“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.’” Genesis 15:18-21 (ESV)
Yesterday I shared passages just from the book of Genesis in which the LORD reiterates His unconditional promise to Abraham, the first “Hebrew” (also called Israelites and later, Jews).
The LORD repeated His promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5) and to Isaac’s son Jacob, whom He renamed Israel. Genesis 28:10-13.
In the second book of the Bible, Exodus, chapter 23:31, God gives more details of the real estate that is to belong to the Jews, declaring “I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.” (ESV)
In Numbers 34, Moses is commanded by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the land of Canaan (located in present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel):
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance is to have these boundaries:
3 “‘Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. Your southern boundary will start in the east from the southern end of the Dead Sea, 4 cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, 5 where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Mediterranean Sea.
6 “‘Your western boundary will be the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This will be your boundary on the west.
“‘For your northern boundary, run a line from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Hor 8 and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, 9 continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north.
10 “‘For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham.11 The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee. 12 Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea.
“‘This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.’”
In Deuteronomy 1:8 God declares: “I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”
In Ezekiel chapter 47:13-20. the Lord defines again the “boundaries of the land” that is to be allotted to Israel. “Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your ancestors, this land will become your inheritance,” God says. “This is to be the boundary of the land:
“On the north side it will run from the Mediterranean Sea by the Hethlon road past Lebo Hamath to Zedad, 16 Berothah and Sibraim (which lies on the border between Damascus and Hamath), as far as Hazer Hattikon, which is on the border of Hauran. 17 The boundary will extend from the sea to Hazar Enan along the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north. This will be the northern boundary.
18 “On the east side the boundary will run between Hauran and Damascus, along the Jordan between Gilead and the land of Israel, to the Dead Sea and as far as Tamar.[c] This will be the eastern boundary.
19 “On the south side it will run from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribah Kadesh, then along the Wadi of Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. This will be the southern boundary.
20 “On the west side, the Mediterranean Sea will be the boundary to a point opposite Lebo Hamath. This will be the western boundary.”
By the time the LORD led the Jews into their Promised Land, it was already occupied by people who had become so corrupt through idolatry that they were “detestable” in God’s sight. They worshiped false gods and created objects–sun, moon and stars–as well as objects they made themselves. They practiced gross immorality. He wanted to use the Jews to “drain the swamp.”
Ironically, the Jews had brought with them idols from Egypt, and they reverted to worshiping them in the wilderness, giving wood and stone the credit due the Most High, despite God’s reminding them “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of slavery.” In the Land they did not wholly obey the LORD by wiping out all the idolators but allowed many to live among them, in some cases intermarrying with them and taking on their “abominations,” including burning up their own children in sacrifice to Molech I Kings 14:22-24. For this reason, as He had warned them (Deuteronomy 28), God punished His own people, dispersing them throughout the world.
Still, there was always a “remnant” of obedient believers and God promised He would eventually re-gather them in the Land. Their disobedience did not nullify God’s promise–because it was not a contract based on their response or behavior but an unconditional covenant with the Jewish people that is still in force today.
In 1948 with David ben-Gurion’s declaration of the existence of the nation pre-named Israel in Scripture, the re-gathering began. Since that year, more than six million Jews have poured “back” into their own country from nations around the world.
Prophecies yet to be fulfilled include the restoration of Solomon’s Temple, the crowning of King David’s descendant as eternal King ruling from Jerusalem and the permanent planting of His people in His land in peace:
Ezekiel 37:2 – “And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.”
Joel 3:2 – “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land.”
Amos 9:14-15 – “I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the Lord your God.”
To be continued