The Land Is Mine – Part I
Leviticus 25:23 - “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.”
THE MIDDLE EAST HAS been a festering powder keg for centuries. Now, more than ever, it seems ripe for an all-out confrontation between Israel and her surrounding Muslim neighbors. The land — comprised of modern Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and small parts of other neighboring countries — was promised by God, in the Bible, to Israel. Events in the last 100 years have shaped the modern real estate of the Middle East. However, there’s one small parcel of land in the Middle East that is still in dispute: Israel. What legitimate claim do the Jews have to their land? Do the Palestinian people truly have a history in this land and therefore a right of succession? How does God figure into this equation? I hope to address these questions and many others as we explore from the Bible what God has to say about the land ownership and whose right it is to claim the land. I believe a careful evaluation of this matter will expose the root of the problem that existed from the time of Abraham unto this day.
“The land is Mine,” was a declaration by God to Israel, and to us all, that there is a legitimate landowner. Throughout the Bible, God establishes who owns the land, to whom the land is promised, and the conditions that must be obeyed to remain in possession of the land known as Israel. History has proven the land has been possessed or controlled by many different nations at many different times. Right now, the land is possessed by Israelis and Palestinians. However, the influence from the surrounding nations of Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia; and the United States, England, Russia, and many other nations, including the United Nations, have played a crucial role toward resolving who they think should possess the land.
Modern Israel was formed on May 14, 1948, in postulation of the United Nations’ decision to partition the land between Israel and the Palestinian people. A two-state solution was determined as the peaceful resolution for the disputed land. The Palestinian’s rejected Israel’s right to be a nation and protested by refusing to form their nation. Israel declared her independence, and the birth of modern Israel took her first traumatic breath with a struggle to survive, not just as a nation, but also as a people. The confederate Muslim armies of the newly shaped Middle East immediately sought to destroy Israel and prevent her from being a nation. Efforts by Nazi Germany during World War II failed to abort the Jews while they were in the womb of hope of being a nation. Adolph Hitler, while accompanied by his Muslim companions, Haj Amin al Husseini and Hasan al Banna, formulated the Final Solution to exterminate Jews from the planet. Although nearly 6 million Jews died during Hitler’s reign of terror, Jews drew strength from their survival as a people, and hopes of being a nation once again finally became reality.
“The land is Mine” will consider God’s covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These patriarchs of old were given immutable promises that their seed would have “lease” rights to God’s land forever. The conditions were clearly spelled out by God and the terms were not to be broken lest the tenant suffer temporary eviction. Each dispensation of the generations that succeeded Abraham was given responsibilities to satisfy the land lease terms. Dwelling in the land with obedience had many privileges and benefits though. Unlike today where an apartment renter my get cable TV and electric thrown in as part of the lease package, Israel was promised financial prosperity, good health, and peace amongst itself and its enemies. In fact, the whole world was promised these benefits as long as Israel remained obedient to the lease terms and remained in the land.
Today Jews dwell in the land promised by God to her forefathers; yet she is without peace. The world speaks of peace at every forum and conclave; yet it is without peace. What peace is and what constitutes peace will be addressed throughout this article series, “The Land is Mine,” to illustrate how true and lasting peace can be achieved and maintained by individuals, and the nations of the world.
History has demonstrated that under the leadership of dictators, monarchs, and governments there have been times of peace. However, during those times, financial prosperity, personal health, and freedom were not obtained by everyone. Even while under Pax Romana, the Roman Empire sustained a façade of peace. Rome’s egregious emperors ruled in dictatorial fashion by subduing surrounding countries and demoralizing the general public at will while heralding this as peace (?) For us to laudably claim peace on earth and good will toward man, while using corrupt governments as our guide, is as foolish as putting a compass in your car and planning to drive your car to the moon.
ISRAEL’S RIGHT IN THE LAND
There are many claims to the land of Israel. Muslims claim Jerusalem houses their third holiest site. The world recognized Jerusalem as an international city. The Bible declares Jerusalem will be a “burdensome stone for all people.” Middle East peace has plagued every president since the founding of the United States of America. The expansion of the U.S. Navy after the Revolutionary War was to free our seafaring mercantilists from the Muslim pirates of the Barbary Coasts.
The name of Israel is mentioned more than 1,600 times throughout the Bible while Jerusalem is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible. The city of Jerusalem is called the City of David more than 40 times. There should be little argument to the significance of Israel and Jerusalem for God’s sake, according to the Bible.
God’s immutable promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his children, and David will not be broken or substituted by the Christian church. God has a plan to bring Israel to its rightful and legal possession of the land. The day is coming soon when Israel will reign in God’s righteousness and possess God’s land in peace. Only then will there be world peace (Deut. 30:1-6; Isa. 11:11-16).
There are three faiths in the world that trace their origins to Abraham. Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim father Abraham to be of vast significance to the establishment of their beliefs. Jews and Christians obtain the majority of their knowledge about Abraham from the Old Testament of the Bible, also called the Tanakh in Hebrew. Muslims hold to the Quran as their sacred book. Muslims believe their prophet Muhammad received revelations from Allah, his god, and memorized Allah’s instruction and then dictated the sayings to others.
Later these revelations were compiled into a book after Muhammad’s death and called the Quran. Muslims believe Jews and Christians twisted and perverted the original meaning of the Bible. Therefore, Allah sent down the Quran to bring back the proper understanding of his will for man. In Islam, Muhammad is revered above all prophets and is considered to be the last and greatest of all prophets. Muslims also revere Abraham as a prophet and a version of his life is found throughout the Quran. Abraham’s name occurs 69 times in the Quran, making him the second most occurring name of prophets in the Quran after Moses. There are many fundamental differences between the Bible story of Abraham and the Quran. Both accounts contradict each other. They are mutually incompatible.
The Quran is written is suras, similar to chapters. The verses of the Quran are called ayats. There are 114 suras in the Quran. The structure of the chapters is not in histological or chronological order. The suras, with the exception of the first one, are arranged by length. Chapter two is the longest, on down to the last sura. Due to the lack of chronology, the Quran is not designed to be a story. The very name Quran means “to recite.” It is more a book of commands than a storyline of historical events. The hadiths — sayings and traditions of Muhammad — were assembled by followers of Muhammad after his death. The Hadiths provide some historical perspective that transpired throughout Muhammad’s life. The hadiths explain the historical events in the Quran.
In Sura 6:74, the Quran claims Abraham’s father’s name was Azar and not Terah as in the Bible (Gen. 11:24, 31). Sura 14:37 says Abraham worshipped in the valley of Mecca. Mecca is located in modern day Saudi Arabia. A distance of more than 750 miles separates Mecca from Israel.
In Gen. 13:18, the Bible clearly says Abraham worshipped Jehovah God in Hebron. The well-known story of how Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac as a sacrifice is detailed throughout Chapter 22 of Genesis. Jehovah God made it very clear that Abraham was to take his “only son Isaac” into the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering. Isaac was God’s child of promise. It was to be through Isaac’s lineage that God’s promise to Abraham would manifest. The contravening testimony of the Quran teaches in Sura 37:100-112, that Abraham offered Ishmael and not Isaac as a sacrifice.
Two more important discrepancies that distinguish the Bible from the Quran are not found in the Bible. In fact they are ambiguous and historically incorrect. The Quran claims Abraham built the Kabah (Sura 2:125-127). The Kabah was located in Mecca and was the shrine where 360 gods were worshipped amongst the Arab Bedouins. Muhammad’s family was the caretaker of the Kabah, according to Islamic tradition. One of the gods of the Kabah was Allah. Muhammad’s father was named after Allah. It is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. The only remote similarity in the stories of Abraham and Isaac in the Bible and Quran are simply their names.
The other story of Abraham’s life taken from the Quran is a claim that he was thrown into a furnace by Nimrod (Sura 21:68-69 and 9:69). This fairy tale is not found in the Bible but is plagiarized by Muhammad from Jewish tradition. This story is found in the Midrash Rabbah.
The Bible gives a lengthy story of Abraham and the promises of God to him and his seed. The calling of Abraham came to him while he was a Gentile living in Ur of the Chaldees. Ur of the Chaldees was located in modern day Iraq, not far from Babylon. God instructed Abraham to leave his family and go to a land that God would show him. The promise of God to Abraham begins with a destination — Canaan land — known today as modern Israel or Palestine. We can immediately observe from the call to Abraham that it is linked to a promised land. The promises given by God to Abraham required his obedience to God. If Abraham would leave his family and father’s house and travel to the land God would show him, then Abraham would become a great nation, and his name would be blessed, and he would be a blessing to the world. God would add to the promise given to Abraham with a special blessing to those who would bless Abraham. Likewise, God would curse those who cursed Abraham.
Abraham was to leave the worship of idols and separate himself from his family unto God. In order to better comprehend the deep meaning associated with Abraham’s relationship to God, we must first understand how Abraham worshipped God through sacrifices. The first evidence we have of Abraham sacrificing to God is when Abraham passed through the land of Canaan. God appeared to Abraham and strengthened His promise to him by telling him that his seed, children, and future posterity, would also inherit the land. Abraham built an altar unto God. The Hebrew for altar means “a place of slaughter,” signifying a place used for sacrifices. The sacrifice was a memorial to God for His deeds towards Abraham. The sacrifice denotes Abraham recognizing God as God. His relationship was based on trust and obedience to God. The patriarch knew God and honored Him with worship through sacrifices. It is essential for us to realize that throughout Abraham’s life, the wonderful loving fellowship he shared with God was never without his sacrifices to God.
What assurance did Abraham have from God that God would honor His promise?