NT Connect: Hebrews 11:10; Revelation 21:1-27
Weekly Reading: Joshua 5-9
The Promised Land
Land features prominently at key points in the stories of Genesis and Exodus. Adam and Eve were placed in a garden. When the Ark came to rest on dry land. Noah and his family were given the start to a cleansed world. When God called Abram (who became Abraham), he called him to a land (Genesis 12:1).
The land to which God called Abraham is the same land into which Joshua led the Israelites. This was the Promised Land. This was the land of their forefathers, the land God had redeemed them to occupy, and the land they had waited forty years to enter as they wandered in the desert. The Lord had promised Abraham a land, a people, and to be a blessing to the world, and at the beginning of the book of Joshua, all these promises seem to be coming true.
Abraham himself already had entered the land of promise, but he was living for so much more. “He was looking forward to the city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). The Promised Land – the land of Canaan – was not the end of the promise. Abraham looked forward to the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth when God would make all things new (Revelation 21:1-27). The new creation is the final and ultimate fulfillment of this land promise.
This does not diminish Canaan, for this land that Joshua conquered was central to the purposes of God. From this land of promise and from this chosen people, God would send the promised One, Jesus Christ, who would bring the promised blessing to the nations. God’s intention was never for merely a sliver of land but that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Christ came to extend God’s blessing to the whole world. He came that through faith in him people from all nations and ethnic groups and languages would come to know the Lord and to live in his presence. The great promise of the new creation is God’s presence. God will dwell among his people (Revelation 21:3).
For those who are trusting in Christ, we know with Abraham that this world is not our home. We are “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13), and so we live not for this world but for the new creation, our promised land.