Beginning last year we have seen enormous efforts being made by a number of players to get Israel and the Palestinians to come up with a solution to their differences in order to stop the ongoing violence. The United States of America, assisted by Great Britain and the European Union, has been in the forefront of that drive. Simplistically put, their solution is for a Palestinian state to be created alongside the state of Israel, with Jerusalem designated an “international city”.
Over the years the Palestinians have made it clear that they do not and will not recognize the state of Israel. Furthermore, they have made it clear that, amongst their many demands, they want the “Old City” and East Jerusalem as their capital and want the Israeli settlements in the so called West Bank to be vacated by Israelis living there and handed over to them.
For their part the Israelis consider an undivided Jerusalem to be their eternal capital. They also consider that they have a right to keep their settlements in the West Bank; the biblical area of Judea and Samaria.
As a result of these differences (not all of them) the international community has been putting enormous pressure on both sides to reach an agreement to settle those differences. However, the pressure appears to be rather one-sided, in effect requiring the Israelis to submit to Palestinian demands. We constantly hear of Israel being berated for building new homes in the West Bank, that it will not give up any land nor go back to pre-1967 borders and that it is being intransigent over Jerusalem. Even as we write, British PM Cameron is in Israel putting pressure upon Israel to agree to the proposals by the International community; not to forget that the US, led by Secretary of State, Kerry, is constantly putting similar pressure on Israel, often using veiled threats to try to get them to comply.
This pressure is likely to intensify over the next month, especially as Kerry has declared that he wants a final agreement by 15th April.
We believe that those involved in trying to force Israel to give up land and to give up control over Jerusalem are playing a very dangerous game! We are therefore led to ask: “What does God’s Word have to say about the land of Israel and Jerusalem? Who owns the land of Israel? And, who has the “right” to look after the city of Jerusalem?”
There are many scriptures concerning these questions which, unsurprisingly, all point to the same answer but, here in our short article, we will only briefly consider a few of them.
Let us begin with the land. In Chapters 13, 26 and 35 of Genesis we learn that God first gives the land to Abram, later to be renamed Abraham, then reconfirms his oath with Isaac and finally with Jacob who, at that time, is also renamed Israel by God. In each case the land is given to them and their descendants:-
– To Abram in 12:15: “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”
– To Isaac in 26:3: “. . . . for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. . . . “
– To Jacob in 35:12: “The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”
(All above are extracts from the NIV.)
Surely there can be no doubt as to the identity of the rightful custodians of the land? And yet the international community refuses to acknowledge it.
What about Jerusalem? In 1 Kings Chapter 14 God’s word tells us that He Himself chose Jerusalem as the city in which to put His Holy Name. In Matthew Chapters 4 and 27 there are references to the “holy city”. Jerusalem is also frequently referred to in the Bible as “the city of God”. The Lord refers to it as “My city” – Isaiah 45. More often He speaks about it as “My holy mountain”. And because the very name of the city means Peace, we know that in this place God Himself will give peace – Haggai 2. Psalm 76 informs us that God’s tent is in Salem and his dwelling place in Zion; references to Jerusalem. And finally one day it will become the city of righteousness – Isaiah 1. Jesus Himself will one day rule from Jerusalem in righteousness.
Presently the Dome of the Rock of Islam, controlled by the Jordanians, stands on this site which is so holy to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To Islam this site is much less important than the Ka,aba in Mecca, but Islam will fiercely resist any attempts by the Jews to reclaim it for God. God has already rebuked Satan about it and in Zechariah Chapter 3 He makes it quite clear that He, the Lord, chose Jerusalem. Satan will not prevail there forever!
There can be no doubt that Jerusalem belongs to God.
Finally we need to be reminded that Jerusalem was bought by King David over 3.000 years ago. It has never been legally sold so logically it still belongs to the House of David. God will reclaim it for His purposes at the time of His choosing.
What Warnings does the Lord give to nations and individuals? Again there are many warnings in scripture and here we will consider only a few of them. In Genesis 12:3 God said to Abram 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” NIV. Here God makes it clear that those who do not treat Abram and his descendants properly will in turn be severely dealt with by Him.
About Jerusalem the Lord says in Zechariah 12:3: 3On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. (NIV) God is simply telling the nations not to tamper with His holy city. “All the nations” surely refers to the United Nations, a world body which is essentially anti-Israel and ready to approve a settlement along the lines noted above.
And the last scripture we will consider here surely concerns what is presently being proposed by the US, Britain and the EU. It is found in Joel 3:2. “I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” (NIV)
Are we about to see God’s land divided? If so there will be consequences for those dividing it.
The final arrogance to consider is the date which has been set by which the peace talks are to be wrapped up; that date being 15 April, 2014. For the Jews it is a very important day, having been declared an “appointed time” by the Lord.
Firstly it is the first day of the Jewish religious New Year and, secondly, it is the first day of the Passover celebrations. Passover is a day specifically set aside by the Lord. This is what the Lord says about it in Leviticus 23:4-5. 4 “These are the Lord’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. (NIV) (Remember the Jewish day begins at sunset, here the 14th, and goes through to sunset the next day, here the 15th.)
We do not know how God will react to the deliberations going on at present but, we can be sure that in his own way and own time, He will deal with those who so blatantly disregard His warnings.
It would be wise for all involved in these negotiations to heed Gods Word.
Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.