God’s promise to Abraham also shows us that people will live on the earth, during the kingdom. God made a very explicit promise to Abraham: He promised that Abraham would inherit the land of Canaan (modern day Palestine) – and that he and his descendants would own that land forever. That promise was then repeated to Abraham’s son Isaac, to his grandson Jacob, and to his 12 great-grandsons:
Genesis 13:14-15 (Abraham)
14The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;
15for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.
Genesis 17:8 (Abraham)
8“I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
Genesis 26:3 (Isaac)
3“Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.
Genesis 35:12 (Jacob)
12“The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac,
I will give it to you,
And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”
Genesis 50:24 (12 sons of Jacob)
24Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.”
As we can see from the verses above, God explicitly promised that Abraham would inherit the entire land of Canaan – and that he and his descendants would own that land forever. However, scripture also tells us that Abraham did not inherit the land of Canaan while he was alive – he did not inherit even one square foot of it:
Acts 7:4-5 (Stephen, speaking about Abraham)
4“Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living.
5“But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM.
From the above verse, we can see that God’s promise to Abraham was not fulfilled, while Abraham was alive. So, the question now is, why didn’t that promise get fulfilled? Did God lie to Abraham? I don’t think so – since scripture tells us that God always keeps his promises. So, is there some other explanation? Hebrews chapter 11 provides more information about God’s promise to Abraham:
Hebrews 11:8-9,13 (ESV)
8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
The above passage tells us that Abraham actually lived in the land that God promised him – that is, Canaan – but he did not inherit that land while he was alive. It also indicates that God will fulfill that promise in the future. Basically, Abraham “saw the promise from afar” – which indicates that Abraham knew that he would inherit the promised land, in the future. So, overall, the promise to Abraham agrees with all of the other verses that we’ve seen – because that promise tells us that Abraham will live on the earth, during the kingdom of God! Remember: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
next week=> Kingdom Study 7: The Christian Hope