Were Most Promises to Israel Fulfilled in the OT?
It has been claimed that: “Many (if not all) the British Israel "markings" of Britain / Israel, can be identified in the Old Testament. The dust of the earth, sand of the sea, stars in the heaven etc.”
2 CHRONICLES 1:9; 1 KINGS 4:20; DEUTERONOMY 1:10; DEUTERONOMY 10:22
It has been proposed to us that many of the promises that British Israel attributes to fulfilment through Britain and America were actually fulfilled in OT Israel. Thus, National Israel has read into the text things that ought not be there.
Although indeed, Israel and Judah did in fact partially fulfil the prophecies in question during the time of the Old Testament, a closer look at these and other signs of Israel will indeed show that God’s chosen people can be identified with Britain, her Commonwealth and the United States of America as well as Scandinavia and Western Europe.
Biblical prophecy can be fulfilled at different levels and in different ages. There are various examples throughout the Bible of this. Take for example the prophecies to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. They were very relevant for the specific churches in question, but they also had a WIDER PROPHETIC CONTEXT, foretelling and unfolding much of the history of the Christian church throughout the ages. Probably everyone agrees that immediate and local fulfilment does not exclude the meaning of a prophecy for events in the more distant future.
1. "British Israel points to a number of figurative expressions relating to prophesies of what Israel would become. One of the more well known is as follows:
“And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth” (GENESIS 13:16, GENESIS 28:14)."
SOLOMON & THE DUST OF THE EARTH
2 CHRONICLES 1:9
“Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude”.
Obviously Israel reached the zenith of her power under David and Solomon. Solomon could see how God was moving and blessing His nation and rightly compared the increase in the number of people to the dust of the earth in multitude. But was this the complete fulfilment of what God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - or was it merely the start of God’s plan? Let’s look at what God actually promised to Abraham and Jacob in the Scriptures.
“And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered”.
“And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad TO THE WEST, AND TO THE EAST, AND TO THE NORTH, AND TO THE SOUTH: and in thee and in thy seed shall ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED” (the blessing and the “spreading like dust” clearly had to go far beyond the borders of geographical Israel).
Jacob expanded on this theme while blessing Ephraim & Manasseh -
“...he also shall become A PEOPLE, and he also shall be GREAT (Manasseh – America): but truly his younger brother shall be GREATER THAN HE, and HIS SEED SHALL BECOME A MULTITUDE OF NATIONS” (Ephraim – England and the Commonwealth).
Now GENESIS 28:14 clearly says that when they become as numerous as the dust they will spread in all directions and
“IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED”.
One is not only to look for an expansion in numbers within Israel, but indeed this “dust” will become a multitude of nations. We should still expect God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants to hold good today. It does not say in Scripture in the promises given to Abraham, Isaac or Jacob that “you will become as the dust, but actually later on you will shrink back to a very small number of people”! In GENESIS 49 Jacob passed on his blessings to his sons, giving many different prophecies that would come to pass “in the last days”. Among these we find a repetition to Joseph of his fruitfulness (given what had just preceded this in chapter 48 the context is quite clear) and JUDAH THE PROMISE OF THE SCEPTRE. Which country best reflects the fulfilment of these prophecies “in the last days”? The total Jewish population in the world today is in the region of 20 million - a relatively small number. As Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits summed up perfectly the incapability of the Jews fulfilling this identifying mark of Israel in his book ‘Between Yesterday and Tomorrow’ -
“...our Jewish numbers are not like the sand of the sea”. 1
Israel was not only to become a multitude but an
“INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE” (see GENESIS 15:5) - God has promised that it would be impossible even to count the number of descendants. This was not fulfilled in Biblical times as David was quite capable of counting the number of people within his realm, even without the aid of computers! Listen to the prophetic words of Pastor Josiah Strong from his book “Our Country”:
“In 1700 this race numbered less than 6,000,000 souls. In 1800, Anglo-Saxons had increased to about 20,500,000, and in 1880 they numbered nearly 100,000,000, having multiplied almost five-fold in eighty years. At the end of the reign of Charles II (1685), the English colonists in America numbered 200,000. During these two hundred years, our population has increased two hundred and fifty fold... the expansion of this race has been no less remarkable than its multiplication”. 2
Today it is estimated that there are more than 500 million Celto-Saxon people. We stress the word estimated as it has become impossible to count this multitude!
Isn’t it wonderful how God has kept His promise to Rebekah that she would be
“THE MOTHER OF THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS” (GENESIS 24:60). This can ONLY be through Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Scandinavia and Western Europe etc. IT CANNOT REFER TO EITHER ISRAEL IN THE O.T. OR THE JEWS TODAY.
The same line of reasoning can be applied to the “SANDS ON THE SEA SHORE” and the “STARS”. Although Israel did start to fulfil them in Old Testament times they were STILL NOT INNUMERABLE, and would have quite some way to go to meet all the promises laid out “IN THE LAST DAYS”. They continued their expansion, and can be found as an “INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE, A COMPANY OF NATIONS NUMBERING THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS”.
It has been suggested to us that because Israel exhibited some of the prophetic marks within the time frame of the Old Testament, no further searching is required as to their identity today. This, however, rules out many of the specific scriptures that Israel clearly did not fulfil at that time, but has done so ONLY IN THEIR “APPOINTED PLACE” in the “LAST DAYS”. Let’s look at some of the identifying marks of Israel. Judge for yourself as to whether the Jews or the Celto-Saxon people best fit the following descriptions from the Bible. We could list well over 70 identifying marks, but shall limit it to twelve (because most of them have been referred to in other places):
- Israel is to be a GREAT AND MIGHTY NATION (GENESIS 12:1-3)
- Israel is to become a MULTITUDE OF NATIONS (GENESIS 17:4-6,15-16)
- Israel is to RULE OVER OTHER NATIONS (DEUTERONOMY 15:6)
- Israel is to INHERIT THE ENDS OF THE EARTH (PSALM 2:8)
- Israel is to COLONIZE AND SPREAD ABROAD (DEUTERONOMY 33:17, ISAIAH 27:6)
- Israel’s NEW LAND IS TO HAVE CITIES WITHOUT WALLS, BARS OR GATES (EZEKIEL 38:11)
- Israel is to CARRY THE GOSPEL TO ALL THE WORLD (ISAIAH 43:21, ISAIAH 49:3-6)
- Those that blessed Israel were to be blessed and vice versa (GENESIS 12:3)
- Israel was to have a DAVIDIC KING (2 SAMUEL 7:13,29 etc)
- Israel is to have a land of GREAT AGRICULTURAL WEALTH (DEUTERONOMY 33:13-14,28)
- Israel is to be a LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES (ISAIAH 45:6)
- Israel is to live in the ISLES AND COASTS OF THE SEA (ISAIAH 41:1, ISAIAH 49:1-3, JEREMIAH 31:7-10). 3
When John the Baptist wanted to know who Jesus really was, he sent his disciples to Him. They asked Jesus whether or not He really was the Messiah (see MATTHEW 11:1-5). Jesus replied
“...Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them”.
Jesus did not pull out a genealogy and did not say to John’s disciples... “Look, here is My birthline”, although He could have done so. Instead He showed them the MARKS OF THE MESSIAH. He reminded them of the promises that were to accompany the Messiah, and showed how He fulfilled them. In the same way as Thomas recognised the Lord BY HIS MARKS, likewise are we to recognise Israel BY SCRIPTURAL IDENTIFICATION and judge WHICH NATIONS FULFILL THE BIBLICAL PROMISES.
- 1. Rabbi Berkovits, E. 1945, Between Yesterday and Tomorrow -Sermons, Oxford England: The East and West Library, pp94.
- 2. Pastor Strong, J. 1885, Our Country, Baker & Taylor Company for the American Missionary Society, pp 161
- 3. Houghton, H.D., 1933, The Marks Of Israel, Evangel Press London, England.