From “In the Land” To “In Christ”

A Land I Will Show You

God called Abram, out of Ur of the Chaldees, about 1921 B.C. from his country, from his relatives and from his father’s house. Idolatry ruled in his former home land. Abram was removed from there to Canaan.

God promised to make of Abram a great nation, to make his name great, to bless those who blessed him and to curse those who cursed him. Most importantly, in Abram, all families of the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

The Land Promise

Abram had no children, his wife Sarai was barren. He puzzled over how he would become a great nation. God assured him that he would give him descendants who would be estranged as slaves in a foreign land, but who would afterward be delivered to return to Canaan in which Abram then lived. He promised Abram’s Strangers and Pilgrims descendants all the land from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River. (Genesis 15)

The Two Sons

Further development of the promise took an ethnic root. Ishmael, Abram’s first son, at Sarai’s prompting, was born of Hagar an Egyptian. His descendants were the Arabs. On the other hand, Isaac, Sarai’s child born after both parents were very old and incapable of natural procreation, was a miracle child through the power of God. Hence, these sons and their mothers are designated as originating “according to the flesh” (Hagar and Ishmael) and “according to the Spirit,” (Sarai and Isaac)

The Trek to Eqypt

In fulfillment of God’s prophecy to Abram, under the providence of a famine, they go to Eqypt where Joseph becomes second in command to Pharaoh. They live in peace until Joseph dies and Israel falls into servitude under a new Pharaoh. As prophesied, they serve, are delivered under Moses, and are led into the land God promised Abram under Joshua’s leadership.

God gave Israel all the land promised them through Abram, and not one word failed. “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers and they took possession of it and dwelt in it…Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” (Joshua 21:43-45)

The Land Promise Was Conditional

Joshua’s farewell address to Israel made clear that God would remove Israel from the land he gave them if they disobeyed him, a refrain repeated from the curses delivered by Moses, (Deuteronomy 28:21)

Israel’s destiny unfolds in disobedience. Under Jeroboam, ten of the twelve tribes are excommunicated from the nation. God, angered with the idolatrous ten tribes, removed them from his sight, rejected them and tore Israel from the house of David, (2 Kings 17:20-18). Judah, dabbled in idolatry which led to her captivity in Babylon for 70 years. At the time the New Testament opens, Israel is back in the land but under Roman rule.

The Spiritual Promise Unveiled

While they look for a king to remove the Roman yoke, Christ would have no part of it. Though a king, he did not rule a kingdom of “this world” (John 18:36) Rather, he came to fulfill the “spiritual” land promise of Abraham to his spiritual descendants. This is where the world in general makes the wrong turn in understanding God’s dealings with Israel and the Abrahamic promise.

No Place For The Sole of His Foot

Remember, the natural land promise was to Abraham’s descendants. It was conditional upon their faithfulness to God. To Abraham, God never promised a single square foot of Canaan, known today as Palestine. “And God gave him no inheritance in it, no not even enough to set his foot on…” (Acts 7:5) The Jews blew a gasket at this message which culminates in the stoning of Stephen.

Abraham looked for a country, but as long as he and the patriarchs were in Canaan (Palestine) they viewed themselves as sojourners and strangers. They never claimed it as their home. (Hebrews 11:9,10). They died in faith, as strangers and pilgrims in the land, looking for the land which God promised them, 11:13-16. That land was the “heavenly city” called the new Jerusalem which equates with the church/kingdom of the living God. (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22-24)

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