Over recent years, we have witnessed a shocking erosion of support for Israel among professing Christians. The issue of the rightful ownership of the West Bank has been used to confuse well-meaning believers who don’t fully understand how and why the Jewish claim to this land is more legitimate than the claims of the Palestinians.
In this article, I will try to bring some clarity to this question by examining two historical truths: God’s land-covenant with Abraham and the precedent of land reclamation which God has Himself has ordained and blessed.
Does modern-day Israel have the right to exist? Do they have the right to reclaim ownership of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights? Is there any precedent in history for a nation rightfully reclaiming its ancient homeland after hundreds of years in absentia? Yes, indeed there is, and that nation is Israel itself!
It was approximately 4,000 years ago that God appeared to Abraham in a vision and there (Genesis 15) made a unilateral covenant with him to give him the land of Israel.
“On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates…” (Genesis 15:18 NIV).
This land covenant stretches from the modern-day nations of Egypt to Iraq and includes parts of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan! As previously stated, the covenant was not bi-lateral, but unilateral. This is a critical difference to understand.
A bi-lateral covenant requires the faithful performance of both parties in order for its provisions to remain in force. A unilateral covenant requires only the faithful performance of the one party who established it in order for the covenant to remain in force. The land covenant of Genesis 15 was granted to Abraham unconditionally by Yahweh!
This was confirmed when God alone passed between the animal parts which the Lord had asked Abraham to provide. Has God remained faithful to that covenant? Of course, and He always will! That is why Israel’s disobedience and unbelief have often cost them their place in the land, but never their title to the land! Biblically speaking, their obedience to God was never a condition or a pre-requisite to that title.
Understanding these things, we can see that although Israel has been occupied throughout its history by various people groups, these groups were always “tenants”, not “title-holders”. Does a tenant have the right to remain in residence when the property-owner decides to return and reclaim his home? Not at all!
This is why, in 1400 B.C., when God freed the Israelites from their 400 year bondage in Egypt, and returned them to the land He had promised to Abraham, they were not usurping the land from the Canaanites, but rather evicting them from Abraham’s property, the rightful inheritance of Abraham’s descendants.
As God told Abraham in Genesis 15:18: “To your descendants I give this land…”
This, then, is the historical precedent of land reclamation for modern-day Israel which God has seen fit to bless. After 1,878 years away (70 A.D. to 1948 A.D.) the Jewish people returned to their rightful property to reclaim what God had “rented” to others, but had never “deeded” to others.
The Arabic tenants of Jerusalem demonstrate their instinctive understanding of this truth even today as they have been systematically eradicating every archaeological evidence of the Second Temple which they have unearthed beneath the site of their “Al Aqsa” mosque. (http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp483.htm).
They understand that tenants must destroy all documentation of a previous owner if they want to build their case for possession.
What does all of this prove? It proves that it is correct to say that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are “occupied” by those who are not their rightful owners, but those “illegal occupiers” are the Palestinians, not the Israelis! It is the Israelis who are the rightful owners of these lands and of much, much more.
When King Yeshua reigns in Jerusalem, He will bless millions of His Arabic followers with great wealth and beautiful properties. But their lands will be located on other continents. The land near and about Jerusalem which He promised to Abraham 4,000 years ago will be given to Abraham’s physical descendants whose spiritual hearts have been circumcised in Christ. Come soon, Lord Yeshua!
“For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.”
(Genesis 13:15 KJV).