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 owns the land? Do the Jews? Do the Palestinians? Do they have a right to control the land in the “occupied” West Bank areas?
Though the United Nations established the state of Israel in 1948, most of the world no linger supports Israel. 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. It is found in Psalm 24:1
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
Since God created the earth, the right to ownership is His. Whether man recognized 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.”
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.”
Both of these verses pronounce a judgment upon the Gentile nations of the world for their part in denying the Jews a right to live in HIS land. Notice, please, that God calls Israel “My people,” and He calls their land “My land.”
When the Gentile nations of the world 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 twenty centuries ago. But He also has a right to bring them back in this century. God is sovereign over the land. Let us then go back to Genesis 17: 7, 8, to 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.”
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. 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, however, 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.”
Please note that God not only promised to Isaac the land called Israel, but He gave what the Scripture declares to be “all these countries.” In fact, He used the term twice in His promise to Isaac.
But wait a minute, Isaac had two sons-both 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 made it clear that they do not. He narrowed the inheritance of the land to Jacob and his descendants. Genesis 35: 11-12:
“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 loins;
“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.”
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 descent through 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 these covenants made by the God of heaven with the people of Israel, we must declare a verdict in favor of the Israeli nation. As a people of the book, who claim to believe the Bible, we have no choice. We stand without reservation on the side of Israel.
The psalmist wrote in Psalm 105:7:
“He is the Lord our God: his judgments are in all the earth.”
Do you believe this? Then listen to what the psalmist wrote in the following verses:
“He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.
“Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac;
“And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:
“Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance”
(Psalm 105: 8-11).
Please note, the writer of this Psalm emphasized two important points.
First, he left no doubt as to the line of descent through which the promise of the land is given. It is from Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and to his posterity.
Second, he sought to establish the sacred and unchanging nature of God’s commitment to Abraham and his descendants.
He spoke of the covenant as being God’s “Own covenant.” He called it “the word which He commanded.” He said it was “His oath unto Isaac.” He referred to it as “a law,” and finally “an everlasting covenant.” That’s a pretty powerful list of words! How can one be more emphatic than that?
A Thousand Generations
Furthermore, He declared the covenant “unto a thousand generations.” That would take at least 20,000 years. Yes, we must conclude the land of Israel has been given by God to the people of Israel – to the descendants of Jacob.
Psalm 105 declares the land to be forever Israel. However, we know that the people were evicted from their land by their Landlord, God, almost 2,000 years ago.
The Prophets Are Consistent
It is the prophetic Scripture to which we must look, then, for the final disposition of the land. The prophecies do not differ, however, from the original covenant.
For instance, the prophet Jeremiah wrote in chapter 30 of his book, verse 3:
“For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.”
There is only one area of land in all the earth that fits that description. It is the land of Israel. Notice, please, God spoke of the captivity of “My people Israel and Judah, “ and, further, He said they would return to the land “that I gave to their fathers.” In fact, He said they would possess their land.
Then there was Ezekiel, who wrote in chapter 36, verse 24:
“For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.”
This is clearly a prophecy concerning the last days of world history when the Jew will return to his land and the Messiah will come to establish a world kingdom. When God promised to bring Israel back to the land at the close of the age, He still called it “your own land.” In God’s sight, the ownership of the land has never changed and never will. He gave it to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to his descendants – the people of Israel.
Even the prophet Amos concluded his book with a similar, emphatic prediction.
“And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.”
Amos predicted that God will plant them upon “their land.” It is obvious to all who believe the Bible that the hand of God can be seen in what must be considered as the incredible miracle of this century – the return of the Jew to his land.
These prophecies were given from 2,500 to 4,000 years ago and cannot be modified today by the United Nations, the PLO, the Arab nations, or even Russia. God has decreed that Israel is the land of the Jews.
These Scriptures are extremely emphatic. They do not simply imply the restoration of Israel, they declare it. Perhaps God, through His foresight, knew that such a move would be vigorously opposed by the Arab world. Therefore, He emphasized Israel’s unalienable right to the land.
Why Should God Be Concerned?
Why should He be concerned with such a small land 40 miles wide and 120 miles long? Well, first of all He is a covenant-keeping God. When God promises something, He follows through with it. If God did not keep that covenant, how could we expect Him to keep any promised to us?
Second, that little spot on the glove happens to be the land bridge spanning three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is a strategic location for political, as well as spiritual, control of the planet.
But there is yet another reason. It was given by Moses in Deuteronomy 32:8:
“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”
The Lord not only established the land of Israel for the Jew, but He has established the borders of every nation under the sun. He chose the amount of land for each nation according to the population that nation will eventually attain. It is also true of Israel. God has given His Chosen People just enough land to take care of Israel’s intended, ultimate population.
The apostle Paul said basically the same thing when he spoke to the men of Athens in Acts 17:26:
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”
God has not only determined where the nations shall dwell, but also when they shall dwell there. It all revolves around God’s dealings with Israel.
God Has a Plan
God has a plan. It not only involves the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel, it involves every nation in the world. When the Messiah comes, His kingdom will be a world kingdom.
In fact, when the Messiah comes, He will judge the nations upon one basic criteria – how they treated God’s Chosen People, the Jews.
This is the basic teaching throughout the Bible. It is the central theme of the prophetic Scriptures and, therefore, has a very practical application for the citizens of every nation in the world.
We cannot afford to stand aside and say that Israel’s fate does not concern us. We cannot take a neutral stand on the issue, because the well-being of every nation is at stake. Until Israel enters into its full inheritance, the other nations of the world can never enjoy the blessings that God has in store for them.
One day God will bring an eternal peace to the nations of the world. He will solve the problems of famine, hunger, and poverty. He will eradicate all disease and death. He will create a utopia. There will be no more war and bloodshed. But that world cannot come and Messiah cannot make His appearance until the Jew is back in his land.
To be sure, the restoration of Israel has been and will be accompanied by great turmoil and strife. Many peoples and nations will suffer. But that, too, is in the plan of God. Sin must be judged, and sinners must be weeded out before God can restore paradise.
Had It Not Been for Israel
We owe all that we have and all that we are to Israel. If there had been no Israel, there would have been no patriarches, 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. Unfortunately, historic Christianity has never recognized its debt to Israel. From at least the fourth century forward, the Christian church consistently treated the Jewish people with prejudice, contempt, injustice, and cruelty.
Most Christians today are almost totally ignorant of these historical facts, but it is true that Christian anti-Semitism was a warped form of theology held widely in the church for many centuries.
Historic Christianity has believed that the Jewish people were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ and were thus guilty of the most terrible crime of all – the murder of God, Himself.
On the basis of this theology, many Christians felt that the way to show their loyalty to Christ was to express their hatred toward His murderers – that is, the Jewish people.
For instance, the fourth century theologian, John Chrysostom, described, the Jewish people in his sermons as “lustful, rapacious, greedy, perfidious bandits…inveterate murderers, destroyers, men possessed by the devil…debauchery and drunkenness have given them the manners of the pig and the lusty goat. They know only one thing – to satisfy their gullets, get drunk, to kill and maim one another.”
On another occasion, Chrysostom said, “I hate the synagogue precisely because it has the Law and the Prophets…I hate the Jews also because they outrage the Law…”
The most tragic thing about this is not that a renowned Christian theologian could espouse such sentiments toward the Jewish people, but that he had a profound effect upon the attitude and theology of Christianity for many centuries to come.
During the Crusades of the 11th century, the soldiers massacred entire Jewish communities – sparing no one. When they reached Jerusalem, they found an entire Jewish congregation gathered in a synagogue and proceeded to burn down the synagogue killing the people. All this was done in the name of Christ.
Nor were the leaders of the Protestant Reformation free (by any means) from the guilt of anti-Jewish prejudice. When Martin Luther first published his teaching, he anticipated that the Jewish people would be convinced by it and would convert to Christianity. When this did not happen, Luther was disappointed and embittered.
On one occasion he wrote, “The Jews deserve the most severe penalties. Their synagogues should be leveled, their homes destroyed, they should be exiled into tents like the Gypsies. Their religious writings should be taken from them. Their rabbis should be forbidden to continue teaching the Law. All professions should be closed to them. Only the hardest, coarsest work should be permitted them. Rich Jews should have their fortunes confiscated, and the money used to support Jews who are willing to be converted. If all these measure are unsuccessful, the Christian princes should have the duty of driving the Jews from their lands as they would rabid dogs.”
During the 1930s, the Nazis of Hitler’s Germany used such statements by Martin Luther to advocate their anti-Semitic policies.
I guess we could say that the Nazis merely reaped the harvest that the Church had sown. No wonder the Jews have ill feelings toward historic Christianity.
It is time for us to denounce such anti-Semitism and to take our stand on the side of Israel in fulfillment of the central theme of biblical prophecy – the establishment of God’s kingdom on planet earth.