God’s land promise was originally made to Abraham in roughly 2,000BC. The Bible first tells of the land promise in Genesis 12:1-3 and it is repeated several more times to Abraham and descendants Isaac and Jacob (aka Israel). As a result, the “Promised Land” became the great quest of the tribes of Israel. Many evangelical Christian leaders today teach that the land promise was only, finally fulfilled in this 1948 action by the UN that established the modern-day nation of Israel. Was it really roughly 4,000 years later that the land promise was fulfilled? What does Scripture say?

“On November 29, 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948 when the British mandate was scheduled to end.”

United States Secretary of State

How Scripture answers "Was the land promise fulfilled in 1948?"

The land promise was fulfilled long ago (approx 1,300 BC) when the twelve tribes of Israel, led by Joshua, conquered the land1,2. It wasn’t just a portion that was fulfilled, but all of it3,11. This is explicitly stated at the time of fulfillment, as well as repeated by God4 and written into Israelite history by subsequent Bible writers5,6,7,8,9,10,11 spanning the more than 1,000 years that followed. God fulfilled a promise conditioned on their obedience1,3,4,7,8,10. Their disobedience caused them to lose the land7,8.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.
I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will give it to you to posses. I am God.
God’s instruction to Moses of what to tell the people in preparation for their imminent exodus from Egyptian bondage for 400 years.
Scripture-block application to this question

God is recalling a promise from about 700 years prior, reminding a new generation – the generation that would actually see and have the opportunity to enter the Promised Land.

Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
God gave all the land to Israel that he had sworn to give and they possessed and settled there.  God gave them rest from all their enemies just as he promised.  Not one enemy overcame them, for God delivered them.  All of the good promises of God came to pass, not one failed.

The closing of the book of Joshua following the detailed accounting of the distribution to the land to each of the twelve tribes.

Scripture-block application to this question

The writer of Joshua believed the land promise was fulfilled in his day.

And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.

And now I [Joshua] am about to die as all living things on earth do, and every bit of your being knows for certain that not one word of God’s promises for you has failed. All of it has come true; not one has failed.

Joshua’s final words to the people following the detailed accounting of the distribution to the land to each of the twelve tribes.  After affirming God’s promises, he warns the people that they must not “transgress the covenant of the Lord your God.” (vs 16)
Scripture-block application to this question

Joshua believed the land promise was fulfilled in his day. In his final words, he also warns them to remain faithful or they will be chased out of the land (vs 16).

But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
If you turn away from my commandments and worship other gods, then I will remove you from the land that I have given you, and this house that’s been consecrated for my dwelling.  I will cast you out of my sight, and make you a footnote of history.
Solomon has completed the permanent temple complex in Jeruslaem.  God is responding to Solomon after his prayer of dedication.
Scripture-block application to this question

God believed the land promise had been fulfilled but reminds them it is conditional.

And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the Lord!
God gave them the lands of the nations/Gentiles, and they possessed it and worked it, that they might keep His commandments and live by His laws.  Praise the Lord!

A song sung by the nation of Israel, recounting and summarizing their history.

Scripture-block application to this question

At around 1,000 BC, the Israelites believed the land promise had been fulfilled.

Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?
Did you, our God, not drive out the inhabitants of this land for us, and forever give it to the descendants of Abraham your servant?

A prayer by Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, when he was afraid (vs 3) of a mounting force coming against him for battle (vs 1-2) and was seeking God’s help.

Scripture-block application to this question

At around 850 BC, King Jehoshaphat believed the land promise had been fulfilled.

You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets, saying, Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever.
You have not listened or paid attention even though God repeatedly sent you prophets speaking His word [true prophets].  They said, “Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever.”

The message from God through Jeremiah – a message he personally had been giving for 23 years at this point (vs 3).  The northern ten tribes have already been taken away by Assyria for their disobedience.  Now, the southern two tribes will follow suit at the hands of the Babylonians.

Scripture-block application to this question

At around 580 BC, Jeremiah believed the land promise had been fulfilled but was jeopardized by their disobedience.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Jeremiah’s sentiment about God having fulfilled his promise (the land) and their disobedience is repeated in his prayer, And you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. And they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or walk in your law. They did nothing of all you commanded them to do. Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them.” (Jeremiah 32:22-23).

You multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and you brought them into the land that you had told their fathers to enter and possess. So the descendants went in and possessed the land, and you subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, that they might do with them as they would.

You [God] multiplied their [Israelites] children as the stars of the heaven and brought them in to possess the land you had promised to their fathers. So their descendants went in a possessed it and you subdued the inhabitants and delivered them over to the Israelites – their kings and their people – that they might do with them as they pleased.

A great scene of repentance and confession by the people that had returned to the land after seventy years of captivity in Babylon.  It was led by several Levites (vs 5).

Nehemiah’s metaphor (“multiplied their children as the stars of heaven”) matches God’s metaphor spoken to Abraham, And he brought him outside and said, Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be. (Genesis 15:5)

Scripture-block application to this question

At around 450 BC, the Levites and the people believed the land promise had been fulfilled, while acknowledging their loss of the land due to their disobedience.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Nehemiah’s metaphor (“multiplied their children as the stars of heaven”) matches God’s metaphor spoken to Abraham, And he brought him outside and said, Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be. (Genesis 15:5)

And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance.

After destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he [God] gave them their land as an inheritance.

Paul’s gospel sermon while in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia on the Sabbath day.

Scripture-block application to this question

In the first century, Paul believed the land promise had been fulfilled.

“When your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and if they turn again to you and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to their fathers.
When an enemy defeats your [God’s] people because of their sin, if they repent and come to your temple to ask forgiveness, please hear from your dwelling in heaven and forgive them and bring them back to the land that you gave to their fathers.

King Solomon has completed the building of the temple in Jerusalem.

Scripture-block application to this question

Solomon understood that God had given the land (and that it could/would be lost because of their disobedience).

Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not given you peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the Lord and his people.
God is with you and has given you peace on all sides. He’s delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand and it is subdued before God and His people.
The kingdom is transitioning from David to Solomon, who is being tasked with building the temple in Jerusalem (vs 6).
Scripture-block application to this question

King David confirms to his son and incoming King Solomon, that God has delivered on His promises to give them “peace on every side” and that the “land is subdued”.

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