At the outset of this blog post, please know that I am not an expert on Israel. However, my father-in-law, Dr. Tony Crisp, is a foremost expert on Israel (see what I mean in the video below). He has given me a passion for Israel.
With the conflict in Syria heating-up quite quickly, it is important to know what to think, as a Christian, when it comes to the Middle East, and particularly with Israel.
Below is a copy/paste insertion of my notes for the message I will teach tomorrow night on Israel:
An Overview of Israel
Our Goal: Being aware of the situation when you pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
I. The Two Major Combatants
- Almost exclusively Jewish.
- The vast majority of its people have returned to the area since 1948.
- Its biggest ally is the United States.
2. The Palestinians
- Primarily Muslim.
- They were the possessors of this area for centuries before 1948.
- Their biggest ally is the rest of the Arab world (Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.).
II. The Three Particularly Important Areas
[See maps on screen.]
1. The West Bank
- It was not part of Israel in 1948.
- It was ruled by Jordan until 1967, when Israel captured it.
- Includes portion of Jerusalem.
- Now divided between Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and Jewish settlement and military
2. The Gaza Strip
- It was not part of Israel in 1948.
- It was occupied by Egypt until 1967, when Israel captured it.
- Largely Palestinian-controlled, but with numerous Jewish settlements.
3. The Golan Heights
- It was not part of Israel in 1948.
- It belonged to Syria until 1967, when Israel captured it.
III. Why These Areas Are Important
1. They were not part of Israel’s original 1948 borders.
2. Israel occupied the land in a disputed military action.
- The disputed military action is the Six-Day War of 1967.
- “Disputed” in that Israel calls their actions “pre-emptive” while the Palestinians call Israel’s
3. There are still Palestinians living in these areas, which have been for most of the years since
1967 “occupied” by Israel.
- The Palestinians feel they’re under foreign occupation, which leads to a situation that breeds
resentment and anger.
IV. How the Middle East Became the Mess it is Today
A. Late 1800s – Early 1900s: The Rise of the Zionist Movement
- The Zionist movement pushed the idea of restoring a Jewish nation to the Holy Land.
- This idea was not met with immediate enthusiasm, but slowly did begin to win followers.
B. 1948: The Creation of the Nation of Israel
- Coming toward the end of World War II, the British controlled the Holy Land. They tried to
broker an agreement that would create separate Arab and Jewish states out of the Holy Land.
The Arabs rejected the proposal.
- With no political solution possible, the British forces withdrew on May 14, 1948. The Jews
declared Israel a nation and Arab forces invaded.
- By November 1948, the better-trained Israeli military had prevailed. Israel had, during this war,
increased its land holdings by one-half (compared with the original British proposal).
- Israel considers this event a war of independence for the creation of their homeland.
Palestinians call this Al Naqba (or, “The Catastrophe”), when more than 700,000 Arabs were
driven from their homes.
C. 1967: The Six-Day War
- Fearing an imminent attack from Egyptian and Syrian forces, Israel struck first.
- Six days later, Israel had gained control of (“occupied”) the Sinai peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the
Golan Heights, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.
D. 1979: The Camp David Accords
- During negotiations led by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Israel agrees to return control of the
Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for Egypt’s recognition of Israel.
E. 1987: Intifada (Trans “Shaking Off”)
- This Arab uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories involved terrorist military
activity by Palestinians, resulting in escalating tensions and more violence.
- Israel viewed this as Arafat choosing violence over peacemaking; the Palestinians viewed this
as an overdue response to twenty years of Israel building settlements in the occupied territories.
F. 1993: The Oslo I Agreement
- Israel agrees to withdraw its forces from Arab territories seized during the Six-Day War; Arab
states agree to recognize Israel’s statehood and right to security.
G. 1995: The Oslo II Agreement
- Israeli forces are to withdraw from six Arab cities and 400 villages in the West Bank by early
1996. Both sides blame the other when it doesn’t happen.
H. 2000-2006: The Second Intifada
- Obstacles to agreement between Israelis and Palestinians: Jerusalem, Temple Mount (see pic), and territory of who owns the west bank and Gaza strip (see pic).
- Nearly 5,500 dead Palestinians and over 1,000 Israelis dead.
- It is also called the “Oslo War.”
- The late Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, led the way for this to be a wave of Palestinian terror against Israelis.
- Palestinians sent in suicide bombers while Israelis have strategically bombed prisons and police stations while having check points and strict curfews.
I. Late 2008-Early 2009: Israel-Gaza Conflict
A fragile six-month truce between Israel and Hamas (again, a terrorist group of Palestinians) ended December 19, 2008. Then, December 28, 2008, Israel launched a military campaign in the Gaza Strip.
Israel blocked a tunnel between the Palestinians and Israelites. A ceasefire was declared on January 18th, and the Israeli troops were completely removed within three days.
V. Both Sides Must Be Analyzed
A. The animosity goes back to Abraham.
- Genesis 16:1-4 (ESV)
1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.
B. Both sides claim ownership of the same land.
C. This isn’t just any land.
- It’s considered holy by Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
D. The Palestinians are rapidly growing in numbers.
- In Israel (when you include all of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza), the Jews make up 51%
of the population and the Arabs 49%.
- These numbers are shifting as Israeli women on average are having 2.6 children while
Palestinian women on average are having 6.1 children (stats from Newsweek).
- This obviously serves to heighten tensions in looking toward where the situation will be in
E. The two sides have very different standards of living.
- The average monthly wage for an Israeli is $1,500; the average monthly wage for a Palestinian is
- The Gross Domestic Product for the Palestinians is $1,680 per person; the GDP for Israel is
$18,900 per person (stats from Newsweek).
- This economic inequality obviously exacerbates the problem.
F. Both sides think God is on their side.
VI. Why Christians Are Generally Pro-Israel
A. We believe God is that Israel plays a key
role in end-times prophecy, and the church has not replaced Israel.
- Romans 11:1-2, 25
1I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 25Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
35Thus says the LORD,who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD of hosts is his name:
36“If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the LORD,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.” 37Thus says the LORD:”If the heavens above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
for all that they have done,
declares the LORD.”
Zechariah 8:13, And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.”
John 1:11, He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
B. We believe that, as part of those end-time events, the Bible speaks of a return of the Jews to
Jeremiah 23:7-8, 7“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”
Ezekiel 36:24, I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.
C. Because of that, the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in the Holy Land in 1948 was
considered by many to be the “sign of all signs.”
D. Therefore, rumblings in Israel raise expectations that we may be close to the return of Christ.
The big idea here is: If modern Israel is biblical Israel, you want to be on their side.
VII. Words Of Caution
A. Being Israel doesn’t give you the right to do wrong.
- We cannot suspend our ethical awareness and go along with everything Israel does just because
- In the Old Testament, God’s blessing upon Israel was dependent upon their obedience. i.e. 1 Samuel 4.
- So, even
God did not unconditionally support Israel’s actions no matter what they did.
B. Christians have already made some major mistakes on this subject.
- See the section on “The Protocols Conspiracy” in Timothy Weber’s excellent article “How
Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend.” This article is available by searching the records of
www.christianitytoday.com and will provide a good general overview of the entire situation in
C. Only God knows the timetable and all the prophetic details.
- Matthew 24:36-51; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10.
VIII. Certainty in the Midst of the Mess
A. There will be peace in Jerusalem someday.
B. That peace will be established by Jesus.
C. I want to be a part of it.