Why didn’t God fulfill His promises of glory to the OT Israel?

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Conditional promises

The blessings of the Lord were conditional, dependent upon Israel’s faithfulness and obedience to His law. Had the people of Israel been faithful to God, the Land of Promise would have been restored to its glory and beauty (Isaiah 35;1-2). The Lord commanded, “you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them” (Deuteronomy 28:14). In the Old Testament, Moses held up these laws before the nation of Israel as their eternal destiny (Deuteronomy 4). And in the New Testament, Jesus Christ honored them as well (Matthew 5:17,18).

Victory over enemies

The Lord promised the nation of Israel that they would be set above all earthly kingdoms. “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1,2). And God would deliver them from all of their enemies, “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways” (v. 7).

Health and holiness

The Lord promised that even sickness and disease would disappear from among them. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isaiah 35:5,6).

The Creator will make Israel a land of truth and light. From all nations sincere seekers for truth would travel “the way of holiness” up to Jerusalem to learn of the true God. All those who sincerely seek the truth will find it. And all “the ransomed of the Lord” would eventually “come to Zion” along this highway “with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads” (Isaiah 35:10; 52:1; Joel 3:17).

Israel’s unfaithfulness

Sadly, Israel proved unfaithful, and accordingly lost the glorious calling that might have been hers, and the promises of the Lord’s covenant (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Instead of worshiping the Creator, they worshiped idols of stone and wood. This was a state of complete apostasy, corruption and rebellion.

Therefore, the Lord had no choice but to respect their decisions. And the nation was abandoned to the destiny it chose. And it received the curses of the Lord, “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you…” (Deuteronomy 28:47,48).

Consequently, Israel’s enemies conquered them. Their kings were taken into exile with the people (Jeremiah 9:15, 16; 16:13). And finally, the ancient nation of Israel laid in desolation and ruin by the Romans in 70 AD. It boggles the mind how a nation once so blessed by God, should fall so deep in sin as Israel did (1 Kings 9:7–9; Jeremiah 18:15–17; 19:8). This is the malignity of sin (Isaiah 44:18).

The “kingdom of God” was taken from literal Israel and was “given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43) which is spiritual Israel or the church. However, as individuals they may be saved by accepting Christ (Romans 11:23, 24).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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