Does Israel Have a Future? – Part 7

Norbert Lieth and Johannes Pflaum

Under Replacement Theology, an important covenant is misclassified and robbed of its earthly promises for the people and land of Israel: the Abrahamic Covenant. Unlike the Old (Mosaic) Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant is a one-sided covenant which God made unconditionally with Abraham.

The Land Question

The land question has made Israel the focal point of world history. This issue will also trigger the coming of the Messiah and the judgment of the nations.

The promise of land is linked to the Abrahamic Covenant in the Bible (see Part 6). Although the Mosaic Covenant has since been terminated, the Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect. Therefore, the promise of land to Israel still retains its significance (Gen 12:1; 15:7). However, the promised borders will only come to fulfillment when the Messiah returns. It should be emphasized that Israel didn’t choose this land, but God designated it for His people (Ezek 20:42; 36:28). God Himself calls it His inheritance (Joel 3:2). Ultimately, everything that people plan or do against the land of Israel is directed against God Himself. In all things that concern Israel, we must always keep two facts in mind:

1. God’s judgments against the nations that have sinned against Israel, are a matter of His election and His honor. This is independent of Israel’s belief or lack thereof.

2. God’s judgment of Israel is for the ultimate purpose of the people’s conversion.

That God Himself chose the land for Israel is one of the strongest arguments against Replacement Theology. And at the same time, we have the most impressive proof that God keeps His promises with regard to the land: since 1948, there has once again been a Jewish State in ancient Israel’s territory!

The land question has made Israel the focal point of world history. This issue will also trigger the coming of the Messiah and the judgment of the nations (Joel 3:2). The historical facts speak for themselves.

Since the Israelites were scattered by the Romans (AD 70-135), an independent Arab state has never existed in what is now Israel. In that respect, world politics revolves around a historical lie. Initially, Eretz Israel was under Roman-Byzantine rule. After that, it was conquered by the Persians in 624 AD. Emperor Heraclius ended Persian rule in 629 AD, shortly before the Arab conquest began in 638 AD. The Arab occupation under various rulers was supplanted by the Crusaders in 1071 AD. After the Muslims recaptured it, further Crusades and Christian/Muslim struggles for the Holy Land ensued. Beginning in 1291, the Mamluks appeared as foreign rulers over the land of Israel. In 1517, they were replaced by the Ottoman Empire. They in turn were displaced by the British in 1917, and England was finally given the Mandate over the country by a League of Nations resolution. In 1948, it was repossessed by Israel.

Israel did not become a Roman state while it was under Roman occupation. Nor did it become a Persian state when conquered by the Persians. It didn’t become an Arab state while under Arab occupation, or a European state while under the Crusaders. Israel didn’t become an Eastern European state while under Mamluk rule, and it didn’t become a Turkish or Ottoman state while under the Ottomans. It didn’t become an English state while ruled under British Mandate. Although Arabs (Palestinians) lived alongside Israelis on Jewish land, a Palestinian state never arose as a result. Since Israel became an expressly Israeli (or Jewish) state under Joshua in around 1400 BC, and there has never been another independent state in that location since, it’s only natural that the Jews would be awarded the land again after their dispersal.

Despite a diaspora spanning two millennia, Jews have always been present in Israel (albeit in the thousands or tens of thousands). Although Napoleon wanted to resettle Israel with Jews, he was forbidden from doing so. On April 20, 1799, he issued a proclamation “to the rightful heirs of Palestine” from his general headquarters in Jerusalem. It says in part:

“Rightful heirs of Palestine! The great nation which does not trade in men and countries as did those which sold your ancestors unto all people (Joel 3:6) herewith calls on you not indeed to conquer your patrimony; nay, only to take over that which has been conquered and, with that nation’s warranty and support, to remain master of it to maintain it against all comers.”

These plans were thwarted due to Napoleon’s failure in the Middle East. From the perspective of redemptive history, the time was simply not yet ripe for Israel’s return.

After a trip to Israel in 1858, pastor Felix Bovet wrote: “The Christians who had conquered the Holy Land were not able to keep it; to them it never was any thing but a field of battle and a cemetery. The Saracens who took it from them saw it in turn taken from them by the Ottoman Turks. These latter, who are still nominally its owners, have made it into a desert, in which they hardly dare to set foot without fear. The Arabs themselves, who are its inhabitants, can only be considered as encamped in the country; they have pitched their tents in its pastures, or contrived for themselves a place of shelter in the ruins of its towns; they have founded nothing in them; strangers to the soil, they never became wedded to it; the wind of the desert which brought them there may one day carry them away again, without their leaving behind them the slightest trace of their passage through it. God, who has given Palestine to so many nations, has not permitted any one to establish itself or to take root in it; He is keeping it, no doubt, in reserve for His people Israel, for those rebellions children who will one day have become the ‘men of a meek and humble spirit’ of whom Jesus said that ‘they shall inherit the earth.’”

At the time when Israel was scattered, the land of Israel lay desolate, just as the Bible had foretold (Zech 7:14; Matt 23:38). L. J. Davis cites various sources which confirm that for centuries, Israel was sparsely populated, and much of the land had become overgrown. There was a lot of swamp land that was a breeding ground for malaria. Large portions of the land were bare, with only the occasional tree or bush, and much of it was left to weeds.

While Israel was dispersed, a separate Palestinian state never emerged. The regional designation “Palestine” only became a political entity through the League of Nations mandate. In 1922, the British partitioned off about 80% (!) of the area as Transjordan, which became the Jordan of today.

The term from which today’s word “Palestine” originates was invented by the Roman Emperor Hadrian after the suppression of 
the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 AD). David Dolan writes:

“Judea was given the Latin name ‘Syria Palaestina’—anglicized as ‘Palestine’—to erase any Jewish connection to the land that the God of Israel calls his own. The Romans plainly intended to insult the Jews by the choice of a name derived from the Philistines, Israel’s ancient enemies who dwelled on the coastal plain.”

The UN’s 1947 plan to partition present-day Israel into an Arab and a Jewish state, was rejected by the Arabs at the time. Interestingly, there was no Israeli-Palestinian conflict until the 1960s, when there was talk of the Arab nations’ struggle against Israel. Only in 1964, when the PLO was founded, was the “Palestinian” ethnic group created. In reality, there is no Palestinian culture, language, or religion. “Palestinians” are really nothing more than Arabs who reside in the land of Israel. They have nothing whatsoever to do with the Canaanites driven out by Israel when Joshua conquered them. These natives were no longer even mentioned by the time the New Testament was written.

Rudolf Pfisterer points out that a continuity of Arab occupation from the 7th century to the present can’t even be discerned. Of course, Arabs have always resided there since Israel was dispersed, but many of the so-called “Palestinians” immigrated to Israel within the last two centuries. Pfisterer points out that in 1977, leading PLO representative Zuheir Mohsen admitted with disarming frankness that the name “Palestinian” was misapplied to Arabs living in Palestine. As he said then:

“The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity exists only for tactical reasons. Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

It’s also a fact that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank had been in Arab hands for 19 years prior to 1967, but no one considered forming a Palestinian state at that time. The Egyptian weekly El Mussawar wrote in 1968:

“A Palestinian nation is the product of progressive planning, since the world would hardly sanction a war of a hundred million Arabs against a small nation.” 

Our point isn’t to trivialize the problem of Arab refugees or to make the opposition look clumsy. It’s indisputable that Israeli citizens, Jew and Arab alike, should live together peacefully. However, we can properly sort out the land question only through the lens of the biblical-prophetic Word.

The most surprising thing about the whole situation is that world politics is revolving around, and building upon, a historical myth. Despite all of the political deliberation, it’s important to remember that ultimately, the living God has lifted His hand to swear an oath over the land (Ezek 20:42). Replacement Theology claims that God rescinded Israel’s land inheritance, but the Torah itself—and history—teach otherwise.

News from Israel - 01/2023

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