Scriptures

Has God’s ‘Land’ Promise To Abraham Been Fulfilled?

Introduction

‘The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ Genesis 12:1-3

The Promises Given To Abraham

There are seven promises given to Abram.

1. A People. (Posterity)

2. A Name. See also Genesis 15:5.

3. Protection.

4. Prosperity.

5. A Universal Blessing,

6. A Homeland. See also Genesis 12:7 / Genesis 15:18-21.

7. A Son. Genesis 3:15 / Genesis 17:16.

God promised to make Abraham a great nation, this was fulfilled when Israel left captivity, Deuteronomy 26:5. Earlier Moses asked what great nation had a law, like the one given to them by God, Deuteronomy 4:5-8.

God also promised to bless Abraham, again this was fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime, Genesis 24:1 / Genesis 24:34-35, he was also blessed in the children he was given, Isaiah 51:2.

God also promised to make Abraham’s name great, as Abraham is such a famous man, even those who haven’t read the Bible have heard of him and we know he’s very important to Christians, Romans 4:16 / Galatians 3:7.

God also promised that Abraham would be a blessing to others, Christians today join with Abraham in receiving God’s blessings, Galatians 3:6-9, and of course Jesus is the ultimate blessing for Christians, Galatians 3:14 and because of Him blessings come to everyone, Romans 4:7-13.

God also promised to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, this was fulfilled in God’s protection of Abraham. We see it when Abraham with 318 men went to save Lot from the armies of five kings who had just ravished the region, Genesis 14:18-20, later we see it in God’s protection of Israel, Numbers 24:2-10.

God also promised that in him all nations of the earth would be blessed, Genesis 22:18, the fulfilment would be through a specific descendant, Luke 1:67-79 / Acts 3:25-26 / Galatians 3:8 / Galatians 3:16.

God promised that He will make his descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.

While in Egypt, the population of Israel increased greatly, Exodus 1:7, and when they left they were a great nation, Deuteronomy 26:5. By the time of King Solomon, he said the population couldn’t be numbered, 1 Kings 3:8. Remember too, that Christians are also called sons of Abraham, Galatians 3:7 / Galatians 3:29 / Romans 4:17-18.

There is no dispute about fulfilment of:

1. People.

2. Name

3. Protection.

4. Prosperity.

5. Universal blessing

6. A Son.

Most people are in agreement that all have been fulfilled but there are a few who believe that the land promise hasn’t been fulfilled, millennialists for example claim this promise has yet to be fulfilled. So, I want to spend a little time here to demonstrate how this promise had indeed been fulfilled.

The Land Promise

‘Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living.’ Genesis 24:1-3

Notice that under no circumstances must Isaac marry a Canaanite woman and under no circumstances must Isaac leave Canaan. To leave would have been regarded as a rejection and loss of title to the land.

In Genesis 26 we find the promises confirmed to Isaac.

‘Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.’ Genesis 26:3-4

‘Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him.’ Genesis 26:12

In Genesis 28 we see the covenant passes to Jacob.

‘May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.’ Genesis 28:3-4

‘There above it stood the LORD, and he said: ‘I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Genesis 28:13-15

In Genesis 35 we see the covenant confirmed again, whilst Jacob’s name is changed to Israel.

‘And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants.’ Genesis 35:11

In Genesis 37 we find Jacob living in the land and two promises have been fulfilled, a son and a homeland.

‘Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.’ Genesis 37:1

God then prepares for the fulfilment of a third promise, the development of a nation.

‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.’ Genesis 46:3

It’s significant that whilst Isaac wasn’t allowed to leave Canaan, no such command was issued to Jacob, on the contrary, God sends him to Egypt. The reason for the move was because of famine, with five more years of famine to come.

‘So, Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.’ Genesis 42:5

‘I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ Genesis 45:11

Israel lived in Canaan.

‘Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.’ Genesis 47:27

Jacob died in Egypt but was buried in Hebron.

‘They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite.’ Genesis 50:13

We also see in this chapter that Joseph prophesied that the Israelites would leave Egypt, although he didn’t indicate the circumstances of their Exodus.

God Fulfilled The Land Promise

‘So, the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.’ Joshua 21:43-45

Terms And Conditions

What people tend to overlook is that the Israel’s land promise came with terms and conditions attached. Moses even predicted their captivity. ‘All the nations will ask: Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?’ And the answer will be: ‘It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore, the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath the LORD uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.’ Deuteronomy 29:24-28

‘For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.’ Deuteronomy 30:16-18

Restoration

Yes, restoration was possible but that came with conditions attached too.

‘The LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.’ Deuteronomy 30:3-5

‘If you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.’ Deuteronomy 30:10

Captivity

Captivity finally came, in 721 B.C. we find the Assyrian captivity, from which the Northern Kingdom didn’t return. 150 years later, we find the Babylonian captivity. It was Nehemiah who led the return to the land. In Nehemiah 1 we see him praying on behalf of the people and notice especially that his appeal to God’s promise was made through Moses.

‘Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations.’ Nehemiah 1:8

God Kept His Promise

Notice also that Nehemiah also confirms that the Land promise had been kept.

‘You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.’ Nehemiah 9:7-8

The Return To The Land

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

‘In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfil the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing.’ 2 Chronicles 36:22

Take a moment to read Ezra 1 and you’ll see that God did fulfil His promise.

The Land Given ‘Forever’

‘All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.’ Genesis 13:15

When we read our newspapers and watch the news, we can’t but notice all the fighting which has gone on and continues to go on between Israel and Palestine, this is all about the ‘land promise’, who has the land rights!

One of the reasons there’s so much fighting going on, is because many Jews and millennialists believe that God hasn’t fulfilled the land promise yet, this is because of how they understand the word, ‘forever’ in Genesis 13:15.

Anyone who is a serious Bible student should recognise that the Scriptures don’t always use the term ‘forever’ in a completely unlimited sense. For example, circumcision was an ‘everlasting covenant’, Genesis 17:13, but its significance died along with the Law of Moses, Galatians 5:2-6.

Likewise, the observance of the Passover was an ordinance ‘forever’, Exodus 12:15, but its importance also ceased with the inclusion of the new covenant, Hebrews 4:1-11.

Thus, the land promise has already seen its fulfilment, and the fighting over in Palestine today, only shows a lack of understanding of spiritual truths and comes from selfishness and covetousness, James 4:1.

Conclusion

When Jesus The Christ arrived on the scene in Israel, he brought in a new covenant which is available to all people, the Jews and Gentiles. At the end of Hebrews 11, the writer notes that the Old Testament figures

‘were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.’ Hebrews 11:39

They may have received the land, but they still looked to the future for the Messiah, that Messiah is Jesus The Christ. Anyone whom the Lord adds to His church, Acts 2:38 / Acts 2:47, immediately becomes a citizen of the kingdom of God, Philippians 3:20. Remember Jesus’ words to Pilate,

‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’ John 18:36

Today, believers abide in Christ and He abides in us, John 15:5-7, the ‘promised land’ as far as believers are concerned, is the kingdom of God, Luke 17:20-21, but Christians are never promised any earthly land, they are promised eternal life in heaven. At death, Christians pass into heaven, the eternal promised land, 1 Peter 1:3-4.

‘Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.’ Revelation 21:1

 

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Philippians 4:13

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