Cancer, Jesus in Scripture


The text from our daughter Claire, this week, simply said, “Benign!” followed by “#partytimechumps.” And with that, eight months of cancer concern for our girl ended.

It all started in such a familiar manner: discovery and ultrasound, followed by a second ultrasound two months later.

While she never expressed fear, I know this all weighed heavily on Claire’s mind. We found some notes from a class Claire took. In the midst of the notes, there was some doodling. Do you see the ribbon and BCA?

There was enough concern in the second ultrasound to request authorization for a 3-D mammogram. A few minutes later, the tech informed us everything was fine, and no need to come back until Claire was 40!

Valerie saw the ultrasound results, and there was a jolting flashback to her own ultrasound before her cancer diagnosis. She too was told there was nothing to worry about, and as a result, the cancer wasn’t discovered until it became metastatic and had advanced to Stage 3B.

With Claire, we weren’t going to simply trust a diagnostic method that was anything less than 100% conclusive. This week, after consulting with a surgeon and undergoing  a fine needle aspiration, we knew for sure what we already had believed: Claire did not have cancer!

“What we already believed…”

That phrase is not used lightly, for “belief” is different from hope. There is a substance and weightiness to belief that gives foundation to an outcome. When Valerie was diagnosed after finding an enlarged lymph node, we prayed and felt peace in the midst of waiting for biopsy results, but hope for a desired outcome was all we had.

But now I say that we believed Claire was going to be fine. Maybe it’s not too strong to say we “knew.” What I will describe has changed my walk with God to a degree I’m not sure I can fully convey.

In Deuteronomy 4:9 we read, “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

This drives me! What I (we) saw and experienced during Valerie’s cancer journey impacts us exceedingly! I must not forget! I will not forget. And so we share with our children, and others, the things God revealed to us. And we start with this: knowing God’s will, and living in a place where he can speak to you only comes from relationship; a deep, tight, walk that is nurtured through much time and much communication.

While there are numerous examples of how God spoke to me during Valerie’s treatments, three stand out distinctly. The first was a direct voice, while the other two came from reading scripture. I must add, that even saying God “spoke” causes me to pause. Growing up in the church, there are times I have seen that phrase used in a careless, nonchalant manner. I don’t use that phrase lightly, and it’s only after significant time has passed that I share it now.

About 5 days after Valerie’s diagnosis, a customer asked me how I was. I briefly shared the news and he began to tell me of his wife’s up-and-down journey with cancer. The doctors had surgically removed the cancer, but it had come back. There was surgery after surgery. They were still fighting the cancer several years after it was found. He pointed his finger at me and said, “This is what you have to look forward to.”

I was already dealing with so much fear and anxiety, that as I drove away my heart was crushed. I cried out to God, literally and figuratively, and then I clearly heard a voice say, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAVE FOR VALERIE.” And in that moment, I went from complete fear to total peace. So much so that I could not stop weeping in gratitude and thankfulness.

Out of a deep brokenness and a desperation to give all my fear to God, He spoke to me.  Indeed, Valerie has not experienced anything like what my friend went through. I never want to forget that! I cannot.

As dramatic as it was to literally hear God speak, I’m almost more excited when He shows me things in the Word. Again, I’m convinced that one cannot hear the whisper of his voice through all the white noise of our busy lives unless we, without remorse, close down the streams of data, news, and entertainment that each fight with each other over our affections.

This kind of relationship is not one to be picked up and put down at our leisure. It is a relentless pursuit with no finish line. And as I have most recently discovered, I really can live without the elective (and enjoyable) distractions that have consumed me.

I feel free to just be. Life simplified is Him glorified. Peace rules when the clamor fades.

The second time God spoke through His Word was startling. It came as our Pastor was preaching from Nahum. While I was listening, I was really broken inside, praying for Valerie as I sat.

I was asking God to kill the cancer, to remove this alien from her body, and to never let it come back.  And then, there it was…in the middle of the passage (Nahum 1:9) I heard the words, “This trouble will not come a second time! ” It was as if I’d been hit in the back of my head with a lead pipe.

As our Pastor was speaking from the outside, God was speaking on the inside. I didn’t realize until later that the context of the passage had nothing to do with the context of what I heard.

The passage was describing the ultimate destruction of the city of Nineveh, but what I heard were words of peace and healing. In Hebrews 4:12 we read the word of God is alive and active. Nowhere has that been more true for me than in this moment.

It was such a startling moment, I reached over to Valerie’s bible and wrote the date in the margin.

Perhaps the sweetest moment though, was the next time this happened. Valerie was through with all treatments and surgeries. We had several other very significant moments of God speaking to us (one of which is here).

It was the day of her post-treatment scans (full body CT scan, full body MRI and bone scan) and I was scared. In spite of everything I knew and believed, fear gripped me and I felt panicked.

After a year of treatment, the day we had anticipated for so long was finally here. What would all the treatments and all the surgeries result in? Had any cancer escaped to other parts of the body and grabbed a foothold?

As I pondered it all, I felt a strong presence urging me “get in the Word…get in the Word.” The beauty of it all is that I’m on a regular two year bible reading plan, I don’t choose the passage!

So I opened to the day and read:

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!” Psalms 128:1-6

Your wife shall be a fruitful vine… seeing our children’s children! My heart was again filled with gratitude. I couldn’t have randomly turned to such a passage in 1,000 years!

All these points of connection with God have some commonality. They all come out of a deep brokenness of heart and a desperation to hear from the One who holds our future!

So it was several weeks ago, regarding Claire. She won’t know this story until she reads it, but just before the consult with the surgeon, I again had tremendous anxiety and deep fear. It was a PTSD moment, reliving Valerie’s diagnosis all over again.

I wondered what God what was happening: Why? Why again? Why my little girl?

Again, the response “get in the Word.” And I did. This time it was two chapters from Job where Job was, in essence, asking God, “Where are you? I don’t understand all of this!” And then, the answer in the third chapter from my reading that day. From the book of John, chapter 5, I read the story of Jesus healing a man who had been an invalid for 38 years!

I knew what God was telling me: “I am here. I do hear. I’ve got your girl! I am the Healer even when you don’t see me! Don’t forget, the cancer will not come a second time, remember? Trust me. Claire is fine.”

As I was reading without, He was speaking within. Again. I knew! The white noise was gone. His was the only voice I was attentive to.

Are you desperate to hear His voice? Could too much clanging of life keep you from hearing His whisper? Pursue Him relentlessly! Settle for nothing less. His blessing of His presence will overwhelm you! God may not speak to you the same way He spoke to me. But He does speak, if you have ears to hear!

Two days ago was the three year anniversary of Valerie’s diagnosis. She’s just fine too!

I think Claire is right! It’s party time, chumps! 

Israel, Jesus in Scripture

Whose Land Is It? (Part 3)

A friend recently asked me: “Does a non-covenant keeping people (Israel) have a divine right to the land?” I answered with a brief comment, but maybe I should have asked which covenant he was referring to. Exodus 24 describes the Mosaic Covenant in which the Law is confirmed. The people tell Moses, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey” (vs 7). And yet the people did not obey.

God foreknew their disobedience and described two different times the children of Israel would be removed from the land. But, as was covered in Part 2,  he also provided assurances that they would be regathered to the Land of Promise.

In Genesis 17:9-14, we read of a different covenant, the Covenant of Circumcision. God told Abraham this was to be an everlasting covenant for both natural born and those brought in through adoption or servanthood, and the descendants of Abraham keep this covenant to this day.

But since the question referred to the Land, the covenant could only be the one found in Genesis 15. Prior to this chapter, God progressively revealed to Abraham the extent of the land he was giving to him and his descendants as an everlasting possession.  

In Genesis 12, the Lord told Abraham “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

In this passage, God promises Abraham a land that will be revealed to him. Abraham leaves with only this vague promise. Further in the chapter, Abraham travels to the land of Canaan and in 12:7, God says, “To your offspring, I will give this land.”‬‬‬‬‬‬

In Chapter 13, God reveals more: “The Lord said to Abraham after Lot had parted from him, ‘Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you‘” (Genesis‬ 13:14-17‬). Abram is told to walk the land, and all that he sees is for him and his descendants. This area includes Hebron, which is a city in Judea and Samaria, the area the world now refers to as the West Bank.

But in Genesis 15, something different happens. The Lord appears to Abraham and promises to protect him and to provide for him. And then Abraham has the chutzpah to remind God that he hasn’t yet given him children. And in an extraordinary exchange, God again promises the land to Abraham and tells him he will take possession of it. But Abraham replies, “how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” (vs 7).

What happens in the following verses is profound and marvelous, and yet the greater church misses it because we don’t understand the historical and cultural context of what is written. God tells Abraham they are going to “cut covenant,” or walk the blood path. This blood path ceremony is one that is still used today in the cultures of the Middle East, but it is an ancient custom that was a common method of ratifying agreements.  


In the blood path ceremony, covenants were almost always between a greater party and a lesser party. Both parties would agree to the terms and conditions and then animals would be sacrificed to execute the agreement. The animals would be cut in half and arranged opposite each other. The blood from the dead animals would run between the halves and both parties, the greater followed by the lesser, would walk between the animals and through the blood. In doing so, they were vowing fidelity to the agreement and were stating that if they failed to uphold their part of the agreement, they were accepting that they would realize the same fate as the animals through whose blood they had just walked.

Here’s the ceremony described in Genesis 15:

He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (Genesis‬ 15:7-21‬ NIV)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Abraham brings the animals and arranges them accordingly. Then Abraham fell into a deep sleep and is terrified! Why? Because he realizes what is required of him in walking the blood path, and he recognizes with certainty that there is no way he can meet God’s standard of perfection. He knows he’s a dead man after he walks that path.

Then we understand why God put Abraham in a deep sleep, for Abraham never walks the blood path. Instead, the greater party, Almighty God, as represented by the smoking pot, walks first. This smoking pot symbolizes the Shekinah glory of God as seen throughout scripture. He is the One who set the terms of the covenant. He is the One who promised the land to Abraham and his descendants. He is the One who is effectively saying that if He does not uphold His promise of giving the land to Abraham and his descendants, He will be as these animals are.

Then it’s Abraham’s turn to walk the blood path. But he can’t move. So instead, we see another take his place: a blazing torch, God the Son, Jesus, the Light of the World. God, in an everlasting affirmation of the eternal nature of the promise, took it upon himself to walk both parts of the blood path. And when Abraham and his descendants failed to live up to God’s standards, it was Jesus that was broken, bruised, and sacrificed.

Through this cutting of covenant, God is unconditionally giving Abraham and his descendants the land. God also established another unconditional covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7, in which David and his descendants would rule over Israel and David’s house and kingdom would endure forever (vs 16).

And in a foreshadowing of the future, God tells David, “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”( 2 Samuel‬ 7:12-16‬)

This is a dual prophecy, for the Temple was built by Solomon, David’s son. And while Jesus was beaten and flogged, and while the line of David endures eternally through Him, God is also promising David that when his descendants sin, they will be punished, but God’s love for them, and His plan for them will not be taken away.

We see that in a look back at Genesis 15. Jesus was the one who was broken when the descendants of Abraham, and David, sinned.

Aren’t we thankful that Jesus, too, paid the price for us when we couldn’t live up to God’s standard?

God has His own plans and purposes for the descendants of Abraham. We may not always understand what He is doing and accomplishing, and we may not even like or agree with His plan. But His ways are not our ways (as much as we think they should be), and His thoughts are not out thoughts.

Whose Land Is It? (Part 1) is a study of the nation of Israel from 1000 BC to 1948.

Whose Land Is It (Part 2) is an exhaustive look at the scriptures describing two distinctly different separations from the land, each followed by a regathering. 


Whose Land Is It? (Part 1)

Since its rebirth as a nation in 1948, Israel has come under accelerated attack over its sovereign claim to the land it inhabits. The world watches the contest between Israel and the Palestinians, though in reality, the Palestinians are simply a tool or proxy of the greater Arab world. While many in government, the media, academia, and the church demonize Israel, they do so without basis. Historically and legally, Israel has a clear right to the land and to Jerusalem as its undivided Capital.

For many growing up in the evangelical church, unwavering support of Israel has been an integral part of the fabric of theology. God’s promises to the Jewish people and their corresponding right to the land are unmistakable; they are undeniable and unchangeable throughout Scripture. Though the people suffered the consequences of sin and rebellion, culminating in separation from the land of Israel and dispersion among the nations, God remembered his covenant with them, and promised to regather them to “their own land.” (Ez 36:24,28)

Though the weapons garnered against Israel (both economically and militarily) seem worldly in appearance, the motivation and tactics percolate in the spiritual. God’s redemptive plan for the world started in the Garden (Gen 3:15), advanced through a promise to Abraham, and persists to this day through his offspring, namely Jesus.

Even today, the spiritual nature of the conflict remains intact. There are prophecies, yet unfulfilled, regarding Jesus and the land of Israel. If the Jewish people no longer remain in the land, and if the land of historical Israel is not included in the nation of Israel, the prophecies fail.

Around 520 BC, the prophet Zechariah told of a future time when all the nations would be gathered to fight against Jerusalem.

“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.” Zechariah‬ 14:2-4‬ NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Zechariah writes that on a day yet to come, Jesus himself will rescue the Jerusalem from a confederation of all the nations of the world that will come against her. If no Israel exists, and if there is no Jewish Jerusalem, this prophecy cannot come true.

While Israel confronts existential threats from the likes of Iran and Hezbollah, other exclusionary and economic impedances have arisen too. Increasingly, liberal elements of the church demand that Israel give up its territorial claims and acquiesce to her adversaries in order to achieve peace.

At the forefront of these efforts is the BDS Movement (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction). This initiative started in 2005 by 170 Palestinian NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) with the stated goals to end Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the Golan Heights, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Activists within the church, academia, business, and government ardently work to delegitimize Israel and force her into an indefensible and untenable situation in a volatile region, surrounded by adversaries on all sides.

At the 2014 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, delegates voted to divest from companies doing business in Israel. And just last month, the General Assembly again passed a series of measures further supporting the BDS Movement and calling on Israel to leave the disputed territories.

The Presbyterian Church is neither alone nor an outlier among faith-based institutions in making this stand. The BDS faith community includes the United Church of Christ, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Mennonite Central Committee, the Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the Alliance of Baptists.

Furthermore, the entire BDS movement springs from an agenda that denies Israel the land it is entitled to with no basis in fact or history. There is no true understanding of the complexities of the Middle East without having a thorough grasp of the origins of the state of Israel and its historical, legal claims to the land.

One can only assume the dominant media is either ignorant in reporting a slanted, biased narrative (i.e. Israel is an occupying force, denying basic rights to a group of refugees), or they are purposely advancing an agenda to defeat Israel militarily and economically. Neither proposition speaks well of a profession to which truth is supposedly paramount.

Understanding key moments in Israel’s history, and their significance, are essential in understanding present day realities. In 2000 BC God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham. God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants as an everlasting inheritance (Gen 12:3; 13:14-17; 15;18-21; 17:7-8).

Note: God tells Abraham that his descendants will possess the land, but only after 400 years have passed, “for the sin of the Amorites has not reached its full measure” Gen 15:16. The Amorites, a wholly wicked and immoral people, have 400 years to change from their evil ways, but God knows they won’t. Genesis 15 also details the land as that of “the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (Gen 15:19-21)

1500 BC: The Israelites enter the land of Canaan (the Promised Land). They have spent the last 40 years in the desert. During this time of wandering, they are given the Mosaic Law and God declares them a “distinct people” and “holy nation.” (Ex 19:5-6; Dt 14:2)

Note: After entering the land of Canaan, the Israelites make a treaty of peace with the Gibeonites. Upon hearing this, the five kings of the Amorites joined forces and attack Gibeon. Joshua and the army defeat the Amorites completely (Joshua 9-10). As God has promised, the Israelites now possess the land of the Amorites.

1000 BC: King David defeats the Jebusites and conquers Jerusalem, making it the Capital of Israel.

Note: even though Saul, Israel’s first King, reigned 42 years, Jerusalem was not captured nor was it the Capital until David captured it.

Israel controlled Jerusalem for the next couple of centuries until:

920 BC: After the death of King Solomon, the nation becomes a split Kingdom with 10 tribes in the north known as Israel and the two remaining tribes (Judah and Benjamin) known as Judah. Jerusalem remains the Capital of Judah while Samaria becomes the Capital of the 10 Northern Tribes (Israel). These two kingdoms remained separate for 200 years.

722 BC: Because of sin and rebellion, God allows the Assyrians to conquer the 10 northern tribes. Of note, When the Assyrians conquer a people, it is customary for them to remove them from the land and resettle Assyrian people in the new territory. The myth of the 10 lost tribes of Israel persists to this day. Though the population of Israel is around 450,000 at this time, archaeologists have uncovered annals that reveal Sargon only carried away 27,290 people and 50 chariots. Many of the remaining 10 tribes find a safe haven in Judah. There is much evidence to support a complete (12 tribes) nation of Israel in the New Testament. Jesus said he came for “the lost sheep of Israel” (Mt 10:5-6; 15:24); tribes other than Judah participated in the Passover during the time of King Hezekiah, more than 10 years after the Assyrian captivity; 90 years after that, during the reign of King Josiah, 7 of the 10 tribes are mentioned with the implication that all 10 were present; 200 years after the captivity, Ezekiel pens the Valley of Dry Bones prophecy where God says “these bones are the whole house of Israel”; finally in his appeal to King Agrippa, Paul refers to all 10 tribes and James writes his epistle to the “12 tribes scattered abroad.”

Throughout history and to this day, many groups claim that they are these 10 lost tribes. It is not true.

586 BC: King Nebuchadnezzar conquers Judah and destroys the Temple on the 9th of Av, and a final group of exiles is taken to Babylon. A 70 year exile prophesied by Jeremiah begins (Jer 29:10). A remnant of the people remains in the land.

Note: With sin as the catalyst for the Babylonian captivity, the length of the captivity spanned 70 years. The Israelites were in the land 490 years prior to the captivity, and contrary to the Mosaic Law, they did not let the land have a “rest” every seventh year. God condemns the people for this and declares the land will have the 70 years of rest it is owed.

Again, as with the Assyrian captivity of Israel, a remnant remains in the land of Judah.

516 BC:  King Cyrus releases the Jews from Babylon and Jerusalem is rebuilt under Zerubbabel (head of the Tribe of Judah), Joshua (priest), Ezra, and Nehemiah. 200 years before Cyrus is born, Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus will release the Jews to return to the land (Is 44:28-45:13). This prophecy foreshadows the future. Nehemiah tells certain Arab men in the area that they have no claim or historic right to Jerusalem (Neh 2:20).

167 BC:   Antiochus Epiphanes, King of the Seleucid Empire invades Israel and defiles the temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar. Mattathias Maccabees is a priest who serves in Solomon’s Temple. After the Seleucids invade, he returns to his village where an official of the Seleucid Greek government asks him to offer sacrifices to Greek gods. Mattathias not only refuses, but he kills the apostate priest who steps forward to offer the sacrifice. He then also kills the government official. He escapes with his sons into the desert and starts a revolt. This Jewish revolt (Maccabees) against the Greeks sets a precedent in human history: it becomes the world’s first religious war. No one in the ancient world dies for his or her gods; only the Jews thought that their religion, the only monotheistic religion at the time, is worth dying for.

63 BC:   The last two Hasmonean rulers (from the line of the Maccabees) were two brothers: Hyrcanus and Aristobolus. Warring over who should be King, they both appeal to Rome for support. And thus, in 63 BC, Pompey was invited to move his armies into Israel. It is no small footnote in history that the Romans were invited into the land. General Pompey’s conquest of Jerusalem spelled the end of Jewish independence.

4 BC-30 AD: The earthly life of Jesus.

70 AD: The Jews rebel against Rome, and  General Titus and the 10th Roman Legion destroy the city and burn the temple. This again was on the 9th of AV. The Romans take over the city in its entirety and throw 160,000 Jewish bodies over the wall.  99,700 are taken hostage. In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple.

132 AD: Bar Kokhba Revolt. Having just destroyed Jerusalem some 60 years earlier, the Jews were again rebelling. Hadrian was furious at the Jews; he ordered the total destruction of Jerusalem and extermination or expulsion of the Jews.

Hadrian slaughtered 1,900,000 Jews and the rest went into exile. The remnant (old and infirm) remained  in complete isolation; one Jew could not speak to another Jew under penalty of death to both. In Hadrian’s quest to completely destroy the Jews, the land was salted so that it could not produce crops. It became rocky and arid. The climate became hotter, more desert-like. It was no longer a land flowing with milk and honey; it was no longer productive or prolific. Later, under Turkish authority, taxes liability was based on the number of trees one owned. To cut their taxes, many Jews cut their trees down, further denuding the land.

Hadrian changed “Jerusalem” to “Capital of Hadrian” Aelia Capitolina to erase the historical ties of the Jewish people to the land. To speak the name Jerusalem was to invoke the death penalty. To further insult the Jews, he renamed the land Palestine, in honor of the Jews historical enemies, the Philistines. The Philistines, an extinct maritime people of European descent, most likely immigrated from Greece/Crete to 5 cities in Gaza.

1517 – 1917: Turkish domination.

1917: In the waning days of World War 1, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, which called for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. The British capture Jerusalem the following month and divide the area, creating the countries that are there today.

Note: Chemist Chaim Wiseman (who become the first President of Israel) creates the process which produced Acetone (a propellant used in cordite explosives), helping Britain defeat the Germans. Lord Balfour (British Foreign Minister and devout Christian who knew and believed the prophecies regarding the return of the Jews) wanted to thank Wiseman. Wiseman requests that a Jewish homeland be created.

1920 British Mandate: The San Remo Peace Conference gave Great Britain the mandate for the Land of Israel and Transjordan (the land east of the Jordan River).

1920 British Mandate

Note: The British Mandate of 1920 designated all the land of Palestine as the Jewish homeland.

1922: The Arab nations (now numbered at 21) exert pressure on the British. The Arab nations protest the size of the Jewish homeland and Israel’s portion is reduced. Britain (with the approval of the League of Nations) takes 80% of the land (east of the Jordan River) and creates the nation of Jordan. Both Jews and Arabs agree to this new land division and sign a treaty agreeing to the new boundaries.

photo 2

1923: This treaty, with the approval of the League of Nations, is the last signed treaty between Jews and Arabs. This left Israel 1/6 of 1% of the size of Arab nations. The Jews, in an effort to appease their Arab neighbors and gain support of the oil-hungry West, willingly give up a majority of the land they were promised.

1947: Partition Plan, November 29th.  Right before the War of Independence, the Arabs again protest Israel’s territory. Britain informs Israel that their territory would again be reduced. This Partition Plan will take away vast chunks of land from what remained in the 1923 agreement. 75% of what the Jews are allotted is desert. But now the Arab mindset is to eliminate the Jews entirely. Israel and the Palestinian population accepted. Arabs nations did not.

photo 3

Note: the 1947 Partition Plan divides Israel into an indefensible position. In spite of this, desperate for finality and wanting peace, the Jews accept this plan. The Arabs, having successfully whittled down the Jewish homeland from all of Palestine to a patchwork of territory, refused.

1948: May 14, 6 pm EST,  The British Mandate expires and foreign control of the land ceases. The State of Israel is established by the Israeli Declaration of Independence, creating a sovereign Jewish nation for the first time in 2900 years. At 6:11 pm EST, The United States recognizes Israel’s sovereignty. The Arab nations, opposed to any Jewish State, take military action against the new state. This Arab-Israeli War of 1948 was the first of many armed conflicts between Jews and Arabs.

“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” Isaiah 66:8

Summary: from 1500 BC until today, over 3,500 years, a Jewish presence remains in the land. None of the prior people groups that inhabited the land exist, nor have they for millennia. The last agreement between Jews and Arabs recognized the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea as a homeland for the Jews. Clearly, Israel has a historic and legal right to the land. 

But the struggle for the land isn’t finished…

Whose Land Is It? (Part 2) is an exhaustive look at the scriptures describing two distinctly different separations from the land, each followed by a regathering, culminating in the rebirth of the nation on May 14th, 1948.

Whose Land Is It? (Part 3) is a historical, cultural look at the Abrahamic Covenant.