The Promise to Abraham
From The Coming Kingdom of Christ, John R. Rice, D.D., Litt. D., Baptist editor of The Sword of the Lord, Dec. 1944, pp. 28, 29:
"Actually, of course, if Heaven for Jews will be on the earth, then Heaven for everybody will be on earth as Scripture makes plain...
"Yet I was taught as a child in Sunday School that at the second coming of Christ there would be one general resurrection of all the dead, saved and unsaved. I was taught that this planet would be burned up and destroyed and disappear. I was taught that there would be at that time one general judgment and that saved and unsaved would alike stand before God to be judged according to their works. In some mysterious way it was supposed that Christ would intervene in behalf of the Christians. Then the unsaved would be sent to Hell and the redeemed spirits would float around and sing and twang their harps in a golden city hanging in space in the `Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.' How far away from the plain Bible teaching that is!
"I was taught in the Sunday School (and the Theological Seminary only strengthened that teaching) that if the meek were ever to inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5), they would have to do it in this life. I was taught that all the promises to Israel really meant the Church, and that the promises to Jerusalem and Mount Zion really meant Heaven! I was taught that the golden age -- when "they shall beat their swords into pruning hooks" (Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3), and when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9) -- would be brought about by preaching the Gospel, aided by schools, hospitals, good laws, peace treaties, inventions, and the developments of modern science! I believed that, despite the evidence of my senses and the testimony of history and current events, until I began to study the prophetic teachings of the Bible.
"Then I learned that God had promised to bring the Israelites back to their land to possess it forever, that Heaven, then, must be on this earth.
"Let us suppose...that the Lord prepares to strike the match or say the word that will utterly destroy this whole planet. What a multitude is gathered, let us imagine, to behold the great event. But wait! I see an old man who walks like a king who comes forward to interrupt the ceremony. His face has the look of authority and his voice is bold as he cries out, `Wait, Lord; You cannot destroy my property!'
"I can imagine the Lord might say, `This man is a friend of mine; let us hear what he has to say. Speak on, friend, tell the people. What is your name? To what possession are you referring? What title do you hold to the property?'
"`My name,' says the venerable patriarch, `is Abraham! From Ur of the Chaldees I came at Your command. To Canaan I came and the land You gave to me, teaching me by faith to know that I should afterward inherit it. To Isaac and Jacob You made the same promises, and all our days, though rich in gold and silver, cattle and servants, we lived as sojourners and pilgrims in tents, patiently waiting until we should inherit and possess forever our own land. This scroll in my hand, O Lord God, is a written deed to the land of Canaan, called by name, and signed by Yourself. It is a warranty deed, guaranteeing to me and my faithful children after me [see Gal. 3:29] -- the children of Promise -- the possession of the land forever.
"`You may burn up, if You wish, the weeds and thorns and thistles. Destroy, if You will, all disease germs and insect pests, which have increased the curse on the land because of man's sin through the centuries. O Lord, You may shake down and burn the cities, for I look for another city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God. The elements may melt with fervent heat, but the land is mine. To me You gave it with the promise that 1 should inherit it with my seed. "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?"'
"If God wanted to please the ignorant and the scoffers concerning His prophecies, how would He face Abraham? The deed which Abraham has is the Bible..."