So the Lord
gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they
possessed it and lived in it. And
the Lord gave them rest on every
side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all
their enemies stood before them; the Lord
gave all their enemies into their hand.
Not one of the good promises which the Lord
had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. - Joshua
I have on more
than one occasion heard Bible teacher Chuck Missler say that there is only one piece
of real estate on planet earth where God has specifically said that it belongs
to a specific people and that is Israel.
Yet, that specified land is the most contested on the entire
planet. This is true because God
has spoken specifically on the matter.
The fact that God' s clear Word is contested by so many means that Satan
is behind such a consensus.
The arrival of
the modern state of Israel on the world scene in 1948 was a big boon to the
premillennial understanding of the Bible.
This vindicates- in history- our biblical belief that God has a future
plan for the land of Israel and the Jewish people. In spite of these developments, there are a group of
evangelicals who think that the current state of Israel has nothing to do with
God' s biblical promises. How could
anyone who claims to believe the Bible hold to such error?
Some Believe That
Israel Is Finished
increasing number of anti-Zionists, usually advocates of some kind of
replacement theology, have been using a misinterpretation of Joshua 21:43- 45 as
a prooftext, which they believe nullifies God' s land promises to Israel. They present God as Someone who is
looking to discharge promises, in a legalistic way, by, in essence saying, " I
have fulfilled the letter of the law on that one, now I can mark it off of my
list of obligations." They claim
that God has discharged all His promises to Israel regarding the land because
of the statement in Joshua 21.
the process of making this claim, they either ignore or claim that God' s
eternal and perpetual promises to Israel about her land are no longer in force
today. They want to do away with
Israel and they think they have found a biblical passage that supports their
un-biblical notion. At least,
that' s what they think.
is not surprising that Gary DeMar is one who believes as such. He says concerning Israel' s future:
" the text says nothing about the restoration of Israel to her land as a
fulfillment of some covenantal obligation. All the land promises that God made to Israel were fulfilled
(Joshua 21:43-45)."  DeMar' s perspective should not surprise
us since he believes that virtually all prophecy has already been
fulfilled. He believes on that
basis that the modern state of Israel has no legitimate biblical basis.
Stephen Sizer, also believes that the Joshua 21 passage ends any future claims
by the Jews to the Land of Israel.
Sizer says, " To the claim that certain promises have yet to be
fulfilled, Joshua is emphatic, ' Not one of all the Lord' s good promises to
the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.' "  Replacement theologian, Keith Mathison,
declares, " Joshua 21:43- 45 explicitly declares that all the land that God promised Israel was given to
them."  So have the land promises to Israel
been totally fulfilled so that there is no hope at all for national
Israel? The answer is NO!
What Does It Really Mean?
survey of commentaries reveal, that virtually no one takes such an
understanding of this passage in the way outlined by the above anti-Zionists. That all of Israel' s land promises have
forever been fulfilled in Joshua make not sense. Instead, most commentators see the opposite problem, as
noted by John Calvin who says, " How then can these two things be reconciled,
that God, as he had promised, gave possession of the land to the people, and
yet they were excluded from some portion by the power or obstinate resistance
of the enemy?"  Calvin does not see this fulfilling
God' s land obligations to Israel instead he sees the opposite problem. Calvin offers the following solution:
In order to
remove this appearance of contradiction, it is necessary to distinguish between
the certain, clear, and steadfast faithfulness of God in keeping his promises,
and between the effeminacy and sluggishness of the people, in consequence of
which the benefit of the divine goodness in a manner slipped through their
hands. . . . The whole comes to
this, that it was owing entirely to their own cowardice that they did not enjoy
the divine goodness in all its fullness and integrity.
a view is even supported by outspoken, anti-Zionist, Colin Chapman, who says,
" There are many indications in the, however, that the conquest of the land was
never complete (e.g. Joshua 13:1- 32; Judges 1:1- 36), and that many of the
original inhabitants continued to live alongside the Israelites (e.g. Joshua
9:1- 27)." 
emphasis of this summary statement in the book of Joshua (21:43- 45) must be
seen against the backdrop of the Lord' s overall charge and promise to give them
the land in 1:2- 11. Joshua is
recording the historical facts that God was faithful, even when the tribes of
Israel were only partially true to their word. Keil and Delitzsch explain this aspect to us as follows:
fact that many a tract of country still remained in the hands of the
Canaanites, the promise that the land of Canaan should be given to the house of
Israel for a possession had been fulfilled; for God had not promised the
immediate and total destruction of the Canaanites, but only their gradual
extermination (Ex. xxiii. 29, 30; Deut. vii. 22). And even though the Israelites never came into undisputed
possession of the whole of the promised land, to the full extent of the
boundaries laid down in Num. xxxiv. 1- 12, never conquering Tyre and Sidon for
example, the promises of God were no more broken on that account than they were
through the circumstance, that after the death of Joshua and the elder his
contemporaries, Israel was sometimes hard pressed by the Canaanites; since the
complete fulfilment of this promise was inseparably connected with the fidelity
of Israel to the Lord.
21:43- 45 must be understood within the overall context of the entire book, not
simply trotted out as prooftext, which if not examined within the broader
context of Joshua, appear to the ignorant as an argument of disinheritance of
the land from Israel. Adrian Jeffers set the broader context of Joshua:
The Book of Joshua
clearly shows that Israel conquered the land in Canaan in two major campaigns
(Joshua 10, 11). At the end of
these campaigns a summary is given (" So Joshua took all that land, the
hill-country . . ." 11:16-20) which indicates that his work was done, the
Conquest was completed. That this
also is somewhat ideal is seen in that chapter 13:1-6 says " there remaineth yet
very much land to be possessed . . ." and describes the various areas remaining
with a list of unconquered cities (cf. Judges 1:27ff.). A similar example is given near the end
of the book (Joshua 21:43-35- Israel possessed all the land, all their enemies
were delivered, and all that Jehovah promised came to pass). Yet the Book of Judges makes it plain
that this was not the case. Again
the command to dispossess all the enemies in the land and to occupy their
territory (Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:23-31, Numbers 34:2, Deuteronomy 1:7, 8,
etc.) has a similar implication.
Ideally Israel was to dispossess all their enemies, but in actual fact
many were left behind, and these became a snare to them. In fact it is indicated that this was
part of the will of God- in order to, discipline them (Joshua 23:12, 13, Judges
Faithful Even When Men Fail
theme here is the faithfulness of God in fulfilling his promises. God did his part," explains Trent
Butler. " No matter what the
political situation of Israel in a later generation, be it the division of the
kingdom, the fall of the northern kingdom, or the destruction of Jerusalem and
the Exile, Israel could not blame God.
God had faithfully done for Israel what he promised. Blame belonged on Israel' s shoulders,
not God."  John Walvoord echoes this understanding
and says, " The Lord had not failed to keep His promise even though Israel had
failed by faith to conquer all the land."  Donald Campbell speaks clearly to the
issue in the following:
have insisted that the statement in Joshua 21:43 means that the land promise of
the Abrahamic Covenant was fulfilled then. But this cannot be true because later the Bible gives
additional predictions about Israel possessing the land after the time of
Joshua (e.g., Amos 9:14- 15).
Joshua 21:43, therefore, refers to the extent of the land as outlined in
Numbers 34 and not to the ultimate extent as it will be in the messianic
kingdom (Gen. 15:18- 21). Also
though Israel possessed the land at this time it was later dispossessed,
whereas the Abrahamic Covenant promised Israel that she would possess the land
forever (Gen. 17:8).
fact there are a number of passages written after the time of Joshua that
promises a future for Israel (Isa. 60:18, 21; Jer. 23:6- 6; 24:5- 6; 30:18;
31:31- 34; 32:37- 40; 33:6- 9; Ezek. 28:25- 26; 34:11- 12; 36:24- 26; 37:1- 14, 21- 25;
39:28; Hosea 3:4- 5; Joel 2:18- 29; Micah 2:12; 4:6- 7; Zeph. 3:19- 20; Zech.
8:7- 8; 13:8- 9). In addition,
Deuteronomy 30:3- 6 speaks of a still future restoration in belief. I believe that this will take place
just before the second coming of Christ.
Look at Amos 9:14- 15, it is one of the clearest, future restoration
" Also I will restore
the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and
live in them, they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make
gardens and eat their fruit. I
will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from
their land which I have given them," says the Lord
Bible is clear that Israel has a national future in which she will dwell in
blessing in her land. This will be
after she has been converted to Jesus as her Messiah. However, in the mean time, the current regathering of Israel
in unbelief is for the purpose of putting God' s covenant people through the
fire of tribulation, which will result in the salvation of the remnant. If one misses the clear message of this
biblical teaching it is only because their have a bias against this view. This explains why anti-Zionists evangelicals
have abandoned the normal, literal interpretative approach of Scripture and are
guilty of reading back into the text their a priori replacement theology. They have exchanged proper exegesis of Holy Writ for a false
theologizing. In the process of
developing their anti-Zionist doctrines, their rhetoric is increasingly sounding
like Muslim Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. I would like to ask them, " What biblical texts speak
specifically of this people?"