In the last issue we began to explore the second great theme of prophecy: The promises that God made to Abraham and his descendants. We left the chronology of these people at about the year 1040 B.C., the point where they clamored for a king—a man—to rule over them so they could be like other nations. After about 480 years of living with judges in the Promised Land that was given to them by the God of Abraham, they time and time again rejected God’s laws and covenant and turned to pagan idol worship. The final man to serve as judge of Israel was Samuel. God told him to agree to the demands of the people of Israel and let them have a king to rule over them. God said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). Saul of the tribe of Benjamin was chosen as the first king of Israel. He reigned from his home town of Gibeah for 40 years.
The first years of Saul’s reign were successful. He won several wars and brought peace and prosperity to the land. However, Saul became filled with pride and stubbornness. After he ruled Israel for about 26 years, God sent Samuel to tell Saul that he was rejected and would be replaced. Samuel told Saul, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23).
God told Samuel to anoint a new king—one chosen by God because he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). That man was David. He was the youngest of eight sons whose father was Jesse, a grandson of Boaz and Ruth. Samuel found him tending sheep outside of Bethlehem and, following God’s instructions, anointed him king of Israel. He did not become king right away. David would spend about a year in Saul’s army, then the next 13 years hiding and running from King Saul who was trying to kill him. During those years he wrote many of the poetic and beautiful prayers in the Book of Psalms. Following the death of Saul and three of his sons in a battle with the Philistines, David became king and reigned over all the tribes of Israel for 40 years.
Now let us continue with one of the most fascinating stories ever told . . .
THE DAVIDIC COVENANT
King David fought several wars and made some serious mistakes but, overall, was a good ruler and righteous king. God made a covenant—a solemn promise—with David like the one made with Abraham. God made it unconditional and unbreakable. David wanted to build a temple for God in Jerusalem, but God did not let him. The temple was to be built by the next king of Israel, his son Solomon. David asked God about building a temple in Jerusalem. Almighty God gave David a reply through the prophet Nathan: “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his [Solomon’s] kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 2 Samuel 7:12-13  And when your days be fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, which shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
American King James Version×).
Notice that the throne of David was to be established forever! It was not conditional. What if Solomon or some other king on that throne were to sin terribly? God’s answer is given: “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (verses 14-16).
Not only was that throne established forever, it was to exist continuously through all generations! Psalm 89 reminds us of this promise: “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations’” (Psalms 89:3-4 Psalms 89:3-4  I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn to David my servant,
 Your seed will I establish for ever, and build up your throne to all generations. Selah.
American King James Version×).
God even says that the covenant with David is as permanent as the sun and moon in the sky! “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky” (Psalms 89:34-37 Psalms 89:34-37  My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie to David.
 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.
American King James Version×). Think of that next time you see the moon at night!
After the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel split into two separate nations, Israel and Judah. Just before the nation of Judah was conquered by Babylon and taken into captivity, God’s prophet Jeremiah reminded them of God’s promise of a permanent throne. “For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel . . . Thus says the Lord: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne” (Jeremiah 33:17 Jeremiah 33:17For thus said the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel;
American King James Version×, 20-21).
When Jesus Christ returns to rule this Earth, He will rule from an existing throne—the Throne of David! The angel Gabriel told Mary, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33 Luke 1:32-33  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David:
 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
American King James Version×). What an incredible thing to hear! When Jesus returns to Earth, the throne of David and the people of Israel will be here waiting for him. He will rule over all 12 tribes and indeed the entire world. The promise given to Abraham carried down through Judah and David will be fulfilled!
Where is that throne today? It is not hiding somewhere. In fact, it is the throne of the British Empire, currently held by Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in the history of the throne. Many historical records in Ireland, England and Scotland provide details of the rich history of the migration of the people of Israel to those lands. For more information on this subject, see our Ebooklet, The Throne of Britain.
ISRAEL AND JUDAH DIVIDED AND TAKEN INTO CAPTIVITY
God’s plan for the tribes of Israel was for them to be an example to other nations (Exodus 19:6 Exodus 19:6And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
American King James Version×). Other nations would see God’s blessings and want to follow the same laws and worship the same God. The united kingdom lived up to this role for about 20 years during the reign of Solomon but, for the most part, the history of Israel and Judah is one of repeated idolatry and disobedience.
After the death of Solomon in about 931 B.C., the nation was divided into two parts. 1 Kings 12 records that 10 tribes of Israel broke off under a king named Jeroboam. Samaria became their capital city, and they were known as “Israel” or “The Northern Ten Tribes.” The people of Judah and Benjamin remained in the Southern area ruled by a king named Rehoboam and became known as “Judah,” “The Jews,” or “The Southern Two Tribes.” After that they remained two separate and distinct nations. In fact, the first time the term “Jews” is used in the Bible is in 2 Kings 16:6 2 Kings 16:6At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelled there to this day.
American King James Version×and says that Israel was at war with the Jews (King James Version)!
Unfortunately, King Jeroboam set up two golden calves, introducing idol worship for the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel. He changed the observance of God’s Feast of Tabernacles to the 15th day of the eighth month “. . . in the month which he had devised in his own heart” (1 Kings 12:33) instead of the 15th day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34 Leviticus 23:34Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.
American King James Version×). (Also see Ezekiel 20:10-24 Ezekiel 20:10-24  Why I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.  And I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.  Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.  But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them.  But I worked for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.  Yet also I lifted up my hand to them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands;  Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.  Nevertheless my eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.  But I said to their children in the wilderness, Walk you not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:  I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them;  And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.  Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury on them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.  Nevertheless I withdrew my hand, and worked for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.  I lifted up my hand to them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;  Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.
American King James Version×to read about how Israel “greatly defiled” God’s Sabbaths.) After 213 years under 19 evil kings, God allowed them to be conquered by Assyria and taken into captivity in another land. The history of Israel records, “Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone” (2 Kings 17:18 2 Kings 17:18Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
American King James Version×). Israel became known as “The Lost Ten Tribes” since they did not return to the land of Canaan. They were taken to an area near the Caspian Sea in Southern Europe. In later centuries they migrated to the northwestern parts of Europe.
Today, when most people think of Israel, they think of the small nation in the Middle East and the Jewish people descended from there. This is only partially correct. To do so does not account for the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel that split off and went to the region of Samaria under Jeroboam. The descendants from that group of Israel are still alive in abundant numbers, but have lost the knowledge of their ancestry.
The division of the kingdom separated the scepter promise from the birthright promise. Judah retained the scepter and the throne of David. Later, when Judah was toppled by the Babylonians, the throne was transferred to Israel in a distant land. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the direct descendants of Joseph, dominated the northern kingdom and retained the birthright.
DELAYED FULFILLMENT BECAUSE OF DISOBEDIENCE
In Leviticus 26 we find God’s solemn warning to all Israel. If they would worship Him alone, keep his Sabbaths and walk in his laws and commandments, they would inherit the material promises to Abraham. They would become rich, great and powerful—the dominant nation of all the earth. But if they refused and rebelled, they were to be punished seven times for their sins (Leviticus 26:24 Leviticus 26:24Then will I also walk contrary to you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
American King James Version×), which by prophetic counting equals 2,520 years. While in captivity they would be punished but not forgotten. God said plainly that He would not forget the covenant He made with them. “Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors . . .” (verses 44-45).
The birthright promises to the sons of Joseph are permanent, but the fulfillment of them was delayed for 2,520 years. In the year A.D. 1800, 2,520 years after the 10 tribes were taken captive by Assyria (721 B.C.), those promises came to life! The island nation of Britain, primarily inhabited by the descendants of Ephraim, expanded the British Empire to control nearly one fourth of the earth. The United States, inheriting the promise to Manasseh, rapidly expanded across North America and grew from a small backward group of colonies to become a world industrial power in a matter of three generations! The British Empire and the United States came to control a large percentage of all the wealth in the world.
Fulfilling their destiny to be “a blessing to all nations,” the power of these nations saved the world from the despotic tyranny of Nazism and Communism in the 20th century. The prosperity and creativity of the past two centuries—and a quality of life never before experienced—was made possible by the birthright blessings promised to Joseph being fulfilled right before our eyes!
LESSONS YET TO BE LEARNED
Sadly, the people of Israel—not just the nation of Israel (Judah)—are once again rejecting God. The nations of modern Israel—Northwestern Europe, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America—are in a state of rapid moral decay. After God gave us wealth beyond measure and complete victory over those who wanted to murder or enslave us, we as nations have turned away from God’s laws. Our lawmakers have legalized the killing of unborn children and promoted immorality in all forms. Jesus predicted that the time just prior to His return would be like the time of Noah—where every thought of man was evil (Luke 17:26 Luke 17:26And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
American King James Version×; Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
American King James Version×). Our society is not far from that point.
God will once again punish the people of Israel for disobedience and national sins. Jeremiah spoke of this coming time of suffering. “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7 Jeremiah 30:7Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
American King James Version×). This time of trouble for the sons of Jacob, also referred to as a time of “great tribulation,” will be severe but only last a short time.
The wonderful news is that after Jesus Christ returns to this Earth, He will gather all Israel and Judah back to their promised land, and they will learn to obey Him and become the example nation for all the world that God intended them to be!
Isaiah 11:11-12 Isaiah 11:11-12  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
American King James Version×tells us, “It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner [an example] for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
Next issue we will learn about the third major theme of Bible prophecy—what God has planned for every individual!
To learn more about the evidence and history from the Bible, see our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.