18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
The “Promised Land” is a very large territory. In the past, Israel has possessed only a small fraction of this land. It covers from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River which runs through Iraq and empties out into the Persian Gulf. If one takes the above passage literally, with these two rivers as the boundaries of the Promised Land, it would include part of Egypt, part of Syria, half of Iraq, and all of Jordan and Saudi Arabia – the entire Arabian Peninsula. The full area would be approximately the size of the United States. Today it is almost entirely desert.
Yet, when God repeated His promise of the Land inheritance, first to Abraham, then to Isaac, and then to Jacob, He promised that it would be the personal, permanent inheritance of these three Patriarchs along with their “Seed.” When God appeared to these men, He twice repeated the promise to each of them, that the permanent land inheritance was for them personally, and also for their “Seed,” as two distinct entities. Thus, it cannot rightly be said that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “inherited” the land after they were dead through their descendants inheriting it.
Since the permanent possession of the Land was always said to be “to you AND to your seed,” and since these Patriarchs died before any of their descendants inherited the Land under Joshua, the only way God could fulfill such a promise is through the resurrection of these men, when they will inherit it along with their “Seed” forever.
The Promise to Abraham AND to His ‘Seed’
1. Gen 13:14-15 KJV
14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, AND to thy seed forever.
2. Gen 17:7-8 KJV
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, AND to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
The Promise to Isaac AND to His ‘Seed’
- Gen 26:1-4 KJV
26:1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, AND unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
2. Gen 28:3-4 KJV
3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, AND to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
The Promise to Jacob AND to His ‘Seed’
1. Gen 28:12-14 KJV
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, AND to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
2. Gen 35:9-12 KJV
9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. 11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, AND to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
In Genesis 26:5 quoted above, after Abraham died (Genesis 25:8). God told Isaac that He would fulfill the promise to him personally and his “Seed” “because Abraham obeyed my voice.” Thus, the fulfillment of the permanent Land inheritance promise was not conditional on anything Isaac or his descendants would do, but was already guaranteed and sealed because of Abraham’s faith displayed in his obedience when he was still alive. It is therefore an irrevocable and unconditional promise.
There are two critical questions associated with this promise which determine the entire direction of one’s eschatology.
- Did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ever personally receive this promised inheritance?
Amillennialists say yes, they received all there was to this promise through Joshua leading their children into Canaan. But, it is indisputable that the permanent inheritance of the Land was to the Patriarchs in addition to their “Seed.” It was not that they would somehow vicariously inherit the Land by their descendants inheriting it under Joshua, but that they would personally inherit the Land forever in addition to their “Seed” inheriting it. And it is an everlasting inheritance! How can mortals receive an everlasting inheritance unless they have first received “eternal life” through resurrection? Steven said that Abraham did not even receive one foot of the Land God promised to him.
2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, AND to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
Hebrews says that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not receive the fulfillment of the promise, but that its fulfillment was delayed so that we might share in it with them.
Hebrews 11:8-9, 17-19, 39-40
8 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.
9 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: … By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
17 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
18 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. …
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.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not receive the fulfillment of the promise. Note in verse 8, Paul recognized that Abraham personally must inherit the Promised Land (which HE should after receive for an inheritance). In verses 17-19, Abraham’s willing obedience to kill his own child of promise (Isaac) was based on his belief that God would raise Isaac from the dead in order to fulfill the promise. Paul said that this was a “figure.”
Indeed it is! It is a figure of the fact that the permanent inheritance of the Promised Land will indeed be through resurrection. Thus, amillennialism denial of any future for the Promised Land after the return of Christ is anti-biblical. It flatly denies the promise of God to the Patriarchs. And those who hold that view do not have the “faith of Abraham” (which concerned not only his “Seed” but also the permanent inheritance of all the Land). Amillennialists are literally in “unbelief” regarding God’s unconditional and irrevocable covenant. They do not have “the faith of Abraham.” They have eliminated the true HOPE of believers and substituted “heaven” as their hope.
2 Who is Abraham’s “Seed”?
Dispensationalists acknowledge that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will inherit the Promised Land in the resurrection. But, like the Pharisees, dispensationalists say that “Abraham’s Seed” is exclusively the physical nation of Israel. Thus, the Land inheritance promise is for the physical nation of Israel, and not for Christians.
Yet, Paul said that the promise was made to Abraham and his “SEED,” whom he identified as Christ, and all who are baptized into Him.
Galatians 3:16-18,26-29 NKJV
16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
That Paul was referring to the Land inheritance is proven by the fact that his quote from Genesis, “and to your seed,” is exclusively found in the passages that refer to the Land inheritance. Paul’s quote in the Greek text is word for word from the Septuagint version of Genesis 13:15 & 17:8. He calls it “the inheritance” in verse 18. The Promised Land is the only inheritance found in the Abrahamic Covenant.
Paul then stated plainly that all who have been baptized into Jesus Christ have put on Christ, and are therefore also “Abraham’s seed” and “heirs according to the promise.” The “promise” is the inheritance. Dispensationalists have also substituted “heaven” as the hope of Christians. Like the Pharisees, they make the Abrahamic Hope something inherited through physical procreation instead of through adoption into the family of God – the “Seed of Abraham.”
Both systems (amillennialism and dispensationalism) have abandoned the plain sense of the Abrahamic Covenant and substituted the Platonic / Gnostic hope of “heaven” in its place.
By Tim Warner, Copyright © http://www.4windsfellowships.org