Who is the rightful owner of the most contested piece of real estate in the world? Everyone seems to have an answer to this question that has captured the world's attention. The Bible prophesies a time when the nation of Israel and Jerusalem in particular, will be a burdensome stone to the nations of the earth. In light of recent political events, I believe we are seeing the beginnings of what Zechariah wrote about almost 2,600 years ago. The media, politicians, and pop culture have wrongly singled out the Jews as the problem again. This is because many choose to believe a popular lie and ignore the facts about Palestine.
Zechariah 12:3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
When you reduce the Israeli-Palestinian issue down to the ridiculous, you will find its root cause. The cause is the lie about ownership and what I will call "the Palestinian lie" in particular.
The premise of the Palestinian lie is simple: Tell a lie often enough and people will believe it. That strategy has worked and worked so well that it is hard to find a person who will honestly answer three fundamental questions:
Who are the Palestinian people? Where did they come from? Do they have a legitimate claim to the holy land?
Before we dive deeper into this article I want to make an important point. This article is not meant to vilify the so-called Palestinian people. The point of this article is to focus on the lie that has made the situation in the Middle East go from bad to worse and how it will ultimately be used as fuel to turn all nations against Israel. As you read on please understand this: God sent His Son to die for the sins of all people, Jew and Gentile alike. God loves the Arab people at the center of this land dispute as well.
The Palestinian lie is quite simple: People are continually repeating the lie that there is, in fact, a Palestinian people and Israel is an occupying force. How do you refute a lie? You confront it with the truth. Not just one individual's version of the truth, but truth rooted in historical, documented, and verifiable facts. In consideration of our reader's time, my intent isn't to write a doctoral dissertation about who the holy land belongs to because that subject could fill volumes. I encourage you to do some self-study and examine the facts for yourself and come to a logical conclusion. I do want to briefly mention a few historical and biblical facts that will answer the three fundamental questions.
Who are the Palestinian people?
The terms Palestine and Palestinian have origins dating back to the second century AD. It is a well documented historical record and matter of fact that the Roman Empire and its ruler Hadrian wanted to get rid of all Jewish identity in the region. He used the name of Israel's ancient foes the Philistines and renamed the land Palaestina. The Philistines were located to the north of Israel in modern coastal Lebanon and parts of Syria.
The term Palestine was rarely used until Israel declared her Independence in 1948. The term Palestinian wasn't widely used until the 1960s and 1970s. Yasser Arafat, a well-known terrorist was the chairman of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and his goal was to legitimize a people and cause that have no historical precedent. The PLO seeks to liberate "Palestine" through armed struggle. Since 1994, the PA (Palestinian Authority) has been the governing body of the so-called Palestinian people.
Where did the Palestinians come from?
Throughout history, there has never been a Palestinian people as a distinct group. This is a fabrication of terms used by Arabs to identify the people who occupy the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and other parts of Israel. These people are Arabs from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and surrounding countries. The Arabs in the disputed areas can trace their recent history to Israel's neighboring countries. While it's true that Arab children are born in these disputed territories, they are Arabs who live in Israel, not Palestinians who live in occupied territory.
Do the so-called Palestinian people have a legitimate claim to the holy land?
The short answer is no. To have a legitimate claim you must have historical precedent and there was never a Palestinian people in the land of Israel. Here is the problem: Let's go back to our original point about legitimacy, if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.
People and organizations such as the late Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, Tony Blair, the European Union, and the UN are promoting a distorted view of history and holding negotiations based on a false presupposition that Arabs (with no historical claim), deserve land that rightly belongs to the Jews. To make matters worse, many leaders are seeking to legitimize the Palestinian cause under the banner of evangelical Christianity with organizations like Christ at the Checkpoint and others.
Just a few years ago, Pope Francis made a very unfortunate move by officially signing a treaty recognizing Palestinian statehood that should be approved by the Vatican in short order. There are also reports that the Pope referred to Mahmoud Abbas as an "Angel of peace." The statement is still being questioned and verified by media outlets, so we will not offer commentary based on that. The fact is, when the Pope, who is a global figure makes a treaty with an illegitimate group like the so-called Palestinians, they gain instant credibility in millions of minds, regardless of the facts. Add to this the social media frenzy and downright antisemitic actions of many on America's university campuses, you have a cause based on nothing but lies.
The Arabs in Israel are treated fairly and Arab laborers flock to work in Israeli factories instead of those in the West Bank where wages are sometimes double that of Arab employers. Arab citizens in Israel enjoy modern amenities and a stable government. Compare that with the poor living conditions in Baghdad, Damascus, or Cairo and there is simply no comparison.
The governing bodies of Hamas and the PA take western aid money meant to help improve the lives of the so-called Palestinian people. Much of the money ends up lining the pockets of the governing officials and used to procure weapons that are used to wage jihad on the citizens and population centers of Israel. The Hamas thugs routinely place their weapons of war near playgrounds, mosques, and homes of civilians. These actions are indicative of the mindset of the entities Israel is forced to go to the bargaining table with groups calling for the destruction of Israel.
Regarding a two-state solution: Israel has put numerous offers on the table and they have been soundly rejected by the PLA. Land for peace simply will not work because ultimately Abbas and Hamas don't want a two-state solution. Their goal is complete control and domination with Jerusalem as their capital.
What about Jewish history in the land?
Again, I could write literal volumes on the distinctly Jewish history of the land and the fact that even before the time of Moses, God made a promise to Abraham. For our purposes, we will summarize:
God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants.
Genesis 15:18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."
Exodus 6:7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD."
2 Samuel 7:10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly...
There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the holy land for over 3,500 years, that predates Islam by 2,000 years. Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible at least 806 times. The Koran mentions the word Jerusalem 0 times. For Jerusalem to be called the third holiest city in Islam is simply a modern fabrication to attempt to legitimize a claim with no historical evidence to back it up. During the Ottoman rule in the area, Jerusalem was in a state of decay. It is true after the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 132 AD., there was a minimal Jewish presence in the land, but a small number of Jews managed to stay in Israel. Small Jewish communities existed in Ein Gedi and the Golan area through the middle ages.
The political powers of today seem bent on dividing up God's covenant land. The Bible has repeated warnings about the days ahead when nations attempt to undo what God has done.
Joel 3:1 "For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.
Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I 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."
Unlike political agreements and the promises of man, God's word is always true and his covenants are as sure as His holy name. It has become clear that the European Union, UN, and unfortunately the US are exerting tremendous pressure on the Israelis to give up their land. Combine the hostile political climate, the Pope's stand for Palestine, the calls for Israel's destruction, the antisemitism on college campuses, and the brainwashing by many leaders in the social gospel and emergent church movements and you have the perfect storm. It's not hard to see in the not too distant future that Jerusalem will indeed be a burdensome stone.
Friends, when you see the hate-filled, ignorant, lopsided, anti-Israel anti-Jewish propaganda, understand where it originates from. Satan hates Israel, its people, and its God. The prophets, the Bible, the apostles, and the early church all originated right there. The gospel has gone out from there. It started with the great commission at the Mt. of Olives and will crescendo right up to 144,000 Jewish evangelists proclaiming salvation through Jesus during Daniel's 70th week. Men including Pharoah, Haman, Hitler, and the coming antichrist have attempted or will attempt to put an end to God's promises. The Bible tells us the Lord will have the final say regarding who the land belongs to.
So what do Christians do now?
Understand that the political turmoil in the Middle East is simply an indicator of the nearness of the Lord's return. We should see the Israeli-Palestinian issue for what it is: An attempt to undermine what God has done. We can choose not to remain silent despite the onslaught of anti-Jewish rhetoric from the divestment and social gospel crowd.
We should reach out in love to both Jewish and Arab people and be a bold witness for the gospel of Christ. Christians should stand with Israel and we can do that while we show compassion and love to both Jews and Arabs. It may not be politically correct to stand in solidarity with Israel, but history will prove it's the right thing to do.
I find it very sad and frankly unconscionable that the Jews have been chased around the globe for much of the last 2,000 years via pogroms, expulsions, and persecution, only to come back to their rightful homeland and much of the world still wants them out.
When we examine the evidence and look at the facts about Palestine, we must come to the conclusion that: there was never a Palestine or a Palestinian people.
The bottom line is this: This lie about a Palestinian people seems to be one of the issues that galvanize world opinion and will ultimately make Jerusalem and burdensome stone and a cup of trembling. The whole world seems to be calling for the diminishing of Jews from the promised land and promoting of the Arabs as the rightful owners. We are seeing the stage being set for the end time scenario as Israel and Jerusalem become the geopolitical focal point of the world. No one knows the day or hour of the Lord's return, but in light of recent events, we seem to be closer than ever. Maranatha