As you study the Bible, you find that God made some special agreements called covenants with people or groups where God promised to do certain things for these people. The covenants that God made with Abraham and his rightful descendants about giving him a large family and a land to live on have had a long-lasting effect on religious and world history.
The story of Abraham begins with God calling him to gather up his family and possessions and move out of the land of his birth (Ur of Chaldees) to a place that God would show him. (Genesis 12:1)
Abraham had enough faith and trust in God to follow God’s leading to move to the land of Canaan. As a result of following God’s command. God appeared to him and said: “To your descendants I will give this land.” (Genesis 12:7 NASB)
Later God appeared to him in a vision and said that his reward would be very great. (Genesis 15:1) However, Abraham was skeptical about that promise and said “O Lord God, what will you give me since I am childless.” (Genesis 15:2) In response to that skepticism, God told him to go outside and look at the stars in the sky and said that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15:5)
After that, God renewed His promise that He would possess the land of Canaan. (Genesis 15:7) But once again Abraham is skeptical by saying: “How shall I know that I shall possess it?” (Genesis 15:8)
In order to overcome Abraham’s skepticism and reassure him that he really would possess that laand, God decided to go through a special covenant-making ceremony with Abraham. To prepare for that ceremony, God had Abraham bring certain animals, cut them in half, and then lay them on either side of a path. (Genesis 15:9-10)
During the ceremony the parties making the covenant would walk down the path together and say that if either one of them would break the covenant, what was done to the animals would be done to them.
When it came time for Abraham and God to walk down the path, God put Abraham into a deep sleep and walked down the path by Himself signifying that He was making the covenant with Himself and would suffer the consequences if He didn’t keep that covenant. (Genesis 15:12-17)
Genesis 15:8 says that “ On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram [later changed to Abraham] saying ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.’”
When Abraham was 99 years old God appeared to him again. “And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him saying . . . ‘I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’” (Genesis 17:3, 7-8)
Later, God clarified that covenant by saying that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, “ shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
Since these Scripture passages describe the everlasting covenant that God made with Himself and Abraham in giving the land of Canaan (modern Israel) to the descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac (which are the Jewish people); then that land has belonged to them since then and will continue to belong to them forever in the future.
This means that the Jewish people owned the land the times when they occupied it, as well as the times when they were carried away from it by foreign armies. During the dark faith-trying times when they were taken to foreign countries, they fervently wanted to return to the land that God gave them as they held tightly to the hope found in the prophecy of Jeremiah 30:3 which proclaims:
“’For behold days are coming’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The LORD says ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.’”
That prophecy was fulfilled in modern times when the prayers and hard work of many Jewish people paid off when Jewish and Zionist Leaders declared their Independence on May 15, 1948, thus beginning the modern state of Israel.
In order to keep their new country many Jewish farmers became brave soldiers and with God’s help defeated the five Arab armies that invaded and tried to destroy their new country.
In the 63 years since then, Israel has developed a strong army and air force to protect them in the wars waged against them by neighboring Muslim countries. But they are aware of future problems that are seen in the prophecies of Zechariah chapters 12 and 14, which state that the nations of the world will come against Jerusalem. When that happens, “The LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem . . . I will set about to destroy all those nations that will come against Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 12:8-9)
This examination of the Scripture passages describing how God worked in the past in the land of Canaan in the past and how God will work in the land of Israel in the future should give us a new perspective on actions and events in that region—especially when we include the working of the Abrahamic covenant found in Genesis 12:3.