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Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (March 29)

Andrew Tucker - 29 March 2019

The Golan Heights and the “boundaries of the peoples”

Earlier this week, President Trump made a startling, and for many unexpected, announcement that the US recognises Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights – an elevated plateau between Israel and Syria, containing Mount Hermon and the source of the Jordan River – were captured by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.

At great cost, it succeeded in defending them in the gruelling Yom Kippur War in 1973. Since then, Syria has demanded the return of these territories, and consistently threatened war to achieve that goal. The international community calls them illegally occupied territories.

Israel insists that the Golan Heights belong to the State of Israel, and that they are of essential strategic importance for the survival of the nation.

It is not popular today to talk about “territorial borders” of countries. The spirit of the modern age says that there is no more place for nationalism, no need for adherence to specific boundaries or territory, no room for the use of force to protect our citizens. We live in an age of globalism, which transcends all boundaries. Those who insist on territorial sovereignty are branded as old-fashioned, not in tune with the times we live in – worse, they are standing in the way of peace and justice.

This explains to some extent the anger that so many express when Israel insists on controlling land. They regard Israel as impeding peace, by holding on to the land it conquered in 1967.

This was the sentiment of indignation expressed by the United Nations and European Union this week when President Trump announced that the US recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

This view completely misses the point that without control of these territories Israel would be at the mercy of its neighbors. It forgets that Israel is still technically at war with Syria. The Golan Heights are Israel’s strategic buffer between them and Iran, which threatens their annihilation.

More fundamentally, the Bible tells us there is a mystery in the God-ordained boundaries of nations. It seems to have something to do with the identity of nations and their relationship with the God who created all things for his glory.

In Deuteronomy 32 we read: “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.”

In Acts 17:26 Paul, speaking to the Greeks about the God of Israel, says: “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation”.

Paul says that “God did this so that we would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him.”

So there is apparently a connection between a nation’s territory and its relationship with God.

One cannot help but feel that we are living in a generation in which the nations are rediscovering the boundaries given them by God.

Israel, as first amongst the nations, is being restored to the boundaries allotted by God. Genesis 15:18-21 shows that this area is part of the territory promised to Abraham. Later in Joshua we read of the Golan Heights, referred to as Bashan:

“There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh, for he was the firstborn of Joseph: namely for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead, because he was a man of war; therefore he was given Gilead and Bashan.” Joshua 17:1

Is God using President Trump to restore Israel to his pre-ordained boundaries?

A final thought along the same lines. Could this also be an explanation for the Brexit – that by protecting sovereignty over its territory, the nation of Britain is being given the chance to “reach out to God and find him” (Acts 17)?

 

Here is a selection of interesting articles about President Trump’s decision, and the reaction of many in the international community condemning it.

“Gift” of the Golan?
An excellent overview of the Biblical and political significance of the Golan Heights by David Parsons of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ):

Click here..

14 of the 15 UN Security Council members condemn Trump’s announcement
Jerusalem Post Report about the UNSC condemnation:
Read the article..

 

Newspaper Israel & Christians Today
Andrew Tucker is International Editor of our bi-monthly newspaper Israel & Christians Today. The goal of Israel & Christians Today is to help Christians to take God’s Word seriously, and study current events in the world in the context of the Bible. Click here to subscribe.

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