The Palestinian Covenant: Pentecost’s View

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost views the text of Deuteronomy 30:1-10 as the Palestinian covenant. In a series of blogs, I am going to explain his view of this and explain the strengths and weaknesses of his view.

Pentecost’s View

To summarize and introduce his view in brief, he views this covenant as an unconditional covenant that both stands on its own and is directly related to the Abrahamic covenant. He believes the covenant stands on its own because of the following text: “These are the terms of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them a Horeb.” (Deut. 29:1, NIV) He emphasizes “in addition to”.[1] He does not view this covenant as a change in the Law found in Exodus and Leviticus, but instead a reiteration of the Law for the new (second) generation that is headed to the promised land. Because this promised land was the land of Palestine, he refers to it as the Palestinian covenant. His view is the Palestinian covenant reaffirms the land promised in the Abrahamic covenant belongs to Israel even though the Israelites have been unfaithful and unbelieving.

He also views the Palestine covenant supporting the idea that although the conditional Mosaic covenant had since been introduced, the original promise from the Abrahamic covenant had not been nullified. In other words, “the introduction of a conditional covenant, under which Israel was then living, could not and did not set aside the original gracious promise concerning the purpose of God.”[2] Pentecost then use Paul’s words in Galatians as support for this: “The Law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.” (Gal. 3:17) Furthermore, the Palestinian covenant “is a confirmation and enlargement of the original Abrahamic covenant…[The] Palestinian covenant amplifies the land features of the Abrahamic covenant.”[3]

Going back to the passage of Deuteronomy 30:1-10 and analyzing it in more detail, Pentecost affirms Lewis Sperry Chafer’s “seven main features” of the Palestinian covenant[4]:

  1. The nation [Israel] will be plucked off the land for its unfaithfulness (Deut. 28:63-68; 30:1-3)
  2. There will be a future repentance of Israel (Deut. 28:63-68; 30:1-3)
  3. Their Messiah will return (Deut. 30:3-6)
  4. Israel will be restored to the land (Deut. 30:5)
  5. Israel will be converted as a nation (Deut. 30:4-8; cf. Rom. 11:26-27)
  6. Israel’s enemies will be judged (Deut. 30:7)
  7. The nation will then receive her full blessing (Deut. 30:9)[5]

Pentecost contends “God considers Israel’s relation to the land vitally important. Not only did God guarantee its possession to them, but He also obligated Himself to judge and remove all Israel’s enemies, and to give the nation a new heart–or conversion-prior to placing them in the land.”[6]

Pentecost goes on to claim the Palestinian covenant is part of Ezekiel’s prophecy in Ezekiel chapter 16. His points are that

“God affirms His love for Israel in the time of her infancy (Ezek. 16:1-7); He reminds her that she was chosen and related to Jehovah by marriage (vv. 8-14); but she played the harlot (vv. 15-34); therefore, the punishment of dispersion was melted out to her (vv. 35-52); but this is not a final setting aside of Israel, for there will be a restoration (vv. 53-63). This restoration is based on the promise: Ezek. 16:60-62.”[7]

In summation of these points and in connection with the Palestinian covenant, Pentecost states “the Lord reaffirms the Palestinian covenant and calls it an eternal covenant by which He is bound.”[8]

Going back to the claim that the covenant is unconditional, Pentecost defends his claim using the following four points:

“First, it is called by God an eternal covenant in Ezekiel 16:60. It could be eternal only if its fulfillment were divorced from human responsibility and brought to rest on the Word of the Eternal one. Second, it is only an amplification and enlargement of parts of the Abrahamic covenant, which itself is an unconditional covenant, and, therefore this amplification must be eternal and unconditional also. Third, this covenant has the guarantee of God that He will effect the necessary conversion which is essential to its fulfillment. Romans 11:26-27; Hosea 2:14-23; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 11:16-21 all make this clear. This conversion is viewed in Scripture as a sovereign act of God and must be acknowledged to be certain because of His integrity. Fourth, portions of this covenant have already been fulfilled literally. Israel has experienced the dispersions as judgments for unfaithfulness. Israel has experienced restorations to the land and awaits the final restoration. Israel’s history abounds in examples of her enemies who have been judged. These partial fulfillments, which were literal fulfillments, all indicate a future literal fulfillment of the unfulfilled portions in like manner.”[9]

Pentecost ties this all together in understanding Israel’s history moving forward. His view is that “Everything we read of Israel’s history and God’s plan for Israel is related to what was included in the Palestinian covenant.”[10] He pulls this principle out of the chapters of Deuteronomy 28-30: “Obedience will bring blessing, while disobedience will bring discipline and possibly even disaster.[11] He also views the Palestinian covenant as the way in which Israel can be restored. The first step in this process of restoration is for Israel to repent. Then God would bring the people of Israel back to their promised land.

[1] J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God’s Kingdom Program and Covenant Promises Throughout History, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1995), 102.

[2] Ibid.

[3] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 96

[4] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (4 Volume Set), IV, 317-23.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 97.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid. 98.

[10] Ibid.

[11] J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God’s Kingdom Program and Covenant Promises Throughout History, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1995), 105.

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