Did Abraham inherit Israel in his life?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether Abraham inherited Israel in his lifetime involves examining biblical narratives, historical context, and theological interpretations. The patriarch, known as the father of the Israelite nation, plays a central role in the biblical narrative as a figure of faith and covenantal promise. To explore this topic comprehensively, we will delve into relevant biblical passages, consider the historical context of the patriarch’s life, and analyze theological perspectives on his inheritance of the land of Israel.

The Promise to Abraham

The promise of land inheritance to Abraham is a central theme in the biblical narrative, beginning with God’s call to him in Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV): “Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'”

a. Genesis 12:7: “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” This verse emphasizes the divine promise of land inheritance to Abraham’s descendants, signaling the future fulfillment of God’s covenant with him.

b. Genesis 15:18: “On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.'” This verse reaffirms the scope of the land promised to the patriarch’s descendants, extending from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates.

The Sojourn in Canaan

The patriarch’s journey to the land of Canaan and his subsequent sojourn in the land are recounted in the book of Genesis. While he lived in Canaan and acquired property there, the biblical narrative does not explicitly state that he possessed the entire land promised to him by God.

a. Genesis 12:5: “Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.” This verse describes Abraham’s arrival in the land of Canaan with his family and possessions, marking the beginning of his sojourn in the promised land.

b. Genesis 13:14-17: “And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.'” This passage reaffirms the divine promise of land inheritance to the patriarch and his descendants, emphasizing the vastness of the land that God will give to them.

The Purchase of a Burial Site

One significant event in patriarch’s life that relates to land ownership in Canaan is his purchase of a burial site for his wife Sarah. This event is recorded in Genesis 23, where he negotiates with the Hittites to acquire the cave of Machpelah as a burial site for Sarah.

a. Genesis 23:3-4: “Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, ‘I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.'” This passage reflects the patrirach’s acknowledgment of his status as a foreigner in the land of Canaan and his request for a burial site for his wife.

b. Genesis 23:17-18: “So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.” This verse describes the transfer of ownership of the cave of Machpelah to the patriarch as a burial site for Sarah, indicating his acquisition of property in the land of Canaan.

Theological Interpretations

Christians view Abraham as a figure of faith and a precursor to the fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus Christ. Abraham’s acquisition of property in Canaan is seen as a sign of God’s faithfulness and as a foreshadowing of the future fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham’s descendants through Jesus Christ.

The scriptures say, “By faith he (Abraham) sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9,10).

The land that God promised Abraham will be given to him when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven on the Mount of Olives as stated in Revelation 21:2, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

That New Jerusalem is so big that it is going to completely encompass the land of Israel.  Abraham is going to literally have that city, whose builder and maker is God. It will cover the land that God promised to give him. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22).

Paul confirms that the believers will inherit the land in God’s future glorious kingdom, “For here we have no continuing city not here but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14).  The Jews looked upon Jerusalem as a “continuing city” that is, they considered that the divine plan was inextricably bound up with the city and that it was, therefore, destined to stand forever. They felt security within the arms of Judaism. But Christians have no such “continuing city.” Their hopes and aspirations are not associated with any earthly city or religious system. While, everyone is focusing on what’s happening in Israel now, God promised a future inheritance for His faithful children.

Conclusion

In conclusion, While Abraham acquired property in Canaan, the biblical texts do not explicitly state that he possessed the entire land promised to him by God. Instead, the fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises to Abraham and his descendants is understood in a broader theological and eschatological context, pointing to the future inheritance of the land by the nation of Israel and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s purposes in Jesus Christ at the end of time.

    In His service,
    BibleAsk Team

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