CANAAN, THE PROMISED LAND

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[Genesis:13:14-18]; [Genesis:15:18-21]; [Exodus:6:1-8]; [Leviticus:26:3-9]

Lesson No.: 
160
Class: 
Senior
Memory Verse: 

“I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

Notes: 

The Jewish People
The origin and history of the people who are now returning in great numbers from nearly every country in the world to their own newly created state of Israel, in the land of Palestine, dates back to the patriarch Abraham, approximately 2126 B.C. Abraham was the first Jew; and Isaac, his son, was the first-born Jew. As we read [Genesis:17:15-17] we are made to realise that the very inception of these people was a miracle, and they have continued to be a miracle people through the ages.

God's Promise to Abraham
Included in the Abrahamic Covenant are these words:
“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, 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.
“And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
“Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
“Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD” (Genesis:13:14-18).

God's great Covenant to this people was first made to Abram in [Genesis:12:1-7]. The all important provisions of this Covenant are: that a certain land is to be Abram's; a great nation is to come from him; the blessing of God is to rest upon him; a great name is to be conferred upon him; he is to become a blessing; God's blessing is to rest upon those who bless Abram, and God's curse to be upon those who curse Abram; and, as we have seen, that through Abram all families of the earth are to be blessed, in that Jesus the Perfect Sacrifice was to come through Abram's line.

The Everlasting Feature of the Abrahamic Covenant
Later, in confirming the Covenant with Abraham, [Genesis:17:1-8], the Lord said that it should be an everlasting Covenant between Him and Abraham and Abraham's seed. All the land of Canaan was to be given him and his seed for an everlasting possession.

The Lord, in other confirmations of His Covenant with Abraham ([Genesis:15:18-20]), and with Isaac ([Genesis:26:1-5]), and with Jacob ([Genesis:28:10-15]; [Genesis:35:10-12]), heirs with Abraham of the same promise, again emphasized the everlasting feature of their landed possession and gave them an idea as to the extent of the land they would possess.

“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:
“The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
“And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
“And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis:15:18-21).
(For further information as to the original grant of land, refer to [Exodus:23:31]; [Numbers:34:1-29]; [Deuteronomy:11:24]; [Deuteronomy:34:1-4]; [Joshua:1:2-8].)

The Extent of their Ultimate Possession
From the verses of Scripture referred to, we are given a clear under standing as to the boundaries of Israel's landed possession. “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” In Exodus:23:31 we find the boundaries described thus: “I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.” The Israelites were to actually drive out the inhabitants of the land and take possession. Their conquest of the land of Canaan was to be a mission of judgment as well as a fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel was sent into the land to destroy nations that were ripe for judgment -- nations who for centuries showed no signs of repentance and turning from their idolatrous worship and other sinful practices.

Generally speaking, the boundaries of the Promised Land were: Mount Lebanon on the north; the Euphrates on the northeast; the Arabian desert on the east; the Red Sea and the River of Egypt on the south; and the Sea of the Philistines, the Mediterranean, on the west.

At no time have the Israelites actually possessed all this land in the manner in which God intended them to ([Numbers:33:51-56]). They never did drive out all the inhabitants ([Joshua:23:11-13]; [Judges:2:1-5]; [Psalms:106:34-35]); and God had specifically said those idolatrous people should not dwell in the land with His people (Exodus:23:33). King Solomon reigned over all this land, but we must remember that within these boundaries were many kingdoms. Solomon had, as tributaries, the kingdoms of Syria, Damascus, Moab, and Ammon, which lay between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. In all probability these subjected kingdoms preserved their separate governmental organisations and nationality as before, but were obliged to contribute to the annual revenues of Solomon. Nevertheless, there is coming a time when the Israelites will come into their full inheritance. It will be sufficient to accommodate them, even though they be as the “dust of the earth.” God's unalterable Word, of Prophecy will be fulfilled.

Possession of the Land Dependent upon Obedience
We thus understand that the Original Owner of the earth has given a title deed to the Jews showing them as the legal owners of the land of Palestine. This title deed can be found in millions of Bibles, written in many hundreds of different languages and dialects, throughout the world today. No other nation in all history has ever received such a title deed to land. In reviewing the history of peoples, we find that in most instances the title to their land is the result of the right of conquest, but the land of Canaan belongs to the Jews because God has given it to them. This title deed has been unmistakably clear for nearly 4,000 years. “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” (Genesis:13:14, 15).

The descendants of Abraham had to abide in their own land to inherit fully every blessing ([Deuteronomy:28:1-14]). Their permanent residence in the Promised Land was assured: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.”

Punishment and Exile for Disobedience
Also in [Deuteronomy:28:1-68] and [Leviticus:26:1-46] we find that the Lord pronounced a curse upon the land and the inhabitants for disobedience. Deuteronomy:28:15 declares: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that ail these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.” Briefly, the curses for disobedience were: a posterity weakened and decimated by disease and by their enemies; a land cursed by drought - no abundant crops; flocks and herds diminished and diseased: Furthermore, instead of being a holy people unto the living, loving, and gracious JEHOVAH, they would be removed from their land and become an idolatrous people bowing down in vain worship to gods of wood and stone which could neither hear nor see. These curses stand in direct contrast with the blessings enumerated in the first part of Deuteronomy 28. If the people persisted in their disobedience they would be expelled from the land.

Israel's Sojourn in a Strange Land
The Lord had told Abram, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shah serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance” (Genesis:15:13,14). The sojourn of the Children of Israel in Egypt is here foretold. The duration is stated in round numbers as being 400 years. In Exodus:12:40 we read: “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.” This 430 years dates from the call that God gave Abraham to leave Haran in Mesopotamia and go into the land of Canaan. It includes the time when the fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,” as well as the time of the sojourn of their descendants in Egypt. The Apostle Paul declares that this 430-year period must be reckoned from the Covenant with Abram ([Galatians:3:17]). It is believed that from the call of Abram to the descent into Egypt was 215 years; and from the descent into Egypt until the exodus was 215 years, making a total of 430 years.

JEHOVAH'S Answer to Moses' Prayer
As the time drew near for the deliverance of the Children of Israel out of cruel Egyptian bondage, the Lord spoke to Moses, who was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law in the land of Midian, and said: “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou may -- bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus:3:10). Moses returned to Egypt; and during the first interview he and Aaron had with Pharaoh, the king, the following request was made: “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness:” This was the first step in the liberation of the Children of Israel as slaves in Egypt. This attempt was unsuccessful, as the Lord said it would be. Additional burdens were added to these already greatly oppressed people. Moses went to God in prayer about the matter and the Lord answered him thus:

“Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
“And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
“And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
“And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
“And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.
“Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
“And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
“And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did. swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD” (Exodus:6:1-8).

Jehovah is the name by which God revealed Himself to His people when He set Himself to deliver them out of Egypt with a high and mighty hand, and again to confirm the promise of their inheritance of the land of Canaan. After many great signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, during which time it is brought to desolation, Pharaoh is for the moment willing to let the descendants of Israel start for their land of promise. Their great Redeemer is with them throughout their long years of wanderings in the wilderness. It was the Lord's intention to bring them immediately into this land that was a veritable Utopia, but because of the people's unbelief, rebellion, and disobedience, that generation was not permitted to complete the journey. (Read [Numbers:14:22-35].)

The Land of Promise.
During the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Lord was preparing the next generation of Israel to cross over Jordan into Canaan. He was doing this by giving them laws that were to govern their worship of the true and the living God in the land. Civil and economic laws were also given them. All these laws were for their own good. Strict obedience was the price of great blessings in the land they were to possess.

“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
“Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
“And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
“And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
“And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
“And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
“For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you” (Leviticus:26:3-9).
What more could the Lord have done for the well-being of this people? The necessary rains would be provided. The land would bring forth in abundance. The trees of the field would always yield their fruit. So abundant would be the crops that six months' time, from mid-Nisan (April) to mid-Tishri (October) would be required to gather the produce of the soil.

We are told that the ploughing in this land of great productiveness took place in October and the sowing in November. The barley and wheat harvest extended through the months of April and May which was an unusually long time and indicated bumper crops. The vintage began in August and was not completed until sometime in October. This task also required an unusually long time and indicated the bountifulness of the yield. The threshing-time came after the reaping of the grains and before the gathering of the grapes. The promise was that the crops would be so abundant that the threshing-time would extend even unto the vintage the time for the gathering of the grapes and the making of wine - commencing in August. Then the time for the ingathering and processing of the grapes would extend over into the time of ploughing and sowing in the fall of the year. In fact, the vintage would be so plentiful that it would not be completed when the time for ploughing and sowing would again come around.

In addition to all these blessings springing from the soil, the Lord promised them peace. No foreign peoples would make them afraid, because the Lord had said that the sword would not go through their land. They would be an aggressive and victorious people, driving their enemies from the land that was to be given them.

The Children of Israel had already been given a preview of what the Promised Land was capable of bringing forth. The twelve spies that Moses had sent out to spy out the land returned with some samples of the produce. A branch with one cluster of the grapes of Eshcol was so large that two men carried it between them on a staff. They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and, figs. Their report was that “surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it” (Numbers:13:27). This was a confirmation of what the Lord had told them in connection with the productiveness of the land. All this and more too was theirs for the price of simple obedience. The price of disobedience would be a with holding of the rains, which would make the land barren and unproductive. Furthermore, because of disobedience they would be scattered among all nations of the world.

They did disobey the Lord, and as a result they have been scattered among all nations of the world for more than 19 centuries. However, the time is near when God is going to graft the natural branches (the Jews) back into the Vine -- the Lord Jesus Christ ([John:15:1-6]; [Romans:11:15-26]). The rains have returned to Palestine. It is commencing again to blossom as the rose. This land that has lain idle for so many centuries is being brought into cultivation and is again producing abundant crops. The time for the complete fulfilment of prophecy regarding this land lies just ahead. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plough man shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt” (Amos:9:13).

One authority now states that “the soil is so rich, the climate so varied, that within ordinary limits it may be said that the more people it contains, the more it may accept. Its productiveness will increase in proportion to labour bestowed on the soil until a population of 15 million may be accommodated there.” This would be about three million more Jews than there are in the world today. The Israelis, in applying scientific methods to their farming, axe making the land bring forth many times more than the Arabs ever did. Under the providence of the Covenant-keeping God, the land is again showing signs of “flowing with milk and honey,” and the rightful owners of it are now returning in great numbers. During the Millennium “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it” (Micah:4:4; Zechariah:3:10).