Any man is from birth carnal, spiritually dead, not in communion with God, even those who have knowledge of Scripture as we can see from John 3:3 where the Lord says to Nicodemus a Pharisee « Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God ».
John 1:12, 13 which says according to the Greek: « But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God ». This is the regeneration or being born from above, we need this to really hear the words of God as seen in John 8:47 « He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God » Regeneration is needed to believe that Jesus is the Christ as is told us in 1 John 5:1 « Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God ... ».
So in this stage one is still nothing more than a child, a servant « Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant (Greek: doulos = slave) ... », Gal. 4:1. Children of God are « ... in bondage under the elements of the world », 4:3. That this is about Israel is apparent from v. 5 « To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive sonship (Greek: uihothesia) ». This is the reason why Jesus came to Israel, being a Jew, under the Law.
This is only the first stage on the road of salvation, Paul in his letters tries to educate those of the gospel already preached to Abraham. We know that Abraham was before the Law, and that there was made more then one promise. From the N.T. we know that Abraham « looked for city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God », or the New Jerusalem. The « old » Jerusalem isn't build by God but by humans, Jews.
The olive tree is symbol of Israel's spiritual privileges, its oil served for the lamps of the candlestick, Exo. 27:20, 30:24, Lev. 24:2. It is particularly connected to the house of God. We read about the grafting on the olive tree in Romans, v. 11:17 says « And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree ». The Gentiles were to make Israel jealous « But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you », this was — to stay in the symbolism — what was done with literal olive trees to make them set fruit. This however has nothing to do with the Law, the promise of it was from before that era. It is about faith, like we see in Hebrews « Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen ». Thus the grafting on the olive tree gives knowledge of the Scriptures, something only Israel had. The olive tree symbolizes the bearing of the words of God, Rom. 3:2.
The promise of sonship was already promised to Abraham, yet also to be a great nation, singular. Sonship is from all nations, plural. Therefore God promised Abraham these things in Genesis. The Covenant of Circumcision, with Israel, and father of many nations. Not only literal nations of his offspring from Hagar and Keturah, but also a spiritual offspring, sons of God as we can see in Gal. 4:7 « Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ ». The promise made to Abraham before the Law, sets free of that Law through faith. Rom 8:29 says « For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren ». A brother of the Son of God is a son of God.
To become a son we have to believe more then a child, a child was still a sinner and was called to repent: « Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost » Acts 2:38. There is not a trace of the justification by faith Paul preached. The only time the phrase « remission of sins » occurs in his letter is in Rom. 3:25. Paul sees on the righteousness of faith, « For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith », Rom. 1:17. He speaks of the righteousness of faith, « For the promise, that he should be the heir of the cosmos, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith ». Being heir of the cosmos has nothing to do with the Law, the covenants nor the land. Because this is about sons. Abraham believed in the Lord (Jehovah or YHWH) and He counted it to him for righteousness, Gen, 15:6. Now we have to believe more, because more has been revealed. Now we must buried with Him into death, Rom. 6:4, be in Christ, Rom. 8:1. So there is a difference between children and sons of God.
If one sees this, it is quite clear we — Gentiles — are not under the New Covenant. The covenants were made with the Jews or Israelite as Paul tells us in Rom. 9:4 « Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises ». So sons are those who come to be righteous by faith, both Jews and Gentiles because, the promise is from before the giving of the Law, before the birth of Isaac.
There is through Scripture more then one group, we see this already in Gen. 2:4 « These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth ... ». The land, the covenants, the promises made to Israel are for the earth, not the heavens, yet here the Lord already says in the beginning of Scripture there is a generation of the heavens.
How is this possible. By counting Abel as the first of a higher group that is being worked out in Hebrews. We first find Abel and his faith there. Then follows Enoch, then Noah; Abraham and others. We know from Enoch that he was « taken away », Greek: Transferred. Generally it is understood to mean that he is taken up in the heavens. We certainly know this from Elijah. They (or at least the latter) are type of a higher group, the generations of the heavens. Abel, Enoch, and Noah belong to the Pre-Israelite dispensation when the Jew did not yet have Canaan as an inheritance. It may certainly be asked whether they will also inherit the land of Canaan?
There is more. Of all the faith heroes in Heb. 11, it clearly states that they have not received the promise. The promise can not be the land of Canaan, for many of them have lived in it, so it has been obtained. We name the Israelites of v. 31 and 32, Rahab, Gideon, Barah, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the Prophets. However, the letter writer says. « And these all ... received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect », v. 39, 40. How can that be the promise to inherit the land of Canaan?
The better that God has provided is the heavenly homeland, 11:16. This comes first when the heavenly Jerusalem comes down. It is known that both texts say: over-heavenly, that is, prepared from the over-heavenly. For so long they have a house, aionic in the heavens, for until then the New Jerusalem is still up, Gal. 4:26. One sees that there must be something higher, for the earthly Canaan was possessed by many. However, not the « promise », i.e. the heir of the world (cosmos). And cosmos here includes the heavens and the earth.
There is more evidence. In John 14:1 — 3, the Lord says that He is going to prepare a place and when He returns (so not at death as many believe) He will take them to Himself so that they may be where He is. In John 17 He says that He gave them the glory that the Father has given Him, 17:22. That is a glory to the world, v. 5. Is that the glory of the possession of the land Canaan? Or is this something higher? Paul spoke in 2 Cor. 5 of a House, aionic in the heavens. So the « Jew » and the « Greek » had a House in the heavens. Is this the land of Canaan? And if this House was now not exclusively for the Gentiles but just as well for the Jew, how can one say, that there is no higher line in O. and NT, seen to Enoch, Elijah, John 14 and 2 Cor. 5. One loses sight of the fact that there are already two kinds generations in the O.T., that of the earth and that of the heavens, Eph. 3:15.
God said to Abraham, « So shall your seed be », as the stars of heaven, Gen. 15:5. Most say: that means: so much in number. This does the source text not allow there, the word « so » does indeed indicate the state, the condition, not first the number, because in other places it appears in the sentence: Thus, says the Lord. Does one also want to read there: So much says the Lord?
Abram had two sorts of seed. As the dust of the earth, as the stars of heaven. One can point out that in Exo. 32:13, Deut. 1:10, 10:22 and 28:62, 1 Chron. 27:23, Neh. 9:23 and Nah. 3:16 speaks of the stars of heaven with regard to Israel, but who gives the right to say that this is the same as the dust of the earth. Heb. 11:12 says that out of Abraham many were born in multitude as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is on the seashore. Those are two things, two spheres. If Israel also states that they are stars of heaven, then with them the higher group is indicated, the generation of the heavens. Those « stars of heaven » were then still on earth, but were they destined to obtain an earthly inheritance or just like Elijah, something higher and did they look with their father Abraham to the city that has foundations, the heavenly Jerusalem? Should we not rank them among those who expected a better resurrection? So much is certain that a higher type is drawn to us in Elijah, that in John 14 is already spoken of the Father's house, that Paul in 2 Cor. 5 speaks of the House aionic in the heavens and that is not only given to the Jew, but also to the Gentiles and that He in Rom. 8:29 says that they will be conformed to the image of his Son.
Christ says that those who are considered worthy to attain that aion and the resurrection from the dead will be equal to the angels, Luke 20:34, 35. Do they get an earthly inheritance?
When is Abraham justified, as Jew, i.e. circumcised or as Gentile, that is, uncircumcised? Not as a Jew, not in circumcision, Paul says, but in the uncircumcision, Rom. 4:10. Here, Paul is walking back on a pre-Israelite, a pre-circumcision time. And that is why he, Abraham, is promised not only to be heir of the land, but to be heir of the world, Rom. 4:13. And that « of the world » includes more than just Canaan, it also includes the heavens. The conclusion of all this is that in the O.T. we already see two spheres. These are already mentioned in the first verse, Gen. 1:1, namely heavens and earth. God prepares a generation for each of them, for it is His intention to set man over the works of His hands. Everything is put under his feet, Psa. 8:7. Psa. 8 then describes, in connection with Israel, only the earthly sphere, but Heb. 2:7 extends this further. In the O.T. are these two generations already there. And Israel could already know that there was a higher hope of which it could get part. They could see this in Elijah. Furthermore, it could also be known that the « Gentiles » in this were on one line through Enoch's taking up. All this was known. We at least can know.
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