The Promised Land is a term designating a region of the world that God promised as a heritage to His people, Israel (Genesis 12:7; 15:18–20). Promised Land is not the official name of Israel’s boundaries, but it conveys a larger meaning. The Promised Land was an endowment from Earth’s Creator to a specific people group, the children of Israel, in which they established their nation. Israel acquired the Promised Land only through God’s guidance and His miraculous intervention in history (Exodus 33:14–16; Psalm 44:1–8; 136:10–22).
The promise of a land for God’s people began in Genesis 12 when God appeared to Abram (Abraham) and told him that he had been chosen to be the father of many nations. God promised to bless Abram and lead him into a land that would belong to his offspring as a lasting heritage. God later confirmed this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:3) and then to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:13).
The boundaries of the Promised Land were from the River of Egypt (the Nile) to the Euphrates (Exodus 23:31). By the time Israel was ready to take the land, hundreds of years after Abraham, it was inhabited by pagan nations: Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites (Exodus 33:2). When it was time for the Israelites to inherit the Promised Land, God raised up Moses to bring His people out of slavery in Egypt and used Joshua to lead a military conquest of Canaan. The Promised Land includes modern-day Israel, including Gaza, the West Bank, and Jordan, as well as parts of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.
The term promised land has also been applied to any type of satisfying achievement or a state of realized dreams. Hebrews 6:8–10 alludes to the Promised Land when it recounts Abraham’s journey to his new home in Canaan and then equates that with our journey toward God’s heavenly city (Hebrews 6:16).
Christians sometimes refer to heaven and the future restoration of the earth as the Promised Land. God has promised a glorious eternal home for all those who love Him and have trusted in Christ Jesus for salvation. God’s eternal Promised Land is the heritage of all who come to Him through His Son (John 14:6).
As it relates to Israel’s losing the promise land, the Lord gave the Israelites this command: “Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.”Deuteronomy 4:40
This passage contains a conditional offer. Israel would have the Promised Land as they kept God’s “decrees and commands.” The Israelites had to obey God’s statutes in order to remain in the land. History reveals that the Israelites often disobeyed, resulting in temporary times of exile from their land.
However, the end of this passage notes that God is giving Israel the Promised Land “forever” The Hebrew phrase translated “forever” is a general statement, likely in reference to God’s original promise of a land to Abraham in Genesis 12.
There are both a conditional and unconditional aspect to God’s promise. God offered blessings within the Promised Land conditionally, related to the Israelites’ obedience. Yet God also made an unconditional vow that Israel would have the Promised Land “for all time.”
How long is “forever”? In the book of Revelation, we see Israel as a central focus. In the end times, Israel faces many difficulties, yet that tribulation concludes with the Messiah reigning from His throne in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The book concludes with a new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem. The promise of Deuteronomy 4:40 is a far-seeing promise, extending to the end of this world’s existence and even into the time of the new earth.
Many other passages of Scripture support the fact that Israel will possess the Promised Land forever. “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father” Genesis 26:3
The Lord also spoke to Jacob with similar words: “And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 28:13–14 (also Psalm 132:14; Isaiah 14;1; and Zechariah 2:3–5, 10–13)
Some have suggested that, because of God’s promises to Israel concerning the Promised Land, Christians should support the modern nation of Israel without reservation. Christians have many reasons to support the people of Israel, but this does not mean Christians must agree with every political decision made by the modern Israeli government. Instead, the focus is on God’s spiritual restoration of Israel (Romans 11:26) and the enduring promise to His chosen people.