How will they react when God enforces His settlement plans for Israel? Welcome to the October 15th, 2010 edition of Bible in the News. This is Glenn Abel with you. The headlines are not new, and are typical of the past few years: “Israel’s plan for 238 settler homes draws Palestinian ire”... “PLO: No talks while settlements continue” ... “Above the Law: Israeli Settlements & the End of the Two-State Solution” ... “Russia calls for Israel to cancel settlements construction in East Jerusalem” ... “Israel Draws Ire with New Settlements.”
Israel unveils settlement plans
With the settlement freeze expiry, a new round of offers, dire predictions, posturing, and complaints dominate the headlines. Adding new fuel to the fire was the unveiling of the Israeli housing ministry’s plan for 158 new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem - 158 in the Pisgat Zeev settlement and 80 in Ramot.
For those wishing another freeze on settlement building, Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel offered: “If the Palestinian leadership will unequivocally say to its people that it recognizes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,... I will be prepared to convene my government and ask for an additional suspension of [settlement] construction for a limited period of time.” Of course, there isn’t much chance of that happening, and so much discussion has been generated and speculations as to what the real motives behind this offer might be (not that this has not been offered before).
Another item causing tension this week with regards to Israel, was the introduction of a loyalty oath, requiring all non-Jewish immigrants to pledge allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” Again, this has caused strong reactions in Israel, the middle east, and beyond.
The anti-Zionist media is quick to condemn Israel for “stirring the pot”, calling it an apartheid regime, and effectively blocking the way for any peace by building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
What does the Bible have to say about this? Let’s open our Bibles to the book of Genesis to get some of the background on Israel and the land.
The land promised to Abraham and his Seed
Genesis 12 outlines the Jewish patriarch Abraham’s journey of faith to the land promised by God. In verse 6, we read: “And Abraham passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.”
We note that this area of the land of Canaan is the area including modern Nablus in the West Bank. The fact that there were pre-existing nations there was irrelevant to God - he would drive these nations out, in due course.
Again in Genesis 13:14-15:“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.”
So Abram and his seed were promised this land on the basis of faith in God’s word.
Boundaries outlined to Abraham
In Genesis 15:18, the general boundaries were outlined to Abraham, as God made a covenant with him:“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:...”
From the river of Egypt (that is, the Nile) all the way across to the Euphrates! A greater area than Israel today that includes Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Abraham’s Inheritance Not Yet Fulfilled
Some have thought that Israel’s conquest of Canaan under Joshua and Caleb were God’s fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. Not so says the Apostle Paul, since Abraham himself has yet to inherit anything: Heb 11:13: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Or, as Stephen spake in Acts 7:5: “he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: ye he promised...”
In these last days, God has provided a witness to all that he intends on keeping his promises to Abraham, and the Jews by restoring the Jews to Israel, as anticipated by His holy prophets. Yet, his plans for Israel are much more than simply inheriting the land. His intentions are to develop a new spirit within them which will result in a restored relationship between them. Jeremiah 31:31-34:“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
God’s Settlement Plans
The holy oracles of God also outline God’s plans for settling the Abrahamic inheritance, according to the tribes of Israel. Ezekiel 47:13 - 48:35 outlines the borders and details of His settlement plan, as depicted in the artist’s drawing accompanying this article.
Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State
The future kingdom of Israel is a reality promised by God, expected by Jesus’s apostles (see Acts 1: 6) and validated by Jesus himself: (Luke 22, Acts 1:3).
Yet when Jesus returns and establishes this Kingdom, there will be nations who, like today, will not recognize Israel (or its King). They will be punished accordingly:
Zechariah 14:16-19: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.”
From the day that Abraham entered the land, he and his offspring have had to deal with the Canaanite in various manifestations through time. “Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.”
Yet Zechariah leaves us with a vision of a time of complete holiness in the land. v21:
So, as we see the reaction of the Palestinians and other anti-Zionist groups to the minuscule plans for settlements in the land of Israel, we can only wonder what the reaction will be when God’s plans are revealed to the world, and become the “reality on the ground.” We don’t have to wonder what will happen to those who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Jews in Israel... there will be drought and plague!
Through Christ... Abraham’s Seed and Heirs to the Promises
The “seed” that was promised to Abraham was primarily, Christ himself, and secondarily, those faithful Israelites who would believe that what God had promised he was able to perform. (Gal 3:16) Even though we may not be Jewish, God has provided a way for us, through Jesus Christ His son, to be “grafted in” to the Jewish hope of Israel: Galatians 3:27-29: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
A glorious hope indeed, and we should be thankful to the God of Israel for His gracious provision as we soberly reflect upon those who died in faith of God’s settlement plan for Israel and the Earth, and now await resurrection to life. In the words of Hebrews 11:39-40:“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
Join us again next week, God willing, for another edition of Bible in the News.