The Land Is Mine – Part II

Leviticus 25:23 - “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.”

WHAT DID GOD SUPPLY to Abraham as an assurance that he would inherit the land? Faithful Abraham asked God, “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” God would take him to the sacrifice. I say the sacrifice because the promise God would make to Abraham could only be assured by the Cross. The Cross is the only means that we can receive anything from God. The very word covenant means “a cut,” indicating sacrifice. God instructs Abraham to take certain animals and to cut them in half and lay them apart. God would then cause a deep sleep to fall upon Abraham, and God would tell Abraham the things that would happen to his seed and the delay for them to inherit the land.

Genesis 15:13-14: “And He (the Lord) said unto Abram, know of a surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years (the four hundred years pertain to the time from the weaning of Isaac to the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage; the time frame covered the time spent both in Canaan, before it belonged to them, and Egypt, as well);

“And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge (Egypt): and afterward shall they come out with great substance (much gold and silver, etc., given to them by the Egyptians when they left [Ex. 11:1-3]).” God, in His infinite mercy, would forestall His judgments against the nations that possessed the land He promised to Abraham. God’s mercy is patient and He is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. In His foreknowledge, God knew that the Amorites would not repent, but He still gave them many years of opportunity.

Is it any different today? The world court of public opinion holds Israel as interlopers, illegal occupants, and oppressors in the land God promised them. The world is vastly moving toward isolating Israel by forcing her to part her land to a people who have no history. The so-called modern Palestinian people have no historical language of their own. They have no currency to call their own. They are not mentioned as a unique people in one history book. For example, on March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member, Zahir Muhsein. Here’s what he said: “The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.

“For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

In the meantime, the custom of the covenant (B’rith) was understood to be two parties entering into an agreement and sealing the agreement through a sacrifice. The animals were cut in half with their blood spilling out on the ground. The pieces of the severed animal bodies were then laid apart on either side of the blood-soaked ground. The parties in covenant then walked between the sacrificed animals on the blood; signifying that if one breaks the oath, the same judgment that the animals experienced would happen to them. The most fascinating aspect of God’s covenant to Abraham was that God walked through the animals while Abraham was asleep: “behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.” The burning lamp represented the judgment of God. God then makes another covenant with Abraham that promises the land will also go to Abraham’s seed for an inheritance.

There is no doubt from God’s Word that God set the borders (Gevulot Ha-aretz) of the land He promised to Abraham and his seed: “from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the River Euphrates.” The Bible gives account of the borders in several places: Genesis 15:18-21; Exodus 23:31; Numbers 34:1-15; and Ezekiel 47:13-20, to name a few. For us to better appreciate the vast geography involved with the land inheritance we must look at the boundaries a little closer.

Early Jewish tradition, expressed in the commentaries of Rashi and Yehuda Halevi, coupled with the Aramaic Targums (Jewish commentaries), understood the “Brook of Egypt” (Nachal Mitzrayim), as mentioned in Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Ezekiel as the Nile River in Egypt. Based on this information, the expanse of the land promised to Abraham extended from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Iraq. God would further mention to Abraham the nations of peoples that possessed the land: “The Kenites, and the Kennizzites, and the Kadmonites, and Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Gergashites, and the Jebusites.” In modern geographical terms, Abraham and his seed would inherit part of Egypt (the Sinai), Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and a large portion of Iraq, up to the River Euphrates.

Prior to World War I, all of these nations were part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. After the war, the land mass was taken from the Ottomans, who threw their lot in with Germany and the axis, and then divided between France and England in what was known as the Sykes-Picot agreement.

It was agreed that France was to exercise direct control over Cilicia, the coastal strip of Syria, Lebanon, and the greater part of Galilee, up to the line stretching from north of Acre to the northwest corner of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), referred to as the “blue zone.” East of that zone, in the Syrian hinterland, an Arab state was to be created under French protection (Area “A”). Britain was to exercise control over southern Mesopotamia (the “red zone”), the territory around the Acre-Haifa bay in the Mediterranean, the rights to build a railway from there to Baghdad. The territory east of the Jordan River and the Negev, south of the line stretching from Gaza to the Dead Sea, was allocated to an Arab state under British protection (Area “B”). South of France’s “blue zone,” in the area covering the Sanjak of Jerusalem, and extending southward toward the line running approximately from Gaza to the Dead Sea, was to be a “brown zone” under international administration.[1]

CHRIST OUR COVENANT The unique covenant God made was not so much with Abraham and his seed, but to Abraham and his seed. Abraham did not walk through the sacrificed animals. God alone swore unto Himself that He would give an inheritance to Abraham. Throughout the history of the Bible, God would repeat Himself through various writers that He would remember His covenant with Abraham and thereby extend mercy to his seed.

Jesus Christ would likewise fulfill a unique covenant by representing both God and man in the New Covenant (II Cor. 5:19). What responsibility did Abraham and his seed have to display to gain the benefits of the covenant promises God made to them?

To be continued next month.

[1] Jewish Virtual Library.

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