right here, the church replaced Israel and Israel doesn’t have a future anymore. The church takes over where Israel left off; that’s been the majority view down through the church. In recent years, 200–300 years, in rise of a more consistent literal interpretation of the text, we have gone back to a belief in the church called pre­millennialism which argues that Israel is not through but that Israel is going to play a role in the next age to come. And that Israel’s mission in history is yet to be fulfilled and there are certain milestones to measure that and what’s what we are talking about in this section: the milestones by which you measure Israel’s progress or lack thereof toward her goal and the church’s progress toward its goal. We’re going to see there are two different goals, two different groups of people, one doesn’t replace the other.

To see Israel’s progress on page 114 is a chart; we’ll spend most of the evening on this chart because the chart takes us to the heart of the Old Testament. I want read a quote from an unbeliever, as far as I know, but a good Old Testament scholar, Walther Eichrodt, and here’s what he says. Keep in mind, I said the Bible has progress and meaning to history. By the way, lest there be folks that say well gee, that’s all nice and philosophical, what does it have to do with me? Here’s what is has to do with you personally. If the whole, i.e., the whole of reality, the whole of history, does not have a purpose, what can you conclude about your life? It doesn’t have a purpose either. How can your life have a purpose if history itself doesn’t have a purpose? If the whole is purposeless all the parts are purposeless. And Eichrodt goes back and he points out … here’s a scholar who has studied the unbelieving nations down through history and he’s studied the text of Israel.

Here’s what he said: “The Covenant,” he’s talking about the covenant, this concept of a treaty between God and man, “knows not only of a demand but a promise, ‘You shall be My people and I will be your God.’” Here’s what he says that covenant concept does. “In this way it provides life with a goal and a history and a meaning. Because of this,” now listen to this, this is a guy whose studied ancient history very thoroughly and is well aware of other extra-Biblical views of history and he said, “Because of this,” i.e., because the Bible offers a revealed will of God for history, that history is going somewhere, “Because of this the fear that constantly haunts the pagan world, the fear of arbitrariness, the fear of caprice within the Godhead is excluded. With this God men know exactly where they stand and an atmosphere of trust and security is created.” This is why it’s important to think through the purpose of history.

Sadly, in our own evangelical circles, of all places, we find people demeaning the study of prophecy. We find people saying oh well, that’s just a peripheral thing. Hey friend, if you don’t study eschatology, you’re going to have a lousy eschatology, because everybody has an eschatology. Everybody has an idea of the future, of their future; it may be an ill thought through idea of the future or it may be a very consistent view of the future. Communism had a very definite eschatology and look what happened. Islam’s Jihads have a very definite eschatology. So everyone has some idea of the future, the question is, is it a biblical idea, is it true or is it false, is it a delusion. So the study of prophecy is important because the study of prophecy tells us where history is going. Prophecy is a study of the goal of history and that’s why it’s so important.

The passages on page 114, Table 8, there are four passages there. I’m going to go through each of those four passages because those are an early road map of this progress of Israel. Let me draw a little chart and we’ll develop this chart as we go through these passages. We want to go all the way back to the book of Leviticus. That’s important to understand that we’re going back to about 1400 BC here. That’s the age in which this was put together. That’s fourteen centuries before Christ, 1,400 years. Israel had just begun to exist in history. We’ve had the Exodus; we’ve had the birth of the nation. The nation is just getting started, there’s no Old Testament, there is no line of prophets yet, there’s no David, there’s no Samuel, there are none of the kings, there are none of the writing prophets. All that is yet future; this is fourteen centuries before Jesus. And in each of these four passages God reveals a map of where He’s moving history, ahead of time. More important than that, He is arguing for Israel’s destiny, where Israel is going to go. And He’s pointing out Israel’s responsibilities, human beings, we have choices and those choices are intimately related to the future because choices have consequences.

So it’s a warning of choices and it’s a warning of consequences. But it’s also saying that God has a sovereign purpose over it all, so there’s a mixture here of God’s sovereignty and human respons­ibility. What does that look like? What do we keep going back over in this series again and again? The Creator/creature distinction. We see this again, God is the Creator and God is moving history on a certain course, just as sure as night follows day. But under His Sovereignty He allows creatures latitude, enough to be held accountable and enough to be part of the movement that goes on in history.

Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, Deuteronomy 30, and Deuteronomy 32 all refer and are based upon a certain set of covenants. So let me draw another diagram. Underneath all of them is the Abrahamic Covenant. What are the three things that the Abrahamic Covenant promised? A land, a seed, and a worldwide blessing. Each of those three promises, that Israel is supposed to have a land, there is going to be a continuing generation; the Jew will never ever be removed from history. Hitler can kill them, the Jew-hating Muslims can try to exterminate the present modern state of Israel if they want to, but God said in the Abrahamic Covenant the seed will remain. Not only will the seed remain, it will produce the Messiah. The third thing is that the Abrahamic Covenant says Israel ultimately will bless the world.

Let’s see two ways in which Israel has already blessed the world. What is the contribution of Israel down through time that you hold in your lap? The Bible, the Word of God; it didn’t come from Gentiles, it came from Jews, it came out of Israel’s experience. So Israel’s number one contribution so far to civilization has been the Bible, the Word of God. The second contribution of the nation Israel as a worldwide blessing to the world is the Lord Jesus Christ; Israel has produced the Messiah. Both the Book and the Savior have come from the Jews. Remember that the next time you hear some anti-Semitic thing and also remember something else. There’s a little clause, a little fine-print in the Abrahamic Covenant and God says “I will bless those who bless you” and guess what else, “I will curse those who curse you.” So just keep it up, as far as these people that want to attack and eliminate the Jew from history, go ahead, keep it up and watch what happens. “I will bless them that bless you and I will curse them that curse you.”

That’s the Abrahamic Covenant and that’s a statement of God’s sovereignty, that’s the connection there. Each of these three parts of the Abrahamic Covenant was then amplified in other Covenants. The passages for the Abrahamic Covenant, Genesis 13, 15, 17, all those are passages that have to do with the Abrahamic Covenant; there are some more in there but those are the big three.

The first way in which the Abrahamic Covenant land promise was expanded is sometimes scholars call it the Palestinian Covenant. We’ll go through that one in one of these passages. It is found in Deuteronomy 30 and also in Genesis 15, and that’s an expansion of this number one element; that is expanded in the Palestinian Covenant. In other words, it’s explained what the land is, where it’s located and its destiny down through time. The land that the modern state of Israel occupies, God says will belong to the Jew. And not only the modern state of Israel, a good chunk of the modern state of Syria, a good chunk of Lebanon is also going to be part of the Jew’s domain. There’s going to be no discussion between the United Nations or anybody else, that’s God’s sovereign plan. They are going to get the land, eventually.

The seed promise was amplified in a Covenant called the Davidic Covenant because it was the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7 that said the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be manifest through the family of David. David, the son of David, the greater son of David, on down through the corridors of time there will be a Son of David who will sit forever on the throne of Israel. So the seed promise gets clearer and clearer and clearer as you go down through history. That’s the story of the Old Testament; it’s clarifying what is the seed.

Then we have the worldwide blessing and that is amplified in a Covenant in the Old Testament called the New Covenant. That is found in Jeremiah 33 and the New Covenant says that Israel one day will be regenerated as a nation, not just as individuals but as a nation, there will be 100% believers in Israel and certain spiritual phenomenon will happen, etc. That’s the New Covenant.

Those four covenants emphasize the sovereignty of God. They are the framework for all the stories of the Bible; they all can be related to this. When we study these four passages you’ll see that the ideas of the covenants plainly. To understand Isaiah, to understand Jeremiah, to understand Daniel, to understand Amos, to understand those prophets you must realize that they all are articulating details of those covenants. If this is new material for you, here’s a tip to help understand and get it straight. Substitute for the word “covenant” the word “contract.” That might help because our modern word contract is exactly what the old word covenant meant. Covenant sounds so religious and spooky, so if that’s your problem just think of contract, just like you’d go to the bank and you have a contract auto loan, a mortgage on your house, a business contract. What is a contract? A contract is between two or more parties, the bank and you or one business and another business, or you buy something and you have a warranty and it’s sort of like a contract.

What is a contract, let’s think it through. You have to have parties to a contract, it’s an agreement, it’s a legal agreement between two or more people. What else is true of a contract? There are terms, there are qualifications, there is what we call the fine print; there are details that control the legal relationship between the parties to that contract. If you have a loan on your car, the bank owns your car until you finish paying for it, and it’s all there; it doesn’t make any difference whether you feel like it or not, whether you feel happy or feel sad, or today’s a bad day and tomorrow is a good day, or you can’t make the payment or you can make the payment, it doesn’t make any difference, the contract stays the same. The terms of the contract stay the same until the contract is fulfilled. In a mortgage case the when is it fulfilled? When you pay off the note then the mortgage goes away. Contracts have a lifetime. Here’s something else about contracts that’s very useful to understand the Bible. If you and the person you are in a conflict with have a dispute you go to a judge or a jury or some legal thing and you get an interpretation of the contract. Let me ask you a question. If you’re involved in a dispute over a contract, what kind of hermeneutic, what kind of method of interpretation of the text is used? Allegorical or literal? Literal!

Wouldn’t it be nice if they’d interpret mortgages allegorically; nobody does that. Yet isn’t it strange when theologians get involved in a contract in the Bible, now all of a sudden we hit grease and we’re sliding all over the place with allegorical interpretations. Where’s this coming from? You don’t handle contracts allegorically; you handle them literally. Here’s the argument for a literal hermeneutic and you can’t get away from these contracts and what they say. And theologians are not good contract people; really, as a group of people, they’re liberal artsy people or something, I don’t know what goes on with them but they really get greasy and slide all over the place and they’re doing things to the Bible they would never do to their own mortgage contract of their auto loan contract, or their business agreement. When these theologians that talk about allegorical hermeneutics, do you know what I’d like to ask them? Did you publish a book? Yeah, I published. Did you have a contract with the publisher? Yeah! How do you interpret that one, literally or allegorically? The book might be on allegorical interpretation but the contract that controls the printing of the book isn’t, it’s literal. Contracts are literal.

Now those are the contracts that God makes with man and here’s something else that you want to throw out some day for conversation. Guess what is the only nation in human history to have a contract with God? Does China have a contract with God? Does America have a contract with God? Does Russia have a contract with God? Nobody has a contract with God except one nation, Israel. Isn’t that interesting? Nobody has ever had any other contract; no nation in the entire history of mankind has ever claimed to have a treaty with God other than Israel.

Now we introduce one more contract and this is a special one. This is the Mosaic Law or the Sinaitic Covenant it’s sometimes called. The Sinaitic Covenant has a little different slant. The Sinaitic Covenant is what we call a two-party covenant that is conditional. The blessings and the cursings of the Mosaic Covenant basically are this: let me give it real simple and then we’ll go into Leviticus and it gets complicated. Here’s the simple approach: Leviticus 26 is going to give us how the Mosaic Contract worked out, the terms of that contract. Everything in the Bible is really quite well organized; it doesn’t look that way when you first but if you dig down there’s a good structure here. The Mosaic Contract says if you obey the Lord you will be blessed; if you disobey the Lord you’re going to be cursed. It’s quite simple but that’s the essence of the Sinaitic Covenant. Notice what it doesn’t say, it doesn’t guarantee anything other than consequences for choices. So if Israel is to have a certain future it can’t be contingent on human choice.

This introduces an interesting subject. For those of you who have Reformed theology friends, these guys always think that they are the only people on earth that have some sort of concept of the sovereignty of God. We’ve just gone through four contracts that are based on the sovereignty of God. All of them are unconditional; they have nothing to do with choices in the sense that God promises those things are going to happen, period! But look, if the Sinaitic Covenant is true and God blesses on the basis of obedience, put on your thinking cap and combine them and what do you come up with? Let’s take this New Covenant; do you know why that New Covenant is called New? Because the Sinaitic Covenant is called old. The Sinaitic Covenant or the Mosaic Law said that Israel would be cursed if she disobeyed; Israel would be blessed if she obeyed.

What was the history, we’ve been through that over the years, what’s the history of the Old Testament? Israel really proved itself, really was obedient all the time and got blessed??? NO! Israel was disobedient and God had to discipline them, put them in Babylonian captivity and go through all the rest of the stuff. So they’re going through all this fallout of their own negative choices under the Mosaic Law treaty, and they’re getting depressed and they’re saying wait a minute, if in the Abrahamic Covenant God promised that we would be in the land, how does that come about? That land promise can only come about if what happens? If God sovereignly says that they will be in the land but in the Mosaic Covenant it says you won’t be unless you unless you obey, what is the conclusion to the logic? That in the future they will obey! There will be a time when they will obey because if they don’t obey they’re never going to get blessed.

What is that future obedience promised? That is the New Covenant, there will come a time when the nation will turn back to God and when they do they will be blessed. That was the promise you’ve heard me say time and time again, what did the Lord Jesus say just before He was crucified to the city of Jerusalem? He said you won’t see me again until you say “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” But we know He’s going to come because that’s promised. So if we know that Christ is going to come back, and that’s a promise, we can conclude that Israel will say “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” I don’t know anything more Calvinistic than what I just told you. See what I’m talking about, is that the sovereignty of God guarantees that sometime in the future they are going to believe corporately.

Now let’s go to Leviticus 26. This is a tough, nasty chapter in Old Testament history. There is some stuff in here that … if Christians read this more seriously I think we’d have a little more serious view of God. I want you to notice verses 1–14. On the third row of the chart, “ultimate enjoyment of the blessings in the land,” verses 1­–13. It says “You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar,” that’s all the false religions, “nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God. [2] You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary. …” Verse 3, there’s the “if,” there’s the condition, “If you walk in My statutes and [if] you keep My commandments … [4] then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.” Stop right there.

In modern English what kind of blessing are they talking about right there? This is a nation and God says if you as a nation will obey me then I will send rain and what kind of a blessing today would we say that is like? Economic blessings, the economy of a nation that obeys God, Israel, if Israel will obey God her economy would prosper. That’s what He’s saying. This is talking about business because what was the big business of the time? Agriculture. He is saying “I will give rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce,” what do you sell to make money? The results of the fields. This is produce, this is dollars and cents here, he is talking about economic prosperity will follow Israel if, notice the clause verse 3, “If you walk in My statutes” then you will be economically prosperous.

Verse 5, “Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.” What’s that talking about? We talk about cycles in the economy, it’s talking about it’ll be damped out, that there will be a regular soft progress in the economy, there won’t be this volatility up and down all the time, it’s smooth. Verse 5 is talking about a smooth economic history.

Verse 6, “I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. [7] But you will chase your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword; [8] five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.” Verses 6–8 in modern English are talking about what kind of prosperity? Military victory, security, national security.

Verse 11, “Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. [12] I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” That’s talking about a spiritual prosperity, that God is going to be with His people, they’re going to actually get a chance to see Him and they did, the Shekinah glory dwelt there in the Tabernacle.

Israel’s Historical Existence

Leviticus 26

Deuteronomy 28

Deuteronomy 30

Deuteronomy 32



Discipline & exile
(includes both Babylonian & Roman conquests)





Judgment (of nations) / salvation (of Israel)




Ultimate enjoyment of blessings in the land




Table 8. Divine outline of Israel’s historical existence. God’s covenants control how Israel’s experience is to be interpreted.

Verse 14, looking on the chart again, notice the row “discipline & exile (includes both Babylonian & Roman conquests).” So verses 14–39 show what’s going to happen if you don’t obey Me. This is good material for parents and parenting, because what is God? He’s the parent of the nation here, and what is He doing to His children? He’s laying out the consequences; you do this and you’re going to be blessed and you do that and you’re going to be cursed, you’re going to have a problem here fella’ if you do that. It’s all announced up front, there are no surprises later on, the rules are all set out very nice and clear up front. It’s just a matter of consistently following the principles that were laid out up front.

Verse 14, “But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, [15] if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so a not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, [16] I, in turn, will do this to you,” watch what He’s going to do, “I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up. [17] And I will set My face against you so that you shall be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one is pursuing you.”

Let’s look at those verses for a minute, let’s take them apart and think about what’s going on here. What are the consequences? He’s saying “if instead you reject” these things … I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever ….” In terms of modern English where is that cursing located? Public health, it’s talking about public health here. It’s not just physical health because he’s talking about “sudden terror,” psychological health and physical health. And “you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up,” economic disaster where the land is raped, all the fruit and production is gone; it’s stolen or destroyed by the enemy. So we have economic disaster. In verse 17 you have military disaster; verse 18, “If also after these things, you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.” In other words, if you don’t get the picture, keep it up and you’re going to get more of it. This is God speaking here; look at how nasty He can be sometimes.

Verse 19, “And I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze,” talking about agriculture disaster. There’s a climate problem there. Talk about global warming, this is global drying, this is drought; it’s cutting off the root of a national economy by destroying the resources.

Verse 20, “Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land shall not yield its produce and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.” And then he goes on, “If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins. [22] And I will let loose among you the beasts of the field which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle and reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted.” It’s talking about social disruption; it’s talking about economic disaster.

Verse 23, “And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, [24] then I will act with hostility against you’ and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins.” It just keeps on increasing, there are cycles of His discipline and it gets more and more intense the more the disobedience. Verse 25, “I also will bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant,” notice the covenant, that’s the contract, the Sinaitic Covenant, “and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands.” Here’s the nation desperately trying to defend itself against the enemy and what do they get? A public health disaster on top of it all. Verse 26, “When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.”

It just keeps on increasing, look at this! Verse 29, this is horrible, let me just say that as horrible as this is, this actually happened twice in history that we know of and may have happened three times. Take a look at this one, verse 28, this is almost unbelievable, “then I will act with wrathful hostility against you’ and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins. [29] Further, you shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you shall eat. [30] I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your remains on the remains of your idols; for My soul shall abhor you. [31] I will lay waste your cities as well, and will make your sanctuaries desolate; and I will not smell your soothing aromas. [32] And I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled over it. [33] You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.”

Verse 29, while it may refer to the worship of Molech, the worship of Molech in which they sacrificed babies to the god of fire, burned their own babies up, terrible stuff, it most likely also refers to what happened in the city of Jerusalem in 586 BC and AD 70. The city was under siege, and it was a long, long siege, and the food ran out. If you want to read this outside of the Bible get a book called Josephus, Wars of the Jews. He tells you what happened because he was there in AD 70 and he watched what happened. The people became so desperate for food … [blank spot]

… person’s mouth of their baby and yank it out of their mouth so they could eat it. That actually happened, a horrifying picture. But why did it happen? People say oh well, God’s a real meany here. Wait a minute, how many verses did we have to read to get to verse 28 from verse 14. God had told them if you disobey Me I’m going to punish you and if I don’t get your attention the first time I’m going to seven times more, it keeps escalating. So this thing that everybody thinks is so horrible is after five cycles, five cycles later yeah, it happens, but they’ve had four cycles before to get with the program and nothing happens so God just keeps it up and keeps it up and keeps it up.

This is interesting, and this is an aspect to God that we as Christians need to think about because it is tied in with our election, with God’s choice of us as people who are saved and people who have trusted in Him, become His children, abide with Him forever, have eternal life. Now here’s the consequence; if we are gods and He can’t get rid of us do you see what He’s after here? If He didn’t care about Israel He’d let them … okay, take off, see you around. But He doesn’t, He keeps after the nation and after the nation and after the nation until they finally do turn around. He pursues them in all the cursing. The fact that He pursues them in all the cursing is a sign of His parenthood. That’s what Hebrews 12 is talking about, the same idea. Children who are illegitimate, He says, aren’t disciplined but children who are genuine children are disciplined because the parent is that much concerned to straighten them out and get things right. The suffering is actually underneath a sovereign purpose for good.

In verse 33, there you have the prediction of exile. One of the signs in Israel’s history … remember now, this is 1400 BC, say the major exile is 600 BC, this is eight centuries ahead of time God was talking about exile. What else do you see in verse 33? What is one of the cursings? What was one of the blessings? To be in the land and dwell securely; what’s the cursing? I’m going to kick you out of the land and you’re not going to have security anywhere. [33, “You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.”]

Verse 34 He says “Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.” They wouldn’t trust the Lord so they’d work seven days a week instead of six; they worked all seven years instead of six years. Israel had in their divinely arranged economy, and to explain this let me just digress here a little bit. Here’s an interesting concept, and this is true of the economy under the Old Testament. Here’s what would happen; here’s how God designed the economy. It didn’t work out because people wouldn’t listen to Him, but what God did is He said every seventh year in your business I want you to shut the doors and take a vacation. I want it mandatory that you are only going to work for six years period and the seventh year you’re going to have a year-long vacation, and you’re going to come back the eighth year and we’re going to start another cycle of six years to work and the seventh off, just like six days a week, one day off, six years at business and one year off. Oh, how can we do that, how are we going to live in the seventh year?

God promised that if Israel would obey then they would be economically blessed in those six years and they would save enough so that they could get through that seventh year and it was a break from work. It was a break time, not just to go out and watch the football game, it was to have a time when there would be a break in your life to have a rest and get your head straightened out spiritually and get out of the details every day that just drown us and we can’t get perspective because there’s just one thorn and thistle after another and it’s just, you know, give me some rest, let me just get my head straight again. It was a wonderful economy and they wouldn’t do it.

So that’s what this meaning in verse 34 is, He says okay, I told you that I wanted every seventh year you’d take a break and you wouldn’t do it. You kept working the land, see there’s a picture of the land here, they kept sowing the seed and harvesting the crops, sowing the seed, harvesting the crops, etc. and He said wait a minute, every seventh year I want you not to sow any seed and let the land have a rest. By the way, do you know that that practice was done; I read one place where the Protestant farmers in the Netherlands used to practice that. They would sow crops on a field and they’d have crops on it six years and the seventh year they’d let it go fallow; then they’d do another field, it was kind of a tradition that they got out of here, but it was designed for the nation.

In verse 35, “All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.” Why do you suppose they would work the seventh year and not rest? Nobody likes to necessarily but why did they work? Because they wouldn’t trust the Lord for the produce and they weren’t getting blessed in the six years when they were working because they weren’t obeying the Lord. Verse 36, “As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them and even when no one is pursuing, they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall.” There’s not rest, there’s a public health thing in the psychology of the nation.

Verse 37, “They will therefore stumble over each other as if running from the sword, although no one is pursuing; and you will have no strength to stand up before your enemies.” Everybody is frightened here; it’s part of the cursing of God. Verse 38, “But you will perish among the nations, and your enemies’ land will consume you. [39] So those of you who may be left will rot away because of their iniquity in the lands of your enemies; and also because of the iniquities of their forefathers they will rot away with them.”

Now verse 40, at the very end of this, notice the fact that God just doesn’t leave it on a negative note. “If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers,” by the way notice Israel is generational, something else I did not put in the notes. There’s a generation connection that when they confess their sins they actually had an identity with their father and their grandfather back four generations. “If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— [41] I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, [42] then I will remember My covenant,” what covenant is this in verse 42? There’s the Abrahamic Covenant, “My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.” There’s the sovereign unconditional covenant of God. But it’s going to come about because they obey.

Verse 43, “For the land shall be abandoned by them, and shall make up for it sabbaths while it is made desolate without them. They, meanwhile, shall be making amends for their iniquity, because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes. [44] Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies,” notice this, verse 44, here’s your eternal security of the nation Israel, there’s the sovereign unconditionality of it, “I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. [45] But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD.” That’s amplified elsewhere in the Old Testament, verse 45. It comes out like this: God is saying that if I let this nation go, that’s it, forget it, if I did that then it would not glorify Me because I started this nation in history and the other nations could then ridicule Me, God, for failing. So God has a vested interest; once He commits to doing something in history He’s going to follow through on it, for His own glory, not because we’re so great but for His own glory.

We’ve gone through Leviticus 26, and in the chart, Table 8, if you go back to that I want you to notice three things we’ve covered in that passage. It’s an outline, in one sense, of their history. I’ve sequenced Leviticus 26 kind of backwards if you noticed in the column, I put verses 1–13 down below; that’s because if you compare with the other passages in the overall schema of Israel’s history that’s how it worked out. The first situation, the origin, nothing is said about that in Leviticus 26. The second row is “Discipline & exile”; that will be a stage in Israel’s history, discipline and exile. Who were the guys that developed the details of that? The prophets, Amos, Daniel, Obadiah, Zechariah, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, all those books that nobody reads, those guys were amplifying the terms of discipline. They were spelling it out; here’s what you’re going to have with this nation, here’s your relationship with that nation, here’s what’s going to happen with the drought; here’s what’s going to happen with the military defeat over here, here’s what’s going to happen to the pestilence in your land, all those subjects. That’s the subjects of the prophets. See how the prophets fit into this picture. They’re administrating that second row, the discipline and exile.

Third row on Table 8 is judgment of the nations. Finally history will culminate in a judgment and Israel will be returned to the land, but it’s going to be a judgment of Israel and the nations round about; that will become clear in other passages. Here I put verses 40–45 because remember what it says in verse 44–45, in spite of that when they are in the land of their enemies, notice the fine print, when they are in the land of their enemies, i.e., they are not in the promised land, they’ve been exiled but “when they are in the land of their enemies I will not reject them, nor will I abhor them to destroy them, breaking My covenant. …” Verse 45, “I will remember them ….” That’s all it says, I will remember them. Other passages [say] by remembering them He’s going to bring them back, they are not forgotten, they’re not going to be left there. So the third row on Table 8 deals with the judgment of the nations and that will be filled in as we go to other passages. That’s one of our critical things because obviously in Chapter 5 we’re working toward the end of the Church Age and we’re going to get involved in the judgment of the nations. Forget the church a moment, I want you to notice the judgment of the nations is all forecast right here in the covenants, so that tells you that the church really doesn’t have a clear cut connection with this judgment on the nations. The church is something different; Israel is connected with the judgment of the nations.

The last row on Table 8, the “Ultimate enjoyment of blessings in the land,” there will come a day when blessing will happen and I think you’ve already seen tonight that the way that blessing would be visualized, how did we say? I asked you what are the blessings and the cursings and what were some of them? Economic, in public health, sociological, psychological, military victory, peace, you have security in the land; see how they visualized. That gives you a picture of what the Kingdom is going to look like. It’s not some ethereal spiritual thing; that’s how anyone in the Old Testament visualized God’s blessings, in those terms. So it’s those terms that give content to what will eventually become the Millennial Kingdom that we’ll talk about, but we’re not there yet, those details are yet to come.

Contrast what you have just spent the last half hour going through in Leviticus 26 with things you read in the New Testament about the church. Do you ever read in New Testament epistles about economic prosperity on a society? Do you ever read about military victories or military defeats in the sense that we’re talking about here in the New Testament? No you don’t. See there’s some­thing different here and that’s what I want you to pick up as we work our way through this, is that Israel and the church are different, they have different perspectives and we’ve got to respect that when we try to get this all together as to what’s going to happen in the future.

Question asked: Clough replies: The issue has been raised that isn’t it rather appalling to see how these people who knew the Law, because it was taught to them by the Levitical priests, went ahead and did their own thing anyway, got clobbered and kept on doing their own thing. That’s a testimony to something, and what is the testimony? The depravity of man. The good news is that God is going to work in history to bring about blessing in spite of that depraved nature. That’s the wonderful story, that’s why “God so loved the world He gave His only Son,” God loved the world, God loves the stinkers and we’re the stinkers. And He loves us enough to have done something substantively about it when in fact left to ourselves we are the kind of people the nation Israel was. In that chart where you have age, it goes step up like a stair step, one age leads to another which leads to another which leads to another which leads to God’s purpose, if you think about what was the stage of history prior to the rising of the nation Israel? It was Gentile nations, they didn’t have any Israel, they were all Gentile nations. Think about where did they come from? They came from Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law. So if the whole of our planet was colonized out of the Noahic family, didn’t every nation at one time have access to revelation? Sure they did. What did they do with it? They perverted it.

If you want to see how the sin nature perverts the great and grand ideas of Scripture, here’s an exercise to do sometime. I’ve encouraged students to do this at times in their educational classes because sooner or later all teachers do this; sooner or later teachers give an assignment to read mythology and they’ll have the kids read either it’s Hamilton’s book on mythology or somebody like that and they’ll talk about these great myths. Yet when you look at the myths, if you’re careful, you see elements of truth in them. For example, Pandora’s Box, I’ve mentioned it here several times, Pandora was a female and she opened a box and evil came out and went all over the world. What does that idea remind you of? It’s Genesis 3 all over again. But what you need to do is read Genesis 3 and then read the myth of Pandora’s Box and see the different context. Every time you do that you’ll notice something happens. All the myths have been cleverly designed to absolve man from responsibility. It’s always an accident, it’s always somebody caused me to do it, it’s something else that happens.

What do you read in Genesis? Here’s Pandora’s Box, I’m just using that as an illustration, but here’s a myth and you take the Bible up against it and look at what’s common to them and you see common elements, but then you’ll see the whole grand context of the myth is anti-responsibility and blame God for it. If you take Genesis 1–2 and go to the library and get a book like The Epic of Gilgamesh or get Enuma Elish out or one of the Babylonian myths of creation and what you find is the gods are killing each other and having big fights, etc. and then they decide to make this man down here. What’s the context of man then if there’s already this divine conflict going on? So gods (plural) are debating among each other and depending which one beats up all the other ones, that’s the one that rules today. Then next week another god comes up and beats them all up and he rules next week. That’s that lack of continuity in history. The God of the Bible doesn’t do that; come on! The best exercise you can have to see the sin nature pervert this is to look at myth and compare it to the Bible and watch what happens. You have a degradation, and it’s always the same kind of degradation. That’s what’s remarkable, it’s always anti-responsibility, I’m a victim, and it’s always God is a meany. And it’s always death is always here; evil is all rampant, blah, blah, there never was a time when everything was good, very good.

The Bible says yes there was, when it left God’s hand it was very good. The myth doesn’t say that; sometimes there’s a faint memory there but that’s the mental perversion. What was pointed out is the political historical social evil of men and women; we’re just depraved beings. And that’s the story of the Old Testament. How anybody can read the Old Testament at all seriously and walk away with the idea that man’s going to improve himself, they must be reading a different Bible. There was a perfect environment that God created in the Garden of Eden. The communists, the socialists and all the welfare state people couldn’t create an Eden, and if they could create an Eden men from the middle of that. And in the Millennial Kingdom what happens after a thousand years? Oh, if we had righteous leaders by golly life would be different. Bologna! There’s 999 years in the Millennium with perfect leadership.

What happens at the end of the Millennial Kingdom? Another revolt. So come on, what’s it a demonstration of? It’s a demonstration so that when we go into the eternal state there’s never a question raised for all eternity about the problem of sin. When you rebel against God that’s what you mean, you can’t ever get it together. You know the old thing about Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back together again; that’s the fall of men. All the King’s men cannot put it back together again. You can have all the programs you want to, spend millions of dollars if you want to and you will never change the nature of people. That is why it is so important what goes forth into society, the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s why only the gospel can change people’s lives, nothing else will do it.

Question asked: Clough replies: What he’s saying is a good example, just reading Kings and seeing the stories of depravity, and seeing not only that it’s the king’s that are depraved, but it’s the people that are depraved along with them. It’s not just the kings because prior to Kings was a book called Samuel and prior to Samuel what was the book that showed that the people before they had a king were all out of it? That was the book of Judges. So it’s not the leaders always, it’s the people and the leaders, all of us. It’s a very unflattering picture of man, but you see, what does Paul say? The Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Why did God preserve… think about it this way, do you know of any nation on earth that preserved its own history from its origin over many, many centuries that was so brutally honest as the writers of Scripture? They’re writing about their national heroes and here they are showing the sin of everybody. They’re writing about their own sin. Doesn’t that strike you as an interesting testimony, how brutally honest they were? Do you know what enabled them to do that? It was the grace of God because they could confess their sin and not be devastated in the sense that okay, I’ve broken His law but all is not lost because He’s going to provide a way of salvation.

So what these bad stories do, it could be a depressing experience reading through all that stuff, you see one failure after another. Of course it makes you feel good when you fail because they failed too. But the point, the big story here is that by seeing the failure it knocks the prop out from under any idea that we ever should entertain about self-improvement programs. They’re not going to work. I have a friend who’s in AA, and people have this problem with alcoholism, they say they can’t do a thing until they admit they can’t do anything. And when the alcoholic admits that they can’t do anything that’s the first step in solving the problem. That’s kind of a mini picture of what this is all about. When we will grasp our own depravity and no matter how nice we may be on the surface, at heart we are depraved people and worse than just being depraved people, we are people who have merited His judgment.

And now we’re in a legal problem. We have violated Law, His Law, and now the question is, what shield do we have against judgment? We don’t have any. Nothing out of our own self, and that’s why Paul says the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Where else are you going to go? Do you know anybody else you’re going to go to, to walk into the presence of God? I don’t. Buddha is not going to do it. Confucius isn’t going to do it. Mohammed isn’t going to do it. So the good news is that you get so depressed about the sin nature that you look out of yourself, beyond yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what he means a “schoolmaster” and that’s what the Law is all about. So it’s not meant to throw everybody in a depression; it’s meant to force us to change the way we think about ourselves, about God and about salvation. And it’s a process.

I recently spoke in Idaho to this group that left New Tribes Missions to take some of the techniques that the missionaries found worked with the gospel in primitive tribes, and lo and behold, they’re sharpening the tool so we can use it in the West, because what they’re finding is the western world, the educated world, is going as much pagan as the tribes used to be. So the irony is that we’re learning from the missionaries that went to the primitive tribes because they learned how to preach the gospel clearly so they can bring the method of preaching the gospel back to us so we can preach it clearly. And when you see this video I’m hoping to show you some time you’ll see the amazing effect they had. Do you know what they discovered? That you can’t preach the gospel too quickly because in America we like quick things, and they found out that the key was that you go slow and you take the thing right smack dab through all the crud of the Law.

And they were saying that when they tried this in the primitive tribes people would get depressed and there would be all kinds of problems and they’d go on for lesson after lesson after lesson, they would not preach the gospel yet. They had to discipline themselves to take people all the way through the crud before they got to the gospel. They said the temptation is when you see all these people just totally upset, realizing that they’ve sinned against a holy God and realizing they’re hell-bound, realizing that they face this judgment, and everybody is upset, the whole village is upset, that you want to do something. The mercy in your heart tries to say well it’s not that bad, let me …. No! What they would do is say no, God’s story must be told chapter by chapter, event by event because there’s a divine rationale between the pedagogical sequence that God used in history. They had to go through this experience and we have to, in our understanding, go through the experience of realizing our depravity before we come to the cross of Christ, otherwise it’s trivial. It trivializes the Cross not to go through that process. But when you do go through the process, do you know what else they discovered when they did it that way?

By the way, they only discovered this in the 1980s, they realized there was a whole bunch of syncretism on the mission field and the mission fields where the missionaries had been there for seventy years and they still had all this syncretism, and they discovered syncretism was mixing the Bible and paganism together, and you know, what the heck is going on here, we’ve sent missionaries to this place for generations and we’re still seeing syncretism. Haven’t we got it straight yet? Well, they found out that the gospel was preached too fast; it was preached hastily and became trivialized. So they found that when they would take people through the sequence of seeing they were sinners, basically is what it is. I mean, we say we go through that but we go through it too fast. They went through it slowly and with audio visual aids that they learned to develop and they found out when these people trust the Lord, of course they had trouble in their Christian life, it’s not saying that they didn’t, but they had the basic tools already in place to live the Christian life because they came to that gospel point clearly. And if the gospel is clear it saves so many heartaches and headaches later on. But the gospel has to be clear.

So how do you make the gospel clear? You’ve got to make sin clear first; you’ve got to make God’s holiness clear. All these stories and the mechanics that we’re going through on Israel’s role in history is to illustrate that. That’s why these covenant passages, on Table 8, if you’ll go through those, if it takes two or three we’re going to go through all those because that sets up the basis so when we get to the return of Christ we’ll understand the judgment of the nations and the judgment he is executing does not have the church in mind. It has in mind all this other stuff that was going on in history. Israel is in mind; the Gentiles are in mind.

It explains why in Matthew 25… what is the judgment when he says the sheep and the goats are going to be separated at the end? It doesn’t make sense if you mix the church into it because what is the criterion of the sheep and the goats? The sheep are those who helped Israel in the Tribulation and the goats are the ones who didn’t. Huh, what is He separating people on the basis of that for? Because the church isn’t there, the church is not part of that, that’s part of Israel and the Gentile issues. So the text doesn’t make sense if you keep mixing things together. That’s what we’re trying to prevent so that’s why we’re going back to the Old Testament and kind of reviewing what we did with the Old Testament mechanics of history.

Question asked, something about can we take them as personal promises or do we only look at them as historical promises for Israel: Clough replies: She raised a very interesting question that I don’t have time to answer it all but bring it up again because I want to go through it. That’s a very important question. Having made the separation between the church and Israel, then what is the church’s relationship to the Old Testament promises like this? That’s an important question and there’s a good answer to it and it’s not that we’re separated from them either. In a nutshell, if you look at the prophets you have glimpses of them cursing other nations in the Old Testament. Jeremiah does it, Isaiah does it and if you look at why they’re cursing the other nations, it’s because they haven’t responded to the revelation available to them, or they’ve assaulted the revelation in Israel, something like that, and God disciplines them in very similar ways. So the way to read those passages like Leviticus 26 for us is they show how God reigns in history, but He reigns more clearly to His chosen nation because it’s His nation, He has a covenant relationship with them; He doesn’t to the Gentile nations. But knowing that that’s how God spanks, knowing that that’s how God chastens, and knowing that He wants all men in all nations to come to Him, you can pretty well infer that calamities, geophysical calamities and other calamities may very well be a message to those particular locations geographically.

The danger is that we don’t have a prophetic connection between nation B and God directly. Melchizedek was the last of the Gentile priests, so it’ not like in Afghanistan or even in the United States, we’ve got somebody that can really articulate what’s going on here. But we know enough of God from the Old Testament to know that droughts, ill health and these other things can very well be disciplinary actions to awaken people to Him and to His presence. There’s no question that we can make the inference. What we can’t say is that’s nice and tight and all packaged like it was with Israel because God packaged it this neatly and this cause/effect so…. I would say this, that God was a lot harsher on Israel than He is on the Gentile nations, simply because they are not His. In Deuteronomy 4:19 He says I’ve given them over; now it doesn’t mean He’s totally given them over in the sense that He lets them do anything.

On the other hand He doesn’t have a tight relationship with nations other than Israel like He had with Israel. It’s tighter but it’s not like it’s totally divorced. The principle that you see behind those blessings and cursing do apply to the Christian life except you just can’t translate, gosh, I’m having trouble in my business and God’s disciplining me. It might not be discipline; there are other reasons for it. So you have to be careful, but it is a revelation of how God works and that He does mess around in history like that, severely at times.

People have said in church history, for example, one quickie, I’m always fascinated because I’m a weather guy but I think that God works through climate and weather very interestingly. When the Spanish Armada came to conquer England they outnumbered the English terribly. I mean, the navy that Philip had when he was going to invade England with was just enormous. The English didn’t have a chance. But very mysteriously a big storm happened and wiped out the Spanish Armada. Now how come? Well, you have to say God is in control here, and what is that? Well, frankly England was a lot truer to the Word of God than Spain was; Spain was the site of the Inquisitions so you kind of leave it to your own guess work what was going on there. But that’s an example of yeah, God works that way.

We’ll talk about that more, we’ve got to quit.