One of the first things apparent to anyone visiting Israel is that they are committed to their land. The State of Israel owns around 90% of the physical land. Virtually all homeowners lease the land their home is built on from the State of Israel. The same is true of businesses, schools and so forth.
I’ve walked their present land from Dan in the North (and even further to the Lebanese and Syrian borders) down to Beersheba and Arad in the South, in the Negev wilderness, from the western cities of Tel Aviv and Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea on the eastern border with the nation of Jordan. And at first glance it is hard to see why Israelis would make such a fuss over this small, mostly rock-infested piece of land.
Much of the land, except for the northern Galilee area and the coastal plains, is rocky terrain – hard to walk on and challenging to build on. Oh, but it’s in the Middle East, so there must be oil. Yet the land of Israel is the only major Middle Eastern country without oil. They have limited plant-able land, limited water supply and limited natural resources.
So why is this land so important to them?
Look back at the Scriptures, going back to the time of Abraham in Genesis 12 and following, and it all begins to make sense. Notice what God calls Abram to and what He promises:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” – Genesis 12:1–3 (NASB, emphasis added)
The promise made to Abraham (also known as Abram,) in Genesis 12, and repeated several times after, was that God promised Abraham and his descendants three things:
- He promised to make them a great nation through the loins of Abraham and Sarah.
- He promised to bless them and bless those that bless them
- He promised to give them a land. Not just any land, but specific real estate that would be their permanent home as a blessed nation of people.
Read on in Genesis 12, noticing what Abram did when he arrived in the land:
Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev. – Genesis 12:5–9 (NASB)
He came into the land of present day Israel from the North and proceeded South through Shechem, then down to Bethel and finally to the Negev. He walked the land, the land God had promised to him and his descendants:
- Genesis 12:1-3 (the original promise of a land)
- Genesis 13:14-17 (God tells Abraham to walk this promised land)
- Genesis 15:7, 17-21 (God makes this an unconditional promise to Abraham)
- Genesis 17:8 (God declares that this shall be an everlasting promised land)
- Genesis 26:3-4 (God reiterates the same promise to Isaac, Abraham’s son)
- Genesis 35:12 (God reiterates the same promise to Jacob, Isaac’s son)
- Genesis 50:24 (Joseph’s last words were regarding the promised land)
The land was important to God. Why shouldn’t it have been important to the people in those days, as well as now? The land was and is an unconditional, everlasting, promised, specific gift to the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This is one promise we should remember, and never forget.
What does this have to do with today?
To be continued…