January 15 is the next critical date for Israel. Media reports are that representatives from “some 70 countries” have been invited to meet in Paris for a ‘Middle East peace conference’. This will be an attempt once again to divide Israel. (See our blogs of 3 December and 24 December if you are not familiar with events concerning Israel that New Zealand has been involved in recently).
Incidentally, there is something significant about the specific reference to 70 nations being invited. Biblically, “70 nations” symbolises all the nations of the world – an important concept that stems from Noah’s 70 grandsons (or great grandsons etc), listed in Scripture (Genesis 10), each becoming the ancestor of a nation.
It’s also interesting that Israel is not one of the nations that will be at the Paris conference. This reminds us of Numbers 23:9 – “…lo, the people [that’s Israel] shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.”
Back to the phrase ‘divide Israel’. What does this mean? Some have questioned whether the 23 December resolution sponsored by New Zealand (Resolution 2334) does amount to dividing Israel. If we look at what God’s Word says we see something interesting. In Exodus 14:21 we read about the parting of the Red Sea. Moses stretched out his hand “and the waters were divided” to enable the Israelites to cross on dry land. The Hebrew word translated as “divided” is בקע (baka). This word means ‘divided’ as in rent; ripped apart; made a breach in. This is clearly describing a very physical process.
But when we come to Joel 3:2, where we read about the nations having “parted my land” (many translations say “divided up”), the Hebrew word used for “parted” or “divided up” is חלק (chalak). This is a different word that means ‘divided’ as in apportioned; distributed; separated. It carries with it the presumption that the one dividing has the power and authority to do that. This process of division is the type of dividing that the nations are currently undertaking, rather than a more physical process of forced border changes that result from war. Presumption on the part of other nations that they somehow have the right to do these things to the sovereign state of Israel consistently characterises the unique way in which the world deals with God’s Land. So this is the more subtle process that is driven by UN resolutions. The resolution of 23 December, sponsored by New Zealand, and effectively passed unanimously, was a decision to divide God’s Land as prophesied in Joel 3:2.
The 23 December resolution paved the way for a further resolution to result from the decisions that will inevitably be made on January 15, leaving 4 to 5 days for the UN Security Council to convene and pass a resolution formally dividing up God’s Land in specific ways.
So, I am making two points that I think are important here. One is that even if New Zealand doesn’t sponsor this follow-up UN resolution, as a country we have already provided the crucial framework that permitted President Obama to break with traditional US policy, by facilitating the passing of the anti-Israel 23 December resolution. So, either way, New Zealand has played a major role in the dividing of God’s Land.
The second point is that even if Israel and the US under the Trump administration ignore and even resist on the ground the 23 December resolution, or any subsequent resolution, according to the language of Joel’s prophecy, the nations will still have divided God’s Land. Remember that Resolution 2334 declared that Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem are illegal and gave “legal ownership” of these lands to the ‘Palestinians’. They will face the Almighty’s promised judgment for that.
The question of Jerusalem itself is also very important. This is possibly the hottest issue. East Jerusalem is specifically referred to in Resolution 2334, where it is seen as the capital of a Palestinian State. It is that part of the city that is especially important to both Judaism and Christianity and of course, to the Lord Himself.
God’s Word makes it plain that in end times Jerusalem will be a troublesome issue. In Zechariah 12:3 He says: “And in that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, and all the people of the earth shall be gathered together against it”.
I believe there are no coincidences in God’s economy. Most will know that the day of the passing of Resolution 2334 was the eve of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights on the Jewish calendar, a festival recognised by our Lord. But this year Chanukah was not its usual happy festival for God’s people thanks to New Zealand and the US.
The miracle of the retaking of Jerusalem by the Jewish Maccabees from the occupying forces in 167BC, and the miracle of the jar of oil, sufficient for one day yet burning for eight days, is what Chanukah celebrates annually. These miraculous events took place in what we know today as East Jerusalem. It was where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac (but we know that God intervened and reserved that role for His own Son to come); it was the very place where Jacob dreamed of the ladder to heaven, signifying the partnership between God and His people; it was the site where the Jewish King Solomon built the first Temple, and where the Jews rebuilt the second Temple. And of course, another Temple is yet to be built on this most sacred place on the planet.
The victory of the Maccabees against impossible odds was a spiritual victory giving God’s people the right once again to worship in the place where their ancestors in past generations worshipped. And the miracle of the oil for the Temple Menorah, gave them once again the ability to relight the menorah to illuminate the spiritual darkness of the world. Resolution 2334 struck at the very heart of these things by purporting to remove this critical real estate from the hands of God’s people and giving it to its so called “Palestinian original owners” – a people who never existed in Biblical times and who follow a ‘prophet’ who was not born until the 7th century AD. And Resolution 2334 has done all of this at Chanukah – a further parting insult.
It’s also significant that at Chanukah we are reminded of another demand made by the evil Antiochus that the Jews return to him the “illegally occupied” cities of Jaffa (Joppa / Tel Aviv), Gezer and other coastal settlements. The Jews’ response was “We have not taken strange lands, nor are we ruling over foreign territory. We have returned to our ancestral inheritance, from which we had been unjustly expelled by our enemies. And now that we have been blessed with the opportunity, we will hold onto our ancestral land.” (Maccabees 1:15) How familiar does this sound!? We must pray that this attitude holds good for the coming days.
Whether it is East Jerusalem or Judea and Samaria, another miracle is needed for Israel. I want to suggest that in the next few days leading up to January 15 and then on until the inauguration of President Elect Trump, we have the opportunity to use our most powerful weapon – we must pray and ask for a miracle – a Chanukah type miracle. Deuteronomy 11:12 tells us something that God does every day: “A land which the Lord God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year, even unto the end of the year.” Surely we should emulate Him. We too can watch over Israel every day by praying.
On the 7th day of Chanukah (which was 31 December), but in 1947, the Arab Legion surrounded Jerusalem. This siege lasted until May 1948 when Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history. All 58 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter were destroyed and Jewish gravestones on the Mount of Olives were used to build roads and public toilets. Jews were prohibited from accessing even the Western Wall, a situation the remained until Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, although only limited access remains today.
The world, led by New Zealand and the US is creating this division of Jerusalem again. The final move could be made on January 15 and in the days following until January 20. On 28 December last, Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi said: “Sometimes, we need to be reminded from above that we can count on no one but our Father who art in heaven”. Let’s make sure that Israel can count on us to petition our Father who art in heaven, on their behalf in these dark days.
“Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed”. (Isaiah 10: 1)