The 105th Psalm is almost certainly from the pen of David, for the first 15 verses are the same as in David’s song of praise in 1 Chronicles 16:8-22. The king was full of thankfulness at the return of the ark to Jerusalem, his capital city. Yet Psalm 105 is not about the great event of that day: David’s mind goes back through many centuries of divine blessings upon His people, to their inheritance of the lands of the heathen when He remembered His holy promise and Abraham His servant (v42-43). His appeal to his people is this: “Remember His marvellous works that He hath done, His wonders and the judgments of His mouth: O ye seed of Abraham His servant, ye children of Jacob His chosen” (v5-6). The excitement at the return of the Ark meant that God had remembered His covenant with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob: it was fitting that Israel remember all His wonders. The Ark advancing into Jerusalem and the establishment of the covenant with Abraham were all parts of the one big story—steps in the development of the Truth of the Almighty.

We are passing through unstable times in the history of the modern world. It is apt that we remember many events we have witnessed where the hand of God has brought fulfilment according to His Word, in both Old and New Testaments. Our faith has been confirmed and we have been reassured in so many matters as we witness the truth of the prophetic word fulfilled before our very eyes. We have seen:

  • The return of millions of the seed of Abraham to the land of promise (Jer 23:3-4,8; 16:15).
  • World War 1 and the expulsion of the Turk from Palestine to make way for a Jewish homeland (Dan 11:40).
  • World War 2 and the Holocaust of evil that would attend their return (Jer 16:16).
  • The anti-Semitic spirit of European nations (Ezek 38).
  • The rebirth of the nation of Israel (Ezek 37).
  • The role of the British empire in the birth of Israel (Ezek 38; Isa 23).
  • The vast increase and power of the weapons of war (Joel 3).
  • The moral degeneration of mankind (2 Tim 3; Luke 21).
  • The continued rejection of Jesus by Jewry (Rom 11).
  • The perversion of the Truth by the Roman church (Rev 17; 18).
  • British independence from Catholic Europe (Dan 2; 7).

And many of these items could be expanded further as we witness powerful evidence that the hand of our great God rules in the kingdom of men (Dan 4:17).

We have been so blessed with the picture of the prophets and apostles and the Lord himself that we know of no other people who have our confidence in this rapidly declining age. Just think how it would be if we had none of this long list of items to give comfort and assurance to our member brothers and sisters, to our united families, to our warm and supportive ecclesias, to our worldwide brotherhood. As our blessings have mounted, the world has lost its direction and its goals.

We must be surely among the most blessed people on earth!

How has it all come about?

The real answer is because our God has opened to us the TRUTH as it is in Jesus Christ. Our brotherhood is growing and expanding in a number of places throughout the world: why is this so? The answer is found in one of the Lord’s remarkable statements: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Notice how specific the Lord’s comment is. He’s not speaking of some gospel that may have some aspect of truth in it. It is “the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The definite article is before the word “truth” and this means that this Truth is specific. There can only be one Truth and this is what the Lord spoke (cp v40,44,45,36). All other words which contradict the Truth are, by definition, lies (cp 1 John 1:6,8; 2:4,21,22; 4:20).

When the elders of the Jews challenged the Lord, they sought to bring Abraham into the debate, arguing that they were his children and he was their father. Jesus’ retort was that they couldn’t be true sons of Abraham because their actions betrayed their claim. Their behaviour belonged to the father of lies instead (John 8:44). By alluding to “the beginning” our Lord most likely had in mind his work as the seed of the woman triumphing over their father, “the devil.” The elders took the debate back to Abraham (John 8:33-37) and Jesus took it back to God’s first promise of the sinless seed of the woman (John 8:33-37, 42-47).

That was where the beginning of the Truth lay—when, through a solemn declaration, God promised salvation through the seed of the woman. This was the Truth that Jesus reasoned through in John 8.

The promises to Abraham

Much that was unclear to Adam became very lucid to Abraham. The call from Ur of the Chaldees was crowned with many unique and remarkable promises. Abram was promised a land, a great name and vast universal blessings: “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 12:2-3). Then when he came into Canaan, God promised Abram that a son of his would be given all the land of Israel (Gen 12:7). Never before had there been given such unique and remarkable promises. The plans of God were being explained to Abraham. The Truth of God was being declared and shaped. It is repeated in 13:17: “Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee;” “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (15:1). And then there was the word of the covenant: “Unto thy seed have I given this land” (15:18). Imagine that—the living God swearing to mortal man by means of a covenant!

In chapter 17 of Genesis there are 10 references to God’s covenant to Abraham. Nowhere in all the history of Israel was there anything to compare with the abundant and varied blessings that were promised to Abraham and sealed by repeated oath. The God of Israel was celebrating and confirming His Way among mankind with promises that not only offered eternal life to Abraham’s descendants but opened wonderful opportunities to those of all nations.

The Truth was expanding; the path of His Truth was being solemnly declared and amplified. God had not spoken so to any other man.

The covenant to King David

It was a thousand years later that Yahweh spoke unto David, son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah. His reign of some 10 years had pushed the borders to the limits anticipated in the promises to Abraham. David was king of Judah and then of all the 12 tribes. His capital was established in Jerusalem and peace was enjoyed on all sides. His ascent to the throne of Israel, from the shepherd fields of Bethlehem, united the 12 tribes as never before. His longing was to build an eminent temple in Jerusalem, for in David’s day there was but a simple tabernacle, or tent, in the city of Jerusalem. The concept was typical of King David, for he loved the God of Israel and saw the great virtue of worship and thanksgiving being established in the midst of Israel.

The reaction of God to David’s decree was a series of promises that went far beyond anything that David could have imagined: “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. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (2 Sam 7:12-14); “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (v16).

Once more there was never such a promise made to any other king. The line of David would be blessed by one who was not only of the seed of David but also Son of God! These promises were repeated many times in the Psalms and prophets. There was nothing like them since the covenant that was made with Abraham a thousand years before. Hence:

  • “But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Psa 89:24-29)
  • “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.” (Psa 89:34-37)

Both covenants were sworn by oaths ratified by God, with the full weight of Yahweh’s omnipotent power and with the sense of immortality involved in their fulfilment. Even in the “minor” prophets the covenants to David and Abraham are referred to. Amos refers to the tabernacle of David saying, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (9:11) and Micah closes his message with these words: “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (7:20).

Statements of the hope of Israel are sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Foundation covenants

The more one ponders the 39 books of the Old Testament the more one appreciates the importance of these covenants made to Abraham and his sons and to David and his royal dynasty. If, for a moment, we imagine that these covenants had never been given then we would see that the Old Testament is reduced to just a collection of incidents and statements and historical stories. It is the covenants of promise that provide the foundation for faith.

God spoke by many prophets concerning Israel and their history, their kings and the various national events, their might and their laws, but there is no real permanent relevance to all their records without the pillars of the covenants, consolidating the words of the prophets like the pylons of a bridge. Any word of the Almighty is important but when He enforces it by oath, then it is of supreme relevance and relates to unshakeable and eternal purposes.

Yet it would be a rare Sunday when the Churches of Christendom ever mention these covenants to their audience, let alone teach them to their Sunday School students. The story of the Truth is obviously founded on these great pillars. The Lord Jesus is specifically the son of David and the son of Abraham. In fact, that is the very opening of the New Testament: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1). The Apostle Paul has the same message in Romans 15:8, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” He writes pages in Romans about Abraham and the principles and precepts of his life. The whole of chapters 9-11 are about the Jews and their relationship to the gospel message.

If the first verse of the New Testament links the Old and the New, this means that if we ignore the Old Testament we can never really comprehend what Jesus, Son of God, came to fulfil.

The covenants were related to each other, as partners in the revelation of divine Truth. They are in reassuring harmony and, while expanding on to new ground, confirm each other’s message. Where is a regathered Israel upon the Land without a central royal dynasty? Where is David’s glorious Jerusalem without the regathering of Abraham’s redeemed children of faith? Everything about these covenants is connected: Jesus and David were both born in Bethlehem and our Lord was crucified upon the site where Abraham (would have) offered his son Isaac!

The way of Truth

These are last days surely. Where has Christendom departed from the Truth? Greek philosophy brought in the heresy of immortal souls and multiple godheads. The Roman Papacy set up a man at the head of the Church and made him sovereign of all mankind. Who then needs the doctrine of the Kingdom of David’s Son? And who needs Abraham’s promise if we preach an eternity in heaven? Why do we preach that Jerusalem will be the city of the Great King if Rome is already the eternal throne?

Tragically Christendom has destroyed the Truth and the way of the Bible. Both Old and New Testaments have been destroyed and buried in the philosophies of man.

The Way of Truth commenced in Eden, was amplified beautifully in the many promises to Abraham, was polished by the royal covenant to David and was fulfilled in the Son of God, who was indeed full of grace and truth.

This is the path of the Truth.

Note the opening words of the angel Gabriel to Mary in Nazareth: “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

This is the message that was being noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judea at the birth of Christ: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:68-73). Notice the way the covenants are linked and bound together.

Dedicated wholly to the Hope of Israel

The first page of many issues of The Christadelphian magazine still retains this statement of the dedication of the magazine. Why adopt such a statement?

The answer is, simply, that Christadelphians and the Hope of Israel have been inseparably linked for over 130 years, and it is right that The Christadelphian magazine should proclaim that fact. The first major work of Dr Thomas, a standard Christadelphian work since 1849, he called by the title of Elpis Israel, for in that hope lies the key to the understanding of the gospel of the kingdom. For our early brethren this understanding was truly a key of knowledge, which opened up the message of all the Holy Scriptures, linking Old and New Testaments and stimulating personal study and a well-defined hope in the promises of God.

“Abraham holds a conspicuous place in relation to the blessedness of the gospel. He is named by Paul eight times in the third chapter of the Galatians, which he concludes by saying, “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Hence men are required to be Christ’s that they may be Abraham’s seed. But why is it so important to be of the seed of Abraham? For the obvious reason that, as the promise was made to Abraham, it is only by being constitutionally ‘in him’ that any Son of Adam can obtain a participation in what belongs to Abraham” (page 205, Elpis Israel). Without the covenants of promise we would be aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and without hope in the world (Eph 2:12). Thanks be to God that unto us are given “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4).