How was it possible for Abraham to have the view of the land promise that the New
Testament ascribed to him? What led him to “spiritualize” the promise to make it entail
future heavenly, kingdom realities? The answer lies in the fact that he took seriously
God’s promise to him that “in [him] all the families of the Earth would be blessed”
(Genesis 12:3).12 Therefore, he perceived that the promise to him and his offspring,
who is Christ (Galatians 3:16), entailed that in Christ “he would be heir [not of Palestine
but] of the [glorified] world [kosmou]” (Romans 4:13). Plainly, Abraham under-stood
that God’s land promise meant that God would restore the entire cosmos to its former
paradisical glory and in that he placed his hope and patiently waited for it. His faith and
understanding would have been satisfied with nothing less!
Moses too, and his contemporaries, wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years,
and died in faith, not having received the promise (Hebrews 11:39).
Under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites conquered the land, receiving in a limited
fashion the paradise God had promised. But it quickly became obvious that this territory
could not be the ultimate paradise. Undefeated Canaanites remained in the land as
“hornets.” And because of Israel’s sin throughout the united and divided kingdom
periods, finally the land was devastated by the Neo-Babylonians; the indwelling Glory
departed from the Solomonic Temple (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:1-22), which Temple was then
destroyed; and the people were banished and came to be known as lo-ammi, meaning
“not-my people” (Hosea 1:9). The once fruitful land took on the appearance of a desert,
a dwelling place of jackals, owls, and scorpions. Paradise, even in its old covenant
shadow form, was taken from them.
Even the restoration after the Babylonian captivity, under Ezra and Nehemiah,
designated by Biblical scholars as the Second Temple Period, could not be paradise. But
the return to the land and the rebuilding of the Temple pointed the way to it. The glory
of that tiny Temple, Haggai prophesied, would someday be greater than the glory of the
Solomonic Temple. What did this hyperbolic language mean? It meant that God had
something better for them than a temporal land and a material temple. The promise of
the land would be fulfilled by nothing less than a restored paradise on a cosmic scale! As
Isaiah predicted, someday the wolf would lie down with the lamb, the leopard would lie
down with the goat, the calf and the lion would live in peace, and a little child would
lead them. The nursing child would play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned
child would place his hand on the adder’s den, and the Earth would be full of the
knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the places of the sea (Isaiah 11:6-9). No
more would sin and sorrow reign nor thorns infest the ground.
I find that the material and physical focus of those under the Dispensational Viewpoint are looking too deeply into things that are meant to be spiritually focused. They do not want to concede that Israel has run its course in God’s purposes, and instead cling to one or two passages, while neglecting the unity of the Bible message.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… I await that day, that may not come while I am on this earth, but is surely there when into Your presence I come:
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, (11) having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (12) It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed– (13) on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. (14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (15) And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. (16) The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. (17) He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. (18) The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. (19) The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, (20) the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. (21) And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. (22) And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. (23) And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (24) By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, (25) and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there. (26) They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. (27) But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.