• - An Israeli flag is seen in the background as a man casts his ballot for the parliamentary election at a polling in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah January 22, 2013. Israelis voted on Tuesday in an election that is expected to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu win a third term in office, pushing the Jewish state further to the right, away from peace with the Palestinians and towards a showdown with Iran. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

One Nation

editor - 6 April 2019

“This is what the sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around, and I will bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 37: 21-22)

It is very interesting that the prophet Ezekiel when speaking of the restoration of the Jewish people, emphasises He will bring the Jewish people back to the land as part of the process leading to their spiritual renewal. God’s purpose is not just to bring the Jews back to the land – it is to put a ‘new heart and a new spirit’ in them, so that they will ‘follow his decrees and keep his laws’ (Ezekiel 36:27). Only when the Jewish people are restored to the land and obey God’s laws will the name of God be glorified through the Jewish people.

In the weeks leading up to the elections for the Knesset on 9 April, the Israeli political landscape is shaking. New political parties are being established; old alliances are collapsing. The debate is fierce, and the divisions are deep.

It seems Israel is going through an identity crisis, as the people wrestle with existential questions. Seventy years after its creation as a state, Israel may be the most successful economy in the world, but its identity is not yet clear. The people are asking themselves – what does it really mean to be a Jewish nation made up of Jews and Arabs?

A central theme in the political debate concerns the question how to reconcile the imperative, on the one hand, of making peace with Israel’s neighbours and ensuring equal rights for Israeli Arabs, with the right (or, some would argue, obligation), on the other hand, of Jews to live in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

For some Jews, the connection between the Jewish people and the land of Judea and Samaria is absolutely central to their identity – they believe that the Jewish people are called to live on this land and that their restoration to the land is an essential step in their spiritual restoration.

This explains their attachment to Judea and Samaria, including the old city of Jerusalem, referred to by the world as ‘occupied territories’. Many other Jews, however, take a different view – for them, reaching peace with the Palestinians is paramount, and this requires them to be willing to make concessions concerning territory.

But could it be that God has another way? A couple of weeks ago, at the Christians for Israel Leaders Forum in Jerusalem, we had an inspiring session with orthodox Jewish scholar David Nekrutman and Arab Palestinian pastor Steven Khoury. Nekrutman suggested that there is a deep connection between the restoration of the Jews to the land, and the obligation to look after all who live in the land. “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob loves Jews and Arabs, and the land is for both peoples. The Jews have a special responsibility. With a covenant land comes a covenant responsibility to look after all in the land”.

Let us pray fervently that the Spirit of God will guide the Jewish and Arab peoples in Israel into His ways, and change the hearts and minds of Jews and Arabs alike. May the people of Israel elect leaders who are grafted in the word of God and are able to lead the nation through the challenging days ahead.

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