Two peoples claim the same land in the Middle East. The competing claims of the Jewish people and the Arab people have led to a series of wars. Disagreements over the land may lead to further wars.
Whose land is it? Does it belong to Israel or the Arabs? Do parts belong to both peoples? Should the land be divided? Who has the right to decide to whom the Land belongs? Israel? The Arabs? The United States? The United Nations Security Council? The United Nations General Assembly?
With utmost truthfulness, I tell you that when God speaks on any subject, His is the authoritative word and the final word. And the Creator of the heavens and the Earth has spoken about whose land it is in the Bible, which is the divinely inspired Word of God. Here’s what it says:
The Jewish people are the Chosen People: After Adam and Eve joined the rebellion of the fallen angels, humanity deteriorated so badly that the Lord destroyed that first civilization with the Flood. Noah and his family knew the Lord and were spared; but after they came out of the ark and their descendants began repopulating the world, they became idolatrous, perverse and evil.
Then the Lord created a special nation to be a light to the other nations, to teach the other nations about the one true God who alone can redeem them from Satan and the demons, sin and the sin nature, death and Hell.
Through this Chosen People came the patriarchs, prophets and apostles, the covenants and promises, and the divinely inspired Scriptures – which teach us what we need to know to be saved. And most importantly, through the Chosen People came the Messiah, who enables us to be reconciled to God and live forever!
The divinely inspired Word of God lets us know that the world belongs to God: The Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1). Since the Earth belongs to God, He has the right to divide it the way He wants to and give lands to the nations He chooses.
To fulfill our calling to be a light to the nations, the Chosen People needed a Chosen Land; and the God of Israel gave the Land of Israel to the People of Israel: When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:8). The Most High gave the Land of Israel to the people of Israel, and specifically gave the other nations their lands based on our right to the Land of Israel.
The Lord strategically placed the Land of Israel at the center of the nations: This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her (Ezekiel 5:5; see also 38:12). The Land that God chose for us is located in the center of the nations, in a place that connects the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia. Because of this strategic location, the light-of-the-world nation had exposure to the other nations of the world. Israel is like the North Star, the star that helps us find true north, the star that is fixed in place, around which the other stars revolve.
There is no doubt about Israel’s borders because they are described for us in detail in the Bible: The Lord said to Abram after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever … Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you” (Genesis 13:14-17). The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, “To your descendants I have given this Land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18-21). I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates (Exodus 23:31). Based on these detailed statements, the entire Land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”), Gaza and the Golan Heights, was given by the God of Israel to the people of Israel.
The Land of Israel was given by God in an everlasting covenant to Abraham and his descendants as an everlasting possession: The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this Land” (Genesis 12:7). God further said to Abraham: I will establish My covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you (Genesis 17:7-8).
Even though Abraham had many sons, the Land wasn’t given to Ishmael, or to any of the other sons of Abraham, but only to Isaac: Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” But God said “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him” (Genesis 17:18-19). God rejected Abraham’s request that Ishmael be the heir of the covenant, and appointed Isaac instead. Years later the Lord appeared to Isaac and said: To you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the Earth shall be blessed (Genesis 26:3-4).
Knowing that Isaac was the heir of the covenant, which included the Land, Abraham gave everything that he had to Isaac. He gave gifts to his other sons, but sent them to the lands of the east, not wanting those other sons to be rivals of Isaac, the heir of the everlasting covenant, which included the Land of Israel (see Genesis 25:5-6).
Even though Isaac had two sons, the Land wasn’t given to Esau, but to Jacob: One night Jacob had a dream while fleeing from his brother. In his dream the Lord said to him, I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the Land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants (Genesis 28:13). God later appeared to Jacob and said to him: the Land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and I will give the Land to your descendants after you (Genesis 35:11-12). This promise deeds the Land of Israel to the descendants of Jacob – the Jewish people of today.
In addition to the everlasting covenant (which includes the Land of Israel), God swore an oath to give the Jewish people this Land; and it’s impossible for God to break an oath (see Hebrews 6:16-18): This oath is repeated more than 40 times. Here’s one example: He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance” (Psalm 105:8-11).
In addition to the everlasting covenant and the oath, consider the other words used to describe God’s unyielding commitment to Israel: word, confirm, commandment, a thousand generations, statute. Using the strongest possible language, the Lord is letting the world know that the Jewish people have a perpetual right to the Land of Israel.
Some think that Israel’s sin and resulting exile annulled God’s covenant with us and we forfeited our right to the Land of Israel. That’s not true: The Lord, speaking through Moses, said: Yet in spite of this (Israel’s disobedience), when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors – and that covenant includes the Land of Israel (Leviticus 26:44-45).
Moses predicted that the Jewish people would experience a time of obedience and blessing within the Land, followed by a period of disobedience and exile from the Land – followed by spiritual restoration to God and physical restoration to the Land: So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the people where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the Earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. And the Lord your God will bring you into the Land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
God promised to gather us to “our own Land”: I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own Land (Ezekiel 36:24). Again Ezekiel predicts: Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own Land” (Ezekiel 37:21). Jeremiah adds: “Behold days are coming” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own Land which I gave to their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14-15). The same people whom God scattered, He promised to gather to their ancestral land; and that restoration would be greater than the exodus from Egypt. And it has been happening! Since 1880, hundreds of thousands of Jewish people, scattered to dozens of nations, have returned to our own land, where we now number more than six million.
Even though the majority of the Jewish people were exiled from our Land (there always was a remnant of Jewish people who remained within Israel), that doesn’t give anyone else the right to appropriate the Land of Israel for themselves: Because the enemy has spoken against you “Aha” and “The everlasting heights have become our possession” … 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 scorn of soul, to drive it out as a prey (Ezekiel 36:2-5). Even though the nations surrounding Israel would appropriate the Land of Israel for themselves, and try to drive out its rightful inhabitants, God repudiates the claims of these nations and promises to take the side of the Jewish people.
Eventually this conflict over the Land of Israel will entangle the entire world: God, speaking through the prophet Zechariah, predicted: Behold I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around. And when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. The nations surrounding Israel will react to the Last Day’s gathering of the Jewish people with irrational hatred and senseless behavior. Israel’s neighbors will want to destroy the Jewish nation – which in fact they do right now – because a Jewish state in the midst of the Middle East can’t be tolerated by Islam. And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will be severely injured. Eventually all the nations of the world will be drawn into this conflict and fight against Israel. And all the nations of the Earth will be gathered against it. Zechariah’s prophecy continues and informs us that the Lord will destroy every nation that fights against Israel. Israel will be miraculously saved from physical destruction, and also be spiritually saved by recognizing the One whom we have pierced – the resurrected and glorified Messiah – Yeshua!
The Lord will punish those nations that defy Him by dividing any part of His special Land: In those days and at that time when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My Land (Joel 3:1-2). When Messiah returns, the Jewish people will be rescued and blessed. The nations will be summoned to Jerusalem, where they will be judged for scattering us and dividing up our Land. That lets us know that no government or coalition of governments has the right to divide the Land of Israel and give it to anyone else. This is a warning to anyone who advocates a “two state” solution.
Some might argue: Look, the Jewish people have rejected Jesus. They are in a state of unbelief. These promises no longer apply to them. Not so! The promises of restoration to the land and blessing do apply. The Word of God tells us that the Jewish people would be brought back to our land in a state of unbelief. Physical restoration to the Land of Israel would then be followed by spiritual restoration to the God of Israel: 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 cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God (Ezekiel 36:24-28). The prophecy of the valley of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37) teaches us the same truth.
The dry bones represent the Jewish people. We are in a state of spiritual death among the nations. The Lord promises to restore us to Israel. After we are back in our Land, the dry bones come together, and sinew, flesh and skin cover the bones. That represents the physical restoration of the Jewish people and the reestablishment of the nation of Israel. Then the breath comes and the bodies become fully alive. This represents spiritual life. It is God’s stated intention to first restore us to our Land, and after that, give us new spiritual life. That means that the modern-day restoration of Israel is not some quirk of history, but the plan of God that is being worked out in our day!
Sadly, many Christians won’t believe these truths because they have bought into “Replacement Theology,” the false teaching that God is finished with the Jewish people, and the Church has replaced Israel, and the Lord’s promises to the Jewish people have no validity. Speaking to us through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord warns against denying Israel’s national destiny:
Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, “The two families which the Lord chose, He has rejected them”? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight. Thus says the Lord, “If My covenant for day and night stand not, and the fixed patterns of heaven and Earth I have not established, then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, not taking from his descendants rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them” (Jeremiah 33:24-26). This teaches us that the Lord considers the Jewish people to be a very special people and that His promises to restore us will be fulfilled! No one who claims to follow the Christ should believe that the Jewish people have been replaced and that God’s promises of physical restoration to our Land followed by spiritual salvation won’t be fulfilled.
No nation is perfect – including ours. Our nation is doing horrible things, but Christians stand by the United States. Israel isn’t perfect either. But God is on Israel’s side! Christians need to take the Lord’s side and stand by Israel. And, not just stand by Israel, but bless Israel. God’s ancient promise to Abraham is still in effect: I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And not just Christians, but everyone; and every nation.
So, whose land is it? The divinely inspired Word of God makes it clear that the Land of Israel belongs to the God of Israel. The Jewish people are the Chosen People. The God of Israel gave the Land of Israel to the Chosen People of Israel. There is no doubt about Israel’s borders because they are described for us in detail in the Holy Scriptures, and those borders include the entire modern-day nation of Israel – and more.
The Land of Israel was given by the God of Israel in an everlasting covenant to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants as an everlasting possession. Using the strongest possible language, the Lord has let the world know that the Jewish people have the perpetual right to the Land of Israel; and while our sin resulted in the majority’s exile from the Land, it was only a temporary exile and He has committed Himself to graciously return us to our own Land.
Israel’s sin and resulting exile did not annul God’s covenant with us, which includes our right to the Land. The Word of God tells us that the Jewish people would be brought back to our land in a state of unbelief. Physical restoration to the Land of Israel would then be followed by spiritual restoration to the God of Israel – through our coming to know Messiah Yeshua.
The Word of God tells us that God is at work, restoring the scattered Jewish people to our Land. God is on Israel’s side. Any individual, any nation who does not want to defy Him needs to take the Lord’s side and stand by Israel.
A Prayer: Three-In-One God of Israel, we know that You are God; that You made the universe and the Earth; that You gave the Land of Israel to the people of Israel; and that You punished us with exile for our sins, especially the sin of rejecting Messiah. But You also graciously promised to restore us to our Land and to Yourself, and we know that You are at work, doing that right now; that You are committed to the re-establishment of the nation of Israel, and the spiritual salvation of the Jewish people through the Messiah. Lord, help us, and all people everywhere, to know You and accept what Your Word teaches us about the Land of Israel, so that we are on Your side and can be blessed, not cursed. Amen.