Home > Counter-Cut, Political, Science and Faith, World Views > The Middle East: Ancient History Part 4, Worldly Perspective

The Middle East: Ancient History Part 4, Worldly Perspective

This is the eleventh in a series of essays examining the Middle East situationCounter-Cut from a Biblical perspective.

In the previous posts we examined the importance of accurately understanding ancient history. We have seen the dual nature of that conflict: Spiritual as well as worldly. In the last two essays we examined the spiritual conflict in depth.

In this essay we will examine the conflict from the world’s perspective. From the worldly perspective, the Middle East conflict has two fundamental root causes:

o   Squatters’ rights
o   Family feuds.

Let us examine each briefly.

Squatters’ rights

The LORD God granted Israel ownership of the holy lands on condition that they remain faithful. If they didn’t remain faithful to God, they would be exiled from the land. (Deu 4:25-26, 40) That is exactly what happened just as God had decreed.

Wilderness Exile

God brought the Hebrews out of the land of Egypt and performed mighty miracles in their presence, such as parting the Red Sea. He personally led them with a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night through the wilderness to the Promised Land, a land of milk and honey. He protected them, subdued their enemies along the way, provided for their needs, and lived with them.

But when the Hebrews finally arrived at the edge of the Promised Land, the Israelite warriors disobeyed their LORD God and refused to enter. In spite all that they had experienced, they were intimidated by their adversaries and did not trust The LORD God to subdue their enemies as He had subdued all others before them: They had no faith in God.

True to His covenant, the LORD God exiled the Israelites from the Promised Land before they even entered it!  They were compelled to wander in the desert for 40 years. Only when all the rebellious men had died were they finally allowed to enter the Promised Land. (Num 32:8-13)

Assyrian and Babylonian exiles

When the Hebrews entered the land, the Lord God went before the Israelites and destroyed all the inhabitants so the Israelites may possess the land. The LORD God blessed the Hebrews mightily and protected them, but they departed from His ways, were unfaithful, and acted wickedly.

Always true to His promises, God brought judgment upon the Hebrews:

  • First He permanently destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the hand of the Assyrians; all surviving Israelites were permanently exiled from the land into Assyrian slavery. (722 BC)
  • The southern kingdom of Judah would not repent of their evil ways in spite of the example God had made of the Northern Kingdom. Therefore 136 years later in 586 BC God judged Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and The Temple; all Jews[1] who survived the slaughter were exiled to Babylon.

But God had made irrevocable covenants with Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and David. In order to fulfill those covenants, in 537 B.C. God brought the first small group of Jews back into the Promised Land, and to Jerusalem in particular, from their Babylonian exile.

When the Jews returned they found that squatters had settled on their property. The squatters fiercely resisted their return and prevented them from rebuilding Jerusalem and The Temple. The Temple reconstruction took 20 years; it was completed 70 years after destruction of the First Temple. But the walls of Jerusalem remained in ruins due to the fierce opposition of the squatters. It would take another 70 years for the Israelites to completely repair the walls of Jerusalem, repent, finally turn to God, and possess the Promised Land once again. In all, their punishment had lasted 210 years.

Roman Exile (the diaspora)

Though the Israelites continued living in The Promised Land, again they became corrupted and wandered from The LORD. As a result, they totally missed the prophesied time of their visitation by The Messiah, Christ Jesus the Son of God.[2] (Luk 19:44)

Consequently the LORD God, always true to His promises, totally destroyed Jerusalem; killing all inhabitants at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD; and scattered the Jews into exile throughout the world[3]. The Jews had been wandering from country to country in exile without a home for nearly 2,000 years before God brought them back to the Promised Land and allowed them to form the modern state of Israel in 1948.

Once again the Jews found that squatters had settled in their absence, just as after the Babylonian exile. Once again the squatters are opposing them fiercely and relentlessly. The parallel between today’s situation and the Jews’ return from the Babylonian exile is striking. Today’s story is still unfolding, but the end is not in doubt. Only when the nation of Israel repents and turns to the LORD God through Christ Jesus will they at last possess the land in peace.

Modern State of Israel

In the meantime, the modern state of Israel is a generally welcoming, open, secular country. The Arabs who settled in the land in the Jews’ absence are citizens of Israel. They are allowed to participate in society and in governance without official restrictions; many are members of the Knesset and even allowed to espouse causes and positions highly detrimental to the welfare of the nation. This situation stands in stark contrast to the oppressive government policies and social prejudice against Jews in neighboring Arab countries.  For more details see The Middle East: History, and The Middle East: Whose Land is It Anyway?

Regrettably, efforts to further integrate Arabs into Israeli society have met stiff resistance from both sides. The vociferous, violent opposition of many Arab leaders to even admit Israel’s right to exist has been particularly harmful to any such attempts at reconciliation, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence. The consistent attacks on Israel from neighboring Arab states mandates a high level of suspicious caution, further stressing internal Israeli-Arab relations.

The good news is that attempts at reconciliation, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence continue in spite of all the obstacles. But a political solution without a change of hearts will never succeed. And changes of heart come only through actions of God in response to repentance, not through any resolutions of the U.N. or some foreign diplomats. Once again, we are faced with the reality of a spiritual problem, not merely a political and physical problem.

The following links provide glimpses into the tensions that exist with Arabs living within the state Israel.  Clearly there is room for improvement on both sides:

Family Feuds

Family feuds are irreconcilable family conflicts that continue for generations. The Hatfield and McCoy feud started in West Virginia in 1863. The feud is still on-going officially, since in 2003 the two parties only signed a “truce”, not a final “peace agreement.” In reality the two sides appear to have adopted a state of peaceful coexistence.

The feud started because Jim Vance, a Hatfield, hated Asa Harmon McCoy for joining the U.S. army during the Civil War. As time passed, various perceived and real grievances on one side or the other fueled the hatred and justified ever more killings. A total of 33 to 60 people are reported to have died in the feud.[4]   No doubt Satan encouraged the hatred, but no direct physical evidence exists of his involvement – other than irrational human hatred and dead bodies.

Several comparable family feuds are at the heart of a Middle East conflict that has raged for millennia and killed thousands. Let us now examine the key ones.

Isaac and Ishmael

Arabs and Jews both trace their roots back to the same person, Abraham. Arabs and Jews are, in fact, descendants of half-brothers. The conflict actually traces its roots back to jealous conflicts within Abraham’s family, as follows:

Abraham was without child and at least 75 years old (Gen 12:4) when God made a covenant[5] with him. The terms of the covenant were as follows:

And I [God] will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:2-3)

Several years passed and Abraham still had no heir, so Abraham decided to make one of his servants his heir. But the LORD stopped Abraham from doing so and made a second unbreakable covenant with Abraham:

And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”” (Gen 15:4-5)

Several more years passed, but Abraham still had no heir and Sarah his wife was barren. So Sarah took matters into her own hands. She convinced Abraham to father a child by her Egyptian servant Hagar[6].

When Hagar became pregnant, she began to look with contempt upon Sarah who was unable to bear children. Great tensions arose between the women, and Hagar ran into the wilderness in despair. But the LORD told her to return to Sarah and reassured her that her son Ishmael would be the father of multitudes. Presumably Hagar concluded that her son would be heir to God’s covenant with Abraham and returned to Abraham as commanded:

The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.”

The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.”

And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. (Gen 16:9-11)[7]

Upon her return the enmity between the women continued to grow. Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael, Hagar’s son, was born. (Gen 16:5-15)

Thirteen years later, when Abraham was 99 and Sarah 90, the LORD told Abraham that Sarah would conceive at last and give birth to a son, Isaac. The LORD also reaffirmed once more that the Abrahamic covenant would flow through Isaac, not through Ishmael. (Gen 17:19-21) Everything happened as The LORD foretold, and Isaac was born a year later.

As Isaac grew, Ishmael began mocking him just as Hagar had been mocking Sarah. Obviously the arrival of Isaac had only exacerbated an already tense family situation. Not wanting Ishmael to be a competitor to Isaac, Sarah asked Abraham to banish Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham was reluctant to do so, but God reassured him and once again reaffirmed that the Abrahamic covenant will flow through Isaac,

But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” (Gen 21:12-13)

It may seem somewhat inconceivable that the feud between Hagar and Sarah could continue for so long, but it has. The Jews are Isaac’s descendants. The Arabs are Ishmael’s descendants. Both sides claim to be rightful heirs of the Abrahamic covenant and its promises, as made clear through the Muslim version of Isaac and Ishmael’s story, a story in which Isaac is virtually non-existent.

Additionally, God had foretold Abraham how Ishmael and his descendants would behave, painting an extremely accurate picture of today’s Middle East situation:

He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Gen 16:12)

The Qur’an is Arabic in origin; Arabs are Ishmael’s descendants. There are numerous references in the Qur’an about hating Jews and Christians. (Link 1, Link 2)  Apparently this long-standing feud has been fueled, hijacked, and combined with a hateful religious system to oppose God’s plan through spiritual warfare. Can there really be peace in the Middle East? Indeed, only if a perfectly perfect God brings it about. Man’s inadequate political solutions will only exacerbate an already bad situation.

We would be well advised to remember God’s covenant with Abraham when dealing with The Middle East conflict because our very lives depend on it. God is always true to His promises, and He was quite specific when He told Abraham:

I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, (Gen 12:3)

To whom does the “you” above refer? The heirs of Abraham through the covenant which continued through Isaac, Jacob, and the Jews. The covenant which culminated in Christ Jesus the Jewish Messiah and Son of God. The omnipotent Creator Himself in human flesh! Only a fool would pick a losing fight against an omnipotent God.

Land for peace? Blessings or curses? It’s our choice!

Jacob and Esau

Isaac’s favorite wife was Rebecca. She became pregnant with twins.

and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”

When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. (Gen 25:20-26)

By Hebrew custom, the firstborn, Esau, is entitled to the birthright. But God chose Isaac to carry forward Abraham’s birthright. (Mal 1:2-3) Isaac favored Esau, a hunter; Rebecca favored Jacob.

One day Esau came back from hunting and was very hungry. Jacob had cooked a delicious stew, and Esau wanted some. Jacob demanded that Esau renounce his birthright and give it to Jacob in return for the stew. Esau readily did so, for the birthright meant little to him. (Gen 25:29-34) In fact, even the command of The LORD meant little to Esau, for he took Canaanites for wives contrary to the LORD’s command. (Gen 24:37, 36:2)

Many years later when Isaac was old and near death, it was customary for the father to bless his sons. He wanted to bless Esau with the birthright, but Rebecca knew God’s will. So she and Jacob tricked Isaac into giving the birthright blessing to Jacob. When Esau found out what had happened, he vainly begged his father for the birthright. He was filled with such rage and hatred that he planned to kill his brother. (Gen 27:29, 34, 37-41)

Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” (Gen 27:41)

Furthermore, when Esau saw he couldn’t be successful in getting the birthright, he joined the hated Ishmaelites presumably to spite his parents. In fact, he had become so consumed with hatred for Jacob that Jacob had to flee quickly for his life to far away Haran. Jacob lived for many years in fear of Easau’s hatred; ultimately he did return to try and make peace with his brother anyway. (Gen 28:9-10)

Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, have been age-old enemies of the Israelites, but the Edomites no longer exist as a separate nation. They used to live in the area of the Southern Negev desert, an area spanning the border between modern Israel and Jordan south of the Dead Sea. That area is now populated by Muslims fiercely opposed to Jews. Any remaining Edomites have been absorbed into the Ishmaelites.

Lot,etc.

Lot was Abraham’s nephew. (Gen 11:27) Lot accompanied Abram on his journeys from Ur of Chaldea to the land of Canaan. Then they traveled together to the land of Egypt to escape a famine in the land of Canaan. On their return from Egypt, Abram generously allowed Lot to settle on a portion of the Promised Land east of the Jordan to avoid conflict between their herdsmen; Abraham remained on the land west of the Jordan. (Gen 13:8-11) God subsequently reaffirmed His covenant to give Abraham even the land east of the Jordan (Gen 15:7-21).

Lot ultimately settled in Sodom. As Sodom was about to be destroyed by God, Abraham interceded with God on Lot’s behalf to save him from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen 19:29)

Lot’s descendants are the Moabites and Ammonites through Lot’s incest with his daughters. The Moabites took up residence south of the Dead Sea east of the Jordan River in what is now southern Jordan. The Ammonites took up residence east of the Amorites[8] and the Jordan River in what is now central Jordan. The Moabites forsook the God of Abraham in favor of Chemosh. The Ammonites abandoned the God of Abraham in favor of Molech. Both Chemosh and Molech were Canaanite gods best known for their infant sacrifices by fire; they also commanded their people to wage war against the The LORD and the Israelites.

The Bible records minimal interaction between Abraham’s and Lot’s descendants until the time of the Exodus. News of God’s miraculous acts and power on behalf of the Hebrews had spread throughout the region by the time the Hebrews approached The Promised Land the second time. Lot’s descendants, the Moabites and Ammonites, had adopted many of the Canaanite practices and feared they would be destroyed by the Hebrews along with the Canaanites. (Exo 15:12-18)

The Israelites formally requested permission to pass through the land of Moab to reach The Promised Land – pledging to cause no damage to the land or its inhabitants.    Instead of agreeing to the request, the Moabites chose to attack the Hebrews spiritually. The Moabites hired the sorcerer Balaam to unsuccessfully curse the Israelites as they were approaching Moab. (Num 22:2-24:5) The Hebrews ultimately detoured around Moab to enter the Promised Land.

People groups around IsraelThe animosity by the children of Lot against the children of Abraham continued to grow into hatred of the Israelites, fueled primarily by the spiritual conflict between The LORD and the false Canaanite gods. The children of Lot considered the children of Abraham to be their enemies; their animosity evolved into repeated, continuing wars and conflicts. (Jud 3:12-14, 28-30)

The gods of Lot’s children considered The LORD God of Abraham their enemy and continued to wage spiritual war against Him. The relationship between Abraham’s descendants the Israelites and Lot’s descendants the Moabites and Ammonites is a classic example of the physical manifestation of a greater spiritual conflict. The Canaanite gods are now vanquished and gone, but the conflict has not subsided. It continues to this day; the false god has merely assumed a new form and a new name.

 Curses and Judgments

Lastly, let us examine what these family feuds look like on a map and what the LORD God has to say about them. We have already discussed the origins of the conflict between the Hebrews and the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Arabs. The LORD God has pronounced dreadful judgment on each people group, as follows:

 

People Bible References The LORD’s judgment summarized
Arabia Isa 21:13-17 And the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken. (Isa 21:17)
Ammon Eze 25:1-7, Zep 2:8–11 For thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the malice within your soul against the land of Israel, therefore, behold, I have stretched out my hand against you, and will hand you over as plunder to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and will make you perish out of the countries; I will destroy you. Then you will know that I am the LORD. (Eze 25:6-7)
Edom Isa 21:11-12, Eze 25:12- 14, Oba vv. 1-15 The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken. (Oba 1:18)
Moab Isa 15:1-16:14, Jer 48:1-47, Eze 25:8 – 11, Zep 2:8–11 Therefore, as I live,” declares the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Moab shall become like Sodom, and the Ammonites like Gomorrah, a land possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a waste forever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the survivors of my nation shall possess them.” (Zep 2:9)

 

It is clear from the above prophecies that every enemy of Israel will be destroyed by The LORD, consistent with the blessings and curses of the Abrahamic Covenant. Let us now briefly address some of the other people groups surrounding Israel:

Egyptians

The Israelites have always had a love-hate relationship with the Egyptians. They fled to Egypt in times of famine in Canaan, and were both welcomed and persecuted. Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant and Ishmael’s mother was an Egyptian. Joseph married an Egyptian, and two tribes of Israel, Ephraim and Menassah, bear the names of their children.

The Egyptians are unique in all these people groups in that they are not merely a people group, but also represent one of the great empires throughout the ages. Although the LORD God of Israel has judged Egypt and it will never again regain its stature as a major world empire, (Eze 29:13-15) the nation will one day repent and turn to The LORD:

In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isa 19:24-25)

This ancient love-hate relationship between Egypt and Israel remains in place to this day: Egypt is one of the few Islamic nations to sign a peace treaty with the modern state of Israel, but the relationship remains schizophrenic.

Some of the LORD’s judgments of Egypt are pronounced in Isa 19:1-20:6, Jer 46:1-28, Eze 29:1 – 32:32, and Zep 2:12.

Philistines

The Philistines were bitter enemies of the Hebrews for many centuries. They practiced a religion quite similar to that of the Canaanite peoples, although their god went by the name of Dagon.   The LORD God had commanded the Israelites to destroy the Philistines because of their sins. Although David and Solomon subdued the Philistines, the subjugation was incomplete. The Philistines have disappeared as a distinct people group, but the major Philistine cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ashdod regained their independence from Israel in ancient times and had always remained hostile to Israel. The Gaza Strip, named for the city of Gaza, is populated by Muslims dedicated to the destruction of modern Israel. Gaza is a major source of attacks against modern Israel just as it was in ancient Israelite times.

Some of the LORD’s judgments of the Philistines are pronounced in Isa 14:28-32, Jer 47:1-7, Eze 25:15-17, and Zep 2:4–7.

Sidonians

The Sidonians and Philistines were seafaring peoples of Phoenician origin. The Sidonians also practiced a form of the Canaanite religion. God commanded the Israelites to destroy them along with all the other Canaanites, but the Israelites failed to do so. Tyre, an impregnable Sidonian city on the Mediterranean, remained a major independent commercial center until it was finally destroyed by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. The ancient territory of the Sidonians lies within modern Lebanon in the area controlled by Hezbollah which constantly threatens the northern border of Israel – just as the residents of the land threatened the ancient Israelites.

The LORD’s judgment of the Sidonians is found in Eze 28:20 – 23; the judgment of Tyre is recorded in Isa 23:1-18.

Amalekites and Hittites

The Amalekites and Hittites were members of the Canaanite nations that God had judged for their many sinful practices, particularly child sacrifice by fire. God commanded the Israelites to wipe them out when they claimed the Promised Land. The Israelites never completed the task and descendants of these peoples continue to inhabit the region. Due to the many invasions and migrations over the millennia the Amalekites and Hittites have ceased to exist as an identifiable people group. The Biblical record bids farewell to the Amelekites about 700 BC:

And they defeated the remnant of the Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day. (1Ch 4:43)

The Hittites seemed to survive somewhat longer, for the Biblical record refers to them up to the time of Ezra around 530 BC:

After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. (Ezr 9:1)

These two people groups have ceased to exist as distinct peoples; they have clearly been subsumed into the various hostile people groups surrounding Israel; some even within Israel proper. Therefore their remaining distant descendants may reside in Israel proper, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or in any one of the other neighboring nations hostile to Israel.

Amorites and Bashan

The Israelites destroyed the Amorites and the King of Bashan, and occupied their territory (Num 21:33, 32:33, Deu 1:4, 3:1-13, 4:47, 29:7, 31:4). The Amorites appear to have assimilated into the various people groups surrounding Israel and vanished from the Biblical record (Ezr 9:1). Bashan became fully integrated into the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Biblical judgments against Bashan are primarily part of prophetic warnings of God’s impending judgment of the Northern Kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians. (Isa 2:12-13, Amo 4:1-4:3, Zec 11:1-3)

The Israelites lost all the northern territory of Bashan during the Assyrian invasion, as well as the land they had gained from the Amorites. Subsequently these lands were continually contested by the Moabites and Ammonites throughout the existence of ancient Israel. Therefore their remaining distant descendants may reside in Israel proper or in any one of the other neighboring nations hostile to Israel.

Bashan is currently part of Syria, a member of the Islamic nations who have vowed to destroy Israel. The land of the Amorites lies within modern Jordan, an Islamic nation. The relationship between Israel and Jordan is comparable to the relationship between Israel and Egypt.

Arameans

The Arameans originated in Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. Many of the regions and cities mentioned in Abraham’s travels, such as Paddan-Aram, Ur of Chaldea, and Haran were situated in Aramean territory. The Aramean influence in the region was primarily cultural rather than political. Ultimately the Arameans were subsumed into the Assyrian Empire.

When the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel and exiled its inhabitants, they repopulated it with many Arameans. Their language, Aramaic, remained the language of choice for the entire region for many centuries until Greek influence overtook it. Jesus sometimes spoke in Aramaic; many ancient Jewish Hebrew writings were written in Aramaic; and some Jewish practices to this day are recited in Aramaic. The Arameans have long ceased to exist as a people, but their legacy lives on.on.[9]

Back to the future?

We’ve seen this movie before. We’ve seen the same events play out over and over again for millennia. The ending never changes: Tiny Israel is besieged on all sides by enemies, is knocked down, is knocked out, yet survives and recovers while major empires die and fade.

Where is the mighty Assyrian Empire, and where are the gods of the Assyrians? Where is the mighty Babylonian Empire and its gods? Where is the great Alexander’s Empire and the Greek gods? Where is the great Roman Empire and its gods? Gone. All gone as with the wind.

Where is the Muslim Caliphate? Where is the Ottoman Empire? These empires are gone, too, but their god is still standing. Their god has assumed control of all the peoples and lands surrounding Israel and is continuing to lead the war on her. Their god has surrounded tiny Israel with the intent of crushing her.

The threat is so much greater with today’s modern weaponry than it was millennia ago. A single nuclear bomb could destroy the entire region in a holocaust greater than anything man has ever imagined or created. But the LORD God of Israel is always prepared for battle when His people are faced with impossible odds; He works miracles to protect His people. Did He not part the Red Sea for Moses? (Exo 15:3-5) Did He not stop the Jordan River for Israelites to enter The Promised Land? (Jos 3:15-16) Did He not bring down the walls of Jericho with merely a shout? (Jos 6:20) Did He not stop the sun and moon when Joshua fought against the five kings? (Jos 10:14) What great miracles will He work next?

Israel vs Islam croppedConsider tiny Israel (red), and all the Islamic nations (yellow) arrayed against her in the map to the right:[10]

What could possibly be so significant about Israel, and within Israel what could be so significant about Jerusalem specifically to so many people so many thousands of miles away?

The answer is simple. The LORD God chose Israel as the beachhead for His invasion of the enemy’s territory and selected Jerusalem as His capital and headquarters. The enemy is rallying his defenses against the invasion, but in vain.

It’s not about the people; it’s not about the land; but it is the battle of the gods. It’s not a worldly battle or a political struggle; it is a war in the spiritual realm manifesting itself in the physical realm:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)

The Middle East is the battleground of the gods: The one True God, The LORD, has been the only constant in this battle for thousands of years. Opposing gods have come and gone because the one true God has withstood all their attacks. Today’s challenger, Allah, is just one more in a series of failed challengers. After all, Allah didn’t appear on the battleground until the LORD had already vanquished all other earthly deities and had even personally invaded the world through Christ Jesus.

Empires and world powers come and go. Their gods come and go. But one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is still standing strong protecting His people. In spite of worldwide persecution, in spite of the holocaust, in spite of violent resistance the Jews have been miraculously brought back into a land they possessed thousands of years ago. Tiny Israel stands besieged by enemies on all sides in spite of all odds, in spite of all attempts to destroy her. As prophesied, a land that was dead and fallow now rejoices and blooms because the Israelites have returned. War after war has been miraculously won in modern times. There can be one answer, and one answer only: This is the work of the LORD God of Israel. Blessed be His name!

Land for Peace?

So, given the depth of animosity against the Jews and the nature of the conflict, is land for peace realistic? Can peace be bought with mere dirt? Based on history, both ancient and recent, one can safely say, “No!”

The only way peace can be achieved in The Middle East is to neutralize the hatred. Only love can stop the missiles, suicide bombers, and other diabolical plans to eradicate Israel. No human contraption, no human invention, no human political solution can bring peace. A change of the human heart can bring peace – but that’s a different matter beyond human capacity. Nevertheless God will not allow Israel to be eradicated again, no matter what the enemy tries.

The only possible way to achieve peace is through a change of heart, and only Christ Jesus can achieve that. He has demonstrated it repeatedly. Only a God who is perfectly perfect and perfectly able to reconcile the irreconcilable can achieve stable peace through reconciliation in The Middle East.

Works of The Law cannot save; The Law only convicts of sin. Christian denominations cannot save; they merely distract. False beliefs cannot save; they destroy forever. Only the grace and love of Christ Jesus through faith and a personal relationship will change a hateful heart.

Does that mean there is nothing we can do? By no means! We can and must stand for truth, righteousness, and love as Jesus said,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Joh 14:6)

There is no other way. Will we turn to Him or continue following a Satanic mirage? Because

All is not as it looks.

(1082)

________________________

[1] The origin of the word “Jew” originally can be traced to a corrupted Aramaic word for Hebrew; later a similar sounding corrupted Hebrew word was used to denote a member of the tribe of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jews

[2] They were expecting a political and military conqueror, not a suffering servant as prophesied in the Scripture. But the suffering servant Messiah was required by God’s plan to redeem everyone from the bondage to sin and death. Jesus Christ precisely fulfilled approximately 80 prophesied characteristics of the Messiah. Scholars at MIT have calculated the probability of someone randomly fulfilling just 48 of those prophecies as 1 out of 10157.  That probability is unimaginably less than the probability of finding just a single atom in the entire Universe (1 out of 1082) : It is essentially impossible for anyone other than Jesus to satisfy all those prophecies.

Furthermore, the Messiah’s arrival had to occur before destruction of the Second Temple. [Herbert Lockyer, All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible, P. 63] Since the Temple was destroyed in 70AD, it is impossible for anyone else to satisfy all the prophesied conditions for the arrival of the Messiah.

The only logical conclusion one can reach is that Jesus is the only possible candidate to be the Jewish Messiah. Anyone other than Jesus Christ who claims to be the Messiah is certainly making false claims.

[3] Also known as the “diaspora”

[4] The exact count is debated, but the following links provide bases for these estimates:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield%E2%80%93McCoy_feud
http://www.goaskred.com/?p=2821

[5] A covenant is much more significant than a promise: It’s a binding, formally executed contract between two parties. Usually each party bears an obligation under a covenant. Note that the terms of this covenant place no demands whatsoever on Abraham; God alone takes full responsibility for its execution independent of what Abraham or his descendants may do. Therefore this covenant is eternal in duration, unchangeable, and irrevocable.

[6] It was an accepted custom in those days to father a child by a servant in the name of the wife when the wife was barren, so there could be a male heir in the family.

[7] Note that God’s statement to Hagar was merely a command coupled to a promise without the formal elements of ratification associated with the Abrahamic covenant.

[8] The Amorites were one of the Canaanite tribes. They were judged by The LORD for their sinful practices and marked for total destruction at the hands of the Hebrews.

[9] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Arameans.html
http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/index_en.htm

[10]  Original source for map: http://www.snydertalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Israel-and-the-Arab-World.jpg

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