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The Just Shall Live By Faith

The Just Shall Live By Faith
By Randy Nettles

Paul wrote Galatians in approximately 49 AD a year before the Jerusalem Council. This book was written mostly as a refutation to the Judaizers. The Judaizers were an extremist Jewish faction within the early Church. Most of the first converts and early leaders in the Church were Jews who proclaimed Jesus as their Christ (Messiah). They believed that for Gentile believers to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven they needed to submit to Jewish laws and traditions in addition to believing in Christ. Paul, as a missionary to the Gentiles, had to confront this issue many times and dispel this falsehood.

In Galatians, Paul compares the covenant of the Law with the new covenant of “grace through faith” in Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice for all of mankind. Paul had to explain to the Galatians how the ‘Law’ could not save anyone, for salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else. This faith brings true freedom. Paul asked the Galatians, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2).

“Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? — just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham’ (Galatians 3:5-9).

Before the giving of the Law, Abraham was declared righteous by God because of his belief. Just as Abraham was blessed because of his faith so would his descendants (and the nations that descended from his “seed”) that likewise had faith in God. This blessing was for Jews and Gentiles alike, and everyone who has this faith is considered “sons of Abraham.” “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).

Paul wrote, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).

The faithful Church has received the promise that came when the Church was conceived on Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection. It is the promise of the Holy Spirit that indwells all believers when they become believers in Jesus Christ and His atoning work. The author of Hebrews wrote, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40). The promise these Old Testament saints (that are mentioned in the Hall of Faith) didn’t receive was the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is the “some better thing for us” that the Church receives upon their saving faith.

Regarding Abraham’s faith, the author of Hebrews writes, “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:8-9).

Paul continues with Abraham’s faith and the promises that were made to him and his descendants, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:16-18). Of course, we know Jesus is the ultimate descendant of Abraham, both in lineage and faith.

Now, let’s review these verses and the chronological history behind them. In Galatians 3:16-17, Paul is saying that the (conditional) covenant of the Law given to Moses and the children of Israel came 430 years after the (unconditional) covenant of Promise given to Abraham when he proved his faith by leaving his country and going to an unknown place because he believed God’s word. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto a land that I will show you: And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curse you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Verses 4 and 5 describe how Abraham (named Abram at the time) obeyed the voice of God and left his family’s household (most of them). He followed the direction of God and entered the land of Canaan when he was 75 years old. Verse 7 says “And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto your seed will I give this land: and there he built an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him” (Genesis 12:7). This is the second time in the Bible where the LORD appeared to humans. The first time was when the LORD God spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:8).

According to my scripture-based chronology, Chronology of Mankind: 6,000 Years of History Part 1, the year Abraham entered the land of Canaan was in the year 2084 from creation or 1876 BC. Note: The alternative chronology, as I wrote about in The Hepta Week Cycle For Six Millennia of Mankind, would be 2092 from creation, a difference of eight years. However, both chronologies agree that 1876 BC is the correct year for Abram to have entered the Promised Land.

The New King James Version has sub-headings for most chapters in the Bible (sometimes several). The subheadings for verses 1-9 in Genesis 12 are called “Promises to Abram.” I believe this is the point where Abram (Abraham) claimed the promises of God as mentioned in Galatians 3:16-18. When the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “Unto your seed will I give this land,” He was referring to Abram’s son and descendants; but like Galatians 3:16 says, the ultimate “Seed” of Abram is Jesus Christ.

This covenant is sometimes called the Abrahamic covenant or Land covenant, but I prefer the Covenant of Promise. There are several views on when the Covenant of Promise to Abram was given. Even though the word ‘covenant is not used in Genesis 12, I believe this is when the 430 years of Galatians 3:17 began. Other modern-day Bereans believe it doesn’t start until Revelation 15 when the word ‘covenant’ is first used for Abram and the LORD’s agreement. This is when the sacrifices of the five animals (5 is the number for grace) took place, where the LORD walked between the carcasses of the animals as mentioned in verses 9-11.

However, I don’t like this for the start of the 430 years because we don’t know how many years are between Genesis 12 and 15. I have seen theories ranging from 4 to 10 years. I believe it is more like 10 years. According to my chronologies, there were 430 years from the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic covenant, from 1876 BC to 1446 BC. Abram would have been 75 years old when he entered the Promised Land. He would have been 85 years old when the events of Genesis 15 and Genesis 16:1-14 occurred. According to Genesis 16:15-16, Hagar bore Abram a child (Ishmael) the next year when Abram was 86 years old. The year would have been 1865 BC.

When Abram was 99 years old in 1852 BC, God confirmed once again the covenant between Abram and his descendants and Himself. This is the second time God appeared unto Abram in Person. Of course, this is a Christophany of the Lord Jesus Christ. God talked with Abram and called Himself, El Shaddai (Almighty) God. This is the first time God has used this name. There are 57 times “El Shaddai” is used in the bible. Sometimes it is used by itself and other times it is used in conjunction with ‘Lord,’ ‘Lord God’, or ‘God.’

God told Abram “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly” (Genesis 17:1-2). At this point, Abram fell on his face and God continued talking to him. “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also, I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:4-8).

God’s part of the agreement or covenant is unconditional, however, God would require a sign from Abraham and his descendants. Abraham’s part of the agreement is found in verses 10-13. “This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” Scripture says Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised that very day, and also all the men of Abraham’s household. Abraham was 99 years old and Ishmael was 13 years old.

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham which means “father of a multitude.” He also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah which means “princess” or “woman of high rank.” God told Abraham that He would give him a son from Sarah. Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child? And Abraham said to God, Oh, that Ishmael might live before You! Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.” (Genesis 17:17-19).

God explained to Abraham that the descendant who would inherit the covenant of Promise would not be Ishmael (son of Hagar), but would be a future child from the womb of Sarah. God told Abraham to name his unborn son Isaac which means ‘laughter.’ He would be born the following year, in 1851 BC. Abraham would be 100 years old and Sarah would be 91 years old.

Abraham died at the ripe old age of 175. Many years later the LORD appeared to Isaac and blessed him. He confirmed the covenant He made with Abraham to Isaac, as per Genesis 26:2-5. Before Isaac died at 180 years of age, God appeared to Jacob and blessed him. “And God said to him, Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name. So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land. Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him” (Genesis 35:10-13).

We know the rest of the story. Israel (formerly Jacob) had twelve sons and one daughter from four women. Israel eventually moved the family to Egypt after a severe famine in 1661 BC. The descendants of Israel lived 215 years in Egypt before the events of Exodus 2 occur in which Moses is born and 80 years later the king of Egypt dies. “Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Exodus 2:23-25).

After the 10 plagues God sent upon Egypt, Moses and the children of Israel left Egypt on Nisan 15, 1446 BC. They arrived at Mt. Sinai a couple of months later and received the 10 Commandments and the Law from God. It had been 430 years since Abraham first entered the Promised Land in 1876 BC. So, these are the 430 years of Galatians 3:17, from the Abrahamic covenant (promised land and designated seed) to the Mosaic covenant (the Law). The Mosaic Covenant didn’t replace the Abrahamic Covenant. It merely added to it, as it outlined how the children of Israel were to live under God’s rules and laws when they entered the Promised Land (and during their 40-year journey). The sign of the Mosaic Law was the 10 Commandments written on two tablets of sapphire stone by the finger of God.

When the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River on Nisan 10, 1406 BC, Joshua commanded the children of Israel to be circumcised. All the Jewish men who came out of Egypt had already been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness had not been circumcised. Four days later the children of Israel celebrated the first Passover in the Promised Land.

This correlation between these two covenants given to Abraham and his descendants is shown in Deuteronomy 10:12-17, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it. The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome.”

The 430-Year Cycle

430 years is an interesting timespan between major events and covenants in the Bible (although they may not be exact). According to the Nettles Chronology, the Noahic Covenant of Genesis 9:8-17 occurred in 1657 AM or 2303 BC. The Abrahamic Covenant occurred in 2084 AM or 1876 BC. That is 427 years between these two covenants. The Mosaic Covenant occurred in 2514 AM or 1446 BC. That is 430 years between the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants.

436 years after the Exodus from Egypt and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant (1446 BC), God set up “a man after His own heart” named David to assume the throne of Israel after Saul and Jonathan’s death. In 1010 BC (2950 AM), David became king over the one tribe of Judah. Seven years later in 1003 BC, David became king over all 12 tribes of Israel. Afterward, Nathan the prophet relayed a message from the Lord to King David concerning his descendants. This is known as the Davidic Covenant and will be fulfilled eventually by Lord Jesus during his 1,000-year Kingdom reign. If the millennial reign of Christ begins in 2033 AD (two days for the Lord since 33 AD), then it will have been 3035 years since David became king over all of Israel. That is approximately 433.57 sevens (Shemitah weeks).

The LORD told David, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16). The king’s crown is the sign of the Davidic covenant.

From the Mosaic Covenant in 1446 BC to the Davidic Covenant in approximately 1003 BC is 443 years. So, from the Noahic Covenant to the Davidic Covenant is about 1300 years. If you divide 1300 years by 3 timespans you get an average of 433.33 years between covenants. You could expand the timespans past the Davidic Covenant to see if anything significant happened in Israel’s history. It does. 430 years from 1003 BC is 573 BC. 573 BC is the year Ezekiel received a vision of the Millennial Temple in Jerusalem.

Ezekiel had been taken captive to Babylon in 597 BC. In Ezekiel 39:1-2, he writes “In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the LORD was upon me; and He took me there. In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.”

In approximately 143 BC, Simon Maccabeus succeeded his brother Jonathan as the high priest and ruler of Judea. Simon held titles as the national governor, commander in chief of the army, and the high priest. These titles would be passed on to his descendants and successors in what was known as the Hasmonean Dynasty. From 597 BC to 143 BC is 430 years. That’s about as far as we can take the 430-year timespan between biblical events as the Jews were deported out of the land of Judea in 135 AD after the disastrous Bar Kokhba revolution.

The New Covenant

Jeremiah the prophet quoted the Deuteronomy 10:16 passage regarding circumcising the foreskin of the heart in Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.”

Jeremiah also wrote about a “new covenant” that God would make with Israel in the future. “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:31-33). The remission of sin from the shed blood of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the New Covenant. The sign of the New Covenant is the cross on which Jesus’ Holy blood was shed.

In 33 AD, during the last Passover Jesus attended, Jesus and the 12 apostles ate the Passover supper as recorded in Matthew 26 (and Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20). Jesus described the new covenant in these passages of Scripture. “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the ]remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-27). Communion is the Christian practice or ritual of taking bread and wine (or grape juice) as a memorial of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

The New Covenant is a covenant made first with the nation of Israel and, ultimately, with all mankind. After the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah and his new covenant, it was given to the Gentiles. Jesus’ first advent began the new covenant, which allowed for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and allowed for the remission of sins permanently. All believers in Jesus as Messiah would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon the faithful Church (both Gentiles and Jews) began the spiritual Kingdom of God on the earth. However, the physical Kingdom of God/Jesus will not be realized until Jesus returns the second time as LORD of LORDS and KING of KINGS and reigns for a thousand years.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 is a dual reference prophecy. I mentioned the first part of Jeremiah above, which refers to Jesus’ first coming. The second part reads, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). This was not accomplished during Jesus’ first advent. It will only be realized during the Millennium.

Likewise, Daniel 9:24-27 is a dual reference prophecy. Daniel 9:25-26 refers to Jesus’ first advent which ended in 33 AD (the 69th seven), whereas verse 27 will take place in the last seven years (Daniel’s 70th seven) before the Second Coming. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.”

Daniel 9:24 refers to events after the Second Coming when Jesus sets up His millennial kingdom. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).

I believe the Lord will return to the earth after 2 “days” (2000 years for the LORD). Abraham entered Canaan at the age of 75 where the covenant of Promise was made regarding the Promised Land and Abraham’s “seed.” The covenant of Promise was ratified by the sacrifice mentioned in Genesis 15:9-18 ten years later when Abraham was 85 years old (IMO).

Genesis 15:4-5 says, “And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir. Then He brought him outside and said, Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. And He said to him, So shall your descendants be.”

At the start of the Millennium, I can imagine King Jesus (Abraham’s ultimate “seed”) showing Abraham the kingdom and telling him to look upon his descendants (both of physical lineage and spiritual faith-based lineage) that surround the throne of God. Moses, David, and Jeremiah will be there as well. Then Abraham will say, “Yes LORD, you told me my descendants would be as numerous as the stars in heaven, and now I have seen it with my own eyes.”

The LORD will then ask Abraham, “Do you remember the day I made a covenant with you and told you, To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates — the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. Well, now you can claim the entire portion, for it belongs to you and your descendants forever.”

I can’t wait to see Abraham’s face when he sees the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. For the Scripture says, he faithfully “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). As it is written, The just shall live by faith. I hope to see you there as well.

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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