The land promised in the Bible is a real and substantial part of this earth, a place for living men and women; and inheritance in it belongs to the future. It has no connection with the cloudy region sometimes referred to in hymns which speak of the dead as “safe in the Promised Land”. It has none-the-less a very close connection with the hope of future life, as a later leaflet in this series will show more fully.
The promised land is the land that was Promised.
This very obvious statement emphasizes that the words of Scripture mean what they say, and opens the way for asking to whom the promises were made and what was promised.
The promises were made to Abraham and his seed.
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal. 3:16).
The land Promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for an everlasting possession was the land of Palestine and adjoining territories.
“And the Lord said unto Abram … Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Gen. 13:14-15). “I will give to thee (Abraham) and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8). “Unto thee (Isaac) and unto thy seed will I give all these countries” (Gen. 26:3). “The land whereon thou (Jacob) liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed” (Gen. 28:13). “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Heb. 11:8).
The seed associated with Abraham in the Promise of the land was Christ and all who are adopted into him and covered by his name.
“He saith not, And to seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ… For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ… and if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:16-17,27,29).
The Promise was not fulfilled in the lifetime of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having SEEN THEM AFAR OFF” (Heb. 11:13). “God gave Abraham none inheritance in the land, no, not so much as to set his foot on” (Acts 7:5). “I (Abraham) am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me a possession of a burying place” (Gen. 23:4).
The occupation of the land by the descendants of Abraham under the law of Moses was not a fulfilment of the promise made concerning Abraham and Christ.
“The promise that he (Abraham) should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4 :13-14). “If the inheritance be of the law it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Gal. 3:18).
The fulfilment of the Promises made to the fathers is spoken of in the Scriptures as future.
“Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (Micah 7:20). “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers … the oath which he sware to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:72, 73). “My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land” (Lev. 26:42). “Jesus Christ was a minister … to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom. 15:8).
The fathers to whom the Promises were made have a prominent place in the pictures which the Bible gives of the Kingdom of God, and the Holy Land is shown to be the solid basis of the hope for the future.
“Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God” (Luke 13:28, 29). “The Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion”. “The kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem (Micah 4:7, 8). “The Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously” (Isa. 24:23). “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart” (Jer. 3:17). “The Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married” (Isa. 62:4). “They shall build the old wastes … they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations” (Isa. 61:4). “He shall swallow up death in victory … In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah” (Isa. 25:8; 26:1).