The Three-Fold Cold

by Joseph Hunting

One of the precious gems of wisdom that fell from the lips of Solomon is recorded in Ecclesiastes 4:12: "A three-fold cord is not quickly broken." When each strand of one particular three-fold cord is placed under the microscopic scrutiny of God's covenants to Israel some rich truths are revealed.

The first strand of this wondrous three-fold cord is the covenant which God made with Abraham as he entered the land of Canaan. This covenant is unconditional and it binds Israel to God and God to Israel for all time. It has never been repealed nor revoked. It also includes God's promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham and to his descendants.

Because there are many who dispute Israel's legitimate right to possess even a small proportion of the territory God promised to them we set the record straight by quoting the covenant in full. It was given in three parts. "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 the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3).

The second clause in the covenant concerns the promise of the land to Abraham and his seed. "And the Lord said unto Abram after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.

"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. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee" (Genesis 13:13-14).

The third clause outlines the extent of the land promised to Abraham's seed, (interestingly the word 'seed' is in the singular and refers to the Messiah. See Galatians 3:16). The full extent of the land stretching from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates has never been fully occupied by Israel and awaits the coming of the Messiah. "In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:18-19).

Strand Two: The Davidic Covenant

The second strand of this three-fold cord that binds Israel to God is the unconditional Davidic covenant. This covenant was first given to David by Nathan the prophet (I Chronicles 17:7-15; 2 Samuel 7:8-17) and repeated in Psalm 132:11. "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it; of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." (Note that this covenant is in two parts. The first relates to David and is unconditional. The second part relates to his descendants and is conditional upon their obedience). "If thy children will keep My covenant and My testimony that I will teach them they also shall sit upon thy throne for evermore."

When we put this conditional strand under the microscope of God's Word we find that it soon begins to fray. Even Solomon himself sinned grievously by serving Moloch. With few exceptions the kings that followed Solomon in the Messianic dynasty departed from serving the God of Israel. Finally in the reign of Jeconiah the wickedness had plumbed such depths that God could tolerate it no longer. There was no turning back. And worst of all, "there was no remedy".

Jeconiah was taken into captivity, never to return. Furthermore God cursed him, saying "No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, AND RULING ANY MORE IN JUDAH." Whilst his uncle was set upon the throne as a puppet king, the Messianic line through Solomon ended and never again has a descendant of his reigned in Israel. This strand frayed to the breaking point.

But has God broken His covenant with David? Remember it was unconditional to him. Certainly more than two thousand five hundred years have elapsed and no descendant of David has reigned in Israel. How truly Hosea prophesied: "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince . . . " (3:4).

We search in vain through the pages of the Tenach for the strand that can be spliced into the fraying one, but when we read the opening words of the New Testament we trace the genealogy of Yeshua Hamashiach from Abraham to David as being fourteen generations; from David through Solomon to Jeconiah and the Babylonian captivity being a further fourteen generations; finally from Jeconiah to Joseph, the husband of Mary a further fourteen generations. Even if Yeshua had been Joseph's son he could never have laid claim to being the Messiah because of the curse placed upon Jeconiah and his descendants!

But when we read Luke's account of the Messiah's genealogy we make the fascinating discovery that His mother's ancestry was traced back to David through his son Nathan. Well did the angel Gabriel say to Mary: "Fear not Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS (Heb. YESHUA). He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:30-33). Thus the second strand of the three-fold cord of God's promise of the Messiah through David holds firm through his son Nathan.

Strand Three: The New Covenant

We turn to Jeremiah's promise of the new Covenant for the third strand of the three-fold cord that binds Israel to God. Again, this is an unconditional covenant which God promised to Israel. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

We search in vain for any further reference to this new covenant being fulfilled in the pages of the Tenach. As with the Davidic covenant so we must turn to the pages of the New Testament, for it is none other than the Son of David through Nathan that ratifies this New Covenant.

Listen to His words spoken as He observed the last Seder: "And He took bread and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20).

If we place the third strand under the microscope of God's Word we make an astonishing discovery. God will never annul the new covenant for "If those ordinances (of the sun, moon and stars) depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath. I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 31:36-37).

Well did Solomon speak of a three-fold cord that is not quickly broken, for this cord binds Israel to God and God to Israel forever.