The Millennial Kingdom: Israel and the Promised Land

Present Problems over the Land

The most prized piece of real estate on planet earth is not to be found in Beverly Hills, New York City or the Florida Keys, but in a small strip of land in the very centre of our world. So coveted is this soil that the cost and count of human casualties over who are the legal owners are both incalculable and innumerable. For literally millennia the bloody battle of middle eastern conflict has raged on, and one cannot erase the graphic images that flashed across our screens on October 7, 2023, nor the terrible affliction of war since. Pause for a moment to consider: Not another parcel of land anywhere in the world has ever had such a plaguing effect on humanity. To get perspective, the size of this land is approximately 290 miles long and 85 miles wide, able to fit almost 450 times into the landmass of the USA. With the formation of a globalised union in the United Nations, leaders have sought desperately to champion peace in the Middle East, and yet, the world remains burdened with this persistent problem. Being one of the most hotly contested debates across the globe, two vital questions remain: (1) Exactly who should occupy this land? (2) What precisely are the borders to this territory? “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” has become a battle cry from banner-waving crowds, Palestinians claiming that from the river Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west the land is theirs. Jews, however, declare that the mandate given in 1948 recognises Palestine as belonging to the State of Israel, pointing to the Scriptures to underpin their argument.

Past Promise of the Land

We’re not far into the Bible when we first read concerning the promised land. What a contrast for Abram, dwelling amid dead, ignominious idols that neither see nor speak (Psa 115:5) to receiving a glorious visitation from the living God, calling him out from his land and family to another land where he would become the father of a vast family (Gen 12:1-3; Act 7:2-3). Although Abram’s journey had its missteps, what shone through was his faith in God.

Arriving at Genesis 13, the final step in Abram’s initial call was complete. He had left his land and people and was now finally separated from all in his father’s house (Lot). At this point, God again spoke, reiterating the promise, “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (vv14-15).1 In chapter 15, we discover the sheer size of land promised. The borders extend from the Euphrates River in the north and east, encompassing areas occupied by the enemy tribes mentioned.  This includes present-day Lebanon, Syria, parts of Turkey in the north, Iraq and Jordan to the east, all the way to the Sinai in the south. The “river of Egypt” (15:18) is unlikely to be the main Nile, as that would have placed Israel in the promised land whilst slaves in Egypt; so, it was most likely a northern branch of that river.

Both Moses and Joshua refer to this promised territory (Deu 11:24; Jos 1:4) and, reading Ezekiel 47-48, we find that in the Millennial Kingdom the tribes of Israel are given specific lots within this inheritance.

It is evident from Hebrews 11:9-10 that Abraham understood the promise of the land was yet future, but what is fascinating is that when Abram stepped out in faith, relinquishing Mesopotamia, he found that the land he left behind was included in the future inheritance! The person who is prepared to leave all in this life will find that they have gained everything in the next. “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Mat 19:28-30).

Perpetual Peace in the Land

Living in northern Israel in the late 1990s, I remember the vibrating boom of the sound barrier being shattered as fighter jets patrolled the air space. On its borders tanks lined up, soldiers at the ready, with the government ever relying upon its vast store of weapons to provide peace to its people. Under the Man of Sin, the world will imagine that they’ve finally solved the middle eastern crisis, but, sadly, when they say “peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” the judgment of God (1Th 5:3). What transformation it will be for Israel when their warrior King returns to rescue them from the seemingly hopeless plight. “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation [not weapons] will God appoint for walls and bulwarks …. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isa 26:1-4).

Abraham received the blessing of the promised inheritance because he believed God (Gen 15:6-7), but Paul teaches us in Galatians 3 that the ultimate inheritor of the land is Abraham’s seed (singular) – Christ! He will fulfill the promised purpose of God, and, though ten tribes are presently dispersed across the globe, “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” (Isa 11:11). He will raise up Israel to the head of the nations, and in the midst of His people shall dwell the King of kings and Lord of lords, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (9:6). One may look at world events and wonder how this will ever come to pass, but in Genesis 15:6 the word “believed” is linked to the word “Amen.” Just as Abraham “believed God,” we too close this article with full assurance that “God said it and I believe it!”

In the will of the Lord, we will look next at “Israel and the Promised Throne.”

1 Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.