R. L. Whiteside
In the discussion about the land promise made to Abraham, one plain statement seems to have been overlooked. But, first, let us get before us an argument that some make on that promise. It is argued that the promise was made direct to Abraham and was meant to be fulfilled to him in person, and yet Stephen informs us that God “gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on” (Acts 7:5). Assuming that the promise to Abraham meant that he would have title and right to the land in his own person, it is therefore argued that he must yet have it in his possession. It is therefore argued that the Jews must yet return to Palestine, so that the promise to Abraham may be fulfilled. But in thus making Abraham and the nation of Israel joint owners of the land at the same time they overlook the promise as Stephen stated it: “…and he promised that he would give it to him in possession, and to his seed after him.” Notice that word after-first to Abraham, then to “his seed after him.” Notice again this word after in Gen. 17:8: “I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan.” Abraham first, then his seed after him.
I wonder how long these future kingdom folks think Abraham is to possess the land before it comes into the possession of his seed after him! The emphasis the future kingdom folks place on their idea that the land was to be given to Abraham in person will not allow them to concede the truth that the promise was made to him as the head or father of a nation to be possessed by the nation of whom he was the father. The head or father of a nation is sometimes put for the nation—is sometimes spoken of as a nation. Before Jacob and Esau were born, Jehovah said to Rebekah, “Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels: and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 26:23). These statements or promises concerning these unborn sons were to be fulfilled centuries after they were born-fulfilled in their descendants.
To rebellious King Saul, Samuel said, “Jehovah hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou” (1 Sam. 15:28). Yet that threat was never visited upon Saul in person, for he continued to be king so long as he lived. Now, that threat to Saul was as personal as was the land promise to Abraham. Why does not some wild scribe argue that Saul must be raised again and put on the throne of Israel, so that God can fulfill his threat?!! The threat was fulfilled in the family of Saul just as the land promise to Abraham was fulfilled to his descendants. And that is exactly the way the land promise to Abraham was fulfilled.
After Stephen spoke of this land promise, he said, “But as the time of the promise drew nigh which God vouchsafed unto Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt” (Acts 7:17). “The time of the promise” can mean nothing else than the time for the fulfillment of the promise. That time had drawn nigh, and things began to shape up for the fulfillment of that promise. Those who claim that the promise has not yet been fulfilled have a quarrel with Stephen. At the proper time Moses was sent to lead Israel out of Egypt. In giving instructions concerning the Passover, Moses said, “And it shall come to pass, when ye are come to the land which Jehovah will give you, according as he hath promised, ye shall keep this service” (Ex. 12:25). Hence when they should come into their possessions in Canaan, that was exactly what God had promised. Again Moses refers to Canaan as the land which Jehovah “swear unto thy fathers to give thee” (Ex. 13:5). This same promise is referred to many times in Deuteronomy. A few of the many passages: (6:3, 10, 18, 23: 8:1; 31:20) These passages teach plainly that the possessions of the land of Canaan by Israel would be the fulfillment of the land promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joshua so understood it; for when the tribes of Israel came into possession of the territories allotted them, he said, “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which Jehovah your God spake concerning you: all are come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed thereof. And it shall come to pass, that as all the good things are come upon you of which Jehovah your God spake unto you, so will Jehovah bring upon you all the evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which Jehovah your God hath given you” (Josh. 23: 14-15).