“This land is mine. God gave this land to me.”
Lots of people still don’t know I – a Southern white Christian – wrote the words for Israel’s “second national anthem,” Ernest Gold’s inspirational classic, “Exodus (This Land is Mine),” now one of the world’s favorite songs.
How could that have happened?
Well, I grew up in Nashville, Tenn., son of a building contractor and my mom, a registered nurse. Two very practical professions. And for my brother, Nick, and two sisters, Margie and Judi, our consistent church involvement and frequent Bible readings together at home were two more practical parts of our lives. My parents’ example and emphasis taught us that the Bible was God’s handbook for successful living, very real and practical.
And we knew early on that the whole “Good Book” was written by, about and for Jews.
It was some years before I came to realize, to my surprise and concern, that most Christians don’t quite grasp that. But Mama and Daddy had helped us realize that just as Moses and David and Isaiah the prophet were Jews, so were Peter and James and John and Jesus Himself.
The Apostle Paul, himself a very strict Jew, informs us that we gentile believers in the Jewish Jesus and Abraham’s God are “wild branches grafted in to the Jewish olive tree,” the family of His chosen people. And some years ago, when I was invited to address a convention of Jewish rabbis, I introduced myself as a member of “the fourth branch of Judaism”; and as they glanced quizzically at each other, I went on to explain that everything I believe and consider holy comes wholecloth out of historic Judaism – the Messianic branch. And that what we today call “the church “was simply called “the Way” in the first century, when thousands of Jews and many rabbis perceived that this Jesus was the fulfillment of every prophecy concerning the promised Messiah.
It was controversial then, and it’s controversial now. And it’s a heinous truth, a perversion of God’s Word and purpose, that at times organized Christianity has actually taken on anti-Semitic attitudes and policies. No wonder countless Jews have rejected the claim that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of both Christians and Jews and all who will accept Him.
So what’s my point this Thanksgiving season?
As I write this, there have been days of senseless violence in and around Israel. The militant Muslim group Hamas has been literally raining missiles into Israel, indiscriminately injuring and killing innocent Jews in their own country. And because, after receiving almost 1,000 missiles all over southern Israel and even up into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, when the Israeli military took action to attack the missile-launching places in Gaza to stop the crazy, senseless violence and protect their own civilian populace – Hamas, Egypt and much of our own media and administration are blaming Israel for the conflict!
What are we supposed to do about it, we people who do understand that America’s destiny is irrevocably linked to that of Israel, just as Christians and Jews are spiritually, biblically linked?
We need to get out God’s Handbook and find out what His plan is, what He expects of us – that’s what! As a matter of national and personal policy, we need to be reminded:
God chose Noah, out of the whole world, to build the Ark. He chose Shem, not his brothers, Ham and Japheth, to be the ancestor of all Semites, Arabs and Jews. He then chose Abraham from a wealthy Semitic family and made him a nomad, bringing him to Canaan and promising it to his descendants – for all time – and vowing, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
He then narrowed the promise to Abraham’s son Isaac, and then to Isaac’s son, Jacob. And He changed Jacob’s name to Israel, renewing the promise, “The land which I Gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your Descendants after you I give this land” (Genesis 35:12).
Now, you can argue with God if you want to, but I sure advise against it. Israel today is called Israel, because that’s the name of the man God gave it to!
He also made promises to Ishmael, Abraham’s son by his wife’s handmaiden, but the land He gave him is specifically “east of Egypt in the direction of Asshur (Assyria)” (Genesis 25:18) and told his mother, “He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of his brethren” (Genesis 16:12). Does that not describe the history and current circumstances of the Arab descendants of Abraham, through Ishmael, throughout the whole Middle East? In contrast and constant conflict with Abraham’s Jewish descendants? Is the Bible true or not?
I’m so thankful for the existence of Israel, the countless blessings the Jews have shared with every nation on earth (even the ones who want to destroy them) and for the demonstration they are – by their very existence – proof God fulfills His promises and achieves His purposes.
Because of that, I want you to know about an exceptional opportunity presented to me by some philanthropic Israeli businessmen. They want to raise significant funds for several excellent charities that do things like provide therapy for traumatized Arab and Jewish children, plant trees in barren places and house and feed older Jews who’ve made their way to their homeland from other countries where they’re not wanted.
Millions of us have planted trees in Israel, but now we can each own a square foot of the Holy Land, in perpetuity, with a certificate of ownership (a title deed) to display on desk or wall. The land is between Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, the region where Jesus grew up, very beautiful and historic, and each square foot has a GPS location you can spot on Google Earth any time you want!
When the businessmen approached me, I’d just read in Jeremiah 32 about his being instructed by God to buy a piece of land, get the title deed and have it attested … even though he was about to go into Babylonian captivity with the Jewish people and would never return. It was symbolic, a gesture of faith that God would keep His promise and bring His people back after 70 years to re-inhabit the land He’d given them.
I believe – I know – God keeps His promises, to each of us, and to Israel. So I’ve bought little parcels of land for each member of my family, knowing I’ll be blessing Israel and be blessed in return. If you’re interested, check out the website, TheHolyLandDream.com, and join me in thanking Israel for being Israel.