What is the relationship of our salvation in the new covenant to the land promise made to Abraham? (Gen. 15:12-20)
If salvation is entirely “spiritual,” viewed as an escape from this world, there is little or no relation, and the story of the Bible is less coherent. But if salvation includes not only our bodies, but creation itself, we see a much closer connection between the promise and its fulfillment in our redemption in Christ.
- How have we moved from the promise of the land of Canaan (Genesis 15) to Abraham and his offspring inheriting the whole world?
- The key is to recognize that God’s act of giving land to his people is oriented toward the fulfillment of a goal: the whole earth becoming a dwelling place of God with man.
Land in the Old Testament
- Gen. 2:8: Place on earth created for humanity.
- Gen. 2:15: Humanity has a priestly role in the Garden, where he dwells with God (see 3:8).
- Cultural mandate: Gen. 1:28: There is an idea of progression toward a goal here.
Stages: sojourn, possession, expansion, decline, exile
- Gen. 12:4-9: Abram builds altars as mini holy places; he remains a sojourner throughout his life
- But there is promise that his offspring will possess the land and more: Gen. 22:17: “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies.”
- Book of Joshua: the land is given to Israel; Josh. 18:1: “Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.”
- God dwells with Israel in the land, but still at a distance; this is why there is a holy place (tabernacle) within the land.
- Reign of David: Victory over enemies and the increase of his dominion (2 Samuel 8).
- Reign of Solomon: vassal states; 1 Kings 4:21: “Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates [far north] to the land of the Philistines [southwest] and to the border of Egypt [far south]. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.
- Holy place becomes a permanent structure: the temple