Israel and the Promised Land

by Roger L. Leonard

Because the Jews in the time of Jesus rejected the Old Testament prophets who foretold of Him and subsequently rejected Him as the Messiah, He said to them:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39).

Israel ended as a nation of God's people when the Lord Jesus Christ ascended back to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Note Luke's record regarding the apostles before the Sanhedrin Jews:

"When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:27-32).

Paul wrote: "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:15-16).

God has nothing in the Palestinian Arabs or Israeli Jews today. Today, the church of Jesus Christ, which began on Pentecost in AD 33, is "the Israel of God".

Notice also Galatians 3:26-29: "For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise."

The ultimate promise the Lord made to Abraham was spiritual.

God did promise the land of Canaan to the children of Israel. (See Joshua 1:1-9.) That encompassed the whole of the land of promise. Joshua later said that every word God had spoken to the children of Israel had been “fulfilled” (Joshua 24:14-16). Note also I Kings 4:21: “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.

But the Lord also warned them earlier that if they rebelled against Him and forgot Him, they would lose the land. Note Deuteronomy 30:15-20: “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

The Messianic prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 66:7-8, wrote about the blessings in the New Zion, which is the Church/Christian age. The fulfillment of this is spiritual, not physical, and culminated in Jesus Christ and His spiritual Kingdom. Things become complicated when we view Palestine and the land, the nation of Israel, and the kingdom as physical, and something to come in the distant future. Israel had the land but lost it due to their rebellion. However, it never was intended to be permanent. Just as the nation, physically speaking, was never intended to be permanent physically speaking. God’s seed promise to Abraham and his descendants was ultimately and completely fulfilled in Christ. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:16: “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.” This “boy” or son” of Isaiah 66:8 is the Christ.

In Hebrews 11:13-16, we read: "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."

Note Hebrews 12:22-24: "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel."

There is not even a hint in the New Covenant of Christ that God will restore the nation of Israel physically or restore the Jews to the land of Canaan and Jerusalem.

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