The Promised Land
“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the LORD swore he would give to your fathers…” Deuteronomy 1:8 NIV
“Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers…” Deuteronomy 1:8 KJV
“See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, told you…” Deuteronomy 1:21 NIV
“Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee…” Deuteronomy 1:21 KJV
“Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.” Deut. 1:39 KJV
“…I will give it to them, and they will take possession of it.” Deuteronomy 1:39 Underlining added
A seemingly insignificant difference in Bible versions in translating the Hebrew word נָתַן, or nä·than’, contains a powerful message. Why do the KJV and NIV versions translate differently this word regarding the Israelites being delivered from bondage in Egypt and heading toward God’s promised land for them, His chosen people? The NIV translates the word consistently as “give” or “given.” The KJV translates it both as “set before” and “give.” The Lord promised His chosen people the promised land and all its abundant, glorious living. But the first generation did not possess, or inherit, the land because of their disobedience and rebellion against Him. He set it before them in His promise to them, but He did not give it to them. He did give it to the next generation. Their rebellion and refusal to repent cost them the promised land. The KJV makes clear the vitally important distinction. The NIV makes it seem He gave the promised land to all generations of His chosen people.
Dictionary.com defines to give as “freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone); hand over to.” God sets before all people the promised land of forgiveness and a relationship with Him now and forever in heaven instead of condemnation, hell, and the lake of fire for those who repent, believe in Christ as Lord, and devote their lives to God and His ways, but He does not give the promised land to those who refuse to repent and turn from their wicked ways and commit their lives to Christ. The abundant life of knowing, loving, and serving God forever is set before all His creation, but only given to those who follow Christ as Lord.