There is No Salvation In The Land!! A (Brief) Study of Israel and the Land

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THERE IS NO SALVATION IN THE LAND!

Some years ago, in a Wednesday night Bible class, we were discussing the tragic events transpiring in Israel at that time. These are the same tragic events that have been taking place in the last few months as a result of the horrific invasion of Israel by Hamas, and the killing of over 2000 innocent people (October 7, 2023). Since then, the suffering on both sides is so sad, and there seems to be no solution in sight.

In that Bible class, and many time since then, I stated that the problem in Israel is a theological issue. You can talk about politics all you want, but until you realize that the issue is religion, you are ignoring the fundamental issues. In fact, on the day of posting this article (5-5-24) I will be interviewed for a blog post from London. The topic of that interview is the consequences of bad eschatology.

That bad eschatology is manifested in the fact that both the Israelis and the Palestinians believe the Land is theirs by Divine right. Historically, American politics is heavily influenced by the Dispensational movement that supports Israel’s claims. One of Oklahoma’s senators gave a speech on the Senate floor stating his convictions that the land belongs to Israel by Divine right. He said that America must support Israel “unconditionally” since they are God’s people!

The fact is that the Land no longer belongs to either the Arabs or the Israeli’s by Divine right. You MUST catch the power of this fact! God is no longer concerned with geography. “There is no salvation in real estate, salvation is in Christ!”

Most people do not seem to realize that, first of all, that land was never Israel’s divine right of possession! In fact, God was always very clear: “The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me” (Leviticus 25:23) Similarly, in Hosea 9:3, as a result of Israel’s sin, the Lord threatened them with removal from the land– His land: “They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land, But Ephraim shall return to Egypt, And shall eat unclean things in Assyria.”

Thus, the common modern argument that the land belongs to Israel by divine right is specious and untenable. See my DVD series on Israel and Land for an in-depth examination of Israel and the Land. Powerful stuff! It is available from this website.

Second, Israel’s right to the land was conditioned upon their obedience to the Mosaic Law. As David Holwerda has noted:

The real issue is not whether God ‘gives’ or ‘assigns’ the land to Israel, but rather on what basis the gift of the assignment is made. What is at stake is the fundamental understanding of the covenant, a debate as old as the apostle Paul and that involved how we understand the book of Deuteronomy.” ….”The land is first of all and always the Lord’s, not Israel’s. Amazingly, the people Israel are called ‘aliens and tenants’ in the Lord’s land since they have no permanent title to it and possess it with no absolute legal right to it (Leviticus 25:23). Thus, the land never ceases to being a gift, even when Israel possesses it.” …. “The possession of the land requires that the possessors possess God’s image and that the stewards of the land be like their Master.’… Without holiness the gift of the land cannot be possessed and prosperity, peace, and rest cannot be secured, because that land and the whole earth is the Lord’s’ In Deuteronomy 28-30 we find the Law of Blessings and Cursings. Simply stated, that Law said that if Israel obeyed the Mosaic Covenant they would remain in the land in peace. However, if they violated the Covenant, Jehovah would remove them. He even said that in the last days, they would become utterly corrupt, and that He would destroy them (Deuteronomy 31:29; 32:20-24).
(David Holwerda, Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 92).

Here is a point of tremendous significance. The promises of Israel’s return and restoration to the Land, are grounded in the Mosaic Covenant. For Israel to return to the Land, as God’s chosen people, they had to obey the Law of Moses. In Deuteronomy 30:1-10, one of the favorite texts utilized by those who believe that 1948 was a fulfillment of Divine prophecy, Moses emphatically gave as the condition for return, obedience to the Mosaic Covenant (see vss. 2,6,8,10). There are two points to ponder here.

First, would anyone seriously argue that Israel had repented and returned to an humble observance of the Mosaic Covenant, and that that obedience led to their “restoration” in 1948? I know of not one dispensational scholar that argues that Israel was in a state of obedience to the Mosaic Law in 1948! To argue that Israel was in obedience to the Mosaic Law, then or now, flies in the face of reality. Today, Israel is almost a secular society, with notable exceptions of course. However, to suggest that Israel is currently obedient to the Mosaic Law is patently untrue, and was untrue in 1948. Therefore, there is simply no way to argue that the “restoration of Israel” in 1948 was a fulfillment of Deuteronomy 30.

Second, God has forever removed the Mosaic Covenant! That Covenant was in the process of passing away when Hebrews was written (Hebrews 8:13), and passed with the fulfillment of Israel’s cultic system (Hebrews 9:10). Even dispensationalist Thomas Ice, with whom I have had multiple debates, agrees that the Mosaic Law, “has forever been fulfilled and discontinued through Christ.” Well, if the Mosaic Covenant, that was the ground of the restoration promises has been removed, then the promises of restoration have been forever removed!

The fact that the Mosaic Covenant has been removed is driven home by the Passover attack on Israel. As I have noted in my book, Israel 1948: Countdown to No Where, in Exodus 34:22-24, Jehovah promised Israel that as long as they observed the three holy feast days, which of course included Passover, their enemies would not attack them. However, beginning in A.D. 70, (on Pentecost), again in 1967 (the Yom Kippur war), and now on the Passover, Israel’s enemies have attacked her on the Holiest of her feast days! Now, if Israel’s enemies are attacking her on her holiest of all feast days, the ramifications in light of Exodus 34 are incredible. It means that Israel is no longer the chosen people of God, or, the promise of Exodus 34 is no longer applicable, which of course means that Israel is no longer the Covenant people of God! This is simply inescapable.

The main argument that the land will always belong to Israel, no matter what, is based on the fact that Jehovah gave them the land “forever” (Psalms 105). The problem is that the word forever, (Hebrew, Olam), does not automatically denote “without end.” For instance, Jehovah not only promised to give the land to Israel “forever,” He also promised to make them “a perpetual shame,” and to make Jerusalem a “desolation forever” (See Jeremiah 23:40; 25:9). He said this concerning the fall of Jerusalem in B. C. 586! Was Israel restored after God made their land a “perpetual desolation”? Yes! The point is that the word “forever” does not mean unending. Thus, the fact that Jehovah promised the land to Abraham “forever” does not mean that Israel could not forfeit the land!

The covenant sign of Israel’s right to the land was circumcision ( Genesis 17:10f). Stated simply, no circumcision, no land! Consider then the doctrine of circumcision. No one knew the importance of circumcision more than Paul. Yet, Paul said that if a person practiced circumcision for religious reasons (and the religious reason of circumcision had always been the covenant sign of Israel’s right to the Land!), then Christ would profit them nothing (Galatians 5:1-4)! He said circumcision avails nothing. (See my book, Circumcision in the New Creation, for a thorough discussion of this important topic).

The only way that Paul could say that circumcision avails nothing is for him to realize that God was fulfilling the promises to Abraham and therefore, the purpose of that covenant–to bring in the Messiah- was being fulfilled. There was therefore, no longer any purpose for that distinctive covenant sign, because that covenant was on the point of passing away (see Hebrews 8:13).

Our premillennial friends say that in the millennium, Israel’s Old Cultic System, including circumcision will be restored. (See Dwight Pentecost’s Things To Come, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980). According to this theory, any man not circumcised will not be able to worship God in Jerusalem, and yet, those who do not worship there are condemned, according to the millennial interpretation of Zechariah 14.

The concept of a restored Israel, restored circumcision, etc. is very serious stuff indeed. Circumcision stood as a barrier between Jew and Gentiles. It was the sign in the flesh of Israel’s distinctive relationship with Jehovah. Yet, Christ removed it forever, right? Not according to the millennialist! Pentecost, says this of the millennial state, and the objection that the work of Christ has broken down the barriers between Jew and Gentile: “Objection is sometimes raised that God has forever broken down the barrier that separates Jew and Gentile and makes them one. This view arises from the failure to realize that this is God’s purpose for the present age, but has no reference to God’s program in the millennial age.”

It is almost unimaginable that anyone could seriously posit a view that says that God’s eternal purpose, to gather together all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10; 2:11f), will one day be set aside so that He could once again establish the exclusionary distinctions that Christ died to destroy!

If Jehovah restores circumcision, then Paul’s gospel–the gospel that Jesus died to establish–must be set aside! Paul emphatically taught that Jesus died to break down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-17). He taught that circumcision, the evidence of Jew and Gentile seperation, now, in Christ, means nothing at all (Galatians 6:15). Even more, he repudiated the religious significance of circumcision, and said that those who practice it forfeit the blessings of Jesus. They fall from grace (Galatians 5:4)!

The New Testament doctrine of circumcision is extremely relevant in light of the current conflict in Israel. The Jews maintain that the land is their’s by Divine Right. However, to claim that Israel still has a Divine Right to the land based on the Abrahamic Covenant fails to consider that God fulfilled those promises, and then, due to Israel’s continuing recalcitrance, terminated that Covenant. The New Testament doctrine of circumcision proves conclusively that Israel no longer has title deed to the land. In reality, to argue that she does is a repudiation of the circumcision free gospel of Jesus Christ. Salvation is not in the land of Israel. It is in Jesus Christ.

For one of the most powerful discussions on the importance– or non-importance – of the events of 1948 see my book, Israel 1948: Countdown to No Where. This book is a thorough refutation of the claims that the “restoration of Israel” in 1948 was “the Super Sign of the End” as claimed by Dispensationalists.