THE PROMISED LAND
Hope of Reward. Matthew 19:27-29
Jesus did not rebuke Peter for inquiring about their future reward. In answer to his question He assured the disciples of a compensation that far exceeded their expectation and comprehension. In the kingdom of glory they would be kings ruling over the twelve nations of the saved. The "exceeding great and precious promises" of a "great recompense of reward" occupy a large place in the Scriptures and has been one of the chief factors in leading men and women to decisions for righteousness and against iniquity. The promises of "the inheritance of the saints in light" have made buoyant the spirits of the Christian pilgrims in all ages as they have journeyed through the enemy's country toward their home land. Faith is declared to be "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Most of the hopes of God's people center in the divine promises of rewards that are unseen because invisible except through the eye of faith.
Vision of Future
It was the promise of the restored dominion that buoyed up the drooping spirits of Adam and Eve after they were driven from Paradise. This was also the secret of Enoch's 300 year walk with God which ended in his translation. "But Enoch's heart was upon his eternal treasures. He had looked upon the celestial city. He had seen the King in His glory in the midst of Zion. The greater the existing iniquity, the more earnest was his longing for the home of God. While still on earth, he dwealt, by faith, in the realms of light." —Vol. 8:330, 331. The vision of the future reward was also one of the secrets of Christ's Calvary victory. "What sustained the Son of God in His betrayal and trial?—He saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied. He caught a view of the expanse of eternity, and saw the happiness of those who through His humiliation should receive pardon and everlasting life. … His eyes caught the sight of the redeemed. He heard the ransomed ones singing the song of Moses and the Lamb." —Id. 43, 44. See Heb. 12:2.
The Exodus Movement
It was his "respect unto the recompense of the reward" that influenced Moses to make the momentous decisions that resulted in his being chosen by the Lord to become the visible leader of the Exodus Movement. See Hebrews 11:24-27. Moses was able to endure all the privations and hardships of the journey from Egypt to Canaan because he kept his eyes on "Him who is invisible" and his faith centered on the promised rewards that were out of sight. It was the promises regarding the land of Canaan that made it possible to persuade the Israelites to leave Egypt and make the long and weary journey through the barren wilderness. The oft repetition of these promises helped keep the movement together and furnished inspiration for the marching multitudes. In time of crisis and discouragement, the hope of reward prevented them from returning to the land of their bondage.
Goodly Land. Exodus 3:7, 8.
The statement: "A land flowing with milk and honey" is a symbol of fertility and prosperity and is repeated twenty different times. The promised inheritance of the Hebrews is further described in Deuteronomy 6:10, 11; 11:10-12; Ezekiel 20:6. In Psalm 106:24 Palestine is called the "pleasant land" or "the land of desire." —Margin. The angel Gabriel describes the homeland of the Jews as "the glorious land" or "the goodly land." See Daniel 11:16. —Margin. When the twelve spies returned from a forty day tour of the promised land they reported that it was all that the Lord had promised and they brought samples of its fruit. Caleb and Joshua declared that it "is exceeding good land."
The Lord told the Israelites that the promised land would be an inheritance so they would not feel that they had obtained it on the basis of purchase or conquest. They were to inherit the land of promise. See Exodus 6:4, 8; Numbers 34:2; Psalm 105:44. The fact that the land was a gift on the basis of inheritance was commemorated in a song. See Psalm 44:1-3. The size of this inheritance is given in Numbers 34:1-12. The territory of the two and one half tribes on the east side of the Jordan was to reach to the River Euphrates. "To the heights of Lebanon in the far distance, to the shores of the Great Sea, and away to the banks of the Euphrates in the east,—all was to be theirs." —P.P. 482. The promise was that it would be "a good land and large." That the Lord planned to gradually expand the land of promise to embrace the whole earth is evident from the fact that when the promise was made to Abraham it embraced the whole earth. See Romans 4:13.
Vision of Moses
Just before his death Moses was given a vision of the promised land from which he was to be excluded because of his sin of impatience. "And now a panoramic view of the land of promise was presented to him. Every part of the country was spread out before him, not faint and uncertain in the dim distance, but standing out clear, distinct, and beautiful to his delighted vision. In this scene it was presented, not as it then appeared, but as it would become, with God's blessing upon it, in possession of Israel. He seemed to be looking upon a second Eden. There were mountains clothed with cedars of Lebanon, hills gay with olives and fragrant with the odor of the vine, wide green plains bright with flowers and rich in fruitfulness, here the palm trees of the tropics, there waving fields of wheat and barley, sunny valleys musical with the ripple of brooks and the song of birds, goodly cities and fair gardens, lakes rich in 'the abundance of the seas', grazing flocks upon the hillsides, and even among the rocks the wild bee's hoarded treasure. It was indeed such a land as Moses, inspired by the Spirit of God, had described to Israel." —P.P. 472. This vision of God's prophet was then merged into a view of the whole earth when restored to its Edenic beauty and inhabited by the redeemed.
The promised land was already occupied by thirty nations each of which was greater in numbers than that of the Hebrews. These nations had been given opportunity to know Jehovah but they had rejected Him for the worship of false gods and had sinned away their day of grace. The Lord could not give the promised land to His people till these nations and their inhabitants had filled up the cup of their iniquity. This would happen in a specified generation. See Genesis 15:13-16. The nations and people occupying the promised land were to be "utterly" destroyed. See Deuteronomy 7:1, 2. The destroying would be done by the Lord through His destroying angel who would "cut them off." See Exodus 23:23; 33:1, 2. As weapons of destruction the Lord would use "hornets," "plagues," and "hailstones." See Exodus 23:28; Joshua 10:11.
The promised land of the Advent Movement is the heavenly Canaan which is the whole earth redeemed and restored to its original state. Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5; Hebrews 11:12-16. The heavenly Canaan like the earthly comes to God's people by inheritance and is a gift of God received by faith. Just as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the twelve patriarchs were pilgrims and strangers in a land which they "should after receive for an inheritance," so are all of God's people throughout the reign of sin, pilgrims and strangers in a world which will come to them by inheritance. This promised land is now occupied by wicked nations who will have been given every opportunity to know the Lord and His truth. The complete rejection of God's last warning message under the latter rain will fill up their cup of iniquity. The Lord cannot give the earth to His chosen people till the inhabitants of the earth have sinned away their day of grace. When "the times of the Gentiles" are "fulfilled" probation will close and the final preparation will be made for the saints to inherit the earth.
The Lord has promised to destroy utterly all earthly nations and all sinners. Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; Zephaniah 1:2, 3, 14-18; Isaiah 13:9; 24:1-6. This destruction will be accomplished by "plagues" and "great hailstones." Ezekiel 38:18-22; Revelation 16. The wicked will be burned up root and branch and shall "be ashes under the soles" of the feet of the righteous who inhabit the land. See Malachi 4:1-3. This destruction has been delayed in the mercy of God till the cup of iniquity is filled to the brim, and there is every evidence that the day of vengeance is at hand. "Evil workers have been treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath; and when the time fully comes that iniquity shall have reached the stated boundary of God's mercy, his forbearance will cease. When the accumulated figures in heaven's record books shall mark the sum of transgression complete, wrath will come, unmixed with mercy." —Vol. 5:524.
The heavenly Canaan is indeed a goodly land. The earth will be completely restored to its original Edenic state. Acts 3:30, 31. "Restitution" means to bring back to a former state of condition. The earth will be made "like Eden" and "like the garden of the Lord." —Isa. 51:3. Paul declared that "when the perfect state of things is come, all that is imperfect will be brought to an end." —1 Corinthians 13:10. —Wey. This perfect state of things is described in many texts. See Isaiah 11:4-9; 35:3-10; 60:18-21; 65:17-25; 66:22, 23; Revelation 21 and 22. After viewing the earthly Canaan from the summit of Mount Nebo Moses was given a vision of the new earth. "Still another scene opens to his view,—the earth freed from the curse, lovelier than the fair land of promise so lately spread out before him. There is no sin, and death cannot enter. There the nations of the saved find their eternal home. With joy unutterable, Moses looks upon the scene,—the fulfillment of a more glorious deliverance than his highest hopes have ever pictured. There earthly wanderings forever past, the Israel of God have at last entered the goodly land." —P.P. 477.
In the heavenly Canaan God's original purpose will be carried out "as if man had never fallen." Eden, which means "a delightful region" will be restored, and we can again enter Paradise, "the garden of all delights." "As the earth came from the hand of its Maker, it was exceedingly beautiful. Its surface was diversified with mountains, hills, and plains, interspersed with noble rivers and lovely lakes; but the hills and mountains were not abrupt and rugged, abounding in terrific steeps and frightful chasms, as they now do; the sharp ragged edges of earth's rocky frame-work were buried beneath the fruitful soil, which everywhere produced a luxuriant growth of verdure. There were no loathsome swamps or barren deserts. Graceful shrubs and delicate flowers greeted the eye at every turn. The heights were crowned with trees more majestic than any that now exist. The air, untainted by foul miasm, was clear and healthful. The entire landscape outvied in beauty the decorated grounds of the proudest palace." —Id. 44. All this is to be restored.
Highest Ambitions Realized
"There are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There the wide-spreading plains swell into hills of beauty, and the mountains of God rear their lofty summits. On these peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home." "There, immortal minds will contemplate with never failing delight the wonders of creative power, the mysteries of redeeming love. There will be no cruel, deceiving foe to tempt to forgetfulness of God. Every faculty will be developed, every capacity increased. The acquirement of knowledge will not weary the mind or exhaust the energies. There the grandest enterprises may be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations reached, the highest ambitions realized; and still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of mind and soul and body. All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of the redeemed." —G.C. 675, 677.
Source of Encouragement
Just as contemplations and conversations concerning the promised land cheered the Hebrew pilgrims on their journey through the wilderness, so the Advent people are encouraged to press on and not cast away their confidence because of the glories of the heavenly Canaan at the end of their journey. "There are revealed in these last days visions of future glory, scenes pictured by the hand of God, and these should be dear to His church. … We must have a vision of the future and of the blessedness of heaven." —Vol. 8:43, 44. "Let your imagination picture the home of the saved, and remember that it will be more glorious than your brightest imagination can portray." —S.C. 86. Pocket Edition. See 1 Corinthians 2:9.
The Home Land
Palestine was the homeland of the Hebrews as they were only sojourners in Egypt. As soon as they reached their homeland the Feast of Tabernacles was instituted to commemorate their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and "in memory of their pilgrim life in the wilderness." (P.P. 540). This great festival was a home-coming celebration and was also known as The feast of home-coming." It was never celebrated while Israel was in bondage or captivity in a foreign land. It was instituted as soon as they reached their homeland from Egyptian bondage and was re-instituted after they returned from captivity in Babylon. "The Feast of Tabernacles was the closing gathering of the year. It was God's design that at this time the people should reflect on His goodness and mercy. … The feast continued for seven days. … From far and near the people came, bringing in their hands a token of rejoicing. Old and young, rich and poor, all brought some gift as a tribute of thanksgiving to Him who had crowned the year with His goodness, and made His paths drop fatness. Everything that could please the eye, and give expression to the universal joy, was brought from the woods; the city bore the appearance of a beautiful forest. The feast was not only the harvest thanksgiving, but the memorial of God's protecting care over Israel in the wilderness. In commemoration of their tent life, the Israelites during the feast dwelt in booths or tabernacles of green boughs. … With sacred song and thanksgiving the worshipers celebrated this occasion." —D.A. 447, 448.
The Final Home Coming
This home-coming celebration was typical of the home-coming of the redeemed of the earth to the heavenly Canaan. See Revelation 14:1-5; 15:2-8; 19:1-9. The Revelator is given visions of the redeemed of earth in the heavenly land "clothed with white robes, and with palms in their hands" celebrating the antitypical Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering. See Revelation 7:9-17. The whole universe joins in the celebration of the greatest home-coming and thanksgiving celebration of all the ages. "The Feast of Tabernacles was not only commemorative, but typical. It not only pointed back to the wilderness sojourn, but, as the feast of harvest, it celebrated the ingathering of the fruits of the earth, and pointed forward to the great day of final ingathering, when the Lord of the harvest shall send forth His reapers to gather the tares together in bundles for the fire, and to gather the wheat into His garner. … And every voice in the whole universe will unite in joyful praise to God. … The people of God praised God at the Feast of Tabernacles as they called to mind His mercy in their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt and His tender care for them during their pilgrim life in the wilderness. They rejoiced also in the consciousness of pardon and acceptance, through the service of the day of atonement, just ended. But when the ransomed of the Lord shall have been safely gathered into the heavenly Canaan,—forever delivered from the bondage of the curse, under which 'the whole creation groaneth and travileth in pain together until now,'—they will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Christ's great work of atonement for men will then have been completed, and their sins will have been forever blotted out." —P.P. 541, 542.
It is during this great thanksgiving celebration of the final home-coming that the three-fold doxology of Rev. 5 is sung by the cherubim guardians of the throne of God with the twenty-four elders, the innumerable angelic host with their seven-fold ascription of praise to the Lamb, and ending with a mighty Hallelujah chorus of praise to God and the Lamb in which every creature in the universe participates. In the great home-coming celebration the triple doxology breaks out beyond the throne room of the celestial temple to all creation. "Finally, all creation affected by the fall and embraced in the provisions of redemptive restoration reverberates with loyal praises to God and His Lamb, offering up unto them in thankful voice from all those spheres all 'blessing, and honor, and glory, and power.' We can well understand the thrill of rapturous anticipation that will at this time animate all the waiting creation when we read a passage like Rom. 8:18-21!" —"Revelation, the Crown Jewel of Biblical Prophecy." Stevens, p. 126.
Waiting for Celebration
The apostle Paul describes the whole universe waiting in joyful anticipation for this great thanksgiving celebration when the Advent Movement completes its journey and all the saints enter the heavenly Canaan: "Why, what we now suffer I count as nothing in comparison with the glory which is soon to be manifested in us. For all Creation, gazing eagerly as if with outstretched neck, is waiting and longing to see the manifestation of the sons of God. For the Creation fell into subjection to failure and unreality (not of its own choice, but by the will of him who so subjected it.) Yet there was always the hope that at last the Creation itself would also be set free from the thraldom of decay so as to enjoy the liberty that will attend the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole Creation is groaning together in the pains of childbirth until this hour. And more than that, we ourselves, though we possess the Spirit as a foretaste and pledge of the glorious future, yet we ourselves inwardly sigh, as we wait and long for open recognition as sons through the deliverance of our bodies." —Romans 8:18-23. Weymouth.