Whose Land?

Genesis 17:1-8 says:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.

The emphasis is mine. I wanted to pick out the fact that God gave Abraham and his offspring an everlasting inheritance. We know that both Isaac and Ishmael are descended from Abraham, and that the current Arab nations trace their lineage through Ishmael. Doesnt this mean, then, that the disputed territories of the Middle East belong to both Arab and Israeli alike? Abraham asked the same question, in the natural understanding he was too old, and Ishmael had been born at this point. Verses 15-21 contiue the discussion:

And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

Once again, I’ve added emphasis. God loved Ishmael dearly, enough to make him the father of great nations, but His sovereign decision was to make a covenant with Isaac, granting him and his offspring an everlasting inheritance: the land of Israel.

I’m not saying that the Israeli nation does everything right. I dont claim to have any Jewish blood (though I have been asked if I am Jewish). However, if I am to believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and ultimately, incarnated in the flesh and known as Jesus, is faithful I have to believe He will honour the promise made to Abraham. If God were to renege on that promise, what hope is there that He’s be true to anything we read in the bible? What hope is there that there is any salvation to be found in Him?

More thoughts on Israel, Genesis 28:10-19

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

Fast forward a number of years, until Jacob (now known as “Isreal”) is lying on his deathbed. Genesis 48:1-4 goes on to say,

After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’

Abraham was promised a homeland, and God confirmed that the blessing would stem from his son Isaac rather than Ishmael. Now we see that same promise reiterated from Jacob, Isaac’s son, to his son.

Jeremiah 32:37-42 picks up the theme later, talking of Israel the nation

Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

“For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them.”

Like it or not, God has been faithful from the start, He has planted Israel as a nation and will tend her like a gardener tends a beloved tree.

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