Question: "What is the Promised Land?"
Answer: 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 and 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. For example, the World Series might be called baseball’s “promised land.” Or someone may say, “After receiving a significant raise, Joe moved his family out of the projects and into the promised land.” Hebrews 11:8–10 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 (verse 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). A familiar hymn by Samuel Stennett describes the anticipation Christians feel as we move toward our heavenly home:
“On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
O who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.”