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I made a long post in the Sincere Inquisitors thread not too long ago. It's here and posted below. I think it explains many things about where many of us Midacts'ers are coming from, including the confession spoken of by John.
What say ye?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9I believe John, being commissioned with the good news of the circumcision and for his countrymen, is referring to the very confession required of the nation as a whole.
What say ye?
Here's the article I referenced. I wrote it with a specific purpose, different than posting on TOL. So it might read a little weird in parts ("this author's view", etc."). But I don't feel up to tailoring it to TOL. I'll just copy and paste.
It's long, so you may not want to take the time (I'd understand). But if you do, it should do a fair job in helping you understand some of the foundational aspects of my MidActs position, Doormat.
Israel’s Required Confession
by Randy Arendell
Purpose of the Article
This author’s intention is to demonstrate what was required of the individuals of the nation of Israel in order for them to receive the promises God made to her forefathers regarding the nation as a whole. In doing so, it will also be shown why the nation was set aside for a time and what became of those who remained faithful to their calling.
The Unconditional Promises to a Nation
God made several promises for the nation of Israel. The land promise, originally given to Abram, was made only on the condition that Abram would come out of Ur and to Canaan.
Now the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee…After Abram came to Canaan, the promise became an unconditional one that would be reiterated throughout the centuries as being a promise to Abram’s descendents…specifically the children of Israel.
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land… Gen. 12:1, 7
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed… Gen. 26:3-4To Jacob…
And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed… Gen. 28:13To Moses…
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Ex. 3:8To Jeremiah…
For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. Jer. 30:3To Ezekiel…
And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Ez. 37:25This land promise was unconditional for Israel because of Abraham’s obedience.
…because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Gen. 26:5Therefore, the actions of individuals in the nation would not have any bearing on this promised being delivered. God certainly had and has the prerogative to deliver it when He sees fit, however long that may take, but it is nevertheless an unconditional promise, set in stone due to Abraham’s obedience.
Later, God would also promise a kingdom in this promised land.
And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. II Sam. 7:12, 16
And lest any think that promise was fulfilled with Solomon:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. Is. 2:2And to Ezekiel…
And say to them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have on shepherd; they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Ez. 37: 21-25You can see the connection between these two promises. The promised kingdom would be in the promised land. Two promises, yet delivered together. With this, God also promised to enter into a new covenant with them.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. Jer. 31:31This covenant would be with those of the northern kingdom, or house, of Israel and with the southern kingdom, or house, of Judah. You also saw in the Ezekiel passage above how both of these houses will be made one, reunited together in the land from which they were scattered abroad. And upon being united and entering into the new covenant, they will receive the corresponding promises of having their iniquity forgiven and sins forgotten forevermore (Jer. 31:34), as well as other related promises shown in Daniel 9:24 and elsewhere.
Like the land promise, the promise of the kingdom and entry into the new covenant were also both unconditional, since they applied to the nation as a whole, as opposed to being promises guaranteed to individual members of the nation. This is a very important idea to know and grasp. The promises were national in nature. So while faithful David (for example) the individual, will partake of the land, kingdom, and new covenant in the resurrection to take place in the future, it will be because he was not cut off from the nation. The promises were national in nature, so those who remained faithful members of the nation will inherit the land, kingdom, and new covenant promises.
Recall the land promise originally given to Abram in Genesis 12. God said it was for his seed.
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land… Gen. 12:7So that is clearly a corporate/national promise. But later God places the first conditions upon which an INDIVIDUAL would be able to partake, or not, of that promise.
This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised.This concept of an individual being removed from the chance of partaking of the national promises is seen later, as well, prior to Israel entering into Canaan.
And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. Gen. 17:10, 14
Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shall therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. Deut. 7:9-11So it should be abundantly clear that the promises of the land, kingdom, and new covenant were corporate promises, and that individuals could be cut off from the nation and thus miss out on receiving them.
God also later said, through Paul, that the promises were irrevocable.
For the gifts (to Israel, in context) and calling of God are without repentance. Rom. 1:29This makes sense, after seeing the passages noted above. A promise made to a man could not be done away with based on the actions of other men. However, the timing of delivery was never something that was in stone.
To Jeremiah, God said that He could promise to do something but then relent, depending upon the actions of the recipient(s) of that promise.
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounce, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. Jer. 18:7-10The message is clear: If God says He will do good for a nation, and they do not obey Him, then He can relent.
Jesus reiterates this idea, specifically with His people in mind, in a parable.
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. Luke 13:6-9There is a clear parallel to Jesus earthly ministry shown in this parable. God the Father is the “certain man” seeking fruit for three years (through His Son, Jesus, during the earthly ministry) among the nation of Israel (the fig tree). Finding none near the end of that term, He is ready to cut it down. This action would have been acceptable, as we can see from Jeremiah that it is His prerogative to do so. However, the parable tells us that Jesus, the “dresser” wished to take another year to cultivate it. This would undoubtedly be the year following His crucifixion, where His chosen apostles acted on His authority to reach their countrymen. The stoning of Stephen likely marks that end of that year (of attempting to cultivate the fig tree more), as Jesus is seen standing to judge the nation.
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Ps. 110:1The promises to the nation were unconditional. They were irrevocable. But it should be clear, even to the one who disagrees with this author’s conclusion about what Stephen saw, that the timing of the delivery of the promises was definitely not set in stone. The timing was conditional.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. Mark 16:19
But [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of god, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. Acts 7:55
An individual could be removed from the right to receive the national promises. But what would prompt God to cut off the entire nation (again, temporarily), not just an individual? Jeremiah is told that it is disobedience to God’s commands. But to what extent? How many of the nation would have to be disobedient to prompt God to do such a thing? The question, as worded, might be impossible to answer. So instead of looking at what they could do to be cut off, let us look at what God would require from them collectively in order for him to deliver. Let us look at the confession He demanded from the nation as a whole.
National Confession Required
The representatives of the people of Israel made a serious promise to God at Sinai. Upon Moses delivering to them the words the Lord commanded him, we see their response:
And Moses called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord. Ex. 19:7-8God had made an oath, by way of a covenant with Abraham, to deliver his descendants into a special land. He intended on delivering on that promise.
…that I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with mild and honey, as it is this day… Jer. 11:5And though that was an unconditional promise, he still expected individuals to be obedient or there would be consequences. They said they would do what He said (“All that the Lord hath spoken we will do”), and He demanded they keep their word. In Leviticus 26, God told Israel about the rewards they would receive if they were obedient to him in the land. And He told them of their punishments if they chose to disobey Him. For instance:
…I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. Lev. 26:16-17The list goes on, showing how their punishments would increase the longer they disobeyed. If they chose to disobey and experienced all the punishments God laid out, they could still, afterward, be restored. He said:
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; and that I also have walked contrary unto the, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. Lev. 26:40-42We know the story. They entered the land and very quickly acted against the Lord’s commands. So for a long period of time, they experienced the curses God promised. The period of the Judges has their enemies raiding them and reigning over them for centuries. The promised curses of drought and wild beasts and pestilence are all brought to bear. And the list of curses in Leviticus culminates in them being scattered among the heathen (Lev. 26:33-39) to give the land the rest required by God. We see that happen as both kingdoms (northern kingdom of Israel; southern kingdom of Judah) are invaded and scattered (Assyria and Babylon, respectively).
Throughout all those centuries of Israel’s disobedience and God, therefore, intensifying His punishments on them, the promise of Lev. 26:40-42 still stood. All they had to do – NATIONALLY – was to confess their iniquity and return their hearts to Him, and He would restore them. Solomon knew this when he prayed:
“When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house; then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.” I Kings 8:33-34There were faithful men in the nation (Ezra, Daniel, etc.), but God required a national confession…national repentance…in order for Him to deliver the promises to the nation. He was holding out until He got that national response.
Recognizing the need for national repentance, some prayed on behalf of the entire nation in hopes of turning away God’s wrath.
…behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou has hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou are potter; and we all are the work of thy h and. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. Is. 64:5(a)-9In the days of Hezekiah, Micah cried out:
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. Micah 7:18-20God desired this repentant heart from the nation, and men like Isaiah and Micah pleaded with God to turn his wrath from the nation and deliver that which He had promised. They knew that only by doing so would they be able to enter into that new covenant where He would “cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
Daniel, discerning the time nearing the end of captivity in Babylon, said:
And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, “O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments; neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.” Dan. 9:4-5The response to Daniel’s prayer of supplication and confession, on behalf of his countrymen, was the Lord sending an angel to tell Daniel of God’s plans. While, according to the word to Jeremiah, they would indeed come out of captivity after a total of 70 years, that would not be the fulfillment of the promises. Those would come after another 490 years (70 “weeks”) from a king’s decree (Dan. 9:25). So even though a faithful man was making the required confession, the nation as a whole was still going to have to wait. In this case, they would get 490 years to make their national confession, to repent, and turn their uncircumcised hearts to the Lord.
Ezra, after leaving Babylon and going back to Jerusalem to rebuild, said:
And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, “Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure; and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from strange wives.” Ez. 10:10-11He’s pleading for them, his countrymen, to confess their iniquity collectively. This would allow God to stop punishing them. But as we can see from Daniel 9, they would still have to wait, AS A NATION, to receive the ultimate promises God had made to Jeremiah, David, and their forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).
Zoom way up to the time that approached the end of 483 years (the 7 weeks + 62 weeks of Daniel 9)… the time approaching the cutting off of Messiah. What was going on? John the Baptist was crying out for repentance from the nation, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Jesus and the appointed Twelve were preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. So, those that were being baptized were repenting and making the required confession.
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Matt. 3:6The confession would not be a detailing of all they and their forefathers had ever done wrong. Rather, it was a confession of unbelief…confessing that they had been unfaithful and were now repenting of the fact that they had turned from God. As Daniel and Micah prayed, the people of the nation as a whole were to confess that they had turned from God and recognized their need to save them. So throughout early Acts, the apostles are preaching that the men of Israel needed to repent. They had rejected their Messiah, He was waiting in heaven to return, and they needed to repent so He would do so.
Now when they (“men of Israel”, 2:22) heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 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 2:37-38Notice the result of this repentance. Just as foretold by Jeremiah and Daniel, they would have their sins blotted out. And Peter’s statement about Jesus returning in response to their corporate repentance is as seen in Ezekiel, where it was foretold that the Lord would return and Shepherd them in their promised land. This is the new covenant promise made to the houses of Israel and Judah. The early period of the Acts has nothing to do with the dispensation of grace and the one new man. It is clear that the offer of the promises God made to Israel’s forefathers is being made to the men of Israel there in that early Acts period. They just needed to make the required confession in order to receive those promises as a nation.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3:19-21
At Peter’s (with the Twelve’s) preaching in early Acts, many believed, repenting and being baptized as was required. But a great many more refused to believe that their Messiah had come. They continued in their rebellion against God. According to the timeline given to Daniel in Daniel 9 (where it was said that Messiah would be cut off after 69 weeks, then another week would follow), the time was approaching for the new covenant promises to be fulfilled. Yet the nation as a whole still rejected Him, thus failing to give the required confession of their corporate iniquity against God.
So according to the principle set forth to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 18 and reiterated by Jesus in the parable of Luke 13, God exercised His right to not deliver on the promises when He said He would. He cut off the nation, halting that prophetic timeline for a time. He wanted to use them to reach the Gentile world, but their mass rejection of Him compelled Him to choose to unfold another plan that He had planned on at some point anyway, but that He had kept hidden from the foundation of the world. He called out Paul, commissioning him with a unique apostleship to deliver a message that had been hidden until then. This is a topic for a different article. But it is necessary to discuss what happened to those believing Israelites after Israel was cut off and Paul was called out.
The Little Flock and their Call to Patience
The promises were to be delivered to a nation of faithful people. Overwhelmingly, though, the Israelites were an unfaithful people. Jesus told the supposed religious leaders of the nation:
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. Matt. 21:43The chief priests and Pharisees, to whom Jesus spoke, were wicked. They represented the nation, and Jesus declared that they would have no part of the promised kingdom. So who is the “nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” to whom He said the kingdom would be given? Many today say it is us: Gentiles. Or the Body of Christ. But Jesus tells the reader elsewhere. To His chosen apostles, He said:
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:23 (Aside: like when He wanted to kill the nation and start over with Moses in Ex. 32)God would take the kingdom away from the wicked nation as a whole and give it to a “nation bearing forth the fruits thereof”. The chosen apostles were the start of this nation. And by believing the message preached by the apostles after Jesus departed, those who believed would become part of that nation. By doing so, God was still intent on delivering the promises to the flesh and blood seed (who were faithful) of Abraham, as promised. Israel was still to be the recipient of the promises, but it would be a new (so to speak) nation, made up of faithful people, that began with the chosen apostles and filled by those who believed and had made the required confession.
This “little flock” awaited the promises of old. So what happened to them when God turned aside from delivering on that which was foretold for Israel? They awaited incredible promises of a new Jerusalem, a land flowing with milk and honey in which the house of the Lord would sit on the mountaintop, the nations flowing to it, ruled over by the One King and One Shepherd, the very Man Jesus Christ who they rightly believed to be their promised Messiah. Was that hope no more for them?
Many believe they became part of the “one new man” of which Paul was the first member. However, I believe they remained in the same calling and were exhorted to remain faithful and patient for those promises to still come about.
God never said for how long He would keep Israel in that state (of being cut off, put on par with the rest of the world). I see no indication anywhere of a specified time period. In fact, the epistle writers seem to be expecting that the Lord would return soon. With the scattered tribes apparently losing patience, heart, and faith, Peter wrote to them:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter. 3:9God was holding off on the promises, wanting all to come to repentance.
They were expecting the promises to have already been fulfilled. Scoffers were saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Pet. 3:4), and the Israelites seemed to have lost heart that He would actually deliver. Peter’s epistles were admonitions to them to be patient. “He’s still coming.” “Keep enduring and remaining faithful.” As far as Peter was concerned, He could return any time. So he was continuing to operate as he was called, and encouraging his audience to faithfully do the same.
The author of Hebrews gives a similar exhortation as he writes:
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Heb. 10:35-37So here is the key. Those who believed early in Acts, repenting, being baptized, enduring, following the commandments, abiding in Christ, etc., were never explicitly told THAT they had been cut off or (after it became apparent that something had happened) for how long God was delaying. They were still looking for their earthly hope of abiding in the promised land with their one King, one Shepherd, one Lord Jesus Christ. God had cut off the nation as a whole from the promises, but He could have returned to that plan at any time. Hence, the writings of Hebrews through Revelation to exhort the audience to be faithful, even through the fiery trials that they were about to supposedly endure.
The masses of the nation failed to repent and give their national confession, so as a whole they were cut off. The few faithful, though, while having to wait longer for delivery of the promises, were to remain faithful to the end, not knowing when He would return to the plan for them. Now that they have long ago died and been buried, after God returns to that program one day in the future, then those will be resurrected into that earthly kingdom and receive the promises they awaited during their lives.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of days. Dan. 12:2-3, 13
Marvel not a this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28-29