Symbolism of Promised Land
Posted on 23 August 2017 09:54 AM

Q. What is "the promised land"? Is it a real place or a Bible symbol?

A. The “Promised Land” is simply the land of Canaan. It was coined “promised land” after God promised Abram (later renamed Abraham) that he would give to his descendants this land for an inheritance. 

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew theeAnd I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they cameAnd Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. {Genesis 12:1-7}

God will later renew this promise after Lot and Abram separate because of the largeness of their flock.

14 And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. {Genesis 13:14-15}

This promise of God was repeated several times, not only to Abram but also to Isaac (Genesis 16:1-5), Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14), Moses (Exodus 6: 7-8) and Israel. But notice in the next passage that this land was already inhabited by other nations. Yet God had promised that though people lived there, it was not their land but Abram’s descendants: the Israelites.

18 In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. {Genesis 15:18-21}

The conquest of this land is described in the book of Joshua and the earlier parts of the book of Judges.

The Bible uses a method of teaching called type and antitype or shadowing. The “Promised Land” became a symbol or a type of Heaven; the true “Promised Land” that God has promised not only to the Israelites but to all the faithful believers. Paul uses the history of Israel in their journey and conquest of Canaan, as object lesson to the Christian striving to enter Heaven:

11  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. {1 Corinthians 10:11}

We then can view and study the events surrounding the physical “Promised Land” and derive very important lessons, warnings and encouragements as we today strive for Spiritual Canaan, Heaven.


For more information we recommend the following resources:

On The Borders of The Promised Land


Israel's Last Encampment


1888 On the Borders of Canaan


What Are You Waiting For?





Keywords:Canaan, Abram, Abraham, Promised land, Heavenly Canaan, type, antitype, shadow, symbol, literal, promise, Joshua, Judges, History, Conquests, warning, lessons, encouragements, admonition, ensamples, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, 

categories: [retain: bible teaching] [add: bible questions, heaven, bible history] [remove: salvation]  [create: hermeneutics]

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