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To Whom was the Land Promised and for Whom will it be Ultimately Fulfilled? Or, Does the Current Secular State of Israel have a Biblical Claim on the Land?

I’ve been asked on countless occasions the question posed in the title to this article. Space does not allow a lengthy and detailed response, so let me sum up what I believe the Bible says in five short points.

(1) From the original covenant promise to Abraham, the land has been a central feature of God’s purpose for his people. Genesis 15:18, “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.’”

(2) Not even Abraham viewed the land of Canaan as the full or final expression of this promise. The land of Israel, so called, was never alone the consummation of God’s covenant promise. Abraham and the other patriarchs understood that it was a token of the New Earth on which God’s people would forever dwell (see Rev. 21-22). The author of Hebrews put it this way:

“By faith [Abraham] went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to that city has foundations, whose designer and builder is God [that city, of course, being a reference to the New Jerusalem that will descend on the New Earth when Christ returns]. . . These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledge that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. . . 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 for them a city” (Heb. 11:9-10, 13-14, 16).

(3) The promises made to Abraham, including the promise of the Land, will be inherited as an everlasting gift only by true, spiritual Israel, not disobedient, unbelieving Israel. The ones who will inherit the land promise in the New Heavens and New Earth are those who have trusted Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. Unbelievers have no part in this inheritance. That is why unbelieving Israel today cannot be said to have a biblical or covenantal right to the land. The nation Israel most assuredly does have a right to live in the land, but it is based on political and historical grounds.

Therefore, the secular state of Israel today may not claim a divine right to the Land. They have a right to their land, much as we in the USA have a right to ours. But it is a right that is based on international political principles of justice, not the Bible.

(4) Believing Gentiles, at one time cut off and alienated from the covenant promises made to the patriarchs, have now been brought near and included in the inheritance. Therefore, both believing Jews and believing Gentiles constitute the members of the one olive tree and will together, equally, enjoy life forever in New Earth, the redeemed and glorified earth that will come when Christ returns. That is the “heavenly country” spoken of by the author of Hebrews.

(5) Whether or not the historically progressive, on-going, incremental, and present-day saving work of God among the Jewish people is a prophetic prelude to that final fulfillment is something no one can know. Regardless of one’s conclusion in that regard, the consummation of God’s covenant promise of dwelling with his people in the land will come to pass on that New Earth that we read about in Revelation 21-22.

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