September 21, 2021
"When you divide the land by lot for inheritance, you are to set aside an offering for the Lord, a holy portion of the land."
“When you divide the land by lot for inheritance, you are to set aside an offering for the Lord, a holy portion of the land.” Ezekiel 45:1
If you want to start a fight in the Middle East today, all you have to do is ask a simple question: Who truly owns this land?
Talk of land ownership can become a source of heated debate in almost any country, but most certainly so in Israel. To the exiled Israelites along the banks of the Keber River, whose land and homes had been taken away from them, talk of future land ownership must have been very encouraging. Definitely, more encouraging to them than to us who read this chapter 2,500 years later!
Israel had been formed on the promise that everyone would be given his own portion of land to live and work. (Genesis 12:17) This was not simply the hopeful promise of a religious sage or the empty promise of political leader. The assurance came straight from the God of all creation! Israel’s exile had shown (more clearly than anything else) the disturbance not only of Israel’s dream but also of God’s favor. No doubt, they listened with great attentiveness as Ezekiel now described the division of the land in the New Jerusalem. Once again, Israel would have the opportunity to return to the land, fortunes restored. But more importantly, they would return to God’s abundant favor, the source of all blessings hoped-for.
The promise of the land of Canaan to the patriarchs’ descendants was an everlasting promise, which brings us to modern Israel. Many claims that God’s favor toward His people, the faithful of Israel (Remember: there are Jews who follow Jesus), has somehow failed or been replaced by the Church. Gentile Christians must recall that they are “grafted-in” to the existing covenant promises to retain a proper perspective on God’s relationship to Israel and how both Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus fit together in the big picture. (Re-read Romans 11:11-31)
It may not be a popular stance, socially, academically, or politically, but God has not forgotten His people or His promises. That fact alone should give Gentile believers in Jesus reason to hope! Because if God can be trusted to keep His promises to the faithful of Israel, He can be trusted to keep His promises to Gentile believers…those of us who are not Jewish but are considered “grafted-in” through Messiah.
In that sense, the question, “Who owns this land?” becomes irrelevant in the greater kingdom of Messiah. It is irrelevant because the Jerusalem to be inherited in the Olam HaBa (Kingdom to come) is not the Jerusalem one visits today. That is, for those of us who await the New Jerusalem, there is no piece of property we hold eternally sacred! This earth will pass away. That frees us to serve the Messiah with no earthly distractions or affections. We serve the Messiah, who chose to atone for our sin, while we (both Jew & Gentile) were yet sinners, so we could be ONE flock, shepherded by Messiah Jesus, awaiting a common, undisputed Heaven-made homeland. (John 10:16)