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Same as Biblical Israel?
Q. I have not been following the Israel conflict much. But, as you know, many believe that Israel is not the Israel of the Bible - that the Israel in the Bible refers to a people - not to a government or nation. Can you clarify this for me?
In fact, I am suspicious of Zionist control over Israel which is separate from the Israeli people spoken of in the Bible. There have been lots of alternative stories on the net. Some of the story titles have been things like:
"All of the civilian dead in Lebanon are Christians!"
"Israel has been deliberately targeting Christian areas in their Lebanon attacks!"
"Hezbollah has been defending Christians!"
By the way, I am not a believer. But, I'm interested in the biblical roots of conflicts in the Middle East.
Thousands of years of History
We are impressed by your questions. You challenged and honored us by asking them. For this we thank you and will try to answer your questions with care. Please understand that answers to your questions span thousands of years of records and history. So we may say things that require further clarification. Please feel free to contact us again.
Most believe Israel is Unbiblical Nation
You are right when you say that there are many who believe that the Israel of today is not the Israel of the Bible. In fact, you would be right to say that the vast majority of the world believes this. This includes most Jews and Christians!
Ancient Land Deed
This real issue is, do we take the Bible seriously and hold it as authoritative? If so, then a careful reading of the Biblical account reveals that God decreed the offspring of Abraham and Sarah would be deeded land.
God claimed this area as His own special land with a special purpose. Jehovah held that only to Isaac (Jews) and not to Ishmael (Arabs) would He grant this particular piece of land. The children of Ishmael (Arabs) were given, in effect, everything else.
The Bible says that this special land grant to Israel was inviolate. God would honor this grant forever. Scripture also warns there would be perpetual conflict over this land until the return of the Messiah. So the conflict today is to be expected. It was prophesied over 2500 years ago.
Tiny Land Area
Remember how small Israel is. At its center it is only 9 miles wide. That is less than driving from Anacortes to Mount Vernon in the state of Washington where you live. At its length it is only about two hundred miles long. In fact, it is less than 1/6th the size of San Bernardino county in Southern California. If you leave in the morning and drive the entire length and then the width of the country you will still be home in time for lunch!
Current Government Unbiblical
The past leaders of Israel do not hold to the Biblical account. They are anything but Zionists. Ariel Sharon once stated that the Bible is not a title deed to the land. The government of Israel is most often run by socialists with ties to big money and power - as are most governments. To be fair, they must run large social service programs to handle the influx of immigrants into the country.
But, it should be understood that the true "Zionists" are small in number and have little power. This is evident by the fact that Israel has been giving away land since its inception in 1948.
Meaning of "Zionists"
The question that must be asked and answered is: Do you think that the Jews have a right to a home land in the Middle East or anywhere for that matter?
If the answer is "yes," then you are a Zionist, as are we. The Zionist movement was and is the movement to secure that home land for the Jewish people, in keeping with the Biblical account.
"Zionist" refers to Mt. Zion - the city of Jerusalem where God comes to dwell among His people, which, by the way, include all of His people. His people are defined as those who believe Him and trust in Him.
As to Hezbollah protecting Christians, that, with all respect, is not born out by any reckoning. Lebanon in the sixties and seventies was a Christian nation, not Muslim. Since then the Christian population has been systematically persecuted and forced out.
This is true in virtually all Muslim countries where in such nations as Saudi Arabia, even possessing a Bible is punishable by imprisonment and death.
When we visited Bethlehem in 1978 the population was about 60-70% Christian. Since Israel gave the town to the Muslims, the Christian population has been reduced to far less than 5%. There is virtually no tolerance for Jews or Christians in a Muslim community. Yet, in Israel and Christian countries, Islam is permitted to flourish.
Where is the justice in that?
I suggest you continue to seek answers to your questions. Read as much as you can on the subject and don't limit yourself to answers provided only by unbelieving Christians or Jews. A true biblical study of this subject is fascinating!
Rosenberg, Joel C. 2006. Epicenter. Carol Stream: Ill: Tyndale.
Walvoord, John with Mark Hitchcock. 2007 ed. Armageddon, Oil and Terror. Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale.
Wagner, William. 2004. How islam plans to change the world. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal.
Authors Ken Emilio holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. Valorie has her MA in history from UCLA focusing upon Christian origins. Both received a V.O.M. Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
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