Locating the Borders of a Promise: Part 1 of 9

shutterstock_5568790Midnight, Friday, May 14, 1948, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel went into effect. The signers of this document were members of the Jewish National Council. This group represented both Israel’s community and members of the Zionist movement abroad. Some claim this event to be the key proof of a “soon coming” time for what is commonly known as the “end time and the “rapture” of the Church. This opinion comes from the belief that the physical land of Israel described in the Old Testament is divinely and unequivocally promised to the physical descendants of Abraham. However, the Bible explains this land’s prophetic significance quite differently. What it says is those allowed to live there was always limited to those who were obedient. It also show that the fullness of Israel’s promises was always focused on Jesus Christ for He is the only one who fulfilled all that “Israel” was to represent. To begin this study we will first look at what God promised Abraham about the physical “Promised Land,” and how that promise is already fulfilled in perfect detail.

Old Testament Possession of All the Land

Genesis chapters 12, 13, and 15, show the extent of this Promised Land possession. God told Abraham to go “unto a land that I will show thee.” There He said He would make from Abraham “a great nation.” Abraham answered this call and proceeded to Canaan. God promised Abraham: “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (see Gen 12:1-7, Gen 13:14-15, Gen 15:18).

Some believe the literal habitation of the land promised to Abraham has yet to be fulfilled by the people of Israel. But this opinion is not in agreement with the witness of the Bible. Its pages unquestionably show that this promised occupancy did take place, and that it came to pass before the time of Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy says that the people of Israel possessed the Promised Land. Through Moses, God proclaimed, “Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them” (Deu 1:7-8). This is without doubt the same land as promised to Abraham in the book of Genesis.

The book of Joshua goes on to show that the people of Israel did exactly as Moses had said, and that they did possess this entire parcel of land. This happened when “Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses.” It is imperative that one sees this was the same land that God “sware to give unto their fathers,” and that the people then “possessed it, and dwelt therein.” Joshua is definitely stating that the promises God made about this land “failed not,” and that they “all came to pass” (see Jos 11:23, Jos 21:43-45). After reminding his people of their need to stay focused and obedient to their God, Joshua released “every man unto his inheritance,” which was them going to their portion of the physical Promised Land (see Jos 24:27-28).

These passages in Joshua are not the only witnesses we have concerning this physical land’s fulfillment. The Bible also says that King David recovered its Euphrates’ border, and that afterward all the Promised Land was ruled over by his son Solomon (see 2 Sam 8:3; 1 Kin 4:21; 2 Chr 9:26).

In the notes for 1 Kings 4:21Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states Solomon reigned over all the land that was promised to Abraham:

“The meaning of this verse appears to be, that Solomon reigned over all the provinces from the river Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to the frontiers of Egypt. The Euphrates was on the east of Solomon’s dominions; the Philistines were westward on the Mediterranean sea; and Egypt was on the south. Solomon had, therefore, as tributaries, the kingdoms of Syria, Damascus, Moab, and Ammon, which lay between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. See Calmet. Thus he appears to have possessed all the land that God covenanted with Abraham to give to his posterity.”

This same conclusion is resonated in Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

“The writer draws attention to the fact that the extent of Solomon’s kingdom was in accordance with the promises made to Abraham, Moses, and Joshua.”

Further proof that this prophetic fulfillment happened after the second exile is that Nehemiah said the occupying of the physical Promised Land had already been “performed” by God because He is “righteous” (Neh 9:7-8). Nehemiah confirmed this when further stated that “their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it” (Neh 9:23). Nehemiah was referencing a portion of Abraham’s promise, which shows that the returning Jews of Nehemiah’s day took residence in the same land promised to their “fathers,” i.e. the same land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Notice what John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says about this passage in Nehemiah:

“Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven,…. Fulfilling the promise made to Abraham, Genesis 15:5 their number when they came out of Egypt, and just before they entered into the land of Canaan, being upwards of 600,000 men, besides women and children, Exodus 12:37, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it; the land of Canaan, promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their seed, into which the Lord brought them by Joshua; he was the instrument, but the thing was of God.”

Even though the Bible clearly states that the possession of the Promised Land has already literally taken place, some men are still reluctant to accept it as fact. They excuse this by saying, “Yes, the Bible does say God’s people did ‘already received it ALL,’ but it does not say that they ‘lived IN it all.’” This maneuver is nothing but an avoidance of truth.  Also, God promised Abraham that any area where he placed his foot would become his land. If this meant God only gave Abraham the literal areas where his foot touched, then Abraham and his decedents received a very long and narrow inheritance. Of course no one would seriously suggest this. Instead what we understand from this promise is that God would give him the land areas in which he walked. In relation to the subject at hand, Abraham did not have to step on every square inch to receive the land promised him by God. To demand a literal inhabitance would be like saying that since the owners of the South Texas King Ranch have not yet lived on every square inch of their 825,000 acres, they have not yet truly taken over its ownership.

Though the idea that every square-inch of the physical Promised Land has to be lived in has no biblical evidence, it is exactly the type of logic used by Futurists when claiming this Land’s promises have yet to be literally fulfilled.

Part 2 of 9

 

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