The whole world is being drawn into the current conflict over the Holy Land. The Bible predicted that just such a situation would develop in the “Last Days.” As predicted, two ancient peoples are at the center of the controversy, the Arabs and the Israelites. The Arabs call the land Palestine. The Israelites call it by its ancient name, Israel. There are unique and extraordinary circumstances in the history of these people, which cause much misunderstanding by most people today.
First, they both originated from the same forefather – Abraham – 4,000 years ago. The Israelites, commonly called “Jews” today, descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. The Arabs descended from Abraham through Ishmael and Esau.
Second, God chose Abraham’s line through Isaac and Jacob to be the recipients of several covenants that established them as his special representatives on earth. Basically they were chosen for the following purposes:
- To receive, write and preserve His Word to man, which we call the Bible.
- To be an example of the blessing that comes from believing in and following the true God.
- To be the physical race through whom the Messiah, the Savior of the world would be born.
- To spread the revelation of how to know God personally.
In order to accomplish these purposes, God made unconditional promises to them that involved making them a unique nation with an everlasting title deed to specifically defined land.
Historically, the descendants of Ishmael and Esau have felt that somehow they were cheated. This created an enmity that has smoldered and burst into flames at various times in history.
God forewarned the Israelites through Moses that their nation would twice be destroyed for failing to obey Him. The second destruction would be far more severe than the first – the people would be scattered throughout every nation under heaven. They would be persecuted and have no assurance of life. This was literally fulfilled, beginning with the Roman destruction of Israel and Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Deuteronomy 28:64-68 and Luke 21:20-24).
This dispersion began to draw to a close in May of 1948 when, against all odds, Israel was reborn as a nation.
This has created unique problems for the world. Never before has a people been scattered for almost 2,000 years, remained virtually a nation in exile, returned to claim their ancient homeland and then been reborn as a nation. The Arabs and all Muslims say Israel has no right to this land because they took it for Allah by Jihad, or holy war, centuries ago. According to their belief, Mohammed ascended to heaven from Jerusalem. Therefore, it is considered their third holiest place.
The secular world, especially Europe, sees the state of Israel as a nuisance that hinders the free flow of oil from the Arab nations. So they mostly side with the Arabs for economic reasons.
There are two different attitudes toward Israel’s right to statehood in the Holy Land among Christians. One group interprets Bible prophecy in an allegorical sense and says that Israel forfeited its covenant rights when it rejected Jesus as Messiah. A few in this group say that Israel in any event can never be given the land by God until they repent and believe in the true Messiah.
Then there are those Christians (and I am one of them) who simply take at face value what God has promised the Israelites. The prophecies of Ezekiel chapters 36 through 39 are one example. They all focus on the present Arab-Israeli conflict, which closely precedes the Messiah’s coming to set up God’s promised kingdom to Abraham’s believing descendants.
First, God warns all of the nations that surround Israel, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and with scorn of soul, to drive it out for a prey.'” (Ezek. 36: 5) “Edom” refers to the Arabs descended from Esau. The surrounding nations are all Muslim today.
Note that God says, “My Land.” The Muslims don’t own it, neither do the Jews – God owns it. He gives it to whom He chooses and not on the basis of human merit.
Second, God declares to whom and why He is going to give the Holy Land, “Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord …” And then, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean … I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. …” (Ezek. 36:22-26)
The Bible clearly shows that God is going to give “His Land” to Israel. Not because they deserve it, but because His great name is at stake – God cannot break a promise. It is after this that God will bring the Jews to repentance and give them a new heart. He will accomplish this through delivering them from a coming war that will almost destroy the world.
God disciplines His own for disobedience, but He never disowns them. We who are Christians can thank God for that, or we would have all been disowned. God has thrown his gauntlet into the arena with His promises to Israel. And Hell will freeze over before He fails to fulfill them, though the whole world tries to prevent it.
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