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The better land

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The land promise is one of the central themes of the Old Testament; the story about God's promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham, his sojourn in it, and anticipation of inheriting the land, Israel's Exodus from Egypt, and their wanderings in the wilderness under Moses, and taking possession of the land under Joshua, and the distribution of land, and dwelling in the land, and ruling it, and their eventual loss of the land, forms the outline of the Hebrew scriptures.

After some of the Jews returned from exile in Babylon the prophets spoke of another exodus. They said Israel will yet be brought back to possess the promised land. And they will never be removed from it again.

What happens to the land promise in the New Testament? There are only a few references to the promise of the land in the New Testament. One of these is the reference to a "better land," that Abraham and the other patriarchs looked for, in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11:13-16 Weymouth New Testament
All these died in the possession of faith. They had not received the promised blessings, but had seen them from a distance and had greeted them, and had acknowledged themselves to be foreigners and strangers here on earth; for men who acknowledge this make it manifest that they are seeking elsewhere a country of their own. And if they had cherished the remembrance of the country they had left, they would have found an opportunity to return; but, as it is, we see them eager for a better land, that is to say, a heavenly one. For this reason God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has now prepared a city for them.

This speaks of a better land. It is heavenly, and it is a "better" land, because possessing it is not limited to the short human life-span; it is an eternal inheritance, a city prepared by God.

Hebrews 3:16-19 refers to the Israelites in the wilderness, when the spies brought their report to Moses. "For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."

There is a parallel here, between the experience of the Israelites, and Christians. Belief is required to enter and possess the "better land" of the saints. And being heavenly, it is spiritual. It is not referring to a place where one goes after death, but something that believers may have in this present life.

Hebrews 4:1-2
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

The "better land" has to do with believing the gospel.

Hebrews 4:11-12
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

It requires labour, to enter the rest. The "better land" is called a "rest," and it is not the land of Canaan, but Canaan in the Old Testament was a metaphor, that foreshadowed the rest promised to the saints. The rest is connected with the word of God, which has much to say about the land of Canaan, in various prophecies, that need to be interpreted, and viewed in a new way, in the light of the gospel. This is a most interesting and rewarding study.


It is the labor of understanding that God is the land (love) that we will enter into. Love (God, land) is the firm foundation upon which we stand and proclaim Him (love) to others.

If love was a substance, it would be the ground upon which we walk.
If love was a substance, it would be water to quench our thirst.
If love was a substance, it would be the air we breath that sustains our life.
If love was a substance, it would be the fruit that tastes so sweet.

Need I go on. God is everything that gives and sustains life.


By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God

--Heb 11:9

.Hebrews 11:16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 13:14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor 5

2 Corinthians 317-18:  "Now the Lord is the spirit; yet where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  18 Now we all, with uncovered face, mirroring the Lord's glory, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the spirit."

"You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin."  Smite your chest, point at your arm and proclaim, "This is the Holy Land!  God will have a people who possess it by the power of the Holy Ghost Who is with us."  In the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacle we will possess our bodies as no longer merely born of Adam, but born of God.  Salvation is to result in incorruptible immortality.  We must overcome many things, be victorious in many ways, conquering all things destroying man to obtain complete salvation.  These victories are accomplished by the Holy Spirit Who will never leave or forsake us.  As Jesus said, "Of mine own self I can do nothing.  It is my Father Who is with me; He doth the works."

We have regenerated spirits.  We have come out of Egypt, partakers of the Passover Lamb.  Now, in the Holy Place, the mid heaven, this salvation is worked out through the soul.  It is a transformation into God's likeness, His similitude.  Due to keeping His Word in our hearts and yielding to the Holy Spirit to do the Father's will, we come to think and emote like Him, aligned with His will.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit within us by which this is accomplished.  Ultimately our bodies will be transformed into a body like unto His body of glory.  The land is our body.  It is also the promises worked by the Holy Spirit as an earnest or foretaste of our inheritance as born of God, that we shall have deathless bodies of glory, that we shall possess the substance of the Spirit.  There are warfares to be accomplished to obtain the incorruptible life for our bodies  These are typified, they're presented symbolically in the account of the Israelites obtaining a land and a kingdom, driving out the nations which were there before them. 


--- Quote from: jugghead on September 02, 2012, 05:14:01 AM ---It is the labor of understanding that God is the land (love) that we will enter into.

--- End quote ---

The labour mentioned in Hebrews 4:11 is labour that is connected with belief, and understanding the scriptures, as verse 12 shows. Paul said to Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." [2 Tim. 2:15]

The promised land contrasts with Egypt, the wilderness, and with all other lands. In relation to the lands of other nations, the promised land was Yahweh's land. His eyes were always on it. "But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year." [Deut. 11:11-12]

In the law of Moses, the priests and Levites received no inheritance of land. God was their inheritance, in lieu of land. [Num. 18:20; Deut. 10:9] This could be the foundation for development of the idea that "God is the land."

The promised land was a place of rest, [Josh. 1:13; 14:15; Jud. 3:11] but when Israel possessed the land, another rest was spoken of. "For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day." [Heb. 4:8] It was rest of a spiritual kind, which was why the psalmist said, "Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness." [Psa. 95:8] The promised land, and the sabbath are both called a "rest," and represent the same thing.

The promised land was set in the midst of the nations of the world; [Ezek. 5:5] the NIV says "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her."

The words of the law of Moses were written upon the land. [Deut. 27:3 Josh. 8:32] It is called "a land flowing with milk and honey," [Ex. 3:8; 13:5; 33:3; Lev. 20:24] where grapes, pomegranates, and figs flourish. [Num. 13:23]

Ezekiel called Israel's land "the glory of all lands." [Ezek. 20:6, 15] Daniel referred to Jerusalem as "the glorious holy mountain." [Dan. 11:45] The scope of the promised land becomes progressively smaller in Old Testament history; at first, it stretches all the way "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." [Gen. 15:18] The boundaries of Israel are more limited in Numbers 34. In Ezekiel's description, which outlined a profoundly different distribution of the land among the tribes, it was even more limited. Portions of the promised land east of the Jordan River were left out. [Ezek. 48:1-8] After the return from exile, the land was limited to the area in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

As the extent of Israel's land was diminished, the prophets spoke of its elevation. Jerusalem would be raised up, Isaiah said. He wrote, "The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." [Isa. 2:1-2]

Similarly, Zechariah said Jerusalem would be raised up, and the country around about would become a plain. "All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up." [Zech. 14:10]

In the New Testament, Jerusalem is described as "Jerusalem which is above," [Gal. 4:26] and "heavenly Jerusalem." [Heb. 12:22] Thus, mount Zion, and Jerusalem, are raised up to heaven, and "established in the top of the mountains" and "exalted above the hills;" the New Testament shows that Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled. No doubt this happened when Jesus ascended to his Father's throne, after his resurrection. He was the "sure foundation" in Zion. Isaiah said, "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." [Isa. 28:16]

The elevation of Jerusalem, and mount Zion, spiritually fulfilled in Christ, who has inherited all the promises of God, [2 Cor. 1:20] establishes the continuity of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the "better land" of Hebrews 11:16. The New Testament interprets the promises of the Old Testament in a spiritual way; the land in the Old Testament foreshadows the reality of spiritual promises brought in by Christ. These are represented by the "better land."

The earthly temple foreshadowed the spiritual reality, which is Christ and the church. [Eph. 2:20] The new covenant is founded on better promises than the old one; "They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: 'See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.' But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises." [Heb. 8:5-6 NIV]

As shown above, continuity exists between the promised land and the better land of the new covenant. Thus, prophecies about the land of Israel apply to the heavenly, spiritual promised land. After Jesus Christ ascended to his Father's throne in heaven, the Israel of prophecy is the church, and the Jerusalem of prophecy is the heavenly city.

Further study of the topics mentioned in this quick survey will be needed to bring out the full significance of the land promise and its connection with the gospel.



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