God Kept His Word, The Land Promises to Israel HAVE been Fulfilled by Jack Kettler
God promised the land to Abram’s descendants Genesis 15:18-20. This passage speaks specifically of the land of Canaan and beyond.
“On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram saying “To your offspring (seed) I give this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18). This verse would be about the greater land promise.
This study focuses on God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises. From the perspective of the New Testament, we can say that everything in the Old Testament points to Christ Jesus. All of redemptive history points to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is salvation only in Christ.
First, we will look at several passages containing this emphasis of the centrality of Christ:
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Timothy 2:5)
“For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:2)
“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” (I Peter 1:10)
In addition to these texts, consider this regarding the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Every single text of Scripture points to Christ…. From Moses to the prophets. He is the focus of every single word of the Bible. Every verse of Scripture finds its fulfillment in Him, and every story in the Bible ends with Him.” (1)
Now to our study at hand involving God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises:
It is surprising, that there are people who question the Scriptural fact that God fulfilled his promises to Israel. Why is this?
Enter the followers of Cyrus Ingerson Scofield:
In addition to making an erroneous separation between the ancient Israel and the Church, some followers of Cyrus Ingerson Scofield make the claim that Israel never possessed the entire land that God promised to them.
“At no time in Jewish history has Israel ever occupied all this land (see Deuteronomy 1:7; 11:24), and so, the nation of Israel will receive this promise in the future.” (2)
The chief formulator of what is known as dispensational theology states:
“The Palestinian Covenant gives the conditions under which Israel entered the land of promise. It is important to see that the nation has never as yet taken the land under the unconditional Abrahamic covenant, nor has it ever possessed the whole land.” (3)
Another writer says this about the land promises:
“Oftentimes students of the Bible point to three passages that appear to suggest that the promise of land to Israel has indeed been fulfilled: Joshua 21:43–45; 23:14–15; Nehemiah 9:8. These texts assert that “not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled” (Josh. 21:45; cf. 23:14). However, the boundaries mentioned in Numbers 34:2–12 are not the ones reached in the accounts of Joshua and Judges. For example, Joshua 13:1–7 and Judges 3:1–4 agree in maintaining that there was much land that remained to be taken.” (4)
Are these claims of incomplete land promises justified in light of Scripture?
And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:43-45)
Of particular note in verse 45; God says of all the good things He had promised to Israel, “There failed not…any good thing,” “all came to pass.” Is this true or not? I would be uncomfortable denying what the Word of God affirms.
Genesis 15:18; from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, explains this in agreement with God’s declaration that “all came to pass”:
“In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram,…. Which he confirmed by passing between the pieces and accepting his sacrifice: saying, unto thy seed have I given this land; he had given it in his purpose, and he had given the promise of it, and here he renews the grant, and ratifies and confirms it, even the land of Canaan, where Abram now was, though only a sojourner in it; and which is described by its boundaries and present occupants, in this and the following verses, as is usually done in grants of lands and deeds of conveyance:
from the river of Egypt, unto the great river, the river of Euphrates; the river of Egypt is the Nile, which overflowed it annually and made it fruitful; so the Targum of Jonathan calls it the river of Egypt; it may be rendered, "from the river Mizraim or Egypt", for the name of Egypt was given to the river Nile as well as to the country, and so it is called by Homer (p); and Diodorus Siculus (q) says, the Nile was first called Egypt; some (r) think the Nile is not here meant, but a little river of Egypt that ran through the desert that lay between Palestine and Egypt; but it seems to be a branch of the river Nile, which was lesser about Palestine or Damiata, at the entrance of Egypt, than at other places. Brocardus (s) says," from Delta to Heliopolis were three miles, where another river was separated from the Nile, and carried to the city of Pelusium; and, adds he, this river is properly called in Scripture the river of Egypt, and at it is bounded the lot of the tribe of Judah.' 'This river of Egypt, or the Nile, was the southern boundary of the land of Canaan, and from hence to the river Euphrates, the eastern boundary, was the utmost extent of it in which it was ever possessed, as it was in the times of David and Solomon, 2 Samuel 8:3; 1 Kings 4:21.” (5)
Final Victory of David:
“And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.” (2 Samuel 8:15)
Consider Solomon’s Benediction:
“And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.” (1 Kings 8:54-56)
Is this true or not? It seems that Mr. Scofield and his followers are saying, it is not true. This is certainly an odd position to hold. In interpreting Scripture, the plain and most simple straightforward meaning is what should be accepted. To argue with Scofield that, the nation has never as yet taken the land under the unconditional Abrahamic covenant seems convoluted and arbitrary. It certainly seems like Scofield’s assertion is in conflict with God’s declaration in I Kings; “that there hath not failed one word of all his good promise.”
Let us look again at Joshua. Does God make any distinction between conditional and unconditional regarding His land promises?
“And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21:43-45)
You either take this passage in Joshua at face value, or end up in an awkward position of smuggling in exegetical assumptions. Does a prior extrabiblical commitment to an interpretive process color your interpretation of Scripture? A common error, in contrast to exegesis, eisegeses is a process of interpreting a text of Scripture in such a way that introduces one's own presuppositions or a foreign hermeneutical necessity.
A common example of this is where individuals read the present-day newspaper events as an interpretive grid into ancient biblical texts. This so-called newspaper eisegesis, in addition to arguing for unwarranted exegetical assumptions, can also be an anachronism, a logical fallacy. Schofield’s system with its denial of the land promises being fulfilled, many makes it look like there is an error in God’s word concerning His promise to Israel. Then Schofield’s system erects an incredible interpretive scheme to explain away a contradiction in the Bible that they created by not taking Joshua 21:43-45 at face value.
The Prophet Isaiah reminds Israel of His Faithfulness:
“I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.” (Isaiah 48:3)
Why would anyone doubt this? To say that the promise will be fulfilled thousands of years later in a future millennial period is a denial that the promise “and they came to pass.” It either came to pass or it did not. To say that God’s promises, “it or they came to pass” is true because they will be fulfilled thousands of years in the future is illogical nonsense and destructive of the intelligible use of human language.
To illustrate the implications of this approach to logic and language consider:
“Suppose the word mountain meant metaphor, and dog, and Bible, and the United States. Clearly, if a word meant everything, it would mean nothing. If, now, the law of contradiction is an arbitrary convention, and if our linguistic theorists choose some other convention, I challenge them to write a book in conformity with their principles. As a matter of fact, it will not be hard for them to do so. Nothing more is necessary than to write the word metaphor sixty thousand times: Metaphor metaphor, metaphor, metaphor…. This means the dog ran up the mountain, for the word metaphor means dog, ran, and mountain. Unfortunately, the sentence “metaphor metaphor, metaphor” also means, Next Christmas is Thanksgiving, for the word metaphor has these meanings as well.” - Gordon H. Clark, God's Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics
A Summary of God’s Redemptive History in Christ:
God promised to Abram that “his seed” would possess the land of Canaan in Genesis 12:7. God kept His promises to Abraham as seen in Joshua 21:43-45. In addition, God promised David that He would raise up his seed in Galatians 3:14, 16, 29. And, He would establish David’s throne, and his kingdom II Samuel 7. Moreover, God kept His word, by raising Christ from the dead, establishing Christ’s kingdom, and giving the Son of David, which is Christ the throne in Acts 2:30; 13:33; Colossians 1:13.
The New Testament, a Commentary on the Old Testament:
In Romans 4:13 we read that Abraham was promised to inherit the whole world and his offspring who are Jews and Gentiles and by faith are included in the covenant with Israel and considered, the children of Abraham Romans 4:11-17. The promises made to Abraham were fulfilled in Christ, the true Seed of Abraham II Corinthians 1:20. These promises belong to all who are in Christ, and consequently are part of Abraham's seed Galatians 3:26-29. The New Testament interprets prophecies made to Israel in such a way, proving that they are now being fulfilled in Christ’s Church, are seen in: Acts 15:14-17.
In the concluding summary of the unfolding of God’s redemptive narrative in the New Testament, a radical distinction as Scofield makes between the Israel and the Church is false. This distinction chops up the Bible into unintelligible parts and denies the central thrust of Scripture, namely, that:
“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
Schofield and his system erects an artificial unscriptural distinction between Jews and Gentiles in opposition to Scripture and essentially rebuilds the wall between Jews and Gentiles that God has broken down in Christ.
From the Westminster Confession of Faith on the Church:
Chapter 25 - Of the Church.
Section 1.) The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that filth all in all. (1)
(1) Eph 1:10,22,23; Eph 5:23,27,32; Col 1:18
Section 2.) The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion;(1) and of their children:(2) and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, (3) the house and family of God, (4) out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. (5)
(1) 1Co 1:2; 1Co 12:12,13; Ps 2:8; Rev 7:9; Ro 15:9-12 (2) 1Co 7:14; Ac 2:39; Eze 16:20,21; Ro 11:16; Ge 3:15; Ge 17:7 (3) Mt 13:47; Isa 9:7 (4) Eph 2:19; Eph 3:15 (5) Ac 2:47
Section 3.) Unto this catholic visible Church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life to the end of the world: and doth, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto. (1)
(1) 1Co 12:28; Eph 4:11,12,13; Mt 28:19,20; Isa 59:21
Section 4.) This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. (1) And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them. (2)
(1) Ro 11:3,4; Rev 12:6,14 (2) Rev 2 and 3 throughout; 1Co 5:6,7
Section 5.) The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error;(1) and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. (2) Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to His will. (3)
(1) 1Co 13:12; Rev 2 and 3; Mt 13:24-30,47 (2) Rev 18:2; Ro 11:18-22 (3) Mt 16:18; Ps 72:17; Ps 102:28; Mt 28:19,20
Section 6.) There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. (1) Nor can the Pope of Roe, in any sense, be head thereof; (but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God. (2)
(1) Col 1:18; Eph 1:22 (2) Mt 23:8-10; 2Th 2:3,4,8,9; Rev 13:6
Israel and the Church, from Charles Provan’s The Church is Israel Now:
Excerpts adapted for the web, 1997
During this century, Christians have been told over and over that "God has an unconditional love for Old Testament Israel," by which is meant that God's love is directed toward persons racially descended from Abraham, regardless of faith or obedience. Membership in Israel, therefore, is viewed as a matter of race, not faith.
The Church Is Israel Now demonstrates that the Bible totally repudiates this racialist viewpoint. Being a member of Israel in the Old Testament was dependent upon faith and obedience to God. When the Israelites obeyed God, God loved them. But when the Israelites turned from him, He hated them, stripping them of their Israelite status. After centuries of Israelite rebellion against God, culminating in their rejection of Jesus the Messiah, the titles, attributes and blessings of Israel were transferred to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and to no one else, regardless of Abrahamic descent. The Church is Israel Now.
Jesus said to the "chief priests and elders of the [Jewish] people": Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. Matt. 21:43
Jesus said to His disciples: Do not fear, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32
OLD TESTAMENT TITLES AND ATTRIBUTES OF ISRAEL WHICH ARE, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, REFERRED TO THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
THE BELOVED OF GOD
A) Israel Is Beloved Of God: - Ex. 15:13, Deut. 33:3, Ezra 3:11
B) Disobedient Israel Is Not Beloved Of God: - Lev. 3:16, Jer. 12:8, Jer. 16:5, Hos. 9:15
C) Christians Are Beloved Of God: - Rom. 9:25, Eph. 5:1, Col. 3:12, 1 John 3:1
THE CHILDREN OF GOD
A) Israel Are The Children Of God: - Ex. 4:22, Deut. 14:1, Isa. 1:2,4, Isa. 1:2,4, Isa. 63:8, Hos. 11:1
B) Disobedient Israel Are Not The Children Of God: - Deut. 32:5, John 8:39, 42, 44
C) Christians Are The Children Of God: - John 1:12, John 11:52, Rom. 8:14,16, 2 Cor. 6:18, Gal. 3:26, Gal. 4:5,6,7, Phil. 2:15, 1 John 3:1
THE FIELD OF GOD
A) Israel Is The Field Of God: - Jer. 12:10
B) Christians Are The Field Of God: - 1 Cor. 3:9
THE FLOCK OF GOD AND OF THE MESSIAH
A) Israel Is The Flock Of God And Of The Messiah: - Psa. 78:52, Psa. 80:1, Isa. 40:11, Jer. 23:1,2,3, Jer. 31:10, Eze. 34:12,15,16, Mic. 5:4, Zec. 10:3
B) Christians Are The Flock Of God And Of The Messiah: - John 10:14,16, Heb. 13:20, 1 Pet. 2:25, 1 Pet. 5:2,3
THE HOUSE OF GOD
A) Israel Is The House Of God: - Num. 12:7
B) Christians Are The House Of God: - 1 Tim. 3:15, Heb. 3:2,5,6, Heb. 10:21, 1 Pet. 4:17
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
A) Israel Is The Kingdom Of God: - Ex. 19:6, 1 Chr. 17:14, 1 Chr. 28:5
B) Disobedient Israel Is Not The Kingdom Of God: - Matt. 8:11,12, Matt. 21:43
C) Christians Are The Kingdom Of God: - Rom. 14:17, 1 Cor. 4:20, Col. 1:13, Col. 4:11, Rev. 1:6
THE PEOPLE OF GOD
A) The Israelites Are The People Of God: - Ex. 6:7, Deut. 27:9, 2 Sam. 7:23, Jer. 11:4
B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The People Of God: - Hos. 1:9, Jer. 5:10
C) The Christians Are The People Of God: - Rom. 9:25, 2 Cor. 6:16, Eph. 4:12, Eph. 5:3, 2 Th. 1:10, Tit. 2:14
THE PRIESTS OF GOD
A) The Israelites Are The Priests Of God: - Ex. 19:6
B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Priests Of God: - 1 Sam. 2:28,30, Lam. 4:13,16, Eze. 44:10,13, Hos. 4:6, Mal. 2:2,4,8,9
C) The Christians Are The Priests Of God: - 1 Pet. 2:5,9, Rev. 1:6, Rev. 5:10
THE VINEYARD OF GOD
A) Israel Is The Vineyard Of God: - Isa. 5:3,4,5,7, Jer. 12:10
B) Christians Are The Vineyard Of God: - Luke 20:16
THE WIFE (OR BRIDE) OF GOD
A) Israel Is The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: - Isa. 54:5,6, Jer. 2:2, Eze. 16:32, Hos. 1:2
B) Disobedient Israelites Is Not The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: - Jer. 3:8, Hos. 2:2
C) The Christians Are The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: - 2 Cor. 11:2, Eph. 5:31,32
THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM
A) The Israelites Are The Children Of Abraham: - 2 Chr. 20:7, Psa. 105:6, Isa. 41:8
B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Children Of Abraham: - John 8:39, Rom. 9:6,7, Gal. 4:25,30
C) The Christians Are The Children Of Abraham: - Rom. 4:11,16, Gal. 3:7,29, Gal. 4:23,28,31
THE CHOSEN PEOPLE
A) The Israelites Are The Chosen People: - Deut. 7:7, Deut. 10:15, Deut. 14:2, Isa. 43:20,21
B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Chosen People: - Deut. 31:17, 2 Ki. 17:20, 2 Chr. 25:7, Psa. 78:59, Jer. 6:30, Jer. 7:29, Jer. 14:10
C) The Christians Are The Chosen People: - Col. 3:12, 1 Pet. 2:9
A) The Israelites Are The Circumcised: - Gen. 17:10, Jud. 15:18
B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Circumcised: - Jer. 9:25,26, Rom. 2:25,28, Phil. 3:2
C) The Christians Are The Circumcised: - Rom. 2:29, Phil. 3:3, Col. 2:11
A) Israel is Israel
B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not Israelites: - Num. 15:30,31, Deut. 18:19, Acts 3:23, Rom. 9:6
C) The Christians Are Israel: - John 11:50,51,52, 1 Cor. 10:1, Gal. 6:15,16, Eph. 2:12,19
A) Jerusalem Is the City And Mother Of Israel: - Psa. 149:2, Isa. 12:6, Isa. 49:18,20,22, Isa. 51:18, Lam. 4:2
B) Jerusalem Is The City And Mother Of Christians: - Gal. 4:26, Heb. 12:22
A) Israelites Are Jews: - Ezr. 5:1, Jer. 34:8,9, Zech. 8:22,23
B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not Jews: - Rom. 2:28, Rev. 2:9, Rev. 3:9
C) The Christians Are Jews: - Rom. 2:29
THE NEW COVENANT
A) The New Covenant Is With Israel: - Jer. 31:31,33
B) The New Covenant Is With The Christians: - Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6,8,10
AN OLIVE TREE
A) Israel Is An Olive Tree: - Jer. 11:16, Hos. 14:6
B) The Christians Are An Olive Tree: - Rom. 11:24
OLD TESTAMENT VERSES REFERRING TO ISRAEL WHICH ARE QUOTED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AS REFERRING TO THE CHRISTIANS
- Lev. 26:11,12, Eze. 37:27, 2 Cor. 6:16
- Deut. 30:12-14, Rom. 10:6-8
- Deut. 31:6, Heb. 13:5
- Deut. 32:36, Psa. 135:14, Heb. 10:30
- Psa. 22:22, Heb. 2:12
- Psa. 44:22, Rom. 8:36
- Psa. 95:7-11, Heb. 3:7-11
- Psa. 130:8, Tit. 2:14
- Isa. 28:16, Rom. 10:11, Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:6
- Isa. 49:8, 2 Cor. 6:2
- Isa. 52:7, Rom. 10:15
- Isa. 54:1, Gal. 4:27
- Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:8-12
- Hos. 1:10; 2:23, Rom. 9:25-26, 1 Pet. 2:10
- Hos. 13:14, 1 Cor. 15:55
- Joel. 2:32, Rom. 10:13
© 1997 Charles D. Provan (Last web update: March 22, 1997)
See my Nonsense and Dispensationalism at: http://www.undergroundnotes.com/Nonsense.html
For additional study:
Be sure to take advantage of the link to Seeing Christ in All of Scripture Hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary Westminster Seminary Press at
* For those that would say the above covenantal approach to Scripture that finds ultimate fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the Church as anti-Semitic see my Dispensationalism's Eschatological Dilemma at:
Yellow highlighting emphasis in this study are mine. Unfortunately, the highlighting may not show up in some online web postings such as Facebook.
1. Al Mohler, He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World [Chicago: Moody, 2008] p.96, as cited by Abraham Kuruvilla, Privilege the Text: A Theological Hermeneutic for Preaching, [Chicago: Moody, 2013, p. 248].
2. Ken Gurley, Upholding Our Future Hope, (HazelWood, MO, World Aflame Press, 2005), p.198.
3. Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, Scofield Reference Bible, (England, Oxford University Press), p. 250.
4. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Back Toward the Future: Hints for Interpreting Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1989), 111.
5. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 1 Kings, 9 Volumes, John, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 287.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). “To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:27). “heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28, 29).
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com