The Not So Holy, Holy Land

   (Part 2 0f 3)                  

Why is the Middle East like an albatross around the neck of the world? Why is there more crashing and burning here than you will ever see at a stockcar rally?

Plainly and Simply; it all started with a promise that God made to Abraham four thousand years ago. That may be ancient history to you and me but not so to God.  God never forgets and always keeps his promises. To him a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day.

A Promised Land

God made a promise to Abraham that is still binding today. Abraham was living in Ur of the Chaldees (Modern day Iraq) when it all began.

Genesis 12:1-7 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country,
From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.  And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.”

(When it comes to Israel always remember this truth; you cannot separate Israel from her land. They go together like sunshine and shadows.)

To your descendants I will give this land, but the problem was that Abraham was getting old and his wife was past the age of childbearing and still they had no descendent(s). So, Sarah his wife came up with the ingenious idea of letting Abraham produce a descendent through their maid Hagar. The result was a son named Ishmael. (Remember the name!) Fourteen years later Abraham and Sarah had a son names Isaac. This act of unbelief became the root of the   problem that we are watching in the Middles East today. Ishmael went on to become the father of 12 Arab tribes that roam Arabia today. Modern day Arabs trace their bloodline back to Ishmael. Today the descendants of Ishmael are the killing cousins of the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac.

God’s promise to give the land of Israel to the Jews was made to Abraham and Sarah and their son Isaac and NOT to Abraham and Hagar through their son Ishmael. That is the cocked gun. This is the spark in the dry grass that bursts the Middle East into a fiery inferno from time to time.  Isaac is the promised son of Abraham and not Ishmael. However, the Arabs, the Muslims say the Jews corrupted the Bible and changed the promise from Ishmael to Isaac. Trying to convince them otherwise is like trying to convince Columbus on his maiden voyage that he was not on his way to India.

Isaac’s son Jacob had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. They lived in the land until famine drove them into Egypt where they stayed for 430 years. Than through Moses God lead them out and back to the Land that he promised them.

Exodus 6:8,“And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.’

An Occupied Land

Moses Lead the Jews from slavery in Egypt back to their Land. While on the way back God repeated the same promise to Moses that he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding the land.

Deuteronomy 32: 16,20, And the LORD said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them……. When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve for 600 years. them; and they will provoke Me and break My covenant.”

That is exactly what happened. Israel whom God chose to be a covenant people, a privileged people, a separate people, a light to the world, a city set on a hill, a model for all other nations to follow; soon wanted to be like the nations around them. They wanted a king like them rather than be a different people ruled by God. ( Be careful what you ask for.)  For awhile under a few good kings they prospered greatly. But the shine soon wore off the apple. They became so corrupt to their core that God ceased to be their friend and became their enemy.  From 606 BC to 536 BC they were pushed out of their land into the pagan land of Babylon. (70 year Babylonian Captivity) Eventually with their great temple destroyed many repented of their ways and wanted to get back to God and back to their Land.

Psalm 137:1, By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.”

A Re-Occupied Land

Through a series of events and under the all wise providence of God the Persian king Cyprus allowed a remnant of them to return to the Land of Canaan and rebuild its walls and temple and roads and institutions. But it was a bitter sweet return, because Israel was ever afterwards under the boot of some foreign power even while back in their land. After the Persians it was the Greeks and than the Romans and so it went for 600 years.

Little wonder, when Jesus appeared on the scene at 30 years of age many saw him as their political savior but not as their spiritual savior not as their redeemer messiah. When he rode into Jerusalem as a servant on a donkey and not as a conqueror on a white horse the leadership lost all hope in him. Like many in political leadership today they were too spiritually blind to see what was really happening to their nation.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem and warned them what was coming but, it all fell on spiritually deaf ears. “They knew not the time of their visitation.” They had reached the point of no return.

Luke 19: 41-44,  Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,  and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

A Lost Stand To Keep The Land

After Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven the Jews made one last Custer stand against the Romans to drive them out of their land. It was 70 AD. But it was as futile as King Canute of England ordering the tides to turn back. The Roman commander Titus built a wall around Jerusalem and starved them into subjection. The Jews fought very bravely and died bravely as they fought to keep their land. They ate their leather sandals, they killed their own for a piece of bread; many tried to escape by night and if caught were quickly crucified. Soldiers who were caught had their hands cut off and sent back into the city where they could not fight but had to be fed and cared for.

When a breach was finally made through the great wall of the city; it like the great temple itself was methodically dismantled, destroyed stone by stone. As the eye witness Jewish historian Josephus tells us;

So all hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city. Then did the famine widen its progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the children also and the young men wandered about the market-places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever their misery seized them. As for burying them, those that were sick themselves were not able to do it; and those that were hearty and well were deterred from doing it by the great multitude of those dead bodies, and by the uncertainty there was how soon they should die themselves; for many died as they were burying others, and many went to their coffins before that fatal hour was come. Nor was there any lamentations made under these calamities, nor were heard any mournful complaints; but the famine confounded all natural passions; for those who were just going to die looked upon those that were gone to rest before them with dry eyes and open mouths. A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night, had seized upon the city; while yet the robbers were still more terrible than these miseries were themselves; for they brake open those houses which were no other than graves of dead bodies, and plundered them of what they had; and carrying off the coverings of their bodies, went out laughing, and tried the points of their swords in their dead bodies; and, in order to prove what metal they were made of they thrust some of those through that still lay alive upon the ground; but for those that entreated them to lend them their right hand and their sword to despatch them, they were too proud to grant their requests, and left them to be consumed by the famine. Now every one of these died with their eyes fixed upon the temple, and left the seditious alive behind them. Now the seditious at first gave orders that the dead should be buried out of the public treasury, as not enduring the stench of their dead bodies. But afterwards, when they could not do that, they had them cast down from the walls into the valleys beneath.”

It was the end. Some say that over a million Jews died in the epic struggle to keep their land. Now they were sent off into slavery. Tens of thousands were shipped off to the city of Rome to build the 45,000 seat Coliseum there.  Jerusalem became an abandoned city and for the next 1800 years the Jews became the people of bleeding feet.

But God had Not Forgotten His Promise. A promise is a promise is a promise. His promise to Israel that the Land is there’s forever still stands. Time and circumstances cannot tarnish it, armies and navies cannot destroy it, parliaments and world bodies cannot decree it away. In spite of the present day bad world new and bloody world history the best is yet to be for Israel. She truly will be the City on the Hill that the entire world will see and one day walk in its light.

Don’t be overwhelmed by what you see and hear over the media.

God always has the last word. Time is always on His  side. One with God is a majority. He hasn’t lost one yet.

He is Only a Prayer Away.

He Loves You!

Pastor Bob

 (To be continued)