Israel's Double

The second biblical time line is suggested in Zec 9:12, "Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee."

The word translated "double" in this text has the meaning of "doubling," as of a sheet of paper folded in half. In other words, it is descriptive of a duplicate, or like amount. The suggestion is that Israel would have a period of chastisement equal in length to her period of favor.

But where does this period of favor begin? What is the focal point of its "fold," its middle, from which we can date the period of disfavor?

The beginning of the period is easy to trace. We find that the first time the "twelve tribes of Israel" are described as a nation is at the death of Jacob in B.C. 1812, as recorded in Ge 49:28. It is from this point that they are considered a nation, and not just an extended family.

To the Christian mind, it is just as easy to date the turning point as being that marked in the Zechariah reference. Just three verses earlier, in Zec 9:9, the "day" in which he declared that he would "render double" unto them was the very day in which Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass. This was four days before his death, in the year A.D. 33. It was on that very day that he uttered the prophetic words of the desolation of Jerusalem, noted earlier in our study (Mt 23:37, 38). This, we believe, is the turning point between Israel's favor and disfavor from God.

The period from B.C. 1812 to the year A.D. 33 is 1,845 years. An equal portion from that point would point forward to the year A.D. 1878, a most significant date.

It was in 1878, at the ending of the Turko-Russian war, that the Berlin Congress of Nations opened the land of Palestine to Jewish colonization for the first time since the Diaspora.

It was in 1878 that the first Jewish colony, Petach Tikvah, a name aptly meaning "Gate of Hope," was established by Jewish refugees from Russia.

It was in 1878, according to David Ben Gurion, that the first Aliyah, or wave of immigration, can be dated.

Another View

But this "double" can be looked at from a still different standpoint. A Jewish scholar might well say that the Diaspora did not really fully begin until the armies of Titus began to amass against Israel and drive them out of their homeland in the year A.D. 68.

If we take this date, A.D. 68, as the turning point of this double, the period of favor stretches out to 1,880 years. An equal period of 1,880 years, going forward from the year A.D. 68 brings one to the spectacular date of A.D. 1948, the very year in which the State of Israel became a reality.

Look at the events of this past century: In 1878 we have the three events previously noted—the Berlin Congress of Nations, the establishment of the first Jewish colony at Petach Tikvah, and the onset of the first wave of immigration.

In 1896 Theodor Herzl of Vienna called the First Zionist Congress to issue a call to Jewry everywhere to return to their ancestral homeland.

In 1917 the government of Great Britain, through the intervention of the Jewish chemist, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, issued the Balfour Declaration, placing His Majesty's government of England on record as favoring the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

In 1948, following the passage of a United Nations' resolution, the State of Israel was formally proclaimed.

Thus, in steady progressive steps, Israel has slowly regained her place among the nations which was promised to her by God.

Up to now we have looked at the promise of land in the Bible for the Jewish people. What about the claims of the Arabs and the Palestinians? Are they to be left without a homeland of their own?

God's Promises to the Arabs

The claims of the Palestinians and those of the Arabs are very different, and thus we will treat them separately. We will first look at the promises of God recorded in the Bible for the Arabs.

Most of the Arab nations have sprung from one of four biblical ancestors—Ishmael, Esau, Moab, and Ammon.

In Ge 16:12 we read about Ishmael, the older brother of Isaac, and the son of Abraham by Sarah's bond-maid, Hagar. There is a positive promise made concerning his descendants: "He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."

This implies a shared inheritance with the children of Abraham through Isaac—the people of Israel. Since the main descendants of Ishmael today are represented by the Bedouin tribes, who are already living in Israel, this promise seems peculiarly fitting.

There are further promises for Ishmael in the Bible. "As for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation" (Gen.

17:20). Again, "And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed" (Ge 21:13). And yet again, "I will make him a great nation" (Ge 21:18).

Similarly of the descendants of Esau it is written that God has given them a distinct territorial grant of their own. We read of this in De 2:5, "Meddle not with them [the Edomites, sons of Esau, ancestors of many of today's Arabs]; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession."

The territory of Mount Seir is in present-day Jordan, between the Moabite territory at the southern end of the Dead Sea, southward to Aqaba, on the Red Sea.

The other two noted ancestors of the Arab tribes were Moab and Ammon, the children of Abraham's nephew, Lot.

Of the former of these we read in De 2:9, "Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession."

"Ar," meaning "mountain," or "mountain range," is well identified with the mountain range to the east of the Dead Sea, just south of the Arnon river. This is to be a possession forever for the children of Lot.

Likewise, of Ammon, we read in De 2:19, "When thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession."

This "land of Ammon" is the western portion of present day Jordan. Indeed, Jordan's capital city, Amman, takes its name from this ancient heritage of the children of Ammon.

Thus, with the Ishmaelites (the Bedouins) living amongst the Israelis; and with provision for the other Arabs—whether they descended from Moab, Ammon, or Esau—to the east of the Dead Sea, the Bible lays the groundwork for a peaceful solution with equality toward all—both for Jews and for Arabs.

The Palestinians

But what will be the inheritance of the Palestinians? That is still another question. This is particularly so if their own claim be true that they are not genetically Arabs, but Canaanites, of Hamitic stock. If that claim is true, it would seem to nullify any title deed to the land of Palestine, for the Canaanites were one of the people the Israelites were to dispossess in order to inherit the promised land.

Yet, some say that their ancestral claim to being Canaanites is a little faulty, that there is good genealogical reason to identify them, not with the Canaanites, but with their cousins, the Philistines, from whence Palestine derives its name. Ge 10:14 substantiates this relationship.

If this is the case, their claim to Palestine as an ancestral homeland is also flawed. Although the Philistines were not listed as one of the tribes which Israel was to dispossess in order to occupy the promised land, their land was considered as being attached to that of the Canaanites.

In this regard, note the testimony of Jos 13:2, 3: , I."this is the land that yet remaineth: all the borders of the Philistines, and all Geshuri, from Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdodites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites."

It is important in this text to note the specific mention of the Gazathities, inhabitants of the Gaza strip. This is one of the hotly contested pieces of land in controversy today. Here it is specifically listed as part of the eventual inheritance of Israel.

Where are the Palestinians to go? The Bible is not specific, but it seems logical that they would return to the lands where they originated—the Mediterranean isles of Crete and Cyprus, and the coasts of Lebanon. In any event, we can be assured that God will provide adequate homelands for all the peoples of the world.

Life from the Dead

But the most fascinating event in connection with the phenomenon presently occurring in the Middle East is of far greater consequence than any of the points we have noted up to now.

Read again the Apostle Paul's words, quoted earlier, from Ro 11:15, "What shall the receiving of them [Israel] be, but life from the dead."

The return of Israel to her ancient homeland is closely linked scripturally with the greater biblical promise that the entire world of mankind will return to life from the captivity in the prison house of death where they have been held.

Their return will be the answer to the Christian's oft-repeated prayer: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

This is the kingdom that will replace war with peace, as we read in Mic 4:3: "And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

This is the kingdom that will replace sickness with health, as we read in Isa 35:5, 6: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert."

This is the kingdom that will replace poverty with security. Mic 4:4 reads: "But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it."

This is the kingdom that will replace death with life and sadness with gladness. Re 21:4 predicts: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

This Generation

The nearness of this kingdom is noted in what has come to be known as "The Lord's Great Prophecy." Using the symbol of Israel as a fig tree, Jesus says in Lu 21:29-31: "Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand."

And then he adds, more specifically, in Lk 21:32, "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled."

May it yet be that the generation which has seen the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 will be the same generation which finally witnesses the fruition of every Christian's prayer, of every Jewish dream, and the desire of all men—the establishment of God's kingdom of peace and righteousness upon the whole earth. This kingdom will bring peace and security, not only to Jew and to Arab, but to all men. For this reason we should all join with fervor in the prayer of David found in Ps 122:6: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee."

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