“Is the Land Inheritance Still Relevant Today?” by Michael Battle


The following study was written by Michael Battle, a friend on Facebook who also posts regularly in a group I belong to. It’s a good study of the words “forever” and “everlasting” in the Old Testament, as they are used concerning the land of Israel, circumcision, the feasts, the Sabbath, and other ordinances of the law of Moses. This study has implications for the claim that the land of Israel always has belonged, and always will belong, to the physical descendants of Abraham:

The land of Canaan is said to be an inheritance for the decedents of Abraham FOREVER (Genesis 13:15; 17:8).

Does this then mean that the promise of the land inheritance has relevance today? If we were to take Genesis 13:15 and Genesis 17:8 at face value without considering the balance of scripture, then we would certainly have to come to a conclusive yes.

Therefore we need to ask, “Does the balance of scripture support our interpretation of the land inheritance?”

To begin, let’s consider the use of the word “forever” elsewhere in the Old Testament. The same Hebrew word translated as “forever” in Genesis 13:15 is translated as “everlasting” in Genesis 17:8 mentioned above (see also Genesis 48:4; Exodus 32:13).

That’s certainly a good start if we are going to build a case that the land inheritance is still relevant.

However, we immediately have our first hurdle before we ever get out of Genesis 17. In verses 10-14 we read that physical circumcision is an EVERLASTING covenant and that the land inheritance coincides with circumcision. The “uncircumcised” have no share in the covenant through which the land was to be inherited.

This immediately becomes problematic in building a defense for the “land inheritance” having relevance today because in the New Testament the apostle Paul tells us that circumcision in the flesh no longer has any value. According to Paul it is circumcision of the heart (in the Spirit) which matters. [Adam’s note: See especially the book of Galatians and the strong language Paul uses there toward those who attempt to push circumcision as a requirement.]

As we continue through the scriptures we find that the feast of Passover and unleavened bread are said to be an ORDINANCE FOREVER (Exodus 12:14, 17, 24) and the Sabbath was to be a covenant FOREVER (Exodus 31:16-17).

Yet the New Testament tells of that these were only shadows of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17) and that Christ Himself is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The ministry of the Levitical priesthood (Aaron and his descendants) within the tabernacle is said to be a statute FOREVER (Exodus 27:21, Exodus 28:43, Exodus 30:21, Leviticus 24:1-3) and an ordinance FOREVER (Numbers 18:8). The wearing of the priestly garments by the sons of Aaron was also referred to as a PERPETURAL (FOREVER) statute. The ceremonial washing of the hands of the priests who served in the tabernacle was to be a statute FOREVER (Exodus 30:21).

Yet according to the New Testament this priesthood has been abolished and has given way to one that is greater and more glorious, and that is the Priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Law of Moses also declares that the Levites were to be servants to the priests and this was to be a statute FOREVER (Numbers 18:23).

The law of the meat offering’s portion for the sons of Aaron was also to be a statute FOREVER (Leviticus 6:14-19).

The daily meat offerings offered by Aaron and his descendants was to be a statute FOREVER (Leviticus 6:20).

The commandment for Aaron and his sons not to drink wine nor strong drink in the tabernacle was to be a statute FOREVER (Leviticus 10:9).

The heave and wave offerings belonging to the Levitical priests and their families was a statue FOREVER (Exodus 29:28; Leviticus 10:15; Numbers 18:19).

Like the Passover, the Day of Atonement was also to be a statue FOREVER (Leviticus 16:29, 34, Leviticus 23:31). Yet according to the New Testament, those things which were done under the Law on the Day of Atonement served as a foreshadowing of Christ (Hebrews 10:1-4) and have now been taken away because Christ has become the High Priest of a greater and more perfect tabernacle.

With regards to sacrifices for sin, the Law of Moses also says that the sin offering of the red heifer was to be a statute FOREVER (Numbers 19:9-11).

Yet Hebrews 9:13-14 says, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

As we can see, the use of the language FOREVER as it applied to the Old Testament promises, statues, and ordinances doesn’t mean “for all eternity” without any change as they originally were.

In studying the scriptures, we should consider the qualifying clause “throughout your generations” and other similar clauses. These should be taken into account when considering those things which were said to be FOREVER.

For instance, Genesis 17 says the covenant of circumcision and the land inheritance is FOREVER in view of THOSE GENERATIONS.

In Exodus 12:14 the scripture says: “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance FOREVER (see also verses 17 and 42).

The daily offering of the burnt offering was to be THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS (Exodus 29:42). The yearly consecration of the altar of incense by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement was to be THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS (Leviticus 30:10).

These references (above) regarding THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS are just a few examples of the many times this qualifying clause and others similar to it are mentioned in view of the FOREVERS in the Old Testament.

The Old Covenant was a covenant for God’s people in the flesh and was binding THROUGHOUT THEIR GENERATIONS, wherein the revelation of Christ was hidden in a mystery (Colossians 1:26).The forevers were “types” and “foreshadowings” of Christ.

God has saved us according to His mercy by the washing of REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3;5) and that which was “in the flesh” has now given way to that which is “in the Spirit.”

The forevers of the physical covenant have given way and been translated to FOREVER in Christ!

The forever ordinances of things like Passover continue, but now it’s in Christ and not in the outward offering of animals. The same holds true for the land inheritance, the Sabbaths and all other FOREVERS of the first covenant. True inheritance and rest is in Christ!

He is our Passover, He is our Sabbath, He is our promised land!


ADDITIONAL NOTES

  1. Israel’s right to the land, according to scripture, was dependent on their covenant relationship with God. Physical Israel has no covenant with God today because of their rejection of Jesus. Only believing Jews (those who believe in Jesus Christ) have a covenant with God. Physical Israel is a secular nation like all other nations. Covenant membership is found only in Jesus Christ. The only way that secular Israel could be considered God’s people is for there to be two covenants and two groups of people as the people of God. Dual Covenant theology is heresy.
  2. Israel’s right to the land was not exclusive to the physical descendants of Jacob. Throughout Israel’s history, Gentiles were joined to them and inherited full rights as citizens which included land inheritance (see Ester 8:17, Isaiah 56:3-7, Psalm 87:4-6, Ezekiel 47:21-23).
  3. When Israel was given the land it was divided among their tribes, which included Gentiles who had joined them. (See the book of Joshua and Ezekiel 47:21-23).
  4. The Levites were given no land inheritance.
  5. God never meant for Israelis only to have access to the land, Israel was required by God to treat those living among them justly and not to oppress them (Leviticus 19:33-34; Jeremiah 7:5-7; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Exodus 22:21-24; Exodus 23:9; Deuteronomy 23: 7-8; Deuteronomy 10:19).
  6. Supporting Israel in everything is unscriptural. For example, God was angry with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, for making an alliance with Ahab, the King of Israel (See 2 Chronicles 18:1 – 19:2). Also the Apostle Paul tells us that the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and continued to hinder the message of the Gospel were under the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

Hebrews 11:8-16

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

“The Diaspora & Aliyah of Judah-Israel (Fulfilled)” by Steve Thomas


The following article is an excellent analysis and critique of a key idea promoted by Christian Zionists (and dispensationalists). This idea is that Old Testament prophecies concerning a regathering of Judah/Israel to the land were not fulfilled under Ezra and Nehemiah, but rather have been fulfilled since Israel became a nation in 1948 (some 2600 years after these prophecies were given). Steve Thomas shows that this idea does not stand up to the light of Scripture or history. Steve lives in the United Kingdom and moderates a Facebook group called “Christian Zionism – Deconstructing the Myths Biblically, One at a Time,” where this article was posted two weeks ago.

The Multinational Dispersal & Return: Christian Zionist Presumptions

Presumption 1.) It is presumed that the 70 year exile of the people of Judah (605-536BC) in Babylon, up to the time of Nehemiah’s return in c. 445 BC was

a.) in only one nation Babylon,

b.) in just one direction East of Israel

Presumption 2.) Upon the 1st is based a 2nd – That as the Babylonian captivity did not fulfil these two  basic criteria, a far greater dispersion (Diaspora) must be intended within the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel & Zechariah. In contrast to the Babylonian exile, they say, these prophecies define the location of the Diaspora as:

a.) nations (plural),

b.) all points of the compass – especially to the north.

Presumption 3.) Upon this 2nd is based the 3rd – That the steady migration of Jewish people to Israel, in the 20th & 21st centuries, must necessarily therefore be the prophetic fulfilment of the promises given forth in the following 4 primary dispersion-retrieval passages, as the former exile fails to meet the necessary criteria:

=> Jeremiah 3:18   In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.

=> Jeremiah 16: 14-15  “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.”

=> Zechariah 2: 6-8  “Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. 8  For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.”

=> Isaiah 11: 11  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.”

A RESPONSE

The Bible record of the Diaspora shows that, contrary to CZM [Christian Zionism] assumptions detailed above, the historical dispersion was definitely multinational, and was certainly multi-directional:

EVIDENCE 1. => Jeremiah 44:1 “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros…”

Pathros was situated in southern Egypt, in the region of Aswan, south of today’s Cairo:

http://www.world-guides.com/images/egypt/egypt_map1.jpg

^This^ was written during the exile, in the time of Gedaliah’s governorship of Jerusalem (Jer 40:5), following the 586BC destruction of the temple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gedaliah

EVIDENCE 2. The following map, from an encyclopaedia of Egypt showing equivalent modern nations, shows the extent of the Diaspora at the time of Esther – from India to Ethiopia:

http://encyclopediaegypt.com/israel/persia.jpg

=> Esther 8: 9   “Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are FROM INDIA UNTO ETHIOPIA, an **hundred twenty and seven provinces**, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.”

The book of Esther is set in the 7th year+ of the reign of the Persian King Xerxes (479BC), in Shushan, 200 miles east of Babylon. This places these events during the exile of Judah, some 35 years prior to Nehemiah’s return.

From this evidence it is clear that, far from the Diaspora being to one nation, in one direction, it proves to be well over 100 international provinces, to all four points of the compass.

Source

FURTHER EVIDENCE – provided within the prophecies themselves

1.) The nations surrounding Babylon were all part of the Chaldean empire during the captivity of Judah:

=> Jeremiah 25:11  “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

2.) Zechariah 2:6-8 (above) defines the dispersion as encompassing: 

a.) Babylon

b.) the land of the north

c.) the nations (plural).

3.) Jeremiah similarly defines the location and extent of the captivity:

a.) Babylon

b.) for 70 years

c.) the nations (plural):

=> “‘For thus says the LORD, that after seventy years are accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place’; ‘And I will be found of you, says the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place where I caused you to be carried away captive’; ‘Hear therefore the word of the LORD, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon’” (Jeremiah 29:10,14,20).

This evidence removes all doubt as to the multinational and multi-directional nature of the Babylonian captivity, being the only captivity detailed in these pre-exilic and exilic prophecies.

NEW TESTAMENT EVIDENCE

The Book of Acts describes the gathered Jewish community – resident in Jerusalem and gathered from the Diaspora – identifying their places of origin. The list of locations matches the Diaspora destinations predicted in Isaiah 11:11 (above) from which God said he would gather the children of Judah-Israel. These are comprehensively summarised at Pentecost, being “out of every nation under heaven.” Whether this is emphatic hyperbole, or not, it serves to complete the evidence – that the Diaspora was certainly as full as possibly necessary to fulfil criteria given within the prophecies of dispersion & retrieval:

=> Acts 2:5-11 “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of **every nation** under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7   And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

We see that ^these^ locations perfectly match the very places listed in Isaiah 11 – please do see the following maps of the dispersion of Judah under Chaldean Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar and his successors to Belshazzar) and subsequently in the Medo-Persian Achaemenid Empire (Cyrus and his successors, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes et al.):

Isaiah 11: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Map_achaemenid_empire_en.png

 

Acts 2: http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/files/2014/06/Pentecost-in-Jerusalem-Map.jpg

Other maps relating to the Acts 2 list:

http://www.travellinkturkey.com/images/auxilary/phrygia.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontus#mediaviewer/File:1stMithritadicwar89BC.png

http://www.talentshare.org/~mm9n/articles/Paul/Image19.gif

CONCLUSION

When presented with ^this^ conclusive evidence, Christian Zionist & Messianic protagonists generally forego the opportunity to respond to the ‘evaporation’ of those initial presumptions listed at the top of this post. When shown the evidence, I have not yet encountered a CZ enthusiast who admits that, “OK, the Babylonian captivity was, after all, many nations, and multiple directions; and those who suggest otherwise do seem to be unfortunately mistaken.” Instead, they tend to ‘move swiftly on,’ reverting to a couple of further arguments in favour of a modern Diaspora & Aliyah:

Presumption 4.)   It is said that, “the OT prophecies must have had a *double meaning*. Sure – they referred to the Babylonian exile in the near term (and well done for pointing that out in such detail, etc.), but today’s events are the *bigger* picture in view – the final and greater intended dual fulfilment.” Strangely, no evidence from within the prophetic texts is then presented to support this response, if challenged. It appears to be a case of prophetic guesswork – the 4th uncorroborated presumption.

Which leaves us wondering what the modern Christian Zionist theory is actually based upon. Certainly the details of the captivity, the people involved, the timing, and the location, are very precise, and given to the people at the time to show them the direction of travel intended by God. The return to the land was intended to prepare for the coming of Messiah – the prophecies of His advent being interspersed amongst the return prophecies, as God’s intended end in view.

Presumption 5.)    When it is pointed out that no post-exilic OT prophecies of another, later return can be found, and none are given in the New Testament (other than the final ingathering of the elect on the Day of the Lord,) this is brushed aside. It is said that “Israel *needs* to be back in the land for Zechariah 14 to occur” etc., which is another story, but not a proof that the Aliyah prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah can be transferred across millennia or responsibly replicated to today’s calendar without any biblical precedent. Ironically, the protagonists of this eschatology generally like to present their position as a literal reading of the bible.

Presumption 6.) Finally, the 6th presumption is called upon, when faced with the logical collapse of the previous five. It is said that, “such a global phenomenon as the Jewish repatriation of 20th and 21st century Zionism is so profound and large-scale, that it cannot be anything other than the work of God.”

But we know that nations and empires do come and go, by the wit and will of men. Organised campaigns have great power to effect enormous political change; to raise ethnic solidarity across the continents and the centuries. Just thinking of the power of the Soviet Union to coalesce and disperse populations; The modern democratic ideology; Globalisation; Nationalisms of other people groups like Kurds, Palestinians, Albanians, Kosovans and Serbs, ethnic Russians in modern Soviet satellites, the international Chinese community, Brits abroad, Irish and Scottish nationalism  etc.

It may be for instance, that the Jewish identity is intended by God to remain intact, but for the purpose of displaying the evidence and veracity of biblical history – to authenticate the bible narrative – to remind the world to take the bible seriously as the largely FULFILLED Word of God. There are several reasons that Israel might exist today – not least, the possibility that a counterfeit Kingdom of God is in view. After all, even Christian Zionists themselves propose that an antichrist kingdom will prevail in Jerusalem in coming days, so this is not too farfetched an idea…

Whichever way we take this – basing an eschatology on a set of disproven assumptions, then continuing to hold to this once they have been exposed, would seem to be to somewhat irrational. Various psychological and emotional responses come into play to defend a belief so strongly held, in the discomfort of ‘cognitive dissonance’. Evidence is compiled to bolster a preconceived ‘confirmation bias’ that persists over and against contrary evidence, no matter the strength and validity of the counter-evidence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

SUMMARY

Finally, a 7th presumption is presented, more in the way of a ‘threat’: It is said by CZM enthusiasts, “If God is not going to be faithful to Israel – in bringing the nation back again – how do you know for sure, as a Christian, that God will remain faithful to you?”

This is a poor argument, and easily resolved. The opposite is in fact the case. Having seen the comprehensive evidence above, how does the CZM enthusiast – in claiming that the prophetic fulfilments recorded within the very bible itself are *not* the intended completion of those anticipations – then go on to have confidence that *anything* will happen according to these unfulfilled aspirations? Especially aspirations that to all intents and purposes are widely expected within the CZM movement to conclude in a sinister covenant with the Jewish people, under a satanic regime in Jerusalem, ruled by an antichrist devil-man, in defiance of the Almighty.

Far better, is it not, to accept the well-attested faithfulness of God in:

1.) the fulfilment of the promises to the Fathers in the initial entry to the land (Joshua 21:43-45)

2.) the completion of the promises of exile and return to the people of Judah in the 6th and 5th centuries BC (Ezra 2:70),

3.) the Messianic deliverance in the New Covenant by Jesus,

4.) the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his people at Pentecost, and

5.) the Word of the Lord going forth from Zion in the Great Gospel Commission?

6.) the remaining, future, final return of Christ in glory to gather his saints from the four winds into the eternal kingdom (Mark 13:27).***

HalleluYAH! Yes indeed God *IS* faithful to his promises and his people – and we can prove it, with biblical evidence, every step of the way!

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*** Adam’s note: I believe that Mark 13 (The Olivet Discourse), and parallel accounts in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, were fulfilled in the first century AD (my study on this topic can be seen here).

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Related Post: Galatians 4 Shows That Isaiah 66 Is Not About Modern Israel