Newsletter #233     Friday, May 13, 2005

    The Land of Israel Necklace
    consists of a crystal glass pendant filled with the entire Land of Israel including Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nazareth, The Sea of Galilee, The Jordan River, The Dead Sea, as well as other locations. The earth inside has beautiful color variations creating a natural layered effect. By wearing the Land of Israel as a beautiful necklace, the land remains in one's consciousness and, literally, close to the heart.

    A Meaningful Gift!
  • Memory and Celebration
    By Jonathan Feldstein - - May 11, 2005  Making the sorrow of Yom Hazikaron more vivid, Israel turns on a dime tonight and celebrates Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day, immediately the day following Yom Hazikaron. The two days are intricately linked both on the calendar and in meaning because without the sacrifice and sorrow of those who fell defending this land, we would not have the joy and pride in our independence.

  • The many voices of World War II
    By Suzanne Fields - Jewish World Review - May 12, 2005   If you live long enough, you'll get to see history rewritten. Voices of a new generation, with no experience of the past, add new interpretations of their parents' and grandparents' early years. This can be good, and sometimes it can be bad. This week, for example, the newspapers and newscasts were awash in stories about anniversaries and memorials commemorating the end of World War II. Perspectives were decidedly mixed.

  • Selective memories
    Jerusalem Post - May 10, 2005  While Baltic leaders have issued pro forma apologies, these have not been accompanied by a serious effort to bring the guilty to justice and create a more accurate wartime narrative. Before the Baltic states can expect any apologies to them, they had better make a much more serious effort to come to terms with their own active participation in the Nazis' Final Solution.

  • Everybody loses in Sharon's Gaza plan
    by Jeff Jacoby - - May 9, 2005   All the world over, politicians and pundits are applauding Sharon's coming retreat. Yet a simple lettuce-packer like Randoor seems to grasp what so many of them cannot: The lives of Gaza's Arabs will not be improved by expelling Gaza's Jews.

  • Diplomatic dead ends
    by Caroline Glick - Jerusalem Post - May 13, 2005  There is a strong sense in Washington these days that a large part of the reason that the Bush administration has yet to construct a coherent policy for dealing with Iran's nuclear program is that it is hoping Israel will launch a military strike against the Iranian nuclear sites, thus obviating the need for any real action. And yet, if these officials are even mildly aware of what is happening today in Israel – with the government completely obsessed with the Palestinians and the Gaza and northern Samaria withdrawal programs – they would take little comfort in that hope.

  • Born In A Day
    By David Parsons - International Christian Embassy Jerusalem - May 2005

    As Israelis mark their 57th Independence Day, many Christians view this occasion as reason to celebrate the faithfulness of God. Yet much of the Christian world still struggles with the theological significance of Israel’s stunning re-emergence as a nation on May 14, 1948. Nearly six decades later, some churches are slowly coming to terms with the extensive biblical credentials behind the promised ‘restoration of Zion,’ while others still cling to antiquated doctrines about the Jews being cursed to endless wandering.

    The reformer Martin Luther was once asked whether the Jews of his time were still children of Abraham. His answer: “If the Jews are Abraham’s descendants, then we would expect them to be back in their own land… But do we see that? We see them living scattered and despised.”

    So what would Luther do with today’s reality of over 5.5 million Jews now living back in their national homeland? If it is not part of a promised restoration, is it a political accident or fluke of history?

    First and foremost, the modern-day Jewish return to the land of their fathers is testimony to the faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God. In Genesis, the Patriarch Abraham was promised not only a “seed” to bless the whole earth, but also the physical land of Israel as an “everlasting possession” for his natural descendants. Thus both the land and people of Israel were chosen for the purpose of world redemption, and to strip away either one undercuts the whole redemptive plan. Though the Lord has exiled the Israelites from the land for appointed seasons as a corrective measure, their underlying title deed remains intact and He has sworn to deliver the entire land to them one day in abiding rest and peace. This is vouched for in both the Mosaic and Davidic covenants.

    The Hebrew prophets then appear as servants of the covenants to keep the land and people of Israel together in the timings of God’s redemptive plan. When one reads their interspersed mix of poetry, fury, compassion and despair, the key to understanding their ministry is to realize that every prophetic utterance has to fit within the terms and conditions of the covenants already established with Israel. God is not a man that He should lie or change His mind about a sworn oath.

    Thus the words of warning and doom flowed from the prophets’ anguish that Israel was in breach of the conditions God placed on their right to actually reside in the land given to them. Yet their accompanying poetic joy was in realization that God nevertheless was duty bound to return them to the land again one day because of His solemn oath to Abraham, and confirmed to David as a reward. For in order to eventually wind up back in the land permanently, the cycle must go ‘scatter and return,’ not ‘return and then scatter.’ Thus at nearly every point that the prophets speak of exilic judgment, they also sound the hope of return.

    “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you,” says Isaiah. “‘In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment: But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the Lord your Redeemer.” (54:7-8)

    Even so, some Christians contend that the two prophesied Jewish exiles and returns were completed in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah and that Old Testament promises of an end-day ingathering and exaltation of Israel in her land were fulfilled in the birth and ‘triumph’ of the Church. In challenging Christian Zionists, they argue that the New Testament is basically ‘silent’ regarding the ‘land,’ and thus Christians have scant biblical basis to support the secular State of Israel in the face of Palestinian suffering. To them, the events of May 1948 were undoubtedly a nakba (Arabic for “disaster”).

    Yet there are numerous clear references to the land in the New Testament. Most importantly, every mention of the covenants or ‘promises made to the fathers’ – meaning the Patriarchs – necessarily includes the land. It is not implied or inferred, it is intrinsic, since the land is subsumed or embedded into the terms of the covenants due to its central role in furthering the redemptive plan.

    In Romans 15:8, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus came “to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” Then in Hebrews 6, Paul urges New Testament believers to take “strong encouragement” that God will keep His promises to us by observing His faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant. His “immutable” name and character are at stake, Paul insists, and thus if the Almighty is not able to bring the Jews to their promised destiny back in the land in the fullness of time, we cannot trust Him either.

    In addition, New Testament writers and figures, including Jesus, repeatedly invoked the Jewish hope of a future ‘restoration’ in the land, a widely held concept drawn from numerous promises in Scripture about restoring the “fortunes” (or “captivity”) of Jacob/Israel [See for example, Psalm 14:7; 77:7; 85:1; 106; 126:1; Jeremiah 30:18; 33:25-26; Ezekiel 39:25; Hosea 6:11; Joel 3:1]. This Jewish hope in liberation from Roman rule and “restoration” of the Davidic kingdom was so prevalent in those days that the words “for the redemption of Zion” or “the freedom of Zion” were even imprinted on many Judean coins in the First Century.

    It was these times of favor or ‘restoration’ for Israel that are alluded to in Acts 1:6-7, when Jesus tells his disciples not to be so concerned with the nation’s fate at that moment, but instead concentrate on preaching the Gospel to all men. And yet, the Apostle Peter is able to stand in that same Jerusalem not many days hence and boldly declare that the “times of restoration of all things” spoken of “by the mouth of His holy prophets” will indeed come before Messiah returns (Acts 3:21). In so doing, we see that Peter’s preaching included a marked hope in that future time of favor and final ingathering for Israel.

    Paul as well is quite clear about this future time of ingathering and recovery for Israel in Romans 11.

    Isaiah 66:8 ponders, “shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” The modern-day restoration of Zion indeed has proven painful thus far for many – Jews and Arabs – and more has yet to be birthed. But the reappearance of a sovereign Jewish nation in their ancient homeland on that momentous day in 1948 is truly cause for Christians to rejoice in a faithful God.

    The writer is public relations officer for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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