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The dispute over that thin strip of land called Palestine and Israel has been the single issue in the past fifty years that is dragging the world into disaster. Many Christians have foreseen this great conflict by reading the Bible, but very few really understand how God views it. This book traces the history of that conflict from the beginning.
Category - Long Book
We showed in our previous chapter how the divine law clearly states that Israel 's right to be in the Promised Land was contingent upon their obedience to God and His law. Because they continually refused to be obedient, God Himself "sold" Israel into the hands of foreign nations all through the book of Judges. Yet because they were allowed to remain in the land, it was merely a wooden yoke put upon them.
Only centuries later did God finally begin to impose upon them the "yoke of iron" mentioned in Deut. 28:48. This yoke was defined in the law as the removal of Israel from the land and their deportation and scattering into all nations. This actually occurred first with the northern ten tribes of the House of Israel in 745-721 B.C. Judah escaped the iron yoke for another century. But then the people refused to hear the Word of the Lord from the prophet Jeremiah. So God hired the Babylonians to bring the House of Judah under the yoke of iron. This iron yoke lasted for just 70 years, after which time God reduced their sentence to a wooden yoke, where they remained under the yoke of Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome until the time of Christ.
Jesus then came to give them the Word, and the people once again rejected Him and His Word. He came as the Prince of Peace, but the people preferred a more violent method of establishing the Kingdom. Hence, they chose Barabbas, the murderer guilty of sedition-leading a revolt against Rome -rather than choosing the Messiah (Luke 23:18; Acts 3:14).
They were given a grace period of 40 years in which to change their minds. But in 66-73 A.D. the nation of Judah ( Judea ) decided to fight the Romans and attempt to throw off the wooden yoke by the arm of flesh. The Barabbas tactic failed, and once again they found themselves under the yoke of iron, scattered among the nations-this time, for a much longer period of time.
In the late 1800's a new Jewish movement arose, which called itself "Zionism." The purpose of this movement was to reverse the iron yoke that God had imposed upon the adherents of Judaism. Its method was carnal and often violent. Its main problem was that it assumed that Jews had a divine right to reverse that captivity without addressing the original reasons that God had imposed the iron yoke upon them in the first century. And so we must study the divine law to see the lawful manner by which such an iron yoke ought to be removed. Then we will compare the lawful method with those methods actually being employed by the Zionists today.
The divine law specified that He would release them from their captivity only under certain conditions. The primary condition was that they repent of their hostility against Jesus Christ, who gave them this law while in His pre-incarnate existence. Lev. 26:40-42 (NASB) says,
40 If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me [Jesus Christ], and also in their acting with hostility against Me [Jesus Christ] - 41 I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies-or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled, so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.
The iron yoke came upon them because of their "hostility" against Jesus Christ and because of their preference for the violent methods of Barabbas.
Most people are unaccustomed to thinking of Jesus Christ as the One who gave the law to Moses. But this teaching is clear in both the Old Testament and the New. In Exodus 15:3 and again in Isaiah 12:2, we read that "The Lord " (that is, YAHWEH, the God of the Old Testament) "has become my salvation" (that is, YESHUA). The word, Yeshua, means salvation. This was also the Hebrew name for Jesus. Hence, the Scriptures tell us that Yahweh has become our Yeshua, prophesying the incarnation of the Lawgiver in the form of Jesus Christ. Jesus, then, was the One who revealed Himself to Moses by the name of Yahweh (Ex. 6:2, 3). Jesus was the Covenanter and Lawgiver who spoke the Ten Commandments to the people and taught Moses the rest of the law.
The Hebrew word for the divine law is Torah. The first letter, tav, was originally written as a cross. It literally means "a sign" and is used in Ez. 9:4, where it is translated as a "mark" to be put on the foreheads of the divinely protected ones. This is the ancient origin of the practice of writing the sign of the cross on one's forehead.
The second letter in Torah is the vav, which literally means "a nail."
The third letter in Torah is the resh, which means "a head" or "the head" in the sense of the leader.
The final letter in Torah is the hey, which, when it appears at the end of the word, means "what comes from."
Putting these letters together spells the Hebrew word, Torah, and it literally means "What comes from the Leader nailed to the Cross." It is a prophecy that identifies the giver of the Torah as Jesus Christ, the Head or King, the Crucified One, who gave the law to Moses many years before He was born of Mary.
For this reason, the Jews' hostility against Jesus Christ, the Lawgiver, was the reason for their dispersion under the yoke of iron. God used Rome to do this, but one cannot merely blame the Romans for doing bad things to the Jews. Jesus Himself said plainly in Matt. 22:7 that God hired the Roman army as His mercenaries.
But instead of repenting, the Jewish leaders become quite angry when anyone implies that they did something wrong in crucifying Jesus. In fact, they often try to blame the Romans, whereas the New Testament never puts the blame on their shoulders. Pilate was forced to allow the crucifixion against his will. Peter testifies in Acts 3:13-15,
13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant, Jesus, the one whom you delivered up and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, 15 and put to death the Prince of Life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.
This is repeated in Acts 5:30, 7:51, 52, 10:39, 40, and 13:28. The apostles did not hesitate to call the Jews to repentance for their "hostility" against Jesus Christ. In fact, it was required of them. It is no different today, unless we are prepared to amend the New Testament in the attempt to make Christianity more palatable to Jews or to be more politically correct.
I say this, not in hatred, but in love, for only by such repentance can they hope to reverse the sentence of the law against them, as written in Lev. 26:40-42. No Jew can be saved apart from Jesus Christ. Nor can any Jew obtain God's blessing by moving to the nation called " Israel." As we said earlier, Zionism is a movement among Jews who decided that God would never set them free, and so they felt that they had to set themselves free. They have not repented, and yet they want the blessings of God while yet remaining hostile to Jesus Christ. This is not the way to fulfill Bible prophecy.
By returning to the land apart from Christ and without accepting His peaceful methods of conquest, they have had to resort to the violence and bloodshed advocated by Barabbas. This is the attitude and method used by this Zealot leader in Jesus' day. The people's choice ultimately brought utter disaster upon all of the people.
Jerusalem was so named, because it was supposed to be a City of Peace. That was its original calling when it was named by its builder and founder, Melchizedek (Shem), king of " Salem " (Gen. 14:18). The Temple in Jerusalem was built by Solomon, whose name also means "Peace." The temple was to be a house of prayer for ALL people. Unfortunately, however, the people of Judah converted the City of Peace into "the bloody city." Ezekiel 24:9-13 says,
9 Therefore, thus says the Lord God, Woe to the bloody city! I also shall make the pile great... 13 Because I would have cleansed you, yet you are not clean, you will not be cleansed from your filthiness again until I have spent My wrath on you.
The fact is, the old Jerusalem is a bloody city, while the New Jerusalem is the true City of Peace. This has never been so apparent as today. The physical city of Jerusalem is identified with Hagar, Paul says in Gal. 4:25. As Hagar, that city cannot and will not bring forth the promises of the Kingdom of God -in spite of what Jewish leaders and many Christian ministers may teach.
The Scriptures teach that Hagar and her children must be "cast out" (Gen. 21:10; Gal. 4:30) before Sarah and her children can fulfill their calling to inherit the promises of God. So long as Hagar-Jerusalem is still a contender for the birthright promises to Abraham and Isaac, the promise will continue to be a future hope. That is why the day is soon coming when Hagar-Jerusalem will be destroyed by nuclear war. Only then will men have to look elsewhere for the fulfillment of the biblical Kingdom of God. But let us return to the history of modern Zionism.
Zionism as a modern movement was really born in 1897 with the book, The Jewish State, written by Theodor Herzl. He was a reporter for an Austrian newspaper, covering the story of the Alfred Dreyfus treason trial. He was so appalled by the anti-Semitism of the trial that he came to believe that a Jewish nation of their own was the only solution. Herzl was able to raise money from wealthy contributors and thus succeeded where those before him had remained insignificant. Many viewed him as the promised Messiah.
The first armed group of Zionists in Jaffa was formed by just ten men in 1907, an organization called the Bar-Giora. In Dan Kurzman's biography of former Israeli Prime Minister, Yizhak Rabin, Soldier of Peace, page 72, he tells us of the Bar-Giora:
"Named after the last Jewish defender of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., it was a secret underground watchmen's organization whose members took the oath, 'In blood and fire Judea fell and in blood and fire Judea shall arise'!"
So the Bar-Giora was so named to honor a man who symbolized the Jewish revolt against Rome. Their oath manifested no remorse or repentance for deliberately disobeying Jeremiah's injunction against the evil figs. Instead, these first armed Zionists came with an oath to continue their fight in the same manner as in 70 A.D. They came advocating "blood and fire."
In 1909 the Bar-Giora formed a larger organization known as Hashomer ("The Watchman"). Ten years later, in 1919, shortly after the end of World War One, the Haganah was formed, and this remained as the official Jewish "self-defense" organization until it was transformed into the Israeli Defense Force in 1948.
During World War One, the British received the help of Arabs in the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire, because they promised the Arabs independent states. In 1915 the British sent Col. T. E. Lawrence to convince the Arabs to revolt against the Ottomans.
On May 23, 1915 these Arab leaders agreed to the Damascus Protocol, by which they helped the British defeat the Ottoman Empire in exchange for the independence of all Arab land in Asia (except for Aden, south of Saudi Arabia). Subsequent letters written by General Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner for Egypt, to Hussein, Sharif of Mecca, make it clear that Palestine fell under this agreement. Alfred Lilienthal wrote in his book, The Zionist Connection II, page 16,
"For some years, because of the nuances in Sir Henry's drafting, it was contended by certain Zionist academicians, supported by the British government, that the independence pledge was purposely vague and never intended to pertain to Palestine. But the publication in 1964 by scholar Dr. Fayaz Sayegh of two British documents, the twenty-page 'Memorandum on British Commitments to King Hussein' and the twelve-page 'Appendix of Previous Commitments to His Majesty's Government in the Middle East,' clearly revealed that Palestine unmistakably was contained within the McMahan independence promise."
These promises were given two years before the Balfour declaration, by which the Zionists laid claim to a state of their own. Hence, if the Zionists invoke the Balfour Declaration to claim a right to a Jewish State, the Arabs have a prior right to have it as a Palestinian State. The Balfour Declaration was a letter of intent written by Britain 's Foreign Minister to Baron Lionel Rothschild on Nov. 2, 1917, saying,
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
This Declaration did not establish a Jewish state, but rather, a Jewish national home. It said nothing about dispossessing Arabs or denying them political or social rights. It was understood that Arabs would continue to remain the majority population, and that the Arab-dominated government would also allow Jews to purchase land and live there with equal rights among the Arabs, if they so desired. This is not much different from Jews freely living in America today.
Even so, the Balfour Declaration was not a signed agreement that enjoyed legal status. It was merely a letter of intent. The Zionists either ignored what it said about equal rights for all, or else they read into the letter what they wanted to hear. At any rate, Zionists used this to instill in Jews around the world the hope for a Jewish State. This ignited a fire that soon got out of control.
Hence, the Arabs were indeed promised independence in most of the Middle East-including Palestine -but the Jews were promised the right to immigrate to Palestine and live as equals in that Arab territory.
In the time between the Damascus Protocol and the Balfour Declaration, the British made a third set of promises to France and Russia by the Sykes-Picot agreement on May 16, 1916. Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Charles Francois Georges Picot of France agreed to divide the spoils of the Ottoman Empire among three countries. France was to receive western Syria and the city of Mosul. England was to take control from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf. Russia 's share fell outside of the Middle East and is not our concern here.
The French knew nothing of the Hussein-McMahan agreements, and the Arabs knew nothing of the Sykes-Picot arrangement that totally contradicted their promises of Arab independence. Only after the Russian revolution in late 1917 did the revolutionaries discover and publish these secret Tsarist papers, for Russia was part of the Sykes-Picot agreement. This was when the Arabs discovered that they had been betrayed.
On May 5, 1920 the Allied Council of Four partitioned Syria to France and gave Britain the mandate to rule Palestine. T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), wrote of the fraud with great bitterness on page 275, 276 of his book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom,
"The Arab Revolt had begun on false pretences. To gain the Sherif's help our Cabinet had offered, through Sir Henry McMahon, to support the establishment of native governments in parts of Syria and Mesopotamia, 'saving the interests of our ally, France'. The last modest clause concealed a treaty (kept secret, till too late, from McMahon, and therefore from the Sherif) by which France, England, and Russia agreed to annex some of these promised areas, and to establish their respective spheres of influence over all the rest.
"Rumors of the fraud reached Arab ears, from Turkey. In the East persons were more trusted than institutions. So the Arabs, having tested my friendliness and sincerity under fire, asked me, as a free agent, to endorse the promises of the British Government. I had had no previous or inner knowledge of the McMahon pledges and the Sykes-Picot treaty, which were both framed by war-time branches of the Foreign Office. But not being a perfect fool, I could see that if we won the war the promises to the Arabs were dead paper. Had I been an honorable adviser, I would have sent my men home and not let them risk their lives for such stuff. Yet the Arab inspiration was our main tool in winning the Eastern war. So I assured them that England kept her word in letter and spirit. In this comfort they performed their fine things; but, of course, instead of being proud of what we did together, I was continually and bitterly ashamed."
The British then issued the "Churchill White Paper" in June 1922, to clarify their policy:
"It is contemplated that the status of all citizens of Palestine in the eyes of the law shall be Palestinian, and it has never been intended that they or any section of them should possess any other juridical status.... It is not as has been represented by the Arab delegation that during this war His Majesty's Government gave an undertaking that an independent national government should be at once established in Palestine."
Statement after statement clarified that the Balfour Declaration never intended to create a Jewish state in Palestine, at least not "at once." This raised the blood pressure of the Zionists, who, of course, had every intention of doing just that. At any rate, the Balfour Declaration was abundantly clear on this one issue, saying: "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." This is clearly one issue over which the British government cannot be accused of doublespeak.
The Zionists, however, objected to this clause and made it clear to all that they intended to force the British into creating a Jewish state at the expense of the Arabs who had lived there for over a thousand years. The Arabs read the Zionist literature and were both appalled and angered by this belligerence and lack of respect for the basic human rights of any non-Jews who got in their way.
In 1922 the British recognized the Kingdom of Egypt that included the Sinai, which the Zionists claimed belonged to them. In 1923 Transjordan was made a sovereign nation. This at least partially fulfilled some of the British promises to the Arabs for their support during World War One. The Zionists, however, were furious, because it "gave away" more of "Greater Israel."
These settled boundaries of Egypt and Jordan brought relative stability in those parts of the Middle East. But Palestine was still a problem, because the British wanted to retain it as a colony because of its strategic position, particularly to protect their interest in the Suez Canal. This put the British and the Zionists into direct conflict. Still, most of the Zionist leadership made some attempt to work within the framework of the British government.
But the Zionist intent was to conquer all of Palestine through immigration and settlement. They believed that a Jewish State could only be accomplished by having a majority population. The immigrants were used as their primary weapon. Arab militants began to fight back, killing these "innocent" civilians who had been enlisted by the Zionists in their designs to conquer by immigration.
This was the beginning of the conflict in the twentieth century.
Modern Zionism began primarily as a nationalistic movement to obtain political power in Palestine. But the 1967 war, when the Israelis took control of Jerusalem and the West Bank, sparked a type of secular messianism that had lingered just under the surface. It is a peculiar belief of messianism that is held by atheistic Jews who dominate the Israeli government even today. It is the belief that the Jewish people collectively are its own messiah.
Jewish opinion is divided on this subject. But this is the political view that has set the course of the modern Israeli state. This means simply that the people got tired of waiting for a savior to come and free them from the iron yoke that God had imposed upon them in the first century. They did not feel that they had to repent of rejecting the Messiah, and so they could not understand why God would allow this yoke to remain upon them for 1,900 years.
They finally concluded that God either did not exist, or, if He existed at all, He expected them to be their own savior. Hence, certain Jewish leaders were able to revive the ancient spirit of revolt, overturning centuries of rabbinic teaching in Judaism that they must await the coming of the Messiah before returning to Palestine.
There are, even today, significant numbers of Jewish rabbis who are hotly anti-Zionist, but most Christians never hear their voices. For example, Dr. Israel Shahak, emeritus professor of organic chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem until his death last year, had long been an advocate of human rights for Palestinian people. He was the founder of the Israeli League of Human Rights. He wrote a letter published by the London Times on Jan. 27, 1973 entitled, "A Jewish Duty or Jewish Apostasy?"
"I am a Jew living in Israel, and consider myself a law-abiding citizen. I serve in the army every year, in spite of being nearly forty years old. But I am not 'devoted' to the State of Israel or to any other state or human organization. I am devoted to my ideals. I believe in speaking the truth and in doing something for securing justice and equality for all human beings...
"But to be devoted to the State? I can well imagine Amos or Isaiah splitting their sides with laughter if somebody had demanded of them to be 'devoted' to the Kingdom of Israel or the Kingdom of Judah. 'Hate evil and love good and establish judgment in the gate,' says Amos (Chapter 5, verse 15), who does not spare a word of devotion to the great-warlike and successful Kingdom of Israel of his times.
"In fact, this new doctrine preached as a Jewish duty, is nothing but Jewish apostasy. All Jews used to believe and say it three times a day, that a Jew should be devoted to God, and God alone. A small minority still believes it. But it seems to me that the majority of my people has left God, and has substituted an idol in its place, exactly as happened when they were so devoted to the Golden Calf in the desert that they gave away their gold to make it. The name of this modern idol is the State of Israel."
Other rabbis are just as outspoken as Dr. Shahak. Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandel wrote an article May 26, 2000 posted online at: [http://www.jewsnotzionists.org/tenquestions.html],
"... We should avoid the untenable position of the robber who prays for Divine help in carrying out his crime. We should pray that Zionism and its fruits vanish from the Earth, and that we be redeemed by the Messiah with dispatch.
"A prisoner is released only when he has served his time, or if he is pardoned by the President for good behavior. If he attempts escape and is apprehended, his term is lengthened, besides the beating he receives when he is caught.
"... We have been sentenced to exile by the King of Kings because of our sins. The eternal, blessed be he, has decreed that we accept the exile with humble gratitude until the time comes, or until we merit His pardon through repentance. If we seek to end the exile with force, G-d will catch us, as our sages have forewarned, and our sentence becomes longer and more difficult.
"Many times in the past have segments of our people been defrauded by false messiahs-but none of the false messiahs has been as fallacious and delusory as the lie of Zionism.... If we wish our exile-sentence commuted, we must appeal through repentance... Let it be clearly understood that never in Jewish history (even in the time of Jeroboam or Achav) have such hostile atheists stood at the helm of the Jewish people as today."
Though many rabbis warned the people against the errors of Zionism, the idea of returning to the land proved to be too tantalizing for a great many Jews. It awakened a hope within them long nurtured by Judaism, and Zionism offered them an immediate reward without awaiting for a divine Messiah. Zionism would give them a land without the need for repentance, for they would be their own messiah. They would "redeem" the land themselves by transferring it to Jewish ownership. This would be done at first by purchasing land peacefully; but ultimately, if Arabs refused to sell the land, it would be appropriated by the Land Acquisition Act of 1953, legalizing all seizures of Arab land. The rest of the land would be conquered by military force whenever possible.
The Jewish Agency was an organization that attempted to work primarily to bring about the conquest of Palestine by political means-that is, by immigration. The Arabs objected to the Zionist objective of establishing a Jewish State, citing earlier British promises that, if anything, there should be an independent Palestinian State. But since Transjordan had already been given statehood, the British gave them assurances that Palestine would be turned into a Palestinian State in which Jews would be allowed to live as equal citizens.
Many Arabs, however, were far-sighted enough to see that the Zionists would never content themselves by living as equals. Zionist literature showed clearly their intent to establish a Jewish state.
The mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, religious leader of Jerusalem, was outspokenly militant and periodically urged the Arabs to kill Jews that he believed were taking over their land and threatening even their holy places. In 1920 more than 130 Jews and close to 100 Arabs were killed in the fighting around Jerusalem, Hebron, Haifa, Safed, and other Jewish settlements. The mufti was not far-sighted enough to see that his actions merely legitimized the Zionists, who could then demonize the Arabs and garner world sympathy. Blinded by hatred and vengeance, he forsook the moral high ground and soon expended any world sympathy for Palestinian rights that the world may have had. Taking justice into their own hands, they made it more difficult for the British to defend them in their legitimate grievances.
The British government was caught in the cross-fire of their own making. By this time they knew that they had created a monster that they could not control. Resenting the Jewish insistence upon unlimited immigration rights, the British defended the Jewish Zionists only half-heartedly. They attempted to limit the Jewish immigration to the number that the land could reasonably absorb, but this policy of limited immigration came under fire from the Zionists. It was obvious that they intended to establish a Jewish state and would never be content for a mere "homeland."
Arabs, too, soon saw that Britain had no intention of granting them independence. They observed the Zionists putting pressure upon Britain to turn Palestine into a Jewish state with a majority Jewish population with the intent to have Jewish rule over a Palestinian minority. Having felt betrayed by the British already, many Arabs had no confidence in the British government's will to resist the published Zionist intention of establishing a Jewish state.
With each Arab retaliation against Jewish immigrants, and seeing that the British were reluctant or unable to defend them against the Arabs, the Zionists took more and more responsibility for their self-defense. And as time passed, the people became more militant. After all, once they had accepted the basic premise of Zionism and had moved to Palestine, they had no choice but to defend themselves.
This, in turn, led to the era of Jewish terrorist activity against both the Arabs and the British.