16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. (Galatians 6:16–17, NKJV)
The nation of Israel was chosen by God, fulfilling a promise He made to Abraham to make his seed a great nation (Gen. 12:2; Deut. 10:22). God told Israel through Moses, “‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Exo. 19:5-6). Sadly, Israel often rebelled against God. Their crowning rebellion was rejecting the promised Messiah. As a result, the kingdom was taken from Israel and given to Christ’s kingdom, His church (Matt. 21:42-45; Heb. 12:28; 1 Pet. 2:4-10). Because His kingdom is “not of this world,” physical descend and possessing land do not define “the Israel of God” in this gospel age. Faith, not flesh, identifies the children of God (Israel) now (Rom. 2:25-29; 9:6-8). No longer does physical lineage and circumcision of the flesh by the Law of Moses. Now, the gospel of the cross of Christ produces and identifies God’s chosen people (Gal. 3:26-29). Paul experienced great physical suffering for Christ and the gospel. Yet, God’s peace and mercy rested on him and on all who walk according to the standard of truth, the gospel, that God’s Spirit revealed through the apostles and prophets of Christ (Gal. 3:1-3; 5:7, 16-26).
10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. 11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. (Psalm 33:10–12, NKJV)
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” is often cited as a benediction on behalf of nations today (for example, America). It is true that any nation that honors God will be blessed (Prov. 14:34). But, please note the contextual application of the great declaration of this passage. It sets the plans of the nations in contrast with the plans of Jehovah. The Lord rules over the nations of men, and no counsel prepared and executed by men will ever overthrow His sovereign counsel (Jer. 18:5-11; Dan. 4:25, 34-35). The nations and their rulers vainly plotted against the Lord and His Anointed, Jesus Christ, whom He raised from the dead and crowned at His right hand as Ruler over His people (Psa. 2:1-9; 110:1-2; Acts 2:30-36; 4:23-28). The people God “has chosen as His own inheritance” in today’s passage no doubt initially applied to the nation of Israel (v. 12; Exo. 19:5-6). But now, with Jesus Christ ruling as King of God’s kingdom (the church), “the nation whose God is the Lord” is the church (Matt. 16:18-19; Heb. 12:22-23; Gal. 6:16). The church of Christ is God’s “holy nation,” and therefore, we must honor and obey the Lord’s will to be His blessed people (1 Pet. 2:9-10; Jno. 18:36).
1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2 For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (Psalm 43:1–2, NKJV)
The psalmist’s heart was tempted by doubt as he faced evil pressures from an ungodly nation. He pleaded to God for deliverance from the deceit and injustices that surrounded him, and that were directed at him. If David is the author of this psalm, we recall his son Absalom’s treason, and the betrayal of Ahithophel, David’s once trusted adviser, as illustrations of overwhelming moments of temptation for David (2 Sam. 14-18). Had God cast him aside? No, by no means! As we live in a nation that increasingly denies God and refuses to be ruled by godly principles, we must remember that “God is my strength” (v. 2). We must keep our hope and trust in Almighty God, who “rules in the kingdoms of men,” vindicating the upright and punishing evil (Dan. 4:25-26, 34-35; Rom. 12:17-19). Instead of mourning the oppressive tactics of the enemies of truth and goodness, let us keep faith in God. His will is that we are not overcome by evil, but that we “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21).
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them (2 Timothy 3:13–14, NKJV)
In yesterday’s Sword Tips (#1599) we learned the gospel teaches God’s people are no longer identified by their flesh, but by their faith (Romans 2:28-29). Now, let us apply what we learned. God’s word of truth informs us that the physical nation of Israel is no longer the chosen people of God. Therefore, any religious doctrine that elevates the nation of Israel to “chosen” or “promised” status is necessarily mistaken. For example, a widely held view is that Christ will return to earth and return the nation of Israel to its promised land (even though God fulfilled that promise long ago, Joshua 21:43). Scripture says we will meet the Lord in the air, not on the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Another doctrine some teach says every nation will be judged by God based on how it treats the nation of Israel. The judgment of the last great day will be individual, not national (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15). False doctrines concerning Israel deceive many souls. Today, it is one of the nations of the world, but the word of God gives it no superior standing among the nations. Every nation is under the rule of Jesus Christ, and every person who rejects Him as Messiah is lost in sin (1 Timothy 6:15; John 8:23-24). “In every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35).
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38–39, NKJV)
The Bible records many promises of God, but, three He made to Abram are especially profound. God promised a nation, a land and a seed to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 22:18). The Bible is a record of God keeping these promises. The nation promise was fulfilled when Israel became a nation after being delivered from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 19:5-6). God kept the land promise to Israel when they invaded Canaan and “took possession of it and dwelt in it” (Joshua 21:43; 23:14; Nehemiah 9:7-8, 24). The promise that “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” was restated to king David and fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:22-26; Galatians 3:15-16). Thus, God’s promise to bless the whole world (Jews and Gentiles) is fulfilled Jesus, the Savior of the world (Acts 13:23, 32-34). As Paul preached, “Let it be known to you, brethren, that through is Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38). The “blessing of Abraham” is salvation in Christ, spiritual relief and life from sin’s bondage and death (Acts 3:19; Galatians 3:14). Those who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins have the promise (Galatians 3:22, 26-29). They are saved! Let us thank and praise God for keeping His promises.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
Some nations are ungodly, like Assyria (Isaiah 10:5-6). Some nations are angry and headstrong, like ancient Babylon (Habakkuk 1:6). Israel was a “sinful nation” during the days of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:4). But, the church of Christ is a spiritual nation of holy people (saints). We are sanctified in Christ Jesus – set apart from sin and made holy before Him (1 Corinthians 1:2). The call of the gospel is a call to holiness in heart and life, not a call to continue living in the defilement of sin (1 Thessalonians 4:1-7). “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, therefore, as its citizens we must not be of this world and we must not love this world (John 18:36; 1 John 2:15-17). The church is a holy nation that constitutes a holy priesthood, serving in the house of God under the kingly and priestly rule of Jesus Christ (Zechariah 6:12-13; Psalm 110:1-4; Hebrews 1:8-9; 5:5-6). Therefore, let us “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–3, NKJV)
This three-fold promise God made to Abram (Abraham) forms the thesis statement of the rest of the Bible. Its pages show God keeping His promise to make a great nation of Abraham’s offspring when He brought out the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and established Israel as a holy nation (Genesis 12:2; Exodus 19:4-6). The Scriptures show God keeping His promise to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham (“To your descendants I will give this land,” Genesis 12:7, 1). God kept His word as He promised, and gave Israel “all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers” (Joshua 21:43-45; Nehemiah 9:7-8). The Scriptures show God keeping His promise to bless all nations through the Seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). In Jesus Christ, “the blessing of Abraham” (redemption from sin) is available to all flesh (Galatians 3:14, 16, 22-29; 4:4-6). Let us praise God for His matchless wisdom, glory, power, love, mercy and grace! Salvation is only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). The Bible teaches us how to be saved in Him (Acts 2:36-41; 10:34-35). The Bible is truly remarkable, and invaluable (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
42 For He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant. 43 He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness. 44 He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, and they inherited the labor of the nations, 45 That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 105:42–45, NKJV)
God made a promise to Abraham to make a great nation of his descendants (Gen. 12:2). God kept His word when He brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage, making them “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exo. 19:6; Deut. 10:22). God also promised the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham (Gen. 12:7; Acts 7:5). God fulfilled that promise under the leadership of Joshua (Josh. 21:43; 23:14). There will not be a future claiming of the land of promise by the fleshly descendants of Abraham. The lesson for us today is that God fulfilled His promises to Abraham so that Israel would obey His laws and praise His great name. God is trustworthy. He demands and deserves the faithfulness of His people. He will not break His word to us. The crucial question is, will we choose to break God’s word by disobeying Him?