The Israel to Come
The world has a plan for Israel. It thinks it knows how to bring peace to this tortured land. Yet all its attempts—the Camp David Accords, Oslo, Wye River, and the Road Map to peace—have only led to more terrorist attacks and suicide bombers. The current “two-state solution” to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel will fare no better.
As the world slices and dices the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into indefensible, noncontiguous entities, Scripture presents a different peace plan––one that is forever settled in the heavens because it was decreed by the Lord of heaven and earth.
Some of Israel’s God-ordained boundaries are difficult to pinpoint on a modern map. A number of scholars have gone so far as to say Israel will extend from Egypt as far north as Turkey and as far east as Babylon. Others disagree. We can see from Scripture, however, that Israel will one day encompass the hotly disputed areas of Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, as well as a large portion of Lebanon and a small part of Syria.
The first mention of the land grant is in Genesis 15:18–21:
The Lᴏʀᴅ 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—the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Gen. 15:18–21).
The borders of this land mass appear in Numbers, Ezekiel, and Obadiah. The southern and western borders are the easiest to ascertain. Although the River of Egypt may refer to the Nile, many evangelical scholars believe, as stated by Walter Kaiser, that “it is more accurately placed at the Wadi el-‘Arish which reaches the Mediterranean Sea at the town of El-‘Arish, some ninety miles east of the Suez Canal and almost fifty miles southwest of Gaza.”1
The southern border can easily be traced around the Dead (“Salt”) Sea (Num. 34:3–5) to Kadesh Barnea to the River of Egypt (the Wadi) and out to the Mediterranean Sea, which is the western border: “The south side, toward the South, shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook [the Wadi, also called the Brook of Egypt; v. 5] to the Great Sea [Mediterranean]” (Ezek. 47:19).
The northern border is more difficult to place. Because God gave Israel the land of the Hittites, and Hittites appear to have occupied Turkey, some scholars say Israel eventually will occupy Turkey as well. However, that seems doubtful. Also, some of the cities used as markers do not exist today. What is clear is that the border comes extremely close to Damascus, Syria, which some commentators include as part of future Israel.
This shall be the border of the land on the north: from the Great Sea [Mediterranean], by the road to Hethlon, as one goes to Zedad, Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim (which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath), to Hazar Hatticon….Thus the boundary shall be from the Sea to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus; and as for the north, northward, it is the border of Hamath. This is the north side (Ezek. 47:15–17).
Charles Dyer identified Zedad “with the town of Sadad about 25 miles north of Damascus.”2 Charles Ryrie, however, said it is “possibly a town about 65 miles NE. of Damascus.”3 Either way gives Israel land that is now part of Syria.
From there the boundary descends to include the highly disputed Golan Heights. It travels “from between Hauran and Damascus, and between Gilead and the land of Israel, along the Jordan, and along the eastern side of the sea [Dead Sea]” (v. 18).
When Israel entered the Promised Land, God told the Israelites they would not get Edom, Moab, or Ammon (Dt. 2:4–5, 8–9, 18–19), all of which today are in Jordan. However, some interpret Obadiah 19 to mean that Israel will possess some of that land in the Millennium. Wrote Ryrie:
[Israel] shall possess the Negev, that is, Mount Esau, etc. In other words, the boundaries of the Davidic kingdom will include the territory formerly occupied by Edom in the south, the inhabitants of the Philistine lowland (Gath, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza), the territory of Ephraim and Samaria, Gilead across the Jordan River, and as far north as Zarephath (between Tyre and Sidon).4
Zarephath is in Lebanon.
Even though some of the biblical landmarks are difficult to pinpoint today, the Bible still provides enough information to allow a glimpse of the breadth and scope of the wonderful inheritance that awaits the Jewish people in the Millennium.
Wrote commentator Allen P. Ross: “Israel has never possessed this land in its entirety, but she will when Christ returns to reign as Messiah.”5
What a day it will be when Israel will finally possess all God has given it. King Messiah will reign on the throne of David for 1,000 years, “and the kingdom [the entire Earth] shall be the Lᴏʀᴅ’s” (Obad. 21).
- Walter C. Kaiser Jr., “The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View,” Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981), 302–12 <http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/01-Genesis/Text/Articles-Books/Kaiser_PromisedLand_BSac.pdf>.
- Charles H. Dyer, “Ezekiel,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary (hereafter cited as BKC), John F. Walvood and Roy B. Zuck, eds.(Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1:1315.
- Charles C. Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible NKJV (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 265 n Numbers 34:7–9.
- Ibid., 1404 n Obadiah 19–20.
- Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” BKC, 1:56.