- Jim Fletcher
The Greatest Story Ever Told
One of the things I enjoy at the Christmas season is reading the account of
the tiny village
of Bethlehem — from the
tiny book of Micah. This remarkable prophecy promises that the place where David
was born would also be the birthplace of the Messiah.
I was in Bethlehem
not long ago. It was my second visit (the first being with my late friend and
mentor, David Lewis, one of the great Bible prophecy teachers). Of course, the
town itself, while full of old buildings, doesn’t look like it did on the night
Joseph was looking for shelter for his pregnant wife.
But I was struck by the hills and countryside that surround Bethlehem. Even today, one can see shepherds
tending their flocks and it is rather jarring. Zipping down the highway,
visitors can look over and see men tending sheep as was done thousands of years
ago. It reminds me that our faith is rooted in real history, from real people.
Visiting the Holy Land would have been
virtually an impossible dream for generations of my own family, but the miracle
of modern travel has enabled me to see these places for myself.
Just today, I read an Associated Press article about the increased tourism to
this year, due to a downturn in violence. Sadly, but predictably, the AP writer
felt it necessary to describe Bethlehem as “the
hilly town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.”
As a journalism major myself, I recognize editorializing in alleged news
stories. When it comes to
Israel, the bias is especially relentless.
Readers of Rapture Ready would do well to check out and consider supporting
media watchdog groups like CAMERA and Honest Reporting. There, you’ll find a
wealth of information about the outrageous bias confronting
every single day.
Bible-believing Christians are well aware that the Bible knows nothing of the
“West Bank” (a term coined by the late King Hussein of Jordan, about the time he lost the region to Israel in the
Six Day War). And to say “Israeli-occupied” is deceptive, at least. When one
visits a town like Bethlehem,
no Israeli soldiers are seen. Rather, Palestinian police are everywhere, as are
buildings labeled “Palestinian Authority Finance Ministry” and the like.
But I digress!
We live in momentous times, and it is a great privilege. We live in a time
when the Messiah is closer than ever. And he is Jewish! At a time when that fact
is lost on those who lament the poor Palestinian economy in Bethlehem, all of us
who believe and love the Bible should take the opportunity at this time of year
to explain the whole Gospel to anyone we come in contact with.
By the way, I know from talking with Palestinians that they often reject the
Old Testament, or much of it, because they say it puts the Jews on a pedestal.
As if they are the apple of God’s eye.
This is why much of the OT is allegorized by not only Arab Christians, but
Western scholars. If one doesn’t like Jews, one can twist Scripture into any
pretzel-shape one wishes. David Reagan of Lamb & Lion Ministries, and Zola
Levitt Ministries are two of the best sources for exploring this interesting
style of biblical interpretation.
But I would like to encourage readers to do something a bit different this
year. Pray for the Arabs, for the Palestinians who scratch out a life under the
heel of dictators. Pray that they will not only read and accept the Bible, but
that the Lord will also place His peace and love into individual hearts.
It is easy for me to say, living in safety in the middle of America, that I would stand for righteousness if
I lived in Bethlehem
today. But I honestly don’t know if I could. It is for that reason that I feel
compassion for the Palestinians living in the Holy Land
Many of them sit in mostly empty shops, hoping some Western Christians will
come in and buy olive wood crosses and nativity sets. They are people, too, and
they too are precious to God.
Jesus also came for them.
It is truly the Greatest Story Ever Told.