Israel's Right to the Land

[Lee Underwood, Editor - Emet News Service]

Summary ... Many people are asking what they can do to help Israel. As Gentiles, it is our job to encourage Israel to believe the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest." Isaiah 62:1

There are currently a vast number of wars ("international conflicts") being waged in the world today. The number varies according to the source and its definition of "war" and "conflict". The type of "conflicts" range from terrorist organizations fighting against sovereign governments to nations warring against nations to spiritual battles being waged around the globe. The curious aspect in all of this is that the war in Israel seems to be the one event that causes most of the world to feel threatened.

Because of many different beliefs and attitudes regarding, among other things, peace and freedom, the situation in Israel tends to become quite convoluted. Misunderstandings regarding the reasons for the fighting abound, even among followers of the God of Israel. Also involved are the agendas, hidden and otherwise, of many of the key players involved.

In its simplest terms, the "conflict" in Israel is being waged by those who are fighting (whether intentionally or not) against the God of Israel, the Creator of the universe. It is a battle, for the most part, between those of faith who believe the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and those who, for whatever reasons, would prefer that Israel (i.e., the Jews) did not live on the land bordered by the Nile and Euphrates Rivers and the Mediterranean Sea and the wilderness of Jordan. The faithful in Israel are obeying a direct commandment from God ("inhabit the land"). Those, on the other hand, who are fighting against God (whether intentionally or not) are trying to remove the Jewish people from the land given to them by God, especially Judea and Samaria - the very heart of Israel.

The basic reason for wanting Jews out of the land of Israel is quite simple when looked at from a spiritual viewpoint. The existence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, after 2,000 years of dispersion, proves beyond a doubt that the God of Israel does exist and that man will one day have to give an account of his deeds before Him; that man's autonomous reign on this earth is soon coming to an end.

We could look at the historical aspect of the situation and try to determine whether Israel actually has a right to live in the land or if it really does belong to the 'Palestinians'. However, this is exactly what is happening now and the facts become very easily distorted when mingled with bold lies. The question many people ask is "Whose history do we believe, the Israelis or the 'Palestinians'?"

Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels' statement, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, then people will eventually come to believe it," has certainly come to life in the current situation. Then whose statements do we believe?

For those who worship the God of Israel, there is only one truth: the word of God itself. But what exactly did God say regarding Israel? Does it still hold true today, even after Israel's dispersion from the land 2,000 years ago? Does God want to divide the land of Israel and give a portion of it to the 'Palestinians' - or anybody else - besides the Jewish people? The answers, fortunately, are found in the Scriptures - God's written word.

God's Eternal Covenant with Israel

Approximately 4,000 years ago, God made a covenant with Abraham to give him and his descendants the land of Canaan, located "from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18). This covenant was later restated to Isaac (Genesis 26.2-5) and to Jacob (Genesis 28.13; 35.12). Eventually, God would make this same covenant with the entire house of Israel, as a nation:

"For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.... And I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you." (Exodus 23.23,31)

God also declared that Israel would be His "own possession among all the peoples." The requirements of Israel for this covenant is to "obey My [God's] voice and keep My covenant" (Exodus 19:5). Because of this, many people mistakenly believe that, because Israel disobeyed God, He removed them from the land permanently. They say that Israel no longer has a valid claim to the land, according to God's word. Some even go so far as to say that God has cast off His people permanently. However, Scripture does not bear this out. In fact, it states just the opposite.

God was very specific regarding what would happen to Israel if they obeyed Him and the resulting punishment if they failed to obey Him ("the blessings and the curses"). The details are given in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. The ultimate penalty for continuing to disobey God was removal from the land of promise (Leviticus 26.33). Yet, there was always the promise of restoration: "Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the L-rd their God" (Leviticus 26:44; see also Jeremiah 31.35-37; Lamentations 4.22; Micah 7.18-20). God never declared that He would utterly abandon the Jewish people: "'Yet even in those days', declares the L-rd, 'I will not make you a complete destruction'" (Jeremiah 5:18; see also Amos 9.8). God, instead, promised that a remnant of Israel would return to the land that He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Isaiah 11.11-14; 43.5-6; Zephaniah 3.14-20). Notice that God is speaking of Israel - the Jewish people - returning to the land, not some other vessel.

Dividing the Land of Israel

So we come back to one of our original questions: Does God want to divide the land of Israel and give a portion of it to the 'Palestinians' - or anybody else - besides the Jewish people? Aside from the Scriptures listed above, there are many more detailing God's promise of the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. Is it possible, then, that God would want to share the land with other nations? God is very concerned about His land, especially Judea and Samaria. He is also concerned for His holy city Jerusalem. God spoke of the judgment of the nations for doing this very thing: "I will gather all the nations, and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land" (Joel 3:2).

Many individuals and organizations approve of the idea of the creation of a 'Palestinian' state, as long as it is not headed by a terrorist organization. Their claim is that the 'Palestinian people' need a place to live also. While we could argue the actual existence of a 'Palestinian people', we need to look back at the Scriptures for the correct Biblical position. God commanded Israel 3,500 years ago to remove the pagan nations from the land of Israel and dwell in it. God has never changed nor lifted this command. Many in Israel are asking that the 'Palestinians' leave peacefully. There are plenty of places for them to go. Whatever they do, it is not Israel's responsibility to provide a place for them to live. Israel's command from God is to remove the enemy from their midst and dwell in the land.

The issue then of whether to divide Israel or not becomes clear. The land bordered by the Nile and Euphrates Rivers and the Mediterranean Sea and the wilderness of Jordan belongs to God, Who, in turn, gave it to the Jewish people for an eternal possession. It cannot be shared nor given away. God gave Israel a clear command regarding making covenants with their enemies: "and when the Lord your God shall deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them." (Deuteronomy 7:2)

The basic answer to Israel's problem with the 'Palestinians' - and the nations of the world - is to trust God, not man.

Many people are asking what they can do to help Israel. As Gentiles, it is our job to encourage Israel to believe the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We must encourage them to return to Israel and build up the land. We must pray and intercede for them to be strong and withstand the pressures of the nations. It is God alone they must fear, not man: "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 56:11). We are the watchmen of Israel. Let us take our job seriously.

"For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning.... On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the L-rd, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." (Isaiah 62:1,6-7)

[ Published: January 4, 2004 ]

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