God made promises to Abraham, and we can see how He keeps His promises if we look closely.
[Frank Dunkle] In a previous career, I used to be a history professor, which is interesting. I've noticed in the Church of God, many of the ministers are at least amateur historians like to study history, have a big interest in it. I think that's largely because the study of history is largely the study of the human condition. You know, why are things the way they are? How did they get that way? And that overlaps with God's word quite a bit.
Now, I've focused on American history, but you can't get that far without looking at world history being and seeing quite a bit of it. And historians have noticed that if you look back through not only centuries but millennia of human history, a rough equilibrium existed for most of that history among the different civilizations. You know, we've got the Far East centered on the Yangtze River. You've got the civilization that grew up around the Indus, and then Egypt, the Mesopotamian, whatever was going on in the western hemisphere that we've got scant records of. But within any particular civilization, different nations would become dominant at different times. If you look around the Mesopotamian, sometimes the Babylonians are dominant, other times the Assyrians, but as far as the whole world goes, not a lot would change.
Then in fairly recent times, something changed pretty dramatically. Now, I'm looking to see, aha, I planted some things ahead of time. That change is summarized actually in the title of a book by one of my favorite historians, Professor William McNeil. This is probably too small for you to see. The title of his book is The Rise of the West, The Rise of the West. And the change that he saw is summarized within his introduction into the last section if I can begin reading in page 566. Please don't turn and follow along because you probably don't have a copy of this. But he said, "The key to world history from 1500 is the growing political dominance first of western Europe, then of an enlarged European-type society planted astride the north Atlantic and extending eastward into Siberia." He made a point that things changed.
Let me look across the page for something else he said. ''From the perspective of the mid-twentieth century, the career of Western civilization since 1500 appears as a vast explosion, far greater than any comparable phenomenon in the past both in geographic range and social depth.'' And this is his most famous work, but I've read a number of his essays and shorter books and actually, I had one copy, I could share the story. It's a little embarrassing, but for a world civ class I took, one of his books is called World history. And this was when I was riding my motorcycle back and forth to class and I'd stuck things in my backpack. I learned that you don't put up a Big Mac and a Coke in a backpack with a textbook. I was able to use the textbook for the rest of the semester and then decided I needed to get rid of it.
But anyways, in some of his other books, he mentioned that you know, something interesting. He said the historians or people looking at the world never would have dreamed that this little peninsula sticking out from Asia, which is the way Europe looks when you're looking at a globe, that suddenly the people from that would spring from relative obscurity to dominating the world. Yet that's what happened, led especially by England and then its colonies. England not even being on that continent of Europe, but a little, I wouldn't say a little island if you've ever tried to walk across it, it takes a little while. But that's what happened and historians look for explanations. They look in the industrial revolution. Did that cause this anomaly? Political science. Some have even studied disease epidemics, natural resources.
The one cause that they tend to ignore is divine blessing from God. That's one that we've got over a lot of the secular historians. We believe that the Bible was the authoritative Word of God and that in it, we can look to see a reason for this sudden change in the balance of world civilizations. An explanation for the rise of the West. We see it beginning with promises that God made to one man many thousands of years ago. It begins in Genesis 12 where we'll go momentarily if you want to get there ahead of me. But there God began making promises to a man named Abram or Abram. We had a discussion in class this week, I'm still not certain, but later his name changed to Abraham and we all agree how to pronounce that. God promised that his descendants would become a vast number and that his descendants would become a positive influence on all the world, a blessing on all peoples.
I think it's worthy of us to look again at our Bibles and considered those blessings. Look at the prophecies given to the descendants of that man, to his son, Isaac, his grandson Jacob and great-grandsons that followed. And I think that might provide an understanding to what we see in modern times among the English speaking peoples of the world. Now, I'll pause and admit the subject of what I'm going to address is far from new in the Church. No new doctrine, no surprises, but it's something we don't talk about quite as often as we used to. And I'll admit partly because in modern generations it's become somewhat misconstrued and I think partly misunderstood. And so some people have backed away thinking that, you know, this doctrine or this understanding of history and prophecy is either racist, or wrongheaded, or something like that. I don't think that was ever the intent or the truth.
So let's explore this a bit today. I didn't turn to Genesis 12 myself yet. I'll mention though that it's interesting. If you look at Genesis, the first 11 chapters cover about 2000 years of human history. The velocity of narrative goes by very quickly and then it hits the brakes, as you slide into chapter 12, suddenly the focus comes down to one man. And then it broadens to his family and eventually to the nation that descended from them. As it turns to that one man in Genesis 12, says the Lord, where we sometimes say “The Eternal has said to Abram, 'Get out of your country, from your family, from your father's house to a land that I'll show you.'' And then comes a promise. ''I will make you a great nation; I will bless you. I'll make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I'll bless those who bless you, and I'll curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.''
Although it's not said in these terms here. Some scholars have broken this down into a twofold promise. Some say “race and grace” which makes a really nifty rhyme. I'm not sure if God had that in mind, but we do see a promise of physical blessings for a physical people. And we know looking at the chronology and the genealogies that follow, that Jesus Christ would be descended from the same Abram. And of course, because of Christ's sacrifice, there were blessings to all mankind, the hope of salvation. The hope and plan of eternal life. We could make a case, I think that the use that the descendants of Abraham have made of the great wealth and power has also been a blessing to all peoples.
Now, I sometimes wonder, and of course, my wondering doesn't do much good, but are these three verses all that God said to Abram or maybe a summary of a slightly longer conversation? We'll probably won't know until I can ask him in person. But we do know one thing, it says, ''Abraham departed.'' So often we focus on that and learn and study. Let me say that again. Learn from, and we study Abraham's example of faith. He's not called the father of the faithful for no good reason. But today, I don't want to focus on his faith as much as those promises God would speak to Abram again, and again, and again, and then to his children. It seems like the promises kept getting bigger, grander as time went.
I'm going to skip past chapter 13 because the last time I gave the sermon, I found myself running out of time. And I want to go to chapter 15 of Genesis and verse 5. Okay, speaking of God, “He brought him,” Abraham, “outside and he said, 'Look now toward the heaven, count the stars if you're able to number them,’” which God knew to be an impossibility. But the idea is it's more than you can count. "And He said, 'So shall your descendants be.’ And he, Abram, believed in the Lord, and He, God accounted it to him, Abram, for righteousness.'' So that's pretty powerful to a man who has yet had no children, you're going to have descendants that are greater than the number of stars in the sky.
Since he didn't have any children, you could see this man might've had a question. Not only did he not have children, but he's getting to be what we call nowadays, up there in years. So he asked him, yes, in verse 8, ''Lord God, well, how do I know I'll inherit it? How am I going to inherit all this land? I don't even have any children.'' God gave him instructions to do something that seems really bizarre to our reckoning. Said, ‘''Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, three-year-old female goat, ram, turtledove, young pigeon.’ Abram brought all of these and he cut them in two, down the middle.” Now, having worked in a butcher shop one time that that must have been some work, but he divided the animals in half, laid them apart from each other. Then it goes on to describe how Abram kept the birds from landing on them and bothering them and he waited till dark. In verse 12 it says, ''When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and behold a horror and great darkness fell upon him.''
This seems to indicate that God was giving Him a vision. “And God said to Abram 'Know certainly your descendants will be strangers in a land not theirs, will serve them, they'll afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation that they serve I'll judge; and afterward they'll come out with great possessions.’” And let's drop down to verse 17. ''It came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, behold, there appeared…’’ I guess what looked like “a smoking oven, a burning torch and it passed between the pieces. And on the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, and said, ‘To your descendants, I've given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates.’" And then he lists all the “ites” who wouldn't be living there anymore afterwards. By the river of Egypt, it means the border of Egypt rather than the Nile. But from there all the way to the Euphrates is a big area.
I mentioned this idea of cutting animals in half and laying them apart from each other, sounds odd to us, but archeologists have studied and historians and they believe that this reflects a common practice in the culture of that time for when two parties would enter a formal covenant and to something very serious. And so they would do this with an animal or animals and then together, the covenanting parties would walk between the animals. Or some speculate one version is they would stand at either end and they would meet in the middle. But what's significant here is Abram did not pass through the animals. This smoking oven, this burning torch, which seems to represent God Himself passing through. This is speculation, but it might well mean that God was committing Himself to this covenant, to these promises. Without Abram having to commit, God was making a unilateral promise.
You could say, God, saying, ''I've got a plan and it involves you and your descendants. I'm going to work out this plan.'' Keep that in the back of your mind. We'll come back to it, but let's move ahead to chapter 17. You might notice, I conveniently arranged most of the scriptures in the sermon to go from the front of the Bible towards the back, or maybe God conveniently arranged that. Starting in verse 1 ''When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me and be blameless. I'll make My covenant between you and Me.’ Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him and He says: 'As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, you shall be a father of many nations.’''
He was going to make him a father not just have a lot of people but of many nations. And he changed his name from Abram to Abraham. It's believed that in the Hebrew, Abram means exalted father. Whereas adding that one letter, the equivalent to the English age changed it to Abraham, which means father of a multitude. Sarai's name was changed from that to Sarah, from princess to princess over nations. Interesting. Again, God has a plan that involves making Abraham and Sarah and their descendants much more than they were.
I'll mention another speculation that some scholars have said that the adding of changing the names involved adding one letter, which is somewhat the equivalent of our letter H, which is it sounds like a hah, like the wind. Some speculate that perhaps that's when God gave the Holy Spirit to Abraham and Sarah. This is sheer speculation, but it's worth considering. Others have also pointed out that in that special covenant where they would pass between the animals, the two parties would often take on a new name. Abraham and Sarah were given a new name. God Himself actually in the future would be known by a new title at least, if we don't want to call it a name. He would become known as the God of Abraham. Later, He would become the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, then the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We'll move ahead actually. Well, I'll point out several years after this, Isaac was born. Only so many years after this, the promised child finally came. He grew into a teen, he grew into a young man, we believe. Then it says that God tested Abraham. He tested him to see if Abraham would be willing to do what God the Father Himself had planned to do. Sacrifice his only son. He said, ''Abraham, I need you to get up. Take Isaac, your son, your only son, the son that you love. Take him to Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice.'' And again, Abraham did not hesitate. He took him.
If you'll turn with me to chapter 22, chapter 22 of Genesis still, we'll begin in verse 15, 'because Abraham took him… Apparently, we speculate Isaac cooperated because as I said, if he's a teen or a young man, I don't think the 100-year-old man tied him up himself, but he was there and Abraham had the knife ready to slit his throat. We often do this, it was probably more like this, but as he was ready to make that slice, God had an Angel say, "Stop, wait." Here's where I'll pick up in verse 15. ''The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said the words from God: “By Myself I've sworn, says the Lord, because you've done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I'll bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven as the sand which is on the seashore; your descendants…'' Let me put that, ''and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. And in your seed all nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.''
We like to focus on that. God made not only a promise, but He swore and as it tells us in Hebrews 6:13 Hebrews 6:13For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself,
American King James Version×, I won't turn there, but if you want to make the note, Hebrew 6:13 says that ''There was nothing greater to swear by, so God swore by Himself.'' We've often noted and said that this, if not in the earlier time, walking between the animals, at least by this time, God was making the promises unconditional. He was going to do this regardless of what the people did. It would happen. Now, I've heard this teaching for years and years, since I was about 11 years old when I first started attending church regularly. And I sometimes wondered, well, it's not like God goes around backing out of his promises. Why does it matter that it was unconditional?
But as years have passed, I've come to a little bit more of what I think is an understanding because if the promises were based on Abraham or the goodness of his people, some might say that those people think they're better. Maybe they've deserved the promises. That's not the case. I think we could make a strong case that the descendants of Abraham have not proven to be better than other people, have not earned the promises, not earned the tremendous blessings. God gave them because of His goodness. We could say, at least maybe to some degree because of what Abraham did, but not what I did, not what any of us here have done. That's important because we're going to see nations that are possessed of great wealth and tremendous blessings, but we should realize that those weren't earned or deserved by the nations that enjoyed them. God made an unconditional promise and He fulfilled it.
But we know God didn't fulfill them all with Abraham. I want to go ahead to chapter 26 of Genesis. Chapter 26, we'll see that God directly passed the promises on to Abraham's son, Isaac. Here in chapter 26 verse 1, it says, ''There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.” And then God spoke to Isaac. “He appeared to him and said: “Don't go to Egypt; live in the land that I'll tell you. Dwell on this land, I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, I'll perform the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.’' And he repeats what He told Abraham, "I'll make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I'll give your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all nations of the earth shall be blessed.''
We could say that God officially, formally passed the blessings and promises of Abraham onto Isaac. It wasn't Isaac's doing, it was God's. And I like the way He says, all these lands, it might make us wonder, is it more than just the land he was on? Some would say, well, of course beyond where he was, you know, there was what would become Moab and Edam and others, but maybe it was the land's much further on. I want to move ahead and skip the dramatic stories of Isaac's children. As we might remember, Isaac and his wife, Rebecca, of course, she was involved, had twins, Esau and Jacob. Sorry, my mind… “What were their names?” And there were interesting stories and a rivalry. They were two very different types. Jacob ended up, you know, perhaps we could say swindling, the birthright promise from his older brother, then deceiving his father, Isaac, into giving him the greatest blessing, which was a real shame. That wasn't needed. God had prophesied the promise is going to Jacob, but Jacob got himself into trouble.
We're going to go to Genesis 28. To save his life from his brother, he ended up fleeing to just some time with his father-in-law, Laban. I say some time, some guess it might have been about 20 years. On the way to go see him, God appeared to Jacob and here is where I like to point out whatever blessing he got from Isaac mattered much less than the blessing God promised him here. It says, starting in verse 11… No, actually I want to begin in verse 13, God is speaking to him. ''The Lord stood above,'' what they call Jacob's ladder, said, ''I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I'll give to you and to your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you will spread abroad to the west, to the east, to the north, to the south.'' I have no idea in this building if I just pointed those directions, but all directions they would spread abroad. Remember, I pointed out with Isaac a promise of inheriting many lands, but God was promising that he would inherit all those. The promise was passed not to Esau, but to Jacob. God would appear to Jacob a little bit later. I'm going to skip past the interesting episode of him getting two wives when he only wanted one and having a lot of children. Instead, let's go to chapter 35 of Genesis.
When with all that done in a bit of wealth acquired, Jacob is now bringing his considerably enlarged family back to the land where he grew up. And he's a little bit fearful of his brother. And so he'd been praying to God. Let's pick up in Genesis 35:9 Genesis 35:9And God appeared to Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
American King James Version×, God will speak to Jacob again, and again remind him of promises. ''God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. God said, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name will not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ And he called him that. Also God said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations will come from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.’" Again, we're reminded that God Himself passed the blessings on. And did I note, I think I said before, they seem to be getting bigger. “You're going to have a whole slew of descendants now, but not just a nation, a nation and a company of nations, a number of nations.”
Jacob was probably the first out of the family that we could say maybe to begin to realize these promises because he had 13 kids. We have some large families in the Church. I don't know how many match that. One is plenty in my household. I don't know, if Connor and Susan are watching, that wasn't meant to be anything bad. But God is going to keep on going and He's going to promise more. I want to move ahead. Actually, if you go to Genesis 48, I'm spending some time on these promises and then I want to turn and start looking at where are we can see them be fulfilled. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob shared something unique. Each of them had God speak to them personally. Most people in the Bible don't have that. You and I don't have that. I keep hoping and wishing that God would send me some emails because I have questions. I'm looking for answers, but He keeps not responding to my request. But He spoke to them. And then when Jacob was going to be gone, He wouldn't start speaking to people directly, it seems, till Moses. But He had Jacob pass a message on to his sons.
That's why I want to turn to Genesis 48 beginning in verse 3. ''Jacob said to Joseph,” who was his favorite son. He said, "God Almighty appeared to me in Luz at the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said, ‘Behold, I'll make you fruitful and multiply, I'll make you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as a possession.’ And now, Joseph, your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you,” Ephraim and Manasseh Jacob says, “are mine; as Ruben and Simeon, they shall be mine.'' Reuben and Simeon where the first sons that Jacob had. So He's saying, ''I'm adopting your children, Joseph. They're not now My grandsons, they are My sons.'' We're not sure what Reuben thought of this, but actually, Reuben was disqualified. I'm not going to turn there. But if you look in 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 1 Chronicles 5:1-2  Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but for as much as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.
 For Judah prevailed above his brothers, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)
American King James Version×, 1 Chronicles 5, it specifically says that Ruben was disqualified for having the birthright because of committing adultery with one of Jacob's concubines. Said he went up to his couch to Bilhah, which is interesting and archaic language, but it wasn't just because Jacob liked Joseph better. It was because of a sin Reuben committed that he did not inherit the birthright. And instead, the grandsons of Joseph were given son status.
We'll go down to verse 13 of chapter 48. Joseph begins to bring his sons to Jacob to lay hands on them and bless them. And he was careful. He put he for him in his right hand, which is toward Jacob's left hand, Manasseh in the right, because Manasseh is the firstborn. Okay. So, he wanted the right hand on the head of the firstborn. And as I do in class, often I apologize to the lefties among us. I'm not sure why it's always that way. My mother was a lefthander. We bumped elbows, eating dinner a lot. But now Jacob starts to pronounce a blessing. Verse 15. ‘'God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who's fed me all my life long to this day, the Angel who redeemed me from evil, bless the lads, Ephraim and Manasseh; let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.''
We don't know why God would choose Ephraim for a greater blessing, but I think I read over, actually, it was in verse 14. Jacob actually crossed his hands to put his right hand on the head of the younger because he realized what Joseph would do. But the point is both of them were to be a multitude and to have his name named on them. I want to drop down to verse or carry on in verse 17. ''Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took his father's hand to remove it.’’ Joseph in verse 18 said, ''No, dad, this is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.'' I'm modernizing his language a bit. ''Jacob refused, ‘I know, son, I know. He also shall become a people, he shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.'' I wanted to read that. Ephraim was to become a multitude of nations, hearkens back to what we read in chapter 35 where God promised Jacob to become a multitude… or promised him to become a nation and a company of nations.
I point out this is a promise now passed onto one son because some people have said, well, the nation of Israel would be comprised of 12 tribes and you really could say 13 if you count Ephraim and Manasseh and Levi, but one of those was to become a company of nations. It wasn't fulfilled by the tribes, wasn't fulfilled by later after Solomon died, then becoming two separate nations, Judah and Israel. I often say, two nations are not a multitude. But we do see something interesting backing up there in verse 15 and 16 where Jacob had said, "Let my name be named on them and the names of Abraham and Isaac." This signifies not only I believe a formal adoption, but we might keep this in mind when we look at prophecies. There are numerous prophecies in the Bible about the sons of Jacob or the house of Israel. Leads us to think that a good many of those prophecies could pertain, especially to Ephraim and Manasseh.
The name of Jacob, the name of Israel was placed on those two tribes, especially. We'll talk more about that a little bit later, but just a little bit more in Genesis with promises because in verse 1, we see Jacob now calls all of his sons. We know that this is to be Jacob's last moment. Matter of fact, I've said talk about the ultimate drop the mic moment. His sons gather around. He says, ''Let me tell you what will befall you in the last days.'' And I won't read it. But the end it says he blazed back up in the bed and dies. “I've had my say, I'm going out. See you in the resurrection.” He doesn't say that, that's just me. But he addresses each of his sons, but notice it's in the last days. This isn't a prophecy for their lifetime, not a prophecy for their grandchildren, I would say not even for most of the people who had lived when the Bible was written.
“The last days” is a term that we often see in prophecy that pertains to shortly before Christ returns. I can give you a couple of New Testament scriptures that use that phrase. One is in 2 Timothy 3:1 2 Timothy 3:1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
American King James Version×. And 1  Timothy 3:1 is where it says, ''In the last days perilous times will come.'' Similarly, 2 Peter 3:3 2 Peter 3:3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
American King James Version×, 2 Peter 3:3 2 Peter 3:3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
American King James Version×says, ''Scoffers will come in the last days…” the reason I'm citing this as these descriptions of what would happen to the descendants of Jacob seem to be for a time much later on. That's why I like to think of another prophecy that we look at fairly often in our work, in Daniel. And Daniel 2, I'm not going to turn there, but I trust that you're familiar with this. Nebuchadnezzar had this strange dream of a statue, made of four different metals. The head was of gold, the chest and arms of silver, belly, and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron. He had no idea what that meant, but fortunately, Daniel was there. And Daniel said, ''There's a God in heaven who reveals the secrets. He said, Nebuchadnezzar, you are the head of gold.'' And he said there would be… He showed what would happen. By this time, Israel wasn't a nation. Judah wasn't a nation, not independent nations. So the world, this part of the world will be dominated by Babylon. We know then later by Persia, then by Greece, finally by the Roman Empire.
And other prophecies show what we see in history that Rome fell and was resurrected, fell and raised again with different iterations. If these prophecies are the children of Israel for the last days, I would say they couldn't have come before the time of the Roman empire. And more appropriately, I would say during one of those reiterations, perhaps the last one, and that makes it seem significant when we look at verse 22. Think of those periods of what we see about Joseph and Joseph refers to Ephraim and Manasseh as “a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall. And archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him.”
Let's drop down to verse 25. ''By the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep beneath, blessings of the breasts and the womb. Blessings of your father… The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.'' This is talking far-reaching. A matter of fact, let's add to that one more quickly. A lot of scriptures today. I could have called this a Bible study. All the way over in Deuteronomy 33. At the end of Moses' life, it seems that God inspired him likewise to address each of the 12 tribes and give them an idea of what would befall them.
Deuteronomy 33, beginning in verse 17. Well, actually, beginning in verse 13, he mentions of Joseph. Joseph represented by Ephraim and Manasseh. "Blessed of the Lord is his land, with the precious things of heaven, with the dew, of the deep lying beneath." And he goes on to describe a number of things and I do want to go to verse 17 where he says, ''His glory is like a firstborn bull.'' That's not a compliment we usually give to people today. If I walk up and say, "Hey, man, you're like a bull." But back then, it was a compliment. And it says, "His horns like the horns of a wild ox; together with them he'll push the people to the ends of the earth." In Bible prophecy and symbolism, horns of an animal represent usually military power. This seems to be saying you're going to have military power and you're going to be able to push people to the ends of the earth.
In modern parlance, we talk about projecting power, the ability to project power. And throughout human history, very few nations have been able to project political or military power beyond just their immediate neighbors. But in modern times, a few nations have and some have projected that power around the world. Now, the story continues, but we've seen the promises given. I want to start to look at seeing them start to be fulfilled and then look at what happened. Actually, we're back in the Pentateuch where we've been there all along. I want to go back to Exodus 1 to see perhaps the beginning.
Remember, the first promise was, there is going to be a lot of your children. God began that while the children of Israel were in Egypt. Exodus 1:7 Exodus 1:7And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
American King James Version×, I like the way this is said. ''The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied, grew exceedingly mighty; the land was filled with them." Boy, they were having kids a lot. I can't think of a good phrase that doesn't make me sound vulgar, but they're having a whole lot of kids. They're increasing mightily. Okay. And Exodus follows the story of how God sent Moses and led them to freedom by God's great power. They made some mistakes and wandered in the wilderness 40 years, but if you turn to Joshua 1, I'm going to try to keep moving ahead and not go back. Joshua 1 beginning in verse 2. God begins to fulfill the part of the promise where He would give the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that land. Joshua 1:2 Joshua 1:2Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you, and all this people, to the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
American King James Version×, ‘'Moses My servant is dead.” God tells Joshua. “Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people to the land that I'm giving them… them— the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread, I've given to you.''
From the wilderness of this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, from the land of the Hittites, the Great Sea toward the going down to the sun, shall be your territory.” It would take generations for Israel to achieve, but eventually, they would inherit and rule over most of that land. I want to jump way ahead to 1 Kings 4. 1 Kings 4:21 1 Kings 4:21And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river to the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.
American King James Version×. 1 Kings 4:21 1 Kings 4:21And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river to the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.
American King James Version×says, ''So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River.'' And in Scripture, we could show that means the River Euphrates. ''As far as the border of Egypt. And they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.'' So God did fulfill that promise. He poured out His blessings, but they didn't continue. Why did they not continue? The answer we begin to see in chapter 17, actually we see it through much of the Bible, especially in the messages of the prophets. But in 1 Kings 17:7 1 Kings 17:7And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
American King James Version×, okay, 1 Kings 17:7 1 Kings 17:7And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
American King James Version×, it says ''It happened after a while…'' Wait, that's 1 Kings, sorry, let me go to 2 Kings 17. ''For so it was the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt,’' and then I want to drop down on my notes down to verse 18. 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×, Because they sinned, “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.''
There are a lot of space devoted to prophets of God warning Israel, repent, change, or else an enemy is coming from the north and it would be the powerful empire of the Assyrians, would come and they conquered Israel. Killed a great many of them, took the rest away, including particularly the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. What was left was Judah. I won't turn there, but the story continues to show that the kingdom of Judah, which consisted of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and much of Levi, they also sinned and they would be conquered by the Babylonians. But there would be a difference. God told them through the prophet Jeremiah, you're going to be there 70 years, then you can come back. And some of them did, a fair number are. They rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. The others maintained their identity. They knew that they were Jews largely because they kept the Sabbath and they refused to fall into idolatry again.
What happened to the other 10 tribes? Where did they go? Especially Ephraim and Manasseh who had the name of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham named on them. Over the years, a lot of people have tried to answer that. Two big ways to answer that have developed. One is called by the popular term of tribe tracking, looking at history and archaeology to trace. I'm doing this as though I'm in front of a map, but imagine I'm looking at this map over the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, and we look at that… Actually our booklet, The United States and Britain in Prophecy, employs a fair bit of that method. I was thinking I should say, if you'll call the number at the bottom of your screen, that's not like that, but if you've not read this or ever had a copy, it's worth you reading.
Okay. The scholars though, especially professional academics, don't favor what we call a tribe tracking as much simply because, in academic circles, some of the methodology is suspect, but more than that, it's not the methodology so much as the evidence, the records, there just aren't as many as we'd wish. And a lot of it relies on linguistic evidence. Well, I should say though, I want to turn to Amos 9. God gives us some assurance that whether or not we can track the children of Israel, he kept track of where they were. In Amos chapter nine beginning in verse eight, there is an interesting little prophecy tucked in here just before a millennial prophecy. Amos 9:8 Amos 9:8Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, said the LORD.
American King James Version×says, ‘'Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom," meaning Israel. "I'll destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob. Surely, I'll command, and sift the house of Israel among the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; and not the smallest grain will fall to the ground." As I said, 'We have trouble tracking them where they went, but God says, "I won't have a bit of trouble. I'll keep track of every one of them.''
Now, another way that we've used to say, where did those lost tribes go? Where did Ephraim and Manasseh go is, I've heard called the artillery method. I'm not hiding. Imagine a cannon, by the way, don't panic, this isn't a real cannon, it's a decoration my mom bought years ago. But if you see a cannon and it goes, BOOM, and then over there you see PEW… Oh, one of these to the other. BOOM…PEW! Even though my eye can't see the shell as it travels at supersonic speeds through the air, it's easy for me to say, okay, one of those caused the other. And I think the prophecies and the promises God made, we've seen that as evidence. You know, can we look somewhere in the world, in history for an explosion of blessings? The blessings were beginning to be poured out on Abraham's descendants, but what did they do? They sinned. They worshiped idols, they broke the Sabbath and God brought in the Assyrians and punished them.
I don't have time to go through it, but in Leviticus 26, there's a passage that gives us some thought of where we might look. In Leviticus 26, one interpretation of a certain thing God promised is “I'll punish you seven times.” Actually, several times He says, “seven times more, sheba' yasaf, which means seven times greater intensity. And then after He says that a couple of times He said, ''I'll punish you seven times, sheba’'' But without yasaf. Some of them said, well, sometimes in prophecy, times means years, seven times as when Nebuchadnezzar was made a beast to walk on the ground for seven years or seven times. And others have said, well, there are some places wherein prophecy a day equals a year. If that works out, then seven times comes out to 2,520 days. If each one of those pictures a year, it would come to after Israel is taken captive, can we look 2,520 years in the future to see the blessings restored?
Well, you count forward from say when the Assyrians began invading about 718 to 721 when they finished the conquest. Huh? Counting forward. That brings you to the year 1800 and concluding in 1803. Can we look to geopolitics or history to find something significant that happened around the year 1800? Well, I'm an American historian. And when I started grad school, a lot of people in the Church would say, "Oh, are you studying church history? Studying the history of religion?" “No, studying military history.” I had friends who were studying religious history, but I was really interested in the military history of the 1700s and early 1800s. So I focused on that period and I discovered something interesting was going on. We sometimes call it the second 100 years war and you're wondering, why second? Well, the first 100 years war happened during the Middle Ages. The kingdom of England and the kingdom of France fought war after war for about 100 years. The second time they fought a series of wars began in 1689. Antonius and I didn't cooperate to say anything particular about 1689. But what happened that year is there had been, for a short time at, a King of England who was Catholic, James II. He was having trouble getting along with his parliament and some of his people, and eventually, when an army from the Netherlands landed, he fled and abdicated the throne.
William of Orange was brought to the throne. He was related to the royal family of England and his wife Mary was James' sister. So they reigned as William and Mary. We got a nifty college named after them in Virginia, I believe. And that began intermittent war between the empire of France and the British Empire for nearly 100 years. Eventually, finally coming to its final end in 1815 when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. During the course of that time, though, especially the last 30 years or so, England came into the possession of colonies around the world, including Canada. Canada become British territory. Britain began controlling India and surrounding territories. Oh, by the way, the United States became an independent country, began growing. In 1803, made the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the U.S., making it one of the largest nations in the world.
When that war with France was ended, Britain emerged as the world's sole super power. They didn't use the term super power back then. It makes you think of kryptonite and batarangs and things, not that kind of superpower. This is where you chuckle and say, "Oh, isn't he cute?" No, but we used the term superpower after World War II. But truly, during that 100 years or so before, Britain was by far the most powerful nation on the earth with a navy that dominated the seas. And it included territories around the world, which led rise to the phrase of the sun never sets on the British empire. Meanwhile, protected by that powerful British navy, the United States began growing and expanding. It expanded from sea to sea, survived a brutal civil war, and began engaging in an industrial revolution that would make it the most powerful, wealthy single nation that has ever existed on the earth. Combined, Britain and the United States in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th, accounted for half of all crop producing land on the planet. The British Empire ruled about a quarter of the world's population. Together, United States and Britain controlled industrial production, the vast majority, owned a vast majority of the world's wealth.
Again, we read earlier that the descendants of Joseph would become a great nation and a company of nations. And I said that wasn't fulfilled by 12 tribes, not by Ammon, Moab, Edom, Israel, and Judah. It seems that Manasseh became the great nation of the United States, at least if we're looking for the… PEW! BOOM! You know, sorry, my special effects need to be better, but… in that company of nations fits the British empire, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. And pardon me, any of you who are from the Commonwealth nations I'm leaving out. We see that correspondence roughly 2,500 years after the blessings were taken away from Israel, suddenly tremendous blessings and wealth.
Reminds me of some of the prophecies I read back in Genesis 49 where the sons of Joseph were described as branches running over a wall, perhaps referring to colonies. Said they would have the blessings of the deep. That might refer to some of the richest mineral wealth. Some of the richest mineral wealth in the world is in the United States and Britain was once the leading producer of coal in the world, not to mention other resources. Blessings of the breast and of the womb, referring to a large population, both human and livestock and the utmost bound of the hills. Territorial control all around the world. Matter of fact, saying that reminds me of that promise to Abraham back in Genesis 22 that his descendants would control the gates of their enemies. A gate is a strategic place that through which people or resources can pass.
Once water, transportation, we came the main way to move resources, we might think of strategic waterways or places to control those waterways as gates or we've often used the term sea gates. Between the United States and Britain at one point, they controlled the British islands themselves, which restrict access to Northwestern Europe, Cape Hope south of Africa, the Falkland Islands that controls Cape Horn and South America. Then you have India, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, controlling the Indian Ocean. And the Pacific, the United States had Hawaii, Wake, Guam, the Philippines. Not to mention the Suez Canal. No, no. The Panama Canal. Britain had the Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar of the Aleutian islands, Australia, New Zealand. The United States and Britain have controlled the seaways, the gates of their enemies around the world. Again, think of my nifty analogy. BOOM! PEW! You don't have to see this shell in flight to think that might be what happened.
Some people might say, so what? What does it matter which modern people are descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? And I would answer in some ways, not in the least. It's worth us keeping that in mind. In Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×, the apostle Paul said, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, male nor free female; you're all one in Christ." I also often, I like to refer to the passage in Matthew 19:16 Matthew 19:16And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
American King James Version×. I won't turn there, but a young man came to Jesus Christ and said, ''Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?'' Jesus didn't say, “You got to know prophecy. You better know the 70 weeks prophecy. You've got to identify the modern tribes of Israel.” No, he said, ''Obey the Commandments. Honor your father, your mother. Don't lie. Don't steal.'' One might say a person could obey God's Word and be led by the Holy Spirit and not really know much about prophecy and still be a member of God's family. Now, theoretically, that could happen.
So I would say it's not necessarily vital to your salvation to say, “Okay, I believe the cannon goes off and then Britain and the United States inherit the blessings of Abraham.” But it's worth us being aware of, Christ sent His apostles to preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That was a commission for them, and there's something important. I'm going to turn to Matthew 25:13 Matthew 25:13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.
American King James Version×. Matthew 25:13 Matthew 25:13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.
American King James Version×, Christ said something that I think applies to us today as much as it did to the apostles of his time. Matthew 25:13 Matthew 25:13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.
American King James Version×says, ‘’Watch... Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.'' He said something similar in Mark 13:33 Mark 13:33Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is.
American King James Version×if you want to turn in that direction. But he said, "Take heed, watch and pray; you don't know what the time is." There were times when Christ sort of criticized the Pharisees because He said, ''You're good at looking at the sky and discerning the face of the sky and the weather. It's red in the morning, it's threatening, we're going to have a storm. Or the sky is kind of red at night, it's peaceful, good times. You can discern the face of the sky, but you need to learn to look at the signs of the times.’' Christ told them. I'm again, modernizing is His speech. But I think we, we, the Church of God need to be able to watch. We need to discern and it's a lot easier to discern if you know who's who.
When I was a student in Pasadena, we used to sell programs for the Rose Bowl Parade. The Tournament of Roses Parade in the Rose Bowl said, to show who does what and we'd say, "You can't know the players without a program." So I see a float go by, “Oh, that was put together by this group, it's this…” It helps to know who's who. 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×calls the Cataclysm at the end of this age, “the time of Jacob's trouble.” I'm not going to turn there, but we could say to know where and when to watch, we'd do very well to know who is who. Where is Jacob? Where are the peoples that had his name named upon them? There are prophecies for Israel near the time of the end. I say near because the end time doesn't look real good for the peoples of Israel. Scripture doesn't call them though know by their modern names. If it's true that the United States and Britain are descended from Israel, we don't see U.S. and Britain in this book, we see Israel. We see Jacob, the sons of Isaac.
If our understanding is true, many of us are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that doesn't make us one bit better than anyone else. Not one bit more deserving of the blessings and the comforts that we enjoy. But it should make us sober and realize that the God who gave us these blessings wants us to be mindful of Him, wants us to pay attention to His Word, wants us to realize that the position we're in isn't just luck. It's not just coincidence. It's not because the white man had better weapons. You know, all those things might take apart, but God had a plan and a purpose that He worked out. And that can give us insight into how God is unfolding His plan and where we might see our place in it. As I said, I'm going to read one last scripture from Mark 13:37 Mark 13:37And what I say to you I say to all, Watch.
American King James Version×, say, understanding what we know and maybe of who is who, Christ said, “what I say to you, I say to all: watch!’'