The Importance Of The Land

    The following article is by Owen Cornelius,  who is an instructor at Cornerstone Bible Institute, located just outside of Hot Springs, SD. Here is a link to CBI’s website: http://www.cornerstonebibleinstitute.com/.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LAND

By Owen Cornelius

In recent weeks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a plan by which Israel would completely withdraw from Judea and Samaria.  In exchange for this move, Israel would then “temporarily retain a 15 kilometer wide strip of the Jordan Valley as a security zone with no civilian presence whatsoever.”[1]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and over 60% of Israelis are opposed to giving up the Jordan Valley.[2]  Why do modern Israelis take such a stance?  Simply stated, they do so because the land is extremely important to them. 

Reasons for the importance of the land to Israel are abundant.  However, this article will explore the biblical reasons for the land’s importance.
 

God’s Past Dealings with Israel

The first biblical reason for the importance of the land to Israel centers on God’s past dealings with Israel.  The history of Israel began with the call of Abraham (Genesis 11:31ff), wherein God issued the command to leave one country and travel to another.  The original command came while Abraham was in Ur (Genesis 12:1 with Acts 7:2-3) and was reiterated while he lingered in Haran (Genesis 12:4). 

What is the significance of the call of Abraham?  God was calling out for Himself a nation.  But what good is a nation without land?  Abraham obeyed God and left Haran.  When he arrived in Canaan, God explicitly promised him the land (Genesis 12:7). 

We identify that promise as the Abrahamic Covenant, which is introduced in seed form in Genesis 12 but is called a covenant in Genesis 15:18 and 17:2.  The covenant had three provisions: (1) a land to Abraham and his descendents, namely Israel; (2) physical descendants to Abraham; and (3) a worldwide blessing (Genesis 12:1-3).  Additionally, the covenant was unconditional.  We know this because of what took place in Genesis 15.  Covenants were ratified at that time in history by having the two parties pass through pieces of animals.  Since God alone passed between the pieces (Genesis 15:7), it was evident that He alone was obligated to fulfill its terms.  Finally, the covenant was eternal (Genesis 17:7, 13, 19).  That is why it was repeated to Isaac in Genesis 26:1-5 and to Jacob in Genesis 28:10-15. 

Later when God called Moses, He made another covenant with Israel, known as the Mosaic Covenant.  This covenant was the administration of the Abrahamic Covenant.  It was conditioned upon obedience, and it was temporary because it was to be abolished by the New Covenant.  Under this covenant, Israel’s possibilities within the Promised Land—its very future—depended on two things: (1) its responsible use of the land, and (2) its faithful obedience to the terms of the covenant.

Israel failed on both accounts.  Thus, the northern kingdom was conquered by Assyria in 722 B.C. and deported.  The southern kingdom, Judah, was conquered in 586 B.C. by Babylon and forced from their land.  God allowed both kingdoms to be displaced from their lands because the people had not obeyed the terms of the Mosaic Covenant.

Though God’s people lost their land, God did not take His covenant faithfulness from them.  Why?  Remember, He alone was obligated to keep the covenant He had established with Abraham.  Thus, under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, the remnant returned to what had been their land and began rebuilding.

During the inter-testament period, God protected the Jews through the Persian and Greek empires.  By the time Christ was born, the Jews were under the iron thumb of Rome.  They were still in the land, but they did not have total freedom.  Most Jews were looking for a political messiah; thus, the nation rejected Christ as their Messiah.  When the Romans destroyed the Temple and the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Judaism at that point in history came to an end, and the Jews were no longer a political entity.  They again lost their land and their identity.  Was this to be the utter end of Israel? 

God’s Present Dealings with Israel

History has proven this was not the end of Israel.  Amazingly, after almost nineteen centuries, God re-established Israel as a nation in 1948.  This was a mere three years after the conclusion of World War II, which saw the murder of six million of God’s people at the hands of Adolph Hitler.  Thus, the second biblical reason for the importance of the land to Israel is linked to His present dealings with Israel.  The big question is, “What is God doing by allowing Israel to be re-gathered as a nation?  Is this a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?” 

Some would insist this absolutely is a fulfillment of prophecy.  For example, so say Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz.  Jeremy was formerly a commander in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Ari was a soldier.  Both are Americans and the founders of www.thelandofisrael.com. They also are the creators and hosts of the popular English TV show broadcast out of Israel, “Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem.”  Both men are very passionate about Israel.  The reader would clearly observe this by accessing the website just mentioned, particularly a video titled “Living Prophecy” at this web address: http://www.thelandofisrael.com/tv/most-important-video/.

The underlying theme of the video is that all the ancient prophecies concerning the future of Israel are being fulfilled today.[3]  This writer encourages the reader to watch the video.  The reader will undoubtedly notice that Gimpel and Abramowitz make use of numerous Old Testament passages to back up their claims. 

One example is Ezekiel 36:8—“But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come” (NKJV).  Another example is Jeremiah 31:8—
“Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
And gather them from the ends of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame,
The woman with child
And the one who labors with child, together;
A great throng shall return there” (NKJV). 
Other passages they use include Isaiah 49:6, Zephaniah 3:9, Zechariah 8:23, and others too numerous to quote.  All these passages are treated as prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes.  However, we believe these and other verses are speaking of the time after the tribulation we refer to as the millennium.  This will be the time when Messiah restores Israel both physically and spiritually. 

So, if the present restoration of Israel to the land is not what the prophets spoke of, then why does God have them back in the land?  Could it be possible that Israel has been re-gathered in preparation for the fulfillment of end-time prophecies? 

Specifically, we are speaking of the prophecy of the 70th week of Daniel 9:27 or what the Book of Revelation calls the seven-year tribulation period.  What needs to be in place in order for Antichrist to make this peace treaty with Israel and thus trigger the start of the tribulation?  The answer of course is that a people must be present in a land and organized into a political state.  That has been the case for Israel since 1948.  Thus, the land is important to Israel presently because God is setting the stage for the fulfillment of end-time events. 

That assertion leads us to the third reason for the importance of the land to Israel. 

God’s Future Dealings with Israel

When Jesus Christ returns to earth, He will return to the Mount of Olives in the land of Israel.  Messiah will then destroy the armies of the Antichrist on a battlefield located in the land of Israel.  Christ will finally establish His millennial kingdom and rule from the land of Israel

Thus, what the prophets spoke of as the final restoration of Israel will take place.  A redeemed Israel will finally enjoy peace and prosperity in the land of Israel as they experience fully and completely the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant in the person of their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.   

Our response to this truth can only be this: Maranatha—“O Lord, come!” (1 Cor. 16:22)

 

 

 


[1] Avital Stern-Bucknick, “The Jordan Valley Is Suddenly On Everyone’s Radar Screen—Is It Part Of Israel Or Isn’t It?”, Breaking Israel News, December 30, 2013, http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/jordan-valley-suddenly-everyones-radar-screen-part-israel-isnt/.

 

[2] Stern-Bucknick, “The Jordan Valley.”

[3] “Living Prophecy,” September 28, 2011, http://www.thelandofisrael.com/tv/most-important-video/.

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