Israel will always be in the news. And possession of the physical land of Israel will remain the major point of contention in the Middle East.
Does the Bible allow any room for the Palestinians to live in the land alongside the Jews? Absolutely. But while the Bible allowed for foreigners to live in the land, God had always promised the land itself to the Jews.
Politically correct? Nope. But correct, according to the Word of God.
As Abraham left one land to go to the place God had selected for him around 2000 BC, God promised him land, descendants and blessing (see Gen. 12:1-3).
The Mosaic Covenant promised either rain or drought on the land, depending on the obedience of Israel to the Law (see Deut. 28:12, 24).
The Davidic Covenant gave a promise directly tied to the land, for God told David that the Messiah would one day rule on David’s throne (see 2 Sam. 7:10-16).
Because God’s promises to Israel always related to the land, His ultimate judgment against His people came when He removed them from it: the first time because they refused to follow Him (see Prov. 10:29-30) and the second time because they rejected their Messiah.
But God’s New Covenant with Israel offered a changed heart through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Luke 22:20). The hope of this ultimate restoration promises a final, permanent return to the land (see Jer. 31:31-34).
While the modern immigration of Jews to Israel–and its statehood in 1948–gives us reason to hope in the ultimate fulfillment of the New Covenant, it’s just as easy for God to remove them from the land as to put them there. (Remember, He’s already done it twice.)
God’s goal through all His covenants was to have a relationship with His people, not just to make them promises and to give them land. All the excitement about the land itself stands feeble without the Jews’ spiritual return to God–through Christ. That has yet to occur.
As with Paul we can say that, “the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is that the Jewish people might be saved” [Rom. 10:1, NLT]. What a privilege the Jews have given me through Jesus.
What a privilege they also will enjoy in Him one day.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006), page 86. Used by permission.