Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
If Abraham hoped that he would some day possess the land of Canaan, he must have realized, as he aged, that for him to not obtain possession of the land of Canaan during his life might be far better, than if he received it, because by not receiving it, he was assured of being raised up again, in order that God's promise would be fulfilled to him.
Suppose Abraham had received all the land he was promised, say, a
few months before his life ended.
In that case, what evidence would have, that he would be raised to life
after his death? Abraham had no Bible. There was no history of a
revelation of law,
no temple. As far as we know,
was no centuries-long tradition of prophets revealing God's plan for
mankind. He was alone in his
belief, that God would do what he promised.
If Abraham had obtained possession of all the territory he was
his death, that would have been something like what happened to
Alexander risked his life, as he led his army across several countries,
his attempt to conquer the world. He managed to gain power over most of
the civilized world, but at the age of 33, he died, so what benefit
his conquests to him? Really, he did not live long enough to enjoy his
his power, or his fame, or to finish whatever it was he intended to
accomplish. His life was a brief flash in the night, like a meteorite
glows bright as it burns out, and then disappears.
Jesus said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" [Mark 8:36]
The gospel promises life to those who follow Christ. The apostle Peter said,
32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Peter said God had fulfilled the promises made to the fathers, by the resurrection of Jesus, who justifies those who believe on him, and forgives their sins.
Belief in Jesus Christ is a lot different to superstition. The idea that maybe man is born with an immortal soul is superstition. It is a mere rumour, promoted by Plato, in his tales about Socrates. There is no truth in it.
The New Testament shows that the promise to Christians is something better that what was promised Abraham. It is called "some better thing."
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. ...
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Paul said, no one really knows exactly what it will be like, to receive our promised inheritance.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Are things said about the promised land in prophecy intended to
reveal more about some of these things?
When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.
Part of this prophecy of Isaiah was quoted by the apostle Paul, in Romans 11:26, where he uses it as support for his statement "all Israel shall be saved."
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
Obviously, one of those promises made to the fathers was about inheriting a land, the territory called the land of Canaan, the promised land. In another epistle, Paul clearly showed who he meant by "the circumcision," to whom Christ came to minister.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Jesus is the minister of those who "worship God in the spirit," and confirms the promises made unto the fathers to them. Paul did not mean Christ was the minister of those who do not believe, but who reject him as their saviour, and who seek by threats, stealth, and the force of arms, even nuclear arms, to acquire the territory promised to Abraham. Paul included Gentiles who believe in Christ among those who inherit the promises made to Abraham.
Experienced educators understand that when a new concept is introduced, it cannot be explicitly understood until it is linked in a meaningful way to pre-existing concepts. Israel's possession of the land was a type, that illustrates the more mature concept of the saints inheriting spiritual things.
The history of Israel coming out of bondage in Egypt, and their experience in the wilderness, hoping to eventually enter the promised land, is a type of the Christian life, and delivery from bondage to sin. The manna they ate pictures the spiritual nourishment provided by Christ, in the scriptures.
The promises of God are not merely for Jews, but for all those who believe in Christ. The Spirit of God is one of the promises. Paul said,
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The Spirit is promised in Ezekiel's prophecies:
Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
Also, it was promised in a prophecy of Joel:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Zechariah also foretold the Spirit being poured out on the house of David. Note that in Acts 15:16, the tabernacle of David is identified with the church.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
Paul said Gentiles who believe in Christ have become "Abraham's seed" and heirs of the promises.
And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Paul spoke of Gentiles who believe in Christ, as having been at one time "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel," but now they are "made nigh by the blood of Christ," and so inherit the promises made to Abraham.
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
In the book of Hebrews, the hope of Abraham is said to be a city made by God.
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: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
It is clear that this city is called Jerusalem, and "the heavenly Jerusalem." [Hebrews 12:22] John calls it the "bride," and the wife of the Lamb. [Revelation 21:9] James identified the inheritance promised to the saints as the kingdom of God.
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
This is the true significance of the land promise. The physical land of Canaan was a type of the kingdom of God, and the city where Christ reigns as king on the throne of David. This city is the "mother of us all." [Galatians 4:26]
The attempt by some to promote the settlement of Jews in Palestine, and claims by Christian Zionists that Christians should support the Jewish state are misguided. They speak evil of those who understand the land promise as a type of greater, spiritual things. They misinterpret the profound typical nature of the history of Israel. Their experience, Paul said, was intended for "our examples."
Corinthians 10:6, 11
Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. ... Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Israel's possession of the land was a type of the "rest" that is promised to the saints, as Hebrews 4 explains.
The land was identified with the law, which was even written upon great stones on Mount Ebal, when the Israelites entered the land. Much of the Old Testament is about Israel's possession of the land, and their exile, and a partial return
And so, it is evidently symbolic of an understanding of the scriptures.
Paul identified the earthly Jerusalem with Hagar the Egyptian bondmaid. She was "cast out" of Abraham's house.
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
IMO, promoters of Christian Zionism mislead gullible Christians, who miss out on the spiritual inheritance and blessings represented by the land of promise. They say those promises apply only to ethnic Jews. Jesus said, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." [Luke 6:26]
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
1 John 2:15
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Copyright © 2010, 2012, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.