The Jewish prophecies predicted that God would send a Messiah to Israel. He would be a natural descendent of Abraham and David. He would throw off the chains of bondage of the Gentiles ruling over them and establish the kingdom of God in Israel. All the Jews had this prophetic knowledge and eagerly anticipated the fulfillment of the promise of Messiah. This was Jesus as He came to Israel, according to the flesh (Rom. 9:5). 
It is important that we know the detail of prophecy, and we have Spirit-given understandings of Biblical principles. The first coming of Messiah to Israel has its basis in the principle of responsibility. Israel was being tested by God as representing all mankind. They had served as the test case for quite some time and the presentation of Messiah to them was their final exam. In all God’s testing of Israel, as representing mankind, there was never any good fruit (Matt. 21:19). Finally they would not have Jesus as King. They cast Him out, and put Him to death (Matt. 21:37-39). There was nothing but failure by man.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”
The Testing of Responsibility is Complete
This was Jesus as He came to Israel – born of a woman and born under Jewish law. Yet it was the fullness of time because it was man’s final testing by God. It was the end of man morally and the fullness of time for testing responsibility. It was the end of the world (Heb. 9:26). This was Israel representing man, and these were the circumstances and principles existing when God sent forth His Son.
God has proven that man was utterly depraved. He has proven that man in the flesh could not have a relationship with Him. The kingdom of God could not be established in Israel under the principle of responsibility in man. What should have been a Messianic kingdom established as the kingdom of God in Israel, was rejected by the Jews when they killed the Son. Israel was man in Adam, man in the flesh, and sinners at best along with the rest of the world.
The kingdom of God was taken away from Israel. There would be no Messianic kingdom at this time (Matt. 21:43). The kingdom of God would have a different form and a new revelation. It could no longer be an attempt to establish a kingdom in Israel predicated on human responsibility. That had been thoroughly searched out and proven a failure. God would not attempt the same thing expecting a different outcome. We have the distinct understanding in John’s gospel that from now on, a man must be ‘born again’ in order to see and enter into the kingdom of God. He would have to have a new nature – God’s nature – in order to have a relationship with God and to be in His kingdom. Whatever new form God’s kingdom came to (at the first a kingdom in mystery), the kingdom was taken from the Jews.
The New Creation – the Sovereign Work of God
Being ‘born again’ has no origin or foundation in the responsibility of man. These are those “…who were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.” They were not born from human responsibility or by human decisions, but by the sovereign will and grace of God. These are born of God. The direct agent of God’s work is the Holy Spirit. Therefore these are born of the Spirit.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (8) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Establishing the Kingdom of Heaven
Whenever John the Baptist preached, or Jesus and the disciples preached, they taught that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 3:2, 4:17, 10:7). I have shown in this book, the kingdom of heaven was not established until Jesus Christ was glorified to the right hand of God. What we have before this time is the Jewish dispensation. Also what was taking place before this was the final testing of man in the principle of responsibility. These two things – the Jewish dispensation and the testing – are basically the same. In order for the kingdom of heaven to go from being ‘at hand’ to being ‘established’, at the very least in mystery, God had to finish the Jewish dispensation and the testing. 
- The kingdom of heaven could not be established until God had set aside the Jewish dispensation. This involves setting aside the title of Messiah, the promises and prophecies to Israel connected with this title. Israel is set aside as a people and a nation – their earthly calling is set aside. Any thoughts of their land and their restoration in the land are all set aside. They are not considered by God at this time as His people and He is not their God (Hos. 1:9). God ends the practice of Judaism and destroys their temple. He allows their covenant to fade away into extinction (Heb. 8:13). Because the Jews are set aside, then prophecy and God’s dealings with the earth grind to a halt. Time counted in prophecy has stopped (Dan. 9:24-26).
- The kingdom of heaven could not be established until God had finished the testing of man in responsibility. This testing was of man in Adam, man in the flesh, and it was by the law of Moses given to the Jews. Israel was the test case representing the human race. They failed to produce any fruit of obedience to God (Matt. 21:19). The last testing of man was the sending of Messiah to Israel (Matt. 21:37). The Jews failed in this by rejecting Him as King. God was finished testing man in Adam in the principle of responsibility. Now God could move on to something different.
The word mystery involves that which is secret or hidden. The kingdom of heaven (having been established by the glorifying of the Son of Man to the right hand of God and the sending down of the Holy Spirit) involves mystery at this present time.
The Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven
- It involves the revelation and spiritual understandings of its own mysteries (Matt. 13:11). The kingdom of heaven currently has secret and hidden things. These are mysteries that are unseen to the unbeliever and the world, but revealed to the eye of faith of the believer, who has the mind of Christ.
- It involves Jesus, the Son of Man, going away to heaven, and presently being ‘hidden’ in God from the world in mystery (Col. 3:1-3). Again, He is hidden from the world, but not to the eye of faith. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.” (John 14:19)
- The Son of Man at the right hand of God is the object of faith for the believer and the true church during the time of the kingdom of heaven in mystery. He is unseen at this time, and our faith is the evidence of things unseen, and in mystery. This is the character of true faith.
- Our present walk of faith, which involves only the time the believer and true church are on the earth, makes up part of this present time of mystery of the kingdom of heaven. The faith by which we sojourn in the wilderness is all the evidence we need of the unseen things we hope for from God. Of course God has given us His Spirit, who is the guarantee of all our Christian hopes (Eph. 1:13-14, II Cor. 1:20-22, 5:4-7). The character of the true church is ‘blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’. (John 20:29)
- In the kingdom of heaven the spoiled crop of wheat and tares all have a common profession of faith. This common confession, along with not being able to see the seal of the Spirit, makes it very difficult to tell the wheat from the tares. The common profession of faith, and water baptism as a Christian ordinance, are why the ten virgins look so much alike. The wheat has a true profession of faith from the heart (Rom. 10:9). The tares have no real faith and no seal of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13).
- The church is also the mystery of God hidden from the prophets and prophecy (Eph. 3:4-5, 9). Presently the kingdom of heaven involves the gathering of the true church on earth – this gathering of Christ’s body is a hidden mystery from before time began (Rom. 16:25, Col. 1:26).
- The Holy Spirit has been sent down to gather in the body. His work is unseen as He is unseen. He is like the wind blowing where it wishes (John 3:8). This is an unseen sovereign work of God.
- The body of Christ is now hidden in the spoiled crop of Christendom and is also the treasure hidden in the field of the world (Matt. 13:44). This is a mystery as well.
- The mystery of iniquity is presently at work in the professing church and the kingdom of heaven (II Thess. 2:7). Sin and leaven are secretly at work, spreading and growing (Matt. 13:33).
All these things are currently part of the kingdom of heaven in mystery. The entire time the true church is on the earth is this kingdom in mystery. It is not openly manifested to the world in power. Eventually the wheat in the crop will be separated from the tares, removed from out of the field, and placed in the barn (Matt 13:30). This is the true church being taken to the heavens in the rapture. This event ends the time of the church on earth and is a mystery as well. Paul says (I Cor. 15:51-53), “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
The Kingdom in Patience
This kingdom is also currently called the kingdom of the Son of His love. It is the kingdom that every believer has been translated into (Col. 1:13). The kingdom of heaven currently involves all the time of the slain Lamb in the midst of the throne (Rev. 5:6). He is hidden there from the world and in mystery. This is all the time that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, is sitting on His Father’s throne, and not sitting on His own throne (Rev. 3:21). It is the same period of mystery that John, while on the isle of Patmos, identifies with the words, “…companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ…” (Rev. 1:9). Christ’s patience involves His sitting and waiting as hidden at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12-13). We keep the word of His patience by waiting as He waits (Rev. 3:10). We are in the kingdom now, as John says he is with us, but during the time of its mystery we experience tribulation and waiting.
The Kingdom in Power
This time will not last forever. Soon this will all change. Soon it will be altered from the kingdom and patience to the kingdom and power (Rev. 11:15-17 and 12:10). Eventually, in His Father’s timing, He will rise up from His Father’s throne, and take up His power and reign on the earth, sitting as the Son of Man and King of kings on His own throne (Matt. 25:31), ruling over the earth (Psalm 8). This is when the kingdom of heaven is no longer in ‘mystery’, but in ‘open manifestation’ to the world, and in power. This will be when the kingdom of the Father is in the heavens and the church is His tabernacle there, while the Son of Man’s kingdom will be reigning over man in Adam on the earth.
The Mediatorial Kingdom
The Son of Man’s reign during the millennium will be a mediatorial work functioning between God and man on the earth (I Tim. 2:5). For Israel their two houses will be brought back together as one by a new covenant that Jehovah makes with them. It is a covenant mediated by Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:6-13). God will make a ‘new covenant’ with Israel based on the one who shed His blood and died for that nation (John 11:50-51). This is all done by God. The Israeli remnant saved and placed into the land at that future time is all the sovereign work of God.
Mediation is needed between two parties who make an agreement under certain conditions. In Scripture it is associated with covenants made between two, where both parties have responsibilities dictated by the agreement. Mediation is seen in general as between God and man in Adam, and specifically with Israel. Yet it is only seen in the two distinct covenants that are found in Scripture involving Israel.  Also we should remember that under both covenants Israel is man in Adam and in the flesh on the earth.
1. The first covenant was the law given to Israel at Mt. Sinai (Gal. 3:17-20, Heb. 8:7, 13). Blessings were promised to Israel if they could obey. Moses was the mediator between the two parties – Israel and Jehovah. Israel failed to obey and only found death, condemnation, and a curse. “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.” Even though Moses did a decent job in his mediation, God found fault with the first covenant because of man’s failures in responsibility, and it had to pass away.
2. The second covenant between God and Israel has yet to be made. At the present time Israel is set aside by God and not acknowledged by God as ‘His people’. They have no covenant with God. Their first covenant has long ago vanished away (Heb. 8:13). The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD sealed the fate of the first covenant and stopped the practice of Judaism. Through the Spirit, Paul anticipated this event at the time he wrote the epistle to the Hebrews and said, the first covenant is becoming obsolete and growing old, and is ready to vanish away. Until 70 AD the sacrifices continued and the temple was still standing.
The new covenant will be for Israel on the earth during the coming millennium (Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:7-13). This is established in Old Testament prophecy and spoken by Jeremiah directly to a rebellious Israel concerning a future remnant that God would return and establish in the land. This covenant is millennial. The details of the passages are very specific and obvious, and present the greatest of difficulties to spiritualize and apply to the believer/church. The epistle of Hebrews is written to Hebrews and was not written to the general Gentile church. Jesus Christ is the mediator of this future covenant (Heb. 8:6, 9:15). His blood, shed specifically for the nation (John 11:49-51), is that which establishes the covenant with them. 
These things are very clear from the Scriptures. They only become confusing when we bring our pre-conceived ideas and pre-suppositions to them. There is a new covenant for Israel that replaces the ‘first covenant’ (Heb. 8:8-9). It is for the physical and earthly blessing of Israel in their Promised Land (Ez. 36:23-38). It will be effective when they are with their Messiah. Israel will be blessed in Him because He died for the nation (John 11:49-53). His blood was shed for them so that the future Jewish remnant could have this new covenant – not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. Whose fathers? Is it not Israel’s? How can the reuniting of the two kingdoms as one be something spiritualized to the church? It simply can’t (Ez. 37:15-22). God keeps these two groups separate – Israel and the church.
The formal side (the letter) of all covenants is for man in Adam. Most of the covenants, in a sense, are with Israel, so that it may be said, “…Israelites, to whom pertain…the covenants…” (Rom. 9:4) Even when you look at the specific promise made to Abraham and confirmed to His one Seed, it is intended for the blessing of the whole earth and all the nations on the earth (Gen. 12:3, 22:18, Gal. 3:16). When Isaac was offered up in type, representing the death and resurrection of Christ, God confirms the promise to Abraham by saying, “In your Seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” By the sending down of the Holy Spirit, the double meaning of this promise has been revealed. In this present dispensation the Gentiles are blessed by the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the gathering of the church out of all nations (Gal. 3:7-9, 13-14). In the dispensation of the fullness of times all things on the earth will be gathered in Christ for blessing (Eph. 1:10). The language of all the covenants of Scripture is fairly simple and earthy. God will be faithful to fulfill every covenant He has made according to the direct and plain language of those agreements. Otherwise He will be found unfaithful and a liar, and no amount of spiritualizing the words of the covenants by theologians will save Him (Rom. 3:3-4, II Tim. 2:13).[This might have given us opportunity to address the believer/church’s connection with the ‘new covenant’, and what form that connection takes. However I realize that this would require a rather lengthy discussion and would better be saved for the next book in this series. It will concern the topic of redemption. The believer’s place in the ‘new covenant’ would fit in better there. If I addressed it here, I could only do so in a cursory and limited fashion, which could not serve the true value and glory of the association.]
In the promises God made to Abraham you see Abraham being made a great nation and you see the blessing of the nations through him (Gen 12:2-3). The thought of nations or nationality is a relationship that belongs to the earth and the first creation. Nationality is at the core of Israel’s on again, off again, relationship with their God Jehovah. When Jehovah says ‘you are My people’ it is the same as Him saying ‘you are My chosen nation’.
There are some unique features in the covenants made with Abraham. They only consist of promises from God. These promises were unconditional. One unique feature is there was no need for a mediator. There was no responsibility on Abraham’s part. The promises and their fulfillment do not depend on man, but rather, on the faithfulness of God. It is called the covenant of promise. The principle is that God made promises to Abraham and Abraham believed Him. The promises were confirmed to the one Seed of Abraham. This Seed is Christ, the resurrected Son of Man (Gal. 3:16-17, Heb. 11:17-19, Gen. 22:18). Confirming the covenant to Christ means that all the promises from God would be secured in the resurrected and glorified Son of Man. Confirmation is not mediation, and it was not confirmed with a Messiah come in the flesh to Israel (Acts 13:30-34).
The Mystery of Faith
Abraham is said to be the father of faith. It might benefit us to speak on the subject of faith, starting first with the example of Abraham. God made promises to Abraham concerning what He would do for him, and also concerning how He would use Abraham, especially in blessing all the nations of the world through him. Then Abraham took God at His word. He trusted God in spite of contrary circumstances in his life (Rom. 4:17-19). Sarah does the same in order to bear a son (Heb. 11:11). This was his faith, and in a sense it was fairly simple – God promises, Abraham trusted, and eventually God does the work exactly according to what He promised.
“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
God makes the promises – this is not His grace, but instead His word. When God does His work fulfilling the promise, it is then His grace. In between these two, Abraham and Sarah become fully convinced of the promise of a son. Of Sarah it was said, “By faith Sarah…judged Him faithful who promised.” (Heb. 11:11) God promises first and on the other end He works in grace. In the middle we believe what God has promised, counting Him faithful. In this we can see the principle of sovereign grace through faith (Rom. 4:16). So then all believers are this (Gal. 3:7): “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The Scriptures give us a definition of what faith is. This would be as applicable to Abraham’s faith as it is to ours. What are the things the believer properly hopes for? This is a good question, for I’m sure we are not given license to hope for just anything that suits our pleasure. As with Abraham, the believer hopes for the things God has promised him. Do you know what God has promised the believer? The most detailed listing of these things is found in Revelation 2 and 3. After every one of the seven messages there are promises from God made to the true believer. These are the things hoped for. In making a list from the two chapters, I believe we find it to be quite comprehensive. All promises were spoken by Jesus Christ by the Spirit.
- I will give you to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
- You shall not be hurt by the second death.
- I will give you some of the hidden manna to eat.
- I will give you a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except him who receives it.
- I will give you power over the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron; as a potter’s vessels shall be broken to pieces’ – as I also have received from My Father.
- I will give you the morning star.
- You shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out your name from the Book of Life. I will confess your name before My Father and before His angels.
- I will make you a pillar in the temple of My God, and you shall go out no more.
- I will write on you the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.
- I will write on you My new name.
- I will grant you to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Now the things we properly hope for as believers are things presently unseen. They are still just promises from God. But like Abraham, we take God at His word, and this regardless of what we see or circumstances around us in this world. We believe in what God has promised us, and wait. Wait? Yes, faith waits. For what? For God to do exactly as He has promised. While we wait, we do not see the things we properly hope for as Christians. They remain unseen all this time that we walk by faith. How long is that? All the time we are on this earth and in these bodies of flesh (II Cor. 4:17 – 5:7).
We might object by saying, “Abraham and Sarah received the son promised to them by God while they were still alive on this earth!” And God called Isaac the son of promise, as he was for Abraham the guarantee or confirmation of all the promises yet to come (Gal. 4:28). But I answer that God has done a similar yet better thing for us. We have already received the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:14). For the believer, receiving the Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance and all remaining promises to us from God. He has given us His Spirit as an assurance of all these things not seen – the promises yet to come (II Cor. 1:20-22).
· Because we are sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, God gives us the seal of the Spirit (Gal. 3:26, Eph. 1:13). The Holy Spirit is the believer’s seal of sonship (Gal. 4:5-6, Rom. 8:15-16). Because we are sons, we are children of promise just as Isaac was (Gal. 4:28). The indwelling Spirit is then the guarantee of the inheritance that God will give us (Eph. 1:13-14, Rom. 8:17, Gal. 4:7, 30).
· Being sealed by the Spirit is the guarantee to us that God will glorify our bodies (II Cor. 5:5, Rom. 8:11). When this transpires, God changes us into the image of His Son. God’s ultimate purpose for our glorification is to bring us into His presence. Man in sin always falls short of the glory of God’s presence. Man in the flesh avoids God’s presence at all cost and every opportunity. He tries to avoid entertaining any thoughts of it. However for the sons of God, His presence becomes an ever increasing desire. This privilege becomes far more meaningful than any individual reward.
· Having received the Spirit through faith, He becomes to us the earnest of the hope of the glory of God that we will share with Christ (Rom. 5:2, 8:18, Col. 1:27, II Cor. 4:17, I Peter 4:14, John 17:22).
Obviously God had to give Abraham and Sarah a son while they were still living. There had to be a son before Abraham and Sarah died, or every promise God made to Abraham would, through time, be found false. God would be found a liar. According to the promise of having their own son, Isaac would be known as ‘the child of promise’. He becomes for Abraham the assurance that God will eventually fulfill all the remaining promises He had spoken.
“…nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
Abraham receives a son through faith in God. But Abraham, in his lifetime, never receives any of the other things that God had promised him. He never possesses the land and never receives it as an inheritance. He is always a pilgrim and stranger in the land he was promised. “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country…” (Heb. 11:9)
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
This is the walk of faith of Abraham, Sarah, and all those who follow in their footsteps. They walked by faith in God, and then they all died in faith, not having received the promises that God had made to them. Oh, what a revelation of what true bible faith actually is! If only the ‘faith’ and ‘grace’ teachers had understood this and taught it! Here is the principle God is setting forth: In Abraham, the people of God are characterized as those possessing the promises while actually not possessing the things promised. This serves to draw out affections and hope in the people of God to that which is outside this world (Heb. 11:9-10, 14, 16). This character of faith made them pilgrims and strangers on the earth. 
We have a walk of faith like they did (II Cor. 5:7). And I will be so bold as to say that we will all die in faith, not having received the promises that God has made to the Christian. We are to see them as afar off. If we see them by faith, and we know the faithfulness of our God, then we also can be assured of them and embrace them. We follow their example of faith. “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” (Heb. 11:39)
As the son of promise, Isaac was all that Abraham needed as a guarantee. He now knew that God would be faithful to him to eventually fulfill all He had promised, even though it would be after he died. In like manner, the Holy Spirit every believer has received from God is all we need as a guarantee (Gal. 3:14). Now we know, with all assurance of faith, that God will be pleased to someday glorify us, take us into His glory, and fulfill every promise He has every made to His sons. We will abide eternally in the Father’s house as sons and heirs of the living God.
This is the important point: All the promises God made to Abraham he never received in his lifetime. He believes the word of God and promises unseen, walking by faith as a stranger on the earth. The birth of Isaac is the guarantee and security to Abraham of the truthfulness of God and all He has promised to him. In the same way Abraham received a son by faith, the believer has received the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:14). The seal of the Spirit becomes the believer’s Isaac – the guarantee and security of all that God has promised us.
When the believer’s time on this earth is over his walk of faith will end. In death, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23). He will not need faith when he is present with Christ. But this is not the blessed hope of the church, nor do we realize our hope through death. Being absent from the body is not being in the glory. It remains for all of the true church to enter into God’s rest. When we arrive in His rest after the rapture of the church, we will have been glorified in body and we will be in the glory. We will be complete, conformed to the image of God’s Son, and not there as unclothed (II Cor. 5:1-4). We will see with our eyes the former promises that were unseen. We will be in possession of the things that we properly hoped for (Heb. 11:1). And so, faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, will come to an end.
The coming millennium on the earth, the dispensation of the fullness of times, will not be based on a walk of faith by Israel or the Gentile world. Rather the principle is that every eye will see. It will not be a dispensation based on the evidence of things unseen. The future Israeli remnant chosen by God, sealed and preserved by Him during the tribulation, will look on Him whom they have pierced (Zech. 12:10). They will receive their Messiah when they see Him. Thomas and the disciples are a type or figure of this, after the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:25). This isn’t true bible faith or Christian faith. It is the lowest order of faith. Biblical faith is the evidence of things not seen. The Jews must see in order to know and are always requesting a sign (I Cor. 1:22). The law – their religion – is not of faith (Gal. 3:12). Judaism only produces a walk by sight, by the senses, and according to the flesh.
The mystery of faith is that it believes things that cannot be seen with the eye or perceived by the physical senses. The kingdom of heaven in mystery is partly so because the wheat and tares are gathered through the gospel and by a common profession of faith in Jesus Christ. God is unseen as the King in the kingdom of God in general, or as King over the kingdom of heaven in mystery. Jesus, the Son of Man, who planted the wheat, is also away and unseen at this time.
The Mystery of the Crop
The kingdom of heaven exists at this time as the spoiled crop in the field of the world (Matt. 13:24-26). One of the mysteries of the crop is the fact that it is indeed spoiled. The world does not see that it is. The mystery of the crop is that two separate works from two separate sources are mixed together – wheat and tares. The world doesn’t see this nor think that it matters. The world doesn’t see the evil, how it grows and ripens. This is part of the mystery of the kingdom. For that matter most Christians do not see the presence of evil.
The kingdom will experience a significant change and upheaval at the end of the age by the judgment of the tares and the removal of the wheat into the heavens (Matt. 13:30). The church is the body of Christ. It is the wheat in the spoiled crop. When the wheat is removed from the field and into the heavens, it will exist there throughout the millennium (Eph. 2:7, 3:10-11). The body of Christ never comes to an end, but will exist eternally as the habitation and tabernacle of God and the Lamb. During the millennium she is in the heavens. In the eternal state, the tabernacle of God will come down from heaven, dwelling with men (Rev. 21:1-3).
The transition of the kingdom of heaven from its current time in mystery is easily seen in Scripture. During the millennium there will be the kingdom of the Father in the heavens (Matt. 13:43) and the kingdom of the Son of Man and Messiah on earth.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.”
“So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
“But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. (29) And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, (30) that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Jesus has received a kingdom from His Father. He speaks of an earthly kingdom and reign. He is no longer sitting and waiting in heaven at the right hand of God. More specifically He speaks of the Messianic kingdom over the twelve tribes of Israel restored in the land. But we see Him and know Him in the broader title of the Son of Man, who will reign, not only over Israel, but over all the Gentile nations on the earth.
“When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (11) And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (12) But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
When the kingdom of heaven is manifest during the millennium, we see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the forefathers of Israel, sitting down in the Messianic part of the kingdom on earth. Many coming from east and west to sit down in the kingdom of heaven imply they are on the earth, not in the heavens. This is the reign of the Son of Man over the earth as well as the Messiah over Israel. When Jesus speaks of the sons of the kingdom being cast out, He is speaking of the Jews (Luke 13:28-29). The whole passage is about Israel. It is about their lack of faith and their loss of the kingdom that was rightfully theirs by promise and prophecy.
The Kingdom Work – the Sovereign Work of God
We understand that the kingdom of heaven at this time is like a crop of wheat and tares mixed together in a field, and only the wheat is the workmanship of God. The wheat are the true sons of the kingdom, while the tares are the sons of the wicked one (Matt. 13:38). This means the tares are not actually in the kingdom of heaven, but simply appear to be in an outward way, fooling the world and sometimes even themselves. There is a common profession of faith, but the tares are not wheat. This is easily understood in other passages like this:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
I believe this references the judgment of the tares at the end of the age (Matt. 13:40-42). The tares have great assumptions about God and His kingdom. But the works of man and the flesh do not count as God’s work. God knows those who are His.
Israel assumes it will possess the kingdom by physical natural descent. This also is part of the evil leaven corrupting man. Thoughts of pedigree and natural lineage have always been a confidence of the flesh and a means by which man exalts himself (Phil. 3:4-5).
“…and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
“They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”
(34) Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (35) And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.(36) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
(37) “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. (38) I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”
(39) They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. (40) But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. (41) You do the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”
(42) Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. (43) Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. (44) You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (45) But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. (46) Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? (47) He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
What man does by physical birth and natural descent means nothing to God. It is truly a confidence or work of the flesh. Jesus says that He knows they are Abraham’s descendants, but that they are not Abraham’s children. In the last verse He explains that they are not God’s people, even though they have natural descent. In reality their father is not Abraham and not God, but is the devil. Their continual accusations and blindness forced Jesus into being direct and blunt.
Natural descent and physical birth is not the sovereign workmanship of God. It is the work of man and the confidences of the flesh. The sovereign work of God would be God raising up His children from the stones, as in the first quoted verse (Matt. 3:9). After human responsibility was tested and man was found to be a failure, the only thing beyond this point is the sovereign work of God. God would raise up His own children. They would be born of God. That work looks like this:
“…those who are the called according to His purpose. (29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
(31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (32) He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?”
The believer and the true church are the elect of God, His workmanship, and those called according to His purpose. They are the wheat in the spoiled crop in the field in the present kingdom of heaven.
Chapter 21: Endnotes
 The title of Messiah is Jewish and according to Jewish promises and prophecies. It is distinct from the title of the Son of Man. Messiah always relates in promise to the son of David sitting on the throne of David as the King of Israel. It relates to Israel as the center of the government of God over the earth and from Jerusalem, the city of David the king. Jehovah has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation; it is His resting place forever (Psalm 132). Accordingly, Matthew’s gospel is the gospel of Messiah. One of the proofs of this characterization is the genealogy of Jesus presented by Matthew. It traces Jesus back to being the son of David and the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1-17). These are the two great patriarchs of the Jews and the two who God made promises to that are distinctly Jewish promises.
The other genealogy of Jesus is found in Luke’s gospel. There it is traced back to Adam. Luke’s gospel is more characteristic of Jesus as the Son of Man.
 The completion of God’s testing of man’s responsibility in Adam proved man to be utterly depraved and lost. Man in the first Adam, in that state and position, could not have a relationship with God. Therefore a man must be born again or quickened (John 3:3). He will then come to knowledge of his position as a sinner before God, and will be drawn to faith in Christ. By faith in Christ the man is no longer in Adam, in the flesh, but now in a new state and position. He is in the second Adam and in Christ, and in the Spirit (Rom. 8:8-9, Gal. 3:26-27). This is an entirely new nature, and is one which can have a relationship with God (Eph. 4:23-24, Col. 3:10-11).
But being born of God by faith in Christ has no basis or root in human responsibility or human obedience. It doesn’t even have any connection with human choice. It is God’s choice of you. The believer is born of God (John 1:13). The believer as a new creation is the sovereign work of God, with the Spirit working as God’s direct agent (Eph. 2:10, John 3:8). We are God’s workmanship; we are God’s new creation (I Cor. 5:17); we are created by God new, in Christ Jesus; “Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ…” (I Cor. 5:18) We are not born of human responsibility, but all things are of God! We are not born by ‘doing’ anything, even our faith. That is given to us by God to complete His work of justification (Eph. 2:8). Actually, the seal of the Holy Spirit, which comes after faith, is the final step in God’s work of justification (Eph. 1:13, Gal 4:6).
God has finished and completed His testing of human responsibility. God has proven man in Adam a sinner, utterly depraved and completely lost. This testing has already been done by God and is completed. It will not be repeated by Him and there is no reason to repeat it again. This Biblical understanding should end all Judaizing, all Arminian, and all Pelagiustic thoughts, doctrine, or influences. God proved the utter depravity of man. The entire Old Testament and most of the gospels is God doing exactly this. Yet we fail to see this testing and its Biblical importance. God doesn’t just say man is utterly depraved. Certainly His word on the matter should be enough. But God goes much farther than this. He spends thousands of years testing man and proving his utter depravity. The giving of the law is the testing of man. Judaism, God’s earthly religion, was the testing of man in the flesh. Man’s final test was God sending Messiah to the Jews. When Jesus was rejected as King of Israel, the testing was completed and the unequivocal verdict was in. God Himself has proven man to be utterly depraved. Man is completely lost. Man is without hope. Man is without strength, without power, and without resources. Man cannot save himself. Man’s ‘will’ is not free. Sin is its master. God has patiently proven this all to be true.
This is what I believe most theologians are missing in their systems. They do not acknowledge the principle of human responsibility and do not understand that God has thoroughly tested man. They look at Israel and wonder what if…and what could have been…and why was the outcome so disastrous? It results in pointing fingers at the Jews, often in a prejudicial way. What they fail to understand is that the results would have been exactly the same whether God chose Egyptians, Babylonians, or Canaanites to be His privileged people and His favored nation. The results of the testing would have been exactly the same and would have proven the exact same result – the utter depravity of all mankind in the first Adam.
The testing of Israel did more than just prove that the Jews were utterly depraved. God proved that all mankind is utterly depraved. There would not have been a different result if the test subjects would have been different. Israel was man in Adam, man in the flesh, and sinners just like the rest of the world. They were the people that God sovereignly chose and privileged above all other nations in order to serve as the test case for mankind. God proved the utter depravity of all mankind, not just the Jews (Rom. 3:19, Eph. 2:2-3). It is the Arminian leaven that blinds people to this Biblical truth. It is this evil Judaizing leaven that has you believing that the results could have been different. It is the Pelagiustic leaven that has you questioning why Israel was so thick-headed and spiritually blind.
When we take up Judaized, Arminian, or Pelagiustic doctrines and influences, we are denying all that God has meticulously proven through thousands of years of testing. These three are basically one and the same – man exalting himself by what he does. This is the insidiously evil and corrupting leaven that infests the whole of Christendom today (Matt. 13:33). You do not need to look at anything else. This is the evil. It was corrupting man in his thoughts when he was in innocence in the garden. What was it that the devil said? “…you will be like God…” Man exalts himself, and the root of this leaven has always been the lies of the devil.
If this evil leaven will not allow you to see the principle of human responsibility being tested by God, and the proving of the total depravity of man by this testing, the same leaven will blind you to the ruin and failure of the professing church on the earth. The leaven will water-down the interpretation of the seven messages of the Spirit to Christendom, in order to protect the works and doings of man. The same leaven will blind you to the failure of the dispensation, a pattern that was repeated in every dispensation previous to it. These thoughts are one and the same in principle. It is only the object being looked at that has changed. I speak here as a warning to all true believers, but specifically to Christian ministers and theologians – these are the ones who carry the greater responsibility as teachers (James 3:1).
 To say ‘mediation’ is necessary when there is to be an agreement or covenant between two distinct parties falls short of the full meaning of this term. Covenants and agreements by definition require two parties. If I said in earlier books that the Abrahamic covenant spoken of in the epistle of Galatians did not really have two parties, I believe now, after much consideration of the topic, I was misspeaking and off the true mark. The difficulty is with the meaning of this verse, “Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.” (Gal. 3:20) This is said by Paul in the midst of his comparison of the covenant of promise involving Abraham and the covenant of law made at Mt. Sinai involving Israel. What we know of truth is that Abraham’s covenant had no mediator, while the covenant of law given at Mt. Sinai did. The question then becomes why? I previously taught that the reason the covenant of promise had no mediator was because there weren’t really two parties. The more I think of this explanation the more it doesn’t explain the difference. There were two parties in the covenant of promise – God and Abraham. I have to acknowledge the obvious truth that this covenant was made by God with Abraham, and that every covenant has two distinct parties. When the quoted verse says, “…but God is one,” it doesn’t mean that Abraham’s covenant had one party instead of two. It means something different from this.
“Now a mediator does not mediate for one only…” simply means that mediation is always between two parties. When there is need for a mediator he represents and goes between both in the agreement. The mediator will never represent just one. The questions become: When is there need for a mediator? Why do the two covenants made with Israel have need of mediators – the first, Moses, the second, Jesus Christ? (Heb. 8:6, 9:15) Why didn’t the Abrahamic covenant need a mediator?
I believe the answer to these questions is that there is need for a mediator only when responsibility is found on both sides of the agreement – where there are responsibilities with both parties. We realize that in every covenant God is a responsible party – He is responsible to do a certain work and to bring about a certain outcome or result. Regardless of which type of covenant it is, God always has responsibility. Now having said all the above, we may understand that in a general way there are only two types of covenants: ones with a mediator and ones without a mediator. We should notice where there is a mediator, there is human responsibility involved with the other party.
Many of the covenants simply depend on the faithfulness of God to do what He has promised to do, without man being responsible for doing anything. This is sovereign grace. These are unconditional covenants. This type of covenant has no need for a mediator. There is only one party with responsibility. When there is no mediator for a covenant, it is because God is the only responsible party. I believe this is what is meant by Paul saying, “…but God is one.” In sighting two examples of this, it is the case in the covenant of promise with Abraham and the covenant concerning the throne of David. God will be faithful in these to fulfill what He has promised. It will be according to His own timing, and these things generally point to the dispensation of the fullness of times (Eph. 1:10).
The Scriptures speak of Israel’s first covenant, given at Mt. Sinai, as having a mediator (Gal. 3:19). The first covenant has ended and prophecy speaks of a new covenant that God will eventually make with Israel. They will need a mediator with the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:6-13, 9:15). Israel has responsibilities in the two covenants – the one past (the first) and the one yet future (the new). Under the first covenant Israel promised to be responsible for obeying all the commandments written in the tablets of stone (Ex. 19:8). It was proven that they could not accomplish it. The covenant became a ministration of death and condemnation (II Cor. 3:7, 9). Their failures only brought a curse from God to all those under Judaism (Gal. 3:10).
The Israelites broke the covenant at the foot of Mt. Sinai at its very beginning, but the mediation of Moses allowed for the survival of the nation. Under pure law Jehovah had the right to destroy the entire nation (Ex. 32:7-10). Moses appealed to the promises God made with the forefathers, and to what Jehovah’s glory and reputation would be in the earth if He delivered a people out of Egypt only to destroy them in the wilderness (Ex. 32:11-13, Ez. 20:13-17). Jehovah relents and does not destroy the entire nation. He does not act according to the covenant by doing this. He falls back into His sovereignty and shows mercy to whomever He chooses (Ex. 33:19, Rom. 9:14-16). From this point, Israel is under a mixture of law and mercy (Ex. 34:5-9). The blessings they received in their history were not based on the nation successfully doing the law, but rather God acting in sovereign grace and mercy, apart from the covenant of law. The various judgments the nation encountered, beginning with three thousand destroyed because of the golden calf, were always based on breaking the law. This is how Israel survived, with occasional periods of blessings, because the nation and man in Adam could not exist under pure law.
This mixture of God’s goodness and mercy with the law for Israel had its basis in the sovereign God and served to declare and display His glory (Ex. 33:16-34:7, 34:27-30, Rom. 9:15-18). “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy…therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.” It is the choice of God in Himself, and in His sovereignty that is spoken of. This gives us an understanding of Romans 3:25 – “…whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” God passing over sins previously committed was during the time of Israel under the law. If there were to be Old Testament saints saved, and surely there were, it would not be by the law. It was by the choice of the sovereign God to show them mercy and to overlook their sins. God’s previous action is now justified by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. God is justified in His previous actions. This entire scenario, culminating in the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ, declares God’s righteousness in how He dealt with the previous sins. It shows how God remains just in light of His previous actions for Old Testament saints. And now after the cross and an accomplished redemption, He remained just during His justification of New Testament saints when they were still sinners (Rom. 3:26, 5:6-11). God’s righteousness is declared and demonstrated by the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is not declared by the sinless life of Christ in the flesh, but rather only by the death and blood of Christ. God’s righteousness had to be exonerated by how He dealt with sins. God had to put Jesus to death because the wages of sin is death. Jesus had to die, His shed blood the proof of it, in order for God to remain just and righteous in His dealings with Old and New Testament saints alike. God’s righteousness had to be maintained. The cross and Christ’s death not only maintains God’s righteousness, but glorifies it and glorifies God through it. Why did God raise Jesus from the dead? Because Jesus so glorified God. He established and exalted God’s own righteousness by His death. So we see how God was able to choose and call Old Testament saints, even though they remained associated with Israel’s first covenant.
After the removal of the church from the earth God will turn His attention back to Israel, His earthly calling. Everything God does for the Israeli remnant through the future tribulation to preserve them, defeat their enemies, and bring them into the land, is by sovereign power and grace. It isn’t until they are ‘saved’ in this fashion that a new covenant will be made with them. This is similar to God’s working on behalf of Israel before the first covenant at Mt. Sinai. He delivered the nation out of Egypt by sovereign power and grace, and brought them on eagles’ wings to Himself (Ex. 19:3-4). This original deliverance of Israel was for the purpose of exalting His name in all the earth and bringing glory to Him (Rom. 9:17-23). Israel’s future deliverance will be for the same purpose – to fill the earth with the glory of the name of their God, Jehovah (Ez. 36:22-28).
First God will deliver a Jewish remnant by sovereign grace and the right hand of His power. This will demonstrate to Israel and to the world His glory. Then He will make a new covenant with Israel with Jesus Christ is its Mediator. In establishing this covenant He writes His law in their minds and on their hearts (Jer. 31:33). It isn’t a different law, but it is written by God in a different place. When Satan is bound for a thousand years and his instruments of evil are destroyed, Israel will live in peace in the land. It is then that they will diligently obey and observe carefully all His commandments (Jer. 32:37-42, Ez. 37:24-25). This will be their responsibility under the new covenant. In doing it they will be blessed by Jehovah according to Deuteronomy 28:1-14. The blessing of Israel and the setting them high above all nations on the earth is God’s responsibility (Jer. 32:36-44). And Jesus, as a far superior Mediator than Moses, and by blood far superior than bulls and goats, will be the channel of all God’s millennial blessings for Israel and the earth (Heb. 8:6, 9:14-15, Eph. 1:10).
The two covenants that have a mediator are the only two covenants that involve human responsibility. It is the reason for the presence of a mediator. The first covenant has passed away with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Roman army in 70 AD. By the new covenant, which is established by better blood and a more excellent Mediator, Israel will prosper and multiply in their land of inheritance (Jer. 32:43-44, 33:9, Ez. 34:25-31, 36:29-38). Jehovah will exalt them above all nations on the earth. It remains that during the millennium and under their ‘new covenant’ Israel will continually be offering sacrifices, burnt offerings, sin offerings, grain offerings and such in the millennial temple according to God’s law (Jer. 33:18, Ez. 43, 44, 45, 46). For this they will need their Prince in the temple and their more excellent Mediator of their better covenant.
 The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrews. They were professing Christians who came out of Israel, but were living in the midst of the Jews in and around Judea. By their profession of Jesus Christ they had forsaken Judaism and were under great persecution and hardship in their circumstances. It wasn’t easy for them. The persecution and suffering was so great that some of them were considering returning to Judaism and the temple worship and ceremonies. This sets the context for the writing of the epistle and helps explain many of the details of the letter, especially passages like Hebrews 6:1-12 and 10:29-39.
As I said previously, the main point of exposition in the letter is the fact of the change in priesthood (Heb. 8:1). It becomes the central point to Paul’s arguments and proofs. Therefore we should realize that the Spirit brings the topic of the ‘covenants’ into the discussionbecause of the change in priesthood. This change necessitates the need for a change in the covenants – a new covenant. This should be the impression you get when these verses are put together (Heb. 8:1, 8:6-8, 9:11-15). Paul shows them that ‘the days are coming’when God will make a new covenant with Israel, predicated on the fact that the first covenant is actually passing into extinction. So why join back to something that is ready to disappear? Jesus became an infinitely better and higher High Priest, who has obtained a more excellent ministry. Therefore the feeble and earthly priesthood of Aaron is useless. Therefore the first covenant that is wrapped around and dependent on that earthly priesthood must fade away, and do so now. This is the context in which the new covenant with national Israel is brought in. It shows these Hebrews that the first covenant has now ended.
Let me see if I can make this point in another way. The nation of Israel is the people waiting outside the courtyard of the tabernacle on the day of atonement. This is where Israel waited. In actuality, it is where they are still waiting today. But what are they waiting for? They are waiting for the High Priest to appear to them, from out of the door of the tent. If and when the High Priest appears, Israel will know that the sacrifice has been accepted by Jehovah, the blood is in the Presence, and the High Priest is then free to bless them. The days are coming when Jesus will appear again to Israel, as it were, from the door of the tabernacle. They will see Him with their eyes and look on Him whom they pierced. Israel will then know that Jehovah has accepted the sacrifice – the very sacrifice the nation was responsible for offering up. That is when their Mediator will bless them with this ‘new covenant’. Until then Israel waits, standing outside the gate of the courtyard.
Where in this scenario are the Hebrews that Paul is speaking to? They are not waiting outside the courtyard with Israel! Hopefully these do not turn back and do not fall away, but we can be confident of better things concerning them, things accompanying true faith and salvation (Heb. 6:4-9). It has been shown by Paul that these have a High Priest who is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Heb. 7:25-26). “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who…has become higher than the heavens.” For them He is the great High Priest who has passed through the heavens (Heb. 4:14). Sitting down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, Jesus has become a Minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle in the heavens (Heb. 8:1-5). Therefore, these Hebrews, if they have true faith in Jesus Christ, have become both brethren and partakers of the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1). They would be among the many sons and brethren that Jesus, the author of their salvation, is bringing to glory (Heb. 2:9-11). They, with Paul, would be part of an elect remnant that has come out of Israel and entered the church, which we know is a heavenly body with a heavenly citizenship (Rom. 11:1, 5, Col. 3:20). If true in faith, these Hebrews have a great hope that is set before them by God, sure and steadfast. The forerunner for them had entered into the Presence behind the veil (Heb. 6:18-20). If He is a forerunner for them, then they will most assuredly enter into the heavens as well, and go behind the veil into the Presence. How different is all this, instead of waiting outside the gate in the courtyard on the earth?
The new covenant to be made with Israel, where it is said, “Behold, the days are coming…” is made with those standing and waiting outside the gate of the courtyard (on the earth – Jer. 31:31-34). Those that are inside the tabernacle are those who are in the heavens. They are not waiting for anything. Those inside are the ones who know the sacrifice has already been accepted and that the veil is gone. These are the ones who are ‘in Christ’ and are believers and Christians. They are in the High Priest who is presently seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. All believers are inside the tabernacle, inside the veil and in the Presence of God. They are not the ones waiting outside the courtyard on the earth for the blessing of a new covenant.
Many of the things spoken to these Hebrews are equally true for all believers. Together with them, we are all Christians and brethren, one and the same, especially of the same body. The differences however all stem from where we came from. This as seen as out of two distinct groups: we came out of the Gentiles, while they came out of Israel. The Gentiles are described as far off, while the Jews were near to God by privilege (Eph. 2:11-17) Gentiles didn’t have to give up a failed ancient religion. We didn’t have to go outside a camp that we were in. We didn’t have to let go of worship in a beautiful temple. We didn’t have to give up a covenant that was in existence for 1500 years.
The book of Hebrews is written by the Holy Spirit in such a way as to deal with the stumbling confession of this group (Heb. 10:23). The end result of the teaching and exhortations of the epistle is the hope that these Hebrews will unreservedly come outside the camp of Israel and Judaism. Jesus suffered outside the camp. They need to go there bearing His reproach (Heb. 13:10-14). From the beginning the Spirit does this by asking them to consider Jesus. He is the Apostle and High Priest of their confession (Heb. 3:1). There are many precious truths in the epistle that are applicable to any believer. Yet we should never put aside the context – of who it was written to and their circumstances – in which the entire letter is engaged in, and which is important for the proper understanding of its teachings.
 God called out a man – Abraham – to belong to Himself. This calling was outside the world (Gen. 12:1). Also God made Abraham the depository of His promises – the olive tree. Abraham became the source of a new race. Adam was the head of a fallen race of sinners. Abraham is the head of a new race, for even we ourselves, as believers, as being in Christ – Abraham’s one Seed – are the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:6-7, 3:16, 3:26-29).