Unto Thy Seed Have I Given This Land

September 2017

“In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” —Genesis 15:18

This verse from Genesis describes a 56,000 square-mile land mass—equal in size to the states of New York and Vermont combined,1 and it’s just one of at least 170 other Scriptures2 that reference the land that God gave to Abraham and his seed.

And yet, this promise, made some 4,000 years ago, has yet to be fulfilled. At times, during the reigns of David and Solomon, Israel came close to possessing most of this land, but she has never controlled it all. Why?

The answer goes all the way back to the fall of man, to the first time brother rose up against brother.

You know the story, how Cain, the firstborn of Adam and Eve, brought his offering—a product of labor by his own hand; fruit of a cursed earth—and the Lord did not respect it. But when Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof—the blood sacrifice of an innocent victim, which God demanded—the Lord received Abel’s offering. So, Cain got angry and killed Abel.

“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (Gen. 4:8).

Note that before he killed his brother, the Bible says that Cain “talked with Abel.” The Scriptures do not record what Cain said, but the type of talk, the tone of it, may have very well included mimicking or ridicule for it to have escalated into the rage that caused Cain to rise up against Abel. In other words, the mocking turned murderous. We see a similar situation happen later between Ishmael and Isaac: “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking” (Gen. 21:9).

This is an ongoing problem that has literally never stopped. Ishmael—a work of the flesh—could not continue to coexist with Isaac—a work of the Spirit. Had Sarah not voiced her concern to Abraham, it is quite possible that Ishmael’s mocking would have resulted in the murder of their promised child, Isaac.

Ishmael was Abraham’s firstborn son, but as a work of flesh—as with Cain’s offering—God would not accept him. The Lord would keep His covenant through Isaac, and not only keep it, but expand it. After God changed his name to Abraham, the Lord told him: “And I will give unto thee, and to your seed after thee, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:8). So, what happened? Why doesn’t this land—promised by God as an everlasting possession—belong to its rightful heir? Like the promise, the answer is threefold:
  1. The seed: Both the Jewish and Arab worlds point toward Abraham as their father, and rightly so. The difference is the seed. The Arabs, who are mostly Muslim, claim Ishmael is the true seed while the Jews claim Isaac to be the true seed, the latter of which corresponds with the Word of God.3
  2. The land: The Jews, having forfeited their possession through rebellion against God, caused a rupture in the promise; however, the covenant still stands, and it will come to fruition in the kingdom age.4
  3. The relationship: The rejection of Jesus Christ by the Jews has greatly hindered their covenant relationship with God, which included possession of the land.5
And so, the generational battle for the promised land has continued between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac from then until now. Today, we know these two groups as the Arabs and the Israelis. And, like Cain and Abel and Ishmael and Isaac, the talking, the mocking, and the murder go on between man’s firstborn and God’s chosen vessels from each generation—links in the perfect lineage of His only begotten Son.

What is it exactly that the Arabs and Israelis talk about and mock and die for? In statements made by recent leaders of both the Israelis and the Palestinians, it’s clear that the themes of their messages center on two things—the seed and the land. Consider, however, the differences in content and tone (See Table 1.1 below).

The Bible makes clear who the rightful heir is to the land that God promised to Abraham: “And Abram said, Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness. And He said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it” (Gen. 15:3-7).

Years went by, and Abraham and Sarah decided to expedite God’s promise and made Hagar part of their plan. A child was conceived, and Hagar delivered a son, but not an heir. The angel of the Lord described Ishmael’s future this way:

“And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen. 16:12).

This verse, my husband says, describes the Arab people perfectly: “They cannot get along with anyone in the world, and they cannot even get along among themselves. At the present time, they have tried to unite regarding the destruction of Israel. However, despite the fact that they are about 25 times larger than Israel regarding population and land mass, they have failed to make any inroads in regards to this effort. The reason is mostly because they cannot agree among themselves. Ishmael opposed the Cross in his efforts to kill Isaac, and his descendants have continued in the same vain. So, he dwells in the presence of all his brethren (Israel) but does not subdue them and, in fact, never will subdue them.”16 As we know, Israel today continues her struggle to survive against enemies on every front. Her greatest ally, the United States, is once again—under the friendship and leadership of President Donald Trump—supportive.

Like other presidents before him, President Trump truly believes that if Israel and the Palestinians can make peace, it will begin a process for peace in the Middle East. During his first foreign trip as president, he said, “Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith, and Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace.”

President Trump’s desire to broker peace is admirable, and we applaud his efforts, but no matter how hard he tries, he won’t be able to do it. According to Scripture, the Antichrist will be the one to bring a so-called peace to Israel, but when that temporary peace evaporates, Israel will realize that she’s been deceived and will then turn, finally, to Jesus Christ—her Messiah.

In the meantime, Israel’s fight for her promised land and her battle to believe mirror the struggle of Christians today. Like Israel, when believers rebel and turn away from the Cross where Christ defeated Satan, we, too, forfeit what was promised to us: victory over the world, the flesh, and the Devil; healing, restoration, and so forth and so on. Consider the notes next to the first part of Genesis 15:18 in The Expositor’s Study Bible:

“In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land (promises based on the precious blood of Christ are so absolutely sure that faith can claim them as already possessed).”

When God gave the land to Abraham, he already saw the Patriarch’s descendants in possession of it—all of it. In the same way, when God gave His only Son, He already saw believers—as innumerable as the stars—possessing the victory that Christ won for them at Calvary.

Table 1.1
Israel Prime Ministers

“Here, in the land of Israel,
we returned and built a nation. Here, in the land of Israel, we established a state. The land of the prophets, which bequeathed to the world the values of morality, law, and justice, was after two thousand years, restored to its lawful owner—the members of the Jewish people. On its land, we have built an exceptional national home and state.” 6
Yitzhak Rabin
Palestinian Leaders

“We plan to eliminate
the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion ... We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem.” 7
Yasser Arafat

“Look, we have existed for 4,000 years—2,000 years in diaspora, in exile. Nobody in the Middle East speaks their original language but Israel. When we started 64 years ago, we were 650,000 people. So, you know, we are maybe swimming a little bit against the stream, but we continue to swim.” 8
Shimon Peres
“Palestine is the cement that holds the Arab world together, or it is the explosive that blows it apart.” 9
Yasser Arafat

“You can make peace with an enemy, if the enemy abandons the idea of destroying you. That is the critical test. Democracies fail to understand what I just said.” 10
Benjamin Netanyahu
“Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations. Since January 1965, when Fatah was born, we have become the most dangerous enemy that Israel has[.] … We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel.” 11
Yasser Arafat

“For thousands of years, we Jews have been nourished and sustained by a yearning for our historic land. I, like many others, was raised with a deep conviction that the day would never come when we would have to relinquish parts of the land of our forefathers. I believed and to this day still believe in our people’s eternal and historic right to this entire land.” 12
Ehud Olmert
“The continuation of the Israeli aggressions against our Muslim and Christian holy sites is playing with fire. All of these Israeli policies, actions, and measures are the reasons for the failure of all international efforts, particularly that of the international Quartet for the past 13 years, just as Israel has sabotaged the efforts of successive American administrations over the decades.” 13
Mahmoud Abbas

“The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms, there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms, there would be no more war.” 14
Benjamin Netanyahu
“The people will throw flowers at the Israelis, not stones or bullets. When the Israeli army pulled out of our cities in 1994 following the Oslo treaty, our children handed the soldiers olive branches.” 15
Mahmoud Abbas

1. http://www.globalsecurity.org/
2. http://www.differentspirit.org/
3. Jimmy Swaggart, Abraham, World Evangelism Press, 2013, pg. 245
4. The Expositor’s Study Bible,
5. Ibid.
6. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/
7. http://www.cbsnews.com/
8. http://religionnews.com/
9. http://content.time.com/
10. http://israelforeignaffairs.com/
11. http://www.americanthinker.com/
12. http://www.jpost.com/
13. http://www.jpost.com/
14. http://www.americanthinker.com/
15. http://www.nytimes.com/
16. Jimmy Swaggart, Abraham, World Evangelism Press, 2013, pg. 221

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