Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Land Promise

"And the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him." (Genesis 12:7)

"And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "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." (Genesis 13:14-15)

"On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18)
Dispensationalists/Christian Zionists frequently tell us that these promises were made to the nation of Israel forever, but this is false. The nation of Israel was not in existence at this point, nor are they referenced anywhere in these passages. Eisegetical inference inserts Israel here. The land was promised to Abraham and his seed forever (the word translated "descendants" literally means "seed"). Remember what Galatians 3:16 teaches us?
"Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ."
The seed is Christ Jesus—not the physical descendants of Abraham (which would include the Arabs). Now, if you want to read the promise literally, it says "to your descendants forever." Abraham's descendants consist of both Israelites (Jews) and Ishmaelites (Arabs). After the Jews were scattered from the land yet again, the Arabs moved in. So the promise was still being fulfilled by Abraham's descendants. However, the land that Abraham looked forward to was not a patch of earth located in the Middle East—it was heaven.
"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. ... All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16)
We are also often told that the nation of Israel never received the land God promised, but this, too, is false. Joshua, Solomon, and Nehemiah all confess that Israel received the land that God promised to give.
"So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war." (Joshua 11:23)

"All the cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the sons of Israel were forty-eight cities with their pasture lands. These cities each had its surrounding pasture lands; thus it was with all these cities. So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass." (Joshua 21:41-45)

"Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance; they were eating and drinking and rejoicing. Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life." (1 Kings 4:20-21)

"Indeed, forty years Thou didst provide for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell. Thou didst also give them kingdoms and peoples, And Thou didst allot them to them as a boundary. And they took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon, And the land of Og the king of Bashan. And Thou didst make their sons numerous as the stars of heaven, And Thou didst bring them into the land Which Thou hadst told their fathers to enter and possess. So their sons entered and possessed the land. And Thou didst subdue before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, And Thou didst give them into their hand, with their kings, and the peoples of the land, To do with them as they desired. And they captured fortified cities and a fertile land. They took possession of houses full of every good thing, Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, Fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled, and grew fat, And reveled in Thy great goodness." (Nehemiah 9:21-25)
So who is right? Are the Dispensationalists/Christian Zionists? Or is the Bible? That is right. The Bible is correct—100% of the time. Sometimes finding an answer requires of us to do a little leg work and apply some elbow grease. The promises were spoken to Abraham and his seed; Christ Jesus and all those who would belong to Him by faith—Christians.
"Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham." (Galatians 3:7)

"And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (Galatians 3:29)