Last time we saw Israel was promised a land. Now, in our sixth major prophecy, we look at the prophecy to the nation Israel of the land as an eternal possession. The Abrahamic covenant involved a land, a seed, and a blessing. It is through this covenant, the great Abrahamic Covenant, that one finds not only the promise of a Savior for Israel, a nation of Israel, but the nation Israel will live in the land with a righteous King in peace. Here we find the next major prophecy – the Prophecy of the Future of Israel in the land as an eternal possession.
This prophecy starts with the Abrahamic covenant, moves to the Mosiac covenant, and will find fulfillment in the kingdom age in what is called the land covenant. The promise made to Abraham was to leave the land he was in, and go to a land the LORD would show him. So he packed up his family and left. The promise stated in unconditional covenant language (Gen. 12:1-3) and promised to him and his offspring (Gen. 12:7). This promise was repeated over and over. However, as Hebrews 11:9-10 declares, “By faith he [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” As Dr. Walvoord says, “The reference to the city is commonly interpreted as meaning the New Jerusalem in eternity future” (Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies, p. 79). As Abraham never possessed the land, we understand this promise is yet future.
The boundaries of the land are defined in detail by God in Gen 15:18 as, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river , the Euphrates.”
While this covenant was made to Abraham and his descendants, the LORD hands control over to the Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:3-5). And when God brings a drought to the land, Israel leaves to dwell in Egypt, and as promised and prophesied, He brought them back to the promised land. Notice the prophecy of Genesis 15:13-16:
13 Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 "And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 "Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." (Gen 15:13-16)
The great story of the Exodus was fulfilled literally and the LORD delivered Israel out of bondage in Egypt and brought them back to the promised land. However, peace and prosperity in the land was now made conditional with the Mosaic covenant. And again, the prophecy was give of Israel’s idolatry, slavery, and restoration.
First the conditional promise found in the law of Deuteronomy:
Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 "that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.
3 "Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you--`a land flowing with milk and honey.' 4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
10 "So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 "houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant-- when you have eaten and are full--
12 "then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
13 "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. 14 "You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you 15 `(for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. (Deu. 6:1-15)
Next, the prophecy of idolatry and dispersion found in Deuteronomy 28:
36 "The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods-- wood and stone. 37 "And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will drive you. (Deu. 28:36-37)
Finally, the regathering back to the land prophesied in Deuteronomy 30:
Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, 2 "and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
3 "that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. 4 "If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 5 "Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. 6 "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 "Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. (Deu. 30:1-7)
While this second dispersion occurred in history with the Assyrian devastation and the Babylon captivity, Israel’s regathering in 605 also occurred in history. However, Deuteronomy 30 also speaks of a future regathering in belief – the final regathering of Israel at the LORD’s second coming. This final regathering is the third dispersion/regathering prophesied in Scripture.
While the second dispersion/regathering occurred in history, we understand the third dispersion also is historical. This third dispersion involves the rejection of Jesus as Israel’s King. Notice the language in Luke 21:
20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 "And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)
The third dispersion of Israel started in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the temple and was complete in A.D. 132 when the emperor Hadrian expelled the Jews from the land and renamed it Palestine in an effort to remove any and all Jewish identity and claim to the land.
The final regathering is prophesied to have two stages. The first stage is a regathering in unbelief, the second stage, however, will be in belief, but both are by the hand of God. The Lord’s regathering of Israel in unbelief is occurring today as Israel exists today as a nation since 1948. The prophecy was given in Ezekiel 20:33-38,
33 "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. 34 "I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. 35 "And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. 36 "Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you," says the Lord GOD. 37 "I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 "I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD. (Ezek. 20:33-38)
The second phase of the third regathering will be in belief. This prophecy is found in Ezekiel 39:23-29.
23 "The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 "According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them."' 25 "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:`Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name-- 26 `after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. 27 `When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, 28 `then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. 29 `And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD." (Ezek. 39:23-29)
7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts:`Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east And from the land of the west; 8 I will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness.' (Zech. 8:7-8)
This great regathering will be by God Himself with the assistance of His holy angels (Matt. 24:31):
30 "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt. 24:30-31)
This fulfillment of the final regathering is the fulfillment of the covenant prophecy made to Abraham and his descendants when the covenant was made official in Genesis 17 and specifically called an everlasting possession (Gen. 17:8; cf. 48:4).
8 "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." (Gen. 17:8)
What a blessing it is to see the Lord God Almighty will fulfill His promise to Israel, for if He will keep His word to them, how much more for those who call on the name of Jesus Christ? Is God not the Rock of both Israel’s salvation as He is also the author and finisher of the salvation of all who call upon the name of the Lord?