Michael Barber at Singing in the Reign has an interesting post in which touches on the subject of the promised land of Israel.
“If the restoration has to be sacramental, how do we reconcile that with God promising to restore Israel’s land?”
Barber points out that Israel was to be a “nation of priests” but that they forfeited this universal vocation in the episode of Aaron and the golden calf. Barber says: “The Levites thus serve as a kind of model to Israel–they get what Israel was ultimately called to and lost.”
Barber points out that the Levites did not receive an allotment of land. Moses explains, “Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, as the Lord your God said to him” (Deut 10:9).
I agree with him that the Levites serve as the ideal model of Israel and that their lack of a land territory is a clue to the answer. However, this can’t be the answer to the question “How do we understand the Abrahamic land promise in the New Covenant?” We can’t simply say, “God, not land, is the allotment.”
Let me suggest that the Levites did in fact receive a land allotment. They received the shrine/house/tabernacle/temple of God. This is not necessarily a geographical allotment, as the tabernacle was mobile prior to David’s kingdom.
The Tabernacle/Temple is literally a microcosm – a micro cosmos. It was a mini version of Paradise Restored. It was designed in a garden motif and artistic depictions of cherubim guarded its portals – just as cherubim guarded the portal to Eden.
The Levites therefore received land – the land wherever the Temple rested. They received the deposit of the renewed earth – not merely the sliver of Palestine. When Christ reveals Himself to be the true Temple on Easter morning we know that creation has been restored in His incarnate Person. The whole earth has been inherited by the children of Abraham – including historic Israel. The Land Promise if fulfilled with the Great Commission to proclaim the Gospel to the “ends of the earth” and in the institution of the Eucharist – so that the Body of Christ (the true Temple) is present in every land.