On November 30, 2012 (one day after the world upgraded the PLO’s status at the UN), the government of Israel declared its intention to move ahead with planning, approval and construction of 3,000 housing units in the suburban Jerusalem area known as Ma’ale Adumim, Mevaseret Adumim or E-1 (over twenty years ago, our family owned an apartment in this suburb).
Two weeks after the UN ‘upgrade’ (on December 15), fourteen of the fifteen Security Council members issued strong condemnations of Israel’s moves, while Britain, France, Germany and Portugal declared that “the viability of a two-state solution is threatened by the systematic expansion of settlements,” and that “all settlement activity, including in east Jerusalem, must cease immediately.”
Within two hours of these condemnations, an even more strident joint statement was issued by India, South Africa and Brazil announcing that all “settlements must be dismantled and the occupation must end … (not as) a concession to be made in the course of negotiations (but rather as) an obligation under (UN) resolutions and international law.”
Three days later (on December 18) U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland added that “with regard to the larger settlement issue and statements and actions on the ground, we are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action.”
So there it stands – world condemnation of an Israel which builds homes on the mountains of Judah and Samaria; censure of the Jewish people who build apartments and parks in their capital city Jerusalem. The EU even declared that the Jewish state’s building projects could destroy the whole peace process, jeopardizing “the possibility of a continuous, sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian state, and of Jerusalem as a future capital of both Israel and Palestine.”
These declarations reveal what the world thinks about Jews settling the land of Israel in our day.
One step back, two steps forward
On November 29 2012 the PLO (now called the Palestinian Authority – PA) requested and received an upgrade of its status at the United Nations (see “Why do the nations rage?” www.davidstent.org, November 30, 2012). This vote made international news, and was hailed by the world’s media as a positive step forward. What the world media did not focus on was that, in doing this, the PA was committing a basic breach of the Oslo Accords.
At Oslo the PA had signed on to an exclusive process of face-to-face negotiations with Israel. Anything other than face-to-face interaction would cause that Oslo process to self-destruct. Thus, the Palestinians’ unilateral request to the UN was a legal breach of the Oslo Accords, and as a result all legal agreements between Israel and the PA (regarding security, economic cooperation and a host of other issues) can reasonably be considered either frozen or invalidated.
A short background paragraph: over the past four years the PA has refused to engage in direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions. It has refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state (meaning that it claims all of Israel for itself in the end). The PA has praised terrorist activities as well as supporting the al-Aqsa terror work of its own Fatah party. It has threatened to resume a full-blown terror war against Israel if it does not receive the entire package of its demands. After four years of impasse, the PA has now decided to jettison the Oslo Accords, successfully getting the UN to reward Palestinians for their intransigence, hostility, rejectionism and threats of terror.
No one is now expecting Yasser Arafat to return the Nobel Peace Prize he had been awarded in 1994. But few grasp that, as a result of this latest Palestinian unilateral move, Israel is not legally obligated to help establish a Palestinian state, to cooperate with Palestinian security forces, or to even refrain from building new towns and infrastucture in Judea and Samaria.
Immediately after General Assembly Resolution 67/19 was passed on November 29, the PA began to threaten that it would take the State of Israel to the International Criminal Court in the Hague for any perceived slight or refusal to agree to Palestinian demands. These are not tactics of a ‘peace partner,’ by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, what we are seeing is the dawning of the age of Palestinian ‘lawfare’ (using legal suits as another tool of warfare, along with terror attacks and missiles).
- What do the Scriptures have to say about Jewish settlements in the land of Israel – especially in the Last Days?
Settlements are as old as the hills
One of the first descriptions of settlements in Israel comes from Genesis 13:12: “Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley.” Genesis 20:13 shows us that YHVH was the One who had “caused Abraham to wander” from his original home and then to settle in the Land of Promise.
- Abraham was the quintessential settler.
Settlement is a biblical concept that could describe not just one family. It sometimes refers to an entire people conquering a land and dispossessing the inhabitants. In Deuteronomy 2:12-13 such a process is described as having divine approval: “The Horites formerly lived in Seir, but the sons of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which YHVH gave to them.”
Isaac’s descendants through Esau conquered and dispossessed the original inhabitants of modern Jordan, while Isaac’s descendants through Jacob did the same to the original inhabitants of ancient Canaan.
Elijah the prophet could also be fairly described as a settler: “Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As YHVH, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word’” (1 Kings 17:1).
Even Yeshua the Messiah was a settler at one point in His life. “Leaving Nazareth, Yeshua came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet” (Matthew 4:13-14).
Settlement is God’s idea
Moses was a man who knew God and spoke with Him face to face. At one point in his intercessory arguing with God, Moses reminded YHVH that He Himself had promised to settle the Jewish people for eternity in the land of their inheritance, “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever’” (Exodus 32:13).
Indeed, God describes the land of Israel as “the land in which I swore to settle you” (Numbers 14:30-31). The psalmist affirms, “Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance’” (Psalm 105:10-11).
- Settlement and inheritance are two inseparable sides of the same coin. If you believe that God has given the Promised Land to the Jewish people, it follows that the Jewish people have the right to settle it.
God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob include the land of Israel as an inheritance. That Promised Land needed to be claimed, conquered and settled. And God was very much in that process.
“Then YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Command the sons of Israel and say to them, When you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to its borders’” (Numbers 34:1-2).
“And you have seen all that YHVH your God has done to all these nations because of you, for YHVH your God is He who has been fighting for you. See, I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun. YHVH your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as YHVH your God promised you” (Joshua 23:3-5).
- Though many secular philosophers and scholars consider these promises primitive and outdated, one must remember that it is the God of the Bible who has made these promises and covenants. And He continues to force the awareness of these promises onto the plasma screen of the world’s consciousness, through restoring His Jewish people back to their Promised Land – regardless of politically correct world opinion.
Settlement is God’s end-time prophetic promise
At the end of the age, YHVH promises to restore His people back to the land of Israel. The prophet Hosea saw that the Jewish people would come from the west and from the east back to the Promised Land, where YHVH Himself would settle them in their houses:
ü “They will walk after YHVH. He will roar like a lion; Indeed He will roar and His sons will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like birds from Egypt. and like doves from the land of Assyria. And I will settle them in their houses, declares YHVH” (Hosea 11:10-12).
This end of days scenario is also described in Isaiah’s end of days vision:
ü “When YHVH will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. The peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of YHVH as male servants and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors” (Isaiah 14:1-2).
Through the words of the prophet Joel, YHVH declares that the issue of the land of Israel as an inheritance for the Jewish people is so significant, that all the nations of the world will be judged on this matter at the return of Messiah Yeshua.
The matter of settling the land is one of the major last days’ issues confronting the nations at this time.
ü “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” (Joel 3:2).
Jeremiah prophesied concerning the last days:
- ü There will be “wicked neighbors” surrounding Israel who will “strike at the inheritance with which I have endowed My people Israel” (Jeremiah 12:14).
One of the Messiah’s great works at the end of days (given to Him by His Father) is not only to restore the Jewish people to their own land, but also to restore the desolated land:
- “Thus says YHVH, In a favorable time I have answered You, and in a day of salvation I have helped You. And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, to restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages” (Isaiah 49:8).
This end-times prophetic restoration includes the mountains of Judah (what is today called the West Bank), Sharon (the coastal plain between Tel Aviv and Caesarea), Achor (the Jordan valley) and many other areas in the land of Israel:
- “I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and an heir of My mountains from Judah – even My chosen ones shall inherit it, and My servants will dwell there. Sharon will be a pasture land for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place for herds – for My people who seek Me” (Isaiah 65:9-10).
The restoration of the Jewish people will involve their return from all the countries of the world (Ezekiel 39:27-28), including countries north of Israel like the former USSR (which lies due north of Jerusalem):
- “In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance. Then I said, ‘How I would set you among My sons and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of the nations!’” (Jeremiah 3:18-19).
When Messiah Yeshua returns, YHVH Himself prophesies that the entire land will be reclaimed by the Jewish people and will be re-divided into tribal territories.
- “Thus saysYHVH God, This shall be the boundary by which you shall divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel; Joseph shall have two portions. You shall divide it for an inheritance, each one equally with the other; for I swore to give it to your forefathers, and this land shall fall to you as an inheritance” (Ezekiel 47:13-14)
- “This is the land which you shall divide by lot to the tribes of Israel for an inheritance” (Ezekiel 48:29)
The prophetic Scriptures reveal to us time and again that God’s restoration of the Jewish people to their land is not an afterthought. Neither is it a heartless gathering of His people for destruction. It is first and foremost a sign of His faithfulness to the good promises He gave by covenantal oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in ancient times – and now being fulfilled in our day.
As the nations move against Israel and condemn this resettling of the land of Israel as provocative and as a threat to world peace, believers in the prophetic word need to gird up their loins and pray:
- Pray for the leaders of Israel to remain firm in encouraging the prophetic return and re-establishment of the Jewish people in the Jewish homeland
- Pray for the leaders of your own country to receive a revelation of God’s strategies in this hour, and that they might embrace God’s ways and means
- Pray for the swift return of the Jewish people – restoration to both their land and to their mighty Savior Messiah Yeshua!
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!
In Messiah Yeshua,
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