“They yearn for a better land . . . So, God has prepared a city for them!” (Hebrews 11:16)
By Richard Allen – January 22, 2024
It’s no wonder that I’ve spent most of my life as a musician, having a mother who played the piano extremely well, and a father who loved music. He bought many Albums of various music styles, and brought them into our home, so, I was exposed to great music from a young age. One piece I remember quite well was the soundtrack of the 1960 motion picture, Exodus! This 3 ½ hour Epic depicted the founding of the Modern State of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent struggle of the Jewish people to once again inhabit the land of Palestine. The LP (long playing) Album had the photo displayed at the top, showing an arm raised, holding a gun with torch flames. This left a memorable impression on me as an eight year old.
Since the movie was quite lengthy, I didn’t see it until many years later as an adult. The star-studded cast certainly engendered sympathy for the plight of modern-day Jews, especially knowing their recent suffering in the Holocaust during World War II, and the need for the Jewish people to secure a homeland where they would be safe. The theme song to the movie, Exodus actually had the lyrics added to the melody a year later in 1961 by Singer, Pat Boone. Pat was an Evangelical Christian, and was so moved by both the movie and the hauntingly beautiful melody composed by Ernest Gold, that he wrote what was called the “Second Jewish National Anthem,” the theme to Exodus! The lyrics that are most remembered are the opening line and title of the song: “This land is mine, God gave this land to me.” Pat Boone was interviewed in 1990 and gave the following account of the lyrics he wrote for the song -
Interviewer: “Boone made many trips to Israel after releasing this song, which he considers the most important in his catalog. ‘Not only has it become the second Jewish national anthem,’ he told Songfacts, ‘But it evokes Biblical truth about God calling his people back together after they were dispersed around the world, and they would come and Israel would be born in a day. That's a prophetic utterance in the Bible, that a nation would be born again in a day - and it was, on May 14, 1948.’ " https://www.songfacts.com/facts/pat-boone/the-exodus-song-this-land-is-mine
So, the question might be asked: “What is an Evangelical Christian doing writing the lyrics to the second National Anthem of Israel?” The answer is, “Pat Boone – like myself and many others who came to faith in Christ in our modern age – represent Christians who no longer understand their birthright in Christ, nor do they understand what God has planned for those who love Him. Like Muslims who also Fight for Real Estate in this life, Evangelical Christians’ and Muslims’ views of God’s blessings and acceptance are mostly physical, earthly and aimed to please carnal desires. Like Islam, which holds “all of its Holy Sites” (Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem) as sacred, it appears that modern Christians have changed their views about the “holy land, heaven and God’s blessings.” Much of the Church no longer sees itself as “pilgrims” passing through on their way to heaven, but rather, as helpers in Israel’s struggle to secure the Promised Land where worship of God will finally be accomplished in the flesh with an earthly temple made of stone.
In my early years as a believer, like most Evangelicals, I was exposed to a system of Biblical interpretation known as Dispensationalism. But the title “Christian-Zionism” may be a more appropriate term to describe this school of thought. Being a Believer who always seemed to ask questions (some were unwelcome), I did eventually figure out that this system of interpretation – while it does have its strengths – has one serious flaw: This teaching once again encourages the People of God to be Fighting for Real Estate. I can’t overstate this enough. As a Christian from a western country like the U.S.A., I recognize National Israel as a mostly democratic government in a sea of feudal Sheiks, Royalty and Dictators who populate the Mid-East. National Israel is not only a more stable government, but a better ally than anyone else in the region. So don’t imagine that I am in any way “antisemitic” if I apply the teachings of the New Covenant to our discussion of God’s purpose and plan for humanity. Notwithstanding – the verse I’ve quoted in the subtitle above from Hebrews 11:16 has a different perspective about the “promised land.” This verse teaches:
“But as it is, they yearn for a better land - that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (TOL - Tree of Life Version).
This verse comes from the Book of Hebrews, written to admonish and encourage Jewish Christians not to return to Judaism, and not to concern themselves about the props of the Old Covenant that were “ready to vanish” (Hebrews 8:13). If God were really concerned that the Jewish people have a physical land in Palestine, this would have been the best book in the New Testament in which to authoritatively teach that concept. Nor does the writer to the Hebrews prophetically tell them that they would one day come back to the land, rebuild the Temple, and begin to offer Bloody Sacrifices on an Altar to please God – after Jesus’ perfect and final sacrifice at Calvary. This would certainly be a step backwards. Not only did the writer not teach any of this, but over and over again he told them that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary’s cross had completely put away sin by His sacrifice, and satisfied the need for a bloody offering, forever:
“For Christ has entered into heaven itself to appear now before God as our Friend. It was not in the earthly place of worship that he did this, for that was merely a copy of the real temple in heaven. Nor has he offered himself again and again, as the high priest down here on earth offers animal blood in the Holy of Holies each year. If that had been necessary, then he would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But no! He came once for all, at the end of the age, to put away the power of sin forever by dying for us” (Hebrews 9:24-26).
This passage is only one of many in the New Testament which I could site, that explain God’s economy drastically changed at Calvary, and there is no going back to the old ways. God is currently building a Temple, one living stone upon another, to make Himself a Spiritual Habitation:
“Now you Gentiles are not foreigners or strangers any longer, but are citizens together with ·God’s holy people. You belong to God’s ·family. You are like a building that was built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Christ Jesus Himself is the most important stone in that building, and that whole building is joined together in Christ. He makes it grow and become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Christ you, too, are being ·built together with the Jews into a place where God lives through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Sadly, there are many Christians today who do not understand the implications of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. They pit Jew and Gentile against one another, somehow supposing that God had a separate salvation for the physical descendants of Israel (i.e. the Jews), and the rest of us who are Gentiles. They teach that the Church is made up of Gentiles, and that they have a “heavenly kingdom,” whereas the Jewish People, God’s earthly people from the Old Covenant Era – are destined for an “earthly kingdom.” In this kingdom Jesus will rule for a thousand years, but then be rejected again by the whole world as His earthly kingdom comes to a bloody end, and He’s forced to destroy those He reigned over during His Millennial Kingdom with a sword coming from His mouth. These are fairy tales, not built on New Testament truths. I do want you to see there is a common theme with these men who fancy themselves great teachers: In the end, they have everyone Fighting for Real Estate! As I was also a student of this system of thought, I remember believing that God had a specific earthly plan for the Jewish people – apart from the Church and the Gospel. Jesus offered a different kind of salvation, one that provides spiritual deliverance from sin and Satan, and not salvation from Rome and Caesar. That’s why sinful men rejected Him. Men in the flesh always clamor: “This land is mine.”
I hope this series of Blogs helps ground the People of God, whom the New Covenant Refers to as “The New Man in Christ,” to understand: “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons with which we fight are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). I can’t promise that I’ll answer every question my readers have regarding the “End Times,” but I will give you honest answers with Biblical Support. We are not Fighting for Real Estate, nor do we long for some plot of ground. That’s what all man-made religions do. And in the process, support a despot or king who also wants to fight and kill for some territory in which they can reap earthly blessings.
In closing, I want to quote Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John Chapter 4:10-26. In this amazing passage, Jesus confronts a woman whose ethnic family also Fought over Real Estate – mostly with the Jews and other Gentiles. This woman heard Jesus’ promise to give her “living water,” which she thought might keep her from having to carry water jugs back and forth from Jacob’s well in Mount Gerizim. But as Jesus continued to talk and teach her, He gave her an amazing revelation about worship and a time that had now arrived, when men would no longer Fight for Real Estate:
“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, give me a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, I have no husband; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he’ ” (John 4:10-26).
We’ll have much more to say about this passage in Part #2 of Fighting for Real Estate!
Soli Deo Gloria!