The Land of Promise
By: Dr. Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ President
“The Land of Promise” is our Feast theme. How many know where this exact phrase is written in the Bible? In the Old or New Testament? There’s only one time in the Word of God where Israel is called the “land of promise” and this is in the Book of Hebrews, where it says: “By faith Abraham lived in the land of promise…” (Hebrews 11:9) So, the Land of Promise is not just an Old Testament promise… but is introduced to us in the New Testament by the writer of Hebrews. He called it the Land of Promise because he understood the promises of God are unshakable and unfailing.
The idea of the Land of Promise goes all the way back to the calling of Israel in Genesis 12. There was a man living in Ur of the Chaldeans named Abraham… One day, he heard the voice of God saying: “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.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
You are seated here today in Jerusalem because four thousand years ago God made a promise to Abraham that one day all the families of the earth would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You might say where is this in the Bible? In Galatians 3:8, Paul says “the Scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith”. That is, through Abraham the Messiah would come and all the nations would be blessed.
Now Abraham and Sarah were getting old, and they tried to bring about this promised descendant. But one day God told Abraham to look up towards the heavens… and to count the stars, and He said, “that’s how your descendants will be”. And Abraham asked how he could be sure of this. Then the Lord made a covenant with him, in Genesis 15. He told Abraham to cut some animals in half. There was blood everywhere. And a deep sleep fell upon Abraham. Then the Bible says: “On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land…’”
The message was very simple. If any party making this covenant breaks it, let their fate be the same as those slain animals. You will pay with your life. A covenant is one of the most precious, holy things that the Bible has to offer.
But there is something peculiar about the covenant of Genesis 15… Abraham was sleeping, and God Himself – in the form of a fiery torch – walked through the animal pieces. What was the message? God said: “No matter what you will do, Abraham; not matter what your people do. No matter if they will follow Me or not follow Me… I’m going to make a covenant with you today that this is your land of promise. I’m not going to change My mind… This is your land, this is your calling, this is your destiny, to be a blessing for the nations…”
There are people today in the Church who say that God has changed His mind about the Jewish people. Because they have sinned, God is finished with Israel. Let me tell you, if God would be finished with Israel, your and my salvation would be on a very shaky foundation. Let’s be honest with ourselves, how many times has the Lord had to rebuke us that we do not pray enough, we are not zealous enough, we are not faithful enough? Many times, the Lord has had reason to change His mind about us… But the Word of God tells me that even if we are unfaithful, He still is faithful and keeps His promises to us.
That is why the New Testament writers all knew this land was promised to Israel. And that is why the Christian Embassy, with a loud voice, is declaring that this land belongs to the Jewish people; not because the United Nations says it, not because of the European Union, but because the King of Kings and Lord of Lords gave it to them…Israel.