Sauntering Through the Land, Looking to Eternity
“Lift your eyes now and look … northward, southward, eastward, and westward;
for all the land which you see I give to you and your
descendants forever … Arise, walk in the land through its length
and its width, for I give it to you.” Gen 13:14-15, Gen 13:17
The Land of the Book
In one week, we will be leaving for the “Lord of Battle” tour of the land of Israel. We will “walk in the land through its length and its width,” and as we look “northward, southward, eastward, and westward,” we will be reminded that God gave this land to Abraham and his “descendants forever.” That promise was made to Abraham 4,000 years ago, but even though the land of Israel is the most fought-over real estate in history, God is faithful, and His Word will be confirmed.
A Land Claimed by Others
From the time of God’s promise to this day, many others have laid claim to this land. Even in Abraham’s time, “the Canaanites and the Perizzites dwelt in the land” (Gen 13:7). Lot selfishly, though he surely knew of God’s promise to Abraham, “chose for himself all the plain of Jordan,” because he “saw … that it was well watered everywhere” (Gen 13:11, Gen 13:10). It was after Abraham graciously gave Lot his choice, that God re-affirmed His promise (Gen 13:14-17).
It was quite some time later that Abraham had to rebuke Abimelech because his servants had violently seized a well of water belonging to Abraham (Gen 21:25-34). Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant concerning this well, and Abraham called it “Beersheba,” meaning “the well of the oath.” We will visit Beersheba on our tour, for the 100th anniversary of the astonishing lightening charge of the Australian Light-horsemen, which not only broke the siege of Beersheba but, historically, was the beginning of the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire and the opening of the door for the return of Israel to her land.
Abraham: Pilgrim in His Own Land
Even though God promised the land to Abraham, he lived in that land as a “sojourner and pilgrim” (1Pe 2:11), “dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob” (Heb 11:9). Abraham knew that the promise would not be completely fulfilled until Christ reigned on this Earth. Therefore, he waited for the “promised Seed” of the Messiah and the victory of His cross, which was graphically portrayed on Mount Moriah by Abraham and his son Isaac (Gen 22:1-19). We will also visit this mountain—site of both the ancient Temple of Solomon, and of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like Abraham, we will be “sauntering” through the land. The word “saunter” comes from a word that means to “walk the holy land,” or, “to go on a pilgrimage.” That is what life is for the believer.
The City with Eternal Foundations
Abraham lived with his eyes fixed on eternity. Therefore, it was said of him that “he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). We who have trusted in Jesus Christ are also looking for the day when this glorious and magnificent city will descend from Heaven and rest on this Earth (Rev 21:1-3).
How we long for the day of fulfillment, when we will hear the voice of God proclaim, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes …” (Rev 21:3-4a).
Living in the Light of Eternity
As Abraham’s spiritual descendants and heirs (Gal 3:29), we also must learn to live with our eyes on eternity. We must hold fast to the assurance of that “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:13). Like Abraham, we must never put down roots in this present world, for “the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1Jo 2:17).
For those of you joining us on the tour, we will meet together in Israel! For those who cannot be with us, never fear; we will all meet in the land yet future. May God grant us all to live worthy of Christ until we stand in His glorious presence!