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Short Biblical "Handbook" on the Palestinian People

 
  Monthly Report: 2/1/1988  
editorial
 

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"You see the young soldiers walking through muddy, pot-holed streets. On either side, the tumbledown makeshift buildings of the refugee camps and barricaded shops. Ahead, a pile of smoldering tyres that might or might not contain a gas cylinder.

"They face a barrage of stones. Tear-gas canisters are fired, or dropped from helicopters. Armored personnel carriers move into position, and the soldiers break into a trot toward the barricades. The crowd of people on the other side are not intimidated. On the contrary they surge forward, shouting 'Allah Akhbar' (God is great) and waving Palestinian flags.

"The hail of rocks intensifies. So intense is it that a foreign television crew's car is hit by 50 rocks in 20 minutes. Some of the youngsters, their heads covered with keffiyehs -- probably more as protection against the gas than to hide their identities -- are wielding clubs stuck with nails.

"It seems impossible to deal with the surging wave of chanting humanity descending on the small military force in that narrow alley.

"Shots are fired on the orders of the ranking officer -- usually a youngster of about 20 or 21, who probably never envisioned being engaged in pitched battle against school children and women when he volunteered to stay on in the army.

"His orders are explicit: fire into the air. He has been drilled and warned countless times over the past five weeks to avoid casualties at all costs. This because of the assessment in the defense establishment that the toll of casualties among Palestinians was one of the key reasons for the escalation in both the violence and the international condemnation that Israel was facing.

"The shots don't help, and orders are now given to fire with low-caliber rifles at the legs of the leaders. Only meters now separate the soldiers from the phalanx of Palestinian youngsters, their eyes blazing hatred, oblivious to the crack of rifle fire around them.

"Shots are now fired at the crowd. The wave suddenly reverses itself and the road in front becomes visible through the haze of gas and the noxious fumes coming off the still smoldering tyres.

"Three people are seen lying in the street amid the thousands of rocks that make the road look like a moonscape. The soldiers cautiously approach the casualties, to ascertain the cost of another small 'victory' in what seems to be a never-ending war (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 15, p. 5)."

The Jerusalem Post continues, "The scene has been repeated hundreds of times -- over 1,200, by the IDF's own count -- these past five weeks. More than 35 Palestinians have been killed, and hundreds wounded. The intensity has varied but the scenarios have been almost identical."

DOUBLE STANDARD OF WESTERN MEDIA

Israel has received extremely critical press and T.V. coverage throughout the world. Yet Israel would have no trouble with the media in the West if it adopted the tactics of our neighbor, President Assad of Syria, in dealing with disturbances in the territories. Assad put down disturbances in his own country within two days in the city of Hama by shelling it with artillery and killing up to 20,000 of its inhabitants, while preventing any access by the media and making it clear that any correspondent who wrote an unkind word about Syria was risking his life.

Of course the media in the West said nothing. The same goes for journalists in almost every other Arab country. Western journalists say little about unpleasant details in Lebanon, for example, knowing that they have an excellent opportunity to be kidnapped if they do so.

Last year when King Fahad of Saudia Arabia shot dead several hundred Iranians and other pilgrims in putting down a riot in Mecca during the Haj celebrations, he received little or no critical press as to his methods of quelling the riots. Reason: instant expulsion for such indiscretions.

One Israeli scientist wrote in the Jerusalem Post that he complained to a large U.S. newspaper over the differences in reporting events in Israel and Lebanon because of fear of assassination. The editor's final reply: "One of the reasons I have delayed answering you is that I had to think of a way of including the information (that you pointed out) without posing danger to our correspondent that you correctly cite in your letter." (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 6, p. 6).

We can also recall that the Iran-Iraq war which is still going on, and which has seen over a million men slaughtered, has received modest coverage. Why? Westerners are allowed in only when the Arabs propaganda machines of either country think it to their advantage. If a Westerner should write disparagingly of their methods (lethal gas warfare, etc). it will be, at best, their last visit.

All of this is not to justify Israel's handling of the riots, only to show that where there is true freedom of the press, all the ugliness of violent conflict is shown in living color (consider Viet Nam). Moreover, there is no question hut that the rioters, knowing that they are receiving worldwide coverage, are encouraged by the media presence to even more violence.

The one overriding factor in these riots, is that the Arabs, with their knives, stones, molotov cocktails, and occasional guns, are bent on one thing: to kill any and every Israeli citizen and soldier they can. The press certainly is not bringing out the fact that Israeli citizens are attacked, wounded or killed daily and Israeli soldiers are repeatedly wounded, and are fighting for their lives against the Arab rioters.

Putting aside the conflicting reports of these serious riots, let us remind ourselves what the real issue is. The Palestinians believe that Israel is not Israel at all, but Palestine -- meaning Philistia -- the land of the Philistines. (The Greeks, trading first with the coastal land of the Philistines, soon called the entire Holy Land by that name.)

Turning to the Bible for political answers will never be popular, or even logical to the world, whose ruler is not the God of Israel. Biblical answers will not satisfy television or newspaper commentators but they are important for those who want to understand -- inspite of all the zig-zagging and conflicting predictions -- what direction events will ultimately take.

WHO DECIDES BOUNDARIES?

Most people of the world are completely unaware that God makes national boundaries.
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the people...(Deut. 32:8).

Paul confirms this premise in his sermon to the people of Athens:

And He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation (Acts 17:26).

Yet of no other nation, did God ever specify the exact borders other than the land of the people of Israel. Not once, but numbers of times in the scriptures. He first said to Abraham,

. . .Look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever (Gen. 13:14-15).

On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates..."(Gen 15:18).

The Lord then specified who were Abraham's descendants of promise.

...But Sarah your wife shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him (Gen. 17:19).

So that there will not be any confusion, God further confirms the covenant with Jacob and his sons:

And God said to him..."You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you. And I will give the land to your descendants after you" (Gen. 35:10,12) .

However it was only in the Book of Joshua that the Lord himself spelled out the boundaries of Israel in minute detail. Here are excerpts pertinent to the situation today.

...the Lord said to him (Joshua) "You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed. This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines..." (Josh. 13:1-2).

This is the first area that God spoke of to Joshua. It is today partly settled by Israel in the towns of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

The other part of it is the Gaza Strip, where Arabs are now rioting.

He then speaks of other areas which are receiving much publicity in the media. The tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, Benjamin and Judah, were given the land that in Bible times became known as what Israel calls Judea and Samaria, and what the Arabs today call the West Bank. (See any Bible map and read Joshua 13-25.)

In Joshua's closing speech, he pointed out that even though God repeatedly promised to drive the inhabitants out of the land, yet Israel had to physically fight to gain possession. As Joshua said to the sons of Israel, "How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?" (Josh.18:3).

Lest anyone wonder if these promises have been revoked because of the sins of Israel, the New Testament addresses that valid question:

What, I am saying is this: the Law which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant, previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but

God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise (Gal. 3:17-18).

The prophets themselves state the same thing.

…It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned...For I will take you from the nations...and bring you to your own land (Ezk. 36:22, 24).

For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes...(II Cor. 1:20).

When Yeshua the Messiah said, "Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished (Matt 5:18) ," Yeshua surely was referring to all that is written in the Law (first five books of the Bible) and the prophets. Obviously there is yet much to be fulfilled.

Even with all this cloud of witnesses as to Israel's right to the promised land, applying specific prophetic passages to today's situations is not always simple. Prophecies may refer to immediate situations of the prophet's own day or of some future time, -- but which today has already passed. Then there are prophesies which although made 3,000 years ago, have not yet taken place. They may be fulfilled this year, next year, or in a decade or some other future date.

THE GUILT OF YOUR FATHERS

However, a principle in the word of God which is applicable is: A people may pay for the sins of their fathers many generations later (Ex. 20:5).

For example, King Zedekiah of Judah who had his eyes put out, and was removed to Babylon, was probably no more wicked than many kings before him. However, Judah's cup was filled and the wrath of many generations came upon him and his people, because he continued in the same sinful path.

Yeshua spoke of the same principle when he said to the Jewish religious leaders,

Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up the measure of guilt of your fathers...that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on the earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah...(Matt. 23:31, 32, 35).

When Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple, and some million Jews were killed, he was allowed to do so, because of the accumulated sins of Israel throughout the generations with no change in sight. How does this apply to today's situation?

Today the Arabs, by declaring themselves the descendants of the Philistines, who desire the whole land of Israel as did the ancient Philistines, witness against themselves that they are the sons of the enemies of Israel and will bring upon their own heads the cup of judgment prophesied in the Bible.

Judea, Samaria and Gaza have been given as an inheritance to Israel. Furthermore, when the Bible speaks of Judea and Samaria and Gaza as it does scores of times, the general tone and message is the same. Let us look at a few passages.

In Jeremiah 32, God promised to gather Israel back from exile to the land to be His people.

And I will make an everlasting Covenant (the New Covenant) ...and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all my heart and with all my soul (32:40-41).

In this prophecy he continues by specifically talking about the land of Benjamin which is the environs of Jerusalem. This area includes the Old City of Jerusalem, which much of the world wants returned to the Arabs. The prophet Jeremiah, through the Holy Spirit, sees in the future that the "cities of Judah (Judea or the West Bank), and the cities of the hill country
(including Samaria) the cities of the lowland (the coastal plain including the Gaza Strip) ," will be given to Israel for her inheritance (Jer. 32:44). These prophecies are repeated again and again, and specifically in connection with the time Israel will receive the New Covenant (Jer. 31:24, 31).

Ezekiel 11:15-17 gives God's answer to the Arabs in Jerusalem Who claim the city as theirs:

Son of man, your brothers, your relatives, your fellow exiles, and the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, "Go far from the Lord; this land has been given us as a possession." Therefore say, "Thus says the Lord God, Though I had removed them far among the nations...I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries...and I will give you the land or Israel."

Joel addresses the Palestinian issue in his last day prophecy. Moreover, what are you to Me, O Tyre, Sidon (Lebanon), and all the regions of Philistia?...I will return your recompense on your head (3:4).

Amos picks up the judgment.

So I will send fire upon the wall of Gaza...and remnant of the Philistines will perish...(1:7-8).

Isaiah also speaks against the Palestinians, who because of their opposition to Israel, are filling their cup:

Wail, O gate; cry, O city; Melt away, O Philistia, all of you...(14:31)

The prophet then addresses the newspaper and TV media and the political inquirers and critics from all the nations.
How then will one answer the messengers of the nation (gentiles)? That the Lord has founded Zion, and the afflicted of His people will seek refuge in it (Isa. 14:32).

Ezekiel agrees with the other prophets as to the fate of the Philistines and their inheritors, the Palestinians. The enemies of Israel along the seacoast will not inherit Israel.

"Because the Philistines have acted in revenge and have taken vengeance with scorn of soul to destroy with everlasting enmity," therefore, thus says the Lord God, "Behold I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines ...and destroy the remnant of the seacoast" (25:15,16).

The whole tone of the Scriptures therefore is that the Palestinian people cannot inherit the land of Israel, and that they will remain Israel's enemies until they are judged by God.

If all these promises have been made to Israel, why then is Israel having such a difficult time possessing her land?
There are two prominent Biblical reasons. One, Israel will inherit more land as the Jews return to Israel and increase the ranks of Israel's inhabitants.

For Deuteronomy 32:8 goes on to say, "He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel."
Furthermore, God spoke to Israel through Moses saying,

I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate...I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land. And I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines (Mediterranean)…They Shall not live in your land...(Ex. 23:29-33).

Every Jew who makes his home in Israel is fulfilling God's word to possess the land that God has given to His people.
Secondly, the possession of the land is intimately connected with the number of Jewish believers in Israel who have received forgiveness of sins through God's own son Yeshua.

Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! I would quickly subdue their enemies. And turn My hand against their adversaries (Psalms 81:13-14).

God spoke to Solomon concerning Israel about this very point:

(If) My people Who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins and heal their land (II Chron. 7:14).

Moses also prophesied:
(When) you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul...then the Lord your God ...will gather you again from all the peoples...(And) will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you (Deut. 30:2, 3,7).

As the number of believers increases in Israel, through the preserving salt of His righteous ones, God will then act on Israel's behalf. Your prayers and giving for the salvation of Israel, will reap benefits both spiritually and physically.

Meanwhile Israel's soldiers must face the hostility of Palestinian hatred and Western criticism.

We hoped for light, but behold darkness; For brightness, but we walk in gloom (Isa. 59:9).

Yet God promises a few verses later:

Arise, shine; for your light has come... His glory will appear upon you. And the nations will come to your light...(Isa
60: 1-3).

God is going to do it! But in His victory, He wants to divide the spoil with you, His people, His strong ones, both Jew and Gentile (Isa. 53:12).

If you take part in the spiritual battle now, He will divide the spoil with you! Israel's believers desperately need your prayers and support. For you are part of the Body of Israel's Messiah! You are bonded eternally to Israel, and she needs you.

In Our Messiah,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram

 
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