PERSPECTIVE: OF MAN, OR OF GOD?

The children of Israel's battles for the conquest of Canaan were some of the bloodiest in history. The Bible records that immediately after crossing the Jordan, the Israelites unleashed often merciless attacks on the inhabitants. Wielding sword and spear they destroyed their foes from north to south, taking possession of their cities and fields.

These battles were very real, fought by men of flesh and blood. And yet, from God's point of view, the take-over of Canaan was something He did, and not they.

"For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favoured them." (Psalm 44:3)

Had the world's nations back then gathered to condemn Israel's aggressive expansionism, they would have found themselves in direct confrontation with God.

Centuries later, the descendants of those conquering Israelites would themselves experience terrible suffering as their cities were besieged and overrun by Babylon and, later still, by Rome. The Jews were slaughtered and ravaged in untold numbers. Those who were not killed went into captivity, never to see their homeland again.

Here again, Babylonians and Romans may have wielded the sword, but as far as God is concerned: "The LORD has done what He purposed; He has fulfilled His word which He commanded in days of old. He has thrown down and not pitied, and He has caused His enemy to rejoice over you [Israel]…" (Lam 2:17)

As savage and ruthless as the subjugation of Israel was, any nations who rallied to Jerusalem's defence would have been at odds with the judgement of a righteous God.

It is important to note that God foretold these events. He promised the patriarchs that He would give their offspring the Promised Land. And through Moses God warned that when, in the future, she turned her back on Him, He would drive her out.

In the June 1996 Digest, one month after the advent of Prime Minister Netanyahu in what were universally described as Israel's "most crucial elections ever", we expressed the belief that his victory had been a "miracle". A year later we added our conviction that "the God of Israel has chosen this man to rule the country at this time". This conviction remains.

Unsurprisingly, such outspokenness has not been well received, and a fair number of people, particularly other Christians, have accused us of being "Likudniks", extremely right-wing, overly political, etc.

Wrote one detractor: "In my view, your uncritical sup-port of the Netanyahu policy of destroying the peace process is a great danger and I do appeal to you to re-consider the implications both in the short and long term."

This article, then, is essentially a response to our Christian critics.

In our understanding, God has brought about the return of the Jews to the home of their forefathers over the last 150 years. God ensured the failure of the world powers to prevent this aliya. God blessed the massive efforts at persuasion in the UN that secured a majority vote for partition. God oversaw the subsequent events that pushed the Jewish leadership to declare their state. God gave this small nation every victory over the Arab armies, and through these wars brought additional parts of historical Israel under Jewish rule. God caused the collapse of communism that opened the floodgates for hundreds of thousands of new immigrants to fill the land.

Sure, all these events can be attributed to human factors. Primarily though, they are attributable to God. For if there is one thing the Bible is absolutely clear about, it is that it has for millennia been in the heart of God to restore the Jews to the land of Israel, and to protect them and secure them in this land.

It follows, then, that every effort to take parts of restored Israel away from the Jewish people goes against what God has determined. No matter in what garb it is clothed—whether as concern for other people's "national rights", opposition to the acquisition of territory by war, or the seemingly laudable concept of land-for-peace— every effort to reverse this restoration process is in opposition to the purposes of God.

The "Middle East Peace Process" represents a concerted global effort to end Israeli rule over the regained parts of the Promised Land. If it succeeds according to the plan of its architects, it will greatly imperil Israel. In fact it has already done so, and has exacerbated deep divisions among the Jews.

Had the Labour government been returned to power in 1996, Israel would likely today have travelled much further along the Oslo road into even greater danger.

Instead God, in his mercy, oversaw Binyamin Netanyahu's victory, raising up a man not unlike some of the biblical judges of old. Clearly not a religious man, naturally not a perfect one, Netanyahu has nonetheless been used by God to bring the run-away "peace" train to a halt.

Not because of who he is as a man or a politician, but simply because we believe him to be God's instrument to stop the reversal of Israel's restoration, the Prime Minister warrants our unashamed support. If He has God's blessing, surely he should have ours?

STAN GOODENOUGH


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