Question: "Did God give Israel the Promised Land for all time (Deuteronomy 4:40)?"

In Deuteronomy 4:40 the Lord gave the Israelites this command: “Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” Did this mean God gave Israel the Promised Land in perpetuity?

First, this passage offers a conditional offer. In other words, the Israelites had to obey God’s statutes in order to remain in the land. History reveals that the Israelites often disobeyed, resulting in temporary times of exile from their land.

However, the end of this passage notes that God is giving them the land “for all time.” The Hebrew phrase “for all time” is given as a general statement, likely in reference to God’s original promise of a land to Abraham in Genesis 12.

Taking these two principles, it is clear that there was both a conditional and unconditional aspect to God’s promise. God offered blessings within the Promised Land conditionally, related to the Israelites’ obedience. Yet God also made an unconditional promise that Israel would have the land “for all time.”

How long is “for all time”? In the book of Revelation, we see Israel as a central focus. In the end times, Israel faces many difficulties, yet that tribulation concludes with the Messiah reigning from His throne in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The book concludes with a new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem. The promise of Deuteronomy 4:40 is a far-seeing promise, extending to the end of the earth’s existence and in some ways into the time of the new earth.

Many other Scriptures also support God’s promise of this land to Israel. For example, God spoke to Isaac in Genesis 26:3, saying, “Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.” The Lord also spoke to Jacob in Genesis 28:13–14 with similar words: “There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”

Some have suggested that, because of God’s promises to Israel, Christians should support the modern nation of Israel. Christians have many reasons to support the land and the people of Israel, but this does not mean Christians must agree with every political decision made by the modern Israeli government. Instead, the focus is on God’s spiritual restoration of Israel (Romans 11:26) and the enduring promise to His chosen people.