THE TRUE MEANING OF THE PROMISED LAND
God gave our forefather Abraham the land of Canaan “for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8). In Hebrew, the word everlasting means never-ending. You might think, “Abraham had to rejoice over this. God promised his descendants a permanent homeland, as far as they could see, and it would last into eternity.” However, the New Testament tells us the world will be destroyed by fire, burnt completely out of existence, after which the Lord will bring about a new heaven and earth.
You may wonder: How could God’s “everlasting possession” to Abraham be a mere piece of real estate? How could it be eternal? The fact is, this land of promise was symbolic of a place beyond the earth. I believe Abraham knew this in his spirit. The Bible says that as Abraham moved about in Canaan, he always felt alien: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country” (Hebrews 11:9). Why was this so? It was because Abraham’s heart longed for something beyond the land itself.
“He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham could see the true significance of the land blessing and he realized, “This place isn’t the real possession. It’s just an illustrated sermon of the great blessing to come.” Abraham grasped the true meaning of the Promised Land; he knew Canaan represented the coming Messiah. Jesus himself tells us, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).
The Holy Spirit enabled this patriarch to see down through the years, to the day of Christ. He knew that the meaning of his Promised Land meant a place of total peace and rest. And, as Abraham knew, this place of rest is Jesus Christ himself. That’s right, the Lord Jesus is our promised possession. We are his, but he is ours as well. And God invites us to obtain our everlasting possession by simple faith.