The Land and the Promise
The ongoing dispute over the land of Israel—It is not just an international political dispute. There is a divine promise giving the land to the Jews, so any dispute is a dispute with God.
There is a baseline promise from God to the Jews called the Abrahamic Covenant. Part of that covenant was an unconditional promise from God that He had given the land of Canaan (Israel) to the Jews as an everlasting possession.
In 2011 the prophecies ingrained in this promise came to the forefront again in Washington. As reported by The Atlantic, “President Obama tried to point out that (1) the tides of history are moving against Israel [echoing Zechariah 12:3 which says that in the last days “all of the nations” will be against Israel] and (2) its occupation [of large parts of the land] is becoming untenable"
ABOVE RIGHT: The 2011 meeting of Israeli president Netanyahu at the White House with president Obama. A low-moment in United States-Israeli relations.
RIGHT: Netanyahu speaking before the United States Congress in 2011.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu flatly rejected this, stating forcefully to a sympathetic full house of the U.S. Congress that Israel
(1) won't return to boundaries that existed before the 1967 Middle East war,
(2) will retain full sovereignty over Jerusalem and
(3) won't grant Palestinian refugees any right of return to areas now within Israel's borders.
Prophecy is on the march in the headlines, and America's turnabout against Israel has not slowed down since 2011 (except during some remarkable U.S.-Israeli events of the Trump administration) and we will look closely at the land grant in God’s promise to Abraham.
PROMISE OF ISRAEL TO THE JEWS
In a divine covenental ceremony signifying the unconditional nature of the promise, God swore to Abraham that his descendants, the Jewish people, would inherit forever the land of Canaan, which is modern-day Israel.
(1) Then [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
(2) And He said to [Abraham], "I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it." (Genesis 15:6-7)
Now, if you are a Christian, you should especially note that God linked the truth of the Gospel and the truth of the land grant to Abraham together—If the Gospel is to be believed, so must the land promise be believed!
GOSPEL—Part 1 above is quoted in Romans 4:22-25 as the pillar of faith that brings one to Salvation in Jesus Christ.
LAND—Part 2 above is the promise of the land.
The truth of the Gospel and the truth of the Land Promise are linked together in two verses, and therefore must be believed together.
RIGHT: THE BOTTOM LINE
If we believe God about our salvation, then how can we not believe His promise to Abraham about the land?
The Old Testament
The Old Testament is replete with the land promise. One of the clearest examples is, "And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they and their sons, and their sons' sons, forever...Ezekiel 37:25
Notice that the promise is to the posterity of Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel, FOREVER!
A thousand years after Abraham, how did King David view the Land Promise?
"He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance," (Psalms 105:8-11)
To the PHYSICAL Descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
The Hebrew for “sons” in the above verse is “ben,” which is from the root Hebrew word meaning “son, as a builder of the family name.” Another way to say it is that the promise of the land FOREVER is to the immediate FAMILY TREE OF JACOB, i.e., the Jews.
A GEOGRAPHIC, PHYSICAL Land?
"And I will bring you [from the Exodus] to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession;" Exodus 6:8
In this verse the land granted to the Jews for their eternal possession is the same physical land that the Jews entered after the Exodus. Therefore, the geographic turf of modern Israel is indeed the same physical land promised to the Jews forever.
Whose land is it?... Is it Arab land, Palestinian land, Jewish land, international land...Whose? The Bible has no ‘question ( ? ) mark’ here. We read, in the prophecy of the coming Russian-Islamic Invasion Of Israel, where the Lord says,
...I shall bring you against MY land, Ezekiel 38:16
Israel is God’s land—to keep or to give! He has given it to the Jews and their “forefathers forever and ever.” (Jer. 25:5) That is why, speaking to the Jews, God refers to it as “their land which I have given them” (Amos 9:15) and “your own land” (Eze. 37:14).
Does the New Testament Agree?
There is a “theology” abounding in the church that does not come from the Bible. It is called “replacement theology,” and does not deserve to be printed in capital letters. It teaches that the promises God gave to the Jews, including the promise that they would posses the land of Israel forever, were actually intended for the Church. Therefore, the Church has replaced Israel and the land promise is actually more like a land “dream” to be fulfilled when the Church inherits the New Jerusalem.
But after the resurrection of Jesus, after the Church was born at Pentecost, Steven—filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3, 10; 7:55)—said this,
“... God removed [Abraham] into this country in which you are now living.
And He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground; and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS OFFSPRING AFTER HIM. But God spoke to this effect, that his OFFSPRING WOULD BE ALIENS IN A FOREIGN LAND [Jews in Egypt], AND THAT THEY WOULD BE ENSLAVED AND MISTREATED FOR FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. Acts 7:4-6
Notice that Stephen, the first Christian martyr, speaking by the Holy Spirit, clearly pointed out,
1. That “this country in which you are now living”—the physical land of Israel—is the subject.
2. That, though Abraham was not given a tract of land to live on—he had to either sojourn “landless” or purchase a tract—the Lord promised the land to Abraham and his “offspring” as a possession.
3. That “even when he had no child” (physical descendant) the promise was to his “offspring” (the Greek word is ‘sperma’ from which the English word ‘sperm” derives, meaning physical “seed” or “offspring”). “Even when he had no child” refers to a physical offspring, denoting the miracle birth of Isaac to fulfill the promise of a perpetual physical “offspring” from Abraham (the Jews) to inherit the land of Israel forever. The physical “offspring” (not the “spiritual offspring” of the Church) is further confirmed when Steven identifies the “offspring” as those who were “ENSLAVED AND MISTREATED FOR FOUR HUNDRED YEARS” in Egypt. That was the Jews of the Exodus! Did the Church replace those “offspring”? Steven had no conception of the Church replacing Israel.
Israel or Palestine?
World leaders call the land Palestine. So do historians, diplomats, newscasters and the entire Arab world. But the New Testament calls it “Israel” from the time of the Birth of Jesus until the Second Coming of Jesus. At the time of the BIRTH OF JESUS we read, "Arise and take the Child and His mother, and go into the LAND OF ISRAEL; for those who sought the Child's life are dead. And he arose and took the Child and His mother, and came into the LAND OF ISRAEL. (Mat.2:20-21)
At the time of the SECOND COMING OF JESUS we read, "But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the CITIES OF ISRAEL, until the Son of Man comes. (Mat. 10:23)
The Bible never uses the term “Palestine.” It is a counterfeit word Satan has employed to fog the everlasting promise God gave to Abraham. The Bible always calls the land Israel from the time of King David on.
What About the "West Bank"?
The West Bank land (west of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea) was part of Jordan prior to 1967 (see map below). In the 1967 War, Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem (the old city of Biblical times). It was inhabited largely by Arabs as part of the Kingdom of Jordan. Did the Jews illegally confiscate land that isn’t theirs? Yes, according to the international community, but the Bible says something else!
And [Abram] went ... to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between BETHEL and AI.. And the LORD said ... "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, ...northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. (Gen.13:14)
Abraham was standing between Bethel and Ai, in what today is the West Bank. He was told to look in all directions. The Lord said, “All the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.”
The descendants of Abraham are specifically named through his son and grandson, Isaac and Jacob, who gave birth to the Jews. (Psa. 105:8-11)
The Possession of the Land
There has been one possession of the land of Israel, and two returns. The possession of the land happened after the Exodus from Egypt, when Joshua led the Hebrews across the Jordan to take possession of what was then the land of Canaan. Following God’s command, the Canaanites were uprooted from their homes and cities (though not completely) and the Hebrew children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob took the land for their own as promised to their forefathers. Today’s liberal church would call that an “illegal occupation.” But Stephen in the New Testament speaking by the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3, 10), said otherwise,
"Our fathers [came into the land] ...with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations
People were upset and dispossessed from their homes, just as today. But it was God’s purpose in bringing a chosen people to a chosen land to bring forth the Messiah to bless all peoples.
As mentioned above, there has been one possession of the land, but there have been two returns to the land. After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews returned to Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah. Again, gentiles had settled into the land, and again, they were dispossessed. And again, today’s liberal “theologians” would say that the Jews were “illegal occupiers.” The Bible records the scene, and it sounds like today...
"Now it came about when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on... they were very angry. And all of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it." (Neh. 4:7-8)
RIGHT: A Graphic-Fulfillment of Prophecy !
Then a second time the Jews were driven out of the land—- this time for the next nineteen hundred years. However, the Lord promised that He would return them to the land a “second” (Isa. 11:11) and last (Amos 9:14-15) time.
(The "second time" comes in 2 phases; unbelief (1948) & belief (2nd Coming)
That is happening now, and people are being dispossessed once again.
But the Jews are not “occupiers”— they are the inheritors of the Promise to Abraham and his descendants forever.
"Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, ...And will assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." Isaiah 11:11
The purpose of all of this? To prepare the way for the King!
Daniel and Rahab—Uprooted From the Land
Daniel was “uprooted” from the land of Israel in the 605 BC capture of Jerusalem by Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar. Also, among the thousands of Judeans taken captive to Babylon with Daniel were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These young men surely lost homes, families, land and their entire livelihood as they were transported to an alien culture. But they understood God’s plan and purpose with the land and the nation and the captivity. This understanding didn’t cause the pain and anguish caused by the uprooting of these godly young men to vanish, but it helped them to keep their faith in the God of Israel. As a result, God revealed the whole prophetic history of Israel to Daniel, and his writings in the Book Of Daniel continue to be a source of understanding and encouragement in God’s master plan for the world.
Just as the Lord has promised that the Jews will return to the land of Israel in our day, He also sent Joshua and the Hebrews into the land to possess it 3500 years ago. When they came to the city of Jericho, “the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand...’ “ (Jos. 6:2). But the Lord protected Rahab, an inhabitant of Jericho, because she demonstrated her faith in the Lord, who was about to take her ancestral home, by protecting the Jews who spied out the land. By her own testimony she said, “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Jos. 2:11) In the New Testament the Book of Hebrews gives her a special commendation, saying, "By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace." (Heb. 11:31)
Here is a woman of native origin to the land who believed in God’s ownership of the land of Canaan, and of all the earth. She demonstrated faith in His sovereign plan. She saw her culture and neighbors and city uprooted, but because of her faith in the Lord she and her entire family (Jos. 6:22-25) were assimilated into Jewish society where she actually became an ancestor of Jesus Christ! (Mat. 1:5)
"Living Water" Poured Out Upon the Mid East
God’s purpose for the land—to bring a chosen people into a chosen land, to bring forth the Savior, to offer salvation to all peoples, tribes, tongues and nations—is beautifully seen by the prophet Isaiah, where he foretells of the day when Arabs and Jews will be cleansed of their sins by the same Living Water:
In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria... whom the LORD of hosts has blessed…saying,
"Blessed is Egypt My people,
and Assyria the work of My hands,
and Israel My inheritance.“ Isa. 19:23-25