Questions God Asks

the Lord said to Saul of Tarsus, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ (Acts 9:4). Saul was full of hatred – not just in slaying the Lord, but all who followed Him, even to strange cities. But he, the chief of sinners, was shown grace. Grace to the chief of sinners, to hostile – Holy Ghost resisting – Christ persecuting – Israel. Grace to the poorest feeble saint, a member of His body, His flesh and of His bones – the Church.


JohnNelsonDarbyThe LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?’ (Gen 3:9)

  • Adam was separated from God by his own conscience – and naked.


The LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?’ (Gen 4:9)

  • Cain did not love God.  He hated his brother and was a murderer.
  • Can is typical of the Jews’ rejection of Christ.


It is the Lord who is speaking – the glorified Son of God.  He died for the sins of others – seen typically in Abel’s sacrifice.  The One who asks the questions is the One who accomplished righteousness.

So the Lord said to Saul of Tarsus, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ (Acts 9:4).  Saul was full of hatred – not just in slaying the Lord, but all who followed Him, even to strange cities.  But he, the chief of sinners, was shown grace.  Grace to the chief of sinners, to hostile – Holy Ghost resisting – Christ persecuting – Israel.  Grace to the poorest feeble saint, a member of His body, His flesh and of His bones – the Church.


Based on a passage in on J. N. Darby: ‘God’s Questions to Man’ – Notes and Comments Vol. 1, p 181



September 2016

Civilisation and Man’s Natural state

Civilisation is the artificial and polished life where people are associated by common recognised rules.

Civilisation is the artificial and polished life where people are associated by common recognised rules.  They have developed of skills and mental faculties.  This is in contrast with men barbarism with men in natural or ‘savage’ groups, acting on natural impulses and passions.  Nevertheless, mental faculties the natural state, and the impulses and passions remain in the civilised.  If these are let loose, unrestrained by common recognised civil rules, we have  revolution, war, and so forth.


Barbaric State Civilised State
barbarismOrigin – Adam after the fall

Men are personally free

Men act as individuals

Social and family groups are small

Barbarism was the natural effect of Adam’s state when he had lost God



Origin – Cain

Men are more dependent on each other

Men are more closely united

Men are gregarious (more than social)

Civilisation began when Cain built a city

Civilisation uses human faculties and the earth’s resources to make the world a pleasant without God



Based on J. N. Darby: ‘Civilisation’ – Notes and Comments Vol. 1, p 110


August 2016

Man always spoils what God has set up perfectly

Let me add that God, in His history of man, has shown what flesh is, and even the creature left to himself. The first thing man has always done is to spoil what God has set up good.

An epilogue to

 J. N. Darby‘s

JohnNelsonDarbyUnion in Incarnation, the Root Error of Modern Theology

Let me add that God, in His history of man, has shown what flesh is, and even the creature left to himself. The first thing man has always done is to spoil what God has set up good. Man himself —

  • The first thing we read of him is eating the forbidden fruit.
  • The first Noah did, after offering thanksgiving for his deliverance, was to get drunk.
  • Israel made the golden calf, before Moses came down from the mountain.
  • Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire the first day after being consecrated, and Aaron never went into the holy of holies in his garments of glory and beauty.
  • The son of David, Solomon, loved many strange women, and the kingdom was divided.
  • The Gentile head of gold persecuted the godly, and became a beast, characterising the empires that followed him for the seven times.

What shall we say of the church? How soon did all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ, and forsake the devoted and faithful apostle! John could say, “There are many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time.” But God has worked on in grace, in spite of this, to shew what He is, His longsuffering and goodness and patience. So all those things — man, the law, the priesthood, royalty in the Son of David, He that rises to reign over the Gentiles, His being glorified in His saints — all is made good in its place in the Second Man, the Last Adam. May His name be eternally praised! As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy. As is the Heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.


June 2015

For original see  Union in Incarnation, the Root Error of Modern Theology

For my summary see Christ’s Coming into Manhood – Some Errors Exposed

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Genesis

Creation is first treated of; then innocence, lordship, and marriage, the figure of union with Christ. Next we have the fall, man’s sin against God, and then in Cain man’s sin against his brother. There is, at the same time, a witness of certain righteous persons: Abel in sacrifice, Enoch in life, and Noah in testimony of approaching judgment. You then get the complete corruption of the whole system, and the deluge.


Ilay-preachingn this book we have all the great principles of God’s relationship with man, without bringing in redemption which makes a people for God and a dwelling-place for God in man.   You never, save in chapter 2:3, get the word “holiness” in Genesis; and you never have God dwelling with men.

Creation is first treated of; then innocence, lordship, and marriage, the figure of union with Christ. Next we have the fall, man’s sin against God, and then in Cain man’s sin against his brother.   There is, at the same time, a witness of certain righteous persons: Abel in sacrifice, Enoch in life, and Noah in testimony of approaching judgment.   You then get the complete corruption of the whole system, and the deluge.

Having had in Enoch a figure of the church, we get in Noah deliverance through judgment.   Then a new world begins, God entering into covenant with it, and government introduced to prevent violence.   But the governor fails, and God’s plans as to the races of men are brought out.  We find God making nations, in consequence of man’s attempt to remain united so as to be independent.   In the midst of these nations we have, in Nimrod, imperial despotic power in an individual.  It is connected with Babel, the place of man’s wickedness.   In point of fact, the division of mankind into nations comes by judgment.

Shem’s family having been owned on the earth – the Lord God of Shem, national existence is recognized as God’s principle of the constitution of the earth.   He now begins an entirely new thing.   He calls out an individual to be the head of a blest race.   Whatever individual saints there had thus far been, there had been no counterpart of Adam as the head of a race.   Abraham was called out to be this.   Election, calling, and promise are connected with his calling.  Consequently you have Abraham here, as a stranger and pilgrim, with nothing but his tent and his altar.   He fails, like everybody, but God judges the world – Pharaoh’s house – for him.

We then get the distinction between a heavenly-minded and an earthly-minded man; the world having power over the earthly-minded (Lot), and the heavenly one (Abraham) having power over the world.  In connection with this we have in Melchizedek the future priest upon his throne, linked with God’s supremacy over heaven and earth.   Abraham’s separation from the world having been demonstrated, Jehovah presents Himself to Abraham as his shield and reward.   We first get the earthly inheritance and people, that is, in promise.  Abraham looks for the promise in a fleshly way, and that is all rejected.   We have then the promise to Abraham of being the father of many nations, God revealing Himself as God Almighty.   We have also His covenant with Abraham, and the principle of separation to God by circumcision.   Chapter 18 gives the promise of the heir, the judgment of the world (Sodom), and the connection of a heavenly people (Abraham) with God, by intercession.   In chapter 19 we have the connection with the judgment of the earthly people (Lot), saved as by fire through the tribulation.

What follows this, in chapter 20, is the absolute appropriation of the wife, whether Jerusalem or the heavenly bride, as the spouse of the Lord.  The old covenant (Hagar) is cast out, and, the true heir (Isaac) comes.   He takes the land (chap. 21).

Chapter 22 begins another series of things. The promised heir having being offered up, the promise is confirmed to the seed.   Sarah dies (chap. 23): this is the passing away of the old association with God on the earth.  Hence, in chapter 24 Eliezer (in figure the Holy Ghost, or His work on earth) is sent to take a wife for Isaac (Christ), who is Heir of all things.  Isaac is not permitted to return to Mesopotamia.   So, Christ, in taking the church, cannot come down to earth.

However, the moment we get Jacob, we get the head of the twelve tribes.  He goes to Mesopotamia for Rachel and Leah, typical of Israel and the Gentiles.  Jacob is the elect, but not the heavenly people.   He goes back to Canaan, gets the promises, with all sorts of exercises, as Israel will, but, if he does, he must give up old Israel (Rachel) to get Benjamin, the son of his right hand.

In the brief notice of Esau’s offspring we find the world in vigour and energy before God’s people are.   Then another history commences, that of Joseph.  This portrays Christ, though connected with Israel, rejected by Israel, and sold to the Gentiles.  He now comes to be the head, having the throne, and governing all Egypt.  God has done with Israel, receiving a Gentile wife, and calls his children by names typical of Christ’s rejection and blessing outside Israel.   He receives back his brethren in the glory.  This part closes with two distinct testimonies, the will of Joseph about his bones, and Jacob’s prophecy that they will all be back in the land and the promises to Israel be fulfilled.

Lightly edited by Sosthenes, May 2014

The Importance of Prophecy

Prophecy has two ends:

Detaching us from the world.
Making us intelligent of the character of God, and of His ways towards us.

Satan opposes the truth, and that must include prophecy

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.1 – The Importance of Prophecy

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE

A summary of the 11th Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled ‘Summing Up, and Conclusion’


4.11 The Importance of Prophecy

Prophecy and the Truth

How God has revealed Himself in Prophecy.

Prophecy in the Old Testament

Prophecy and the Church

Calling and Government

The Battle in Heaven

The Lord’s Return



Prophecy and the Truth

Prophecy has two ends:

  1. To detach us from the world.
  2. To make us intelligent of the character of God, and His ways towards us.

Satan opposes the truth, and that must include prophecy.  He says,

  1. ‘Follow morality, not doctrine; otherwise you might be freed from his power’.  Or
  2. ‘Neglect prophecy, because in it is found the judgment of this world’, (of which he is the prince.) 

Prophecy throws light upon the dispensations of God; so that we understand the freedom of our souls towards Him.  Dispensational error confounds the law and the gospel, and past economies or dispensations with the present one.

If we judge ourselves according to the law, we cannot find peace.  Many Christians are troubled through not fully understanding the difference between the position of the saints of the old (law) dispensation and the saints of the current dispensation of grace.  The study of prophecy clears things up such points and enlightens the faithful as to their walk and manner of life.   For, while it always maintains free salvation by the death of Jesus, prophecy enables us to understand the difference between the standing of the saints now under grace and those of a former time under law and promise.

Hope acts upon our hearts and affections. As we become more intelligent as to the future, our enjoyment of Christianity must increase.  If we ignore prophecy, our thoughts do not go beyond the present.  God in His word has given us what His intentions are for the future.  Prophecy outlines things to come; it is the scriptural mirror.  If we refuse to study what God has revealed as to the future, we inevitably fall back on our own ideas.

Some cite the scripture, ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2) to justify our ignoring prophecy.  Paul doubtless wished to set himself at variance with the know-all ‘kings’ in that city.  We are not to limit ourselves to the knowledge of Jesus Christ crucified. We must also know Jesus Christ glorified, Jesus Christ at the right hand of God; we must know Him as High Priest; as Advocate with the Father. We ought to know Jesus Christ as much as possible.  ‘Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.[1]’ (Hebrews 6:1).

God has a perfect plan for the future:  the more we enter into their minute details; the more perfection appears[2].  


How God has revealed Himself in Prophecy.

Revelation 12 gives us final combat between Christ, the last Adam, and Satan.  The fight was either for the earthly object (the Jews) or the heavenly object (the Church).

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun… and she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (v. 1,4)

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon… and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan…  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ. (v. 7,9-10)

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (v. 17)

For the crisis of the combat between Satan and the last Adam to be understood, scripture had to develop the history of the first Adam – hence so much of scripture concerns man’s failings.   We, Christians with the life-giving Spirit and living during the church-time period separating the first coming of the Lord from the second, are to have a better understanding of the eternal counsels of God.  The Church is being gathered by the action of the Holy Spirit to have part in the glory of Christ at His return.  Then, at the Rapture, the Church is taken from out of all nations, and united to Him.

Christ found the first Adam in a state of ruin – entirely lost.  The whole state of man, before and after the deluge, under the law, under the prophets, only served as a clear attestation that man was lost.  He had failed altogether, under every possible circumstance, until, God having sent His Son, the servants said, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him’ (Luke 20:14).   Sin abounded, but the grace of God over-abounded (See Romans 5:21).

Prophecy in the Old Testament

When Israel had transgressed in every possible way and circumstance, under Ahaz in the family of David, prophecy commences in all its details, having these two features:

  1. The manifestation of the glory of Christ, showing that the people had failed under the law.
  2. The manifestation of the coming glory of Christ, to be the support of the faith of those who desired to keep the law.

The word of God, predicting that the Messiah was to come and suffer should have touched their conscience.  Isaiah 53 is still a stumbling-block for them.  It ought not to be so with us.


Prophecy and the Church

Prophecy applies itself properly to the earth: its object is not heaven.  Through not seeing this, Christians have been misled, thinking that they can enjoy earthly blessings, whereas we are called to heavenly blessings.  For the want of taking hold of this exhilarating truth, the church has become so weak.

The church is a kind of heavenly economy, during the period of the rejection of God’s earthly people, it has its joy in heavenly places.   The Lord, having been rejected by the Jewish people, is become wholly a heavenly Person. This is Paul’s doctrine.  It is no longer the Messiah of the Jews, but Christ exalted and glorified. 

It was necessary that Christ should buy the church: the price was His blood.    We see that Boaz, a type of Christ, bought the inheritance by taking Ruth (strictly speaking a type of the Remnant of Israel brought in by grace) as wife. See Ruth 4:5

The Church, has no title to the inheritance, because until we are in the glory we can have nothing, possess nothing, except only ‘the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.’ (Ephesians 1:13-14).  We see the church glorified, even though the Lord Jesus has not abandoned any of His rights upon the earth.

As to the saints of the church, in the patience of God, the children of God are gathered together.   The Lord will come at any time to call His ransomed people. The church will then go immediately to meet the Lord, and the marriage of the Lamb can then take place.

Until that time Satan is the prince of this world, by usurpation.

Calling and Government


Having considered the rights of Christ and of the church, let us consider how Christ will make them good.   In the Jews, the calling of God and the government upon the earth were united.  But Israel failed, and God transfers government, according to His will, to the Gentiles.  However, Israel continued to be God’s chosen people: for the ‘gifts and calling of God are without repentance’. (Romans 11:29)  The calling of God for the earth is never transferred to the nations; it remains with the Jews.  If I want an earthly religion, I ought to be a Jew.

Once the government is transferred to the Gentiles, they become beasts, the oppressors of the people of God: first, the Babylonians; secondly, the Medes and Persians; thirdly, the Greeks; then, the Romans. The fourth monarchy consummated its crime at the same instant that the Jews consummated theirs, being accessory to killing the Son of God and King of Israel.  Gentile power is in a fallen state, just as the Jews, are.  Judgment is written upon both government and calling, as they are in man’s hand.

At the time of the Rapture, the government of the fourth monarchy will be still in existence.  It will then come under the influence and direction of Antichrist; and the Jews will unite themselves to him, in a state of rebellion, to make war with the Lamb.  

The Battle in Heaven

At the appropriate time, Satan, who up till now has been in heaven, will be dispossessed and expelled and cast down to earth.  He will not yet be bound.[3]   He will excite the whole earth and will raise the apostate part of it, that which will have revolted against the power of Christ coming from heaven.  Satan will unite the Jews with this apostate prince against heaven, along with both secular and spiritual heads of both the Gentiles and the Jews.  The Wicked One, having joined himself to the Jews, and placed himself at the centre of government of the earth in Jerusalem, will be defeated at the coming of the Lord of lords and King of kings.   Although the Lord will have come to the earth, and the power of Satan in Antichrist destroyed, the earth will not yet be brought under His rule.  Therefore, the Saviour must clear the land so that its inhabitants may enjoy the blessings of His reign without interruption.  Satan will be bound until ‘he is loosed for a short season’ (Revelation 20:3).

The Lord will purify His land from the Nile to the Euphrates.  The people will come into security in the land.  Before the end of the seven-year period, another enemy namely Gog, will come up, but only for destruction.

The Lord’s Return

We now discover a much more calm and intimate relationship between the Lord Jesus and the Jews. This is what will take place when ‘his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives’  (Zechariah 14:3)   It is the same Jesus: not as the Christ from heaven, but as the Messiah of the Jews.

The world to come will follow the judgments.   The Lord’s glory will be manifested in Jerusalem, the report of which will be announced to the other nations.  These will submit themselves to Christ; they will confess the Jews to be God’s blessed people. Blessing will extend from Jerusalem to wherever there are men to enjoy its effects.  The throne of God, established at Jerusalem, will become the source of happiness to the whole earth.

The blessing will be without interruption because the government in heaven will be the security of the goodness of God.  Darby writes ‘Behold the heavenly Jerusalem, witness in glory of the grace which has placed her so high! In the midst of her shall flow the river of water of life… Meanwhile, upon the earth, is the earthly Jerusalem, the centre of the government, and of the reign of the righteousness of Jehovah her God; will be the place of His throne – the centre of the exercise of justice’.

The glorified church will fill the heavenly places with its joy.  In the midst of her flows the ‘river of water of life, … and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, … and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:1-2) .  ‘The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish’ (Isaiah 60:12).  Christ will fulfil all the functions of High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.


Darby acknowledged that he had not covered many aspects of prophecy in these lectures, for example, the persecution of the Jews.  He felt he had covered the larger features of prophecy, especially making the distinction between the dispensations, very clear, also conveying something of God’s character and perfect work.  If we see God’s works in their minute details, the more does perfection appear.

He concludes: ‘May God perfect in us, and in all His children, in separation from the world.  This ought to be, before God, the fruit of the expectation of the church.  May we know more these of its expected heavenly blessings, and be aware of the terrible judgments which await all that which keeps man bound to this lower world; for judgment will come upon all these earthly things.  May God also perfect the desires of our hearts, and the witness of the Holy Spirit!’


[1] The word τελειότης/teleiotés/Strong-5047 suggests the combination of truths (stages of spiritual growth), the culmination of which also supports future consummation. (Strong’s definition).

[2] I am very conscious of having left out many ‘minute details’ that JND covered in his lectures and other papers.  This book is no substitute for the 1,529 pages of the four ‘Prophetic’ volumes of J N Darby’s Collected Writings edited by William Kelly, plus his other notes and the Synopsis.

[3] In his lecture Darby stated that as soon as the Rapture had taken place battles would commence and Satan would be cast out of heaven.  This would undoubtedly be the case if the period between the Rapture and the Appearing was only 3½ years. As stated in the Prophetic Timeline (Section 1)  it is the author’s position and that of the majority of premillennialists that this period will be seven years and Satan will be cast out halfway through.  See ‘Are there Two Half Weeks in the Apocalypse?’ JND Collected Writings vol 11 (Prophetic 4), page 168.’


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The Remnant of Israel

The gospel does not occupy itself with the earthly blessings of the Jews. This is matter for the Old Testament prophecies. Our blessings flow from the presence of Christ, the Son of David, a consequence of the new covenant. Whereas we know God as Father, through Grace, the Jews know Him as Jehovah the King – through His righteous judgments.

In the history of the Jews, we see Jehovah’s glory. The Jews are the people by whom, and in whom, God sustains His Name of Jehovah, and His character of judgment and righteousness. The remnant will be brought to the Lord of hosts, ”to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.” (Isaiah 18:7).

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.10 – The Remnant of Israel

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE

A summary of the 10th Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled ‘Same subject as the preceding and Manner of its Accomplishment.’


In Jewish history, we see Jehovah’s glory


The Old Testament prophecies are occupied with the earthly blessings of the Jews;  the gospel is not occupied with earthly blessings at all.  Our blessings flow from the presence of Christ, the Son of David, a consequence of the new covenant.  Whereas we know God as Father through grace, the Jews know Him as Jehovah the King – through His righteous judgments.


God acting in Grace

  1. To the Jews, it is the character of Jehovah the King – known by His judgments – by the exercise of His power on the earth.  Their affairs are very dear to our God and Father.
  2. To the church, it is the character of Father, revealed to our souls by the gospel, by the spirit of adoption. 

The gospel is a system of pure grace – a system which teaches us to act towards others as we have been acted on by the Father:  ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). The people of Christ, now the children of God, ought to follow the example of the Saviour (that is, not to expect or wish judgment now, but to be gentle and humbly suffer wrong).

God’s faithfulness, changeableness, His almighty power, and His government of the whole earth are all revealed in His relationship towards Israel. The history of Israel gives us an insight into the character of Jehovah.  God would reason with His earthly people:  ‘Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.   And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.  Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness’  (Isaiah 1:18-20).


God acting in Judgment

Jehovah will bless the nations; but the character of His kingdom is, that ‘judgment shall return unto righteousness’ (Psalm 94:15). At the first coming of Jesus Christ, judgment was with Pilate, but righteousness with Jesus; but when Jesus returns, judgment will be united to righteousness.  On the other hand, Jehovah will console His people by acting in righteousness in their favour ‘By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God’ (Psalm 65:5), and He will re-establish them in earthly glory. The Jews will be the people by whom, and in whom, God sustains both His name (Jehovah) and His character in judgment and righteousness.

After the church has been Raptured, the first to be gathered will be those who had rejected Jesus and were guilty of His death.  As unbelievers, they will find an alternative to their true Messiah, and become subject to the Antichrist.  The Israelites (two tribes) may be returning to their land (far more so now than in JND’s time), but God takes no notice of them[1].


The Remnant


Now Israel is buried as a nation among the Gentiles. In its revival, God will stand up for His people in their time of distress and deliver a remnant. 

There will be an uninterrupted chain of blessings from Jehovah.  Jehovah will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. This will be the case when the judgment of God falls upon the nations.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her… And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt … And I will betroth thee unto me for ever … And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.’ (Hosea 2:14-23). 

Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days … after that they shall seek Jehovah and David – the well-beloved, or Christ.’ (Hosea 3:4, 5)  ‘And I will bring again the captivity of my people . . . and I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up.’ (Amos 9:14, 15.)  

This is of course yet to come, and the words, ‘in that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen,’ (Amos 9:11) are quoted in Acts 15:16, to prove that God always had determined to have a people (a Jewish residue) from among the Gentiles.

God is said to be ‘silent in his love’ (Zephaniah 3:17). He lavishes all this on the Remnant.  A few verses earlier the prophet said, ‘The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid’ (v.13).  The spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured out upon the Remnant of Israel – ‘ all the families that remain’; (v14) and ‘they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn.’ (Zechariah 12:10).

Nevertheless, the Remnant shall ‘be brought to the Lord of hosts, from a people rent and torn in piecesto the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion’ (Isaiah 18:7).

This prediction, delivered by Jesus Himself, gives us the assurance that Christ will restore Israel here, and reign in her midst: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, your house is left unto you desolate till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ (Matthew 23:37-39.).  Israel will see Jesus,  ‘The stone, which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner.’ (Psalm 118:22)

When the Lord entered Jerusalem there was only a partial fulfilment of the prophecy ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee’’ (Zechariah 9:9 and John 12:15).  In John, the Holy Spirit omits, ‘He is just, and having salvation’.   Far from saving Himself, He saved us.

The Ten Tribes

However, the first to be gathered are those who rejected Jesus, those who were guilty of His death. (The ten tribes were not guilty of this crime.)   Those who rejected Christ will be subjected to the Antichrist; they will make ‘a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell’ (Isaiah 28:15), but their covenant will shatter all their hopes.  Having united themselves to Antichrist, they will suffer the consequences of this alliance, and at last, will be destroyed.

The two tribes are representative of all twelve.  Given the above, the two tribes will also be lost and will need to be born in a day.  Darby does not go into a nation born in a day – the coming together of the 10 tribes.

After His appearance, (therefore just before the Millennium – the Day of the Lord), the Lord will gather together the elect of the Jewish nation, from among the Gentiles. This will be a time of great happiness. (See Matthew 24 31; compare Isaiah 27:12-13, and Isa. 11:10, 12.) – especially the latter (See Chapter 4.9, above).


[1] A strong statement but those are JND’s words.  He goes on, Israel is abandoned to the nations,


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What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for Us

The restoration of the Jews is founded upon the unconditional promises that God made to Abraham. However, their fall is a result of their having undertaken to obey God in their own strength. After God had exercised His patience in every possible way “until there was no remedy,” (2 Chron. 36:16) judgment came upon them only after extraordinary patience. But God keeps His promises.

We have a similar history. No sooner does God place us in a position than we fail. But behind our failure there is strength, that is to say, the revelation of the counsels of God, and consequentially His unconditional promises.

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.9– What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for us

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE

A summary of the Ninth Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled Israel’s Failure and Dispersion; Promises of Restoration.



4.9  What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for us

The Restoration of the Jews and God’s Promises to Israel

The History of Israel

The Promises which sustained a faithful Remnant

Happy Times for Israel

Israel must be renewed in heart to receive the promises of Canaan.

Is Zion the Church?

Our Blessings




The Restoration of the Jews and God’s Promises to Israel

Ezekiel 37 shows us forcibly what God in His goodness will yet do in Israel’s favour.

Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live … and ye shall know that I am the LORD.  …  Take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:  and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. …  So shall they be my people, and I will be their God.  And David my servant shall be king over them’. 

The restoration of the Jews is founded upon the unconditional promises that God made to Abraham.  But we have also seen how Israel undertook to obey in their own strength, taking on the promises under the covenant made in the wilderness.  Notwithstanding their miserable failure, thanks to the mediation of Moses, God was able to bless the people.  Israel again failed after they had been given the land.  He raised prophets to convict them of the sin into which they had fallen, bearing with His people ‘until there was no remedy’  (2 Chron. 36:16).  Thence severe judgment came upon them.   God executed judgment only after extraordinary patience.


The prophets also showed the faithful ones that the counsels of God towards Israel would not be put aside. God would accomplish everything that He had spoken about through the Messiah.  It was when Israel failed, that the promises of their re-establishment became precious to the faithful remnant of the people since the unfaithful majority would come under judgment.

The History of Israel

Joshua had said to the people, ‘Ye cannot serve the Lord’,  but the people insisted, ‘Nay, but we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:19,21)    They had been led into the land of promise, enjoyed the fruits of grace, and now they were undertaking to obey the Lord in their strength.


Judges 2 summarises their complete failure.  The children of Israel made alliances with the people of the land, so God said, ‘I will not drive out your enemies from before you, but they shall be as thorns in your sides.  Then the cycle started:


The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. . .  they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (v. 11,13)


The anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, . . . and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. (v. 14)


Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.  (v 15)


They would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: (v 16)


When the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. (v 18)


When the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way (v 19)


So the cycle continued: always the same – kindness on the part of God, ingratitude on the part of man.   This constant distaste of man’s heart for God is an unhappy subject to dwell on.


Eli was the high priest, the judge and head of Israel.   However, the glory of Israel had been cast down to the ground: ‘The ark of God taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.’   Eli himself died, and his dying daughter-in-law named her child, Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory is departed from Israel’ (1 Samuel 4:11,21)


Samuel was raised up of God.  When the people said they wanted a king like the rest of the nations, God showed that He had been rejected: 1 Sam. 8:6, 7. ‘And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.’   Saul failed: Israel had failed under prophet, priest and king,


David and Solomon  – God gave David, a type of Christ to Israel, as he is the father of Christ according to the flesh.  Under Solomon, Israel becomes rich and glorious.  But the people transgressed under both these two princes.  ‘The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel.’ (1 Kings 11:9).  Royalty, raised up by God Himself, failed and judgment passed upon it – though it was not executed until the reign of Zedekiah


Ahaz and Manasseh  – The ten tribes were unfaithful.   In the apostasy of Ahaz, who took the heathen altar from Damascus to Jerusalem, the hope of Israel failed.  Only God’s promises remained.


And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers… but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy’ (2 Chron. 36:15, 16).  That was the end of their existence in the land of Canaan. The name of Lo-ammi (not my people – see Hosea 1:9) is at last written upon them, and they were deported to Babylon.  These tribes were lost – at least as far as their identity is concerned.


The Promises which sustained a faithful Remnant

This is the promise: ‘I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more as beforetime  … I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.’  (2 Samuel 7:10,13).   In Hebrews 1:5,  these words apply to Christ – ‘For unto which of the angels said he … I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?’   All the promises made to Abraham and to his seed are placed in the safekeeping, and gathered together in the Person, of Jesus, the Son of David.


‘In that day (time of great trouble) shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.’ (Isaiah 4:2-4).  Judah and Israel will be reunited, and the nations will be assembled to the throne of God.  Isaiah gives so many references to Christ and the blessings of Israel from its Messiah. 




Happy Times for Israel


Happy times for Israel have not yet been realised.   They certainly were not realised at the time of the return from Babylon, or since[1].


Ezekiel 37 gives the future re-establishment of Israel – the joining together of the two parts of the nation and their return into the land. This is yet to come.  God is their God; their King is present, and the nations knowing that Israel’s God is Jehovah. His sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.  God will never hide His face from his people again.


There is a touching passage as to the thoughts of the Lord concerning His people in Jeremiah 32:37-42.   Having given them the promises of blessing in grace, and assured them that He would be their God, the Lord says, ‘And I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them’.


God gives a new heart to the Remnant, the nucleus of the future nation.


Israel must be renewed in heart to receive the promises of Canaan.

Israel must be born again to enjoy those terrestrial promises which belong to her.   God must cause them to walk in His statutes by giving them a new heart, and then, but only then, they will enjoy the blessings foretold for them.


The Lord spoke to Nicodemus about the need of being born anew[2] – of water and of the Spirit in order to enter into the kingdom of God.  He was speaking of the Jews,  and Nicodemus should have known what God had said through Ezekiel: ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh’ (ch 36:26).


That is why He says, ‘If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?’ (John3:12)  – about the glory of Christ exalted in heaven, and the church, His companion.


Is Zion the Church?

These scriptures apply to Israel. Some misapply them to the Church, particularly in Ezekiel 35 onwards. They assert that in these chapters, Zion refers to the church. But this is impossible.  We read, ‘Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me.’  (Isaiah 48:14).   The Church will be with Christ.  Were Zion the church, how could it be forsaken?


When it says, ‘All the nations shall be gathered unto it.’ it does not refer to the return from Babylon, because it goes on, ‘In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together . . . to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.’ (Jeremiah 3:17-18).  This scripture cannot refer to the Church, nor to the present time when the ten tribes are not found.


Who is it that the Lord has broken down, thrown down, and destroyed? The same that He will build and plant.’ (Jeremiah 31:28).   It seems it has been asserted, that in these chapters Zion refers to the Church. It would be unreasonable to apply all the judgments to Israel, and all the blessings concerning the same persons to the Church!


We have the Holy Spirit; Israel will have the Branch.   The word of God never presents the Holy Spirit as the Branch of David.


Our Blessings

We participate in the blessings of the good olive-tree, but our joy has not dispossessed the Jew (the natural branch) of that which belongs to him.  We have been grafted into Christ.  If we are Christ’s, we are Abraham’s children, and partake of all that is spiritual.   The church has only one Father, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As Moses was the mediator for Israel (the type), we have the mediation and the presence of Jesus.  In Him, the promises are accomplished.


Now all these things happened to them as types, and have been written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.’  (1 Corinthians 10:11 Darby)  On one hand, the heart of man always fails, and on the other hand, there is the faithfulness of God who never fails.  He will fulfil all His promises, providing strength to surmount all the power of Satan and the wickedness of man.


We have seen the history Israel sinning under the law: but we can see the same in every one of our hearts.   No sooner does God place us in a position of responsibility than we fail.  But behind our failure, there is strength in the revelation of the counsels of God, and in His unconditional promises.  If we place ourselves before God, we recognise that it is only His grace that sustains us and relieves us from the situation we find ourselves in because of sin.


As to us Gentiles, the execution of God’s judgment has been suspended for about 2,000 years.  God is still drawing upon all the eternal resources of His grace to find those who will listen to His testimony of salvation.


In all this, we see the revelation of the character of Jehovah.   Israel is the theatre upon which God has displayed His perfect character. Though these things have happened (or will happen) to Israel, they are for our benefit.  We should think not only of the failure of Israel but also of the goodness of God – our God.   Were God to fail in His gifts towards Israel, He could fail in His contributions towards us.




JND Concludes, ‘Admirable patience! Infinite grace of Him who interests Himself in us, even after our rebellion and iniquity! To Him be all the glory!’


In all this, we see the revelation of the character of Jehovah.   Israel is the theatre upon which God has displayed His perfect character. Though these things have happened (or will happen) to Israel, they are for our benefit. God in His goodness will never fail in His gifts towards Israel: He will not fail us either.


[1] It is important to note that even if Jews have repopulated the land and the Israeli state established in 1948 (though not the area of the land, which was a subject of the six-day war in 1967 and remains a contentious issue now.  A Jew who understands God’s thoughts (though he/she may be in unbelief as regards their Messiah, cannot countenance the ‘West Bank’ as part of a ‘Palestinian (Philistine) state. A true Christian however can leave it all in God’s hands.  God will see to it that Israel gets the full land (a bit extended for the Millennium), and that sites needed – especially that currently occupied by the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque – the site of the temple, the threshing floor of Oman (or Araunah).


[2] Again, a frequent misapplication.  ‘New birth’ applies to the whole nation of Israel and is contained in prophesy.  Here it does not relate to the sovereign work of the Spirit of God in the soul.


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God’s Promises to Israel

In Romans 9 Paul explains how God has acted towards both the Jews and the Gentiles; (vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles – v23-24). Now chapter 11 starts with the question, “Hath God cast away his people?”

As we study the history of both the church and the four beasts, we see that the Jews are put aside. The gospel has appeared in the world to save sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, in order to reveal the hidden mystery of a heavenly people. Hence, “unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” (Ephesians 3:10)

‘After These Things’ Chapter 4.8 – God’s Promises to Israel

From our book ‘After These Things – Summaries of John Nelson Darby’s Papers on Prophecy – and more…’ Compiled by Daniel Roberts. For more about this book click on the picture or CLICK HERE

A summary of the Eighth Lecture by J N Darby on the Present Hope of the Church – Geneva 1840 entitled ‘Israel’s First Entry into the Land was the Result of Promise’

After These Things

4.8  God’s Promises to Israel

Israel Remains God’s People

Israel and the Church

Replacement Theology or Supersessionism

Adam and Noah

Idolatry and the Call of Abraham

Promises to Abraham and Israel

Israel’s Relationship with God

Law and the Promises to Abraham

The Promised Land



Israel Remains God’s People


After dealing with God’s relationships with men in the first eight chapters of Romans, Paul, a Jew, turns his attention in the next three chapters to Israel.  He asks the question, ‘Hath God cast away his people?’  The answer ‘God forbid’ (Romans 11:1)[1]

In Romans 9  Paul explained how God acted towards both the Jews and the Gentiles;  (vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles – v23-24).

As we study the history of the church and also the four Gentile empires (Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome), typified in the four beasts of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (see Daniel 2), we see that the Jews are set aside nationally.  The gospel has appeared in the world to save sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, to reveal the hidden mystery of a heavenly people.  Hence, ‘unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church the manifold wisdom of God.’  (Ephesians 3:10)

Although the Jews are enemies as to the gospel, the nation remains God’s people according to the flesh, and beloved on account of the fathers. (See Romans 11:28). God has not rejected His people.  ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’.  (v.29)


Israel and the Church

In the present dispensation, we have the calling of a heavenly people.  Consequentially, God puts aside His earthly people, the Jews.  The Jewish nation never enters into the church, though of course, many individual Jewish people do so.  Indeed,  ‘Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in’ (v.25).  This will be until the addition to the Church of the last of the children of God.

Replacement Theology or Supersessionism

Many Christian denominations espouse what has come to be called ‘replacement theology’.  That is the teaching:[2]

  • That the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan.
  • The many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel.
  • The restoration of Israel to the Promised Land is not physical, but spiritualised or allegorised promises of God’s blessing for the church.
  • The New Covenant through Jesus Christ supersedes the Old Covenant, which was made exclusively with the Jewish people, and that the New Covenant applies to the Church.

This lecture countered this erroneous teaching.

Adam and Noah

God chose Abraham and his family according to the flesh.  Among Abraham’s descendants, Israel serves as the depositary of God’s promises demonstrating God’s choice.  Nevertheless, to understand the root of the promises, we must look at the preceding dispensations.

Adam – Man left to himself after the fall.  The world was full of violence and corruption, and

Noah – God makes a covenant with Noah and with the creation; and gives the rainbow as a witness. ‘The Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground’ (Gen. 8:21).  This covenant was given immediately after Noah’s sacrifice – typically the sacrifice of Christ.  But Noah failed when he became drunk.

Every dispensation has ended in the failure of man.  What is lost through human folly is recovered at the end in Christ, whether it be blessing to the earth, prosperity to the Jews, or the glory of the church.

Idolatry and the Call of Abraham

Satan presents himself as God and makes himself the god of this earth.  It is written, ‘The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God’ (Deuteronomy 32:17).  The Lord reminded the Israelites,  Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the river in old time . . . and they served other gods.’ (Joshua 24:2 Darby and others).  This is the first time that we find God marking the existence of idolatry.

However, the true God separated a people to preserve the truth.   All the ways of God towards men turn upon God’s calling of Abraham and his posterity to be the depositary of this one great truth: ‘There are none other gods but one’ (Deuteronomy 4:35).

Promises to Abraham and Israel

The promises that God made to Abraham were without condition.  In Genesis 12 and 15, Abraham received both earthly and spiritual blessings.   He received an unconditional covenant, an absolute gift of the land.

We are told, ‘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’ Genesis 12:1-3.

God reconfirmed it in chapter 15.

God told Abraham that he was going to have a numerous posterity: ‘Look now toward the heavens, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them. And he said to him, So shall thy seed be!’ (v. 5).  He was even given the exact limits of the country.  Abraham believed God. God renewed His promise in Chapter 17, and re-confirmed it to Isaac (Genesis 26:3) and Jacob (Genesis 35:12).

Thus, God made Himself ‘the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob’, (Exodus 3:15), and His people became the heirs of the promises, pilgrims upon the earth, but God’s boast. The faithful in Israel were to find their confidence in that.

Israel’s Relationship with God

Until Exodus 19 the promise had been unconditional.  However, Israel placed themselves in relationship with God in the opposite way, that is based on their own righteousness on the principle of the law.    They acknowledged obedience to God and undertook to obey the law in their own strength.  Therefore, the covenant at Sinai was founded on the principle of obedience.

In this covenant, we have an ‘If…’. ‘If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me: for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation’ (Exodus 19:6).

The Israelites should have said instead, ‘It is true, most gracious God, we ought to obey Thee; but we have failed so often, that we dare not receive the promises under such a condition.’ Instead of this, they said ‘All the words that the Lord hath said, will we do.’ (Exodus 19:8).  They rashly bound themselves to fulfil everything that Jehovah had commanded they received the promises under the condition of perfect obedience.  We all know what happened: The Children of Israel had made the golden calf before Moses had even come down from the mount.

Like Israel, we fail at the first hurdle, and we realise that we are lost because we have violated the covenant.  If as sinners, we engage ourselves to obey God, we forfeit the blessing if we fail.  Our answer should always be, ‘We are lost’.  That is the answer that grace expects.  That is why Paul said, ‘A mediator is not a mediator of one.’ (Galatians 3:20-21).  If there is a mediator, there must be two parties – God and man.  Moses mediated in the wilderness; Christ is our Mediator now.  We see the sovereignty of grace.  Had God not been sovereign, He would have to have destroyed the people.

Law and the Promises to Abraham

The law did NOT annul the promises made to Abraham (Gen 12-15) and confirmed to Isaac (Gen 26) and Jacob (Gen 35).

  • Numerous posterity.
  • The land.
  • Earthly blessings to Israel.
  • Blessing to the nations.

In Exodus 32:13, we see how the promises made before the law were never repealed. Aaron and the people had made the golden calf.  Moses interceded with ‘Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.’

In Leviticus 26:27-31, there is the threat of all the chastisements which were to follow the unfaithfulness of Israel. ‘And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.  And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.  And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.  And I will make your cities waste . . . (v. 27-31).  However, in v. 42: ‘Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham; . . . and I will remember the land.’.  God returns to His promises made unconditionally long before the law.

God’s promises here have never changed: they are valid now (despite Israel being set aside), and will continue to the last days.

The Promised Land

Thus, we get the principle on which they entered into the land of Canaan.  Before the law, God had unconditionally promised the land to Israel for a perpetual possession.  God promised, Moses mediated, Israel was spared and at last enjoyed the land.

Israel failed in the promised land and ultimately fell.  First, the ten tribes were taken into captivity and lost.  Then Judah[3]  was taken captive seventy years, but in God’s providential ways, their identity was preserved.

We now await the re-establishment of all the promises made to Abraham.  Although the people had failed in every possible way towards God, the prophets show us clearly that God  promised to re-establish them in their land, under the Lord Jesus Christ as their King.  Every promise made in the prophets will be fulfilled.  Knowing this, it is small wonder that the disciples asked the Lord following His resurrection, ‘Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1:6).


[1] In the Greek the answer is ‘μὴ γένοιτο/me genoito’ – ‘Never may it be!’ – (Strong’s translation).

[2] The Wikipedia article on ‘Supersessionism’ gives the position of various denominations on this subject.

[3] With the tribe Benjamin and the Levites who were among them.

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