In an attempt to convey the basis of modern Israel’s claim and right to the land that they occupy as a nation, (but which is highly contested by the Palestinians, the Arab world, the Muslim world, and a significant portion of the rest of the world, as represented by the United Nations) I have previously submitted for your consideration numerous biblical writings indicating that Israel was the beneficiary of God’s sovereign will and choice to be the recipient of a region of territory in the Middle East called the land of Canaan; and that God gave Israel the land because He considered it His with the concomitant right to give the land to whomever He chose, which in this case was and is Israel. The analogy of a gift in part 8 of this series was used to express the idea that for a gift to be effective the giver must have the right to give it. Since the God of this universe clearly claims and states that the land was His, He could and hence did give a valid and effective grant of it to Israel.
To go a step further with the gift analogy, when any of us mere mortals give a gift we usually have a certain degree of pride over what we have chosen to be a gift; and anticipate that the beneficiary will be elated, impressed, and duly, even dramatically, appreciative because of the quality of the gift (although we have all given out of a sense of obligation, rather than joy, at which times we give the least that will “do”, or am I the only one who has behaved this way?) Let’s face it, when we really care, we want our gift to be recognized as special and good. Guess what? God, too, was proud of His beneficence to Israel, and there are a series of scriptures through which God categorically declares not only that the land God was giving to Israel is GOOD; but He also declares that this land He gave Israel is ONE OF A KIND. Let’s take a look, but remember that as the quality of the gift of the land is discussed it is sadly, but frequently, in the context of Israel’s disobedience. (All emphatic indicators are mine)
Deut. 1:25: (Moses recounting to Israel of its spies having gone into the mountains of the land of Canaan to see and scout out the land that God had given them.) “They also took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought back word to us, saying, ‘It is a good land which the Lord our God is giving us.”
Deut. 1:34: (Moses addressing the people of Israel about their history and their history of complaining about God’s work in their nation’s life.) “And the Lord heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath, saying, (35) ‘Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land(and if God says it is good, then you can be absolutely certain it is GOOD) of which I swore to give to your fathers, (36) except Caleb [and Joshua]…because [t]he[y] wholly followed the Lord…’ (37) The Lord was also angry with me (Moses) for your sakes, saying, ‘Even you (Moses) shall not go in there.’” (And alas, Moses and the entire nation of Israel that was twenty years of age or older at the time of the exodus were compelled to live in the wilderness until they died before a new generation of Israelites would be permitted by God to enter “that good land.”)
Deut. 3:25: (Moses speaking to God.) “I pray, let me cross over (the Jordan River) and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains (of Judea and Samaria) and Lebanon.’ (26) But the Lord was angry with me on your (Israel’s) account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.’”
Deut. 4:21: (Moses speaking to Israel.) “Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and swore that I would not cross the Jordan, and that I would not enter the good land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. (22) But I must die in this land (Ammon). I must not cross over the Jordan; but you (Israel) shall cross over and possess that good land.”
Deut. 6:18: (Moses speaking to Israel.) “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the Lord swore to your fathers, (19) to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken.”
Deut. 8:7: (Moses speaking to Israel.) “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of mountains and springs, that flow out of the valleys and hills; (8) a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; (9) a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. (10) When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.”
Deut. 11:8: (You’ve got it; Moses speaking to Israel.) “Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, (9) and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants (to this very day, I hasten to add), a land flowing with milk and honey…(12) A LAND FOR WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD CARES; THE EYES OF THE LORD YOUR GOD ARE ALWAYS ON IT, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR TO THE VERY END OF THE YEAR.”
Ezek. 20:5: (God speaking to Ezekiel after the Babylonian conquest of the nation of Judah and their destruction of Jerusalem; approximately 586 BC.) “Say to them (Judah, exiled in Babylon), ‘Thus says the Lord God: On the day when I chose Israel and lifted My hand in an oath to the descendants of the house of Jacob (approximately 1800 BC) and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt (through Moses; approximately 1446 BC), I lifted My hand in an oath to them, saying ‘I am the Lord your God. (6) On that day I lifted My hand in an oath to them (and God most assuredly keeps His oaths), to bring them out of the land of Egypt (approximately 1446 BC) into a land (approximately 1406 BC) that I had searched out for them, flowing with milk and honey, THE GLORY OF ALL LANDS.” (Did you SEE that???? Here is the God of this universe, and all others as well, proclaiming that this land [which I have stated, ad nauseam I admit, is at the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] is THE ULTIMATE IN, AND THE CRẾME DE LA CRẾME OF, ALL EARTHLY REAL ESTATE. No wonder Palestinians want a piece of the “action”. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, God did not give this land to them; and unfortunately for Israel, their refusal to adhere to the standards that God set for their nation would compel Israel’s God to literally purge a disobedient generation of that nation (approximately 1446 BC – 1406 BC) before finally allowing their descendants into the land (approximately 1406 BC). Further repetition of that kind of behavior in Israel’s and Judah’s subsequent history, however, would result in God’s scattering and dispersing (and if anyone can scatter and disperse, it is God) the now divided kingdoms of Israel in 722 BC (referred to today as the ten lost tribes; see what I mean?) and Judah in 586 BC to Babylon; and even later Judah would be dispersed (70 AD) across the entire globe for almost two millennia more before His people would slowly, but prophetically, begin to trickle back to their God-given homeland in significantly growing numbers by the 1880’s; ultimately culminating in the reconstitution of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. In fact the next three verses reiterate and confirm the absolute uniqueness and quality of the land God gave Israel, but these verses also state why His chosen people would not consistently enjoy it.)
Ezek. 20:15: “’So I (God) also lifted My hand in an oath to them (indicating both the absolute truthfulness and the absolute intensity of His intentions)…, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY, (and here it is again) THE GLORY OF ALL LANDS, (16) because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. (17) NEVERTHELESS MY EYE SPARED THEM FROM DESTRUCTION. I DID NOT MAKE AN END OF THEM IN THE WILDERNESS.” (But the implication and the certainty of this is that He thought it [Ex. 32:9-14] and undoubtedly could have had He so chosen.)
So, nevertheless and in spite of it all, the God of this and all universes, who chose this people as His own, also chose, even with His omniscience and foreknowledge of Israel’s future and persistent episodes of rebellion, to give them the ultimate piece of real estate in the world. And with this land located as the connector of Asia, Africa, and Europe, God would in due time use Israel’s faithful apostles of His Messiah and Son, Jesus (Matthew, Mark, John, Peter, Paul, et al), strategically positioned at the crossroads of the world (location, location, location), to proclaim and herald, orally and scripturally, the most important and glorious news that will ever be heard by humankind: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
News that a desperate world desperately needs to hear; and do any of us really need to ponderously ponder these two options (to perish or to live eternally) before making the correct and obviously obvious choice: Jesus? REMEMBER: GOD SAYS WHAT HE MEANS, AND HE MEANS WHAT HE SAYS.
(adapted from The Boone County Spotlight; used with permission)
Don West is a new columnist and speaker for Prophecy Matters. His passion for Israel and prophecy is instantly contagious. He is a professor at North Arkansas College in Harrison Arkansas. Dr. West holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas.