Thursday, December 25, 2008

Are More Jews Going Back to Israel?

Dr. Couch, I understand that more Jews are flooding back to Israel from the U.S. Is this true?

  ANSWER:  The latest issue of the Jerusalem Post reports that many Jews who have lost their jobs here in the U.S. are indeed immigrating to the Holy Land. They are saying, "Why not?" They have nothing to lose and feel that they can start their lives over again there. God is using all kinds of methods to increase the numbers returning home to the land of their forefathers.

   It has been predicted in Jeremiah 30 that the "birth pangs," the tribulation and the wrath, takes place after the Jews from both houses, from both kingdoms, return to the land. This has happened in our life-time. The nation of Israel was restored in 1948. We are moving rapidly to the prophesied days of tribulation. The Word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah says:

For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah. The Lord says, I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it. (vv. 2-3)

Jeremiah then adds:

I have heard a sound of terror, of dread, and there is no peace. Ask now and see, if a male can give birth. Why do I see everyman with his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob's (Israel's) distress (zarak, tribulation). (vv. 5-7)

  This is the birth pangs, the seven year tribulation that is prophesied against Israel and against the world. God adds, "I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you (Israel, not the church), only I will not destroy you (Israel) completely but I will chasten you justly" (v. 11). And, "Jacob (Israel, not the church) shall return [to the land] and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him (Israel) afraid" (v. 10b).

   Wow! Is this not so simple? How could anyone destroy the clear intent of the Bible? God is not through with the Jews!

   Has this happened some time in the past? Of course not! Christ quotes this passage about four times, especially the words about the birth pangs, and, so does the apostle Paul. Christ says about the terrible things coming on the earth He just mentioned: "But all these things are merely the beginning of the birth pangs" (Matt. 24:8), and Paul says: "When they are saying, 'peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child and they shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5:3).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who Were The Magi?

Dr. Couch, who were the magi? Were they "three kings of Orient"? Were they three races, as sometimes pictured?

  ANSWER:  We have really fouled up the magi story! First of all, we do not know that they were "three" in number; that idea comes from the fact that they brought three precious items to the baby Jesus—gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:11). (This is a fascinating story in itself!) If anything in regard to their race, they would have been Babylonian for that is where we get the idea for the magi.

   The Greek word magos in the text is plural—magoi. The word means "the great ones." The term is related to the words "majestic, magnanimous." It is referring to the astronomers, astrologers of Babylon. They probably came from Shushan, the royal city of Babylon, or, possibly from Ur.

   How did they know they were seeking the King of Israel, and what was the star they saw, while they were residing in the east? More than likely they had read the cryptic prophecy in Numbers 24:17 which says: "I see him, but not right now, I behold him, but he is not near. A star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush the head of Moab." (The people of Moab were the most violent enemies of Israel at that time.)

   From their vantage point, looking west, they saw the star standing over Israel. This was a miracle star that God put in the heavens to announce the arrival of His Messiah, the anointed Ruler of the world!

   How did the magi find this passage? We must remember that they were astronomer/astrologers who belonged to that school in Babylon. We must also remember that Daniel (over 400 years before) was made the dean of that university when he was ruling in Babylon. We read, "King Nebuchadnezzar … promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and … over all the wise men of Babylon" (Dan. 2:48). More than likely then, Daniel placed in their library the Torah scrolls of Moses. Since these men saw the star over the vicinity of Israel, they went into the library and found the Jewish scrolls and began to read through them. When they found the passage, and put together the vision of the star, they calculated that the Messiah (the King) was born. I believe they continued to read and discovered that the One being born was the Son of God. They truly believed in Him and came to worship Him with a genuine faith and trust, not simply doing a political homage to the birth of a politician.

   On Numbers 24:17 Unger writes: "The 'Scepter' envisions the Lord coming to rule the earth as absolute King and Lord (Rev. 19:16). The 'Scepter' is owned first in Zion and extends to the ends of the earth when Shiloh comes (Gen. 49:10)."

   Jesus did not come to reign in our hearts! He will someday be the King ruling over Israel and over the entire world in a literal, historic way, not in some allegorical, "spiritualized" way, as the covenant guys see it. King Herod got it right. He knew that the Messiah could replace him as ruler. Even a pagan king understood literal language over what some allegorical theologians wrongly teach today!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Post-Tribulationalism and the Rapture Doctrine

Dr. Couch, it seems as if the post-tribers are against the rapture doctrine because they say that Psalm 110:1 teaches that Christ remains in heaven until His enemies are subdued and then He comes back to earth again. What do you say?

ANSWER: They practice what I call "wooden-headed" interpretation. The Psalm 110 passage has to do completely with the issue of His coming to earth to reign. They cannot prove by the passage that He never leaves heaven to gather upwards His church saints in order to get them out of the way for the tribulation. They have a problem, I don't! All of the rapture passages are clear. (Look in the archives in this website. I have an exegesis on almost all of the rapture passages!)

   God gathers His own up to Himself. And again, don't mix dispensations. Psalm 110 has to do with His coming millennial kingdom reign. The rapture issue has to do with the church.

   The post-tribers have to answer what it means when Paul says "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17). I can read! And I know the difference between up and down. He does not come down to reign. We go up to meet Him in the air. We take the Bible verses where we find them. We OBSERVE, OBSERVE, OBSERVE!

   The reason we go up is obvious from 5:9. Paul writes, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The church does not go through the wrath. And the wrath is the entire seven year period, not just the last half. We know this from Jeremiah 30:6-7. The "Birth Pangs" (v. 6) refer to "that day." And "that day" is "great" in a singular sense (v. 7). The church does not go through part, any part of, the tribulation. We are rescued from all of it! This is further explained in 1 Thessalonians 1:10: "Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come," all of it!

   Only premillennialists practice good hermeneutics and sound observation. The other guys get very sloppy! And remember, when you work so hard to deny the obvious, you have a hidden agenda. What is their agenda? Usually, it is that they just don't like the doctrine of the rapture, and, they just don't like dispensationalism, though they really can't tell you why.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is The Rapture in Matthew 24: 40-42?

Dr. Couch, is the rapture in Matthew 24:40-42? Many of the well-known dispensationalists think so.

Heavens no, it is not! I know all the men you mentioned, and I knew the two that have passed on. Remember, they have (and had) a right to be wrong! (By the way, we're talking about the "one taken, one left" verses.)

   The clear proof that this is not the rapture is that it is repeated in Luke 17:36-37. There, the disciples asked the Lord, "But where [are they taken] Lord?" He then gives a chilling answer: "Where the body is, there also will the vulture be gathered" (v. 37). In other words, these taken will be the unfaithful servants who will be taken out, when the King comes, and executed. This is what Christ says in the Matthew context. He says in the context of that statement: The unfaithful servant will be taken "and shall [be] cut in pieces and assigned to a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth" (v. 51). THAT IS NOT THE BLESSED RAPTURE!

   Besides, after Christ had said in Matthew 40-41 "One taken and one left," He then added in verse 42, "Therefore be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." The "you be on alert" is not the church but the Jews who are living when He returns as king. He is coming back here in this context as "The Son of Man" (v. 44) which is a messianic title about His kingship. It is found in Daniel 7. This "one taken, one left" statement is about His return as king, it is not about His headship over the church, nor about His coming for His church. Keep the lines straight. Use good OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION!

   The one left is the faithful servant who was anticipating the coming of the king; the one taken is the one taken before Him and judged because he did not believe that his Lord was going to come back. That is the case today of many Jews. They are not expecting the coming of their own Messiah! Christ is not discussing the church; He is discussing the kingdom and His return as king, not His return to gather away the church saints!

   (Boy, that is so easy! What is wrong out there in the church hinter-land?)

   Sloppy interpretation always amazes me!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, December 15, 2008

Women Leadership in the Church

Dr. Couch, what about the woman thing in 1 Timothy 2:12-14?

ANSWER:  What about it? The Bible is clear. Women are not to be elders in churches, not to have authority or teach over men. For 2000 years the church has thoroughly understood that until the authority of Scripture was undermined and evil men starting allowing women to be "pastors."

   Yes, the fault is not with the misled women but with the stupid men who allowed this to happen to the church. Men will be judged for giving up on their authority and responsibilities in the church. No writer of, say, the past thirty years and back, would argue any other position in the subject. The old Greek scholar Patrick Fairbairn on 1 Timothy 2:12-14 writes:

Thus did God in the method of creation give clear testimony to the headship of man—to his right, and also his obligation, to hold directly what God says, and stand under the command of God, and to Him only; while woman, being form for his helpmate and partner, stands under command to her husband, and is called to act for God in him. And simply by inverting this relative position and calling—the helpmate assuming the place of the head or guide, and the head then yielding to her control—was the happy constitution of paradise overthrown, and everything involved in disorder and evil.

In the general management of affairs man should concede to her the ascendancy, this would be wrong! She lacks and is without, by the very constitution of nature, the qualities necessary for such a task—in particular, the equability of temper, the practical shrewdness and discernment, the firm, independent, regulative judgment, which are required to carry the leaders of important spiritual things above first impressions and outside appearances and fierce conflicts to cleave unswervingly to the right. Her very nature, with the finer sensibilities and stronger impulses of her emotional and living nature—tend in a measure to disqualify her here of being a leader in the church. … It was Adam who was mainly charged with this responsibility, and who should have been, in everything relating to it, the prime agent.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Does Water Baptism Wash Away Our Sins?

Dr. Couch, Acts 22:16 seems to say that water baptism “washes” away our sins. How do you answer?

ANSWER: To understand 22:16 you have to start with 3:19. 3:19 reads, speaking to the nation of Israel: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away (blotted out, ‘exaleipho’), …” Repent and return are both Second person Plurals, Aorist Imperatives. Or, “All of you repent and all of you return [back to God] [with the result that] your sins will be blotted out (wiped away).” “Wiped away” is an Aorist Passive Infinitive. Or, “Your sins will be acted upon, blotted away, by God”—“They are to be acted upon by the Lord. He will cause them to be gone!” This is based on their repentance and their returning to God! Of course the message they are to believe in is the fact that “Christ should suffer” [for you], and this “He has thus fulfilled” (v. 18).

This idea then is picked up and applied to Paul here in 22:16. Ananias tells Paul that “it was appointed for him to know God’s will, and to hear an utterance from His mouth. Because he was to be a witness for Him to all men of what he has seen and heard” (v. 15).

22:16 reads from the Greek: “Having gotten up, you are to be baptized yourself, and yourself have your sins washed away, and called yourself upon His name.” All of these verbs show parallel action going on at once. The Middle Voice is used continually, “yourself.” They are all Aorist Tenses. It is all happening at once. 3:19 certainly clarifies what is happening in 22:16. Baptism alone could not be saving Paul or any Israelite, and no other passage would give that idea.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where Did Baptism Come From?

Dr. Couch, where did baptism come from?

ANSWER: The idea of “the washing” comes from the washings from the OT. The water did not actually spiritually cleanse one, but it was a picture of such a cleansing. There are two words used in the OT context. The Greek word used in the LXX was baptizomai and the related word bapto. The baptismal work of the Holy Spirit is prophesied in Ezekiel 36:25. This is tied in to the coming of the New Covenant that was made for Israel, based on the death and the sacrifice of Christ. The New Covenant would replace the Law Covenant. See Jeremiah 31-on.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 is tied together: “I will sprinkle (“slosh” zarach) clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (v. 25). Physical water does not make one spiritually clean. The verses go on and say, “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes …” (v. 27). “And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers …” (v. 28). The great Jewish/Christian scholar Dr. Charles Feinberg (who was one of my profs in grad school) writes: Ezekiel 36:25 “is a parallel to Jeremiah 31:31-34. … This is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Israel in the future. … The gift of the Spirit is frequently connected with the coming of the new economy (dispensation) for Israel (see 39:29; Isa. 44:3; 59:21; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16 f.).”

This is the spiritual baptism carried out by the Holy Spirit as mentioned by Christ. It launches the New Covenant that was first for Israel but would be applied to the church. The church does not fulfill the New Covenant but presently benefits from it. Israel under the dispensation of the kingdom will in the future fulfill the New Covenant when the Jewish people come to Christ in the land. We are not now in the kingdom! The New Covenant was ratified by Christ’s death and launched at Pentecost, and will be fulfilled when Israel is back in the land and trusting in their Messiah!

Keep the dispensational lines straight and the Bible will all come together. Mix up the dispensations and you have chaos, and, you’ll get rid of Israel and certainly not understand how the Word of God goes together! Only dispensationalists have it right. The covenant guys have it all wrong and they allegorize and spiritualize the great prophecies of Scripture. They are into replacement theology and get rid of Israel just like the Catholic Church does.

Thus, the idea of a washing comes from the OT. But that washing is symbolic of the washing of the Holy Spirit, a baptism! This is what truly saves one, based on faith in Christ. Water baptism does not save! It is but the sign of the spiritual work and the spiritual reality carried out by the spiritual washing, and the union that follows with Christ, all done by the work of the Spirit.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Newsweek Magazine Against the Bible?

Dr. Couch, I understand Newsweek Magazine has a scathing editorial against the Bible and the issue of homosexuality. What's going on?

ANSWER: What is happening is clearly the advancement of the prophesied apostasy of the culture, or technically, the further degradation of the culture down the moral slippery slop in the end time. The church is indeed specifically going apostate as the world falls into the pit. In other words, (1) the world is getting worse morally and in its rejection of revelation, and (2) the church is apostatizing morally and spiritually. 

   We are not going to stop this, and, I do not expect a revival or a turning back to God. The world (specifically the West) now has no biblical orientation as it once did to know to a degree a certain spiritual conviction. But of course, that spiritual conviction is not natural. It is given by the sovereignty of God and He now is turning away from the culture. He is preparing the world for the wrath.

   By the way, the Newsweek editorial shows how the Bible can be misconstrued when the reader (the lost or even the Christian) does not understand dispensationalism, and how the Word of God must be so interpreted. You have to understand that the world was different under the OT economy, and how God worked with the world differently, under the period of the law over against how He deals with the world today under the age of Grace. If Christians don't get it, they go silent because they do not see the changes within the different ages of biblical history. And they cannot answer the criticisms of the culture against the Bible!

   I am more and more getting tired of the old apologetics because it no longer answers the new charges against the revelations found in Scripture. You cannot have a biblical apologetic without understanding the prophecies concerning Israel and the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. I have a bunch of friends who are just fascinated with the field of "Reformed" apologetics but it's as if they are working in the backroom and have not come out to the front room to present the Scriptures that proclaim that God is working against with the nation of Israel. Reformed apologetics needs to be put to bed and we need so new men, premillennialists and dispensationalists, who bring apologetics up to snuff! I know what I'm talking about. I went through the standard graduate apologetic courses in grad school! We need some thinking young dispensationalists to plow new ground!

   So we dispensationalists are right. The Covenant guys have few answers in being able to put the Scriptures together, in making clear how our day is different from the days of the OT.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Birth, Genealogy, and Beginnings

Dr. Couch, Kenneth Wuest makes an issue of the two uses of the idea "to birth" and "genealogy" as seen in Matthew 1:1 and 11:11. What is he referring to?

ANSWER:  Matthew 1:1 reads: "The book of the becoming of Jesus Christ." The word "becoming" is actually the word "genealogy"! The Greek word genealogy is the word gensis which comes from the verb ginomai, meaning to become, come into being. This is the only place the word is used, in reference to the coming of Christ!

   However, another word, gennesis, is used describing the birth of Christ in Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:14. This word is used only of Him and only in these two places. The Bible is trying to tell us something by the fact that there are several distinct words being used to describe the coming of Christ. I'm not sure exactly what the message is, except the fact that He is a very special One coming into the world!

   Of John the Baptist it is said in Matthew 11:11: he came "Among them that are born (genneetos) of women."

   Both words (gensis and genneetos) come from ginomai ("to come into being") but it's interesting to see how the biblical text focuses in the different way to describe the natural birth of John and the miraculous birth of Christ. There are no accidents in the inspiration of Scripture. Every word has its own purpose as given to us by the Holy Spirit. 

   Summary: Christ had "a becoming" being the Son of God who was pre-existent. John the Baptist, and other human beings, are born into this earth—thus, "birthed."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, December 8, 2008

Destruction of Tyre

Dr. Couch, the story of the destruction of Tyre seems to really explain the sovereignty of God that you hold so strongly to. Right?

ANSWER:  Absolutely! The story is in Ezekiel 26 where it is predicted that Babylon will come against Tyre as led by the Lord. The siege by Nebuchadnezzar would last for thirteen years (585-583 B.C.). God said to Tyre "I will cause many nations to come up against you" (v. 3). God then predicted that the city would move out to an island. "I will scrape her debris (the city's) from her and make her a bare rock. She will be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God, and she will become spoil for the nations" (vv. 4-5). "I will bring Nebuchadnezzar upon her" (v. 7). "I will put an end to the sound of your songs" (v. 13). In other words, God is in charge!

   The fate foretold of Tyre is very unique and was incredibly fulfilled and came to pass. As Ezekiel prophesied, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city on the land but the king had no reason to throw the rubble into the ocean. However, the people of Tyre escaped to an island and built, as prophesied, a new city there. "They will lay your stones in the midst of the sea" (v. 12).

   Three hundred years later Alexander the Great wanted to take the island city and did by constructing a causeway out to it and then cast all of its remains into the sea, as spoken in verse 12. The remains of Tyre are still in the ocean under the causeway that Alexander built! My two sayings: Who is in charge? And, Who do we think we are? What an amazing prediction that came to pass just as the Lord said through Ezekiel.

   God can do this to America, and He will! A complete destruction will come someday. What does this nation deserve? Why should He keep protecting us?

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pro-Women Football Team

Dr. Couch, did you receive the seminary publication I sent to you about the lady seminary graduates who now play on a tackle pro women's' football team?

ANSWER: Yes, I got it. I was not surprised because many of our seminaries are turning left with their products, the graduates, doing more and more stupid things. What I don't get is why the administration allowed this article, written by the pro lady football player, to be put in one of its publications.

If you read the article carefully you can see how crazy it is. The lay graduate football-ett says that she prayed for years, with her female friend, how they could have some kind of ministry together. She and her friend "never experience God's sovereignty in such a dramatic and clear way" when He led them to join the pro women's' football team! (Wow, does God work in mysterious ways!)

She added that when they joined the "women's' professional tackle football team, we were right where we belonged!" The seminary lady grad added, "we realized this is the kind of environment we prayed for all these years." She then admits that most of the girls on the team are not Christians, and some are lesbians. She went on to explain that she and her friend do not do direct witnessing: "We don't announce our Christianity but demonstrate it in how we act and the effort we put forth." I take the "effort" means how hard they play the game. She further says, "Every day [the team] 'reads' our lives and sees our faith lived out without us breathing a word of Scripture to them."

Now I'm really confused. If this is "a ministry" it would imply that they would give forth the gospel and they would explain and tell what the Scriptures say. Otherwise, it's not a ministry. Every believer is to live a life of faith but that does not make it a ministry!

The kicker (excuse the pun) is she and her friend wants the team "to see something different about us," so they go around and pick up the trash after the game! (They are also in the trash business! This really tells the team about Christ!)

Talking about a rationalization—playing a male sport and trying to call that a ministry. Talking about being part of the feminist agenda and buying into the culture! This lady seminary graduate and her friend are into the silent ministry, no, the silent living! She concludes the article by saying, "we are willing to involve ourselves in the [team's] lives and love them where they are and allow God to do the rest." Again, a silent ministry is no ministry at all. While God for a period may use our silence, that is not what a ministry is all about—silence! I can't stand the old "love them where they are" rationalization. That is a cop out that tries to hide the fact that they simply want to do what the guys do, play football and brag about it.

As counselor Dr. Lacy Couch says, many women do not like being women. And, they want to do what the guys do in order to try to prove something. This seminary lady grad missed something in the courses as to what a Christian woman is to be. (And reading her article carefully, you can spot that right off.)

This football lady needs to read what God says constitutes the most blessed qualities of being a woman:

"Let women adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, … but rather by means of good works (not football), as befits women making a claim to godliness" (1 Tim. 2:9-10). A woman's greatest ministry is to her husband and to her children. Paul further writes that the older women are to train the younger women "to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored" (Titus 2:4-5). Obviously, this girl received no training at home as to what she was to be!

I fault the seminary for putting this dumb article in one of its publications! It's another sign of caving in to the culture! Thanks for reminding me of this article.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Women and 1 Timothy 2:12

Dr. Couch, what does the word authority mean when it is speaking of women not using such and teaching over men in 1 Timothy 2:12?

ANSWER: I am hearing of more and more Evangelical churches throwing in the towel and capitulating to the feminist agenda on 1 Timothy 2:12-15. They are given such pastoral authority not be force of hand but because of the biblical caving in of pastors, seminaries, and elder/deacon boards. They are also wrongly put on pastoral search committees which is dead wrong as well. The sheep are not supposed to select their pastors! See Titus 1. Elders are to appoint elders/pastors. They are not to be voted in by popular vote. So, many of our Evangelical churches are doing it all wrong!

The Greek word is authenteo and is in the Present Infinitive form. “They are not to be in the process of exercising continually authority.” Nor are they to be teaching, giving doctrine (proclaiming dedake), also a Present Infinitive.

They are not to be authenticating control over men in the position of church leadership. That is what the elders, the male leaders, are supposed to be doing. Authenteo is used only here in the NT. Definition: “One who governs another, exercises dominance” (Thayer). Or, “Women should not rule over men” (Balz & Schneider). “To tell a man what to do” (Jerusalem Bible). “To assume authority, give orders” (BAG). “To take in hand, to have absolute sway” (Classical Greek).

The women are equally prohibited not to teach. The Greek forms are the same with both words: Present Infinitives. “They are not to be doing these things!”

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Book of Hebrews

Dr. Couch, I understand your views on the book of Hebrews are the same as the great scholar of the last century, Kenneth Wuest. Correct?

ANSWER: Yes. Wuest holds to the fact that the book is aimed at the unbelieving Jew who had the full testimony about the Messiah. However, he did not fully understand the deity of Christ, that is why the book hits the ground running dealing with that issue. And too, the author continues by showing that Christ was better than angels, Moses, the Law, etc.

The book was then turned over to the Christian community in order to use it as a witnessing tool in dealing with the Jewish community.

Many miss also the fact that the author of Hebrews speaks a lot about the promised land of Israel, and the fact that the Jews, beginning with Abraham, were looking for the new city that would be established by the Lord (which would be named Jerusalem). These verses can be overlooked if the reader does not observe carefully.

The book of Hebrews clearly establishes the idea of the first and second comings of the Messiah. The first coming is about His provision for salvation but His second coming is not about that. The author says: "So Christ also, having been offered once to beat the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" (Heb. 9:28). The "eagerly awaiting Him" has to do with the establishment of the holy city of Jerusalem and His reigning in the land under the Davidic Covenant!

What is the author talking about when he speaks of the Jews waiting to "receive what was promised" in the OT? It is the kingdom, though the author doesn't have to say that because it's understood by the readers. The author proves this point when he speaks of the persecution of the Jews who lose their property, "knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. … You need endurance that, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay" (10:34-37). The "possession" and the "promise," and the "great reward," has to do with "His coming," Christ's millennial reign and the establishment of the kingdom with Jerusalem as the center of the earth.

Notice what chapter 11 says about what Abraham was looking for:

  • He left one place, Ur, to go to a place "which he was to receive for an inheritance" (v. 8). What was the place? The promised land!
  • He lives as a stranger "in the land of promise, as in a foreign land (because at that time) he was dwelling in tents, as did his son Isaac and later his grandson, Jacob, who also were "fellow heirs of the same promise," of the same promise land! (v. 9).
  • He "was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (v. 10). A MOST IMPORTANT PASSAGE! This would later be Jerusalem!
  • Abraham "died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance …" (v. 13).
  • He, along with those who came after him, "made it clear that they are seeking a country of their own" (v. 14).
  • Abraham and those who came after, were not looking for the country they left, Ur (v. 15), "But they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one (which has heavenly and spiritual origins)" (v. 16). That is, "the kingdom of (from) heaven," or "the kingdom of (from) God." "God prepared a city for them" (v. 16).
Why did Jacob (Israel) tell Joseph when he was about to die that God would "bring you back to the land of your fathers"? (Gen. 48:21). Why did he want to be buried back in the land where Abraham was buried? (Gen.49:29). Why did Joseph want his bones to be taken back to the promised land and not left in Egypt? (Heb. 11:22; Gen. 50:22-26). He made the sons of Israel swear that "you shall carry my bones up from here, from this land (of Egypt) to the land which God promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob."

God told Joshua that he was to cross the Jordan and take the people "to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel" (Josh. 1:2). Rahab the harlot said she knew that "the Lord has given you the land" (2:9) and that the enemies, those then dwelling in the land at that time, would melt away before the children of Israel when they came to possess it (v. 23).

Hebrews continues on with speaking about the promised land. All those in the OT "gained approval through their faith, (though) they did not receive (the land) which was promised" (11:39). Presently, "God has provided something better for us, so that apart from us they (the believing OT saints) should not be made perfect" (v. 40). The provision of personal salvation comes first before the enactment and establishment of the 1,000 year millennial kingdom.

Much more can be said on this subject but above are some of the tidbits that prove the point.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch