Eight Tent Pegs Fastening Israel's Destiny in the Purposes of God

September 4, 2017

In Isaiah 54, even at a time when she is facing disciplinary judgment, God compares Israel’s final destiny to a tent. We read this:

[1] “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;

break forth into singing and cry aloud,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

than the children of her who is married,”

says the LORD.

[2] “Enlarge the place of your tent,

and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;

do not hold back; lengthen your cords

and strengthen your stakes.

[3] For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,

and your offspring will possess the nations

and will people the desolate cities.

[4] “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;

be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more."(ESV)

Today, in these times of turmoil, Israel is surrounded by those who question her policies and her place, even the legitimacy of the Jewish State. It is instructive to look together at a string of cumulative promises that are made to her, despite God’s free acknowledgment of her unworthiness.

We should remember. We should not forget.

Here are eight tent pegs fastening Israel’s positive destiny in the purposes of God.

FIRST TENT PEG – God’s Promises - God promised the patriarchs/matriarchs that he would bless, that is, to watch over and give a more abundant life, to the descendants of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. See for example Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6, 13-16, 17-21; 17:18-21; 28:13-15. (This promise includes the promise of the Land - Gen12:7; 13:15; 21:12; 35:12,15,17; Psalms 105:11; Ezekiel 37:24,25; Acts 7:5).

SECOND TENT PEG - God’s oath. More than just promising, God swore that he would do this.  That is, he said “May I cease to be if I fail to keep this covenant.”  He did this on the occasion of the binding of Isaac -  Genesis 22:15-18.

He also foreshadowed this in the Covenant of the Pieces in Genesis 15.

We learn from Hebrews that an oath is greater than a promise:  “For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement  to hold fast to the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6).

In an oath, God swears by his own life. The Source of all being puts his own beingness on the line.

THIRD TENT PEG – The created order. But more than just promising, or swearing an oath, God says that this faithfulness to Israel will last as long as the fixed order of the sun, moon, stars, and sea (Jer 31:35-36).

FOURTH TENT PEG -  The mountains and the hills - God says that his love for Israel is even greater than that, and that even if nature itself were dismantled, he would not forsake Israel:  ‘for the mountains may move and the hills be shaken, but my loyalty shall never move from you, nor my covenant of friendship be shaken—said the Lord, who takes you back in love (Isa 54:10).  And it is very interesting that God makes promises like this to Israel especially when he punishes her.

FIFTH TENT PEG -  The New Creation - And even if this creation were to crumble, and God create a new heavens and a new earth, still God says his love for the people of Israel would endure, and that they would endure.  In Isaiah 66:22, we read this:  “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your descendants and your name remain.”

SIXTH TENT PEG -  God’s own Being. But God goes beyond that:  He says that his covenant love for Israel is grounded in his own unchanging nature: “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

SEVENTH TENT PEG – God’s consummating purposes. Israel remains chosen because they are essential to how God will complete his merciful purposes for the nations and the cosmos.

Wesleyan Bible Scholar   R. Kendall Soulen reminds us that:

God summons the households of creation to receive God’s blessing in the company of an other. . . . God’s economy of mutual blessing exhibits a certain  [orderly arrangment] summarized by a first-century Jew in the phrase, ‘to the Jew first and also to the Greek’ (Rom 1:16).”  For this blessing to take place, Jew and non-Jew must remain.  Paul sums this up by speaking of the fullness of the nations and the fullness of Israel, and uses language of the covenant of mutual blessing when speaks in Romans 11 of how the Jewish people have been the means of God’s mercy to the Gentiles, and how it is now God’s will that the Jews be shown mercy through the mercy shown to the Gentiles".

EIGHTH TENT PEG – Yeshua, the Son of David, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5).  He is the living guarantee of the consummation of all of God’s purposes for both Israel and the nations.  “Remember Yeshua the Messiah, raised for the dead, the offspring of David, this is the gospel I preach . . .Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.” He is the Expeditor and Guarantor of Israel’s final destiny.

We should always remember as well that God had promised to bless ALL the seed of Abraham. This includes the Arab peoples, through Ishmael, and the New Testament people of God, the Church. However, in no sense does this widened tent of blessing suggest or permit the eviction of that people to whom the tent primarily belongs, the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, known throughout time and eternity as Israel.

Don't forget.



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