BIBLE STUDY SERIES #1-3

3 November, 1991

ARE YOU AN ISRAELITE?

by Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

The question which forms the title of this talk may seem an odd one to ask, for the vast majority of people within reach of my voice believe that they already know who are, and who are not Israelites in the world today. Indeed, the very word, "Israelite" may at once trigger pre-conceived attitudes, based upon the assumption that the matter is a settled non-issue of no interest to you. That some of you might, all unknowing, be true Israelites yourselves may come as a revelation to many of you when once you begin to understand what we mean when we ask the question.

From time to time, as year succeeds to year, our radio broadcast outlets shift, and occasionally, particularly when we add a new station which reaches an assembly not previously addressed, it seems profitable to take a "time-out" so to speak, to address the matter of our fundamental Bible-based beliefs for the benefit of those new to our programmes, and who may not realise that their essential beliefs accord with our own.

Take that question "Are You an Israelite?" Do you immediately think of your Sunday-School or newspaper definition which equates the word "Israelite" with the word "Jew"? Most people do. If you do this, perhaps what we have to say on today's programme will interest you, for there are many people who are Israelites in the world today whose background has no "Jewish" connection whatsoever, as they understand the term. Now I am not speaking of some so-called "spiritual Israel", when I use that term. I am speaking of literal, genealogical descendants of the Patriarch, Jacob, whom God re-named "Israel." He had twelve sons and one daughter that are listed in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Only one of these children was called "Judah", the name from which the word, "Jew" is derived, and even of this son, only a tiny portion of his descendants formed a remnant from which Jews claim their descent. Does that surprise you? Most of the Israelites were never Jews! This statement may startle you, for if you have been told, as many are, by their ministers or pastors, that the terms "Israel" and "Jew" are simply terms signifying the same people, without distinction you will not have been given a true Biblical explanation, and if you are descended from one of the peoples whose homelands cluster about the north-western parts of Europe in particular, or their related kinsfolk scattered across the continent of Europe, the chances that you descend from one of those non-Jewish tribes of ancient Israel are even higher. You may very well be of literal Israelitish descent yourself. How this is possible, I propose to explain on this and subsequent broadcasts.

British-Israel believers and those whose beliefs accord with our own, although by another name, will find the matter of increasing interest and importance in these days of end-time Bible prophecies, for God spoke much of what was to befall the descendants of the tribes of ancient Israel through His servants, the Prophets of old time. The belief that we place before you is one which accounts as does no other, for the amazing progression of events which have befallen the peoples of Britain, the related peoples of the British Commonwealth, the United States of America, and all kindred folk whether on the continent of Europe or elsewhere. If you are one such as I here describe, this is an account of your own people, not of some other, and it merits your consideration.

In order to get the matter straight, we must go back to the account in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, wherein we read of God's dealings with the matter of mankind's self will and the resultant sin in the Garden of Eden, and the process whereby He would bring about a solution to the resulting mess which mankind ever since has had to endure. This process, according to the Genesis account, involved the necessity of God preserving a single line of offspring from Adam and Eve, a family with whom He could work. This family, down its generations, would eventually provide the national "setting" for the advent of Jesus Christ as Redeemer, Saviour and King, and the essential nucleus of God's Kingdom. We shall not be able to cover more than the introduction today, but we shall bring you further details on subsequent broadcasts.

This genealogical line, which includes some famous Biblical characters, descended through Seth, and included Enoch, Noah, Shem and Eber. It passed down the generations to a man called Abraham, or Abram as he was first called. The various peoples of the world of that day were not, in general, attuned to God's will, but God saw that this one man, Abram, would serve Him, so God called Abram to make a journey.

It was not only a journey across the sun-scorched lands of the Middle-East, from a comfortable home and city but a journey of faith, for Abram was an old man, and he and his extremely beautiful wife, Sarai, although exceedingly wealthy, were childless.

God tested Abram in several ways, and, Abram having passed those tests, God made certain promises which were based thereon and thus unconditional as regards any future developments. Here, I can imagine some listeners saying something like this: "Oh, he's going to bring up those old myths of the Bible. Those have been disproven and dismissed by science for a hundred years or more". But wait! Let me explain that the Bible can only be verified if you have the proper keys to understand what it is really saying. Most people who reject the Scriptures do so because they have been given interpretations which fell apart in the later light of what appears as new and dependable knowledge; for example, the labours of academics in the fields of scientific inquiry and archaeological studies.

There is no sense trying to match incorrect Biblical exposition to current findings which change through almost hourly updates. That will get us nowhere. We have to hold the correct keys to unlock and understand what the Bible actually says. The Bible statements are more often than not to be understood quite literally, but we must be careful not to jump at conclusions before we know exactly what we are being told in the words of Holy Writ.

Let us return to the matter of Abram and his wife, the exquisitely beautiful Sarai, whom God later re-named Sarah, a word which means "Princess." Upon being called, Abram went out to a new experience. As the writer of Hebrews 11:8-12 puts it:

8. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

There we have the essence of what happened. Abram at seventy-five years of age, had received God's word that, if he would remove himself and his immediate family from his kindred, his father's house and his country into that strange country which God would show him, and where God wanted him to dwell, God would undertake this solemn promise: "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3). Further great promises were to come, as the recipients fulfilled their parts in agreement with Almighty God.

The Bible paints some beautiful pictures for us in very few words, and one I would share with you is Genesis 12:5: "And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came."

Having met this first test, the LORD appeared to Abram and said "Unto thy seed will I give this land" (Verse 7). Later, after Lot, Abram's nephew, chooses to dwell in the plain of Sodom, Abram is left to occupy the hill country. There, the LORD amplifies the promise of land ownership by the words "for ever", and adds (Genesis 13:16) "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth , then shall thy seed also be numbered."

After a battle in which Abram rescues Lot, the further promise is given by the LORD: "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Upon Abram's request for an heir, the LORD makes it plain that the child-less aged Patriarch will father an heir of his own loins. Genesis 15:5-6 says "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD, and he counted it to him for righteousness."

The great Abrahamic covenant is then made to assure Abram, in the manner of the time. An heifer, she goat, ram, turtle dove and a young pigeon are slain and laid in parts forming a sort of avenue, and at evening, a deep sleep fell upon Abram. The LORD says "Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance." The covenant is unconditional, and to seal it, God passes, as a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, between the pieces of the sacrifice. The land from the "river of Egypt" to the Euphrates is promised to Abram's seed at this time.

It is of Abraham and Sarah that Isaac will be born, and of Isaac, Jacob, who later receives the name of Israel, by which his descendants will be called. We will, in succeeding broadcasts, trace what happens, and see that the same LORD who made unconditional promises to the Patriarchs has been faithful to fulfill the same. This total match of promise and prophecy to established subsequent history yields us assurance of a number of things. One is that the promised seed of this line, the Saviour of mankind and Redeemer of Israel is that same Jesus Christ who died and rose again, and has promised to return as King. The promises relating to God's people have been, and are being fulfilled, as we shall see, and we can expect the further continuance of the out-working of those promises in the future.

The tests of Abram included trusting the LORD's leading and guidance, patience in waiting many years, a willingness to trust God even to the sacrifice of the miracle child of his old age, Isaac. We shall follow the story as it unfolds on subsequent broadcasts.

10 November, 1991

FIRST PROMISES

by Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Last week's talk formed the first in a series of presentations by which we propose to introduce new listeners to our message. In these, our purpose will be to examine the Scriptures of the Holy Bible, God's Written Word, in order to demonstrate that they contain the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is verifiably working out His purposes through history. We make this presentation freely available on radio, by public meetings and in the printed word, and we shall be giving you the address to which you may write for further information at the end of today's programme. On last week's programme, we had introduced the fact that, alone among the degenerating strains of mankind in his day, Abram had been called apart for God's planned purposes. It was to be through this one man and his immediate progeny that God would, in due time, save, redeem and richly bless members of repentant mankind by the provision of The Saviour, Jesus Christ, and by the provision of a national context within which God's Kingdom might then be made operational in the earth as it is in heaven.

We pick up the story just as the childless Abram has received wonderful promises regarding the multiplicity of his seed, and of the ultimate ownership of the Holy Land by his descendants in Genesis 15. All this and more, as we shall soon discover, will come from the issue of his aged loins through the birth of a son to his wife, the beautiful but thus-far barren, Sarai. But perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Abram and Sarai were beginning to worry about the method by which all these blessings were to be given. While the matter may appear as a digression from our present study, it will be of subsequent importance so we must include it. Let us turn to the account found in Genesis 16:1-3.

1. Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
2. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; It may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
3. And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

Here, I must pause to explain that such an arrangement, by which a child might be provided through a proxy, was accepted in those days. The New Bible Dictionary, under the heading "Hagar", provides some interesting notes in regard to this passage. It states:

"Hagar, A Semitic, not an Egyptian, name and thus perhaps given to the woman by Abraham when he left Egypt. It may mean 'flight' or something similar, compare Arabic hegira. Hagar was an Egyptian bondservant in Abraham's household, handmaid to Sarah: Abraham probably acquired her during his visit to Egypt. With the passing years Abraham felt keenly the lack of a son and heir ... But as time still passed, Abraham and Sarah had doubts, and sought to gain an heir by their own unsanctioned efforts: in accordance with the customary law of the period (attested in tablets from Ur and Nuzi), the childless Sarah urged Abraham to have a son by her servant Hagar - so Ishmael was born, the son of a slave-woman ... ."

At this point it may be useful to clarify one matter which many people, even those who attend church, seem to find somewhat confusing. Abraham was a descendant of Noah's son, Shem, and hence can be termed a Semite. He was also a descendant of Shem's great-grandson, Eber, and hence Abraham was an Hebrew. But Abraham could not become a descendant of his own grandson, Jacob, who was renamed "Israel", so Abraham was not an Israelite. By the same reasoning, he could not be a descendant of his own great-grandson Judah, and so could not inherit the name "Jew". That name was only to come into use over a thousand years later, being a condensed derivative of the name "Judah" which was essentially applied only to a small remnant of the two and a half tribed nation called the House of Judah.

Most Arab people today claim descent from the union of Abram with Sarai's Egyptian maid, Hagar, and hence descent from Abraham. These Arabs would thus be Semites and Hebrews. Incidentally, these facts should provide an answer to any who might persist in telling us that "Abraham was a Jew", for had he been so, we should be forced to conclude that all those Arabs are Jews, a conclusion which the Arabs would no doubt dispute! Also, to compound the situation, let us not forget that most Jews today claim their descent from the Khazar nation which migrated from central Asia to the north shore of the Black Sea, and which converted to Judaism about 740 A.D. according to the Encyclopaedia Judaica. The present contention between Arab and Jew is a significant factor in the news emanating from the Middle East, and can better be understood if we keep in mind this genealogical connection between Arabs and Abraham through his wife's Egyptian handmaid, Hagar.

But let us return to our main theme, the progression of God's promises to Abram and his descendants, and, as we shall later relate, the corresponding fulfilments down to our own day.

In Genesis 17, we find Abram, ninety-nine years of age as the LORD appeared to him and said "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." On this condition being met, the following promise is given:

2. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3. And Abram fell on his face and God talked with him, saying,
4. As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
9. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

The succeeding passage down to verse 14 stresses that circumcision is to be the token of this covenant. All males of Abraham's household, whether family or servants must be circumcised or else they will be cut off from Abraham's people.

After God went up from talking with Abraham, the Patriarch proceeded to meet this pre-condition to blessing by circumcising all males throughout his household. We again pick up God's words at verse 15 as God now makes promises to Sarai which are most important. Let us take our account directly from scripture:

15. And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
17. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
18. And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
19. And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
20. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

In the next chapter, as one of three men, God once again appears to Abraham,and Sarah, and the promises are confirmed once more to both of them. Sodom is about to be judged, and God speaks, saying: "...Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." We should note here that Abraham has, by this time, already kept his side of the contract. Note the form of the wording. God is not making conditional promises here, but prophecies which are established, and certain to come upon Abraham's future families.

Incidentally, there are two or three interesting sidelights in Genesis 20. In verse 7, God speaks to Abimelech, king of Gerar, saying that Abraham is a prophet. Apparently Sarah, at age ninety, is still so beautiful that Abimilech, understanding that she is Abraham's sister, claims her for his harem, and in a dream is warned by God of his error. Abraham explains that his wife is his half-sister also, having the same father, but a different mother. Thus Sarah is a kinswoman, and of the same racial stock as Abraham. This tribal distinctiveness and separation from others will be repeated again and again in the core line of descent of this remarkable family.

To this point, we must stress that the blessings depended upon Abraham, and not upon the activities of his descendants, who are yet unborn. Abraham having satisfied the requirements, God's promises are henceforth unconditional as far as the descendants are concerned. Therefore it becomes essential that those who wish to show honour to God be in a position to demonstrate that God has been faithful in their fulfilment. A God Who would evade the completion of such would not be One upon whom we could rely for our promised Salvation in Christ.

In future broadcasts, then, we shall be tracing the lineage of this chosen family as it enlarges into tribal divisions and receives additional amplified promises from God. These promises, as we shall see, have been dramatically fulfilled in subsequent history. The clue to this is found in seeking that national group which today bears all the marks which demonstrate that fulfilment. We believe that the basically Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples bear all the marks, and we shall see how these match up as we progress.

17 November, 1991

PROMISES AMPLIFIED

by Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In this series of talks we are tracing the sequence of promises which Almighty God made to Abraham and the chosen line of mankind which God assured Abraham would form his progeny. We have seen that the promises thus far granted have become unconditional as far as subsequent generations are concerned, for Abraham has already performed his part, through faith. Those promises form a national framework within which God's redemptive and salvation work will be performed. Thus we must expect to see such fulfilment in history down to our own time and beyond. As Christians, we understand these purposes to focus upon the person and authority of Jesus Christ, and to relate particularly to His development of a kindred folk through whom He is working in order to bringing His Kingdom into existence. We have arrived at the account found in Genesis 21 which reads as follows:

1. And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
2. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
3. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
4. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
6. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
Later, Sarah saw Hagar's son, Ishmael, mocking, and demanded of Abraham that they both should be "cast out." This grieved Abraham, but God reassured him saying "...in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."

The symbolic significance of this birth is unfolded by Saint Paul in Galatians 4:22-31. In reference to the contrasting births of Ishmael and Isaac, the first having been born "after the flesh", and the second born "by promise", Paul reveals an allegory. He places those who seek salvation by adherence to the law of Sinai as children of the bond-woman, Hagar, being that which "answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children" (verse 25) and those who are children of promise, and of the Jerusalem which is above, in Christ. He makes reference to the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael, saying in verse 30: "...the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." In passing, I might point out something else. As God promised that "in Isaac shall thy seed be called" we can look for two aspects to the fulfilment of this promise. First, those who would in after ages be classed as the "seed of Abraham" would come of Sarah through Isaac, and not through his other seven sons. Second, we should look for the use of that name by some tribal agglomerations of his descendants. We find such a people in history. They appear in a place, time and association which fits the requirement. They are the Saxons.

We now arrive at one of the most dramatic stories of the Bible. It is one of which the spiritual significance is tremendous. We are speaking of the account found in Genesis 22, in which God makes what must have been a most heart-rending demand upon the faith of the aged Abraham. Let us read from that account:

1. And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

For just a moment, I should like to stop at this point and contemplate with you what this must have meant to Abraham. For most of his long life he had been childless. With immense faith, the seventy-five year old man had believed God's word of promise, and come to this new land, but at eighty-six, and in desperation, he had fathered Ishmael. After a further fourteen year wait, Isaac, the only child born of his beautiful but aging wife, Sarah, had been miraculously born. Further years had passed while Isaac grew to an age at which he could bear a burden. Now, God is demanding that this child be sacrificed as a burnt offering! Can we imagine what this must have meant to him as he cut the wood? What thoughts must have come to his mind as he departed from Sarah! Let us rejoin him as we read.

4. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8. And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

What thoughts must have arisen in old Abraham's mind as that distant mount of sacrifice at last came into view! Remember he did not have the knowledge of subsequent history to boost his confidence. His only son of promise, whom he was about to sacrifice, was at his side, the knife and fire in his hands. What faith was in his mind as he told those young men that, after the sacrifice, he and the lad would return to them! Let us follow the account in our minds as the wood is placed in order, Isaac is bound and laid thereon, and the knife is raised in prayerful commitment. Isaac, strong enough to carry the wood must have submitted to be bound by his aged father. It was his act of faith too, which God was to honour in the promises which followed. The angel calls to Abraham to conclude the demonstration of faith in the words "Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not with-held thy son, thine only son from me." The ram caught in the thicket becomes the substitute for Isaac. Can we not see, here, the very picture in symbol of God's own Son, who would be born of this same Isaac's descendants, bearing His cross to the same mount, and thus becoming that lamb which God would provide for mankind's salvation? The wonderful promise follows as the angel speaks, saying: 16. ...By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17. That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Again, we must note that these promises are not dependent upon any subsequent conditions, for the commitment is related entirely to Abraham's completed act of faith. Theological attempts to insert a retroactive condition upon such a commitment do not do honour to God. As Christians who seek to establish God's faithfulness as a fact, we must find the fulfilment in history. Thus far we have seen a number of overlapping commitments by Almighty God to Abraham, each one tending to re-inforce and amplifying what went before. We have seen that, as God's word is true, Abraham's seed descending from Isaac must, as far as the unconditional promises have thus far taken us, have the following descriptive characteristics. By Genesis 12:2 They must form a great and blessed nation, having within its name the identification "Great." By Genesis 17:5-6, 16 many related nations will have developed and these will be monarchies. This people must also, by Genesis 15:5 and 22:17-18 be numbered as the sand of the sea shore and also later as the stars of heaven and be a blessing to other peoples of the earth. They must, if enemies arise, possess the necessary geographically strategic gates for defence. By Genesis 13:14-15 they must at some stage occupy the Holy Land, and forever possess its title deeds. They must, by Genesis 21:12, include a people whose name indicates that they originated in Isaac. So far we have only looked at those promises which Almighty God gave to Abraham. We have not yet considered those further unconditional promises given to Isaac, to Jacob and to King David. These and others, we shall be examining in future broadcasts. However, we surely have assembled enough descriptive points, even now, to begin a process of elimination, in order to find those descendants of Isaac in our world today. Great Britain and the United States, taken together, stand apart as the most obvious, for they express all the characteristics listed to this point, but we must realise that these are also related to a number of kindred nations, so we are not finished yet.

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