Friday, September 23, 2011

What's All This Fuss About This Little Piece Of Land

Around 8,000 square miles. That's the size of the nation of Israel. All this fuss is about 8,000 square miles. To put that into perspective, when compared to the state of Texas, the land mass that is Israel would fit inside of Texas 32 times. So, what's so special about this small piece of land?
While this little piece of land has experienced much turmoil since 1948, the truth is the struggle to possess this land goes back much further than that. Over 4000 years ago God approached a man named Abraham and gave him the land. While the land God promised to Abraham includes the 8,000 square miles that today is referred to as Israel, the "Promised Land" is actually a much larger parcel of land. This land grant from God was part of a promise or covenant that included much more than just the land. This covenant that God cut with Abraham is an everlasting covenant, which means that it is forever. Therefore the land that God gave to Abraham over 4,000 years ago, still belongs to his descendants today.
Herein, lies one of the biggest issues. Both the Jews and the Muslims trace their ancestry back to Abraham. Abraham had a total of 8 sons. Most of us have heard of Isaac and Ishmael and we often make the mistake of assuming that all the Arab nations are descendants of Ishmael, and the Jews are the descendants of Isaac. While the latter is true, the Arab nations are not simply the descendants of Ishmael. Remember that Abraham had 6 other sons in the mix and the Arab nations are made up of the descendants of Ishmail and these other 6 sons.
Ok, so here we have a plot of land given to Abraham. The question is which son inherited this piece of land? In Genesis 17 there is a conversation between Abraham and God that is recorded. After Abraham asks God if Ishmael is the descendant to whom God intends to fulfill His covenant with, we see God's response in verse 19. Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him." So, Isaac becomes the heir of this everlasting covenant that God made to Abraham. Therefore, the land belongs to his descendants who we know to be the Jewish people.
I think it's easy to see how Abraham's remaining 7 sons might be a little ticked off with Isaac and the blessing he received from God. Fast forward 4,000 years and there you have the struggle we see still be played out in that very same place. What you see are the descendants of Abraham still fighting for the piece of land that God gave to Abraham's son Isaac. Although, Ishmael was not the heir to this covenant of God, God did promise to bless him and has fulfilled that promise to him. As for the other 6 sons of Abraham, God made provision for them to be blessed by promising to bless all those who bless Israel, or Isaac's descendants.
Looking at today, I think its important to understand God's promise to the nation of Israel. As I've mentioned earlier, it is a promise that lasts forever. Therefore it is as valid today as the day God made that promise to Abraham over 4,000 years ago. In the same way, God's promise to bless those who bless Israel holds true still today. Also, God's promise to curse those who curse Israel is valid today.
This week the United Nations is voting on whether or not to grant statehood for the Palestinians. While some may think that is only fair, it is a dangerous proposition. Scripture tells us that it is God who determines the borders of the nations. Dividing the land, that God has given Israel is not simply opposing the Jewish nation, it is opposing God. I would think that would not turn out to be a good thing. In Joel 3, we are given a glimpse of what God thinks and does to those who divide the land He has given to Israel. Trust me it's not a passage that you'll ever want to see fulfilled.
In 1948, Great Britain pulled out of the territory that is now called Israel and left it up for grabs. From that time until today, Israel has fought to maintain that land. And though surrounded by those who would like to wipe them off the face of the map, they have remained. They have remained because it is their land, given to them not by the nations of the world but by God. The nations of the world have no authority, nor do they have the power to require Israel to give up one square foot of land. Should they attempt to the results would be devastating for them. Let's just pray that in spite of what the rest of the world does that the U.S. continues to remain a friend of Israel.

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