Be On The Right Side!
Turmoil in the Middle East is certainly commonplace. However, the level of tension has recently increased because Israel is building a security wall. The concrete wall is designed to prevent Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel at will and Israeli officials claim that the wall is already having a beneficial effect.
The Palestinians, however, claim that the wall represents an attempt to grab land which really belongs to them. They have taken their complaint about the wall to the World Court in the Hague and are being heard this week.
The issue of who has the legal right of ownership to the land on the West Bank and Gaza Strip is a complex one whose roots extend even farther back than the United Nations plan of the 1940’s for a Jewish nation and a Palestinian nation to exist side by side. The matter has been complicated even further by the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been a vocal proponent of the settlement building in the disputed areas, but now has gone on record as favoring the evacuation of some of these settlements. This suggestion has roused the fury of the Jewish settlers who feel betrayed. A recent news story detailed the reaction of the Jewish settlers. One sign carried by a demonstrator reportedly said, "God chose Israel. Be on the right side."
The sign appears to refer to God’s Old Testament choice of Israel as His special people (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). The Lord also promised to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 13:14-17; 15:7-16; 17:7). He kept that promise as noted in Joshua 21:43: "So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it."
Keeping the land, however, was conditioned upon Israel’s obedience to the covenant (Deuteronomy 28:15-64). Old Testament history records that God’s chosen people abandoned Him and were carried off into exile. God promised further that a remnant from among the exiles would return to the land and He likewise kept that promise (Jeremiah 23:1-8; Ezra 9).
Deuteronomy 30 also records the promise of a return from exile, but notes that such a return would be conditioned upon Israel’s obedience to "His commandments and His statures which are written in this Book of the Law" (vs. 10), i.e., the Old Law. That law, the Mosaic Law, was abolished at the cross and thus no return to the land on this side of the cross is promised (Ephesians 2:14-15; Colossians 2:14; Romans 7:1-6).
Modern Israel receives a great deal of support from those who believe that the nation has not only a divinely-given right to the land, but also a continuing major role in God’s redemptive plan. Both beliefs have no scriptural foundation. Whatever right Israel has to the land of Palestine, it is not a Biblical one! God’s chosen people today is the church (1 Peter 2:5, 9).