Immediately after the three Pilgrimage Feasts are offered to Israel in the “Book of the Law” which Moses is writing during his encounter with Yah at the top of the mountain, the focus shifts. In Exodus 23:20 we hear the words that describe the ultimate goal of all of Scriptural promises—“to bring you to the place that I have prepared.” The misnomer that the ultimate goal of a believer is to live in Heaven with God results in a series of other false assumptions and scriptural misunderstandings. The seed of every prophecy is planted in The Torah, and what motivates us on a daily basis (aka our “vision”) needs to align with the narrative of the entire Bible from the first tree of life to the last tree of life. This proverb could well be inserted here, as a preface to Exodus 23:20.
Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps The Law, happy is he!”
I don’t know a good way to implant this vision if you don’t already have it, without quoting verse after verse, so here we go:
The vision, without which we perish, begins with the promise to Abram in Genesis 12:7.
“Then YHWH appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Then, after some turmoil in Egypt (sound familiar?) Abram gets more info, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)
This is real physical measurable place, this very spot can be stood upon today, and this same view of Abram’s hasn’t changed much at all.
Later in his life, Abram is still struggling with keeping this vision as a motivating factor. He still does not have an heir, and what good is this huge plot of land without a huge family? (It’s not his concern just yet, but what good is a huge family without a huge plot of land?) The promise is then renewed for a third time, in Genesis 15:18-21, “On that day YHWH made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” The two former promises of YHWH just officially became a Covenant. YHWH will make a huge people, and give them a huge piece of real estate.
Abram, as we know, was asleep while that covenant was made—and the next chapter shows Abram failing at his faith by forcing this promised seed through Hagar, rather than waiting for the miracle with Sarah. El Shaddai (He does not call Himself YHWH during this Covenant process) says in Genesis 17:7-8, “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” This is where Abram becomes Abraham, and circumcision is added as physical sign for every following generation—a reminder of who we are and where we are headed as a people. This leads to the story of Isaac’s birth, as the true promised seed that will eventually inherit the promise of the land.
Before we get to Isaac, however, both Abraham and Sarah actually do take root in the land, through their graves. Here, in Genesis 23:17-20, we see the first contract of ownership between the current residents and Abraham and his descendants.
“So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.”
After burying Abraham, the promise of land to Isaac is reiterated in Genesis 26:2-5, just so there’s no confusion: “And YHWH appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
With Isaac’s offspring there is suddenly a new fork in the road. Esau would rather have his immediate fleshly desires satisfied than to hold on to a promise—so he sells his right as heir to the promise to Jacob. Regardless of how we feel about that particular transaction, Yah is more than happy to have Jacob take the promise and run. “I am YHWH the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
In Jacob’s old age, despite actually living in the land of promise, and despite actually having a large family, Yah tells him this in Genesis 46:3, “And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” Yah was not only OK with Jacob leaving the land for a season, it was all part of the larger plan—and Yah was with him the whole time.
Upon Jacob’s death, he is embalmed and brought back to the land by Joseph himself. Let’s not also forget as we rejoin the newly liberated Hebrews in Exodus 23, that an embalmed Joseph—a 400 year old embalmed Joseph, is being toted around through the wilderness with them. They have one goal in mind—bringing dead Joseph back to be buried in the land of promise.
This completes the pattern of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and later Joseph–every one of them left the land of promise for one reason or another—and every one of them made it back and took their permanent inheritance after death.
Let me re-underscore that…AFTER DEATH.
In the Gospel of Luke, the Sadducee’s (who do not believe in resurrection) tried to trap Yeshua by asking a complex question about post resurrection life, “…but that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls YHWH the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.” (Luke 20:35-40)
Yeshua’s answers always make me feel better about how I quote verses when I don’t have my handy electronic tools. “In the passage about the bush…” This two line teaching on how the Torah clearly teaches about the resurrection shows how our endless “prove it to me” verse-by-verse expositions was not the nature of how Messiah knew or taught Torah. He was at such a higher level of understanding and accordingly spoke and taught with authority—because he was the Authority! These events and stories about Moses in the Torah contain the truth, and Messiah was (is!) that truth made flesh. His resurrection wasn’t just proof of life after death—he was the model showing how it will work for us upon our own resurrection. And not just our model–Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well. For us to be permanently planted in the promised land, first we have to die. As Messiah said, Yah is not the God of the dead, but of the living…so, in that day, all who are in Messiah will rise from the grave and join him in the land for 1000 years.
To illustrate this, the next generation of Israelites are lead into the land, by none other than Yeshua (Joshua) himself! Here’s how that prophecy is spelled out, right here in Exodus 23:20-22, as the main vision Israel will inherit—if they will agree to the Covenant at Shavuot and abide by it.
“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on The Way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”
From the day that Joshua led the people into the land and until this very day, the promises contained in this chapter of Exodus have not been fulfilled. This is because of the CONDITIONAL nature of this promise, “IF YOU OBEY HIM…” The land will not be permanently won via peace treaties, war, politics, or intrigue. The land will not be won by expanding vineyards, overcoming boycotts, or partnering with various ministries with monthly donations. No earthy King, Prime Minister, or President has any hope for fulfilling the promise of Yah’s people for a peaceful rest in the Promised Land. If David couldn’t do it, there’s only one King who will. That King will succeed because during His reign Satan will be bound and powerless for the entire time. Only then will we be able to perfectly keep our part of the bargain!
Even though Messiah’s disciples were born and raised in the boundaries of the promised land, they still knew that they were not actually living in “The” Promised Land (upper-case). They assumed that ushering in the perfect Kingdom must be the entire purpose of Messiah’s ministry—what else could it have been? So they asked him about it on the 40th day of Shavuot.
“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
The fulfillment of the Abrahamic Promise was not just future to Abraham, it passes through Yeshua’s first-coming unfulfilled as well. This means this promise stands for all of us who believe in the promised Seed who is Messiah himself. When that Seed falls from the sky, at a time that is “FIXED by the Father” and “not for us to know”, that’s when this offer in Exodus 23 comes to pass. That land was simply not given to “The Jews”, it was given to all of Yah’s people—
We don’t have to fight for it…
We just have to die for it.
If you don’t believe that land is your birthright, you might have been tricked into selling it for bowl of beans.
Tomorrow we are one day closer to the 7th Sabbath of Shavuot!