Friday, June 24, 2011

Here Comes the Son?

The first Christian missionaries ever were the Twelve Disciples. According to Matthew, this was a mission only to save the Jews. Jesus sent the Apostles out with a set of instructions, including when to condemn entire towns and why they should not worry about what to say to Gentile kings on this Jew-only mission. Matthew 10 is a chapter's worth of instructions, and we continue along studying them.

Here Comes the Son?
Let us say that you know something is true, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Then you read some other resource which directly contradicts that truth, and yet you know that what you have read is also true. What then? How can white be both black and white simultaneously? That is an enigma, for sure; one common to Christian apologists. The solution typically involves redefining the terms; white and black both become shades of gray, and thus mesh together perfectly while still maintaining their original definitions. It is a neat trick. Let us take a look at one of these tricks to see how it is done.

In Matthew 10:21-22, Jesus warns His Twelve Apostles that Jesus' message is going to cause family members to kill each other, and that everyone will hate them because of Jesus. Why would the Gospel cause such a violent reaction?

You reap what you sow, and God Himself seeded this violence. Read through Deuteronomy 13:6-11 and you will see God's command that if any of your family members tries to get you to worship a different god, that person must be put to death by the community, and you are to be the first one to throw a stone. Have zero tolerance. Jesus was portrayed not as a different god, but rather part of the same God they had always worshiped. However, because neither the Israelites of Jesus' day nor their ancestors knew anything about Jesus (as being part of God), He would be considered a foreign god and thus warrant the killing of Jesus-following family members according to God's own words.

In Matthew 10:23, Jesus wisely tells the Disciples to flee such persecution, and continues with a rather conspicuous line:
“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” NIV
What does “Son of Man comes” mean? The most intuitive interpretation aligns with verses like Matthew 16:27-28, where it speaks of Jesus' Second Coming, establishing the Kingdom of God and rewarding everyone with what they deserve. There is only one problem; that event has not happened yet!

So now the game is played to redefine truth. Apologists know that the Second Coming has not happened yet, and they know all Scripture to be true, so that must mean that there is some other, less obvious, interpretation which makes it all true again.

The classic Christian commentaries explain that, in this case, the coming of the Son of Man meant Pentecost (the outpouring of the Holy Spirit) according to Matthew Henry, John Gill, and Barton W. Johnson. Or maybe it meant Jesus' resurrection, according to Matthew Henry, John Gill, and John Lightfoot. Or possibly it meant the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown, Barton W. Johnson, McGarvey and Pendleton, and John Wesley.

Now, it should be a red flag that there is disagreement amongst scholars between three completely different concepts for the same four words, and that none of those three concepts really have anything to do with Jesus showing up somewhere. Something is rotten in the state of Galilee. The text of the Gospels not only proves the fallacy of their arguments for the Pentecost, Jesus' resurrection, and the destruction of Jerusalem, but also proves the author of Matthew guilty of more haphazard aggregation, as we have seen in the previous study.

Jesus sent out these Disciples on their mission after giving them instructions (Matthew 10:5, Mark 6:12-13, Luke 9:6). Mark and Luke both state that they completed their mission and reported the results to Jesus a little later (Mark 6:30, Luke 9:10)! Matthew does not have this end-of-mission report, but shows the Disciples to have returned to Jesus as early as Matthew 12:1, but certainly by Matthew 14:28 when Peter is mentioned specifically by name.

So the mission is over. They have gone throughout Israel. Yet there was no Pentecost, Jesus was still alive, and Jerusalem was still intact. Oh, and there was no Second Coming. What happened?

Matthew, the aggregator, happened. Just like we saw in the previous study in regards to the Holy Spirit telling the Apostles on this mission what to say to Gentile kings, Mathew has cut-and-pasted this snippet into the story where it did not belong.

The misplaced snippet itself is incredibly interesting, because in some version of the story of Jesus, it did belong, and quite likely belonged with the more-intuitive definition of Jesus' Second Coming and the establishment of His eternal Kingdom. Was that a version where, after Jesus' resurrection, the Great Commission was limited to Israel instead of to the entire world? Was that a version without a crucifixion, where Jesus was just promising that He would go away and then come back with Godly power, wielding eternal judgement? God only knows. ;-)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Verses Out of Rhythm

Before sending the Twelve Apostles out on their first missionary trip, to spread the Gospel to the Jews, Jesus prepared them with instructions. Mark's and Luke's instructions were brief, but Matthew's version has a chapter's worth of details. All three discussed how entire towns were to be condemned if they were not welcoming to the Good News. We continue our exploration of those instructions.

Verses Out of Rhythm
In a classic song by Simon and Garfunkel, called “The Dangling Conversation,” is a set of verses which go “Like a poem poorly written / we are verses out of rhythm / couplets out of rhyme / in syncopated time.” It is a sad song about a married couple, in that most intimate of relationships, yet completely out of tune with one another. Sadly, the Bible has similar verses in intimate relationship with each other, and yet are discordant as a fiddle and a gong, such as in the instructions which Jesus gave the Twelve Disciples for their first mission.

Matthew 10 is completely devoted to the instructions which Jesus had given the Apostles for the mission. In Matthew 10:18-20, Jesus told them that when they get brought before the local authorities, they do not have to worry about what to say, because God's Holy Spirit will speak through them. That seems like good news, but there are some discordant details in Matthew 10:18 which just do not make sense:
“On My account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.” NIV
For those of you who are somewhat familiar with the Bible, in considering this verse your mind may begin to wander to the book of Acts. There, starting with Acts 16 and continuing through to the end of the book, Paul is passed from authority to authority, including appearance in front of King Agrippa II, but hat is more than you should permit you mind to wander. Paul was not one of these Twelve Apostles, meaning that he was not one of the ones receiving these instructions from Jesus.

More significantly, however, is that Jesus had so limited the scope of this mission as to make the words of Matthew 10:18 impossible to fulfill at this time. In Matthew 10:5-6, we read:
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel." NIV
Jesus forbid His Disciples from going to the Gentiles or Samaritans. At most, they could have spoken with King Agrippa I (a.k.a. Herod Agrippa), but still they would fail to completely fulfill the words of Matthew 10:18 on this mission.

Matthew 10:18-20 is completely out of rhythm with the purpose of the instructions Jesus was providing at that time. Those verses would only make sense in a different context, one of general instruction to the Disciples to inform them of the future ahead instead of specific instructions for a particular mission which could never come to pass. Curiously enough, that is exactly how Luke 12 frames the conversation, with the bit about the Holy Spirit coming in at Luke 12:11-12.

What does this tell us? Nothing for sure. However, it suggests something very significant; that the author of Matthew was not an eyewitness, nor was it a tale directly originating from one eyewitness.

It suggests that the author of Matthew was an aggregator. The author “Matthew” was taking little snippets and anecdotes, and perhaps an early version of the Gospel of Mark, and combining these pieces into one conglomerate mass of a Gospel. Sometimes, Matthew did a pretty good job, like with the Sermon on the Mount (which, by the way, is probably why you do not find that epic sermon mentioned in any of the other Gospels, but rather find parts of it scattered elsewhere). Other times, like what we see here, his craftsmanship is less than adequate.

This, in turn, weakly suggests that the Gospel of Matthew is, at least in part, fictitious. Weakly, because it does not mean that each of those little snippets never happened despite their haphazard assembly into a Gospel. Yet if author of Matthew could not be concerned enough to consult actual eyewitness for the proper assembly, you have to wonder just how much scrutiny he applied to ensure the veracity of those episodes. Because of that, you should be skeptical of any doctrine which is exclusively held in the Gospel of Matthew.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Damnation by Association

In the previous study, we observed how Jesus oddly told His disciples to pray to God to send more people to help in the harvest of souls, even though God (as Jesus, and being omniscient) already knew that more harvesters were needed. From there, Jesus sent out His Twelve Apostles to preach about the soon-coming Kingdom of God/Heaven to the Jews.

Damnation by Association
Sometimes, the place you choose to live can have dire consequences to your very life. Floods. Tornadoes. Earthquakes. Nuclear radiation. In an instant, your life as you know it can be changed forever, or even cease to be, all because of an unfortunate coincidence of where you are and where a disaster occurs. Did you realize that, Biblically speaking, the same holds true for the fate of your immortal soul? Let us take a close look at what Jesus told the Twelve Disciples when He was sending them out on a mission.

The missionary instructions for the Twelve Apostles are given in Matthew 10, Mark 6:7-13, and Luke 9:1-6. The mission objective? Spread the word to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven/God is near (Matthew 10:7, Mark 6:12, Luke 9:2). This first mission was to the Jews only (Matthew 10:5-6).

Presumably to make these disciples more convincing to the Jews that they were indeed carrying God's message, Jesus grants them with the ability to heal sick people, resurrect the dead, clear up leprosy, and exorcise demons (Matthew 10:8).

Wait, what? Resurrect the dead? So twelve guys roamed the country bringing dead people back to life, and yet nobody, secular or otherwise, records this spectacle outside of the Bible? Even the Bible does not record any specific resurrections on this first mission. At best, you could claim Matthew 11:5 is a reference to these resurrections (although Luke 7:22 has Jesus say the same thing right after He had raised someone from the dead), but it still stands oddly in contrast that neither Mark nor Luke mentions the Apostles' ability to bring people back to life connected with this mission.

(The Gospel of John ignores this missionary story completely. Much, much later in the storyline, Acts 9:36-42 has Peter raise a girl from the dead and Acts 20:7-12 has Paul raise a young man from the dead, but no such resurrections are mentioned in any of the Epistles, and the power to raise the dead is not included in the list of spiritual gifts given in Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.)

Back on task, here. Just a little later in the instructions, we find that Jesus told the Disciples that, upon entering a town, they should try to find someone willing to let them live at their house for a while. If they are not successful, they are to condemn the entire household, or possibly even the entire town. Mark 6:10-11 and Luke 9:4-5 too briefly explain what Matthew 10:14-15 divulges in more detail:
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgement than for that town.” NIV
In Jesus' words, God had a special plan of torment for the households and towns which rejected the Apostles. Keep in mind, this was not every single person in the town rejecting the Apostles, nor every single person in the household being unwilling to listening to the Gospel. The men had the say over admission of household guests, and any small group of men from the town could have started persecuting an Apostle, causing him to flee to another town in obedience to Jesus (Matthew 10:23). Thus, a handful of stubborn, closed-minded, aggressive men could damn an entire town of people.

Thank God that no man ever gets angry when his long-held beliefs are challenged, so I am sure that no households or towns were actually condemned. ;-)

That brings us to the final point in this study; specific households and towns were to be condemned. That means that timing is a factor; that Jesus did indeed think that Judgement Day was near. After all, if more than a generation or two passed on before Judgement Day, than those who were specifically cursed (namely those in a specific house or town at the time of Apostle's rejection) would be long dead.

By this example, Jesus is setting a precedence. You get one chance to believe to believe in Him. If you choose disbelief, to Hell with you. (Oh, and by the way, that decision may be made for you by others.) From that example, you can see the love, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus shine right through.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Am the Law

God gave His Law, recognized as 613 laws, decrees, commands, rules, precepts, instructions, regulations, statutes, and stipulations, to the Israelites after their Exodus from Egyptian slavery, before they entered the Promised Land.

That is worth repeating. Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God gave them His Law, and He expected it to be obeyed to the letter. It would seem that the Promise was tied to obedience, but let us not get ahead of ourselves. In this very detailed study, we will review God's opinion of His Law.

I Am the Law
The Old Testament authors also had a lot to say about God and His Law. While most Christians are at least somewhat familiar with the New Testament teachings on the Law, scarcely few have examined God's foundational perspective of the Law found in the Old Testament. A good place to start such a study is Psalm 119, but let us go deeper into God's word in the Old Testament, asking some very important questions:

What is the purpose of the Law?
Does the Law reflect God?
Will the Law ever change?
How long will the Law be in effect?
Does the entire Law need to be obeyed?
Is it possible to obey the Law?
What if you do not obey the Law perfectly?
If you obey God's Law, will you live?
What worldly influence does God expect the Law to have?
What is the connection between the Law and the covenant of an eternal Kingdom?
Can you summarize all of this information concisely?

Exodus 18:20
Teach them His decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. NIV
What is the purpose of the Law?
We do not have to guess the purpose of the Law. God has two reasons spelled out for us.

First, Deuteronomy 4:5-8 states that this Law will show other nations the wisdom of God, thereby demonstrating that the Israelites worship the one true God.

Second, Deuteronomy 6:20-25 explicitly states that the meaning of the Law is for the Israelites to obey it in order to prosper in the Promised Land. Such obedience will be righteousness.

As Psalm 105:42-45 renders it, the whole point of the Egyptian Exodus and inheritance of the Promised Land was “that they might keep His precepts and observe His laws.”

Deuteronomy 32:4
He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He. NIV
Does the Law reflect God?
The Law is a work of God, which, by the verse above, is perfect, but is the Law a valid representation of God's character? Deuteronomy 12:28 makes it pretty clear:
Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the LORD your God. NIV
In case there is still some doubt, consider that the Law has been described as just, right, good, perfect, trustworthy, wise, radiant, firm, righteous, great, glorious, and eternal (Nehemiah 9:13-14, Psalm 19:7-9, Isaiah 42:21, Psalm 119:160). These attributes all reflect God's Biblically labeled character. Furthermore, as we see in Deuteronomy 28:9:
The LORD will establish you as His holy people, as He promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in obedience to him. NIV
obedience to the Law will permit the people to be holy.

Psalm 119:96
To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless. NIV
Will the Law ever change?
If the Law is perfect, we would never expect it to change. Indeed, Deuteronomy 4:1-2 and Deuteronomy 12:32 both say that nothing should be added to the Law, and nothing should be taken away from it either.

Psalm 119:160
All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal. NIV
How long will the Law be in effect?
God intends for His Law to be in effect forever (Psalm 119:152). It should be obeyed always (Deuteronomy 11:1). It is everlasting (Psalm 103:17-18), part of an everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5).

Numbers 15:39-40
You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all My commands and will be consecrated to your God. NIV
Does the entire Law need to be obeyed?
There are well over a hundred references to the call to obey God's Law. A subset of at least thirty-two of those commands specifically says to follow all of the Law; Exodus 15:26, Leviticus 19:37, Leviticus 20:22, Leviticus 26:14-15, Numbers 15:39-40, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 5:31, Deuteronomy 6:20-25, Deuteronomy 11:8, Deuteronomy 11:22, Deuteronomy 11:32, Deuteronomy 12:28, Deuteronomy 13:18, Deuteronomy 15:5, Deuteronomy 17:18-20, Deuteronomy 19:9, Deuteronomy 27:1, Deuteronomy 28:1, Deuteronomy 28:13-15, Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 29:29, Deuteronomy 32:46, Joshua 1:7-8, Joshua 22:5-6, 1 Kings 6:12, 2 Kings 21:8, 2 Kings 23:24-25, 2 Chronicles 33:8, Nehemiah 10:28-29, Psalm 18:21-22, Ezekiel 18:19, and Ezekiel 18:21.

Take note that this is not simply obeying all of the Law in spirit. With the phase “all the words of this Law” found in Deuteronomy 17:18-20, Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 29:29, and Deuteronomy 32:46, it is crystal clear that God is referring to obeying each and every meticulous detail in the Law. As we see in Deuteronomy 32:46:
[Moses] said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this Law.” NIV

Psalm 103:17-18
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts. NIV
Is it possible to obey the Law?
When you see how often God pleads for His people to obey the Law, there should be no doubt. Why would God tell His people to do something which they could not do? In fact, this opinion is explicitly given. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 says this in respect to obeying the Law:
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. NIV
God had given the Law to them, instructed that it be spoken about continuously (Deuteronomy 6:7-9), and placed the Law in their hearts so that it would not be too difficult to obey.

There is an entire book of the Bible devoted to a man who perfectly upheld the Law. His name is Joshua. Of course, there are several other references to such complete obedience too, such as Job 23:12 (Note: Some scholars suggest that Job lived prior to when the Law was given), Psalm 18:21-22, Psalm 99:7, and Psalm 119:44. As we see from 1 Kings 8:61 (and 1 Chronicles 28:7), it is not just individuals which could have complete obedience, but also the entire nation:
“And may your hearts be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by His decrees and obey His commands, as at this time.” NIV

Psalm 81:13-15
“If my people would only listen to Me, if Israel would only follow My ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes! Those who hate the LORD would cringe before Him, and their punishment would last forever.” NIV
What if you do not obey the Law perfectly?
Per the Bible, you did not have to obey the Law perfectly to be considered righteous. This is obvious both from the facts that not every transgression of the Law held the death penalty, and that there were several different atonement ceremonies which could be performed based on different transgressions. In a sense, in adhering to the punishment schedule and atonement rituals, the people were keeping the Law despite transgressions of the Law itself.

There are also shining examples of people who broke the Law, and yet were still considered righteous by God. In Numbers 20, Moses transgressed Leviticus 22:32, but God still thought Moses was righteous enough to speak with him face-to-face (Deuteronomy 34:10). In 2 Samuel 11-12, King David had committed adultery Bathsheba and then had her husband, Uriah, killed, yet 1 Kings 15:5 says this of him:
For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. NIV
and David's lineage was given the Kingdom as an inheritance (1 Kings 11:38).

It seems that God is willing to forgive past transgressions for those who are truly repentant. As Ezekiel 18:21 renders it:
“But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die.” NIV
This repentant turn to God is allowed for individuals and nations, as we see from the example set by King Josiah in 2 Kings 23:24-25:
Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the Law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD. Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. NIV

Leviticus 18:5
Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD. NIV
If you obey God's Law, will you live?
Leviticus 18:5, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, Deuteronomy 6:20-25, Nehemiah 9:29, Ezekiel 18:9, Ezekiel 18:17, Ezekiel 18:19, Ezekiel 18:21, Ezekiel 20:11, Ezekiel 20:13, Ezekiel 20:21, and Ezekiel 33:15 all say that if you obey the Law you will live. Ezekiel 18:21 and Ezekiel 33:15 even go so far as to add that a person who obeys the Law will “not die.”

Live, and not die? Is eternal life granted by obeying God's Law? Not at all. You have to look at other verses within the Bible to get the entire perspective. Consider Deuteronomy 4:40
Keep His decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time. NIV
Speaking of “your children after you” means that you will die even while obeying the Law. So you will not live forever, but take a look at 1 Kings 3:14:
“and if you walk in obedience to Me and keep My decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” NIV
Obedience will grant you a long (not eternal) life. If you obey God's Law, you will live long, and you will not die prematurely. This is what it means to live by the Law, and not die, but that is not all.

Living a long time would not necessarily be a good thing, which is why God also promises blessings for you, your posterity, and your nation; habitation of the Promised Land, a peaceful life, and great prosperity were all gifts for obedience (Leviticus 20:22, Leviticus 25:18, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 6:20-25, Deuteronomy 11:13-15, Deuteronomy 30:16, Joshua 1:7-8, 2 Chronicles 31:21, Isaiah 48:18-19).

According to Deuteronomy 17:18-20, kings who obeyed God's Law would be granted a ruling dynasty.

Deuteronomy 28:1
If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
What worldly influence does God expect the Law to have?
Deuteronomy 4:5-6 gives us a hint at the influence God expected His Law to have:
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” NIV
God's Law would show the surrounding nations how wise the Israelites were. From Deuteronomy 28:1-13, we can also see that obedience would not just grant the Israelites prosperity, but that God's blessing in return for obedience would make their nation the most prosperous nation in the entire world. It is from this perspective which we find Psalm 67:1-2 written:
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us— so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. NIV
The blessings the Israelites had received would make all other nations envious and curious. These other nations would try to figure out what makes the Israelites so prosperous. They would discover that the Israelites worship God and follow His wise ways (obey His Law). Naturally, they would try to emulate this success, obeying God's Law, and being led to the one true God in the process. That is precisely why we see the prophesy in Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2 that:
Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.” The Law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. NIV

Psalm 132:12
If your sons keep My covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.” NIV
What is the connection between the Law and the covenant of an eternal Kingdom?
In Deuteronomy 4:40, we find some rather interesting text:
Keep His decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time. NIV
God has given the Promised Land to the Israelites for all time, forever. This eternal gift is seen in Genesis 13:15 and Exodus 32:13 as well. However, whether or not the Israelites get to live in the Promised Land is determined by their obedience to God's Law. If they rebel, they will be expelled, but they will always be welcomed back to the Promised Land when they will obey God. This theme of prophesy can be seen in verses such as Ezekiel 11:17-21.

The same kind of situation exists for the Kingdom itself. The Promised Land must be ruled, and that ruling will be by that of a king. The dynasty of kingship for this eternal Kingdom belongs to those who will obey God completely. That is why we see in 1 Samuel 13:13 that Samuel told King Saul:
“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, He would have established your Kingdom over Israel for all time.” NIV
That is why we see God's message to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:7 as:
I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out My commands and laws, as is being done at this time. NIV
and why we see Solomon plead in 2 Chronicles 6:16 to God:
“Now, LORD, the God of Israel, keep for Your servant David my father the promises You made to him when You said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before Me according to My Law, as you have done.’” NIV
By these verses, we can quite clearly see that ruling the Kingdom eternally meant having an unbroken dynasty of successors, and that such a dynasty was dependent on each descendant obeying God's Law.

When Solomon ultimately ended up drifting from obedience to God, God tore the Kingdom from his successor, giving it instead to Jeroboam and offering him the same kind of enduring dynasty which was given to David (1 Kings 11:29-39).

Isaiah 63:17
Why, LORD, do you make us wander from Your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes that are Your inheritance. NIV
Can you summarize all of this information concisely?
God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites for eternity, but they can only stay there, and kings can only rule there, while they obey the entirety of God's Law. God established the Law forever, perfect, and unchanging, just like Him. It is possible to obey the Law, and obedience does not need to be perfect in order to please God as long as you are truly repentant for your sins. Such obedience will be rewarded with long life and abundant prosperity, which will in turn lead others around you to seek God.