The Inheritance of Abraham

The Church of Scotland has published a report titled “The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land’” in which the church declares that the land of Palestine does not belong to the Jewish people.

In Genesis 12:7, the Lord told Abraham: “To your offspring I will give this land.” However, the report says that “Promises about the land of Israel were never intended to be taken literally, or as applying to a defined geographical territory. They are a way of speaking about how to live under God” (p. 8).

According to the report, the concept of the promised land in the Bible “is not a place, so much as a metaphor of how things ought to be among the people of God.” It is for this reason, the report concludes, that the “promised land” can be found– or built– anywhere” (p. 8).

The report quotes a statement from Walter Brueggemann which appeared in his book Reverberations of Faith, to affirm that “the land is God’s, given in trust to be cared for and lived in according to God’s instruction” (p. 5). For this reason, the report declares that possession of the land is “conditional” (p. 5) and that Israel does not have a legitimate claim on the land because it is not doing God’s will.

To God’s promise to Abraham, “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding” (Genesis 17:7-8), the Church of Scotland’s report asks: “How can Christians support the violation of human rights in the name of alleged divinely conferred exclusive rights to a specific area of land?” (p. 4).

On the claim by Christians that the Bible supports Israel’s right to the land and that the modern  state of Israel is “the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, as well as the fulfillment of biblical prophets such as Ezekiel” (p. 4), the report says that the New Testament provides a better way of understanding God’s promises. The report says:

If Jesus is indeed the Yes to all God’s promises the promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus, not by restoration of land to the Jewish people. Jesus gave a new direction and message for the people of God, one which did not feature a special area of land for them.

This report has generated much discussion in the UK, primarily among the Jewish community which was not consulted before the draft of the document. Some Christian organizations in Scotland have requested that the document be rejected by the Church. The annual general assembly of the Church of Scotland will vote on the report later this month.

Christians should read this report and come to their own conclusions on the merits of the report. Read the full report here. [UPDATE: The Church of Scotland has removed the document from its web page]

The Palestinian issue, their claim to the land, and the right of Israel to exist as a nation with a land which they can call their own, is a matter of debate among Christians and it is an issue for which no easy answers can be found.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

This entry was posted in Abraham, Palestinians, Promised Land and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Inheritance of Abraham

  1. This is a very intriguing article, Claude, and I have taken the bait to follow through and examine the merits of the article you have linked to. Thank you for posting it.

    Blessings,

    Zach

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    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Zach,

      Thank you for your comment. The situation between the Israelis and the Palestinian is complicated and Christians are divided on this issue. To me, it is sad that the Church of Scotland has taken such a negative attitude towards the Jewish people.

      Claude Mariottini

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  2. Nathan says:

    For people unfamiliar with Christian-Jewish history, they may miss the severe antisemitic overtones and implications of this act. Since the earliest days of the church, Christian anti-Semites have justified depriving Jews of civil rights and basic human respect on the basis that they are accursed and rejected by God above all peoples. The ultimate proof of this condition was that they were exiled and without a homeland. This fact of history was so crucial to some Church doctrines that when Theodor Hertzl went to the Vatican for support of his early Zionist movements, he was rebuffed on largely theological grounds.

    The modern Zionist movement that led to the ingathering of Jews to Israel largely deprived antisemitism of this claim, but the attempt to make a theological point on these lines is an effort to roll back the clock and recover this charge–if not in fact, then at least in religious principle–so they can deny the Jews a status belonging to others: a right to their own state, in their own land.

    From a religious point of view, this decision is abominable. For bible believers, God’s covenant with Israel is an historical fact. The Jews were promised the land in perpetuity. The Jews’ claims to live on the land are not conditional on any thing. Now, it is true that the operative element of the covenant–possession of the land at any given time–is conditional on God’s will. But whether Jews satisfy that condition isn’t subject to the Church of Scotland’s litmus test, but God’s. If the Jews were not meant to live there at a given point in history, God would expel them. You cannot even simply correlate living in the land directly with correct religious beliefs. Many righteous generations–Abraham, Isaac and Jacob–were mere resident aliens, constantly leaving for exile in Egypt or Haran, while many wicked generations–Manasseh and Asa–dwelt in the land. It is HIGHLY improper and arrogant for this Church to take it upon themselves to cast judgment on the Jewish people as a whole and their right to the land of Israel, and, furthermore, claim to speak to God’s will for the land.

    From a secular point of view, this is clearly a very political, not religious, act. It’s motivated by the politics of the Middle East and not much of anything else. And it’s highly symbolic of a sick and twisted approach to Israel. No other people would have their claim to their homeland questioned on theological grounds. Where does the Church of Scotland address the right of Indians to India for their Hinduism? Does anybody dare suggest Scots lack independence because they adopted the wrong Christian creeds? Never. Only the Jew is subjected to this attack, which is what makes this a troubling sign of antisemitism in the Church.

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    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Nathan,

      I agree with you that the church of Scotland has done a disservice to the right of the Jewish people to live in their land. It seems that their concern was for the right of the Palestinians to have the land as their own, but one cannot exclude one people for the sake of another.

      I believe that the two state is a political solution to this problem, but as long as the Palestinians and the Arab world refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a nation and as a people, the problem will continue.

      I do not know that answer to this problem, but denying the rights of the Jewish people is not the answer.

      Claude Mariottini

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  3. Anon says:

    The Inheritance of Abraham? A report on the Promised Land Link has been deleted by ???

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    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Dear Friend,

      Unfortunately, the Church of Scotland has removed the document from its web page.

      Thank you for calling my attention to the deletion of the document.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

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      Like

  5. rodd says:

    The church of Scotland has only ‘seen’ half the truth…but it seems most have not seen any of the truth ! We must read John ch. 8 to understand who are “Jews”, Before mid 18th century, the word “JEW” did not exist. In 1769 the KJ Bible replaced the word “Iewe” for Jew. There is NO mention in any Bible of “JEW” before mid 18th century..and IEWE is only first mentioned in ANY Bible in 2 Kings ch 16 v 6. An Iewe was any and all citizens of Judaea. JUDAEA did not exist until Judah was taken in exile in Babylon. ie. there were NO Jews until that time…approx. 600 BC. Obadiah tells us that the Edomites helped the Babylonians round up and clear Jerusalem of the Judahites. They then moved into what became, then, the Babylonian province of Judaea and lived there. These Edomites ( of Esau and enemies of God) were the first JEWS. ( Peter in Acts ch 2 v 5, 8 and 14) tell us of the mix of residents in Judaea.) After exile, some Judahites returned and with Nehemiah lived in Jerusalem – thus becoming JEWS…as inhabitants of Judaea. Many, however, went north to Galilee to live. [Samaria, previously the kingdom of Israel, was occupied by people sent there by the king of Assyria..pagans. 2 Kings ch 17 v 24. ] Jesus’ family was one such family..Jesus lived in Galilee as did 11 of His disciples. They were Israelites but not Judaeans..hence were NOT Jews.] Texts like John ch 7 v 1 or ch 11 v 54 or ch 20 v 19 and lots more tell us that Jesus and the disciples feared the Jews. John ch 8 v.22 Jesus speaks with the Jews. V.33 these Jews claim to be of Abraham..but never in bondage. V 37 Jesus agrees, yes of Abraham ! (Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, and Assyria or Babylon…hence these Jews were not Israelites but Edomites of Esau. V.44 Jesus tells us their father is the devil. Now Rev. ch 2 v 9 and ch 3 v 9 Jesus tells us of the blasphemy of those who claim to be Jews BUT ARE NOT…but the synagogue of Satan. So WHO are these Jews?
    Since 1769..ie 18-19 century, the definition of “Jew” was changed from a Judaean to ” one born of a Jewish woman….. OR a CONVERT. ” Kept out of our history books, between the 6th and 10th century was a powerful empire known as Khazaria ..orig. from Turkey…which converted en masse to Judaism and when the empire broke up they scattered mainly into Russia and eastern Europe. They were known as Ashkenazi Jews..but converts..with no bloodline to Shem as they claim..but to Japheth’s grandson Ashkenaz..and hence are not Semitic. It is these people who went to Israel in 1948, claiming, falsely, to be the chosen people of God and tied to Moses and Abraham. Hence they have no claim on that land because they never came from there. DNA would prove this..if permitted. They follow the Talmud…not Moses !!. Ben Gurion was Polish !
    The Palestinians have farmed that land for 2000 years…but they were forcibly removed or killed by these Zionists who claim to be Jews…but are not !!! ( Rev 2 and 3 v 9 ). Unfortunately the churches also claim the untruths of this invented history…and with laws to prevent the truth being told, we are faced with a stark choice…to stay silent and face God….or speak out and risk criminality. The church of Scotland is right to condemn the action of those in Israel….but for the wrong reasons !! By the way, the New Covenant Jer.ch 31 and Isaiah and Ezekiel..make the reunification of Israel..to whom the New Covenant is addressed, very clear that it will occur when our Christ returns…when ALL shall know God..and when His laws are placed in our hearts ensuring obedience to His ways….and not before. So 1948 is a little premature !!! Thank you.rodd

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    • Rodd,

      You are right. A Jew was a citizen of the Persian province of Judea. The name of the province was Yehud and those living there were Yehudi, Jews.

      However, you are wrong in separating Jesus from his Jewish heritage. What you write in your comment could be considered anti-Semitic because what you write does not reflect biblical teaching. Jesus was a Jew; he was born in Bethlehem of Judea (Matthew 2:1). The Bible says that Jesus was the king of the Jews. Indeed, the Bible also says that salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22), since the savior, Jesus Christ, was a Jew.

      I would invite you to search the Scriptures so that you may have a better understanding of the Jewish people and their history.

      Claude Mariottini

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  6. rodd says:

    I am sorry, I forgot to mention that 2 Kings ch 16 v 6 to which I refer, was about 1000 years after Sinai ! Iewes are not mentioned at all before this time in 2 Kings…….probably because they didn’t exist?????? !! My apologies, thank you. rodd

    Like

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