I’ve always enjoyed Andy Williams as a pop singer. Someone put words to the theme song of the “Exodus” movie. It wasn’t about Moses. It was about the re-establishment of the Jewish state after World War II. The song begins, “This land is mine. God gave this land to me. This brave and ancient land to me, and when the morning sun  Reveals her hills and plains, then I see a land where children can run free.” Since I was born in 1947, in my lifetime, the promise that God made to Israel is coming true. In Deuteronomy, we see the first installment of this promise. After laying out the geography of the land promised to Abraham and to his descendants, Moses exhorts the people to go and take possession of it. The land was their inheritance. It belonged to them. It was time to occupy the land God had given to them. You might say that the land was handed to them on a platter. Deuteronomy 1:8 says, See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’” The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, continues in the first person from the first part of the verse. “I have set the land before you.” Then it adds, “That I swore to your fathers.” He promised to give this land to Abraham and all of his descendants. He repeated this promise to Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve and then again, as seen here to Moses and the children of Abraham as they were delivered from their slavery in Egypt. God always keeps His promises.

Although God always keeps His promises, Israel did not keep their promises to God and lost possession of the promised land for thousands of years. This has led to horrible misunderstandings about God and His promises. Even some of the more respected preachers and theologians say some frightening things. One says, “Everyone wants to enjoy the blessings of God’s promises, but not everyone will. Lazy believers who exercise neither their faith nor their patience should expect to receive few to none of the benefits of God’s promises.”[1] Another writes, “The promises of God reveal his particular and eternal purposes to which he is unchangeably committed and upon which believers can totally depend. These promises are, however, conditional upon obedience on the part of believers.”[2] These statements elicit fear from me because I could be called a “lazy believer” at times. I’m not always obedient. This kind of preaching always leads to fear and doubt.

My favorite seminary professor, Norm Geisler, says salvation is an irrevocable gift. “Paul emphatically states that ‘God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable’ (Rom. 11:29), and he also says that salvation is ‘the gift of God’ (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:9). Hence, God can never overturn salvation: He is bound by His own unconditional covenant to be faithful even if we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13).” He also says that Salvation is an unconditional promise. “God’s unconditional promises are unbreakable, and salvation is an unconditional promise (Rom. 6:23; 11:29; Eph. 2:9). Hebrews declares.” He adds that Salvation cannot be gained or lost by our good works.”[3] What we all need is forgiveness, and that’s what Jesus brought. “In reading the narrative of Abraham’s sons, we come to see that Scripture is really the story of a family – a family that starts with Abraham and endures until today. We can be members of this family by understanding and embracing the promise that was given to Abraham. Paul writes this in his letter to the Ephesians saying, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” God promises that through Abraham, the earth will be blessed, and that blessing finds its fulfillment in the person of Jesus, a descendant of Abraham who was fully God, fully man, and through whom we find forgiveness.”[4]

[1] Stanley, Charles F. 2005. The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[2] Manser, Martin H. 2009. Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

[3] Geisler, Norman L. 2004. Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

[4] https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/things-to-know-about-abrahams-sons.html