The Place of Israel – by John Stott

May 15th is the anniversary of what the Palestinian people (Muslim, Christian, Other), call ‘Al Nakba’ meaning ‘The Catastrophe’. The day in 1948 when Israelis declared independence before systematically and brutally removing indigenous people from their ancestral land, beginning what we know as today, sixty-six years later, as ‘The Israeli-Palestine Conflict’.

John-Stott1Below is a sermon preached by John Stott.  It’s a great example of doing careful Bible word study.

By John Stott 

Rector Emeritus, All Souls Church
London, England
Our topic has been announced as “The Place of Israel,” and the topic that has been set for us is an object lesson in biblical hermeneutics as it‟s usually called in the principles of interpreting the Bible. But I would like to remind you right at the beginning that there are at least four ways in which the word “Israel,” whose place we are to investigate, can be used.

One: Israel was that devious scoundrel, the second son of Isaac, whose first name was Jacob – meaning “he who deceived or he who struggles,” who amply lived up to his name – but whom God renames “Israel,” because having struggled with men all his life, he at last came to struggle with God for the blessing he needed (a blessing to which he was not entitled).

Two: Israel is the chosen people of the Old Testament days – the 12 tribes descended from the 12 sons of Jacob called the children of Israel, because Israel (or Jacob) was a common ancestor.
Three: Israel is the messianic community – the people of Jesus – the true descendents of Abraham because they share Abraham‟s faith. This includes Gentiles like most of us if we believe in Jesus, but excludes Jews who don‟t. When Paul ended his letter to the Galatians, “Peace and mercy upon the Israel of God,” he was referring to believers in Jesus, whatever their ethnic origin. So Israel is the messianic community.
Four: Israel today, for many people if you read the newspapers, is the Israeli nation, promised a national home by the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and given it in 1948.
So Israel has four meaning. It means Jacob. It means Jews. It means Christians. And it means Israelis. And that is just the problem when you are asked who you are talking about. Continue reading “The Place of Israel – by John Stott”

Remembering ‘Al Nakba’ in 2014

al_nakbaMay 15th is the anniversary of what the Palestinian people (Muslim, Christian, Other), call ‘Al Nakba’ meaning ‘The Catastrophe’.  The day in 1948 when Israelis declared independence before systematically and brutally removing indigenous people from their ancestral land, over 500 towns and villages depopulated, left in ruins or wiped off the map, beginning what we know as today, sixty-six years later, as ‘The Israeli-Palestine Conflict’.

Desmond Tutu on Israel

desmond_tutu-420x0“World-wide commitment to peace in the Holy Land is vital.”  We must “question the assumptions underpinning the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians….We in South Africa remember with gratitude the extraordinary phenomenon of the world-wide movement against apartheid.  And after years of tribulation, here we are, finally, free! South Africa, once a pariah state, and an embarrassment to many is now a blossoming democracy.  And all because people around the world prayed for us, supported us, and were even willing to go to jail for us.

Now, alas, we see apartheid in Israel, complete with the ‘Separation Wall’ and Israel_Palestine_Flag[1] bantustans that keep Palestinians rounded up in prisons.  History tragically repeats itself.  Yet, injustice and oppression will never prevail.  Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful:  ‘How do you treat the poor, the hungry, and the voiceless?’  And God judges accordingly. wall

We need to put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people, saying, ‘Peace is possible.  Peace based on justice is possible.  We will do all we can to assist you to achieve that peace, because it is God’s dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.

We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition.  If the madness which oppressed us could end as it did, it must be possible for the same to happen everywhere else in the world.  If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land.  Somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal in the US, and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed antisemitic.  People are scared in the US, to say ‘wrong is wrong’, because the pro-Israeli lobby is powerful – very powerful.  Well, so what?

For goodness sake, this is God’s world!  We live in a moral universe.  grave skullThe apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists.  Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but, in the end, they bit the dust.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu in his foreword in Speaking the Truth, Zionism, Israel and the Occupation.

Skull picture from a fascinating story told here:  http://cindyrosstraveler.com/tag/duffys-cut-mass-grave/

The Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) have a superb resource called ‘Catalyst‘, published quarterly, one of which was specifically on the subject of Israel and Palestine.  The article can be requested through the post or viewed on line here, and I whole heartedly commend this to you.

Additionally, David Kerrigan, Director General of the BMS, has a most excellent blog karnaphuli.typepad.com, in which he has an article on the relationship between popular Christian Zionism and theology.  You can view it here, as well as another post on ignorance not being an option, here.

A Brief History of Christian Zionism

Israel_Palestine_Flag[1]

The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man.”

Introduction

Zionism is a multifaceted ideology, making definition difficult.  Generally, it may be defined as ‘the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.’[1]  The term ‘Zionism’ was first coined as late as 1892 by Nathan Birnbaum, and expressed in his published paper ‘The National Rebirth of the Jewish People in Its Homeland as a Means of Solving the Jewish Problem’ in 1893.  The term ‘Christian Zionism’ was probably first used by Theodore Herzl, as he described the convictions of the Christian founder of the Red Cross, Henri Dunant.  It can be defined as ‘Christian support for Zionism and the state of Israel and, by implication, opposition to people and groups deemed hostile to Israel.’[2] Continue reading “A Brief History of Christian Zionism”

The West Bank Wall in London

 

west bank in London

“The most unhelpful thing you can do is be pro one side; it just adds to the conflict. We have to not only understand those people who are oppressing us, but try to walk in their shoes, and ultimately to really engage with what it means to love our enemies.”

– Sami Awad, Director, Holy Land Trust, a Christian Palestinian

see here for more details:  http://bethlehem-unwrapped.org/

Justice in the Middle East

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For too long Christians from the West that have taken the time to visit what is romantically called “The Holy Land” have contributed to a terrible injustice.

They dream of walking where Jesus walked, but all the while, the clock ticks and the coach waits, whilst they, rather ironically, run where Jesus walked.  The Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem.  They go, they rush, they take plenty of pictures, they scurry back onto the bus, and head off to the next place of biblical significance!

When will the madness end?

Continue reading “Justice in the Middle East”

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