Yesterday we started talking about the Arab/Israel conflict. Until we understand what is really behind this we will never be able to get it under control. Although it is not hard to articulate the problem in the Middle East, it is very difficult to find some solutions. The problem is that one group wants the other dead. The Arabs (Palestinians) refuse to accept Israel as a state. They refuse to accept that the Jews have any rights to that area. They insist that the Jews are stealing land that belongs to the Arabs.
Today I want to look at the truth concerning this. We started yesterday by looking at Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was the firstborn son of Abraham. Abraham was getting old and discouraged because they still didn’t have the son God had promised. Sarah came up with an idea to help God out. She told Abraham to have a son by her handmade, Hagar. Abraham did and Ishmael was born. The Arabs come from the line of Ishmael.
Ultimately God kept His promise, as He had always planed to do, and give Abraham a son through Sarah. Isaac is the son of promise.
The conflict over what we call the Holy Land is built on who is the rightful heir to the land? The Abrahamic Covenant was, in part, a promise of land.
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: (Genesis 12:1)
This land is given to Abraham and his seed. Before we get into the title deed for this land, I want to address the Palestinian myth. The whole idea of Palestine is a myth. There has never been a nation known as Palestine. When the Bible uses the term Palestine, it is referring to the Philistines.
Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly [and] speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head; (Joel 3:4)
This is referring to an enclave of Philistines north of Israel in what is now Lebanon.
Where do we get the idea of Palestine? After Rome had destroyed Israel in 70 AD, they brought other people into the area and tried to encourage intermarrying in an attempt to cut Israel off from her roots. This was common practice for the ancient nations when they captured an area. It was Emperor Hadrian, in about 125 AD, that first call this area Palestine. The name never really took hold.
The British, knowing the history, started referring to it as Palestine when they had control of the area in 1918. After WWI they were given the mandate to control the Middle East. They were to restore governments and divide the land. They were to plan a future place for an Israeli state. The proposed a two state solution. It was the British that called the Arabs that lived in the area Palestinians. The Arabs rejected the idea of being called Palestinians until 1948.
In the late 1800s, Jews started to return to the Holy Land because of persecution in Eastern Europe and Russia. They were looking for a place of refuge. What better place than their ancient homeland in the Middle East? This was called Zionism.
The Arabs from neighboring countries, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, began to notice the return of the Jews to the region. They began to counter this move by pushing Arabs into the area. The Arab population exploded. In 1882, there were less than a quarter million Arabs in the area, By 1948, it had grown to nearly one and a half million.
Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about this, this is where the real answer lies. The person who got me started looking into this was Osama Ben Laden. When he was in hiding, in 2004, Al Jazira played a tape and here is part of the transcript:
What will the rulers do if Israel starts to expand its unfair and unjust settlements, which the leaders do declare as such, beyond its currently known boundaries, and says, our borders extend to Medina.
We have Osama Ben Laden asking what if Israel says our land extends all the way to Medina? This would expand Israel all the way to the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. I asked why Osama Ben Laden would say such a thing. Why would a Muslim ever think that the Jews would make claim to land down there?
Let’s look into the title deeds given by God to the Jewish people. The first thing we need to understand is what a title deed is. It establishes legal ownership and the borders.
The first title deed in found in Genesis Chapter 15. In this passage, there is a ritual. I don’t know if this became a custom because of what God did, or if God was following an established custom. To establish a contract or a covenant, they would take an animal, slice it in half, and then walk between the two pieces. Here is what God commanded Abraham to do:
And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. (Genesis 15:9-12)
Because of the deep sleep, Abraham did not pass between the animals, only God did. This is not a bilateral agreement. Abraham is not responsible to keep the covenant, only God is.
And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:17-18)
Somewhere between the river of Egypt, the Nile, eastward to the river Euphrates, which would take us into Iraq, God has promises a piece of real estate to the Jewish people. In Chapter 17 we get the second title deed, which is more specific.
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:8)
In this passage we learn that the land includes all of the land of Canaan. The southern part would be Beersheba, and the northern part would be Dan. The historic borders of Canaan have always been certain. God makes it clear that He is going to give this land to Abraham and his seed. The question is, which seed? Is it Isaac or Ishmael? The answer is given in verses 18-21.
And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. (Genesis 17:18-21)
We will pick up here tomorrow as we continue our look at the title deeds. When we look at the third title deed, we will find that the land expands far beyond what we have ever thought of before. It will be a startling revelation, and I hope you will come back tomorrow to learn just how much land God has promised to Israel.
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