‘I will remember the Land’
I WILL REMEMBER MY COVENANT WITH JACOB, AND MY COVENANT WITH ISAAC AND MY COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM I WILL REMEMBER; I WILL REMEMBER THE LAND. (Leviticus 26:42)
BUT ZION SAID, “THE LORD HAS FORSAKEN ME, AND MY LORD HAS FORGOTTEN ME.” CAN A WOMAN FORGET HER NURSING CHILD, AND NOT HAVE COMPASSION ON THE SON OF HER WOMB? SURELY THEY MAY FORGET, YET I WILL NOT FORGET YOU. SEE, I HAVE INSCRIBED YOU ON THE PALMS OF MY HANDS… (Isaiah 49:14-16)
US Secretary of State John Kerry lands in Israel again today (January 2, 2014), the 10th time in a year that he has been here. Analysts believe he is hell bent (word used intentionally) on winning his Nobel Prize for Peace by welding into place an ‘outline’ or agreement ‘framework’ he will insist that Israel adhere to.
And he has global backing.
The entire world is out to rob the Jewish people of half of what they have of their ancestral homeland and give it to the Arabs, who already have 22 states of their own. Washington is leading the way in this land theft, and is willing to gamble with Israel’s existence by exacting this price from the universally-despised yet peace-seeking Jewish leadership, instead of demanding payment for peace from the belligerent and antisemitic Arabs.
In Judaism, the majority of Jews are resigned to the ‘inevitability’ of this division of the land of their fathers and the surrender to Islam of the cradle of their nationhood. Exhausted, they are ready to sever themselves forever from Shechem, Bethel, Shiloh, Bethlehem, Hebron and half of Jerusalem including its most important site – the Temple Mount.
In the ‘Christian’ world – Protestant and Catholic – almost every denomination agrees that the land-for-peace process is the right way to go, and exhorts its members to support it and pray to this end.
Even pro-Israel churches and Christian Zionist organizations – virtually all of them in fact – are unwilling to stand effectively against this land-grab for fear of upsetting the government in Jerusalem and/or alienating the millions of Jews who now go along with it.
Is this really so surprising? Common sense and logic certainly leave little doubt that Israel’s case is a lost cause, that those who have remained willing to stand with the Jewish state might as well pack up and go home.
But take a look at the first verse at the top of this article: Leviticus 26:42.
Three times in a single sentence God spells it out, saying: “I will remember.”
And three times He uses the word “covenant,” emphasizing that He made it with Abraham and with Isaac and with Jacob.
Which covenant will He remember? He will remember the covenant of the Land and who He gave it to.
No room is left for questioning with which line of Abraham’s descendants this covenant was made. In fact, the way it is written the Scripture is not merely saying that the covenant was inherited by Isaac and Jacob; it says that God made this covenant – this specific covenant of the Land – individually with each of these three men.
Why is this important? Because there are those who argue that due to the Arabs also being descended from Abraham, they too are entitled to this land.
God has surely emphasized this for a reason!
But the real point of this piece is to highlight God’s promise to never, ever forget the centrality of the Land of Israel to His covenant with the people of Israel.
Without the Land there is no covenant. The Land has always been at the heart of the matter. It is the stage upon which God’s plan of redemption has been, continues to be, and will conclusively be, played out.
From the institution of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through the forging into a nation of the people of Israel, through the founding in David of the dynasty of the Messiah, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, through the millennia-long yearning of the Jews to return home, through their physical restoration over the last 160 years, through the foretold coming alongside Israel of true gentile believers (10 from each nation taking hold of every Jew), through the alliance of all the nations against the Jews, through the deliverance of Israel and her restoration as a nation to her God, to the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom on earth, in the Holy Land, in Jerusalem: from beginning to end, the little Land of Israel is front and center in the purposes of God.
Sadly – in fact, it’s more than just sad – many Christians who say they want to move with God’s purposes for Israel and to comfort His people seem to have forgotten about the significance of the geographical territory or, at least, to have downgraded the Land’s importance in relation to the commitment they have made to stand with the Jews.
Even one high-profile believing author who has correctly identified Israel as “the epicenter” of all the things that are coming upon the earth appears confused about how Christians should respond to the international effort to divide up this land, and in the past has advised his audience to pray for progress towards success in this ‘peace process.’
The Devil is not confused. For him, the conflict lines are clearly drawn and he knows precisely where to direct his forces at this stage in the war. For Satan, the number one issue remains the battle for the land. While he is without doubt continuing his feverish work to spiritually corrupt and consume the people of Israel, the main focus by far of his effort and activity is to secure ownership of the Land away from the Jews.
Listen to the extra-ordinarily loud volume at which the world is sounding its demand for the establishment of a Palestinian state on Israel’s ancient homeland.
Do the math on the enormous amount of political capital being expended by the world to ensure the realization of this goal.
Witness the frantic efforts – in 2000 of President Bill Clinton, then of President George W. Bush, today of President Barack Obama – to resolve the Israeli-Arab dispute before they leave office.
For those with eyes to see, Satan’s driven purpose in these days is to reverse or roll back the physical restoration of Israel that has been unfolding over the last 120 years. By doing so he wants to prevent Israel’s spiritual restoration which has been promised by God, but which is predicated upon the Jews first being back inside, and sovereign in, their ancient land.
While enabling the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and there establish their national homeland was historically the first target and a central component of biblical Christian Zionism (or, as it was first known, Restorationism) and which goal until just a few years ago directed the actions and strategies of many Bible-believing Christians who had been led to embrace Israel, this is in too many instances no longer the case.
Some of the most well-known Christian Zionist organizations and individuals have, in fact, relegated the question of the restoration of the Land to second or even third place – to the point where the only thing they are prepared to do about this question is periodically express their belief that the land belongs to the Jews and will ‘one day’ all be theirs.
In the late 1990s, shortly before the eruption of the ‘Second Intifada,’ the Christian Zionist position that had been held for so long began to unravel.
Up until then, the movement’s mainstream consensus had always been that:
• after thousands of years in exile, the remnant of the Jewish people – those who survived the endless efforts to annihilate them as a race – would return to their land;
• they would come from the four corners of the earth, a once great people sifted like wheat among the nations, decimated by centuries of wandering and persecution, but resolved to bring their ancient country back to life and to once again become a nation with a homeland of their own;
• the majority of these returning Jews would be spiritually dead; claiming belief in no God, an increasing number growing remote from the faith their forefathers had miraculously clung to through the ages, they would strive to rebuild their homeland in their own strength;
• After their return to their land – AND THE RETURN OF THEIR LAND TO THEM – the Jews as a nation would have their hearts restored in relationship with the God of Israel;
• And then the Messiah would come.
Appealing to ‘solid’ theology, or ‘new’ factors which have come into play, a number of Christian Zionist leaders have steered their organizations off course, and today their actions suggest that the restoration of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and its unification under Jewish sovereignty no longer demands our “untiring international effort.”
Some principle figures have actually gone so far as to teach the opposite, aiming to pry the question of solidarity with the Land away from the question of support for the People.
One leader maintains that because so many developments have occurred during the time between Israel’s 1948 rebirth and the present, Christian Zionists need to reassess their stand and no longer “adhere without question to perceptions and programmes which were valid in the past.”
This man, a British Christian, believes that because “Israel has come to a point where there seems to be no human or political solution to the situation facing her…there is a growing conviction that God is now not so much concerned to act politically as to act redemptively.”
Another influential leader insists that by focusing attention and action on the Land of Israel, Christians have ignored or overlooked Israel’s spiritual condition. Christians who involve themselves with the question of where Israel’s borders should be are, according to this brother, ‘political Christian Zionists’ instead of ‘biblical Christian Zionists.
These prominent men hold that because the battle over the Land of Israel – the battle we read about daily in our newspapers – is being used by God to turn the nation back to Himself, we are getting in God’s way when we fight against the efforts to wrest this land from the Jews; to wit, we are “being unhelpful to the purposes of God.”
According to another veteran in the Christian Zionist movement, the ‘problem’ with Christians believing that the Jews should have control over all their God-given land is that “Israel is largely a secular, unbelieving state.”
It has also been pointed out that, while God’s giving of the Land to the Jews as an eternal inheritance was unconditional, their right to domicile (to live in the land) was conditioned upon their right-standing with the Lord.
The inference is that Israel’s enemies would not be able to take parts of the Land from the Jews if Israel was a nation of saintly, godly people.
But Israel’s spiritual state is no different today than it has been for hundreds of years.
The majority of Jews who first came to settle the land in the late 1800s and first half of the 1900s were socialists. Theodore Herzl was agnostic. David Ben Gurion was an avowed atheist, as were a great many of those men around him when he stood to proclaim Israel an independent state 66 years ago this year. Chaim Weizmann, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon: almost every one of Israel’s great men and women have been secular Jews.
God was nowhere to be ‘found’ among these people, yet He chose to use specifically this ‘ungodly’ crowd to pave the way for, and make possible, Israel’s rebirth.
Did these Jews’ lack of faith prevent William Hechler, Orde Wingate and other Restorationists/Christian Zionists from whole-heartedly supporting the Zionist movement and applauding the developments that culminated in the establishment of the State of Israel?
Thank God, no!
And in the century before the First World War, did the fact that enormous numbers of the Jews in exile had embraced secular humanism and/or socialism, cause Christians like William Wilberforce, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Lord Palmerston and Arthur Balfour to wonder whether their efforts to facilitate the return of the dispersed Jews to Eretz Yisrael were perhaps “not helpful to the purposes of God?”
Of course not!
What’s more, from a believer’s perspective, those Israelis at the forefront of the effort to get their countrymen to embrace land-for peace represent the most anti-religious elements of Israeli society. The Norwegian and other European politicians such Israelis concocted the Oslo Agreement with were also secular humanists.
By vivid contrast, the Israelis who strive to live according to Torah, who spurn the secular ‘Tel Aviv’ lifestyle, remaining faithful in their marriages and in their service to their families and communities, those who live in the ‘occupied territories’ – enduring the violence of the Arabs and the loathing of the world – precisely because they WANT to obey God’s command to “settle the land:” It is these most God-fearing of Jews – the very ones who seek to abide by God’s conditions for their right of domicile – who are the main immediate victims of the anti-God world’s ‘peace’ efforts.
How can Christian Zionists then “have nothing to say” about the peace process and disengagement which so blatantly operate against the declared purposes of the Almighty and those Jews who want to be aligned with Him?
The biblically foretold restoration of Israel has a sequence: The restoration of the Land to the People followed by the restoration of the People to the Land, followed by the outpouring of the spirit of grace and supplication upon the people in their land, and followed by the return of the People in the Land to their God.
Israel’s restoration was always destined to be first physical and then spiritual. Bone first has to come to bone, until the skeletons are fully rebuilt. These in turn have to be covered with sinews, tendons, flesh and skin.
Only then, after their physical reconstitution is complete, is the eternal-life giving Spirit to enter the reformed bodies, causing them to stand on their feet as an alive and “exceedingly great army.” This is what God told Ezekiel.
Again: first the Land had to be readied for the People. Then the people had to be brought to the Land. In the still ongoing aliyah we see this physical reunification of People and Land. This, as the prophets foretell, will be followed by the People being reunited with their God.
As we move on into this new year, surely only those who do not want to see the obvious can still doubt that the question of the Land is as crucial and as central as it has always been.
Yes, the battle over the Land is raging more fiercely and yet for all our pledges and commitments, past statements and vows, only a few Christian Zionists are fighting on this front.
Afraid to oppose the wishes of Israel’s worn down and – by their own admission – “tired” politicians, some Israel-based Christian Zionists say they are “only guests in the land” while those in other lands say it is wrong to take issue with the decisions of a government democratically elected by the Israeli people.
As if standing politely by while the Jews are again threatened with destruction is any way to comfort, support and stand in solidarity with them!
The enemy is directing a full-scale assault against the Jews’ presence in the heart of their God-given land. Surely we Christian Zionists should be on our faces before God, reminding Him of His promises and giving Him no rest until He routs the Evil One and establishes Jerusalem as His and as Israel’s – a praise in the earth?
Surely we should be out in strength in the streets of Washington DC, Ottawa, London, Berlin, Canberra, Wellington, Cape Town and Jerusalem, decrying the bald-faced, bullying effort to appropriate the Jews’ land and lobbying our leaders with everything we have to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state at Israel’s expense?
Israelis, responding to those who say, “but Israel’s leaders themselves support a two-state solution,” have told this writer that the reason their prime ministers have finally succumbed is because they have felt unable to stand alone against the world.
Had the millions of Christians who claim to love Israel effectively demanded that their governments stop forcing Jerusalem down this road and instead start pressuring the Arab side to ‘take risks for peace,’ Israel would likely never have reached this point.
More specifically others have said that, if just 10,000 Christians had come to Israel and made their way to the Gaza Strip in August 2005, there to take up positions between the Israeli security forces and the Jews they were coming to evict, the whole ‘Disengagement’ might never have taken place.
But where were we? We were nowhere to be seen. Afraid or unwilling to put our words into actions, we Christian Zionists failed Israel in Gaza.
Now, in 2014, as the Obama administration, the European Union, indeed the entire world musters to drive the Jews out of Samaria and Judea, steal that land from them, and give it to a people who have never been a nation there or anywhere else, so that they can use it as a springboard to destroy what will be left of the Jewish state, are we set to fail them yet again?
God will not fail them. He has not forgotten the covenant He made with Abraham, the word which He commanded for a thousand generations, the oath He made to Isaac and confirmed to Jacob, saying: “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.” (1 Chronicles 16: 15-18)
“I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15)
God will not fail them, and we Christian Zionists should visibly and in numbers be seen to be standing with God as He fights for them.
The hour is very, very late. Instead of dilly-dallying to try and please all men – even all Israelis – we need to steel ourselves, preparing effectively to come to Israel’s defense, to strengthen the Jewish hands that are hanging with exhaustion, in surrender.
And as we proclaim God’s powerful and unchanging Word, may we position ourselves firmly against the forces of this evil world and unashamedly on the side of this precious nation that the enemy so seeks to destroy.
May God help us.