Salvation in Zion (the sure mercies of David) – part 8 of ‘The Hope of Israel’

This is an edited version of chapter 8 of Mauro’s book, ‘The Hope of Israel’.

‘The hope of the gospel’ is for those, whether Jews by heredity or Gentiles, whom God has ‘delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son’ (Col. 1:12,23). For the gospel brings a glorious hope even to those who were once ‘aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, having no hope’ (Eph. 2:12). And briefly that hope is the promised kingdom, whereof God had spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began. (Romans 1:2 affirms that God had promised the self-same gospel ‘afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures’.) This is the kingdom concerning which the King Himself in that coming day will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you,’ and whereof it is written, ‘Has not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him’ (Jas. 2:5). The kingdom of which it is also written, ‘Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God’ (1 Cor. 15:50).

These passages refer, of course, to the eternal manifestation of the kingdom, for which all creation waits (Rom. 8:19-21), when the kingdom of God, into which those who are saved by grace are immediately translated (Col. 1:12), will be manifested in power and glory. It is for this consummation that our Lord taught His disciples to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come.’

In all these passages, and in all others, so far as I can find, where the same subject is referred to, it is always one hope (not two), one kingdom, one gospel, one salvation, that is spoken of. I consider it of much importance to establish this, and it is the main purpose of this work to ascertain whether there be any ground in the Old Testament prophecies for the idea that there is another ‘hope of Israel,’ another kingdom of God (one of a temporal character, as some teach, which at some future time will be given to those ethnic Jews en masse, who have rejected the kingdom of God which Paul and others had preached ‘to the Jew first’).

In the scriptures of the Old Testament, the kingdom was promised to Israel only, and the hope was for Israel only. God said again and again, in different words, what He expressed by the mouth of Isaiah, ‘I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory’ (Isa. 46:13). It is expressly stated in Jeremiah 31 that the New Covenant was to be made with Israel and Judah, and reaffirmed in the New Testament that to them pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants and the promises'(Rom. 9:4-5).

While this is the truth concerning the promised kingdom, it is not the full truth. For when Christ came, the natural Israel was divided in two, on the criterion that one part (the smaller one) accepted Christ, and the other rejected Him. As it is written, ‘He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God’ (i.e. children of God, and if children then heirs, John 1:11,12; Rom. 8:17).

Now the apostle, in the passage quoted above, declares expressly that the unbelieving part of the nation is not the true ‘Israel’ (Rom. 9:6), and he goes on to say that ‘Israel has not obtained what he seeks for, but the election (the believing part) has obtained it’ (Rom. 11:7). And furthermore, in the same passage, he declares that this ‘election,’ which is the remnant that has obtained the promises, incorporates believing Gentiles along with believing Jews (Rom. 9:24-31; 10:19, 20; 11:11-27). And know we have the full truth of “the Israel of God,” and its composition, as revealed in the Scriptures.

It is hard to conceive how there could be a plainer statement of facts than has been given us in the above quoted Scriptures concerning the kingdom promised to Israel. How extraordinary then, and subversive of the truth concerning “the hope of Israel” (for which Paul was accused and made a prisoner by the Jews), is the teaching of those who take the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation to be the true ‘Israel,’ and apply to them the blessings promised by God through His prophets – to the exclusion of the elect! This is a complete reversal of the teaching of the Bible, which is that ‘they are not all Israel, which are of Israel’, that ‘they which are of the flesh are not the children of God’ (and hence not the heirs of God’s promises) but that ‘the children of the promise are counted for the seed’ (Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:16).

Not only does this new teaching (new among the people of God, though it was the very core of the teaching of apostate Judaism) destroy the unity of the one kingdom of God, the one Israel of God, the one hope of the gospel, the one everlasting covenant, but it also deranges the whole scheme of prophecy. For it is necessitates that time and place be made in the future for another (a temporal) kingdom and another people of God (an ethnically defined people).

In Chapter Five it was pointed out that Moses, the founder of the Jewish nation, clearly foretold its apostasy and its complete extermination; even describing the characteristics of the people (the Romans) whom God would use as the instrument of His vengeance.
The next prophet of note after Moses, who has written concerning the kingdom of God, the hope of Israel, is Israel’s great King David. His prophecies, however, are so numerous that it is not possible within the limit of this volume to examine them. Moreover, the greater part of them are couched in language so poetical and figurative, so abounding in imagery which is obscure to us, as to require much patient investigation in order to establish the nature of their fulfilment. But it is only the general purport that we need to ascertain at present; and happily that has been given to us in a single, comprehensive utterance, from the lips of the apostle Paul, spoken in a Jewish synagogue:

‘And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm … And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead… He said on this wise, I will give unto you the sure mercies of David’ (Acts 13:32-34).

These words plainly declare that the promise which God had made to the fathers of Israel, He had fulfilled by raising up Jesus Christ from the dead; and specifically that His promises to David – of which the establishment of the kingdom was prominent – implied and depended on the resurrection of Christ, and was accomplished in that way. Thus when a servant of Christ proclaims the gospel of His resurrection, he is preaching (whether he knows it or not), ‘the sure mercies of David.’

The original passage from which the apostle took the phrase, ‘the sure mercies of David,’ connects those mercies with the everlasting covenant; and it most unmistakably locates the fulfilment of this great promise in this present era of the gospel. I quote the prophetic passage:

‘Ho every one that thirsts, come to the waters, and he that has no money; come, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David’ (Isaiah 55:1-3).

Here we have ‘the Spirit of Christ’ in the prophet (1 Pet. 1:11) giving utterance beforehand to the gospel invitation, ‘Come to the waters … Come, buy, without money, and without price.’ We also have the plain declaration of the everlasting covenant, and the sure mercies of David are one and the same thing (and the everlasting covenant must naturally relate to the everlasting kingdom, and not to a temporal one).

As I have been at pains to show in the foregoing pages, the everlasting covenant is the only covenant of God that now subsists. For the temporary covenant with the Jewish nation was but a fleeting ‘shadow,’ being likened in Scripture to the light that shines for a little while in the face of Moses, and then quickly fades away (2 Cor. 3:13-15). True, the teachers and leaders of the Jews were, and still are, blinded to the fact that the covenant ‘is done away in Christ.’ But that is no wonder; for both David (Ps. 69:23) and Isaiah (6:9) foretold that they should be blinded. Moreover, Paul points this out in Romans 11:8-10, and in 2 Corinthians 3:13-15 he explains that the veil which Moses put over his face was a prophetic sign that the Jewish nation would be blinded to the glories of the new covenant contained in those scriptures. So that ‘even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.’

But the wonder is that any Christian teachers of the word of God, who are legitimate successors of Paul and Timothy, whom God had made “able ministers of the new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:6) should now share in the same blindness to the truth so plainly declared, and should be driven to the exercise their ingenuity in devising schemes of unfulfilled prophecy, and those elaborate charts and diagrams they use for illustration, in which provision is made for a reviving of the promises and other incidents of the old covenant, which the Jewish nation forfeited by its flagrant rebellion and apostasy, and which God has long ago ‘abolished’ (2 Cor. 3:13; Heb. 8:13).

It is of the very essence of the truth of the gospel that the resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the dividing line between ‘that which is natural and typical’ and ‘that which is spiritual and real’ (1 Cor. 15:46). For the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the gospel, to the extent that if Christ was not risen, the preaching of His apostles is in vain, and our faith also is in vain, we are yet in our sins, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished, and we who hope in Him are of all men the most miserable (verses 13-19).

Before the resurrection of Christ, God recognized as His people a nation of men in the flesh, the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and with them He made covenants concerning temporal blessings. Also He recognized an earthly Zion and an earthly Jerusalem; and He appointed an earthly temple, an earthly priesthood and earthly sacrifices. But that system in its entirety was but ‘a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience’ (Heb. 9:9). Moreover, its ordinances were imposed only ‘until the time of rectification’ (verse 10).

Here is a fact to which we wish to direct special attention; namely, that the whole Jewish system, nation and all, had a status in God’s plan only until the fixed ‘time of rectification’, and the next succeeding verses (vv. 11-15) make it plain that ‘the time of rectification’ began when Christ – not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of ‘His own blood,’ – entered in, once for all, into the true holy of holies, as the High Priest of the good things that were to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle than that ordained by Moses and administered by Aaron, a tabernacle not made with men’s hands, and not of this creation.

Here indeed is ‘dispensational truth’, for ‘the time then present’ was the dispensation of the law, and it was to be (and now has been) followed by the dispensation of the gospel, for ‘when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son’ (Gal. 4:4).

With the sacrificial death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the old system of natural things passed away completely and forever; and the new system of things spiritual and eternal came into being – the heavenly Zion, the Jerusalem which is above which is the mother of us all, the heavenly sanctuary, and a people – not blessed with all natural blessings in the temporal realm through Moses and Joshua, but – ‘blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places through Christ’ (Eph. 1:3).

The two systems cannot co-exist, for they are mutually exclusive. That which had to do with a temporal people and localities, was imposed only until the time of rectification. ‘But Christ being come,’ and having ‘through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God,’ and having assumed the office of ‘Mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance’ (Heb. 9:11-15), the former has completely served its purpose and has been wholly abolished.

Those who attentively consider what is written for our learning in Hebrews 8-10 can hardly fail to realize the utter impossibility, in the working out of the revealed purposes of God, of a restoration of the earthly nation of Israel and the other abolished shadows of the old covenant.