Saturday, March 22, 2008

Are the Land Promises to Israel Fulfilled?

YES! The Bible teaches that Israel has already realized all of the land God promised her.

"So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass" (Joshua 21:43–45).

See also Joshua 23:14-15, "14 And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. 15 But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, 16 if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you."

Nehemiah 9:8 "You found his heart faithful before You, And made a covenant with him To give the land of the Canaanites, The Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, And the Girgashites -- To give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, For You are righteous."

Some Bible teachers refer to Numbers 34:2–12 and Joshua 13:1–7 as proof that Israel did not ever reach the boundaries God promised it. However, those texts, which teach that Israel had not yet inherited the promised land, come before Joshua 21:43–45. But when we get to the end of the book of Joshua (21:43-45), we find that Israel had finally inherited what God promised it.

Some argue that since there were other nations in the midst of Israel (Josh. 23:4–7), Israel never truly possessed the land. However, that fact doesn't mean that Israel failed to possess the land in truth. In fact, Scripture calls the nations “an inheritance for your tribes” (23:4). They are part of the spoils of war. God also makes Israel's retention of the land of Canaan conditional. He says, “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left” (23:6). If Israel failed to obey these stipulations, then the nations in their midst “shall be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you” (23:13). Thus, the fact that Israel had not driven out all of the occupants of Canaan did not mean that they failed to possess and inhabit the whole terrritory God promised them.


  1. but wait, doesn't Israel inherit the land in the 1000 year reign of Jesus?

    i'm confused...


    GREAT post, tom. I'd never heard that before. Please, do go on.

  2. Excellent. One way that I've tried to explain it is to use an example of the Louisiana Purchase. The transaction was complete when the deal was signed with France. If there were a few towns in there who still claimed allegiance to France, that didn't mean the deal wasn't done and the US didn't "really" own all that land. It meant that there was some policing to do.

    Similar thing with Israel. God had delivered the land to the people. If they failed to take possession of it all, that wasn't God's failure to fulfill his promise, it was the people's failure to act on it.

    Israel owned the promised land.

  3. Woot, woot! Ben and I needed these references Friday night.