Prophecies of the Earth made New, where God dwells with His people in the New Jerusalem: Here is a prophecy for the end of time, showing that God will dwell at Jerusalem: “The LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people and a stronghold to the sons of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will pass through it no more.” Joel 3:16-17 NASB. Notice that God is dwelling in Zion here, His holy mountain. He utters His voice from Jerusalem. When this prophecy takes place, God will dwell in the city of Jerusalem! Jerusalem is the city which was built on the mountain of Zion. Jerusalem and Zion are used somewhat synonymously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zion . How do we know that this is talking about the New Jerusalem at the end of time? Because the book of Joel is about the end of the world, and how God would pour out His Holy Spirit on His people, those who repent, and save and restore them: Judah and Jerusalem. Study the whole book and you will see. See especially Joel 1:1-3; 2:32; 3:1. And because its message: God will dwell in Zion, His holy mountain, is similar to Revelation 21:22-23, where the city of the New Jerusalem has God and the Lamb as its temple, and is illuminated by God and the Lamb’s glory. There are also other places in the Bible that prophesy something along these lines. Compare these prophecies with the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21. We think it is clear that the New Jerusalem will be located where the Old Jerusalem, the city of David was.
Abraham’s Promised Possession Fulfilled: We declare to you that ‘the everlasting possession’ made to Abraham, is an ‘everlasting possession,’ possessed only by those who live forever. Everything we have discussed and brought up thus far is to bring us now to this point: this is the great focal point of human history, in the Bible! Everything prophesied in the Bible eventually moves us to this point: God’s plan to save the world and restore it back to its former state in the Garden of Eden, that He promised to Abraham! Yes God promised to save the world through Abraham’s offspring, but Abraham did not have all of the details of this plan. Oh what a joy it is to serve God! Oh what a privilege! Abraham will indeed have a very rich reward in Heaven for all of the souls he helped to get there! God is so wonderful! Now let’s examine the evidence for Abraham’s promised ‘everlasting possession’ from the book of Hebrews, and we will then proceed to what it means.
God Helps His People Receive Their Everlasting Possession: What is the main point in what we are making here? The children of Israel, after they came into the Promised Land of Canaan, after many of them lost their inheritance due to unfaithfulness to God, or all of them to death, cannot be the complete fulfillment of the promise that God made to Abraham, because it was to be an ‘everlasting possession!’ Therefore this implies that there must be a great change that would come over God’s people, which would enable them to live holy lives for Him, and not lose their everlasting possession due to death or sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 KJV. But how would this great change come about? Now that is the gospel message! This is righteousness by faith! This is a topic for further articles! But we will give you a hint here: 1) God needed to provide for the forgiveness of His people. And: 2) God needed to circumcise the hearts of His people and give them the Holy Spirit:
God’s Mercy and Plan to Save the offspring of Abraham. Thus we see that the ability of Abraham and his offspring to have or to hang on to their ‘everlasting possession,’ must mean something more than just God’s people having a temporal possession, and losing it at death or because of infidelity to God. Because God’s best continued blessings are given to the faithful - to those who are obedient to His word. Abraham and some of his offspring were obedient to God, but not all of them were, and they were prone to wander from God. Is there no hope for the children of Israel’s wandering from God? Is there to be no hope for ‘the lost tribes of Israel,’ like the tribe of Ephraim? Was there no plan to rescue the ‘lost tribes of Israel’ and give them their inheritance that God had promised Abraham? God always keeps His promises, and will yet save as many as possible from these ‘lost tribes of Israel,’ who defected from God as a tribe and were exiled by the Assyrians, where they were transported lock-stock-and-barrel to other countries far from their home, never to return again to their inheritance that God gave to their forefathers, that He had promised Abraham. Does God have a plan to save the Jews of the other tribes of Israel too? Many of them are in need of spiritual reviving as well. Yes! God has a plan to save as many as possible of Israel, from all twelve of the tribes, to fulfill His promise to Abraham: to give to as many of them as possible their land for an eternal possession! God always keeps His promises!
God’s Conditions for the Everlasting Possession: After the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, after many of them lost faith in God and rebelled against Him. Then they came into the Promised Land. But they lost a lot of their promised possession after the days of David and Solomon, when the Israelite kingdom was at its peak, power and size. They were not able to get or continue to keep all of their inheritance after they came into the Promised Land, because of lack of faith, fear, and slackness at times to do what God had commanded them to do, in conquering the land that was given to them, and repeated infidelity to God. After Solomon died, because of Solomon’s sins and the sins of his wives sacrificing to the pagan gods, Israel was split into two different kingdoms, with 9 ½ tribes going to Israel and 2 ½ tribes going to Judah. Then later these tribes left God, never to return again as a whole back to Him, and many of them lost their national and religious identity as Israelites, and served other gods and idols! And since then, the remaining tribes of the children of Israel have lost even more of their inheritance, until we get to our day. Throughout their history as God’s chosen people, there was almost a constant round of backsliding by them, then God would raise up someone to help save them and help them to return to Him, then later they would backslide again. But this constant round of backsliding also describes much of the history of Christianity as well. This is human nature at its best, when they don’t continue to put their trust in God all-the-way. That is why Isaiah later declared that ‘all we like sheep have gone astray,’ because humanity is prone to wander from God. Isaiah 53:6 KJV.
God’s Promise of the Everlasting Possession: We want to show you from the Bible what God had promised Abraham, and why this promise to Abraham could only come to him personally through the Resurrection, and why the children of Israel could only fully get this promised inheritance through the Resurrection as well. Many years before God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, note what God said to him: “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” Genesis 13:14-16 KJV. And later God said to Abraham: “And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he [Abraham] said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” Genesis 15:7-8 KJV. God had him make a sacrifice of a 3 year old heifer, a 3 year old ram, a turtle dove and a pigeon, then Abraham fell into a deep sleep and God answered him, saying that his descendants would be strangers in a land that was not theirs, and enslaved and oppressed for 400 years, and then they would come out with much possessions. Genesis 15:13. It is clear that Abraham’s descendants, during their 400 years in their captivity as slaves, never received their possession that God had promised Abraham and his descendants. But God had promised all of the land that Abraham could see northward, southward, eastward and westward to him and his descendants forever, not just to his descendants after they left Egypt.
Editor’s Notes by John Foll: “It came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham; and he said, Here am I. And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Gen. 22:1, 2. This is such an amazing story, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son on a mountain in the land of Moriah! From a human standpoint, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his own eternal life! Or ‘to put a knife to his own throat,’ as Waggoner put it! And he was asked to sacrifice the eternal life of everyone in the world. Would he continue to believe God’s promise, that he would personally have a possession in the land of Canaan, which could only happen for him through the Resurrection, and that from one born to him would all the nations of the world be blessed? Or would he lose his faith in God’s promise? This was the test!
We pass by a period of several years. The number of years we cannot tell, but Isaac, the child of faith and promise had been born, and had grown to be a young man. Abraham’s faith had grown stronger and more intelligent, for he had learned that God fulfills His own promises. But God is a faithful teacher, and does not allow His pupils to leave a lesson until it is thoroughly learned. It is not enough for them to see and acknowledge that they have made a mistake in the lesson that He has given them. Such acknowledgment of course insures forgiveness; but, having seen the error, they must go over the same ground again, and possibly many times, until they have learned it so well that they can do without stumbling. It is solely for their own good. It is no kindness on the part of a parent or teacher to allow his children to pass by lessons that are unlearned, simply because they are difficult. So “it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham; and he said, Here am I. And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Gen. 22:1, 2.
The Sign of Circumcision: And now we must carry a little further the study of the seal of the covenant, namely, circumcision. What does it signify, and what is it in reality? We have learned that it signifies righteousness by faith. It was given to Abraham as a token of the possession of such righteousness, or, as an assurance that he was “accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Eph. 1:6, 7. What circumcision really is, may be learned from the following Scripture : — “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision, which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom. 2:25-29.
A Grant of Land: But in this covenant the central promise was concerning land. All the land of Canaan was promised to Abraham and his seed for an everlasting possession. And then the seal of the covenant, —circumcision, — was given, — a seal of the righteousness which he had by faith. This shows that the land of Canaan was to be possessed only by faith. And here we have a practical lesson as to the possession of things by faith. Many people think that a thing that is possessed by faith is only possessed in imagination. But the land of Canaan was a real country, and was to be actually possessed. Possession of it was to be gained, however, only through faith. This was indeed the case. By faith the people crossed the river Jordan, and “by faith the walls of Jerico fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” But of this we shall have more hereafter.