Promise

After the failure under the Dispensation of Human Government the Lord made another start when He made a promise to Abraham, telling him that "I will make of thee a great nation" and "in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed":

"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee; and I will make of thee a great nation...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:1-3).

To put the promise made to Abraham into perspective Sir Robert Anderson wrote:

"Men talk of the Divine history of the human race, but there is no such history. The Old Testament is the Divine history of the family of Abraham. The call of Abraham was chronologically the central point between the creation of Adam and the Cross of Christ, and yet the story of all the ages from Adam to Abraham is dismissed in eleven chapters. And if during the history of Israel the light of revelation rested for a time upon heathen nations, it was because the favoured nation was temporarily in captivity. But God took up the Hebrew race that they might be a centre and channel of blessing to the world" (Anderson, The Silence of God [Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978], 53).

The great nation which was promised was Israel, and a stewardship was given to that nation that she should serve the Lord:

"The oath which He swore to our Father, Abraham, that He would grant unto us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives" (Lk.1:73-75).

The nation was to be a channel of blessing to the world, and one of the duties assigned to that nation was the stewardship to be a witness to the fact of the existence of God and that there is only one God:

"Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God" (Isa.43:10-12).

Here Anderson explains the extent of Israel's service:

"In our own days the spade of the explorer has brought to light abundant proofs that, at an earlier period, man had enjoyed a Divine revelation, and that he had utterly perverted and corrupted it. And now the revelation was entrusted to the Covenant people. They were chosen, so to speak, to be the Divine agents upon earth, and 'unto them were committed the oracles of God' (Rom. iii. 2). Now in commerce an agent is appointed, not to restrict, but to facilitate, the supply of goods to the public; and also to ensure that they shall reach the public pure and unadulterated. And the Divine purpose in giving that position to the Covenant people, and 'committing to them the oracles of God,' was that the truth of God in its purity, and the blessings which accompany the knowledge of it, might be accessible to all mankind" (Anderson, Forgotten Truths [Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1980], 41-41).

Israel's ultimate purpose is stated as follows:

"Ye are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, Who is in heaven" (Mt.5:14,16).

After the Lord made these promises, He began to fulfill them by giving Abraham many descendants. Later, due to a famine, his descendants had left Canaan and gone into Egypt, where they were welcomed by the king. At his command, they had settled in the best of the land, and had prospered and multiplied until they numbered about two million. However, a different dynasty had succeeded to that which had welcomed them. Suddenly, they were made slaves and forced to work from morning until night:

"The children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God...and God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham" (Ex.2:24).

Then God chose Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt and out of their state of slavery, saying unto him:

"I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt" (Ex.3:10).

The Lord then fulfilled His promise to Abraham that He would deliver Israel out of the hands of their enemies:

"But because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt" (Deut.7: 8).

After leading the children of Israel across the Red Sea and destroying the armies of Pharaoh the Lord also fought and destroyed the armies of Amalek in the wilderness (Ex.17:8-13). Even though the Lord had kept His promise the Israelites did not "serve Him in holiness and righteousness." Instead, they rebelled against Him:

"Remember, and forget not, how thou provoked the Lord thou God to wrath in the wilderness; from that day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until you came into this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord " (Deut.9:7).

So we can see that the children of Israel refused to serve the Lord in holiness and righteousness. Instead, they were rebellious and their behavior made it obvious that in their present state it would be impossible for them to be known among the Gentiles as "the seed which the Lord hath blessed":

"And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed" (Isa.61:9).

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