Israel and the Palestinians are at it again. The world watches nervously, because this is not just a local skirmish – Israel is sending a strong message to its enemy Iran. What might Israel do next? If Iran has nuclear weapons, will it use them? What will the US or Russia do?’ If you’re willing to listen the Bible has all the answers.
Israel and the Middle East seem to constantly dominate our news agenda. Recent events between Israel and the Palestinians are among others in numerous skirmishes between the 2 sides. Many consider the situation to be impossible to resolve. Others try, but have so far failed to produce any lasting peace.
But how has the situation become so bad? Why did the fighting start in the first place and will it ever be resolved? The Bible tells us that God’s plan is centred on the nation of Israel, and we have the chance to be part of it, if we want to be. If we go back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we meet a man called Abraham. God made a promise to him:
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Abraham had 2 sons; Ishmael (from whom some of the Arab people descended) and Isaac (from whom the Jews came from). Isaac’s son was Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. Jesus was also a descendent of Israel. So 3 faiths; Islam, Judaism and Christianity all look at this prophecy and say “this seed is referring to us”. But who is correct?
Abraham’s wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children, but he did father a son, Ishmael, with her maid. Traditionally it was the eldest son whom the line passed through (a tradition that still exists in parts of our monarchy even to this day). So you can see why Ishmael’s descendants think the prophecy is about them.
But in Genesis Chapter 17 God renewed the promise with Abraham and he said that the prophecy would be fulfilled through the decendents of Sarah’s son. But if Sarah was barren, how could that be? Even Abraham found it hard to believe!
“Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”
Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”
Ishmael’s descendants have been richly blessed and are some of the richest nations on the earth at the moment. But it would appear from this (and other incidents in the Bible) that it was Jesus, born through the Jewish line, this prophecy was talking about.
Whose Land is it?
Today one of the big questions to be resolved in the Middle East is that of territory and land ownership. The question is the same for Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the entire land known as Israel. Everybody is arguing about ownership and rights of occupation.
Palestinians maintain that the land is their’s as they have occupied it for 2000 years and that gives them absolute title. They say they have been ousted from their land by force. But the Israelis point out that they were there first – from about 1400 BC until they were displaced in 70 and 135 AD.
The situation has been further complicated by various wars. In 1947, the UN voted to partition the land between the Jews and the Arabs. However, the Palestinians refused to recognise the state of Israel and Israel began claiming back Palestinian occupied parts of the land as their own. What we are left with today is a complicated and dangerous position of stale-mate with neither side willing to compromise
On top of this there is the problem of Jerusalem. The Palestinians want to make this their capital, but the city is sacred to three religions – the Jews, Christians and Muslims.
In any political settlement that might be reached, one important consideration is likely to be overlooked, All land belongs to God: He formed it, and he alone owns it. As the Psalmist observed:
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
And as the apostle Paul once said, God has given the nations a right for occupation, but not forever:
God, who made the world and everything in it… He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord,
So neither side actually owns the land. There is a time coming – and all indications are that it will come quite quickly – when God will call all nations to account for the way they have occupied His earth. We are told He will “destroy those who destroy His earth” when He sends his King to reign here. Then this wonderful forecast will come true:
The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
There will be peace in the Middle East, but only when Jesus returns to set up God’s Kingdom. Jesus wants us all to have a place in that Kingdom with him. Then there will be no more war, no more death and no more suffering. There will be everlasting, perfect peace. To find out more about this plan, pick up your Bible and read it.
If you would like help reading the Bible, or would like to receive a DVD “Peace in the Middle East” which looks at this subject in more detail, then please visit our websitewww.TheChristadelphians.org.uk or drop us a line at FREEPOST, THE CHRISTADELPHIANS.