Israel in Prophecy - Part 2

Abraham's Family Tree




John Hoole  -   December 12, 2010



(Click on maps photos and charts for larger version)




How many of you here today has read the novel Futility by Morgan Robertson?  The book tells the story of a magnificent ocean liner named the Titan that strikes an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York and sinks in the middle of the ocean.


Right now, you are probably thinking, This sure sounds like the real story of the Titanic.  Yet Roberson’s novel differs from the actual event in several way.  The ship in Futility was 800 feet long, while the real Titanic was 882 feet long.  The Titan was able to displace 66,000 tons of water, while the Titanic was able to displace 70,000 tons of water.  Yet, both ships were triple-screw ocean liners that could travel up to 25 knots per hour and transport 3,000 passengers.


Now, you might be thinking, why would Morgan Robertson bother to write a novel that so closely approximated the real-life event.  And why go to the trouble of varying some of the facts ever so slightly, including the name of the ship?  The reason is quite simple.  The Titanic sank on April 14, 1912.  The novel Futility was published in 1898.  It is amazing to think that a book written 14 years earlier could so accurately forecast a historical event like the Titanic.


But it is even more fascinating to realize that the Bible is able to foretell with laser-like accuracy events that will occur hundreds and even thousands of years after it was written.  One can hardly turn a page of Scripture without finding some reference to a future event.


We are living on the verge of some tremendous events on this planet.  Very few people today doubt that History is moving towards some sort of crisis or catastrophe, if present trends continue.  Many secular scientists, and statesmen, and military experts believe that the world is heading for a global cataclysm --- if not in the immediate future – certainly before this generation passes.  The only variable between these so-called experts is the question of “WHEN.”


For the last three lessons we have introduced ourselves to what the Bible has to say about the End Times.  We have looked at a timeline chart showing us an overview of the end-time events mentioned in God’s Word.  In our last lesson, we began filling in the details of each event and subject.


I chose to begin with a subject that is one of the principle keys to understanding the end times.  In the study of End Times Prophecy, few areas have been more important than understanding the place Israel will play.  Many of the different interpretations of the End Times, stem largely from how they treat the Jews or the nation of Israel.


I am sure that all of you have at one time or other heard the phrase: Judeo-Christian ethics…….or Judeo-Christian faith.  To describe our spiritual heritage in this manner is to recognize the place that Judaism played in the coming of Christ and to our present Christian life.


We generally tend to think of Jesus in non-racial terms, or in terms of whatever race we are.  The fact remains, that Jesus was Jewish.  He was born and lived his entire life in Israel - except for a short stay in Egypt as a baby.  He spoke Hebrew.  He attended the synagogue and the temple.


All of this is to say that there is a strong and meaningful link between true Christians and the Jews.  I have always contended that the Jewish people and the nation of Israel collectively have no greater friend than those who fully love Jesus Christ.  Not that we agree with or support everything the nation of Israel or Jewish people in particular do.  There are times when we might radically disagree with them.  Especially is this true in their non-acceptance of Christ as their Messiah.


In a few minutes we will look at the beginnings of the Jewish race and the nation of Israel.  We will also look at the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Before we get into the details of these things, I would like to tell you again, up front, what I believe about the Nation of Israel, as it relates to their history and their future.  I take the position that when Israel, as a nation, was reestablished in 1948, it literally fulfilled prophecies like that which is written in Isaiah.  I believe the migration of millions of people, by boat, by plane and on foot, back to the Jewish homeland, was a fulfillment of what God said would happen in the last days.


I do not take the position that when Israel rejected Christ as their Messiah, God withdrew all the promises He made to them, and transferred them to a new body, under a New Covenant, called the Church.  I do not believe that God has set the Jews aside.  God still has much in store for Israel.


God has made a covenant with the nation of Israel, some of which is yet to be fulfilled.  God still has promises to keep with regards to this nation.  Some of these have unfolded and are unfolding right before our eyes.


What happens to Israel is important to all of us.  Israel serves as one of the timepieces on our Christian prophetic mantel.  We do well, as Psalm 122:6 instructs us, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and watch the Israeli clock closely.


The history of both the Jews and Arabs began more than 3,800 years ago, when according to Genesis 12, a divine call was extended to a man named Abraham.  Understanding God’s promises to Abraham is key to understanding the rest of the Bible and especially the End Times.  The call and promises God made to Abraham being with chapter 12.


Genesis 12:1 NIV


1       The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.


We are told in Genesis 11 that Abraham lived in the city of Ur.  That ancient city was inside the borders of the modern country of Iraq.  Let's continue our reading in Genesis 12.


Genesis 12:2-3 NIV


2       "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

3       I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."


When God called Abraham, He made several promises to him, all of which was contingent on Abram leaving his country and family and going to a land that God would show him.




         1.      From Abraham would come a great nation.


         2.      God would bless him.


         3.      His name would be great.


         4.      Abraham himself would be a blessing.


         5.      Special circumstances would occur where He (God) would bless those who blessed Abraham and would curse those who cursed him.


         6.      These blessings would extend to all the families of the earth.


From these, we can see three categories of promises.


•  Personal promises were made specifically to Abraham.


•  National promises were given to Abraham’s seed.  Keep this statement in your mind for a few minutes.  Here, the promise that a nation (singular) would come from Abraham.  If both the Jews and the Arabs are descendants of Abraham, then, in fact, multiple nations have come from him.


•  And universal promises were given to all the families of the earth.


The personal promises included God’s special blessing upon Abraham in temporal things.  These are later defined in his acquisition of land, servants, cattle, silver and gold.  (Gen 13:14-15, 17;  15:7;  24:34-35)


He was also blessed spiritually, and was a channel of blessing to others.  He enjoyed very intimate communion with God and was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)


Concerning all peoples of the earth, God promised that He would bless those who blessed Abraham and his descendants, and He would curse those who cursed them.  Throughout history, people have been blessed or cursed depending on their treatment of the Jews.


We are told that Abraham and many in his family leave Ur and travel northwest to the city of Haran.  They stay there until the death of Abraham's father, Terah.  Only then does Abraham and Sarah, along with Lot, travel south into Canaan.


Following this initial visitation to Abraham, God often spoke to Him and his descendants.  When He did, He would often reiterate his promises made to Abraham and sometimes adding more details.  As time went on, there occurred further revelation concerning his promises to the nation of Israel.


God adds further details in His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17:1-8  (NIV)


1       When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.

2       I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers."

3       Abram fell facedown, and God said to him,

4       "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.

5       No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

6       I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.

7       I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

8       The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."


In this conversation, God adds much more information concerning the eventual descendants of Abraham.  He also adds another piece of information about the land but this time nothing is added about the size and boundaries.


In verse 2, God promises that his descendants will greatly increase in number.


In verse 4, He also promises that Abraham would be the father of many nations.


         His name is here changed to Abraham.  (vs. 5)


                            Abram means:                 “Exalted Father.”


                            Abraham means:              Father of a multitude.”


In verse 6, God not only says that many nations will descend from Abraham, He says that “kings will come from you.”


In verse 7, God says that the covenant He has made with Abraham is an “everlasting covenant.”


And then in verse 8, God says the land He has previously promised to Abraham and his descendants, is to be an everlasting possession.  This land was promised to them FOREVER!


At this point, we still don’t know who among his descendants would reap the benefit of this land, or whether it was being promised to all of them.


Earlier in our lesson, I asked you to make a mental note of the fact that in Genesis 12, God’s promise to Abraham, at that time, was that a single nation would come from him.  Now, we have God expanding the sphere of his descendants (Verse 4).




Part of the reason has to be because Abraham and Sarah tried to help God with his plan.  Let’s back up just a few years.  For 10 years following the covenant God made with Abraham, nothing happens.  Abraham has a mid-life crisis and Sarah has gone through menopause.  She is totally past child-bearing age.  So Sarah tries to help God’s plan, and suggested Abraham have a child by her handmaid, Hagar.  Abraham agrees, and at age 86, he becomes a father.




His name was Ishmael.  This is where the Arab –Israeli problems began.  Abraham and Sarah tried to help God out.  God had specifically told them that Sarah would have a child.  Because of strife in the family, Sarah sends Hagar and her child away.  God hears Hagar’s cries, and makes several promises to her.


Gen 16:11-12 NIV


11     The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.

12     He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."


Now we get a picture of what it will be like for Ishmael and his descendants.  As I will show in just a few minutes, Ishmael will end up with many brothers – not just Isaac.  Many other Arabs will come from these brothers, as well as from Ishmael.  This prophecy sure has been true.  The many branches of the Arabic family tree have never gotten along.  Each Arab tribe is suspicious of all other Arab tribes.


So, one of the reasons God makes a change in His promise to Abraham about nations coming from him, and not just a nation (singular) is because he and Sarah try to help God out.


Another 13 years passes, and Abraham, at age 99, tries to bargain with God, and asks if Ishmael could be the heir to the covenant God made.  God’s response begins to narrow the lineage of Abraham as to who would be the actual beneficiary of the promises made by God.  But in doing so, God adds some more information about the descendants of Ishmael.


Genesis 17:15-21 NIV


15     God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.

16     I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."

17     Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?"

18     And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"

19     Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

20     And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.

21     But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year."


We learn here that not only will there be 12 tribes of Israel, as we will see later, there will also be 12 tribes of Ishmael. 


In the verses we just read, God begins to narrow the lineage of Abraham that will be under the Covenant made with Abraham.  The covenant is only extended to Isaac and his lineage - not to Ishmael.  And keep in mind that the covenant includes both the blessings of God and the Promised Land.  We discussed who owns the land in detail in our last lesson.


God does, in the later chapters of Genesis, begin to even further narrow the family tree, and tell us the specific limb of the tree to which His covenant with Abraham does apply.




         Let’s look at a chart showing all the descendants of Abraham.


We have already discussed Abraham’s wife, Sarah, and her handmaid, Hagar.




                            Only one, Ishmael.  He becomes the primary father to most of the Arab nations.




                            Only one, Isaac.


         Doesn’t seem the likely way to start a family that is promised to number as the “sands of the seas.”  When Abraham and Sarah were 100 and 90 years of age respectively, they have their promised son, Isaac. 


We have one other arm of the Abraham family tree.  After Sarah dies, Abraham marries again.  He promotes one of his concubines to be his wife.  Sarah was 127 years old when she died  (Gen. 23:1).  Abraham would live another 38 years.




         Keturah  (Gen. 25:1)





Genesis 25:1-4 NIV


1       Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.

2       She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

3       Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites.

4       The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.


                            These become part of the many Arab tribes.


Let’s return to Ishmael.  We have most of the ARABS through his son Ishmael.  Ishmael married an Egyptian……(Gen. 21:21)His mother Hagar was an Egyptian.  Here is a list of present-day countries that most likely came from Ishmael.




                   Southern Iraq



                   Saudi Arabia

                   United Arab Emirates







Now let's go to the Descendants of Isaac.  Isaac only had one wife.






At 60 years of age, Isaac, who we now know is the title holder to what is called the Holy Land, discovered that his wife, Rebecca, was expecting.


God performed a sonogram and told Rebecca the results.  In Genesis 25:23 (NIV), God speaks to Rebecca, Isaac’s wife.


23     The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."




                   Jacob and Esau.




Esau emerged from the womb first, but God had already told Rebekah that the younger would be the stronger of the two, and he would be the heir to God’s covenant.  As he grew, Esau began warring against Jacob feeling he had been swindled out of his birthright and inheritance.  And it has been going on between them ever since.


From the Bible, we know that both of Isaac and Rebekah’s sons were known by names other than Jacob and Esau.






Esau married the daughter of Ishmael…(Gen. 28:6-9).  Through this small bit of information, you begin to see the linkage between these two families.  So, we have the EDOMITES  through Esau.  Today we know that as Southern Jordan.


We also have ARABS through the six sons of Keturah.  A moment ago we read about these 6 sons in Genesis 25:1-4.  Let’s now read the next two verses.


Genesis 25:5-6 NIV


5       Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac.

6       But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.


Some of these migrated eastward into what is today, Iraq and Northern Iran, with some, in time, going north into the southern provinces of the former Russia (i.e., Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, etc.).


There are two more groups of people that plays a part in this array of nations, but who are not descendants of Abraham.  They are however descendants of Abraham’s brothers.  The first is Lot – Abraham’s nephew, and son of his brother Haran.  In Genesis 19, we find an unfortunate story concerning Lot.  He has an incestuous relationship with each of his two daughters, resulting in one son each.  Their names:  Moab and Ammon.


Genesis 19:37-38 tells us that from the resultant two sons, descended the Moabites and the Ammonites.  This would constitute most of modern day Northern Jordan.  Both lived directly east of the Dead Sea.


The last group we need to mention are the descendants of Nahor, Abraham’s other brother.




         That is Abraham’s brother.  He traveled with Abraham as far as Haran, after they left Ur.  He migrated into the land north and east of Palestine.  It is known as Syria today.


Let’s now return to the descendants of Jacob.  One night, Jacob had a dream, where he saw a ladder up to heaven, with angels going up and down.


Genesis 28:13-14 NIV says,


13     There above it [above the ladder] stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

14     Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.


So once again we find God narrowing the scope of his covenant made to Abraham, and the promises would be upon the descendants of Jacob.




                   It was changed to Israel.




                   He had 12 sons, whose descendants became the Israelites.




Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin.


Jacob had 12 sons by 4 different mothers.


                   •  6 by Leah


                   •  2 by Zilpah


                   •  2 by Bilhah


                   •  2 by Rachel








The tribe of LEVI was not one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Levi had no inheritance to the land.




         The Levites were the priests.


Deut 10:8-9 NAS


8       At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day.

9       Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the LORD is his inheritance, just as the LORD your God spoke to him.)


Firstly, God would provide for the inheritance of the tribe of Levi.  Secondly, they would receive a portion from every other tribe, not in land, but in sustenance.  Joseph also is not the name of a tribe of Israel.






OF WHAT TRIBE WAS JESUS?  The tribe of Judah.


                   By the way, this shows that tribes were still identifiable at New Testament times.




Let’s look at the tribes of Israel with regard to End-Times prophecy.  They are mentioned in a number of places.  In several of those places, the Passages list the tribes that are involved.


We begin with the 12 sons of Jacob.


Reuben   Simeon   Judah   Levi   Zebulun   Issachar   Dan   Gad   Asher   Naphtali   Joseph   Benjamin 


The 12 Tribes are as follows:


Reuben  Simeon  Judah  Levi  Zebulun  Issachar  Dan  Gad  Asher  Naphtali  Joseph  Benjamin  Ephraim  Manasseh


In Revelation 7, we are told about a great number of Evangelists, whose ministry occurs during the 7-year Tribulation.




Revelation 7:4 NIV


4       Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.


In the verses that follow – verses 5 – 8 – we find a list of 12 tribes, from which 12,000 would come from each tribe, making a total of 144,000.  Look at the tribes that are mentioned there.


Reuben  Simeon  Judah  Levi  Zebulun  Issachar  Dan  Gad  Asher  Naphtali  Joseph  Benjamin  Ephraim  Manasseh


         In this list of the tribes, Levi and Joseph are included, but Dan and Ephraim have been left out.


Let’s now look at the Millennial reign of Christ for 1,000 years.


In Matthew 19:28 NIV, Christ is speaking to his 12 apostles, and…..


28     Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, [that happens in the millennium]  you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


Ezekiel 48 also writes about this 1,000 years.  In verses 1 – 29, we find each tribe mentioned, as well as the apportionment of the land they will have.  Here is the list of tribes mentioned there.


Reuben  Simeon  Judah  Levi  Zebulun  Issachar  Dan  Gad  Asher  Naphtali  Joseph  Benjamin  Ephraim  Manasseh


This list of tribes is identical to the 12 tribes of Israel.  Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, replace Joseph and Levi, the priests.


The tribes are once again mentioned in connection with the New Jerusalem.




Revelation 21:12 NIV


12     It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.


Revelation does not mention the names of the tribes, but Ezekiel 48 does, with reference to “the city,” which most Bible scholars take as a reference to the New Jerusalem.  Here are the tribes as mentioned there.


Reuben  Simeon  Judah  Levi  Zebulun  Issachar  Dan  Gad  Asher  Naphtali  Joseph  Benjamin  Ephraim  Manasseh


Again, this is the same as the 12 sons of Jacob.