First published in 2008 – President George W. Bush made his first “official state visit” to Israel on January 9-11, 2008, during his last year in office. For the last seven years, he stayed away, while traveling to several Arab countries. However, he finally decided to go – for the purpose of forcing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to actively seek an agreement that will lead to a Palestinian state. His plan is to carve the borders of “Palestine” out of the heartland of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital.
On the eve of his arrival, at least six Israelis were arrested for hanging posters around the Old City. Also, Orthodox Jews prayed at the Western Wall wearing “sackcloth” in an effort to register their public protest to his visit. The Sanhedrin Court drafted a “Bush Scroll” calling him the “Chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal” and begging him not to betray Israel.
It was on November 2, 1917, that the British government issued the Balfour Declaration promising a homeland for the Jews. Thirty years later, on November 29, 1947, the British government placed the matter of Israel’s future before the United Nations, resulting in another historic declaration – the establishment of the state of Israel.
A few months later, on May 14, 1948, the nation was born.
The restoration of Israel is one of the most controversial political issues of the century. Palestinians have claimed that the land is theirs, that the Jews have no right to even one square foot of it, though the area had been under the control of the Turkish government for some 400 years – not Palestinian control. Just who deserves the land? Do the Jews? Do the Palestinians? Do Jews have a right to control the land in the so-called “occupied West Bank” areas?
Though the United Nations established Israel in 1948, most of the world no longer supports the concept of Jewish sovereignty. They regret ever giving them any territory in the Middle East. The controversy rages today as much as it ever did. The children of Abraham are still fighting it out! If the fate of the Israeli government were placed in the hands of any human court, the verdict would probably be disastrous. Time and time again, the United Nations has taken the side of the Arabs against Israel. While dedicated Christians around the world are in favor of Israel’s existence, their governments are not. The only political ally on the side of Israel is the United States – and many in Washington are wavering. In light of these developments, let us appeal to the court of heaven for the final verdict in the case.
God Owns the Land
There is one verse of Scripture, which declares the absolute ownership of, not only the Middle East, but the entire world:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).
Since God created the earth, the right to ownership is His. Whether man recognizes the existence of God or not is irrelevant, for in the final analysis, God will lay claim to His earth. He not only owns the world, but also everybody in it. Among the continents, however, there is one special area to which God lays a unique claim. It is the land of Israel. There are several places in the Bible where God calls the land, “My land.” For instance, in Ezekiel 38:16 God condemns the mighty Gog and Magog for the invasion of His land:
“And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land” (Ezekiel 38:16).
Here, God emphatically calls the land of Israel His land. That claim is repeated in Joel 3:2:
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:2).
Both of these verses pronounce judgment upon Gentile nations for their part in denying the Jews a right to live in God’s land. Notice that God calls Israel, “My People,” and He calls their land, “My land.” When Gentile nations challenge the integrity of the land and its people, God steps forward to proclaim His judgment upon them.
A Covenant With Abraham
God is the absolute Owner of the land, and as such, had every right to evict the Jewish people 20 centuries ago. But He also has the right to bring them back in this generation. God is Sovereign over the land. Let us review Genesis 17 – the days of Abraham – and determine God’s sovereign disposition over HIS land.
“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”
“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8).
There can be no doubt that such a covenant was declared and recorded 4,000 years ago. Ah, but the Arabs also claim to be descendants of Abraham. They are children of Ishmael.
Does not the land then also belong to them? You may recall, the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, while the Jews are descendants of Abraham’s other son, Isaac.
The controversy was settled in Genesis 26:3-4. It is there that God narrows down the covenant to exclude the children of Ishmael. It was to Isaac that God said:
“Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
“And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 26:3-4).
God not only promised the land to Isaac, but He gave what the Scripture declares to be “all these countries.” In fact, He used the term twice in His promise to Isaac.
However, Isaac had two sons – Jacob and Esau – and there is a good deal of evidence that the Palestinian people who live in the land today could be descendants of Esau. Do they not also have a claim to the land? God has decided that they do not have any claim on the Promised Land. He narrowed the inheritance of the land to Jacob and his descendants:
“And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy lions;
“And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land” (Genesis 35; 11,12).
The proclamation is clear. God has promised the land to Jacob and his descendants – namely the 12 tribes of Israel. When we consider these three covenants together, the line of descents to which the land is promised is evident. In each case, God narrowed His promise of the land – from Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and then to his descendants after him.
In view of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we must declare a verdict in favor of Jacob’s descendants. We have no choice. We stand without reservation on the side of Israel. We must conclude that the land of Israel has been given to the people of Israel – to the descendants of Jacob. However, we know that the people were evicted from their land almost 2,000 years ago. It is the prophetic Scripture to which we must look for the final disposition of the land – and the prophecies do not differ from the original covenant.
Had It Not Been For Israel
Humanly speaking, we owe our eternal destiny to Jacob’s descendants. If there had been no Israel, there would have been no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible, and no Savior.
In John 4:22 Jesus, Himself, summed up all of this in one simple statement. He said, “…for salvation is of the Jews.” Regardless of our nationality or background, we owe a spiritual debt to the Jewish people that can never be calculated.
The first 11 chapters of Genesis serve as an introduction to the main theme of the Bible. They fill in the background and set the stage for all that is to follow. From that point forward, the Bible is essentially the history of Abraham and the nation that descended from him through Isaac and Jacob. The Bible is basically the story of Israel embracing both the past and future. Geographically, the Bible is set in the land of Israel, and historically, its theme is the people of Israel. It is a Jewish Bible penned by Jewish men, giving both the history and the future of the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Even the New Testament is a Jewish book. The most important Person in the New Testament, Jesus Christ, was a Jew. Furthermore, He did not lose His Jewish identity after His death and resurrection. Sixty-three years after His crucifixion, Revelation 5:5 still referred to Jesus as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.” He is still identified with the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is forever a Jew.
Furthermore, Jews penned all of the New Testament books. Contrary to the opinions of some, I am convinced that Luke was a Jew. The twelve Apostles were Jews. Paul, who became the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a Jew. Most of the co-workers of these great men were also Jews.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that the ultimate goal of all true believers is a “city which hath foundations whose Builder and Maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). In Revelation 21, the holy city of New Jerusalem, is described as having gates and foundations. On its gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. On its foundations are the names of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Every name inscribed in the New Jerusalem is a Jewish name. I must say that no one with an anti-Semitic prejudice could ever feel comfortable in the New Jerusalem.
Written by: J.R. church/Article originally published in the February 2008 PITN magazine.