On Nov. 29, 2012, 138 nations passed U.N. Resolution 67/19 on “The Question of Palestine.” The resolution expresses support for the right of “the Palestinian people … to their independent State of Palestine.”
In light of this deeply profound and historical event, and in light of the overwhelming and global bias against the nation of Israel, it is essential that all students of the Bible stop to consider what the Bible says about the future of both the nation of Israel and “Palestine.”
When one surveys the many biblical passages that speak of the return of the Messiah, it quickly becomes apparent that among the primary issues Jesus returns to confront is the persecution, marginalization and unjust treatment of Israel by the nations of the earth. Despite the fact that the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda of the age are widely embraced even by large segments of the Christian Church, the Bible is clear that when Jesus returns, he will specifically execute judgment against the enemies of Israel.
According to the prophet Joel, just prior to the return of Jesus, a vast number of nations will invade Israel and surround the city of Jerusalem. Joel tells us that Jesus will execute judgment against all parties involved in this invasion as well as any who force the dividing of His land:
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
It is clear from this prophecy that a distinct Palestinian state will become reality. The prophet goes on to speak of the Lord executing vengeance against those from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories who have engaged in violence against the people of Israel:
What are you to Me, O Tyre, Sidon and all the regions of Philistia? Are you rendering Me a recompense? But if you do recompense Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your recompense on your head. – Joel 3:4
Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom a desolate wilderness, Because of violence against the people of Judah, for they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah will be inhabited forever And Jerusalem for all generations. And I will avenge their blood which I have not avenged, For the LORD dwells in Zion. – Joel 3:19-21
According to the prophet Ezekiel, Jesus comes back to execute judgment against those who cling to the “ancient hatred” directed toward the Jewish people and shed the blood of “the children of Israel”:
“Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity … therefore, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you.” – Ezekiel 35:5-7
And according to the prophet Isaiah, the Day of the Lord, or the return of Jesus, is specifically a time when the Lord will vindicate Israel in the midst of “the legal cause,” or “the controversy of Zion”:
For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. –Isaiah 34:8
So while it is clear that Jesus comes back to stand with and defend the oppressed and persecuted nation of Israel, perhaps even more shocking to some is the fact that the Bible also specifically describes the utter devastation and judgment of Gaza and the whole of the Palestinian territory. The prophet Zephaniah, in speaking of the Day of the Lord, warns all men to “Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’s anger.” Then comes a very stark description of what lies ahead for the Palestinian state when Jesus returns:
For Gaza will be abandoned. … Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines; and I will destroy you so that there will be no inhabitant. So the seacoast will be pastures, with caves for shepherds and folds for flocks. And the coast will be for the remnant of the house of Judah, they will pasture on it. In the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down at evening; For the LORD their God will care for them and restore their fortune. – Zephaniah 2:4-7
According to this prophecy, the future Palestinian state will be destroyed and abandoned for the Jewish people to inhabit.
For some, after reading this information, there will be the temptation to write off the Palestinians and all enemies of Israel. But if we fail to recognize that through this passage, the Lord is calling everyone, including Palestinians, to repentance, then we fail to show appreciation for the the mercy that He has shown to us. Jesus died for us, while we were yet his enemies (Romans 5:8-10). Jesus was quite explicit in his warning against this kind of ungrateful spirit (Matthew 18:23-35). The church must diligently pray for Palestinians to find repentance and to become servants of the God of Israel.
For others, there will be temptation to simply disregard these prophecies, casually disregarding them as fulfilled in ancient history. But this cannot be done without committing a measure of violence against these texts. The many warnings of a last days gathering of the nations against Jerusalem throughout the prophets are not easy to disregard as irrelevant for our day, particularly in light of the direction the Middle East is taking right now. For those who believe that God is done with Israel, you may consider the obvious fact that Satan doesn’t seem to have received the memo. While a majority of the Jewish people today still reject Jesus as Messiah, their election and calling remains sure (Romans 11:28-29). Paul warned against becoming either arrogant or ignorant regarding this fact (Romans 11:20, 25). It is time for the whole church to recognize the fact that the creator of heaven and earth is the God of Israel. This is the title that he has designated for Himself for all eternity. When Jesus returns, he will take a very specific political stance – it is time for the church to get on board.