Even as Egypt was shaking in the throes of revolution last week, spokesmen for Western powers insisted that the real danger to Middle East peace had nothing to do with the numerous demonstrations raging throughout the Arab world (either targeting military dictatorships or advocating Islamist dictatorships) in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Iran. The real danger, said some influential Western politicians, lay in the holding up of the so-called ““peace process” – the one dealing with shrinking Israel’s borders and establishing a Judenrein Palestinian state.
Some voices among believers in Messiah Yeshua are sounding amazingly in tune with the above trends. One group in Israel sees no conflict between true biblical reconciliation (between Jews and Arabs) and advocating the establishment of a Palestinian state. The numerous Scriptures dealing with God’s judgment on those who divide the land are casually dismissed as simply differing theological and political opinions – and not unchanging guidelines in God’s word.
It is certainly true that the issue of ownership of the land of Israel is the world’s hot button today, and the Scriptures declare that this button will turn molten red in the days immediately preceding the return of Israel’s Messiah Yeshua, the Son of David to Jerusalem.
Perhaps the Scriptures can help us move to a biblical solution, What were Abraham’s own intentions for the future of the land of Israel? Did he intend for his different children to share that land, or that only one of his children would receive the promise of the land as an inheritance? If we discover Abraham’s intentions, does that mean that Jews and Arabs will be willing to carry out Abraham’s last will and testament concerning the land of promise?
In the name of the Father?
Recent comments by President Obama’s former National Security Advisor, Marine General James Jones, at the annual IDC Herzliya Conference (www.herzliyaconference.org/Eng/) show a curious theological slant, even if spoken by the mouth of a Western secular politician. Jones said, “I’m of the belief that had God appeared in front of President Obama in 2009 and said if he could do one thing on the face of the planet, and one thing only, to make the world a better place and give people more hope and opportunity for the future, I would venture that it would have something to do with finding the two-state solution to the Middle East” (www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=207259). General Jones added that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the “knot that is at the center of mass.”
With all due respect to the theological convictions of the USMC General on this matter, a military man knows that no one can speak in the name of the Father – in the name of the Lord of Armies – without properly delegated authority. An appeal to Presidential political power or even to chic and fashionable words like “reconciliation” – none of these can substitute for real spiritual authority, the kind that can only be found in the word of God.
Go East young man!
When a man is about to die, in most cases his mind is surprisingly focused. His paramount desire is to make absolutely sure that his last will and testament will be carried out to the letter. No fudging, no compromise, no playing favorites (Romans 2:11; 9:7-14). Genesis 25 describes Abraham’s impending death and his preparations for departure (verse 8). It notes that “Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east” (Genesis 25:5-6).
Abraham had married another woman, Keturah, after Sarah had died. He had six sons through her, and yet the text calls them “the sons of the concubines.” Though they were physically descended from Abraham, Abraham distinguished between them and his son of promise Isaac. When he gave them parting inheritance gifts, he sent them “east of Eden” – far away from the land of Israel. That inheritance had been promised to Isaac alone.
Dedan and Sheba, Jokshan and Midian – these sons of Keturah settled as Arab tribes scattered across the deserts of Arabia.
Abraham’s purpose was clear – only Isaac and his children, the people of promise, would have Abraham’s blessing to live in the future land of Israel.
Abraham’s blessings are Isaac’s
The Scriptures tell us that the choosing of Isaac as the sole inheritor of the land was not an accident. It was part of God’s original plan. God had told Abraham repeatedly that this would be so. Abraham believed God. And it was counted to him for righteousness.
The first recorded communication between YHVH and Abraham concerns the land as an inheritance to the Jewish people: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…To your seed I will give this land” (Genesis 12:1,7).
Later YHVH said to Abram … “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your seed forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you” (Genesis 13:14-17).
When YHVH cut the covenant with Abraham, the land as an exclusive inheritance to the Jewish people was again at the center of the revelation:
He also said to him, “I am YHVH, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “YHVH Adonai, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” …As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then YHVH said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day YHVH made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites” (Genesis 15:7-8, 12-20).
No longer Canaan but Israel
The Scriptures tell us that the land promises to the Jewish people are for the whole people for time and eternity. Even the name of the land will no longer be called “Canaan” and the previous Canaanite inhabitants will have no claim to the land or live there again. Those who are attempting to name parts of the land of Israel “Palestine” in honor of the Arab Palestinians (though the term actually comes from an ancient Roman attempt to curse the land by renaming the land after the Philistines, the biblical enemies of David) should consider YHVH’s prophetic precedent here.
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8).
What about Ishmael?
The Scriptures tell us unequivocally that Ishmael and his seed will never inherit the land of Israel:
“Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your seed will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring” (Genesis 21:10-13).
Even the Angel of the Lord’s prophecy in Genesis 16 makes it clear that Ishmael’s seed will live “opposite from,” or “facing” or “in hostility to” the Jewish people – in common speech, not sharing the same land with Isaac, and not kindly disposed to Isaac either!
“The Angel of YHVH also said to her, ‘You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for YHVH has heard your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers’” (Genesis 16:11-12).
What started out as the mocking of Sarah and Isaac by Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:9; 16:4) ends up as hatred of the Jewish people. Yet God can even heal this in Messiah Yeshua! Nevertheless, this need for healing among Ishmael’s seed needs to be squarely confronted and resolutely handled.
Borders are God’s idea
The prophetic word known as the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:30) transmits much important revelation. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Moses declares that “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He divided all mankind, He set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For YHVH’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted inheritance. In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:8-10).
In this passage God makes it crystal clear that it is He alone who establishes national borders. He describes Israel’s borders in great detail in the Bible (e.g., Genesis 15:19-20, etc.).
Deuteronomy 32 teaches that He actually sets the borders for all nations based on His priority purposes for the Jewish people. There is even a mystical connection between the borders of all countries and the amount of Jewish people on the face of the earth!
To restate this point more clearly, it is not the Arab world, the EU, the USA, the Quartet or political chic that has any authority to pontificate about the borders of the Jewish state. According to YHVH, the matter is decided, the case is closed, and it is His theological and political opinions which win the debate. What will actually change is the borders of all other nations, based on their treatment of the Jewish people and their state (Genesis 12:3; Jeremiah 30:16-17, etc.).
Abraham’s blessings are mine
The Scriptures are clear regarding Ishmael. They are equally clear regarding Esau (also known as Edom or Se’ir), Isaac’s first-born son through Rebekah. Esau/Edom and his seed will never inherit the land of Israel.
Esau’s potential inheritance of the land was decisively blocked not once but twice – once through God’s prophetic word (Genesis 25:21-23) and the second time due to his apathy and unbelief concerning the promises – which led to his abdication of his own firstborn right of primogeniture (Genesis 25:29-34).
Ezekiel brings a prophetic rebuke to the Edomite people regarding their evil last-days attempts to claim the land of Israel as belonging to the Arab nations. Though the matter was closed as far as the promises of God are concerned, there remained (and remains) an active Arab movement attempting to violate God’s express will in the Bible, by attempting to wrest control of the Jewish state (in part or the whole) from the Jewish people.
In the last-days scenario of Ezekiel 36 the God of Israel calls the Edomite people “His enemies” – those who are attempting to “make the ancient heights their possession” (verse 2). YHVH declares that the heart motives behind these actions are “glee and malice” (verse 5), and that their treatment of the land of Israel has been to “ravage” and “plunder” it with “scorn” (verses 3, 5-7). He also faults the nations who stand with Edom’s claims, accusing them of “malicious talk, slander, ridicule and scorn” towards the Jewish people and their state (verses 3-7).
Ezekiel’s prophetic word is simply not what many would expect as being sufficiently “PC” or “politically correct.” Perhaps British Foreign Minister Hague might even call Ezekiel’s tone a trifle “belligerent” – a term he recently used to rebuke Prime Minister Netanyahu for questioning Egypt’s reliability in light of the civil disturbances (www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/8312527/William-Hague-calls-on-Israel-to-drop-its-negative-stance-on-Egypt.html).
To speak plainly, those who advocate for a Palestinian state to be set up on the land of Israel violate the spirit and letter of Ezekiel’s prophetic word. To advocate for a division of the land between Jew and Arab will ultimately bring down God’s burning zeal and judgment when He comes to judge the nations in Joel 3 and Zechariah 14.
May the Lord keep all of His beloved children far from such a fate! But may the Lord also help us to treat believers with whom we disagree with love and honor, even if they somehow behave like enemies.
One last thought – is it not ironic that the Arab nation, many of whom believe that they are descended from Abraham, take pride in that claim while simultaneously denying Abraham’s express will and testament – that he bequeathed the Promised Land to Isaac alone. To honor the father is to honor his will. And to honor the Father is to honor His will as communicated in His holy word.
- Pray for an increase of biblical clarity and faithfulness, of prophetic revelation and zeal, of humility and intercessory groanings for believers in Yeshua internationally over the issue of Abraham’s covenant promises to Israel and people and Israel the land.
- Pray for God’s heart regarding believers who oppose God’s word on these matters, and for a revelation of God’s truth and heart to them regarding the ramifications of Israel’s restoration.
- Pray for those who are enemies of the gospel, enemies of the Jewish people and enemies of the word of God in your own country and throughout the Middle East – for dreams, visions and illumination by the word and the Spirit of God.
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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