May 15, 2018
Phil Johnson, Ph.D.
Yesterday was an historic day with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. It was a definitive statement by the US government that recognized Israel’s sovereignty and the historical truth that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the State of Israel. And of course, not everyone was happy about this.
As the 70th anniversary of the birth of Israel and opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem was celebrated, 40 miles away, in the Gaza Strip, violence escalated. For more than 130 years there has been friction and conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, (a name given to the land of Israel by the Romans) starting with the first Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the early 1880s.
The violence on the Gaza border with Israel is tragic. Anytime someone’s life is ended and they slip into eternity, it is a cause for grief and sobriety. People matter. Each individual person matters to God. But what requires as much sobriety is the fact that the responsibility of these Palestinian deaths lie in the hands of the terrorist/political organization, Hamas, who has incited the people to rush the border fence with Israel in an attempt to invade the country. Simply put, Hamas is using (and has used) the Palestinian people as fodder to create chaos, to advance their agenda of attacking the Jewish State and to create video and photo-worthy moments designed to spark outrage against Israel and isolate her on the world stage.
And yet, there is no doubting the historical significance of yesterday. Seventy years has gone by with Israel as a sovereign nation – fulfilling the Biblical prophecy that Israel would return to her God-given land. (Hosea 3:4-5; Ezekiel 20:34; Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 32:44; Isaiah 66:8) She has survived her enemies and has flourished.
Israel isn’t perfect and good people can debate Israel’s foreign and domestic policy and her treatment, at times, of her enemies. Few seem to remember the care the IDF takes to protect innocent people from collateral damage, to protect human rights and to protect individual freedoms. And one must also consider, in any conflict with Israel, the reports of the dead and wounded from Israel’s enemies, are often distorted and inflated.
But what cannot be debated is Israel’s connection to this land for the last 3000 years at the determination of God. What cannot be debated is that God has made an unbreakable promise to Israel about this land and about Jerusalem. And what cannot be debated is that history was made yesterday because the truth was told – that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. (2 Chronicles 6:5-6; 2 Chronicles 13:5; Genesis 15:8; Genesis 17:7-8)
I hope that one day, my granddaughter will look at these pictures, taken on May 14, 2018, and know that she is connected to world history and God’s unfolding plan. And that she is connected to her Grandfather who has spent more than 15 years traversing the globe – often in difficult parts of the world – to train people, to share my faith, and to chase information and interviews that might just help others recognize the connected dots that bring God’s plan for humanity into focus.
For now, she doesn’t know . She isn’t aware that even as of a few weeks ago I found myself in Ramallah, the Administrative capital of the PLO and Fatah, discussing with top Palestinian leaders this very event: May 14 and 15, with its creation of a state for one group and a catastrophe for another – and what these anniversary dates and embassy moves mean for global change and the pursuit of peace. (You can read that article here)
My granddaughter was not born into a peaceful world. And that’s unlikely to change. Matthew 24:6 reminds us, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” But the end is closer than yesterday. And God’s redemption through Jesus is always near – for those who believe. God bless Israel, God give mercy to those who don’t know you and who are experiencing loss and grief right now. And as always – we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:6)
This article is dedicated to Camila Grace Johnson, in recognition of a broken world and with great and clear awareness of the hope of our Redeemer and His salvation.