The Promised Land

Volume 6, No. 6
"For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." (Genesis 13:14-15)

THE PROMISED LAND

In a Middle East that has been in a constant state of crisis for as long as any of us can remember, one of the key issues is the ownership of the land.

Land boundaries today are determined by war and politics; many meddling nations are involved in the Middle-East, trying to develop their own "road map" for "peace and security" between Israel and the Palestinians.

We hear about the borders that existed before 1967, as if that were a matter of any significance in this area that is "God's land." The inheritance of this land will be in accordance with His plan and His will.

GOD'S LAND - HIS WILL

Nearly 4000 years ago, God promised this land to Abraham, and his descendants. Abraham was told to leave his country Ur, and travel to the mountains of what is now the land of Israel. He was then told to look north, south, east and west, for all that he could see would be his inheritance. This promise was somewhat vague in description; additional detail included the promise that the land would extend "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:" (See Gen. 15:18) The promised territory was much larger than what is now modern Israel. It was God's intention that this land would be for His people.

The Jewish people, as descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are the only race with a clear Biblical birthright to this inheritance. The true "heirs according to the promise" are the spiritual seed of Abraham, through Christ. (See Gal. 3:26-29) However, the natural descendants of Abraham are still a part of God's plan. They will be restored to God's favor and will dwell in peace in their own promised land. They will be governed by the Apostles as promised by Jesus, their coming King. (See Matthew 19:28; Romans 11:25-27)

"And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:"
(Ezekiel 37:22)

THE PROMISED RETURN

The initial focus in the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham is centered around the territory in the Middle East that was originally shown to him. This promised land was the hope of the natural seed of Abraham.

Redeemed from bondage in the land of Egypt, they were led to this promised land under the hand of Moses and Joshua. This became their land and had they remained faithful to God's laws, they would have continued therein.

History tells their story; they were driven out of the land, overturned again and again for disobedience and scattered throughout the nations. Stronger and more powerful nations have fallen and disappeared from the national scene, but this was God's people, and even though they were severely punished, God promised to restore them to favor in their own land. The Prophet Jeremiah was inspired to reveal this about their destiny:

"Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished." (Jeremiah 30:10-11)

"Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock." (Jeremiah 31:10)

Returning to the words of the prophet Ezekiel, (partially quoted in the box at the top) we find additional evidence about this great promise for the return of the Jews to their land in the latter days. The entire 37th chapter is an amazing prophecy of the resurrection of a valley of dry bones, representing the whole house of Israel dispersed throughout the nations. (See verses 1-14) Ezekiel's prophecy is climaxed in the words below:

"And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:" (Ezekiel 37:21-22)

We have seen Israel's return to the land, a modern miracle that verifies the promises of God. We look forward with hope to the final chapters in this story. Jesus will return and be accepted by the Jewish people; they will be one nation in the land and Christ will be the one King over them all.

"And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Micah 4:2)

JERUSALEM - THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING

Jesus taught his disciples that Jerusalem would be the place of his throne, the capitol city, in the coming age. His words are thus:

"But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King." (Matthew 5:34-35)

His words were an endorsement of the teaching of the Prophet Micah who spoke of this promised future glory for the city of Jerusalem:

"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it." (Micah 4:1-4)

There are many important aspects in this wonderful prophecy by Micah. It speaks of a time when Christ will rebuke all nations and they will look to him on the mountain of the Lord in Jerusalem for their guidance, their laws, and their religion. It tells of a time when the nations will be at peace, when they will no longer make weapons of destruction but will concentrate their efforts on instruments for planting and pruning, to feed the hungry.

CITY OF PEACE

The word Jerusalem literally means "city of peace." Ironically, Jerusalem has always been a place of controversy. Today, many parties are striving for control of this great city that has a special significance for all three of the major faiths, Christianity, Judaism, and the Islam. Today, there is no peace for all of those who burden themselves with Jerusalem. Zechariah tells us: "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it."

We look forward to the time spoken of by Micah, when Jerusalem will be the capitol city for a whole world dwelling in peace. The Psalmist spoke of this future time in these words:

"Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." (Psalm 48:2)

"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." (Romans 4:13)

HEIR TO THE WORLD

When Abraham was first promised that he would inherit "all the land which thou seest" it is unlikely that he understood that this would ultimately include the entire earth.

Through the "righteousness of faith", Abraham, the father of the faithful, was assured "great and precious promises." These promises included the inheritance of the whole world by Christ and the saints, the spiritual seed of Abraham.

THE KINGDOM "UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN"

This promise was amplified in many ways throughout the Word of God. The prophet Daniel spoke about a time when all of the kingdoms of men would be destroyed and replaced by a universal Kingdom, one that would be set up by the God of Heaven. This Kingdom of God would break in pieces and consume all of the other kingdoms on this earth, and it would last forever. He also revealed that "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High..." (See Daniel 2:44, 7:27)

INHERIT THE EARTH

Jesus spoke of these same promises. In the Lord's prayer he encouraged us to pray in this manner. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." He also said "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5, 6:10)

The fulfillment of these promises was made possible through his life of obedience, his sacrifice for sin, and his resurrection from the dead. He has promised his followers that he will return to this earth to establish the Kingdom. When that time comes his faithful saints will be granted authority over the nations; they will help to rule the entire earth under the righteous rule of the King of Kings, and the whole earth will be filled with God's glory. (Numbers 14:21)