Oren R. Martin, Bound for the Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan, Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015. Pp. 208. $25.00, paper.
In this book, Oren R. Martin demonstrates how, within the redemptive-historical framework of God’s unfolding plan, the land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden. This promise also serves as a type throughout Israel’s history, anticipating the even greater land, prepared for God’s people, which will come as a result from the person and work of Christ. This land will be enjoyed in the new creation for eternity. Martin unpacks the land promise as it progressively unfolds across the Bible’s two Testaments in ten chapters as follows.
1. BIBLICAL THEOLOGY AND THE LAND PROMISE
Here Martin lays the foundation for his study by briefly surveying the land promise in biblical scholarship. He explains his approach, which includes unity in the diversity among the books of the Bible, continuity between the Old and New Testaments, progressive typology, and interpreting texts within their textual, epochal, and canonical horizons.
2. THE BEGINNING AND THE END: THE LAND AND THE KINGDOM
In this chapter, Martin shows how the land theme is organically related to both the kingdom of God and the covenants as they unfold and progress across the canon. More specifically, he establishes a framework for understanding the place of God’s people in the kingdom. Martin concludes that the biblical story describes the teleological design of God’s people in his place under his rule.
3. MAKING THE PROMISE: GENESIS
Martin considers here the importance of Genesis 1–11 for the entrance of Abraham into God’s redemptive plan. He examines the nature and scope of the Abrahamic covenant and the promise of God in Genesis 12–50. He concludes that, with Eden as the prototypical place for the kingdom, the land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom. This land promised is a type of a greater reality with international and worldwide dimensions.
4. ADVANCING THE PROMISE: EXODUS-DEUTERONOMY
This chapter evaluates the progress of God’s fulfillment of his promise of land to Abraham in two plot movements in Israel’s history. First, Martin looks at the exodus event and demonstrates how it is a means through which God fulfills his promises to his people, constituting the beginning of a great journey to relocate to a new land. Second, Martin considers Deuteronomy’s way of portraying the land. This includes the land as a gift Yahweh owns, a new paradise with the Edenic creational mandate passing on to Israel, and a place of inheritance and rest where “life” and “prolonging of days” are experienced when there is obedience.
5. PARTIALLY FULFILLING THE PROMISE: JOSHUA-KINGS
In this chapter, Martin continues his focus on the progress of the fulfillment of the land through Joshua and Kings. Standing in continuity with Deuteronomy, Joshua marks a new beginning that results in conquest, occupation, and possession of the land. With the arrival of David, who appears in a Joshua-like role, the fulfillment of God’s promise of the land significantly advances and escalates. Solomon is portrayed as an Adam-like figure who on the one hand typifies a restoration to Edenic conditions, while on the other hand being responsible, through his disobedience, for the second expulsion from the sanctuary-land and the end of the monarchy.
6. FULFILLING THE PROMISE? EXILE AND THE PROPHETS OF AN ESCHATOLOGICAL HOPE
In this chapter, Martin examines the loss of land in exile and the prophetic anticipation of an international and universal restoration brought through a new covenant, which advances God’s cosmological plan from Adam through Abraham, and is cast in terms of an Edenic land, city, and temple—all of which are coextensive. Martin concludes that through the substitutionary work of a Davidic Servant-Shepherd-King, God will make a new creation that is reminiscent of the idyllic conditions of Eden, where his people will dwell securely.
7. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE INAUGURATED: THE GOSPELS
In this chapter, Martin examines the most relevant passages in the Gospels of Matthew and John to demonstrate that the land promised to Abraham will finally be won by Christ. Christ, being the typological fulfillment of Israel, has inaugurated a new creational kingdom through his physical resurrection.
8. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE INAUGURATED: THE EPISTLES
Martin considers here the fulfillment of the land promise in Paul, highlighting the inheritance language that Paul uses which is linked to the Abrahamic promises. There is a future orientation inherent within the idea of inheritance, which is expressed through the typological correspondences that unfold within the Old Testament. The fulfillment in Hebrews comes through Christ and his work. God will bring those who preserve in faith into his eschatological rest, the heavenly Jerusalem, their final homeland, and the unshakeable kingdom. Finally, in Peter we see a transformed eschatological reality with the promised new heaven and new earth.
9. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE CONSUMMATED: THE ESCHATOLOGICAL KINGDOM IN REVELATION
In this chapter, Martin examines the new creation in the book of Revelation as the fulfillment of the land promise. More specifically, the new creation is depicted as Edenic paradise, temple, and city (new Jerusalem).
10. THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS
Martin concludes his study by making theological connections and applying the interpretative findings of the previous chapters to eschatology. More specifically, this chapter evaluates how the land promise is interpreted and fulfilled in the theological systems of dispensationalism and covenant theology. In the end, the chapter provides a via media in the light of the arguments presented throughout the book.
Martin’s via media is indeed what covenant theology teaches if understood properly. It seems that Martin is equating covenant theology with replacement theology, which is not accurate. Covenant theology does not see the church replacing Israel; rather the church consists of the believing Israel along with believing gentiles in both the Old and New Testaments.
Martin skillfully connects the land theme with the garden of Eden in one hand, and the new heaven and new earth on the other. He reads the land promise in light of the overall plan of redemption and particularly through the person and work of Christ. Martin interacts with many scholars and cites a number of resources to the point where his own voice is lost in the presentation. It is hard to distinguish his own argument or contribution in the subject.
Sherif L. Gendy