This chapter describes the Abrahamic covenant in which God promised the land from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates as the everlasting possession of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The Abrahamic covenant is expressed in 12:1-7, 13:12-18, 15:1-21, and 17:1-22. It begins with Abraham's call in chapter 12, is formalised as a solemn covenant in chapter 15, and is reaffirmed in chapter 17 when circumcision is given as a sign of the covenant. The main elements of the Abrahamic covenant are that God promises:

1) to make Abraham's descendants into a great nation and bless them (12:2)
2) to make Abraham's name great so that all families on earth bless one another by his name (12:2-3)
3) to bless those who bless Abraham's descendants and to curse those who curse them (12:3)
4) to give them the Promised Land as their permanent possession (12:7). The Promised Land extends from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates, which in Abraham's time was inhabited by ten different ethnic peoples (15:18-21).
5) to bless all nations on earth through Abraham's descendants (18:18)

The Abrahamic Covenant is the most solemn promise God every made. In chapter 15, he told Abraham to take several sacrificial animals, cut them in two and place the two halves opposite each other. That night a smoking firepot and a flaming torch, symbolic of God's presence, passed between the animal parts (Gen 15:9-19). By this, God was saying, "Let me become like these animals that you have cut in two if I break this covenant" (see Jeremiah 34:18).

God's everlasting commitment to it is a basic assumption throughout the bible, including the New Testament (e.g. Luke 1:54-55, 72-75). Consequently, it is an essential foundation stone of the biblical end-time story. That's said, the question of who it applies to is somewhat complex, and a matter of debate among Jews and Christians. To answer that question, it is helpful to consider the past, the present, and the future.

The Past
In the Old Testament period, scripture is clear that the Abrahamic covenant applied to Abraham's descendants through Isaac and Jacob. In Genesis 17, when he gave Abraham the requirement of male circumcision as a sign of the covenant, God announced that Sarah would have a son named Isaac and that the covenant would pass down through Isaac, not through his son Ishmael (17:19-21).

In Genesis 26:2-5 when Isaac was an adult, God reaffirmed his covenant with Isaac, "The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle down in the land that I will point out to you. 3 Stay in this land. Then I will be with you and will bless you, for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants, and I will fulfil the solemn promise I made to your father Abraham. 4 I will multiply your descendants so they will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them all these lands. All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants. 5 All this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed me and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

In Genesis 35:9-12, God reaffirmed his covenant to Isaac's son Jacob, "God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan Aram and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will no longer be called Jacob; Israel will be your name.” So God named him Israel. 11 Then God said to him, “I am the Sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation – even a company of nations – will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants! 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. To your descendants I will also give this land.”

In Genesis 48:3-4, Jacob recounted to Joseph what God had said when he appeared to him, "…The Sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 4 He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession’".

Thereafter in the Old Testament, the Abrahamic covenant is understood to apply to all of Jacob's descendants.

In Exodus 3:6, when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, he identified himself as 'the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'. God was revealing himself as the God of the Abrahamic covenant who would honour and fulfil that covenant.

Although God promised the land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it is clear from many scriptures that God still claims ownership of the Promised Land. God calls it 'My land' in 2 Chronicles 7:20, Isaiah 14:25, Jeremiah 2:7 and 16:18, Ezekiel 36:5 and 38:16, Joel 1:6 and 3:2. In the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew 21:33-46, Jesus identifies God as the owner who plants a vineyard, and Israel is likened to the tenants. In Deuteronomy 28, God makes it clear that their ability to remain in the land and possess it is dependent upon them honouring the Mosaic Covenant. In others words they have to obey the set of laws expressed in Exodus 19 to 24, and in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 28 makes it very clear that if they disobey God's law, they will be driven out of the land and taken into captivity. But even if this happens, God's everlasting commitment to the Abrahamic Covenant is still assumed. In Deuteronomy 30:1-5, God promises that if they are driven out but later return to him and obey him, he will restore Israel to the land of their ancestors, even if they have been scattered to the most distant nations of the world. He promises that they will repossess it, and that he will then multiply their numbers more than he did their ancestors.

The Present
In the Gospel birth narratives, both Mary and Zechariah affirm God's commitment to the Abrahamic covenant. In the Magnificat, Mary says, "He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever" (Luke 1:54-55). And after the birth of John the Baptist, his father Zechariah says, "He has done this to show mercy to our ancestors, and to remember his holy covenant - the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham. This oath grants that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, may serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him for as long as we live" (Luke 1:72-75).

So from his birth, the New Testament presents Jesus as coming to fulfil the Abrahamic covenant. Jesus himself also speaks of God as 'the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob' (Matthew 8:11, 22:32, Mark 12:26, Luke 13:28, 20:37) and by doing so reminds them of God's commitment to the Abrahamic covenant. After his death and resurrection, when he appeared to his disciples before his Ascension, the Twelve were very much thinking in terms of the Abrahamic covenant when they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). Jesus replies, "You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority." In other words, "No, this is not the time and you are not allowed to know when that time will be." That he will restore the kingdom to Israel is not in question. Because he is the Messiah, that is assumed, and Jesus does not deny it. The question here is about timing. His reply is that the time is not 'now' but at some unspecified time in the future.

And so the Abrahamic covenant once again becomes an eschatological future hope for the people of Israel, just as it had been at various times in Israel's history, when they were slaves in Egypt, when they were exiles in Babylon, and later when Israel was occupied by Greeks and by Romans. Jesus had already told his disciples that a time would come when Jerusalem would fall and the temple would be destroyed, and that he must come again in glory to usher in the coming age (Matthew 24). In the meantime, Jesus gave his disciples the job of proclaiming the Gospel to every nation, and only then would the end come (Matthew 24:14, Acts 1:8).

As Jewish believers in Christ, his apostles were left to grapple theologically with how it could be that Messiah had come and gone and yet Israel was still occupied by a foreign enemy. How then were they to understand the Abrahamic covenant in relation to Israel, and also in relation to the early Church which was increasingly becoming a Gentile church? The Apostle Paul attempts to answer this question in his epistles to the Galatians and to the Romans, while at the same time trying to answer questions about salvation and questions about the Church's relationship with the Mosaic Law.

In Galatians 3:6-9 he writes, "Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, so then, understand that those who believe are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who believe are blessed along with Abraham the believer." At this point, Paul's primary intent is to answer the question of how we are saved, whether by faith or by works. His answer is that we are saved by faith, just as Abraham was.

In verse 16, Paul makes a surprising argument, "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” referring to one, who is Christ".

Then after several verses in which he discusses God's purpose in giving the Law to Israel, Paul continues in verses 26-29, "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise." So irrespective of whether we are Jews (descendants of Jacob) or Gentiles, by faith in Christ we become sons of Abraham, sons of God, and heirs according to the promise of the Abrahamic covenant. It is striking that he does not say we become sons of Jacob. Through our faith in Jesus, who was a descendant of Jacob, and who was ultimately the intended heir of God's promises to Abraham, we become co-heirs of the Abrahamic covenant without us needing to be sons of Jacob. Jesus meets that condition for us.

It should be noted that Paul is focussed here on God's promise in the Abrahamic covenant to bless all nations through Abraham and his descendant (which he points out is singular in the Hebrew). He interprets this promised blessing as the blessing of salvation. So by faith Christians become co-heirs with Christ of the blessing of salvation. What about the other promises in the Abrahamic covenant. Does God bless those who bless Christians, and curse those who curse us? And are we now the rightful heirs of the Promised Land? Paul tells us in Philippians 3:20 that we have become citizens of heaven. But he never explicitly states that in this present age we have become the rightful heirs of the land.

And where does this leave the people of Israel, who are the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Has God disinherited them? This question is Paul's focus in Romans, chapters 9 to 11. He says in 9:2-5, "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen." In other words, despite their natural descent from the patriarchs, Paul considers that without faith in Christ they are cut off from him and therefore accursed. They are accursed in the sense of being still under the curse of sin and of the Law. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." And in Acts 4:12, Peter affirms, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved." So Jews have no privilege that gives them a backdoor to salvation apart from Christ.

Paul continues in Romans 9:6-9, "It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. For this is what the promise declared: “About a year from now I will return and Sarah will have a son.”" This is a quite extraordinary argument! Paul interprets the statement “through Isaac will your descendants be counted" to mean that it is Christians who are Abraham's true descendants because they believe in the Gospel by faith, and Jews who reject Jesus are counted like the descendants of Ishmael because they rely on their natural descent and reject faith.

In Romans 11:17, Paul uses the illustration of the olive tree. Unbelieving Jews are like branches that have been broken off a cultivated olive tree, and in their place believing Gentiles have been grafted in, like branches from a wild olive. But Paul introduces this illustration by emphasising the temporary nature of Israel's fall from grace. Romans 11:11-12 says, "I ask then, they did not stumble into an irrevocable fall, did they? Absolutely not! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous. Now if their transgression means riches for the world and their defeat means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full restoration bring?"

Consequently in verses 18 and 25, Paul warns Christians not to become boastful or conceited towards the Jews. Unfortunately, throughout much of the Church's history, this is a warning Christians have largely ignored and the Jews suffered much persecution during their 2,000 year diaspora.

The Future
In Romans 11:15, Paul writes, "For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" And in verses 23-24 he continues, "And even they—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?"

When will this restoration take place? Paul writes in verse 25, "For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in." Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." The full number of Gentiles will come in at the end of the age, and so this is when the restoration and salvation of Israel will take place, at the second coming of Christ. In verse 23, Paul's use of the phrase "if they do not continue in their unbelief" might seem as though he is unsure whether this will happen or not. But this is absolutely not the case as he makes clear in verses 26-27, "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”" When Paul says, "And so all Israel will be saved" he is referring to the many Old Testament promises that God will restore all the tribes of Israel, reuniting the descendants of the southern Kingdom of Judah with those of the northern Kingdom of Israel under the rule of Messiah (e.g. Isaiah 11:10-16). And then he quotes Isaiah 59:20-21 which is one of many promises that Messiah will come in glory to deliver and save Israel. There is no doubt in Paul's mind that in the end times God will fulfil his many promises to restore all the tribes of Israel. And so he continues in Romans 11: 28-31, "In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy."

Consequently, the Abrahamic covenant is very much applicable to end-time Israel. And scripture is clear that this will include the land promises in the covenant. According to numerous end-time passages, after Jesus returns and delivers Israel from her enemies, God promises that her borders will be enlarged. Passages include:

Psalm 108:7-9 in which God declares his people's ownership of Shechem (in northern Israel), the Valley of Succoth, Gilead and Manasseh (which were the territories of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh on both east and west sides of the Jordan), Ephraim (the northern half of today's West Bank), Judah (southern Israel including Jerusalem and the southern half of the West Bank), Moab (central Jordan), Edom (southern Jordan and northern Arabia), and Philistia (Gaza).

Isaiah 26:15, "You have made the nation larger, O Lord, you have made the nation larger and revealed your splendour, you have extended all the borders of the land".

In Isaiah 54:2-3, God tells end-time Zion, "Make your tent larger, stretch your tent curtains farther out! Spare no effort, lengthen your ropes, and pound your stakes deep. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your children will conquer nations and will resettle desolate cities".

In Amos 9:11-12, speaking about end-time Israel, God says, "In that day I will rebuild the collapsing hut of David. I will seal its gaps, repair its ruins, and restore it to what it was like in days gone by. 12 As a result they will conquer those left in Edom and all the nations subject to my rule…"

Speaking of the 'Day of the Lord' at the end of the age, when the Messiah will begin his earthly rule as king, Obadiah 1:17-21 says, "But on Mount Zion there will be a remnant of those who escape, and it will be a holy place once again. The descendants of Jacob will conquer those who had conquered them. 18 The descendants of Jacob will be a fire, and the descendants of Joseph a flame. The descendants of Esau will be like stubble. They will burn them up and devour them. There will not be a single survivor of the descendants of Esau!” Indeed, the Lord has spoken it. 19 The people of the Negev will take possession of Esau’s mountain, and the people of the foothills will take possession of the land of the Philistines. They will also take possession of the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and the people of Benjamin will take possession of Gilead. 20 The exiles of this fortress of the people of Israel will take possession of what belongs to the people of Canaan, as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will take possession of the towns of the Negev. 21 Those who have been delivered will go up on Mount Zion in order to rule over Esau’s mountain. Then the Lord will reign as King!

Zephaniah 2:4-9 says, "Indeed, Gaza will be deserted and Ashkelon will become a heap of ruins. Invaders will drive away the people of Ashdod by noon, and Ekron will be overthrown. 5 Beware, you who live by the sea, the people who came from Crete. The Lord’s message is against you, Canaan, land of the Philistines: “I will destroy everyone who lives there!” 6 The seacoast will be used as pasture lands by the shepherds and as pens for their flocks. 7 Those who are left from the kingdom of Judah will take possession of it. By the sea they will graze, in the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down in the evening, for the Lord their God will intervene for them and restore their prosperity. 8 “I have heard Moab’s taunts and the Ammonites’ insults. They taunted my people and verbally harassed those living in Judah. 9 Therefore, as surely as I live,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, “be certain that Moab will become like Sodom and the Ammonites like Gomorrah. They will be overrun by weeds, filled with salt pits, and permanently desolate. Those of my people who are left will plunder their belongings; those who are left in Judah will take possession of their land.”

What does the Abrahamic Covenant have to say about the current Israel-Palestine conflict?
In the last few decades, increasing numbers of Jews have been coming to faith in Christ. But the day when Israel as a nation will recognise Jesus as her Messiah (Zechariah 12:10) awaits Jerusalem's deliverance by Jesus at the second coming. Only then will the branches of Israel be fully grafted back into their own olive tree. It is clear from scriptures like Zechariah 12 and Ezekiel 38 that Israel must first be restored to her ancestral homeland before the events of the Great Tribulation begin to unfold. For example, in Ezekiel 38:8 God says to Gog (the Antichrist), "After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come to a land restored from the ravages of war, from many peoples gathered on the mountains of Israel that had long been in ruins. Its people were brought out from the peoples, and all of them will be living securely." So Israel's modern-day return to the land, which began in the 1890's and led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, has taken place in accordance with God's plan that he announced more than 2,500 years ago. The Jews are back in their ancestral homeland, not as invaders or colonial occupiers but as the rightful occupants of the land that God has given them. As Romans 11: 28 says, "In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." God is still irrevocably committed to the Abrahamic Covenant in relation to the natural descendants of Israel. When Jesus comes back Israel will take possession of 'the land of the Philistines' which is modern-day Gaza, and of 'Ephraim and Samaria' which is the West Bank (Obadiah 1:19). As Isaiah 11:14 says, "They will swoop down on the Philistine hills to the west; together they will loot the people of the east. They will take over Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be their subjects." So Israel will also take over today's Palestinian territories as well as Jordan and much of Arabia. If God restores Israel 'to what it was like in days gone by' (Amos 9:11) then it will also include much of Syria and stretch as far as the Euphrates.

The West, and the United Nations, are always pressuring Israel to give up land and to work towards a Two-State solution to the conflict. A Two-State solution is always seen as the way to achieve a long-term peace. In reality, since 1947 the Palestinians have been offered a Two-State solution on several occasions but they have always rejected it. In 2005, Israel withdrew completely from Gaza, effectively giving the people of Gaza their own state. But instead of it leading to peace, Gaza elected Hamas who have always been committed to the annihilation of Israel. To protect its own security, Israel had to implement a blockade in order to minimise the threat from Hamas. The 7 October 2023 massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas exposed the true nature of Hamas and the full extent of terror infrastructure that they have established since 2007. In hindsight, Israel's decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 was clearly a mistake. But perhaps it was a necessary experiment nonetheless.

Joel 3:1-3 says, "For look! In those days and at that time I will return the exiles to Judah and Jerusalem. Then I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I will enter into judgment against them there concerning my people Israel who are my inheritance, whom they scattered among the nations. They partitioned my land, and they cast lots for my people." God promised that he would restore the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem, which he calls 'my land', and in recent history that is exactly what he has done. When Jesus comes back and enters into judgment, he will judge those who have 'partitioned my land'. This probably refers to the Ezekiel 38 invasion of Israel by Gog and his allies rather than to a partitioning of Israel into Jewish and Palestinian states. Nevertheless, it is clear that partitioning Israel is not God's solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

God's commitment to the Abrahamic Covenant in an end time context is affirmed in Jeremiah 3:18, "At that time the nation of Judah and the nation of Israel will be reunited. Together they will come back from a land in the north to the land that I gave to your ancestors as a permanent possession." Again in Jeremiah 51:5 God says, "For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel" (NIV).

The Abrahamic Covenant vs. The Mosaic Covenant
The Abrahamic Covenant is different from the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant comprises the set of laws described in Exodus 19-24 and in Deuteronomy by which the Israelites were instructed to live in order that they might continue to live in the Promised Land under God's blessings. The New Covenant replaces the Mosaic Covenant, making it obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). But the promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is set within a clear and unequivocal expression of God's forever-commitment to the Abrahamic Covenant and a promise to restore all the tribes of Israel to their ancestral homeland (read all of Jeremiah 30 and 31). In Jeremiah 31:1, God says, "At that time I will be the God of all the clans of Israel and they will be my people. I, the LORD, affirm it!" Ten of the Israelite tribes have been lost in the pages of history, but God and his angels know who their descendants are. It should not surprise us that in Revelation 6 when an angel seals the foreheads of the one hundred and forty-four thousand, they are twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. There is no reason to understand these figuratively as anything other than natural descendants of the Israelite tribes.

In John 10:14 when Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd, he is recalling the promises of Jeremiah 31:10-11, "The one who scattered Israel will regather them. He will watch over his people like a shepherd watches over his flock. For the LORD will rescue the descendants of Jacob." In John 10:16, Jesus says, "I have other sheep (i.e. us Gentiles) that do not come from this sheepfold (i.e. the sheepfold of Israel). I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd." The shepherd's kindness to us Gentiles does not in any way negate his commitment to the original sheepfold of the tribes of Israel. According to the promise of Micah 2:12-13, in the Great Tribulation God will gather together and protect his Israelite remnant in their 'Bozrah' sheepfold, from which Jesus will break them out and rescue them, advancing before them as their king.

Boundaries of 'The Promised Land'
The land area described in the Abrahamic Covenant is known by Jews and Christians as 'The Promised Land'. It is sometimes also known as 'Greater Israel'. This latter term implies that The Promised Land is an area of land greater than the modern State of Israel, and potentially greater even than historic Israel as it existed at its largest extent during the reigns of David and Solomon. The boundaries of the promised land are defined in the following scriptures:
Genesis 15:18-21, "That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River – 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites".

Exodus 23:31, "I will set your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River, for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you".

Numbers 34:1-13, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 2 “Give these instructions to the Israelites, and tell them: ‘When you enter Canaan, the land that has been assigned to you as an inheritance, the land of Canaan with its borders, 3 your southern border will extend from the wilderness of Zin along the Edomite border, and your southern border will run eastward to the extremity of the Salt Sea, 4 and then the border will turn from the south to the Scorpion Ascent, continue to Zin, and then its direction will be from the south to Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and pass over to Azmon. 5 There the border will turn from Azmon to the Stream of Egypt, and then its direction is to the sea. 6 “‘And for a western border you will have the Great Sea. This will be your western border. 7 “‘And this will be your northern border: From the Great Sea you will draw a line to Mount Hor; 8 from Mount Hor you will draw a line to Lebo Hamath, and the direction of the border will be to Zedad. 9 The border will continue to Ziphron, and its direction will be to Hazar Enan. This will be your northern border. 10 “‘For your eastern border you will draw a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. 11 The border will run down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain, and the border will descend and reach the eastern side of the Sea of Kinnereth. 12 Then the border will continue down the Jordan River and its direction will be to the Salt Sea. This will be your land by its borders that surround it.’” 13 Then Moses commanded the Israelites: “This is the land that you will inherit by lot, which the Lord has commanded to be given to the nine-and-a-half tribes, 14 because the tribe of the Reubenites by their families, the tribe of the Gadites by their families, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance. 15 The two-and-a-half tribes have received their inheritance on this side of the Jordan, east of Jericho, toward the sunrise.”

Deuteronomy 11:22-24, "For if you carefully observe all of these commandments I am giving you and love the Lord your God, live according to his standards, and remain loyal to him, 23 then he will drive out all these nations ahead of you, and you will dispossess nations greater and stronger than you. 24 Every place you set your foot will be yours; your border will extend from the desert to Lebanon and from the River (that is, the Euphrates) as far as the Mediterranean Sea".

Joshua 1:2-4, "…Cross the Jordan River! Lead these people into the land which I am ready to hand over to them. 3 I am handing over to you every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert in the south to Lebanon in the north. It will extend all the way to the great River Euphrates in the east (including all of Syria) and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
Analysing these scriptures, some boundaries are clearer than others. The eastern boundary is defined by the River Euphrates, but scripture doesn't tell us how far along the Euphrates the boundary should extend. During the reigns of David and Solomon, the north-eastern tip of their kingdom reached the Euphrates but it did not extend very far down it:
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The western boundary is defined by the Mediterranean Sea, also called the Sea of the Philistines because they lived along the Mediterranean coastline.

The south-western boundary is defined by the 'river of Egypt'. Scholars debate whether this is the River Nile, which would designate a larger territory including the Sinai Peninsula, or whether it refers to a seasonal wadi along the south-western border of ancient Israel, which would exclude Sinai. The latter view seems better supported by Exodus 23:31, which defines it running from the Red Sea (i.e. from modern day Aqaba) to the Sea of the Philistines (the Meditteranean).

The south-eastern boundary is defined by 'the desert' and by the promise to both Moses and Joshua that wherever they set their feet would belong to Israel. Because this promise was given first to Moses, the Promised Land potentially includes the desert of their exodus wanderings. Traditionally, many Christian bible scholars have assumed that the Red Sea crossing was across the Bitter Lakes, and that Israel wandered around what is known today as 'The Sinai Peninsula'. According to that position, Mount Sinai is identified with Jabal Musa in Egypt. Modern research increasingly supports the position that the Red Sea crossing was across the Gulf of Aqaba to modern-day Saudi Arabia, possibly starting at Nuweiba. In that case, the true Mount Sinai is identified as Jabal Lawz in north-western Saudi Arabia, and the desert wanderings were around the Arabian Peninsula. So the Promised Land could include much of the Arabian Peninsula. This is consistent with many prophesies indicating that end-time Israel will conquer those left in Edom (e.g. Amos 9:12). By the time many of these prophesies were given, Edom was considered to stretch a long way south into the Arabia Peninsula, as far as Dedan (modern-day Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia) - see Ezekiel 25:13.

According to Joshua 1:4, the Promised Land extends northwards to Lebanon and includes all the land of the Hittites (interpreted as 'all of Syria' by the NET bible). Does this mean that Lebanon is included, or excluded? Although historically it was never included, Zechariah 10:10 prophesies that when God restores the northern tribes of Israel in the end times, he will settle them in Lebanon because there will not be enough room for all of them in Israel. Concerning the land of the Hittites, at the time this scripture was given during the exodus in the 15th century BC, the Hittite Empire extended over Syria and much of Turkey, as shown by the green border below:
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So potentially, the Promised Land could include much of Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.

Israel's territory during the time of the Judges, after the conquests in the time of Moses and Joshua, is shown in the map below.
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According to Deuteronomy 4:41, while Moses and the Israelites were still east of the River Jordan, Moses selected three cities of refuge in the Transjordan region which had been given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and East Manasseh. And in Deuteronomy 19:1-13, he instructed the Israelites to select three more cities of refuge in the region west of the River Jordan that would become the inheritance of the other nine tribes. In verses 7-9 he says, "Therefore, I am commanding you to set apart for yourselves three cities. If the Lord your God enlarges your borders as he promised your ancestors and gives you all the land he pledged to them, and then you are careful to observe all these commandments I am giving you today (namely, to love the Lord your God and to always walk in his ways), then you must add three more cities to these three." In other words, Moses indicates that the land Israel would inherit initially would be less than that promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18-21. Consequently, the Promised Land should be understood to be greater than historic Israel. Israel never conquered the whole of the Promised Land. At its largest extent during the reigns of David and Solomon, Israel ruled the territory shown below:
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If you Google 'Map of Greater Israel' you find results like the one below:
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This map assumes the 'river of Egypt' to mean the River Nile, and takes into account most of the above. But if you include 'all the land of the Hittites' (Joshua 1:4), it could extend northwards still further into Turkey.

During the Millennium, Isaiah prophesies that God will make Egypt and Assyria a special blessing to the earth, alongside Israel. Egypt and Assyria seem to still be distinct and independent from Israel, but there will be a highway stretching across Egypt, Israel and Assyria, facilitating joint worship together in Jerusalem.

Isaiah 19:21-25 "21 The Lord will reveal himself to the Egyptians, and they will acknowledge the Lord’s authority at that time. They will present sacrifices and offerings; they will make vows to the Lord and fulfill them. 22 The Lord will strike Egypt, striking and then healing them. They will turn to the Lord and he will listen to their prayers and heal them. 23 At that time there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will visit Egypt, and the Egyptians will visit Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. 24 At that time Israel will be the third member of the group, along with Egypt and Assyria, and will be a recipient of blessing in the earth. 25 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will pronounce a blessing over the earth, saying, “Blessed be my people, Egypt, and the work of my hands, Assyria, and my special possession, Israel!”

Today's Jews are the descendants of the southern kingdom of Judah which comprised the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and also some Levites who were spread among the territories of the twelve tribes. Although they were exiled to Babylon in 586 BC, they later returned and resettled their ancestral homeland after Babylon fell to Persia in 539 BC. They were later driven out again by the Romans in 70 AD and 135 AD, but they preserved their cultural and ethnic identity in all the nations to which they were scattered. By contrast, the northern kingdom of Israel, comprising ten tribes, was exiled to Assyria in 722 BC and never returned. These ten tribes assimilated into the nations they were scattered amongst, and are now known as the lost tribes. However, many end-time passages prophesy that at the end of the age, God will not only restore the Jews to Israel, but also the descendants of the lost tribes. One such example is Isaiah 27:12-13, "At that time the Lord will shake the tree, from the Euphrates River to the Stream of Egypt. Then you will be gathered up one by one, O Israelites. At that time a large trumpet will be blown, and the ones lost in the land of Assyria will come, as well as the refugees in the land of Egypt. They will worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem". This implies that when God gives Israel the full extent of the land he promised to Abraham, it will include all twelve tribes of Israel.

Isaiah 11:10-16 is another important prophecy about this restoration of Israel at Christ's second coming, "10 At that time a root from Jesse will stand like a signal flag for the nations. Nations will look to him for guidance, and his residence will be majestic. 11 At that time the Lord will again lift his hand to reclaim the remnant of his people from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the seacoasts. 12 He will lift a signal flag for the nations; he will gather Israel’s dispersed people and assemble Judah’s scattered people from the four corners of the earth. 13 Ephraim’s jealousy will end, and Judah’s hostility will be eliminated. Ephraim will no longer be jealous of Judah, and Judah will no longer be hostile toward Ephraim. 14 They will swoop down on the Philistine hills to the west; together they will loot the people of the east. They will take over Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be their subjects. 15 The Lord will divide the gulf of the Egyptian Sea; he will wave his hand over the Euphrates River and send a strong wind; he will turn it into seven dried-up streams and enable them to walk across in their sandals. 16 There will be a highway leading out of Assyria for the remnant of his people, just as there was for Israel, when they went up from the land of Egypt."

Today's Arabs often cite the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and blame Britain for facilitating the Jews' modern-day return to the land they call Palestine, and for the establishment of the modern State of Israel that resulted from the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. And they blame western nations, especially America and Britain, for their continued support of Israel. In reality, it is the Abrahamic Covenant and God's never-ending commitment to the people of Israel that is really the source of Arab woes (together with the fact they follow the false religion of Islam). And if the above scriptures are to be believed, the Arabs haven't yet seen the half of it!

In the Abrahamic Covenant, God promises to bless those who bless Abraham's descendants and to curse those who curse them (Genesis 12:3). The truth of this will most clearly be demonstrated at the second coming of Christ. In the 15th century BC, God saved Israel through the crossing of the Red Sea when he drowned Egypt's army that was pursuing them, and by so doing he revealed his greatness and glory to the surrounding nations. At the second coming, it is through his deliverance of Israel, rescuing her from the armies of enemy nations, that Jesus plans to reveal his glory to the world such that all the world will know him, and know that he is Yahweh, the Holy God of Israel (Psalm 67, Ezekiel 36:23, 37:28, 39:7)

Christians are often divided in their opinions and support for the State of Israel. But any understanding of end times that overlooks or ignores God's commitment to the Abrahamic Covenant and to the people of Israel is seriously flawed. And the many scriptures that prophesy God's end-time restoration of Israel and Judah, and the extending of their land to include the lands of their enemies, show that the bible consistently presents a pre-millennial end-time view. The second coming of Christ ushers in a new age with Christ ruling as king on this present earth, and with the restored people of Israel having a significant role in his world-wide kingdom.

Will Israel take what was promised?

Places: Israel, Greater Israel, Egypt, Assyria, Moab, Edom, Jordan, Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Philistia, Turkey, Land of the Hittites
Tags: Abrahamic covenant, Restoration of Israel and Judah, Israel inherits land from her enemies
The Obedience of Abram
12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.
2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, so that all the families of the earth may receive blessing through you.”
4 So Abram left, just as the Lord had told him to do, and Lot went with him. (Now Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.)
5 And Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they left for the land of Canaan. They entered the land of Canaan.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the oak tree of Moreh at Shechem. (At that time the Canaanites were in the land.)
7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So Abram built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled among the cities of the Jordan plain and pitched his tents next to Sodom.
13 (Now the people of Sodom were extremely wicked rebels against the Lord.)
14 After Lot had departed, the Lord said to Abram, “Look from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west.
15 I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants forever.
16 And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants also can be counted.
17 Get up and walk throughout the land, for I will give it to you.”
18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live by the oaks of Mamre in Hebron, and he built an altar to the Lord there.
The Cutting of the Covenant
1 After these things the Lord’s message came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield and the one who will reward you in great abundance.”
2 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what will you give me since I continue to be childless, and my heir is Eliezer of Damascus?”
3 Abram added, “Since you have not given me a descendant, then look, one born in my house will be my heir!”
4 But look, the Lord’s message came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but instead a son who comes from your own body will be your heir.”
5 The Lord took him outside and said, “Gaze into the sky and count the stars – if you are able to count them!” Then he said to him, “So will your descendants be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord credited it as righteousness to him.
7 The Lord said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”
8 But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, by what can I know that I am to possess it?”
9 The Lord said to him, “Take for me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10 So Abram took all these for him and then cut them in two and placed each half opposite the other, but he did not cut the birds in half.
11 When birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 When the sun went down, Abram fell sound asleep, and great terror overwhelmed him.
13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign country. They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.
14 But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve. Afterward they will come out with many possessions.
15 But as for you, you will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.
16 In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch passed between the animal parts.
18 That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River –
19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites,
20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,
21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”
The Sign of the Covenant
17 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the Sovereign God. Walk before me and be blameless.
2 Then I will confirm my covenant between me and you, and I will give you a multitude of descendants.”
3 Abram bowed down with his face to the ground, and God said to him,
4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of a multitude of nations.
5 No longer will your name be Abram. Instead, your name will be Abraham because I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.
6 I will make you extremely fruitful. I will make nations of you, and kings will descend from you.
7 I will confirm my covenant as a perpetual covenant between me and you. It will extend to your descendants after you throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
8 I will give the whole land of Canaan – the land where you are now residing – to you and your descendants after you as a permanent possession. I will be their God.”
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep the covenantal requirement I am imposing on you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
10 This is my requirement that you and your descendants after you must keep: Every male among you must be circumcised.
11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins. This will be a reminder of the covenant between me and you.
12 Throughout your generations every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not one of your descendants.
13 They must indeed be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money. The sign of my covenant will be visible in your flesh as a permanent reminder.
14 Any uncircumcised male who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin will be cut off from his people – he has failed to carry out my requirement.”
15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; Sarah will be her name.
16 I will bless her and will give you a son through her. I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations. Kings of countries will come from her!”
17 Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
18 Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live before you!”
19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him.
20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes; I will make him into a great nation.
21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”
22 When he finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
23 Abraham took his son Ishmael and every male in his household (whether born in his house or bought with money) and circumcised them on that very same day, just as God had told him to do.
24 Now Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised;
25 his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised.
26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on the very same day.
27 All the men of his household, whether born in his household or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.