During the first
half of World War II General Douglas MacArthur was forced to leave the
Philippines in the Pacific Theater by the Japanese. Upon his departure he made a promise to the Philippino
people: " I will return." General
MacArthur, through the strength and power of the American military was able to
keep his promise. If humanity can
make and keep promises of rescue and deliverance, how much more will our great
God keep the glorious and incomparable promises He has made in His Word! Indeed, He has told us that He will one
day return and fulfill the great and many promises about the glorious future in
store for those who know Him as their Savior.
Why are promises
important to God? Promises are
important to God' s plan for history, because God keeps His word. History is a record of God' s
faithfulness to keep His promises.
Thus, God delights in making seemingly impossible promises so that He,
through the most difficult circumstances, demonstrates that He keeps His
promises. Think of God' s record of
faithfulness next time you are tempted by circumstances to go back on your
word. There are three great
promises that God has made to His people that I want to examine in this article. These promises are Israel' s permanence,
Christ' s second coming, and eternal life to all believers.
Promise of Israel' s
it clear that God' s integrity in history revolves around His chosen people
Israel. It is through Israel that
God has chosen to leave His mark through out history. It is through Israel that God gave His Law, founded a
nation, caused His presence to dwell, mediated His Word, and sent the Savior of
the world. It will be through
Israel in the future that God will work to preach the gospel through out the
whole world, invoke the second coming, reign for a thousand years in Jerusalem,
and place His eternal glory. Thus,
God' s promise to Israel is that they have an eternal permanence in history and
throughout eternity (Jeremiah 31:35- 36).
Without Israel, the second coming cannot take place, since they must be
there for this glorious event to occur.
evangelical Christians today have a high view of Jews and the modern state of
Israel because of the positive influence of the dispensational premillennial
view that national Israel has a future in the plan of God. Yet, there are those within Christendom
who deny that Israel has a permanent place in the plan of God. This view is known as replacement
replacement theology? Replacement
theology is the view that the Church has permanently replaced Israel as the
instrument through which God works and that national Israel does not have a
future in the plan of God. This is
also known by the term " supersessionism."
Some replacement theologians may believe that individual Jews will be
converted and enter into the church (something that we all believe), but they
do not believe that God will literally fulfill the dozens of Old Testament
promises to a converted national Israel in the future. Reconstructionist patriarch, R. J.
Rushdoony uses the strongest language when he declares,
fall of Jerusalem, and the public rejection of physical Israel as the chosen
people of God, meant also the deliverance of the true people of God, the church
of Christ, the elect, out of the bondage to Israel and Jerusalem, . . .
further heresy clouds premillennial interpretations of Scripture- their
exaltation of racism into a divine principle. Every attempt to bring the Jew back into prophecy as a Jew
is to give race and works (for racial descent is a human work) a priority
over grace and Christ' s
work and is nothing more or less
than paganism. . . . There can be no compromise with this vicious heresy.
As it should be,
the nature of Israel' s future has become a watershed issue in biblical
interpretation that has caused a polarization of positions that we find
today. Today most Reformed
interpreters do not believe in a national future for Israel, even though many
have held such a view over the last 400 years. Why? Early in
the systemization of any theological position the issues are undeveloped and
less clear than later when the consistency of various positions are worked
out. Thus it is natural for the
mature understanding of any theological issue to lead to polarization of
viewpoints as a result of interaction and debate between positions. The earlier Reformed position included
a blend of some Old Testament passages that were taken literally (i.e., those
teaching a future conversion of Israel as a nation) and some that were not
(i.e., details of Israel' s place of dominance during a future period of
history). On the one hand, as time
passed, those who stressed a literal understanding of Israel from the Old
Testament became much more consistent in applying such an approach to all
passages relating to Israel' s destiny.
On the other hand, those who thought literalism was taken too far
retreated from whatever degree of literalness they did have and argued that the
church fulfills Israel' s promises, thus there was no need for a national Israel
in the future. Further,
non-literal interpretation was viewed as the tool with which liberals denied
the essentials of the faith. Thus,
by World War II dispensationalism had come to virtually dominate evangelicals
who saw literal interpretation of the Bible as a primary support for orthodoxy.
After World War
II many of the battles between fundamentalism and liberalism began to
wane. Such an environment allowed
for less stigma attached to non literal interpretation within conservative
circles. However, today, as we see
a decline in literal interpretation within Evangelicalism as a whole, we see an
erosion among Evangelical scholars for support for modern Israel.
Modern State of Israel
The fact that the
last 100 years has seen a world-wide regathering and reestablishment of the
nation of Israel, which is now poised in just the setting required for the
revealing of the Antichrist and the start of the tribulation, is God' s grand
indicator that all of the other areas of world development are prophetically
significant. Dr. Walvoord says,
the many peculiar phenomena which characterize the present generation,: few
events can claim equal significance as far as Biblical prophecy is concerned
with that of the return of Israel to their land. It constitutes a preparation for the end of the age, the
setting for the coming of the Lord for His church, and the fulfillment of
Israel's prophetic destiny.
What one believes
about the future of Israel is of utmost importance to one's understanding of
the Bible. I believe, without a
shadow of doubt, that Old Testament promises made to national Israel will
literally be fulfilled in the future. This means the Bible teaches that God will return the
Jews to their land before the tribulation begins (Isaiah 11:11- 12:6; Ezekiel
20:33-44; 22:17-22; Zephaniah 2:1-3).
This has been accomplished and the stage is set as a result of the
current existence of the modern state of Israel. The Bible also indicates that before Israel enters into her
time of national blessing she must first pass through the fire of the
tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah. 30:5-9; Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah
1:14-18). Even though the horrors
of the Holocaust under Hitler were of an unimaginable magnitude, the Bible
teaches that a time of even greater trial awaits Israel during the
tribulation. Anti-Semitism will
reach new heights, this time global in scope, in which two-thirds of world
Jewry will be killed (Zechariah 13:7-9; Revelation 12). Through this time God will protect His
remnant so that before His second advent "all Israel will be saved"
(Romans 11:36). In fact, the
second coming will include the purpose of God's physical rescue of Israel from
world persecution during Armageddon (Daniel 12:1; Zechariah 12-14; Matthew
24:29-31; Revelation 19:11-21).
Israel is a historical "has been," then all of this is obviously
wrong. However, the Bible says she
has a future and world events will revolve around that tiny nation at the
center of the earth. The world's
focus already is upon Israel. God
has preserved His people for a reason and it is not all bad. In spite of the fact that history is
progressing along the lines of God's ordained pattern for Israel, we see the
revival of replacement theology within conservative circles that will no doubt
be used in the future to fuel the fires of anti-Semitism, as it has in the
past. Your view of the future of
national Israel is not just an academic exercise.
Promise of Christ' s
Though many may
not realize its significance, the return of Jesus Christ to planet Earth is the
most important event that will occur in the future. But what do we know about the coming of Christ? Is it only a heart-felt hope and
historical hype, or do we have a clear and certain word from God on this event?
promise of the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth is the subject of many
passages in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. What are some of the more prominent
texts? They include some of the
following: Deuteronomy 30:3; Psalm
2; Isaiah 63:1-6; Daniel 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Zechariah 14:1-4; Matthew 24- 25;
Mark 13; Luke 21; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 11:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 5:1-4; 2
Thessalonians 1:6-2:12; 2 Peter 2:1-3:17; Jude 14-15; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21.
The most graphic
portrayal of Christ's second coming is found in Revelation 19:11-21. In this extended passage Jesus Christ
is described as leading a procession of angels and saints or armies in heaven
to claim the earth, destroy the armies of the world, and defeat the Antichrist
and False Prophet.
passage shows that Christ's return will be one that entails great physical
destruction and many deaths. For
those who are not Christ's own, it will be a terrifying and terrible
event. For those of us who know
Him as their Savior, it will be a time of great joy, vindication, and
The Bible depicts
the career of Christ as revolving around two major aspects. Titus 2:11- 14 speaks of Christ' s two
appearances on earth. The first
phase is related to His coming in humiliation to die for the sins of mankind. The second phase is when He will come
in power and glory to reign over all mankind. Hebrews 9:28 is a single verse that explains and contrasts
Christ' s two comings. The writer
of Hebrews says "so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins
of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to
those who eagerly await Him."
Jesus is coming again. This
is a glorious promise and hope for all believers.
Promise of Eternal
Eternal life is
the gift of God given to all who believe in Jesus Christ and have accepted His
offer of salvation based upon His death and resurrection (John 10:10; Ephesians
2:8-9). In the Bible, eternal life
emphasizes a quality of life, a quality that can only be imparted by God
Himself. This life does not, of
course, make us God, we are and will always remain creatures, however, it is a
quality of life that comes from the God who has the quality of eternality. Therefore, eternal life should not be
confused with endless or eternal existence which everyone will experience. Eternal existence will be common to the
redeemed and the unredeemed, but the destinies will be very different. Christians will enter into heaven and
the presence of God; unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation
For those of us
who have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are given the promise of
eternal life the moment we believe.
John says, " the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and
this life is in His Son. He who
has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the
life" (1 John 5:11- 13). If you have
trusted in Christ, then you have eternal life in the present that will continue
throughout eternity in heaven for the believer. Believers have the hope of eternal life in heaven with our
Lord for eternity.
with God' s word knows that He has a wonderful plan for history and His
people. These are indeed glorious
and incomparable promises through which He implements His plan. What should the response of the
believer be to God' s promises? The
Psalmist rightly advises, " What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation,
and call upon the name of the Lord"
(Psalm 116:12- 13).
When we think
about the significance of the glorious promises that our Lord has in store for
us as His people we respond with a thankful heart. Let us remember that for the believer this present life if
the worse things will ever be for us.
But, for the unbeliever, this present life will be the best they will
ever experience. Let us claim the
precious promises that He has made to us in the present so that He will make us
fit for eternity.