Israel In Bible Prophecy | Pastor Ron Kelly

You know, when you know the words and you can let them go through your head while you’re listening to the music, there’s a double blessing. Know that hymn book.  Get it out.  “If ever I love thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

Let’s pray: “Lord, we give you our hearts and lives again, and may we reflect on your deep love for us, and Lord, may it touch us. May we not just think about it, but may it connect with us, Lord, on the level of our deepest emotions. And while Lord, we are not to let our feelings rule us or run us, certainly Lord, you’re looking for an affectionate love back to you. Now bless us as we think about important topics, guide us and nerve us. I pray, in Jesus’s name.  Amen.”

It’s wonderful to be with you this morning. I’ve entitled my message “Israel in Bible Prophecy.” Now I’m going to try to do a lot.  Some of the texts we’ll look up, some we won’t. But I want to tell you if you get this topic right, you’re on the path of life; and if you get this topic wrong, you’re in a world of hurt and confusion.

Right now, our world sits on the brink of being drug into what some would say World War III, through a wrong understanding of the role of Israel in end-time prophecy.  Back about 150 years ago, a line of thinking was developed in the Scofield Bible, and somewhat beyond that, that we call dispensationalism and it’s the idea that most of the Bible prophecies are not anchored in time, do not have a definite starting point, but we’ll know it when they are. The problem is, all of these things leave world events liable to modern day interpretation without any biblical anchor points.

The Bible, as the Protestant reformers understood it, had prophecies that could be started with definite dates. We call this historicism. When you look at a prophecy like the 2,300 days that comes out of Daniel chapter 9, it tells you when it begins – under the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. And then you can start marking off time.  You can see the prophecy fulfilled. This is one of the most amazing things that has brought many to the faith. God’s prophecies have definite starting points and definite ending points.

But because those prophecies of the Protestant Reformation pointed to the apostate church, different ways of looking at them were developed. One said it was all in the past. That’s preterism. One said they’re all in the future, that’s futurism. That’s where dispensational thought is. Wound up in dispensational thought is the secret rapture teaching, and, of course, once the secret rapture happens, that’s when you know you’re marking prophetic time. The only problem is there’s not going to be a secret rapture. Jesus is coming back, audible, literal, visible.

The problem with believing the wrong thing is that you’re lulled into a lifestyle and decisions that rob you of readiness to meet Jesus. The other problem with believing the wrong thing, like somehow modern Israel, that is, the geopolitical Israel, has a special place in Bible prophecy, is

that it puts the world on the edge of military brinkmanship over false alliances built on the wrong idea that America is here to take care of Israel in the future. It’s absolutely imperative that we understand the role of Israel in the past, and in the present, and in the future, that we know who Israel is, because if we get this wrong, it’s very likely that we will get many other things wrong.

So, this morning I want to do something. I want to take you on a journey. I want you to think these things through. I’m going to show you from the Bible that Israel was a representative form of God’s family for a period of time which it forfeited when it rejected Jesus Christ, and that the new Israel is a continuation of the family of God fulfilling its firstborn responsibilities of letting the world know that they can all be children of God. Israel for a moment in time, a long moment, was the firstborn of God’s family members. And as a firstborn family member its duty was to let the rest of the world know it could redeem, if it so desired, through the Redeemer, its rightful place in the family of God.

Take your Bibles right now and open the back up to the Book of Revelation. I’m going to start in the back of the Bible.  Of course, this is where we have the fulfillment of the prophecies, and I want to make a point.  Go to Revelation Chapter 21. I’m going to start with some of the last references to Israel and his family, and, by the way, Israel is a name that comes from Jacob’s night of wrestling. I want to make this simple. When you walk out of here today, I want you to be able to explain what it is to be a spiritual Israelite, to be an Israelite in the family of God. Revelation Chapter 21, beginning with verse 10.  If you have a subtitle in your Bible, it says “New Jerusalem.”

“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” All right, John will make a big difference between the old Jerusalem, and the New Jerusalem. This is not the old Jerusalem transported to heaven, no. The old Jerusalem is where they crucified Jesus. It will never have a place in the eternal accolades of heaven. This is the new Jerusalem, having the glory of God, her ”brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal clear jasper. It had a great high wall with 12 gates, and all the gates, 12 of them, had the names written on them which were the names of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south and three gates on the west.”

Now let me ask you something. Twelve gates, three on each side, they all have the names of the tribes of Israel. Does that mean this city is only for Israelites? It’s a trick question. You just keep thinking about that. Let’s go a little farther. Verse 14: “And the wall of the city had 12 foundation stones, and on them were 12 names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.”

Let me ask you something.  Were the 12 apostles of the Lamb all Jews? Yes or no? Yes, they were. All 12 of them were Jews. Now, go back just a little farther to Revelation 14:1-4. And we’re going to look at another reference to the family of Israel: “Then I looked, and behold the lamb was standing on Mount Zion and with Him 144,000, having His name and the Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sounds of many waters, like the sounds of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was the sound of harpists playing on their harps.”

Okay, this is the 144,000, “and they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, and no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased from earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, they have kept themselves chaste.  These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes; these have been purchased from among men as the first fruits of God and to the Lamb.”

Now we’re not quite done describing them yet. Go back to Revelation chapter 7, that’s the 144,000, but they’re described also in Revelation 7, and I want to make sure you see this. The thing we take from that is that they follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Revelation 7:4: “And I heard the number of those who were sealed.  One hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000,” and I’m not going to go through all the tribes.

Now the question I have for you: if on every gate there’s the name of a tribe of Israel, and on every foundation stone there’s the name of a Jewish man who became an apostle, and if the 144,000 or 12,000 from this tribe and 12,000 from this tribe, my question to you is, as we look at the prophetic Book of Revelation, is heaven just for the Jews? And this is a trick question, so don’t answer. Now, let’s answer the question. Go to Revelation chapter 22, the last book of the Bible. Revelation chapter 22:12.

It says, “Behold, I am coming quickly. My reward is with me to render to every man according to what he has done.” Go down to verse 17: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘come,’ and let the one who hears say, ‘come,’ and let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take of the water of life freely.”

Now listen, you don’t go from chapter 21, where we’re all going to go marching through those gates, and looking at those beautiful foundation stones, you don’t go from chapter 21 into chapter 22 without sensing that heaven is for anybody that wants to be there. Yes or no? Absolutely. So, the question that comes to mind then is: Are these people literal descendants of Abraham? Are they the actual DNA children? Is it only for those who can reference to a name on the gate of the city? The answer is, well yes, it is for those who can only reference to a name on the gate of the city.

But now, let’s go back to the beginning of the Bible. Go back, if you would, to the very first book, Genesis, chapter 1, looking at verses 27 and 28. It says, “God created man in his own image. In the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

Would it be safe to say that Adam and Eve were the children of God? Yes or no? Okay. Would it be safe to say that God’s goal when He cursed the snake, and He cursed the ground, and He cursed the birthing of babies for the sake of mankind, that it was His goal to give His

family back what they lost by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All right, we’re starting to get somewhere. Now go over to Genesis chapter 12. God has always had a people. We’ve gone through a large portion of earthly history here, close to 2,000 years, by the time we get to Genesis 12.

It says in verse one, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you, and I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great. You shall be a blessing and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you, I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’”

How were all the families of the earth to be blessed through Abraham? Isn’t the main part of the story about a man and a woman who can’t have a baby? But is it not a fulfillment of that promise that through the seed of the woman, there would come a deliverer? You see, there is a special promise here to every person who has ever lived, post the promise that somehow, God’s going to do something that relates to that initial promise to give us back what we frittered away in the garden.

Now, when we look at the New Testament teaching, we find that God said that He would bless the world through the seed of Abraham. Paul goes out of his way to make sure you know that’s singular, not plural. It doesn’t say through the seeds of Abraham. If it said through the seeds of Abraham, we’d be dealing with geopolitical Israel. But because it says through the seed of Abraham, we’re dealing only with children of faith, made children by the gift of Jesus Christ. Now I want you to think about John 1:12, This is what it says, “But as many as received him to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe on His name.”

So the promise through Abraham is for everyone. It wasn’t to the seeds of Abraham, we know Ishmael didn’t get any good out of it, but it was to the children of faith through Isaac, and there’s still not a Jew on the scene yet because we don’t have the first Israelite until Isaac has a son, the second born, whose name is Jacob, who wrestles through the night and is transformed and he becomes Israel, ‘one who wrestles with God’ and overcomes.

Now we’ve gone to the end of the book and we’ve gone to the beginning. The obvious point of the Bible is to bring the family of God back together. Everybody, not just Jewish people, even though on the gates of the city there’s the names of Jewish people, even though on the foundations of the city there’s the names of Jewish people, even though the 144,000 are composed with identifiers related to Jewish people.

But what I’m going to show you now is that God took this promise to Abraham, and he was to turn that family into a blessing for all the earth. And that’s why in the New Jerusalem the only reference points we will have is through our lineage to the Lord Jesus Christ, the promise made to Abraham, but it’s a gift of being born again into the family of God through the promise that was fulfilled down through the generations into the birthing of Jesus, and through Jesus the rebirthing of every human being that should like to become a son or a daughter of God.

Go back to the Book of Exodus. What is the role of Israel? Exodus 4:22. I’m going to show you how does Israel fit into the family of God. Exodus chapter 4. Moses is appearing before Pharaoh. Looking at verse 22, and this is what he says, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my son-’” My what? “‘-my firstborn.’”

All right, now we’re going to get somewhere. God designed to save everyone that should desire to be given back what they gave away. But in the economy of God, in the structure of God, He’s working through a family model. And by the way, the church is not a business, don’t ever try to run it as a business or you’ll ruin it. And modern Protestantism has done that, and they’ve ruined it, but Seventh-day Adventism by and large has not taken the bait, although they’ve been tempted in a lot of places, including youth ministry.

“Israel is my firstborn.” Now turn over to Genesis 46:8. I want to look at who the firstborn of Israel were. Genesis chapter 46:8, who was the firstborn of Israel? Some of you know. If you know, go ahead and call it out, who was the firstborn of Israel? Reuben was.  All right. Genesis  46:8.  We’ll read it. It says, “Now these are the names of the sons of Israel – Jacob and his sons,” And what the Bible just did there, is it repeated Israel was the name of Jacob after he wrestled with God, but the Bible will often give more than one name to the players, and it just turns out that Jacob and Israel are the same person. “His sons who went into Egypt, Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn.” Now here’s the key question considering the scenario I’ve set up.  Can you lose your place as the firstborn in the family of God? Yes or no? Absolutely.

Go over, if you would, to 1 Chronicles chapter 5:1. 1 Chronicles chapter 5, looking at verse 1, and this is going to explain what happened to Israel when they rejected Jesus. The lineage of Jesus was not through the experience of Reuben.  It says in 1 Chronicles 5:1, “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel,” and then in parentheses it says, “For he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the sons of Israel, so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright.”

In other words, if you’re the birthright son, you get two portions of the inheritance. If there’s 12 kids, the inheritance is divided 13 ways. The firstborn gets two portions. There’s a reason – because the firstborn is freighted with the responsibility of taking the inheritance. In the case of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is now fulfilling the biblical remnant definition, they keep the commandments of God and they have the testimony of Jesus.  The firstborn is the procurer and the steward of the inheritance of the family. And the inheritance of the family, in the case of our religious ancestry, is the knowledge of the living story of Jesus Christ: born a man, died in our place, active mediator in the heavenly sanctuary, and judge. And so the firstborn has a responsibility to keep the family story alive, to shepherd the family experience to its glorious conclusion. This was the responsibility and privilege of Israel. The truth of the matter is it can be sacrificed, it can be given away, it can be taken away.

Now, I want you to think about the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son. The younger son says, “Dad, I don’t care if you’re dead or alive, I just want what I want and I’m out of here.” But the question I have for you is this, did the elder brother, who was the birthright son, did he value and understand and appreciate the privileges of knowing his father, and taking care of the family name, and the culmination of the glory of being in that position? Yes or no? No.

And so, I want to build a little mindset here. You can have your names written on the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s books, but if you don’t understand that it’s the role of the remnant, it’s the role of the spiritual firstborn to actually shepherd the stewardship of the inheritance, in this case, the message. If you have no interest in advancing the message, you just love this wonderful Adventist culture with haystacks and vespers and Sabbath School (and none of those are bad by the way), but if you don’t understand that you get two portions of the blessing for your nearness to God, and the privilege of the responsibility of telling who He really is, and making sure everybody knows, you can end up like the firstborn in Luke 15, or you can end up like the nation of Israel that rejected its Redeemer – took the life of the Father, by taking the life of the Son.

This is serious business, and I want you to know that writing years ago, Ellen White would tell us that the church will look as if it may fall, but it only looks as if it falls, and I want to assure you friends, though the structures and the institutions may go away, the church will remain. For God is never going to be in a moment where He doesn’t have a family witness on the face of the earth. And this is good news. And the glorious good news is, if you choose to believe and receive him you get to be a child of God, and it’s better than that. If you’ll let him rebuke you and chasten and discipline you as only legitimate children can be, you will receive a new name, you will sit down in his throne, you will be his ambassadors throughout eternity, you will receive a more glorious inheritance, and be nearer to God than anybody would have ever been had there been no sin.

Now you need to understand that in the Old Testament there are myriads of conditional promises.  Take your Bibles and go to the Book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 18, and I want to look at verses 7 to 10. Go past the Psalms and the Proverbs and come to one of these major

prophets we call Jeremiah, chapter 18. Now there are many in the modern dispensational way of thinking that do not understand the nature of the conditional promises. Now I’m here to tell you the devil has a vested interest in keeping the world’s attention focused on Old Testament Israel. Because then he can make the Sabbath only for them, and then he can cloud the glory of the second coming of Jesus, because if you keep your mind focused on Old Testament Israel and it’s got to get a place back, you come with this aberrant theology. I mean, when you look at Daniel chapter 9, when it says 70 weeks are determined for your people, that’s the beginning of the most amazing Bible prophecy in all the world; 2,300 symbolic days, or over two millennia of prophecy, and the first 490 years, 70 weeks, 70 times 7, is set aside for the people of Israel.

And the truth of the matter is you come down to that 70th week, and it’s either about Christ or the Antichrist, you have to decide. But I can assure you, the Bible’s very clear, it says until Messiah the prince come, and then in the middle of that last week He’s cut off, but dispensationalism with its focus on the future and its resistance to the truths of the Bible, in other words, every Christian is a spiritual descendant of Jesus, which makes them a spiritual descendant of Abraham, which makes them a spiritual Hebrew or a spiritual Jew. But the problem with being a spiritual Jew is that you’re freighted with all of these limitations, chief of which is the fourth commandment. So the devil would love for us to be stuck focusing on Old Testament Israel, as if it has some future glorious reference, but it does not.

Now, let’s read here, out of Jeremiah chapter 18, about the conditional nature of what God prophesies. Jeremiah, chapter 18, looking at verse 7. He says “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or destroy it.” That nation could be Israel. “If that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I plan to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build it up or plant it, but if it does evil in my sight by not obeying my voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.” And here you have portrayed, especially considering that in the last part of the book of Deuteronomy which is the second giving of the law – is the deutero nomos – that there are three chapters dedicated to blessings and curses. And so God lays out clearly before He turns the leadership over to Joshua, He leaves clearly a message about how this relationship with Him is going to work. And unfortunately, throughout the Old Testament, Israel plays the harlot. And the curses are brought down on, and there is an exile of which Jeremiah was a prophet, and even though Nebuchadnezzar came three times, the people still didn’t listen. And finally after 70 years, at the end of those 70 years, Daniel is given a vision in Daniel chapter 8.  It’s explained in Daniel chapter 9, and that’s where we get that amazing 2,300 year prophecy and 70 weeks or 490 years.  They’re especially focused on Israel, and the culmination of that Israeli part of the prophecy, is that Jesus Himself will come. It won’t be Moses, won’t be Abraham, but will be God Himself. Jesus comes.

The result of Jesus’ coming is told in our Scripture reading.  Let’s go back there to Matthew chapter 21. And I want you to look at this very carefully, because there can be no equivocating about the meaning of Matthew chapter 21 verse 33: “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, and put a wall around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine growers and went on a journey.”

If you want to know where that imagery comes from, go to the book of Isaiah chapter 5. We’re not going to go there right now.  This is nothing short of Jesus taking a metaphor distinctly from the prophets, this one Isaiah, in which He makes it clear that His people are like a vineyard. Anybody listening to this from the Jewish historical point of view knows this.  “When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine growers to receive his produce. The vine growers took his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.” It’s a reference to His prophets.

“He sent another group of slaves, larger than the first, and they did the same thing to them, but afterward he sent his son to them.” Now of course, this is Jesus telling the parable, it’s in living technicolor.  Jesus is there telling the experience of salvation history, of God trying to redeem the Jewish people, saying, “they will respect my son. But when the vine growers saw the son they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir, come let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ They took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine growers? And they said to him, ‘He’ll bring those wretches to a wretched end, and he will rent out the vineyard to another set of vine growers who will pay him the proper proceeds at the proper season.’”

Then Jesus said to them, here He comes!  Bullseye!  It’s going to shoot right to the heart: “Did you never read in the Scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone? This came about from the Lord and it’s marvelous in our eyes.” And here comes the indisputable statement, “Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing the fruit.” But it’s not over, praise the Lord. He doesn’t leave them there, He gives them hope, and He says, “Whoever falls on this stone will be broken into pieces, but on whomever it falls it will scatter him like dust.”

Now, in Romans chapter 11, which we won’t look up but you can look up later on today, you’ll see that Paul uses the metaphor of a tree for the family of God. And of course, we have our own family trees, don’t we? The problem is, Paul says, is that there were a lot of branches broken off this tree, because Israel rejected Jesus, and then there were new branches grafted in which represented the rest of God’s family, the Gentile church. What I want you to see is, even though Jesus says your role as my firstborn is about over, you can still be in my family. And if you don’t understand the role of the firstborn, which is Israel’s role, then you can’t bring together these powerful but painful truths. While they will lose their place as the firstborn, with the privilege of stewarding the message of salvation, they will retain the privilege of being in the family of God if they will fall on the Rock.

Now if you don’t understand these things, and you think that somehow all the promises of Israel must be fulfilled in literal, geopolitical Israel, then you, like our American politicians, especially the right-leaning religious side of the aisle, believe that no matter what, they have to stand with Israel, because Israel is going to be be reestablished, the temple’s going to be rebuilt and, its former glory, which it could have had, is coming back. That, my friends, is not taught in the Scriptures.

They sacrificed their privilege of becoming the diadem, the city set on the hill, and instead they became the cursed place of the earth. And that curse that they brought down on themselves, the Spirit of Prophecy will affirm, still rests in that place. No wonder there is so much hatred.  Hatred.  When we begin to look at the experience of Israel, what we begin to realize is that they were given a special place to carry the family name of God.

Now let’s just do something really simple here, the Bible says, “for God so loved the world that-”

what? “Whosoever.” All right. “Whosoever believe in him might not perish.” When we think about this, we realize that in Galatians it says there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, male or female, you’re all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be in Christ then are Abraham’s seed then you’re heirs according to the promise, but let’s go to Romans Chapter 2. I don’t want to leave us without looking clearly at another statement. Not only did Jesus walk out of the temple on a Wednesday on the last week of his pre-crucifixion life, and say “your house,” He didn’t say “my Father’s house.”  He had referred to it as his Father’s house many times in his ministry, but when He walks out on the Wednesday before He’s crucified, He says, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” Jesus wept great tears because He could look into the future and see what the rejection of God’s special relationship with the Jews would cause them.  In their pride and their stubbornness and their arrogance and their supposed supremacy among the face of the earth, they fought and fought and fought until they finally brought destruction down on themselves.

Romans Chapter 2, looking at verse 28. I want you to see Paul makes it exceptionally clear. Romans 2:28, it says “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.” In other words, when Abraham was circumcised, it was a sign that there would be a baby, even though he would wait for 25 years. It was a statement of faith, that God marked him in such a way, that only through divine intervention and providence could the gift of the baby come true. But it did. But now, writing to the Romans, not to the Jews, but writing to the church of God, Paul makes it very clear our sonship as children of Israel – people who wrestle with God and overcome – who by faith believe God only intends good for us, who by faith accept the forgiveness, who by faith believe in the future promises. “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that which is of the heart by the Spirit, and not by the letter and by the praise that is not from men but from God.”

The real absolute indisputable point of the New Testament teachings of the apostle, was that we retain our Jewishness, in the sense that we enter into the experience of the first Jew mentioned in Genesis 32, whose name was Jacob – liar, deceiver, supplanter.  And by wrestling with God, coming to grips with the honesty of our human estate, and the amazing mercy of God not to destroy us, as we latch on to Him.  As He touched Jacob’s thigh, the strongest joint in the whole body, and displaced it with just a touch, Jacob understood that God had every right and ability to destroy him, but He was a merciful God and He had come to speak hope, peace and strength as he met Esau. And Jacob would not let Him go, but God did ask him to confess what he was, “What is your name?” “My name is Jacob.  My name is liar.” And Jesus said to him, wrestling with that night, “Not anymore.”

There’s nobody listening to me here today who can hide behind Seventh-day Adventism. That’s what one of those people said to me in South Africa last week. They said, “You know, Seventh-day Adventism gives you a lot to hide behind.” I don’t do this, and I don’t do that, or at least I don’t get caught doing it. The truth of the matter is, is that a relationship that is not understanding of the awesome privilege of family inclusion and belonging, a relationship that’s not willing to carry the responsibility of family belonging, is a perfect setup to repeat the history of the Jews. And by the way, there are thousands of Seventh-day Adventist churches that are sweeping in the blessings, and they are rotting out the spiritual sinew and fiber of their very person, which is exactly what happened to the Jewish nation.

Those blessings that came to them, that amazing giftedness, was to enable them to have the resources that matched up with the desire to carry out the responsibility of the firstborn, which is to tell the glory of the Father’s good news plan – that everybody can belong. “My house,” the book of Isaiah says, “shall be called a house of prayer.”  For who? “All people.” There was never any design for any exclusivity in the dynamics of Judaism. Judaism was a privileged connection to Christ, so that the message could be told, and the blessings could be experienced, as they were given away. Paul writes to the Galatians, “if you belong to Christ, then you’re Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” He’ll say a little early in the chapter, “now promises were spoken to Abraham, and to his seed. He does not say unto seeds, referring to many, but rather to one, and to your seed, that is Christ.”

In other words, the only real children of Abraham are those that are born of faith and have accepted the Lamb and follow Him wherever He goes. That’s why in the book of Revelation, everything’s described through the family viewfinder. When I walk through one of those gates of the city, I’m going to be walking through one of those gates that corresponds to my spiritual experience. I can be – you can be – one of those 144,000, which is obviously a symbolic number. It’s the 12 of the first family, that is, the sons of Jacob. It’s the 12 that made up the apostles, but it is a multiplication on steroids of what the end time glory is going to be, because it’s no longer 12 and 12, it’s now 12 times 12. And now we go to 12,000, and we end up with 144,000.

God is going to fill this earth with the glory of his children who are not embarrassed to be a part of His family, who relish in His love, who believe His truth, and who are not backing up in the face of a deepening darkness. We have the amazing privilege of being to the world. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly I say unto you, unless one is born again” he doesn’t even really belong to the family of Abraham. He also said, “I can raise up children out of these stones.” It’s the elder brother’s role to manage the inheritance, but they get a double blessing for doing it.

You know, friends, Paul would say to us, writing to the book of Hebrews, “But you have come to Mount Zion, into the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the myriads of angels to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn.” You hear that phrase? That’s who God’s remnant are – they are part of the general assembly of the church of the firstborn. Do you understand something? That throughout all time and eternity, every single person who has named the name of Jesus Christ will belong to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn. Do you understand that throughout all eternity, the multiple myriad double blessing gift of being the ones who stewarded this amazing message about the character of God, that message is a message that we carry through eternity in our special privileged role as princes and princesses of God.

This is an amazing storyline, but I’m going to end with a little challenge. When I think about what Ellen White wrote about the church, she said there are many who look like they’re in but they’re not. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from the places where we see only floors of rich wheat. “The shaking,” she writes, “of God blows away multitudes like dry leaves. Soon God’s people will be tested by fiery trials, and a great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when his law is the most despised, then should our seal be the warmest and our courage the firmest and the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few, this will be our test.”

You think he’s leaving the test until the very end? No, no, no. You don’t want to stand up for your family values, your spiritual family values, family values passed down to you by your parents? No.  You want to turn around and call them legalistic, and you want a new liberty to indulge in sin while you take the name of Jesus? Doesn’t work that way, doesn’t work that way. At this time we must gather warmth from coldness, courage from cowardice, and loyalty from other people’s treason. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains while the sinners in Zion are sifted out. The chaff is separated from the precious wheat.  This is a terrible ordeal.   

One more paragraph. “As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message but have not been sanctified through obedience to truth, abandon their position.” And if that was all she said it’d be bad enough, but she goes on to write, “And join the ranks of the opposition.” You know what walked Israel right out of the Kingdom, right out of the family? You know why the conditions of the promises were sacrificed? You know why they’re no longer a special people? Because they got more and more self-centered and self-focused and selfish, with every passing generation. And what they hid behind was their supposed right doing, but what was missing was the weightier matters of the law, to love God with all your heart and love your fellow man, and your neighbor as yourself. And you know Seventh-day Adventism, by and large in the western world, is on the exact same track. It’s okay if the world goes to hell in a handbag. We barely can keep our churches going, when we’ve been promised that no man will be able to stand against us and we’ll prosper in everything we do. You know why? I’m not sure we really know who God is, and the great privilege of being called a son or a daughter, and a greater privilege of being the remnant who have the message to give of the general assembly of the firstborn.

I’m here to tell you today, friends, this church’s level of vibrancy to which it has been brought, is a function of recognizing the privilege and the responsibility of being the new spiritual Israel – of owing something to the world. And so, this afternoon, I’m appealing to you, that Jesus who paid the perfect price for our perfect redemption, is asking each of us to again evaluate what our family commitments are. I’m absolutely convinced when Paul writes in Hebrews 10:25, “don’t forsake the assembling together,” there’s a reason, because while we have the organization we’re to use it, and when the organization’s gone we’re going to need the bonds that were formed while we had the freedoms. There’s a great glory that’s coming, and the glory is going to be the lighting up of the world with the character of God, and it’s going to be through the family experience, us with God and us with each other. I’m here to tell you there will be a final victorious experience for the people of God, the children of Jacob, the lineage of Abraham born through faith in Jesus Christ.

In other words, the promise to Abraham is going to be fulfilled. The New Jerusalem will come down.  We are going to walk through those gates.  We’re going to gaze at the foundation stones.  We will have fallen on the Rock and been broken, and in the meantime we will have considered the privilege of being redeemed and commissioned in the name of the living Christ the greatest honor and glory that we could have. God forgive us when we have not fulfilled the privilege of telling this story.

By the way there’s five things that God has given this Remnant Church.  Number one is there’s rest in Jesus Christ.  It’s not just physical, it’s completely spiritual with purpose. Number two:  He’s coming back. Literally, visibly, audibly. Number three: when you’re dead, you’re dead. Number four:  there’s a sanctuary in heaven telling the story, sacrifice, mediation, and vindication. And number five: the gift of the prophets is still in our midst. And may God bless us, as we understand that we’ve been called as the remnant church, to the spiritual high calling of stewarding the inheritance of the name of God.

May God bless us as we recommit ourselves to this glorious privilege, and may we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that modern-day geopolitical Israel is only a geopolitical figure. And the prophetic confusion surrounding its role, is a complete loss of understanding about what can happen to the firstborn when they fail to fulfill the responsibilities and privileges. When they refused the covenant keeper in person, they refused their place, and while the branches have been broken off there’s still hope, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a special message for this people. The Jewish nation is to have a special invitation that comes from people who understand the Sabbath.  That’s us. It’s time for us to recommit ourselves and be completely committed to doing what they did not do, lest we lose our spot as they lost theirs. May God help us, and may we recommit ourselves this morning to this glorious privilege and responsibility, this is my prayer.