How is the theme of Israel's land inheritance fulfilled in Christ?

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When we think about the question of how Israel's land inheritance is fulfilled in the first and second comings of the Lord Jesus, we really have to go all the way back and start with Adam. And what I have in mind here is the way that the Lord, when he made man and woman in his own image and likeness, he blessed them and said to them be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth — so they're to fill all the lands with those who bear the image and likeness of God — and then he told them to subdue the earth and to have dominion over the animal kingdom. And it's very interesting, in Joshua 18:1, when the people of Israel have come into the holy land, there's this statement at the end of Joshua 18:1 that says the land — and in Hebrew, this is erets — it lay subdued, and it uses the same term from Genesis 1:28 before them, so that what Adam was supposed to accomplish for all the earth, to subdue all the earth, Israel, as they come into the land, the land is subdued before them. And I think that probably Adam's responsibility in subduing the earth was to expand the borders of the Garden of Eden until all the world was like a place where God was present with his people. And then similarly, with the people of Israel as they come into the Land of Promise, I think their responsibility is to expand the borders of the land until all the world is covered with those who live in God's place, as God's people, under God's law. And essentially, I would argue that this is what is going on in the church as well. As we seek to make disciples of all nations, what we're doing is extending the realm in which God's people are in God's place under God's teachings and instructions. And so, Jesus has opened up a way for all nations to be incorporated, and then at the second coming, the book of Revelation proclaims that he is going to definitively be the ultimate Joshua, so to speak. He is going to be the conqueror who… You know, the book of Hebrews, it says that Joshua didn't give rest to the land and Jesus is the one who will come, and he will subdue the land in a way that Adam failed to do and in a way that Joshua failed to do. So, Jesus will come as the true conqueror, as the world's true king, and he will subdue all the earth.

Answer by Dr. James M. Hamilton

Dr. James M. Hamilton is Professor of Biblical Theology at Southern Seminary. Before teaching at Southern Seminary, Dr. James Hamilton served as assistant professor of biblical studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Houston campus and was the preaching pastor at Baptist Church of the Redeemer.