About three thousand, nine hundred and fifty years ago, which was about four hundred years after the flood, God chose a man from among all the descendants of Noah, and began to speak great things unto him, making promises to him, and covenants with him. As it is written, "Now the Lord had 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: And 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" (Gen. 12:1-3).
We are not told how long it had been since the Lord had spoken those instructions and promises to Abraham [called Abram until he received the Covenant of Circumcision], but when his father died, he packed up, and took his family, including his nephew Lot, and began to travel as a pilgrim and a stranger in a strange land; looking for the fulfillment of the promises which God had given him.
During the next fifty-eight years or so, until the offering up of Isaac, as Abraham "sojourned in the land of promise," God spoke to him seven more times; beginning after he and Lot separated. It was then that God spoke to him, and promised to give him that land, as far as he could see in every direction, saying, "To thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee" (Gen. 13:14-17).
And it came to pass, as Abraham returned from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and the kings that were with him, having delivered Lot out of their hands, Melchizedek went out to him, and blessed him, "and (Abram) gave him tithes of all." "After those things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision," in which God promised him a son to be his heir. God told him further how their numbers would increase, and how they would be oppressed for four hundred years, and of their ultimate liberation. In the same day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites (ten)" (Genesis 15:1-21).
(I have listed all of these because it so clearly prophesies that, when the time approaches when "The meek shall inherit the Earth," God shall raise up that nation in Daniel 2:44 and Isaiah 59:19, by whom the ten horns of "the Beast," in Rev. 17, shall be overcome, and by whom "the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against [that great red dragon, the serpent] which must now, very soon, begin his effort to destroy that resplendent woman in Rev. 12:1.)
And when Abram was ninety-nine years old, "the Lord appeared to Abram , and said unto him, I am The Almighty, walk before me and be thou perfect. And I will multiply thee exceedingly. ... My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations, ... [therefore] thy name shall be Abraham." And God spoke further with him, confirming the covenant which He had previously made with him. Then he said, "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. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession: and I will be their God." He then proceeded to make another covenant with Abraham, saying, "This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child shall be circumcised. ... And My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant" (Gen. 17:1-22). At that same time, God reconfirmed His promise of an heir, and made a critical, and revealing, promise to Ishmael, saying, "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. But my covenant shall I establish with Isaac" (Gen. 17:18-20).
"And the Lord appeared unto hm in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day." Three men stood by him, and talked with him of Sarah and Isaac. "(Then) the men rose up, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them. And the Lord said, 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?" (Gen. 18:1-19).
As each generation of Abraham's descendants came on the scene, God had to make another choice among them, declaring which of His descendants would be the progenitor of the promised seed. He did not simply bless the apparent heir: the firstborn, but rather made an "election." First it was Isaac over Ishmael. Then it was Jacob over Esau. And when the children of Israel came out of Egypt, by the mighty hand of God, having become "a nation, great, mighty, and populous (Deut. 26:5), God made choice among them, saying, "Judah was His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion" (Psalm 114:2).
All of these covenants and promises, as pertain to the natural descendants of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob/Israel, have been fulfilled, but must be understood in the light of the blessing and the curse of Deut. 11:26-29; 28:1-68. For the Lord said unto them, "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which you have not known." We Christians have a tendency to believe God's blessings to be absolute, but not His curses. But Ezekiel 33:1-19 pretty well disallows that assumption.
God gave Abraham the son which He had promised him, and, during the administration of Joshua the son of Nun, all of the land to the children of Israel which He had promised unto Agraham (Joshua 21:43-45 and 23:11-13). However, the part about it being "unto his seed forever," was provisional, as pertained to natural Israel, because God knew that they would soon turn away from Him and serve other Gods. Therefore He said unto Moses, " When I shall have brought them into the land, and they have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware" (Deut. 31:20-27). (Yet, it shall be given to the Israel of God forever. Which fact must be reckoned according to the words of Paul, where he said, "He is a Jew which is one inwardly.")
When those ten of the twelve spies brought back their evil report concerning the people of the land, and caused the people to murmur against Moses and Aaron, God allowed all of the men in Israel, who were 20 years old and older at that time, die in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb. As He said unto them, in Numbers 14, "Ye shall know my breach of promise." Later, in about 600 B.C., God sold Israel, the northern kingdom, into the hands of the king of Assyria, who carried them away from that land. Then, in about 477 B. C. Nebuchadnezzar carried Judah away into captivity in Babylon and Persia. After seventy years, God returned them to their land, but did not reestablish them as a sovereign nation.
Then, in about A.D. thirty-three, Jesus died on the cross, of which the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:1-7, that the death of Christ broke the covenant, which is the ten commandments (Exodus 34:28), of the law of Moses. Paul, speaking to the saints of the Jewish Church, said, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." He further confirmed this, in Hebrews, 8:13, saying, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded" (Rom. 11:7).
The covenant which God made with Israel vanished away in A.D. seventy, and God removed Israel from the land again, for almost eighteen hundred years, until He returned them to their, as a nation in 1948. However, though they were restored to nationhood, they have not had, nor will they have, The Kingdom of God restored to them. Those other times, when God sold them into the hand of their enemies, He had merely given them a writing of divorcement (Jer. 3:6-8), but now, the covenant was broken by death, and waxed old, and vanished away when the Romans brought down Jerusalem and the Temple. For God said by Jesus Christ, in Matthew 21:43, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
From the time Israel came out of Egypt, until their captivity in Babylon, Jehovah was the God of their armies. However, Israel lost that standing, and, although Israel is a nation again, the Almighty is not the God of the army of Israel today. Yes, God worked wonders with them in the taking of Jerusalem, in 1967, and defended them against the Egyptians in 1973, but that was to make a way for the fulfillment of the Forty-two months of Rev. 11:2 (which was fulfilled between September 28, 2000 and March 28, 2004), and the coming attack against Jerusalem of Zech. 14:1-3. Those prophecies would be difficult to fulfill if we were looking at Jerusalem, Jordan instead of Jerusalem, Israel.
After the resurrection, "When (the apostles) were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus did not answer their question, but told them of the great power which they would soon receive. Apparently they were not yet able to receive the truth of the matter which Jesus had mentioned to them in Matthew 21:43, that when The Kingdom of God is again raised up, it shall be a newly formed, Gentile nation, carved out of Gentile Christianity, and manifesting the fruits of God's kingdom (Dan. 2:44 and Acts 1:6-8).
When the Romans pillaged Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, in A.D. seventy, the Kingdom of God was taken away from Israel, and it shall be given to that nation of which Daniel spoke, in Daniel 2:44. That nation is even now beginning to form, and it shall soon come forth; the very image of the shadow cast by Israel's departure from Egypt (Deut. 26:5). They have "sojourned (here) with a few, and (shall become here) a nation, great, mighty, and populous." And "When the enemy shall come in like a flood" (Isaiah 59:19 and Rev. 12:14-16), it is that nation which shall "lift up a standard against him, by the Spirit of the Lord."
Jesus had already laid the foundation for this transferal of The Kingdom of God, before His crucifixion, as Matthew told us in Matt. 21:43. And Jacob had, long before, prophesied, saying, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and to him shall the gathering of the people be." I have noticed that almost all Christians are convinced that this Shiloh is Jesus of Nazareth. That being true, the promise to Abraham that he should "inherit the world" must, at some point, pass to someone who is not of the tribe of Judah. And Jesus showed us, in Matt. 24:45-47, that when He returns, He will give the scepter of The Kingdom of God to the man who is filling the position of "Ruler over His household" at that time. And Paul pointed out, in Romans, chapters 9-11, that it is the Gentiles who will be in charge of the Church at that time, extending mercy to the Jews. (See also Rev. 2:26-28).