UI – Part 634 – Holy Land Real Estate Ownership
Who owns the real estate comprising the Holy Land? Or who is the rightful possessor of Jerusalem? Three guesses. Christians. Jews. or Muslims.
God gave a Covenant to a People. This occurred soon after creation. Those People have occupied the land of Israel for over 4000 years. The Lord appeared to Abraham (Genesis 12:7), “To your offspring I will give you this land.” That was Canaan.
(A map of Canaan with the boundaries as indicated in the Bible’s books of Numbers and Ezekiel.)
The Covenant required the people to be obedient to God or they could be displaced, yet ownership remained theirs. It was a forever, an eternal, commitment. The requirements were: faith and obedience. It happened on several occasions when the People were disobedient. They were displaced. Yet there were always remnants of the People that continued to live in the area, occupy the area. When you look at the map what you see is today’s State of Israel. God’s promise was that descendants of Abraham would be many, many, to include Christians and Jews. They would inherent this land. God made clear his promise would be fulfilled through Abraham’s wife, Sarah (Genesis 17:15-16). Interesting in that Sarah’s only son was Isaac, father of Jacob, who was renamed Israel. The Lord provided reaffirmation of the covenant with Isaac (Genesis 26:2-5), whose descendants would be “as numerous as the stars.” Then God reminded Jacob, from the Temple Mount, that the land given Abraham and Isaac “I also give to you” (Genesis 35:12). Jacob’s sons, twelve, became the Tribes of Israel.
The Jews were the heirs to God’s promise. Even when displaced for 400 years in Egypt, the Exodus to follow, the land remained theirs.
Quran Agrees As to Land of the Jews
Emphasis on an important decree is needed here. The Quran, the Scripture of the Muslims, also tells of the Jews, the Israelites, as a People set apart for a special purpose. They claim it is to spread the message of Muhammad and Allah. Sura 2:40 speaks of God’s covenant with the Jews. It speaks of God’s special favor bestowed upon the Jews (Sura 2:122; 2:47). The Jews have a level of importance to Allah. In Sura 5, the Quran makes note that Allah gave the Holy Land to the children of Israel (Jacob) (Sura 5:20-21). Sura 17:104 writes Allah saying to the Children of Israel, “Dwell securely in the promised land.” So one might ask, why all the fuss and hatred by the Islamists towards the Jews and Israel? If the Jews were to be secure in the promised land, why try so hard to dislodge them, even exterminate them? There are other verses in the Quran that further suggest the Holy Land was promised to the Jews.
Christians OK With It
The Christians have no problem with the claims that the land of Israel was promised to the Jewish People.
God’s purpose was for the land promised the Jewish people to be a Holy Nation, unique. It was to provide an awareness to others, an example to know God, his moral and ethical laws and values, and to allow the example to be seen of those who love and obey him. The example is to be most in evidence in people’s love of neighbor and God. It is a human rights, equitable and freedom loving example, not just of a specific people, but of all of God’s creation. Failure by the Jewish people to observe God’s laws could result in displacement, which has happened, yet not ownership.
Loss of Possession
King Nebuchadnezzar (of Babylonia) took the city of Jerusalem and destroyed Solomon’s Temple (587BC). Faithfulness by the Jews was not kept. They lost possession, but not ownership. The people were carried off to Babylonian captivity. But not all of them. It was 70 years before a group of Jews returned. A temporary exile. God punishes Israel for disobedience, and when displaced from this land a remnant has always remained.
The Jewish people at the beginning of the Common Era resented the presence of the Romans in their land. This led to the Jewish Revolt. After the Roman’s defeated the Jewish Zealots in 70AD, destroyed the Temple, the Jews were barred from the area.
The Byzantine Empire refused to allow Jews to occupy Jerusalem for a period of hundreds of years. However there were some that stayed. In the interim the land was occupied by Christians, Muslims (mid 600’s), Crusaders, and Turks (Ottomans). When the Muslims ruled living standards declined. Various Muslims groups occupied the area at different times, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Ayyubids, Mamluks, Turks and Ottomans. They were in conflict with each other, civil wars, and the ones who suffered the most, Christians and Jews.
The land of Israel became part of the Ottoman Empire for many centuries. Then the British colonizers arrived, supporting an Arab-Ottoman war, in exchange for possession of the area. This to protect sea routes to India. The Sykes-Picot Agreement resulted in placing the area that included Israel under the British mandate.
Then the British issued (1917) the Balfour Declaration to create a homeland for Jewish people in the area defined as Palestine. ‘Palastina’ was a name given the area of Israel by the Roman Caesar Hadrian in an effort to erase even the idea of a Jewish land from the area. This experiment was not successful in the long run. World War I ensued, the Ottoman Empire fell apart, the League of Nations was formed (1920), world peace was to ensue. Then there were the ‘mandates.’
Those entrusted with ‘mandatory’ powers had control of the areas. This was to enable new independent nations to be created from areas loosely defined. The Mandate for Palestine was one of them. It was to be a national home for the Jewish people. Other areas, Syria and Iraq (Mesopotamia), similarly mandated have enjoyed boundaries, sovereignty, never in dispute. The same should be the case for Israel. With Britain as the governing authority it could give priority to the Jewish people over other people. That was TransJordan.
With some negotiations the Jews were disallowed settlement in the eastern area upon approval of the Mandate for Palestine. Jews to the West, Arabs to the East. Dead Sea in the center. Had the Jews received what they thought they were promised, the area depicted in the map above would have all been Israel. The mandate recognized the association of the Jews with the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Emir Feisal confirmed the territory to the west to be given to and governed by the Jews (1919) (Weismann-Feisal Agreement). Feisal anticipated that Syria would be included. The Agreement, Jay Sekulow notes (pg.2504/5773), Jerusalem), “indicates that Palestine was to become a Jewish-ruled entity….Key Arab leaders agreed.” The result, the Arabs 77%, the Jews 23%. Yet today there are Arabs complaining, wanting all that is Israels, calling themselves, not Arabs, but Palestinians. (Some Reading, Palestine, An Area not a People).
A sidenote. Emir Feisal led the movement by Arabs against the Ottomans, with support from Britain. There was no Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, etc, at that time. The holy places of Mecca and Medina, to the Muslims, were highly esteemed and protected. Feisal’s father, Sharif Hussein, had oversight of the Islamic holy places. Feisal’s objective was an Arab nation which he would lead. However secretly the French, British and Russians all the while were negotiating how the Arab territories were to be split. Feisal acknowledged there were benefits to the immigration of Jews with Arabs in the Palestine area Both ethnic groups suffered oppression from stronger nations. For the Jews, it was Russia, Romania and Germany, among others. For the Arabs it was the Ottomans and a general regard for Arabs as impoverished, uneducated and non-productive. Feisal saw Jerusalem and the surrounding area as the Jewish homeland and he noted in a letter he wrote, “we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.” Politics as it can be denied Syria as the Arab State Feisal hoped for, losing to the interests of the French (Lebanon and Syria). Tensions rose and to quell concerns the British intervened and granted Feisal a kingdom, that of Iraq. He was given authority over a mix of people that were not from his tribe or clan (he was not native to the area), and not themselves of the same background or Muslim cultures. Feisal’s dream of Arab unity never became a reality, and there appeared no other prominent Arab to preach the same hope for a land of peace inhabited by Arabs, Jews and others.
The Battle for Arabia
Meanwhile the Arabian Peninsula was faced with its own turmoil between the families Saud, Rashid, and Hashemite. Feisal’s father was a Hashemite. The Hashemites at one time were the guardians of Mecca. The Saud family won that battle to occupy Mecca (1925).
Post Second World War
After World War II the British, their resources depleted, could no longer maintain the area, departing in 1948. Before they left they maintained a semblance of peace between Arabs and Jews as the Jewish population grew, making the land more productive than ever prior. The mandate called for Britain to ‘facilitate Jewish immigration.’ They did their job, which included Arabs in the same becoming citizens too. The Brits formally divided the area creating Israel and Jordan yielding any authority they had to those now ruling as independent nations or kingdoms. There was an opportunity at that time for an Arab (Palestinian) State, a Jewish State and an independent common international area encompassing Jerusalem offered by the UN, rejected by the authorities representing Palestine. Israel declared its independence in May of 1948. It became a Sovereign Nation, the State of Israel. The next day there was war. The Arabs lost.
Palestinian Arab leaders never declared their independence, that is, until 1988, 40 years later from exile in Tunisia (where Arafat had to flee from Lebanon). It is a mystery to me how Arafat even became to spokesperson for Palestine. He saw an opportunity, had a soapbox, the media were seeking a voice for Palestine, and he became the rugged face for the area, but from Lebanon and then Tunisia. He was a terrorist never intending peace, only fighting the Jews, and enjoying the profits he derived from international peace seeking parties paying him as if he might achieve a settlement agreement in the area.
Current Validity of God’s Promise
Is the Covenant of God as to the Land of Israel belonging to the Jews still valid? Jay Sekulow, his book Jerusalem, writes, (pg 1150/5773 Kindle), “Some Christians believe God’s covenant has been transferred to the Christian church through Christ’s death and resurrection; Muslims, on the other hand, believe the Jews have been cursed by God and that they no longer hold any special place before him due to their disobedience. Muslims further believe that Islam has replaced both Judaism and Christianity and the Muslims are now the vehicle of God’s message to the world.” But the prevailing fact is this. God’s covenant with the People of Israel was “everlasting and eternal.” The Muslims, their scholars and leaders, are being disingenuous. They place on themselves an elitist status, a superiority, lacking humility, and must spread the news of their choosing. They practice Takiyya, lying, to promote Islam.
From exile in 70CE by the Romans (under Titus) until 1948, the Jews were not in possession of their homeland. That changed and that land which God promised, which the Jews have always owned, was occupied anew, in control, by the Jewish People. Sovereign control rested with the Jewish people.
As to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, what outside organization has the ability to dictate to a sovereign nation the location of their capital? The debate over Jerusalem seems never ending. But Trump stepped up recognizing Israel’s right. Anti-semitism from outside Israel continues, as even the UN, its many members condemn many of the actions taken by Israel. That is not their call. American could have intervened, but as the case with Obama, abstained from voting to support Israel when it mattered.
The Answer to Who Owns the Land
“The Holy Land belongs to the Jewish people by all rights; its artifacts bear witness to a continuous Jewish presence extending almost four thousand years. In light of the historical and archaeological evidence, no one can reasonably doubt the Jewish people’s continuous presence in and ties to the land of Israel throughout history” (Jerusalem, by Jay Seculow, pg. 4543 of 5773, Kindle, 2012).
One comment. Israel is a State. Yes, it is considered a Jewish State, but it is secular, not religious. There are a plurality of faiths living as citizens of Israel. Since 1948 Israel has been open to peace with its Arab neighbors. The original TransJordan area was planned for Israel. However only 23% or so became designated for Israel. The rest became an Arab domain, currently Jordan. Jerusalem is the homeland for the Jews, but also important to Christ followers. This land was promised the Jews. This land was occupied by Jesus and his death on the cross. Jesus’ death, his saving grace for sinners, took place there. The originating location from which Christ followers began was much of Israel and certainly Jerusalem. Israel welcomes all who come to visit the holy places within its borders; it does not exclude anyone.
Muslims adopted Jerusalem as theirs too when Muhammad journeyed in a dream by way of donkey to the Temple grounds to ascend through 7 layers to reach Allah. He was never physically there. He spent but one night, as Jews and Christians spent centuries. The Al Aqsa mosque is their tribute to Muhammad’s travels. It is not the holiest site for Muslims. What Muhammad’s dream really signifies is the importance of Jerusalem to any who have a reverence for the Almighty. But is is Land promised by God to the Jews.
God’s Promise will always be valid.
Grace and Peace