Israel is almost always in the news and it is usually negative. It has been like that for many years. How is it possible that such a tiny nation can cause so much ‘trouble?’
- The United Nations passes most of their resolutions against Israel.
- When Mr Trump announced that the United States will move their embassy to Jerusalem, it was as if he triggered the Third World War. We waited with bated breath for the end of the world to come, so vicious were the reactions.
- The Palestinian question remains contentious.
To answer it, we have to go back to God and where Israel fits into God’s plan.
- God called a man, named Abram, who lived with his family in Haran. We read, “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”’ 1
- Abram obeyed, ‘So Abram left, as the Lord had told him;….’ 2 God promised him, ‘The whole land Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.’ 3
# Eternal possession and exile
Note that God promised the land Canaan to Abram and his descendants for ever. Yet the Israelites (Jews) were exiled twice.
- The first exile happened because they broke the covenant they had with God. The Northern Kingdom was exiled by the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom by the Babylonians. Many, but not all, returned from Babylon after 70 years.
- The second exile happened when the Jews rejected Jesus. They were exiled by the Romans in 70 AD, and in the Bar Kochba war (141AD). Many, but not all, returned after about 1,800 years.
# Two decrees and the hostilities they caused
- The first return was by a decree of King Cyrus. They went back to rebuild the temple under much hostility. 4 During the time of Nehemiah, the Arabs were among those who opposed them when they restored the wall of Jerusalem. 5 It was obvious to the enemies that the Jews would establish their fatherland again.
- The second return was by a decree of the United Nations. On November 29,1947 they passed a resolution to end the British mandate. On May 14, 1948 David Ben-Gurion read the Declaration of Independence of the new State of Israel. The response of the Arabs? War! On May 14, 1948, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon invaded Israel. The Arabs responded with hostilities against the Jews just like with the first return. It was very clear that the Jews established their God-given fatherland again. 6
Since that time, the hatred against the Jews never ceased. As they were persecuted since the time of the first exile, so it happened through the ages. The question is, why? Israel is not the biggest, wealthiest country in the world, endowed with limitless resources. Far from it. To answer it, we have to consult God’s Word. The Bible mentions Israel and their role in history many times, but that is for next time.
- Genesis 12:1
- Genesis 12:4
- Genesis 17:8
- Ezra 4:1-5; 5:3-6:18
- Nehemiah 4:1-23
- Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, 1984, p 975-978