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Israel´s Land Claims Examined

Israel's Land Claims Examined


The Kingdom of God - and Israel


Are Israel's land claims in the Middle East supported by Scripture?
Are Israel's land claims based on fact or tradition?
Did God give Israel "ownership" or "tenancy" to the lands He promised to Abraham?


God told the Jews, "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." Leviticus 25:23.


Before we look further into Israel's land claims, let us see who the Bible refers to as "Israel?"


Are Jews necessarily Israelites?
What is the meaning of the title "Israel?" "Israel" was more than a name. It was a title given to identify a special kind of person. "Israel" was a title originally given by God to identify one person who had accepted His invitation to turn from self-worship to reflecting God's love in a self-serving and sin sick world.


What does "Israel" mean?
Originally, "Israel" was a title conferred on Jacob after he repented of his sinful nature and made his peace with God. The word "Israel" meant "over-comer," or "a prince with God."


Genesis 32:22-32 tells us that after a night of fighting and resisting God's angel, Jacob finally overcame his own stubbornness, and confessed what "Jacob" really was. It was only after he confessed and repented of his self-centered righteousness, that the angel of the Lord conferred on him the honored title of "Israel." Jacob had "struggled with God and with men" all his life. Genesis 32:28. What did he overcome now? Did he overcome God? Never! Scripture is clear that he finally overcame his own stubborn and self-righteous nature.


When the desperate Jacob clung to the angel and said, "I will not let you go until you bless me" (v. 26), the angel came straight to the point and asked him, "What is your name?" In other words, when you look into the mirror of your soul, Jacob, what do you see? A life of deception, and fraud, and shrewdness stared him in the face.


He had been a swindler who lied to his father, cheated his brother and was a ruthless businessman. Now, fearing that he was also on the verge of permanently separating himself from God, he faced the truth. His pride cracked as he confessed his desperate and naked state. He finally overcame his self-righteous pride. At that moment, as he opened his heart, his guilt and sin were gone. The old Jacob was dead. Israel was born. He was a new man, a "prince with God." Repentance was a pre-requisite to receiving the title "Israel."


No person ever inherited that title!


The true Israel is distinguished from the impostors by their repentance and acceptance of the Lord as Jacob did. Anyone claiming to be an Israelite while avoiding Jesus, who is the Door to the kingdom of God, is described in John 10, verses 1 and 7 as a thief and a robber. Why does the Old Testament often refer to "The children of Israel?" What is the distinction between a true Israelite and the "child" of an Israelite? Until the child embraces the Christ-centered faith of a true Israelite, he is just another "Jew" or a "Greek." To become an Israelite he must undergo the same transformation that Jacob had.


Just as the term "church" has been misconstrued and through common usage has been applied to an organization, or to a building, so also the title "Israel" had been secularized, and misapplied to a race, or a culture. There always was, and there remains a vast difference between who one is, and what he calls himself. This understanding helps to clear the fog that shrouds many needless arguments regarding the present nation of Israel and the true identity of God's "chosen people."


Just as no person ever inherited the title "Israel," so also, no person or nation ever inherited land in God's kingdom. 1 Corinthians 15:50.


What about the land where Israel lived?


Regarding the land God entrusted to Israel's care, He said:
"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." Leviticus 25:23.


The fact that God had never given title to the land where Israel lived to the Jews or to any human beings, is also confirmed in passages such as Psalm 24:1, and 1 Corinthians 10:26. God had "leased" to the Jews, who assumed the name "Israel," a base in the Middle East from which to carry His message of love to the nations. The fact that the Creator never gave up ownership, or title, to any land was confirmed by Jesus when He exercised His authority by firing the tenants to whom He had entrusted His property. According to Matthew 21:43 Jesus cancelled the conditional lease that the Jews had arrogantly regarded as an irrevocable title.
"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit."


Was Israel's tenancy in the land of Israel permanent or was it conditional?


Israel's possession of the land was conditional on their faithfulness in following God's instructions in both temporal and spiritual areas. Deuteronomy 28:58, 63, 68. Their identity as "the chosen people" was likewise conditional on their faithfulness in representing their Redeemer to the nations of the world. Did they know about Christ, the coming Messiah on whom their lives depended? Of course they did, but they chose to ignore Him. Like all the pre-Sinai saints whose life stories were recorded by Moses, Abraham knew all about the coming of the Messiah and the plan of salvation. In Jesus' own words we read,
"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." John 8:56. Also see Hebrews 11:10 and Galatians 3:8.


When the angel confronted Jacob, he confessed his sins and received God's blessing. Later, when the so-called Israel were confronted by the Lord Jesus, they refused to repent and crucified Him. Because they refused this last invitation to obey God, they forfeited their role as His messengers to the nations. Sadly, Jesus cancelled their lease and dismissed them with the words:
"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." Matthew 21: 43.


Please read Jesus' story of the tenants in Matthew 21:33-44. This is more than a parable. It is the record of God's judgment on a people who had failed in their God-assigned mission. The eviction of the Jews from the land of Israel was executed when God sent Titus, the Roman general, in 70 AD to level the city of Jerusalem and scatter the inhabitants to the four winds. Since then, for nearly two thousand years the Jews were not allowed to return to the land they had forfeited.


Now that the Jews have returned, not under the banner of The Prince of Peace, but by the force of arms, do they recognize the true Owner, Christ, or do they still claim exclusive title to that land? Where do people get the idea that there is such a place as a "Holy Land" where Christ is not welcomed? Just because we call something "holy" does not make it holy! Exodus 3:5 tells us that wherever God is, is holy ground. Read Jesus' words in John 4: 19-24, where He told the woman at the well that God wasn't confined to either Jerusalem or to Samaria. Neither place was "holy" because Christ, the true Owner, was not recognized in either city.


Another surprise - The Empty Room.
When, at the crucifixion of Jesus, the curtain of the temple was rent from top to bottom, it exposed an empty Most Holy Apartment. How do we know that it was empty? The evidence comes from three sources.


1. The first is Scripture. Read Jeremiah 3:16. This was fulfilled In Jeremiah's day.
"Men will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made."


2. Secondly, history records that the last time there was any record of the ark was just before Nebuchadnezzar pillaged the temple in Jeremiah's day. It has never been seen since. Israel's anointing as "the chosen People" was lifted long before they were evicted from the land. The religious rituals continued, but the voice of the Holy Spirit had been squelched.


3. The third evidence is that there is not one word in Scripture to indicate that when the temple curtain was ripped open after the crucifixion, there was anything inside. It revealed an empty room. The glory of the Lord had already departed. For centuries the priests carried on a charade in front of a "most holy apartment" from which the glory of the Lord had departed. Jesus indicated that in Matthew 23:37,38 when He said,
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate."


Israel's land claims and selection as the "Chosen People" were both conditional.


Yes, the Jews were an exclusive people at one time. They were selected to do a specific job! They were called to help bring the light of God's grace to a world lost in sin. They were honored with a specific task to complete the commission God had presented to Abraham in Genesis 17: 3-6. After nursing them for centuries with no results, God's patience ran out. In the words of Christ, because they reneged on their mission, the privilege of promoting the kingdom was transferred to a new inclusive Israel, "a people who will produce its fruit." Matthew 21:43. These are the true Israel, who like Abraham, have their faith anchored in Christ! Let us serve carefully, lest through pride we also fail and are dismissed from the Master's vineyard. See 1 Corinthians 10:11.


In summary, we must agree with Scripture that only misguided people will kill each other to gain something that does not belong to any of them. If, because of greed, the Jews and Arabs don't recognize God's ownership, and that the land is God's gift to be shared, they will both lose it again, just as the Jews lost it in 70 AD. Please read Matthew 21: 33-43.


Scripture presents all believers in Christ, called and redeemed from among all nations that God gave to Abraham, as His "chosen People" or spiritual Israel. Genesis 17: 3-6. Rom. 9:6-9 and Eph. 2:11-22. Racial and class rivalry are not the fruit of God's Spirit.


Realizing that you are part of the true Israel today, is the key to fully appropriating the Gospel message. God's kingdom is not tainted by racism, nor does it recognize second-class citizens! We become citizens only by being "born again" into that kingdom. Confusion exists when people attempt to understand Old Testament prophecies by logic alone, instead of seeing them through the lens of New Testament revelation. Gal. 1:11,12.


Jews are not the only ones the Bible refers to as God's Chosen People. See 1 Peter 2:9. In Colossians 3:11,12 Paul referred to the Gentile believers in Colossae as the elect, or God's "Chosen People."
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,...but Christ is all, and in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.


Only in Christ do we become God's "Chosen People," and only as joint-heirs with Christ will we eventually receive title, not only to land but to everything that God created.


Let us heed the words of Jesus and the apostles, who often used marriage as an illustration of the union between Christ and the faithful from all races,
"Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Matthew 19:6.


Samuel Pestes See our web site at

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