For the week of August 4, 2007 / 20 Av 5767
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14 - 51:3
It Isn't Working
If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow - to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him - then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:22,23)
The story of the people of Israel is a story intertwined with God and the Promised Land. The connection with the Land is made very clear in our day by the unceasing attention of the media. Yet how God fits in to it all is rarely mentioned. From a biblical perspective, however, we cannot separate the people of Israel and the Land of Israel from the God of Israel.
God stated that the possessing of the Land was contingent on the people's relationship to him. If we remained faithful to him, we would remain in the Land. But if we rebelled against him, he would scatter us among the nations. Most of the Hebrew Bible deals with this very subject. From its pages we see how, for the most part, our ancestors failed to live up to God's standards, eventually resulting in exile.
Part of God's promise to Israel is that even though he would cast us out of the Land, he would also cause us to return. The first return is recorded in the latter books of the Hebrew Bible and continues through the books of the New Covenant. Even though Israel was able to reestablish itself in the Land, except for a brief period, the people lived under the rule of one foreign power or another. This continued until a few decades after Yeshua's coming, when Rome, the power of the day, scattered the people in what became the exile of the past 2000 years - an exile, which in many ways is still reality, since most of us live outside the Land of Israel.
The establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 is a modern miracle. God promised to restore us to our Land. But few thought that after being dispossessed for almost two millennia, we would actually have a homeland again. But is this the promised return? Does not the Scriptures reveal that our return would be intimately associated with a spiritual renewal in keeping with the Torah's understanding that the retaining of the Land was contingent upon our having a right relationship with God? Yet to my knowledge there is no significant spiritual renewal among our people today. Whatever spiritual vitality exists among us in the Land or elsewhere, it is a very small percentage.
No wonder the State of Israel is in the condition that it is currently. The leaders of the world are again seeking to divide the Land, Jerusalem included, and Israel's leaders are willing to negotiate. I am not commenting on the political leanings of any of the parties involved. I am not even commenting on the rights and wrongs of dividing the Land at this time. What I am commenting on is the fact that after almost 60 years since the establishment of the modern State of Israel, it is not working. The Zionist dream is not working. Left-wing and right-wing solutions are not working. The strategies of aggressive force and peaceful rhetoric are not working.
While our return to the Land may be miraculous, the current situation is not what it should be. It is not what it should be, because not one of the dominant approaches is working.
Our day is not unlike the days of the Bible, when stability in the Land was dependent upon our faithfulness to God. Nothing will change until we can recognize that the current instability is due to the very same reason. Until we truly turn to God in the name of our King, Yeshua the Messiah, there will be no Middle East solution.
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