The land of Israel in (Biblical) focus

The land of Israel in (Biblical) focus

“The Covenant Land”

From the heavens, one can clearly see planet earth and its major land mass. For instance, from the view of a spaceship, one can easily see the shape of America, Africa, and Asia. To view smaller nations, one must zoom in for enlarged views with a viewfinder. One of the smallest nations on earth is that of the land of Israel. In land mass, it is only the size of the state of New Jersey in America. It is 290 miles from north to south and only eighty-five miles east to west, at its widest point. But when one enlarges the view from “God’s viewfinder” in the Bible, Israel stands as the most important land mass on earth. The Psalmist declares, “For the Lord has chosen Zion, He has desired it for His dwelling.” (Psalms 132:13). Hashem declares He reigns from Mount Zion and in Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:7). This makes Jerusalem the designated place of God’s throne which is why this small piece of land is contended for and fought over by many religions. 

Here is the question of the hour, “What does God see when He looks down from the heavens and sees the tiny nation of Israel?” He sees “The Promised Land” of Cannan that He gave in covenant to Abraham and His descendants. Here is what Hashem sees: 

The word “Covenant” is written across this land we call Israel. 

We tend to see various stages of awareness regarding God’s covenants with Israel among Christians. There are those who think the Christian Church has replaced Israel. There are those who acknowledge that Israel has historical significance, but do not understand God’s covenant with Israel. There are more who are beginning to understand that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people and the land promised to them has no expiration date.

A view of the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel in Israels north Shutterstock

Covenant Altars in Israel

The promise of Israel’s return from the nations to “The Promised Land,” given to her forefathers, is based on God’s covenants made with the Sons of Jacob when they entered Canaan. These covenants were established when covenant altars were put into place, and when sacrifices were made as an act of worship to God Almighty known as Elohim (Hashem). All these covenant altars are based on the original promise God made to Abraham.

“And I will make of you (Abraham) a great nation, and I will bless you and make you a blessing in the earth. And I will bless them who bless you and curse them who curse you. And in you all the families (nations) of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:2-3.

This covenant God (Hashem) made with Abraham was made in about 2100 BC or 4,000 years ago. God would later make a covenant for the land given to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis Chapter 15. He told Abraham, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” (Gen. 15:7). After making a covenant by sacrifice, God made this promise to Abraham and his descendants:

“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: to your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” (Genesis 15:18-21). 

The covenant or treaty God made with Abraham is later enacted by the Sons of Jacob (12-tribes) when they enter Canaan by making covenant altars. These altars established their “God given right” to be in the land and to claim the land. 

God establishes blessings and curses regarding His promise to Abraham. Those who bless the promises made to Abraham and his descendants will be blessed, and those who curse or break the promises made to Abraham will be cursed (Gen. 12:3). Many of these covenant altars are in what is now called the West Bank. When America participated in what was known as “Land for Peace” initiatives to establish peace with the Palestinian people or Arabs, the result was judgments on America. Ninety percent of all Christians are not familiar with the concept that specific covenants were made by God, with the 12 tribes of Israel, concerning the land of Israel. 

The demolition of Ganey Tal settlement in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s disengagemen from the area in “exchange for peace”Aug. 22, 2005. Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90. (source: JNS)

There are four key covenant altars in Israel. God’s people specifically need to honor and contend for these covenant altars in Israel that are a part of the land given to Israel in a covenant. These altars represent the whole land of Israel. They provide “God’s Viewfinder” to help us see what He sees in the land of Israel. They are the Shechem Altar, the Beth El Altar, the Hebron Altar, and the Mt. Moriah (Jerusalem) Altar. The enemies of Israel would like to remove all of these altars. 

Altar of Shechem – in Focus. The First Altar is in Biblical Shechem (Nablus).

This altar is in the so-called “West Bank” in the biblical Samaritan town of Shechem. It is now called by the name of Nablus. Here is where the Lord appeared to Abraham and declared, “To your offspring I will give this land.” (Gen. 12:7). Abraham built in Shechem his first Altar to the Lord for this land. The Lord reaffirmed this land to Jacob in Gen. 33:18. It was in Shechem that Joshua summoned all the elders, leaders, judges, and officials of Israel before the Lord. He then issued this challenge, “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods of your forefathers worshiped in Egypt.” (Joshua 24:1-27). 

Bible-believing Jews, Arabs, and Christians need to rise in faith and contend for this covenant land. This contending begins with repentance and prayers claiming the promises of God made with the Jewish forefathers. The command God gave to Joshua, following the death of Moses, is now being given to those who will stand with Israel:

“Be strong and very courageous. Do not let the Book of the Law (promises made on this land) depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night. Then you will be prosperous. The Lord will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-11).

Palestinian police stand next to an Israeli sharing car driven by German tourists, attacked by Palestinian youth in Shechem (Nablus) in northern Samaria on March 18, 2023. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

Altar of Beth El – in Focus. The Second Altar

This is the altar where God told Abraham to lift his eyes and see the land that would be given to him and his descendants. (Gen. 13:14-17). God was applying His viewfinder to help Abraham and His descendants see this land through His eyes. The meaning of the name Beth El is “House of God.” This is the second altar established by Abraham. This promised land was later ratified by Jacob and his offspring. (Gen. 13:14-17). Later, Jacob would stop in Beth El to sleep and pray. Here, Jacob got to look through Hashem’s viewfinder. He had a dream of a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and angels of God ascending and descending on it. The Lord stood at the head of the stairway and said to Jacob, 

“I will give to you and your descendants the land on which you are laying.” 

(Gen. 28:10-17). 

It is here at Beth El that God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel” making this site the birthplace of Israel. (Gen. 35:10-12). Beth El is like an ancient viewfinder that helps us see that God (Hashem) is establishing His House in the land of Israel such as mentioned by the prophet Isaiah: 

“Even them will I bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon my altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.

The Lord God, which gathers the outcasts of Israel says, ‘Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” (Isaiah 56:7-8).

It is not an accident that the Palestinian leaders have chosen this city of Beth El as their headquarters, renamed it Ramallah, and made it the current capital of their Palestinian state. They are contending to take away the covenant Hashem made with Israel. Today, the Palestinians are trying to rebuild the altar of Baal in Ramallah (Beth El). They even have a souvenir sheet of stamps from 1998 with Baal put on the postage stamp! To trade this land for peace is to break the covenant God made with Israel. If we agree with the land for peace initiatives or support them, we are guilty of cursing Israel. But if we are indifferent to these actions, and we do not repent, pray, and stand on these covenants, are we not complicit to these actions and deserving of judgments? 

Hamas supporters wave the terror group’s flag during a rally at Birzeit University near Ramallah on May 19, 2022. Credit: Flash90.
(source: JNS)

This land and city location in Israel was traded away for peace agreements based on the Camp David Accords in 1978, and the Oslo Accords in 1993. These accords led by U.S. Leadership agreed to the Palestinian government to have self-rule in the West Bank (Judea/Sameria), and the Gaza Strip which is a part of Israel. In these agreements, they agreed to transfer many cities and areas in Israel to the Palestinians to make peace. 

Most of the Covenant Altars, where God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, are in this West Bank (Judea/Samaria) territory. When Israel agrees to give up these cities and territories, they are breaking covenants made with God and canceling their God-given right to be in this land. When America encourages this covenant-breaking, America is judged, as seen with Katrina hitting New Orleans following the giving up of the Gaza Strip. When we accept the efforts for establishing peace based on dividing God’s land, or when we are complicit by remaining silent, we are standing in line to receive judgments, like Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, after the last Jews left Gaza. 

We remember the warning of God, “Those who bless Abraham and the promised land given him will be blessed, those who break or oppose this covenant will be cursed.” (Gen. 15:3).

Altar of Hebron in Focus. The Third Altar

Abraham established this site as the burial place for his wife and descendants. (Gen. 23:17-20). This covenant treaty altar represents fatherhood and friendship that produce “Inheritance.” This is the home of the fathers of Israel whom God made covenants with to be a blessing to all nations. It is the place where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived and were buried. Jewish tradition says that even Adam and Eve were buried in Hebron. (Isaiah 51:1-3). God’s viewfinder helps us to see that “This is the place of the revelation of God’s heart to man.” It was here that the Lord extended friendship with Abraham by visiting his tent to proclaim the birth of Isaac. (Gen. 18:1,2). Hebron was given to Caleb because of his faithfulness in giving a good report about the land of Canaan and God’s ability to fulfill his promises to give this promised land to the Jews. (Numbers 13:26, 30-32; 14:7-9). Hebron was the city where King David was anointed as king of Judea and later, king of united Israel. Today, this land is claimed by the future Palestinian State where over 250,000 Arabs live and are hostile to any Jews living in this city. It has been included in the West Bank Accords. God bids us to look through His viewfinder of the Bible and see His purposes for this land. 

Judea and Samaria landscape, Israel – maybe Hebron (source: Shutterstock)

Altar of Jerusalem (Mt. Moriah) – in Focus. The Fourth Altar

God’s viewfinders show us that the blessing of Shalom Peace and salvation is declared from this mountain. It was at Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem that God told Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him on the altar as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed and put his beloved son on the altar prepared to sacrifice him. At the last moment, God provided a ram to be a sacrifice, and his son’s life was spared. (Gen. 22:2-14). Abraham called the place, “The Lord will provide.” King David also established an altar on this mountain that turned back judgments in the land. It is at Mount Moriah that later the Jewish Temple would be established, and the presence of God would rest. (2 Sam. 24:16-23; 2 Chron. 22:1; 3:1). The Palestinian leaders want to divide Jerusalem and claim it as its future capital to the Palestinian state. God declares in His Word His priority for Jerusalem, “The Lord has chosen Jerusalem and will dwell there forever.” Psalm 132: 13-14). He has no plan to trade it for peace. He expressly calls upon God’s people to never forget Jerusalem and to “exalt it above their chief joy.” (Psalms 137:5-6). In fact, God calls for watchmen to be established on the walls of Jerusalem who will cry out day and night for His promises given over this city to be fulfilled until it is a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7). 

God’s final judgment to the nations is based on scattering the Jewish people from their land and dividing their land. Listen to the prophet Joel as he describes a coming worldwide judgment: 

“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.[b]
There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel,
because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” 

(Joel 3:1-3).

I do not want to be standing in line for this coming judgment. I want to be among those who cry out for the return of the tribes for their inheritance. Notice here in this passage God calls Israel “His inheritance.” 

Join with others who are following the biblical command God says we are to pray: 

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces. Because the House of the Lord our God I will seek your good.” (Psalms 122:6)

Two-State Solution (Land for Peace Arguments) A Distorted Focus

This effort presumes that the Palestinian leadership wants peace with Israel. This has been demonstrated not to be the case. They want the land of Israel and the removal of the Jewish people. There is no true partner for peace. Within the borders of Israel, the Arabs are citizens and have rights like others. They live at a higher standard than those who live in Gaza and other Arab towns. The experience of Gaza tells us a lot about what would happen if the efforts were realized to have a Palestinian state side by side with Israel. 

First, Palestinian leaders are made up of terrorists. Arial Sharon, who was the Prime Minister at the time Gaza was given back to the Palestinians, thought that this would be the beginning of a lasting peace. Soon after the transfer of this land, Hamas begin to train troops to raise an army known as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They have fired thousands of rockets at Israel and kidnapped Israeli citizens. Prime Minister Sharon did not live long enough to see the consequences of this land for peace effort. He had a stroke and lived in a coma for eight years before dying. 

Soldiers forcibly remove residents from the Israeli Gush Katif community Kfar Darom. (Photo: IDF)

Secondly, Gaza illustrates that wherever the Palestinians might set up a state, no Jews would be welcome in that land, and it would be used to further attacks on Israel. 

It is a fallacy to believe that giving away Israel’s covenant land given to them by God would result in a peaceful coexistence between Israel and a Palestinian State. The control over the Temple Mount was given to the Arabs thinking this would make peace and everyone would have equal access to it. This is not the case. Jews and Christians are discouraged from praying on the Temple Mount, and visits by Jews are greatly restricted. The proposed peace plan has parts of Jerusalem given to the Palestinian State so that most of the Biblical sites would be under their control. Imagine being told you cannot pray at these sites. In the final analysis, Land for Peace Treaties do not work and do not lead to peace. God bids us to look through His viewfinder of the Bible to see up close His purposes for the Land of Israel and then stand in agreement for His divine purposes so that “All families of the earth can be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3). Arab leaders want Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders. A return to these borders would not bring peace. Geographically, within the 1967 lines, Israel would be diminished to only nine miles at its narrowest point and every major city would fall within short missile range. This is not defensible. 

God’s Viewfinder – Israel in Focus

Years ago, as a United States Marine, I learned to use a pair of binoculars. They had an adjustment lever so the person using them could look at objects at a long distance from the viewer and the object would be brought closer. The adjustment lever allowed the image to become clear to the viewer. A person would be able to see things through this viewfinder that they could not easily see with the naked eye. One could more clearly observe the land or even the movements of the enemy. God has a viewfinder we can use to observe the land of Israel and the enemies of God. The viewfinder of God’s Word tells us God’s purposes for the land of Israel and can also show us what the enemy may be doing to change God’s purposes. 

We need a “clear focus” when we look at the land of Israel. This focus is not found by looking through lenses man creates at the United Nations or the news channels. The correct focus is found by looking at the promises of God that He made concerning this land.

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