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Monday, April 28, 2008  
Who owns the Holy Land? This is possibly the most important question in the world today. The war in Iraq is largely about defending ownership of "the Holy Land." Billions of dollars in American taxpayers' money and the lives of millions of people are at stake.
Hal LindseyBy Hal Lindsey

Posted: May 01, 2002
1:00 am Eastern

A Response to Hal Lindsey by Kevin Craig

The whole world is being drawn into the current conflict over the Holy Land. The Bible predicted that just such a situation would develop in the "Last Days." The first sentence is certainly correct. The second sentence is not. The Bible does not predict anything specific about what would happen in the year 2008, or the 20th century, or the 21st century.

We are not in "the last days."

The authors of the New Testament repeatedly said they were living in "the last days" of the Old Covenant, and that the old age was passing away, and the complete termination of the old covenant would be occurring within the lifetime of those then living, those to whom the words of the New Testament were first addressed. We are not living in "the last days" of the Old Covenant anymore.

As predicted, two ancient peoples are at the center of the controversy, the Arabs and the Israelites. There is no prophecy in the Bible predicting that in the 21st century A.D. Arabs and Israelites would be involved in a controversy.
The Arabs call the land Palestine. The Israelites call it by its ancient name, Israel. There are unique and extraordinary circumstances in the history of these people, which cause much misunderstanding by most people today. Before Israel occupied the land, it was occupied by other people, and the Bible says it was called "Canaan." This is its more "ancient name." It was given to Abraham under "unique and extraordinary circumstances in the history of these people."
First, they both originated from the same forefather – Abraham – 4,000 years ago. The Israelites, commonly called "Jews" today, descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. The Arabs descended from Abraham through Ishmael and Esau.
Biblical Horizons » No. 117: Call Me Ishmael, Part 1
Biblical Horizons » No. 118: Call Me Ishmael, Part 2
Second, God chose Abraham's line through Isaac and Jacob to be the recipients of several covenants that established them as his special representatives on earth. Basically they were chosen for the following purposes: Clearly God's choosing of Abraham and his descendants is one of the most important facts in all of human history -- because of what God accomplished through these people.
• To receive, write and preserve His Word to man, which we call the Bible.
• America's Founding Fathers recognized the importance of the Bible.
• To be an example of the blessing that comes from believing in and following the true God.
• The Jews were also examples of the curses that come from rejecting the true God. In fact, Israel was more often an example of cursing for disobedience than blessing for obedience.
• Some have even described the Bible as the most anti-Semitic book ever written, because it portrays the Jews as the recipients of unique favor, supernatural signs and wonders, direct revelation, and the personal presence of God Himself, and yet the Jews consistently, relentlessly, chose to rebel against the true God and worship false idols and pledge their allegiance to pagan gentile empires.
• To be the physical race through whom the Messiah, the Savior of the world would be born. -------------------------------------------------------- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- -
• Some of that physical race were also chosen to put Him to death (1 Thessalonians 2:14-15; Acts 2:14,22,36-40; Acts 3:9-26; Acts 4:25-28; Acts 7:52; Acts 13:26-52; James 5:6; John 7:14-31; John 8:44; Matthew 23:32-36).
• To spread the revelation of how to know God personally.
• The Jews truly are to be thanked for preserving the Scriptures (Romans 3:1-2).
In order to accomplish these purposes, God made unconditional promises to them that involved making them a unique nation with an everlasting title deed to specifically defined land. The promises were not unconditional. This is where Hal Lindsey trips up. If the promised land was unconditionally promised, then why is it these Israelites didn't get to live in the promised land? Why didn't Moses himself get to go there? It seems there are duties, responsibilities -- conditions -- attached to the promised land. There are hundreds of verses which reveal the conditions attached to possession of the land. Download them here (pdf).
Historically, the descendents of Ishmael and Esau have felt that somehow they were cheated. This created an enmity that has smoldered and burst into flames at various times in history. This is an interesting claim. I've never met any Muslims who felt this way. To feel this way one must believe the claims of the Jewish Bible, accepting the historicity and truthfulness of the record of God choosing Israel and having a relationship with the Jews that He didn't have with Muslims.
God forewarned the Israelites through Moses that their nation would twice be destroyed for failing to obey Him. The second destruction would be far more severe than the first – the people would be scattered throughout every nation under heaven. They would be persecuted and have no assurance of life. This was literally fulfilled, beginning with the Roman destruction of Israel and Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Deuteronomy 28:64-68 and Luke 21:20-24). This is generally true. This is also an astonishing admission. It proves the promise was not unconditional. Deuteronomy 28 is a catalog of the consequences of not meeting the conditions of the Covenant. Verse 15 says, "it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you." Then the rest of the chapter contains the curses, culminating in the complete destruction of Israel which took place in AD70. The fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28 was a terrifying time.
In Mark's parallel to Luke's Gospel, Jesus says, "For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be." (Mark 13:19). This was the "Great Tribulation" that Hal Lindsey believes is yet future. As Lindsey says above, "This was literally fulfilled."
This dispersion began to draw to a close in May of 1948 when, against all odds, Israel was reborn as a nation. "Reborn" is a truly ironic word. When a Jewish leader came to Jesus, anticipating the replacement of Imperial Rome's military occupation of Palestine with the establishment of the Kingdom of God, the Rabbi Jesus told him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Is Hal Lindsey saying that all the Jews were born again in 1948? Suppose Adolph Hitler, in 1940, after invading Poland, renamed Poland "Israel." (But no Jews allowed, of course.) Would this nation of "Israel" have any Biblical significance? No. Just because someone calls a piece of real estate "Israel" doesn't mean the Kingdom of God has arrived. (in 1948, it was Great Britain doing the name-changing).
This has created unique problems for the world. Never before has a people been scattered for almost 2,000 years, remained virtually a nation in exile, returned to claim their ancient homeland and then been reborn as a nation. The Arabs and all Muslims say Israel has no right to this land because they took it for Allah by Jihad, or holy war, centuries ago. According to their belief, Mohammed ascended to heaven from Jerusalem. Therefore, it is considered their third holiest place. This misses the point. Israel has no right to the Holy Land because they violated the conditions of the covenant that God made with them, and He kept His promises by kicking them out of the land. This promise "was literally fulfilled," as Lindsey said above. Jews must be "born again."
The secular world, especially Europe, sees the state of Israel as a nuisance that hinders the free flow of oil from the Arab nations. So they mostly side with the Arabs for economic reasons. Look at this map. How does Israel "hinder the free flow of oil from oil-producing nations" like Saudi Arabia? Don't the oil tankers sail up the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal, and into the Mediterranean?
There are two different attitudes toward Israel's right to statehood in the Holy Land among Christians. One group interprets Bible prophecy in an allegorical sense and says that Israel forfeited its covenant rights when it rejected Jesus as Messiah. A few in this group say that Israel in any event can never be given the land by God until they repent and believe in the true Messiah. Yes, but what does "allegory" have to do with it? Where have I treated any Bible verse as an "allegory?" I'm treating the Bible as literal history. (See more below.)
Then there are those Christians (and I am one of them) who simply take at face value what God has promised the Israelites. The prophecies of Ezekiel chapters 36 through 39 are one example. They all focus on the present Arab-Israeli conflict, which closely precedes the Messiah's coming to set up God's promised kingdom to Abraham's believing descendents. Reading these chapters and taking them at "face value" couldn't possibly lead an objective reader to the conclusion that nuclear war in the 21st century is being described. These verses simply are not focusing on "the present Arab-Israeli conflict" in 2008. Read them here.
The Nonsense of “Plain Sense”
The Problem of Ezekiel’s Temple/City Vision
Ezekiel is describing an ancient war, fought with wooden spears and bows and arrows. How Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye find nuclear weapons in these chapters is astonishing, especially after they criticize others for "allegorizing." Taken at face value, in its plain meaning, or "literally" as some like to say, Ezekiel is probably prophesying the great attempt to wipe out Israel which is recorded in the little-studied Book of Esther.
First, God warns all of the nations that surround Israel, "Thus says the Lord God, 'Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and with scorn of soul, to drive it out for a prey.'" (Ezek. 36: 5) "Edom" refers to the Arabs descended from Esau. The surrounding nations are all Muslim today. "Arab" should not be equated with "Muslim." If all the nations surrounding modern-day Israel were anti-Semitic Catholics descended from Esau and bent on destroying the Jews, it wouldn't make Ezekiel 36-39 apply to the 21st century. The reference to "Edom" is a reference to genetic heritage, or to a non-Jewish enemy, but not a particular religion  which didn't even exist in Ezekiel's day. "Edom" can represent Haman in the Book of Esther.
Note that God says, "My Land." The Muslims don't own it, neither do the Jews – God owns it. He gives it to whom He chooses and not on the basis of human merit. "Not on the basis of human merit," but on the basis of keeping the conditions of God's Covenant.
Second, God declares to whom and why He is going to give the Holy Land, "Therefore, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God, 'It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord …" And then, "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean … I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. …" (Ezek. 36:22-26)
Those descendants of Abraham who were born again received a new heart, a new spirit, and entered the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22; Romans 2:29; Galatians 4:6). The Hebrews were told (Hebrews 8) before the destruction in A.D. 70:
8 For He finds fault with them when He says:
   "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
   when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
   and with the house of Judah,
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
   on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in My covenant,
   and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
   after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
   and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
   and they shall be my people.
11And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
   and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
for they shall all know Me,
   from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
   and I will remember their sins no more."
 13 In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The Church is Israel Now
The Bible clearly shows that God is going to give "His Land" to Israel. Not because they deserve it, but because His great name is at stake – God cannot break a promise. It is after this that God will bring the Jews to repentance and give them a new heart. He will accomplish this through delivering them from a coming war that will almost destroy the world. The Bible clearly shows that God gave the entire planet to His People: those who were sprinkled with the water and the Word, given a new heart, made true sons of Abraham. God has kept His promises, and Abraham looked forward to that day. There is nothing in the Bible that speaks of a war in the 21st century.
God disciplines His own for disobedience, but He never disowns them. We who are Christians can thank God for that, or we would have all been disowned. God has thrown his gauntlet into the arena with His promises to Israel. And Hell will freeze over before He fails to fulfill them, though the whole world tries to prevent it. America was once dedicated to fulfilling Christ's command to be "a City on a Hill." In 1892 the United States Supreme Court described this Christian dedication to be a Christian nation. The federal government is now spending $3 Trillion to protect a nation that rejects their Messiah. Thousands of Americans have died, more than a million Iraqis have been killed. All this because of a mis-reading of the Bible.
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Who Owns Palestine? by John M. Frame

Hal Lindsey is the best-selling non-fiction writer alive today. Among his 20 books are "Late Great Planet Earth," his follow-up on that explosive best seller, Planet Earth: The Final Chapter," and "Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad." He writes this weekly column exclusively for WorldNetDaily. Be sure to visit his website, where he provides up-to-the-minute analysis of today's world events in the light of ancient prophecies. Kevin Craig is the Libertarian Party Candidate for U.S. Congress in Missouri's 7th District. He is the founder of Vine & Fig Tree, a tax-exempt non-profit educational organization dedicated to bringing about the fulfillment of the Old Testament Prophet Micah's vision of everyone dwelling safely under his own vine & fig tree. He had a column in the Chalcedon Report in the 1980's.