Friday, January 8, 2010

Fundemental Issues - Biblical Zionism 101

Last Shabbat we finished reading the book of Genesis which ends with the Children of Israel trapped in exile - in Egypt - ut with the hope and the promise that God will remember them and return them to the land promised to Abraham and his heirs.

Who are the heirs of Abraham? Abraham, as he is getting older (100 years old!) suggests to God that perhaps Ishmael could be his heir (Gen 17; 18-22) - What does God answer? "Sara...shall bear you a son and you shall call him Isaac , and I will establish my covenant with him AS AN EVERLASTING COVENANT TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM. As for Ishmael... I will bless him...But my covenant I will establish with Isaac..."

The Bible later tells us that Abraham, after making provisions for the sons of his other wives, sends them away and leaves all that he has to his son Isaac (Gen 22; 5).

God re-affirms his promise over and over - for example to Isaac - "...dwell in this land (Israel) and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and I will fulfill the oath which I swore to Abraham your father, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and will give your descendants all these lands...." (Gen 26; 2-6).

Later, he re-affirms to Jacob (Israel): "I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land upon which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants. And your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth and you will spread west, east, north and south and all the families of earth will be blessed via you and your descendants... I am with you and will keep you safe wherever you go and I will bring you back to this land..." (Gen 28;13-15)

The Bible makes it clear over and over again, that God has established his everlasting covenant (brit) with the people of Israel - Everlasting - Forever -Never to be cancelled! The Bible is crystal clear about this and repeats over and over again that the covenant and the commandments apply to the People of Israel for all their generations.

The covenant of the Jewish People with God is nearly 4,000 years old. Our prophets and kings lived their lives by the words of the Torah, and we continue to do so today.

One of the nice things about Biblical Zionism is that it also resonates with many Christians - especially from the Evangelical community - allowing them to connect to and support the people and State of Israel. Like the Jewish Religious Zionist community, they find God's promises to the People of Israel still relevant and compelling.

The prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah for example) spoke about the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. And return we have. We, the exiles who have returned - have been gathered back to the land as promised. And of course, Judea and Samaria are at the heart of the Land of Israel – the Mountains of Israel – about whom the prophets said: "And you, son of man prophesy to the mountains of Israel …because the enemy has said Aha, even (your) ancient high places belong to us….O mountains of Israel you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel , for they will soon be coming…and you shall be tilled and sown, and I will multiply men upon you- all the house of Israel…and the cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt…(" Ezekiel 36)

It is exciting to be living here in Israel- in Efrat – in daily fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and Jewish destiny. We are here by right - this is our historic home. Yes, our enemies say this land is theirs. (They have even given Judea & Samaria a new name – the “West Bank”.) Yes, they have managed to convince most of the world that the Jewish communities here are “illegal settlements” on “occupied territory”. We will continue to stand firm, to rebuild the ruined cities and hills (despite the "freeze") and to build a vibrant future.

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