Friday, June 14, 2019

Israel in the Land of Canaan: Perfect Spot to be a Light to the Nations

The nation of Israel, in the land of Canaan, was God's institution for His worship, for passing on the truth about the coming Messiah, and for preaching the gospel to the nations both in picture through the sacrificial system and through direct calls to the nations to repentance and faith in Christ in texts such as: "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in him" (Psalm 2:12); see Truth from the Torah here for more information).  Have you ever thought about the location in which God put the land of Canaan in relation to His purpose that Israel be a light to the nations?

The location of Israel was perfect for reaching Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Near East.  It was also the center of international trade routes.  Have you thought about how much less effective of a location the nation would have had if God had put it, say, in Madagascar?

Fairbairn comments as follows:

Proceeding, however, to a closer view of the subject, we notice, first, the region actually selected for a possession of an inheritance to the covenant people. The land of Canaan occupied a place in the ancient world that entirely corresponded with the calling of such a people. It was of all lands the best adapted for a people who were at once to dwell in comparative isolation, and yet were to be in a position for acting with effect upon the other nations of the world. Hence it was said by Ezekiel1 to have been “set in the midst of the countries and the nations” the umbilicus terrarum. In its immediate vicinity lay both the most densely-peopled countries and the greater and more influential states of antiquity,—on the south, Egypt, and on the north and east, Assyria and Babylon, the Medes and the Persians. Still closer were the maritime states of Tyre and Sidon, whose vessels frequented every harbor then known to navigation, and whose colonies were planted in each of the three continents of the old world. And the great routes of inland commerce between the civilized nations of Asia and Africa lay either through a portion of the territory itself, or within a short distance of its borders. Yet, bounded as it was on the west by the Mediterranean, on the south by the desert, on the east by the valley of the Jordan with its two seas of Tiberias and Sodom, and on the north by the towering heights of Lebanon, the people who inhabited it might justly be said to dwell alone, while they had on every side points of contact with the most influential and distant nations. Then the land itself, in its rich soil and plentiful resources, its varieties of hill and dale, of river and mountain, its connection with the sea on one side and with the desert on another, rendered it a kind of epitome of the natural world, and fitted it peculiarly for being the home of those who were to be a pattern people to the nations of the earth. Altogether, it were impossible to conceive a region more wisely selected and in itself more thoroughly adapted, for the purposes on account of which the family of Abraham were to be set apart. If they were faithful to their covenant engagements, they might there have exhibited, as on an elevated platform, before the world the bright exemplar of a people possessing the characteristics and enjoying the advantages of a seed of blessing. And the finest opportunities were at the same time placed within their reach of proving in the highest sense benefactors to mankind, and extending far and wide the interest of truth and righteousness. Possessing the elements of the world’s blessing, they were placed where these elements might tell most readily and powerfully on the world’s inhabitants; and the present possession of such a region was at once an earnest of the whole inheritance, and, as the world then stood, an effectual step towards its realization. Abraham, as the heir of Canaan, was thus also “the heir of the world,” considered as a heritage of blessing.1[1]

Learn from the location in which God put Israel His purposes of grace toward the entire world through His chosen people and His ultimate chosen Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 42; 53; 61), and the perfection of all the Divine works.

1 Ch. 5:5.
1 Rom. 4:13.
[1] Patrick Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture: Viewed in Connection with the Whole Series of the Divine Dispensations, vol. 1 (London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1900), 332–333.

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