On the eve of the decision to be made on Palestinian statehood, it is appropriate for Christians of all denominations to remind themselves of the real nature of the biblical mandate of God for the Jewish people with regards to the Land of Israel-Palestine.Please watch my video on the Biblical perspective of ownership of the land of Palestine and read the recent article by Stephen Sizer that he published on his blog.
God Bless Jews and Palestinians
Today the Palestinian Authority will submit a request to be recognised as a sovereign independent state with recognised borders. It has been a long time coming. Many will say, what matters is what God says not the UN and they will quote selective verses from the Hebrew Bible suggesting the promises God made to Abraham about the extent of the land is the exclusive inheritance of the Jewish people today. A simple reading of some key Hebrew passages shows this to be arrogant and presumptuous.
Contrary to popular assumption, the Scriptures repeatedly insist that the land belongs to God and that residence is always conditional. For example, God said to his people, “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” (Leviticus 25:23). In Ezekiel, it seems the Lord anticipated the reasoning of those who arrogantly claimed rights to the land because of the covenant originally made with Abraham.
“Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.’ Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things… Should you then possess the land?’ … I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end.’ (Ezekiel 33:24-26,28-29)
The Hebrew scriptures insist, residence was open to all God’s people on the basis of faith not race. When the people of God returned from exile in Babylon, they were given these instructions:
“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe a foreigner resides, there you are to give them their inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezekiel 47:21-23)
Indeed, the writer to Hebrews explains that the land was never their ultimate desire or inheritance any way. The land was only ever intended as a temporary residence until the coming of Jesus Christ. Our shared eternal inheritance is heavenly not earthly.
“By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God… All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth…. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own…. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one… These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:9-10; 13-16; 39-40)
The New Testament insists the promises God made to Abraham are fulfilled not in the Jewish people but in Jesus and those who acknowledge him.
“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ… There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:16, 28-29)
So may God bless Israelis and Palestinians committed to justice, peacemaking and reconciliation and may his curse be upon those who resort to racism and violence to satisfy their greed and achieve their political aims.
Posted by Stephen Sizer at 10:59