How Should Christians View the Israeli-Palestinian Situation?
The Biblical Position on the Middle East Conflict
“Chris,” I said to our caller in a final act of futility, “I appreciate your desire not to have a biblical debate. So…without any debate, I give you the floor. Tell everyone where you believe the Bible stands on this issue.”
It was a safe enough question because it was obvious he wouldn’t answer. He could, but he wouldn’t. Chris’ scripture deflector was raised to its full and upright position and working better than the Enterprise’s photon torpedo shield.
First, there was that uncomfortable pause of silence. “Well,” he began, “I’ll tell you what I am. I’m a Christian, and, uh, I’ll leave it at that. And I wholeheartedly believe in the Old Testament and New Testament. Yeah, you know, I mean… it’s very political and it’s very complicated and I’m just saying that I think the world… and I think this country… it’s presented in a much, much different light. So it just goes to show just how biased our media is. I’m sure you would agree it’s Jewish-run and Jewish-owned predominantly in this country. I mean, you’ve got Gerald Levin at Time Warner, uh, you know, so on and so forth, uh, you know, there’s certainly a slant.”
Thanks for the insight, Chris.
Chris represents one of thousands, perhaps millions, of church-going folk who have a problem. They have been taught wrong. At one point or another in each of our lives, we have been exposed to a less-than-perfect way on a variety of subjects. Nobody is immune. No, not even preachers’ kids. But it is incumbent upon each of us to come to terms with these issues and correct them. Our Corrector is the Bible.
War is ugly. In the Middle East, atrocities have been committed on both sides. A true Christian cannot justify acts of terror, nor justify retaliation. Two wrongs do not make a right. So how can a true Christian choose sides in such a struggle? What must be the Christian position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Andre, a Jordanian now living in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, attempted to deal with this subject on a Politics & Religion radio broadcast. Unfortunately, Andre only wanted to deal with the politics. The religious aspect presented for him an irreconcilable problem.
“If you were a Palestinian and lived in Israel,” he began, “and somebody comes and takes your house, destroys it, and you live like a second class citizen, and they bring Jews from Germany and Russia and live in your land, what would you do if you were a Palestinian and a Muslim?”
Andre asked a good question, but asked the wrong person. “First of all,” answered Irvin Baxter, “I would convert from being a Muslim to Christianity. Number two, having read the Bible I would know that the land was promised to Israel, so I would trust in God to find me another place to live.”
“So all of the Palestinians should leave.”
“You’re asking me what I would do; I’m answering the question. I might move to an Arab country, or America, or live in Israel under the Israeli government.”
“So you don’t think they should have intifada (armed resistance, terror) or nothing. You think they should just shut their mouths and sit down and let Israel do whatever they want.”
“No. I don’t think Israel should be persecuting them either. I don’t think Israel should take their land by force…”
“Well, they are doing it, and you say you are the lover of the Jews, so you’re agreeing with everything they’re doing.”
“No, I’m not agreeing with everything they’re doing.”
“I never see you saying anything negative about them hardly ever,” continued Andre, still missing the point. “I’m a born again Christian also. But you are always pro-Israeli. The Arabs are living in disgusting… and you know this, you’ve been there many times, you’ve seen it in your eyes, but you just think… they’re taking their land by force every single day and it sounds okay to you, because that’s just the way it…”
“I know this is a very sensitive thing, Andre, and I respect you and appreciate your call.” Baxter decided to play ball on Andre’s political turf first, saving the Bible slant for later. “The Jewish people offered 97% of the land back at Camp David. Arafat refused to take it. How do the Palestinians see that – especially the peace-loving Palestinians?”
“How do they see it?” Andre parroted, trying to buy some thinking time.
“Yes,” said Baxter, not giving him much.
The Christian Position in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Baxter’s question was, of course, unanswerable. “I was not in Camp David and neither were you. This is the reporting you hear on CNN. But Ariel Sharon,” now changing subjects, “the guy who killed in Sabra and Shatilla in Lebanon convinced by Israel and the United States, you guys think he’s the hero. You always say he’s the hero, and Binjamin Netanyahu, who killed so many Arabs, and they’re heroes to you.”
“Do you think that Arafat is a hero?” Rhetorical question #2.
“I don’t know…it’s not my job to say who’s a hero or not. But I’m talking about your guy… I don’t have the radio show to convince people, but you guys do. But you guys are one-sided. You always bring a Jewish point of view to the radio. The Arabs to you is who should be condemned; move to Jordan. Get rid of the Palestinians, put them to Jordan, and long live Israel. That’s how you guys think.”
“Andre, what should we do then?” Ball’s in your court. Third question, still seeking one answer; none forthcoming.
“If you love your neighbor the same way you love yourself, you wouldn’t be talking like that. Go see the way they live, and then you should say… they should live exactly… with dignity.”
“But you guys don’t love Palestinians. You’re on the radio, sir…”
“Hang on. Let me talk to you. I’ve had dinner in many Palestinian homes. I have some very close friends who are Palestinians…”
“Yeah, but I know you…”
“Let me talk for a minute. To be realistic, we probably are past the day when geography is important. This mess is not going to be straightened out. Only Jesus’ returning is going to straighten it out. And so…” here comes some Bible, “…if at times we come across as sounding pro-Israeli, it’s because I do believe God gave that land to the Israelis. However, do I believe they should go in there and kill? No, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe Palestinians should kill either. I don’t believe any Christian should do ill to any person.”
Andre has yet to latch onto a scripture he can call his own.
“My whole point of calling is both of you, day and night, promote Israel as the heroes. And Arafat always the killer. And the Palestinians – why are they killing Israelis? But you guys don’t say Israel is killing them with airplanes, helicopters, tanks, and the Palestinians have stones,” a statement that is not entirely factual. “You make it sound like the Palestinians are disgusting people. You guys so pro-Israel blindly. You say you’re the lover of the Jews, and this sidekick of yours,” referring to the writer of this article, “says he is a Zionist. You’re just so proud of it. What about the Arabs? Are they so monstrous to you guys, just because God gives them the land? Maybe he did. Fine, fine. But that’s not what I’m calling for.”
He agrees. God gave the land to Israel. But strangely, the discussion’s not over.
“You guys should have a heart. You’re Christians, you say. Those Jews, all of them going to hell, because they don’t have Jesus in their heart. They’re not born again Christians. Am I right?”
“You’re right,” answered Baxter.
Jewish people, however, aren’t the only ones who don’t have Jesus in their heart, thought the Zionist and perhaps thousands of listeners.
“And,” continued Andre, “they’re all going to hell, but you never talk to them like that. You see when they come on your show you talk to them like, oh my God, they are so wonderful. But they’re not. They’re going to hell. But you never tell them that. That’s your job. You’re a pastor. The most important thing is to be born again Christian. Not to love Jews blindly like you guys both do.”
Chris, on the other hand, is neither a descendant of Ishmael, nor Esau as is Andre. He is as American as mom, apple pie and baseball. And yet…
“The myth here,” he says, “is that Israel won all the wars, not because the Jews are superior or anything like that. It’s because of American dollars and power.”
“Do we give God any credit for this?” Baxter asks the obvious.
“No, I don’t. Give God credit for what? Killing all the Arabs and making Israel succeed? You have to give Israel $3 billion per year. That’s why they won the wars. It’s not because God is miraculous.”
Yes, that’s what Chris said. Let’s take a look at what God said. Ezekiel 37:21- 22:
And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.
This is the famous prophecy for Israel in the endtimes. Some have said it was fulfilled in Old Testament times – that it is not a prophecy for our day. But this cannot be true. The scripture says that no more shall they be two nations. Israel and Judah were always two nations up until the dispersion in 70 AD.
Ezekiel 37 has never before been fulfilled until modern times, and even now, its complete fulfillment is a work in progress.
God said that He would take the children of Israel from among the heathen… and would gather them…and bring them into their own land. God is specifically saying this is something He would do, and now He is doing it.
During the first half of the 20th century, God brought the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth back into the land promised to Abraham. On May 14, 1948, by a sovereign act of Almighty God, Israel declared its statehood. The following day, 42 million descendants of Ishmael and Esau launched a war to snuff out God’s baby before she could take her first breath. She was an untrained, one-day old nation of 600,000. God’s baby won. The Arabs tried it again in the 1956 Suez Canal campaign and lost. They tried again in 1967 for what turned out to be six very long days, and again in 1973 when most Jews were in synagogue on their holiest day of the year. Both times, obliterated.
Against all odds, yes, but odds mean nothing to the Creator of the universe. To fight against Israel’s right to the land is to fight against God Himself.
A prophecy for the end times
These matters are not trivial. The Battle of Armageddon is getting ready to be fought over this issue. Israel’s borders, the West Bank settlers, water rights, the Temple Mount – hardly peripheral issues. They will soon affect every human on the face of the earth. The kingdom of the Antichrist will be very much involved in the Middle East. The Bible says he will stand in a rebuilt Jewish temple claiming to be Messiah and God.
God said He would establish the children of Israel in their land. God is not the author of war. Satan is. But God has a plan – a plan for the endtime.
“And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant,” reads Ezekiel 37:25, “wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever.”
Jacob, who became Israel, was given the land…forever. The re-establishment of the nation of Israel will never be reversed. It shall remain in spite of Nasser, Assad and Arafat; in spite of the United Nations and the European Union; and in spite of every person, ‘Christian’ or otherwise, who argues in favor of the Palestinian’s claim on the land. These are fighting the will of the Father Himself.
The third chapter of Joel speaks directly to all who would want to see the land of Israel parted and its people displaced and scattered. It speaks to people like former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres and the late- Yitzhak Rabin who desired to see the land divided once more. It speaks to Chris and Andre, to me and to you.
“Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war… Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears…” says Joel 3:10-14.
Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe… for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 offers this:
…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, … for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Most of the Islamic nations shall be left a desolate wilderness for their violence against the people who God chose to bring the light of the one-God message to a dark, pagan world. The Jewish people have a zeal for God, the same God spoken of in the New Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.But their zeal is not according to knowledge – the knowledge of Jesus as Messiah. Who will be their witness?
Yes, atrocities have been committed on both sides. But why would any Bible-loving Christian want to defend Yasser Arafat? He is fighting God. If God is for Israel, who can be against it? Genesis 12:3: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Genesis 15:18: “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” God gave the land to Abraham and his promised seed – to Isaac, not Ishmael. And then to Jacob, not Esau.
Zephaniah 2:5: “Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.”
Revelation 12 is a picture of the nation of Israel being protected from the dragon, Satan, during the endtime. She will be protected by God from those who would destroy her. If you are against Israel, then you are against God’s divine purpose.
It’s Judgment Day. You are naked and standing before your God. “Yes Lord,” you say to Him, “I supported Yasser Arafat.”
It’s a sensitive issue. It counters cultures and traditions and rears its ugly head in so-called Christian circles in strange ways. It’s the grand Jewish plot to take over the world. The noun “Jew” becomes a verb.
Is it possible that even the very elect will fall victim to their own “godly heritage?” The answer may be found in this pop quiz:
A famous German once said,
“They are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury… Eject them forever from this country… Do not grant them protection or safe-conduct… Save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil… Set fire to their synagogues and schools – this is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians… I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed… I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb… I advise that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping… Amen.”
Who was he? If you said Adolph Hitler, then you are wrong. It was Martin Luther.
To my Jewish friends, please understand that not all who call themselves Christians are, in fact, that. No true Christian would ever persecute you, nor would they try to separate you from your land. Not everyone who says Lord, Lord shall make it to heaven. Many who cast out demons in Jesus’ name shall, on Judgment Day, hear the words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
When a person says he believes, it’s a good first step. Obedience and a love for His word are the signs of a true child of God. If the God-Factor has to be taken out in order to make a case against Israel, and the person still call himself a Christian, what then is a Christian?
We are friends of Israel, but we are not for everything she does. God loves the Palestinians as much as He loves the Jewish people, and everyone needs to be saved. If we do not understand the spiritual side of this conflict, then the politics will make no sense. We cannot divorce ourselves from the biblical stance, lest there is no place to stand at all. Without the Bible we may find ourselves hating the Jews. We may find ourselves fighting God. He gave the land to Israel.
By Eddie Sax