Years ago Steve Stills penned a song in response to the November 1966 protest-riots on Sunset Strip. One of rock’s classic protest songs, its first line goes, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear . . . You better stop! Hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what going down.”
A lot is going down. COVID-19 has morphed into protests/riots in major American cities. Riots then mutated, vandalizing America’s cultural icons. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring).
Bounding toward us down the primrose path is the fast approaching date of July 1, 2020. On May 4, 2020 Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Alternate PM Benny Gantz signed a coalition agreement. Paragraph 29 of that agreement reads: “After discussions and consultations are conducted between the Prime Minister and the Alternate Prime Minister based on the principles outlined above, the Prime Minister will be able to bring forward the agreement reached with the United States on the application of sovereignty for debate by the cabinet and government and for approval by the government and/or the Knesset as of July 1, 2020.”
July 1, 2020 has become a ground-zero date. What will happen on that date? Will Israel annex up to 30% of the West Bank (including Jewish cities and towns in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley) according to the guidelines of President Trump’s ‘deal of the century?’ Will the PLO then establish a Palestinian state in the remaining 70% of Judea and Samaria aka the West Bank? Is this process a dividing up of the Land of Israel spoken of in the warnings given by the Hebrew prophets? Does the Bible shed any light about how this relates to Israel, the Middle East and the future? What follows is rough seven-point sketch of the issues involved.
Today no modern country bases its foreign policy on the Bible (see Deuteronomy 17:18-20). What carries the day for most politicians is realpolitik – a German word referring to diplomacy based on pragmatic considerations of given circumstances, rather than on moral and ethical premises. But the Scriptures have much to say regarding the Land of Israel and its borders:
- The Land of Israel is YHVH’s gift to the Jewish people as a divine patrimony exclusively and forever (Genesis 15:18; Numbers 33:52-54; 2 Chronicles 6:24-25, 36-39; Amos 9:14-15, ; Romans 11:28-29; etc.)
- YHVH promises to regather the Jewish people to their homeland after a long Exile and then transform them into a mighty army (Jeremiah 30:1-3, 18-20; Ezekiel 37:9-14; 39:27-29, etc.)
- At Messiah Yeshua’s return He will judge the nations for attempting to divide up the Land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem (Joel 3:1-2; Zechariah 14:1-5; etc.)
Based on these signposts, all nations – including the Jewish nation – should stay far away from dividing up any part of the Land of Israel. They should instead champion her God-given borders (Genesis 15:18; 17:8; Numbers 34:1-15; Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 15:1-12; etc.)
Waltzing without a partner
Politically correct wisdom at the United Nations and the European Union declares that the Israel-Palestinian conflict will only be solved by face-to-face negotiations between the two parties. But the unappetizing fact is that there is no trustworthy Palestinian negotiating partner available. All Palestinian groups either refuse to negotiate with Israel (Hamas, Islamic Jihad) or refuse to accept any Israeli offers (PLO, PA). The Palestinian bare minimum would still result in Israel’s fatal dismemberment. Negotiations with all of the Palestinian groups are a non-starter.
Two lucid examples of this reality:
On July 1, 1994 Yasir Arafat crossed from Egypt into Gaza after signing the Oslo Accords. His ‘peace entourage’ of limousines was simultaneously smuggling terrorists into Gaza (Mamduh Nawfal, Jihad Amarin, etc.) who had the blood of many Israelis on their hands. Unregistered weapons and night vision scopes were hidden in the same vehicles:
- www.ijl.org/justicem/Mag%20No.31%20Spring%202002.pdf (Ehud Yaari’s article)
Throughout the Oslo Accords period (1993-2000) PLO President Arafat repeatedly declared that violent Islamic jihad would continue, and that the Palestinians would eventually destroy and replace the Jewish state. Stipends to terrorists (the ‘pay to slay’ martyr’s fund) increased during this period:
The goal of Palestinian terror – Israel’s destruction – continues to this day:
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval once said that “the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The Palestinians are now missing a ‘golden opportunity’ – this time under U.S. auspices – to receive 70% of the West Bank. U.S. conditions in ‘the deal of the century’ insist that the Palestinians must abandon terror and violence for the deal to go forward. Similar conditions were blatantly violated by the PLO and Hamas during the period of the Oslo Accords. These conditions will not be followed by the Palestinians at this present time either.
What the Palestinian Authority leadership is counting on is European and Arab pressure to significantly alter Trump’s plan. Instead of 30% of the West Bank going to Israel, Europe would push for the Jewish state receiving less than 10%. The Europeans would not insist on a realistic end to Palestinian terror. The nations of the world are pressuring Israel with malice to hand over 90% of the West Bank to Palestinian terrorists sworn to bring about the Jewish people’s destruction. America (on the other hand) is cajoling Israel to hand over 70% of the West Bank to Palestinians who (they hope) will change their spots and begin to sing kumbaya.
When your neighbor is of the jihadi persuasion
Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries on all sides. Two of them (Egypt and Jordan) have peace treaties with the Jewish state. Nevertheless, strong jihadi Muslim Brotherhood movements fester just below the surface in those countries, waiting to overthrow those governments:
Jihadi forces move about and operate effectively between the countries of Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Iran. These are serious people, highly motivated in desiring to destroy Israel. Both Sunni and Shi’ite, they also have plans to overthrow pro-Western Sunni Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, etc. Some of the abovementioned countries pay protection money to the jihadis to keep the Islamists off their backs. Others (like Qatar) play both sides of the coin. These kingdoms live in fear of being bulldozed by Iran’s jihadi Revolutionary Guards. At present, Sunni countries are willing to secretly cooperate with Israel because their fear of Shi’ite Iran overshadows their own Sunni desire to see Israel’s destruction.
Israel cannot afford to let down its guard in the face of these threats. Were Hamas jihadis given the chance to run in West Bank elections, they would soundly defeat the Palestinian Authority (PLO) and establish a new Hamastan in Ramallah, Jenin and Hebron. The presence of so many jihadi groupings in such a close proximity to Israel illuminates why, for Israel, having truly defensible borders is not merely an intellectual or philosophical exercise. It is a matter of survival.
Iran and ISIS
Iran’s jihadi ‘Shi’ite crescent’ is spreading, wrapping its cold revolutionary fingers around Iraq, Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen, Gaza (Hamas) and Egyptian Sinai. ISIS (the Sunni jihadi movement) is waiting in the wings, working toward the establishment of its own jihadi caliphate in Syria and Iraq, while infiltrating into North Africa and other countries. The dangers facing Israel are increasing. Establishing a Palestinian state on 70% of the West Bank (America’s idea) or on 90% of the West Bank (Europe’s idea) at this time is a very bad idea indeed.
Abba Eban once referred to the U.N.’s efforts to shrink Israel back to its 1948 borders/cease-fire lines as a move to return the Jewish state to ‘Auschwitz borders’ – indefensible front lines that could lead to its annihilation. Yet at this very moment the vast majority of the nations insist that Israel must abandon large chunks of its biblical and historical homeland or face punitive international sanctions, both political and economic. Most nations are opposed to the U.S. annexation plan which calls for a Palestinian state on 70% of the West Bank. Instead, they want Israel to hand over at least 90% of Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) to Palestinian terror-diplomats.
Some Israelis argue (based on this pressure) that it would be better not to move forward with American annexation plans at this time:
On the other hand, Israelis on the Right and among the religious believe that now is the time for reclaiming the Jewish people’s heritage even if only in part:
Israeli statesman Abba Eban adds a thoughtful comment: “Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’ Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement . . . There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession” (New York Times, November 18, 1981).
The obsessive fixation of the nations of the world on shrinking Israel’s borders has dark echoes of Joel 3:2: “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.”
Tremblings in a distant land
U.S. President Trump is considered by Israelis to be the most pro-Israel President in recent history. Here are some of the reasons:
- the moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embassy_of_the_United_States,_Jerusalem)
- the recognition of the Golan Heights as Israel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_recognition_of_the_Golan_Heights_as_part_of_Israel)
- Trump’s personal warmth expressed toward Israel’s Prime Minister and people
One of President Trump’s goals has been to “do the deal of the century” – to achieve a peace treaty between Israel and Palestinians that no other President has managed to pull off.
Though recent events in the U.S.A. have weakened Trump’s power, many Evangelicals strongly support him in the ‘deal of the century.’
Trump’s deal is based on the presupposition that both Israel and the Palestinians will sit down to negotiate. Israel has been willing to talk, but the Palestinian Authority has refused to meet. In the likely event of such a zero-sum scenario, the shapers of the deal gave Israel the right to unilaterally apply Israeli law on up to 30% of its ancestral homeland in the West Bank. The other 70% of those territories would then be earmarked for a Palestinian state, and Israel would be forbidden from building or operating there.
Technically it is not accurate to define Israel’s move here as an annexation for three simple reasons:
- The San Remo Declaration of 1920 (part of the League of Nations) recognized the entire ‘Palestine Mandate’ as the Jewish ancestral homeland (https://besacenter.org/mideast-security-and-policy-studies/san-remo-conference/; www.timesofisrael.com/on-centenary-san-remo-conference-hailed-as-seminal-moment-in-zionist-history/)
- Land which belongs to you by historical and biblical right can be recognized and declared as under your sovereignty. There is no need for annexation
- The West Bank territories never belonged to a country called ‘Palestine.’ There has never been an independent country called ‘Palestine.’ Therefore Judea and Samaria can’t be considered ‘occupied Palestinian territories.’
Many Orthodox Jews (including the settler movement) and many Christian evangelicals are hesitant about any moves to establish a Palestinian state under any circumstances, based on three reasons – the Bible’s teaching; the refusal of all Palestinian groups to recognize Israel as a Jewish state; and Palestinian refusal to turn away from terrorism.
Ironically at this juncture the most positive pro-Israel U.S. government in history is also pushing for a dividing up of the land of Israel. The Hebrew prophet Zechariah warns all nations to be careful about these matters: “It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured” (Zechariah 12:3).
Could the increasing divisions happening right now in U.S. society be a Genesis 12:3 result of America’s pressure (even if enacted with finesse) to divide the Land of Israel?
What will the nations say?
Jewish people in Exile always found themselves at the mercy of the nations. Every important decision (and many less important ones) needed to be weighed against the potential negative consequences that unfriendly Gentiles might aim against Jacob’s family. In the same way as one would not want to annoy a hungry bear, so it was important not to irritate non-Jewish kings and princes.
Prime Minister Ben Gurion went against conventional wisdom when he said, “It matters not what the Goyim (the non-Jews) say, but what the Jews do” (The Windsor Star, Canada, December 3, 1973). Ben Gurion meant that the Jewish people could probably count on Gentile opposition to Jewish restoration. In light of this, his counsel to the resurgent Jewish nation in her soon-to-be-sovereign homeland was that she would need to make decisions based on prophetic vision and not on fear.
The climate of fear is very present in many discussions concerning applying Israeli law to portions of the West Bank. The following questions are raised: What happens if Trump is not elected? Will Biden and the Democrats then take revenge on Israel? Will the European Union boycott and apply bone-crushing sanctions against Israel? Will the fledgling under-the-table connections with Arab Gulf states evaporate in the hot desert sands? Even some Zionists who acknowledge the age-old connection between the Jewish people and their ancient cities and farms in the West Bank are deeply concerned that this whole scenario could easily turn the world against us – kol ha’olam negdenu, as it is said in Hebrew.
In 1948 there were many learned voices who urged Ben Gurion NOT to proclaim the Jewish state. Annihilation at the hands of foreign armies was a real possibility. The combination of international pressures, the after-effects of Nazi mass murder, and British cold-heartedness were all too real. But in the end David Ben Gurion proclaimed the Jewish state on May 14, 1948. The rest is history.
Physical and political abuse
A woman who has suffered physical abuse from her husband is afraid of doing anything which might trigger more beatings. Similarly, Israelis realize that an international consortium could arise and do damage to the Jewish state if we try to hold onto our historic homeland. More than anything else, this dynamic reveals that the Hebrew prophets’ End of Days vision is not so far-fetched after all.
Pray with us about all these above points. Lay them before the God of Jacob in earnest prayer. Ask Him to establish His purposes over His Jewish people and His Promised Land in these matters, speedily and in our day. And let’s stay away from dividing God’s Promised Land!
How should we then pray?
- Pray for God’s discernment and wisdom to be given to Israeli and U.S. leaders regarding His Land
- Pray for revelation to be given to all those responsible for Israel’s security as they prepare for what’s coming down
- Pray for the spirit of grace and supplications à la Zechariah 12:10 to be poured out on the Jewish people
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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