By Diane Caston

1. Promises of land to Israel

The Promised Land also known as "The Land of Milk and Honey" is the land which, according to the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible ), was promised and subsequently given by God to Abraham.

1. The Land

a. God chose the land. Deuteronomy 34:4. "This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, 'I will give it to your offspring"

b. 2 Chronicles 6:6 “But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel’.

c. 2 Kings 20:11 "In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever.”

d. Ps. 132:13 “For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place”

e. Over and over again in scripture the Lord says: “in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name.”

2 . The Promises

The promise that the Jews would be God’s people and inherit the land was first made to Abraham, then to Abraham’s son Isaac, and then to Isaac's son Jacob,

a. Genesis 12:1 “God had said to Abraham: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

b. given after Abraham’s entrance into the land:Genesis 12:7 “Unto thy seed will I give this land.”

c. Genesis 13:17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it: for unto thee will I give it”

d. The promise was renewed to Abraham’s son Isaac Genesis 26:3- 5 Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

e. The same promise is given to Jacob Genesis 28:13 -15 . Time limits us looking at the same promises he gave to David and Solomon that their descendants would always be on the throne of Israel.

3.The Chosen People

a. Deuteronomy 7:6 & Deuteronomy 14:2 "For you are a holy people to YHWH your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth."

b. Psalm 147:19-20 He declares: “He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation.”

4. The Boundaries of the Promised Land

a. In Genesis 15:18-21 the exact dimensions of the land are given and the territory is described as running from the river of Egypt, which was the borderline between Egypt and Canaan, and the great river, the river Euphrates, hundreds of miles to the east. It becomes clear from the description in this text which itemizes the heathen tribes occupying this territory that God had in mind more than just the small area occupied by the Canaanite himself, but rather the entire area between these two boundaries. Here again it is obvious Abraham understood that a large geographic area was involved.

b. Exodus 23:31 And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.

5.The Exiles

a. Exodus 19:3-6 “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ ”

Now we know the history of Israel, how repeatedly they turned their backs on the Lord and had to be judged. We read throughout the Old Testament of the prophets who came to warn the people that judgement was coming, and God being righteous punished Israel for their unfaithfulness to Him and sent them to Assyria and then Babylon. When the time was fulfilled, He returned them to their land again.

1. The first exile was the exile of the Israelites of the northern kingdom (Samaria) carried out by the Assyrians. It occurred in two phases, first in 734 B.C. under Tiglath-pileser III (2Kg 15:29) and then, climactically, in 722 B.C. under Shalmaneser and his successor, Sargon II, when the city of Samaria was destroyed, and the northern kingdom ceased to exist (2Kg 17:5-6).

2 .The next major exile involved the destruction of the southern kingdom (Judah) and the city of Jerusalem. It, too, took place in several phases, all under the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (Jer. 52:28-30), the most terrible of which was in 586 B.C.. (Jer. 52:29). This was when Solomon's temple was destroyed, and the dynasty of David came to an end. The exiles were taken to Babylon with a remnant left in the land.

Once Messiah came they rejected Him and once again they were judged. Jesus prophesied.

Matt.23:37-39 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’

3. The third major exile of the Jews took place under the Romans and was also in two phases. In A.D. 70 the Roman general (later emperor) Titus destroyed Jerusalem and Herod's temple in response to a rebellion over taxes and Roman rule by the Jewish people. Jesus foretold this in Matt. 24:2 “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” This was a horrendous event. Over a million people on both sides were killed in an 8 month period.

A second Jewish rebellion, called the Bar Kokhba revolt after the name of its Jewish leader, took place under Emperor Hadrian in the years A.D. 132-136. The Roman emperor Hadrian, among other provocations, renames Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina" and prohibits circumcision. Simon bar Kokhba leads a large Jewish revolt against Rome in response to Hadrian's actions. In the aftermath, most Jewish population is annihilated, about 580,000 killed, and Hadrian renames the province of Judea to Syria Palaestina and attempts to root out Judaism. This is where the term Palestine comes from. All these events involved exile, the forcible deportation of Jews from the Holy Land by their conquerors. In this last exile the Jews were exiled throughout Europe and the middle east.

6. The Returns .

But God has always displayed His mercy and forgiveness to His people in allowing them to return.

a. From Babylon

Jeremiah 29

Jeremiah sent a letter to the elders of Israel who were in Babylon to console them that after 70 years God would lift their punishment and return them to their land. Daniel reads this while studying Jeremiah and realizes that the exile will come to an end. He starts praying. You can read all about this return in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

b. From the Nations

A regathered and restored nation is declared in Isaiah 49, Jeremiah 16 and 31, Ezekiel 36, Amos 9, Zechariah 12, and many more places.

Isaiah 14:1 “For Jehovah will have compassion on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land.”

In Isaiah 43:5-7 the regathering of Israel to the land is described: “Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the end of the earth; every one that is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yea, whom I have made.”

It is stated categorically in Isaiah 60:21 : “Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever.”

Jeremiah 16:14-16 : “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that it shall no more be said, As Jehovah lives, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As Jehovah lives, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the countries whither he had driven them. And I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith Jehovah, and they shall fish them up; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.”

It should be noted that the regathering of Israel to their ancient land is here described as being a regathering to the last man, something that was not remotely approached in any previous return.

7. The Creation of the State of Israel

In 1867, Mark Twain took a trip to the Holy Land:

Throughout his book on the subject, Innocents Abroad, Twain explicitly states that the area was desolate and devoid of inhabitants. His group entered Palestine from the north, passing through such sites as the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Magdala, Capernaum, Jenin and Nablus.

Riding on horseback through the Jezreel Valley, Twain observed, “There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent – not for 30 miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride 10 miles, hereabouts, and not see-10-human-beings.” He continues, “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince.”

Little did he know or foresee the future of the land of Israel. God would and will fulfill His promise to Israel. But the story is not finished yet.

a. Declaration of Statehood

As the modern Zionist movement began to solidify and gather steam, Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel began in earnest. Beginning in the 1880s and peaking in the 1940s with the flight of Jews from Europe who had survived the Holocaust, Jews began to eye the Holy Land, the ancient Jewish homeland, as a place of refuge. Their plight, combined with the fact that there wasn’t a single country willing to accept any significant number of Jewish refugees, created a sense of urgency for the establishment of a Jewish state.

After World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe attempted to immigrate to Israel (then called Palestine), which was then British-mandated territory. The British, always wanting to avoid friction with the Arab world, refused to allow the Jewish refugees to settle in “Palestine.” The increasingly volatile and violent situation between Jews, Arabs and the British convinced the British to leave Palestine to the United Nations.

In 1947, the UN proposed the partition of Palestine into two states – one for the Jews and the other for the Arabs, with an internationally controlled area around Jerusalem. The Zionists, desperate to enable Jewish immigration, accepted the offer. The Arabs rejected it as they opposed any Jewish rule in Palestine.

Tensions peaked on November 29, following the UN General Assembly’s vote in favor of partition (dividing Palestine into two states), and Jewish communities throughout the Land of Israel found themselves under attack by local Arab gangs.

On May 14, 1948, Israel officially declared statehood. The Israeli Declaration of Independence formally the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion , soon to be first Prime Minister of Israel . It declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel , to be known as the State of Israel , which would come into effect on termination of the British Mandate at midnight that day. The very next day, the new Jewish state was surrounded by the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

b. Miracles

War of Independence

While stories abound of miracles that took place during Israel’s War of Independence, I chose one story to mention:

Taking Back Mount Zion

During the Independence War , Ira Rappaport’s Israeli platoon fought the Jordanian military for Mount Zion and found themselves surrounded by hundreds with only twenty five bullets left. With a sad end seemingly near, the men agreed to go out with a bang and readied themselves to make good use of every last bullet. Then, just when the small platoon was about to face the inevitable, something incredible happened. The Jordanian soldiers dropped their weapons and began suddenly running away, screaming “ABRAHAM!”. Several years later, Ira would come across a familiar face with an unlikely answer, as to what had actually occurred on that miraculous day. This was a former Jordanian soldier who had fought against Ira on Mount Zion. According to him, his army all witnessed a vision of Abraham defending the Jews in the sky above the Israeli platoon and had no choice, but to drop their weapons.

Since then Israel has seen many wars from their neighbors trying to erase them from the face of the earth. The 6 Day War (where they regained the Old City, the Temple Mount and the Golan Heights), the Yom Kippur War and currently the terrorists of Gaza continuing to try and wreak havoc in Israel.

8. The People Today

The world Jewish population is estimated at being .05. percent of the total populace – some 14.5 million, with just over 6.5 million in Israel, 5.7-6.8 million in the US, half a million in Russia and France, 280,000 in the UK and 200,000 in Germany.

Yet in Vanity Fair’s latest list of the 100 most powerful people in the world, 51 are Jews. Ten of the 50 people on this year’s Forbes’ annual billionaires list are Jewish. Of the 802 Nobel prizes handed out to date, 162 have gone to Jews.

The Lord has blessed the Jewish people. He has used them as a witness to the nations that He keeps His promises, but they missed their purpose to be a light to the Gentile. Jesus came and they rejected Him. Fortunately, there were the few faithful Jews who recognized their Messiah and faithfully brought the message and ‘turned the world upside down’. Steve’s studies the last two weeks have detailed this ‘mystery’ of the Gentiles being joint heirs with the Jewish people.

Jesus declared:

Eph. 2:12-13 “At that time you were separate from Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Christ.“

We all have equal standing before God and free access to the Father through his son, Jesus. And yes the tribes of Israel are still there right to the end of Revelation, just as God promised that they always would be (Romans 9-11, Jeremiah 31:35-36). It is easy to see the unique role that God had for Israel in the past, bringing us the Scriptures and the Messiah, the story of God… but we have the amazing privilege today of seeing God’s faithfulness in action as we see his ancient promises to Israel coming to pass before our eyes today.

9.The Tribulation

The time of Jacob’s trouble God’s purpose in in choosing Israel was to bless Abraham for his faith, and to create a nation who was set apart for the Lord. They were given the Law and the Tabernacle of Meeting. Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;

9:27-29 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,
Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth. And as Isaiah said before: “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”

The very presence and purpose of God’s plan was revealed to them, and they were supposed to be a light to the world, but they did not recognize the Lord of all creation when He came. They were judged again, so that they would repent. But do we see a nation surrendered to the Lord today? No, so there is another period of judgement awaiting the Jewish people after they return to their land.

Jer. 30:5-7“For thus says the Lord : ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.

Read all of Jeremiah 30 & 31 for the context of the timing of these events.

Matt. 24:15-28 So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”

1 Thess. 5:3 “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape . But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.”

We who believe will be raptured and avoid this period to judgement on the earth.

These “birth pains” are described in detail in Revelation 6-12 part of the purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel back to the Lord. For those who have received Christ as Savior from sin, the time of Jacob's trouble is something for which we should praise the Lord, for it demonstrates that God keeps His promises. He has promised us eternal life through Christ our Lord, and He has promised land, seed, and blessing to Abraham and his physical descendants. However, before He fulfills those promises, He will lovingly but firmly discipline the nation of Israel so that they return to Him.

Zec 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

7. The Millennial Kingdom

We don’t have time to discuss it but, Rev. 21:1 + - Rev. 22:1 tells of the future reign of Christ on the earth when “the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them” ( Isa. 11:6 ). This kingdom will center around Israel and the mount of the Lord. God is eternally invested in Israel!

Isaiah 2:2-4 Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it.

Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

Psalm 122:6 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”

Rom. 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Pray for the lost of Israel who should have known their King. Pray that the eyes of their understanding will be opened. Pray that they will repent of their sins and turn to God.