Canaan - Redemptive Land




A Redemptive Land


As we have seen, God selected the people of Israel to carry forth two divine purposes. The first was to evangelize the Gentile world and the second to maintain a godly lineage through which God might bring the Savior into the world. We have seen that Israel and the land are inseparable therefore since Israel was called to be a redemptive people, so the same can be said for the land as well. As we examine the history of the land, we will see at least 8 ways that God uses the land of Canaan in His redemptive program. 

1) #1 The land provides lessons on Redemption: Paul and Peter both speak of the fact that the narrative accounts of the Old Testament were recorded to be an example or a teacher to those Saints who followed (1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Pet. 2:6). The Scriptural record of the land and its people is filled with lessons that teach important truths of God’s redemption. Let us look at a few examples. 

a. In Gen. 22:3, God asks Abraham to do the impossible. God commands Abraham to journey to the land of Moriah and there on one of its mountains, offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. When Abraham and Isaac arrive, Isaac is curious as to where the sacrifice is and Abraham in faith declares God will provide the sacrifice. God does provide the sacrifice by using the wild life of the land, a ram to be the sacrifice on that mountain (8, 11-14). From this account we learn that God’s redemptive work involves faith (Heb. 11:17-19) and the work of God alone (Eph. 2:8-10). However, this redemptive story does not end with Abraham. A thousand years later as Solomon begins to build his temple he chooses that very sight to be the place where the sacrifices will be offered to God teaching the Israelites that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (2 Chron. 3:1; Gal. 3:23-24). About a thousand years later, in the same area in which Abraham and Israel offered their sacrifices; the complete and final sacrifice was given by God to be offered on a cross to forever remove the sins of man. From that time on when people would look at that area of land, they would think of the redemptive work of God. 

b. It was in this land that the city of Jericho existed and was the first city to fall in the invasion of Israel. In that city was a prostitute named Rahab who through faith was spared destruction and eventually married Salmon and bore a son named Boaz. A little later a Moabite woman named Ruth, accompanies her mother-in-law back to Israel and through the harvest of the land falls in love and marries Boaz. They have a son whose name is Obed who has a son named Jesse whose youngest son, David, becomes the King of Israel and the “father” of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:1-16). It was the conquest of the land and its harvest that brought two Gentile women into the lineage of Jesus Christ. Likewise, it was David’s throne over Israel that would someday become the throne of the Messiah Himself as He redeemed His people. In this we see that God desired to redeem not just the Jew, but also the Gentile, men and women, kings and prostitutes.

2) #2 The land provided a way to identify the Coming Redeemer: God has never been secretive about the Coming of Christ. Some would say that this takes away from the imminent return of Christ however if we look closely, the imminent return of Christ has to do with Christ’s rapture of the Church not His Coming to earth to establish His Kingdom. Since there would be many false messiahs who would seek to deceive the Jewish people (Matt. 24:24), God gave many signs that would point to and identify Christ at both of His Comings. Some of these identifying signs are tied to the land of Canaan. 

a. Signs in the land relating to the First Coming of Christ: In Micah 5:2, God said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, a city in the land of Canaan. 2 Sam. 7:11-13; Isa. 9:6-7 declares that when the Messiah comes He would be of the lineage of David and rule over the realm of David which is found in Canaan. The timing of Christ’s First Coming would be determined by an event taking place in the land. In Daniel 9:25-26, the time of the crucifixion of Christ centers around the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Finally, Mal. 3:1 God speaking through Malachi, speaks of the fact that when the Messiah Comes they would know it because He would come to cleanse the Temple in Jerusalem.

b. Signs in the land relating to the Second Coming of Christ: There are far more signs concerning the land of Canaan that relate to the Second Coming then there are for the First Coming. Let us look at a few examples. Zechariah14:4 declares that when Christ comes He will set His feet upon the Mount of Olives on the East side of Jerusalem and the mount will immediately split in too. This is the precise place the Shekinah Glory left Israel in the Old Testament (Ezek. 11:22-23) and the direction Christ took on Palm Sunday when He officially announced His identity to Israel. Amos 9:11 speaks of Christ building a Millennial temple and Hosea 3:5 foretells of the return of all of Israel to the land where Christ will rule over them. Finally, Isa. 11:4-9, a sign of the Coming Messiah is that He will restore the land given to Israel back to its original beauty.

3) #3: The land provided a remnant of redemption: for Christ to come and save the world there would have to be a godly remnant in the land who were following God’s law and offering animal sacrifices. This line was begun through Abel and then continued through Seth but 1400 years later there were only 8 godly people left in a world of probably billions. To deal with this threat to the remnant, God destroyed the world with a global flood and repopulated the world through Noah and his sons. However, by the time of Abraham, most of the descendents of Noah had departed from worshipping God and turned to idols. If a remnant was to be maintained through which a Savior could come God would have to take immediate action which He did by calling Abraham to the land of Canaan.

The land of Canaan played a two fold role in protecting a godly remnant. First of all, having a land to call home would help to protect the identity of the nation and its people. In most cases, people who immigrate to another country usually over a generation or two, begin to loose their identity as they blend into the native population. The land helped to prevent this from happening. Secondly, from the time that Israel left Egypt, God continually battles with Israel’s desire to worship idols. If God was to keep a remnant He would have to take that taste for idols away for good. God did this by hitting Israel where it hurt the most. They loved their land and God dragged them away from it for a 70 year period under Nebuchadnezzar. When the Jewish remnant returned to the land, no longer would they pursue the gods of the Gentiles. 

4) #4: The land provided the means for redemption: It was in God’s program that His sacrifice, the Lamb of God, would have to die a terrible death in order to atone for the sins of the world. At the time of Christ’s First Coming, the land had fallen to the mighty Roman Empire and it was through this Gentile presence that God would provide the ideal means for such a cruel and bloody sacrifice. The Roman’s had fine tuned the art of execution to the point of creating the cruelest form of execution ever known to man. It was an execution that would involve a tree and would frequently put the victim in extreme suffering and agony for days.

God had foretold that the redeemer would die the death of hanging on a tree. In Deut. 21, God speaks that those who suffered this death were accursed of God.

Deut 21:22-23, “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” NKJV

Gal 3:13-14, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree").” NKJV

The land plays a crucial role in Christ’s death. The land of Christ’s crucifixion had to be a land in which crucifixion was practiced and in a land where there was Jewish religious order that would seek the death of their Messiah. There was only one place in the world where both of these elements were present at the same time, the land of Canaan.

5) #5: The land provides for the means of proclaiming redemption: With Christ having risen from the dead, it was time to take the gospel to the world through the Jew first and then the Gentile. This land provided several features that made the spreading of this gospel so rapid.

a. Universal Language: Prior to the rise of the Roman Empire, the Greeks held control over much of the known world. Their language over time became the universal language spoken in most nations including Israel. It was in the Roman Empire the language of commerce and communication. It therefore provided the means to spread the written word of God to people of all nations regardless of their native language.

b. Access to many people: Where ever the Romans went they did two things. They build roads on which armies and commerce could quickly traverse the empire and beyond. Secondly, they established centralized government which made it easy to travel from city to city and province to province with a degree of safety. These two things combined with the fact that the land of Canaan was tied directly to the commercial roads of the empire and three continents; it was the ideal location from which to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself told His disciples,

Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." NKJV

6) #6: The land provided for the redemption of a nation: This will be dealt with in much greater detail latter so let me just give you the basic ideas. God had to have a land in which no one nation would be able to dig their roots in so deep that it would be difficult to uproot them when He was ready to bring Israel back to the land as a nation. Though this land had been possessed by many groups of people over the centuries, none seemed to be able to take permanent ownership leaving the land open for a returning people following WW II.

God had another thing to accomplish with this land to keep it ready for Israel’s occupation. He needed to protect the land’s fertility. The land by the time of Christ had been almost totally cleared of all trees and was a dry, arid land. As time progressed, much of the land was covered with a hard coating of sand and dirt that protected much of the land from complete destruction and erosion. When the Jews returned to their land, they found that lying a couple of feet under the dry sanding crust, was the original fertile land which still had many of the stumps and roots of the trees that had been cleared.

7) #7: The land will provide the means for the redemption of a Chosen People: The land of Canaan became one of the nation’s most precious possessions. One can therefore understand why few things have cut as deeply into the heart of the people of Israel than to be deported from their land. God had warned them that if they did not remain true to Him, He would deport Israel but the people refused to believe Him and so they continued to practice idolatry and wickedness. Therefore 2700 years ago, God removed the ten Northern tribes from the land and scatted them all over the world. A hundred years later, he did the same to Judah, Benjamin, and Levi as He allowed the Babylonian empire to carry them into captivity. However, in His Mercy he allowed these three tribes back into the land for another 600 years until he removed them in 70 AD to join the other tribes in exile among the Gentiles.

This was not God’s punishment but His chastisement. He knew to bring them back to Himself where they would forever stay He had to hit them where it hurt the most. And so for the last 2000 years Israel has remained as a whole out of the land.

Things changed in 1947 when Israel was given entrance back into the land to form a nation. Since that time Jews from all over the world have continued to flock back to their home land. This return has sparked a renewed interest in their Old Testament religious roots and the desire to worship God through the offering of sacrifices. However, this is not what God desires from them. He rather wants them to give Him their hearts which they are not yet ready to do. The land will therefore continue to be used of God to further chasten their hearts as He will allow them to sign a peace pack with the Antichrist and then 3½ years later flee for their lives in their own land as Satan seeks to destroy the nation (Rev. 12:13-17). It will be as they are hunted down in the land of Canaan and back into a corner with no place to run, that the Israelite nation will turn to God and their Messiah, Jesus Christ, and seek His salvation.

8) #8: The land will provide the means for universal redemption: in the land of Canaan Christ will set up His government over the whole world and He will set His temple upon a mountain in Israel. All the believing survivors of the Tribulation and all of their descendents born during the Millennium will go to the Land of Canaan to learn about God and their need of His salvation. (Zech. 8:20-23; Isa. 66:20; 56:1-7)

Isa 2:2-5, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord 's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” NKJV

Zech 14:16-17, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. and it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.” NKJV