Controversy is normal and inevitable in politics, even between...
How did Jerusalem get into Jewish hands?
(EXCITING NEWS: Have you heard our radio programme on PREMIER RADIO yet? You can hear past episodes here.)
Yes, Israelis in 1948 were not, and are not now, as pure and spiritual as we'd like them to be. They were, and are, just as secular as the other nations around them, Britain included. They didn't deserve the land by virtue of holiness, but they inherited the land by virtue of their chosenness. God chose them to inherit the land in Genesis 15:18-21, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates - the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."'
Scripture is Scripture; it is everlasting and never lies. We may not always like what it says in our 'politically correct' society, but that's just a measure of how far away from God we have come and how secularism and humanism have replaced faith in a sovereign God. Let's not argue over the small print and the politics. Instead, let's get into the 'sacred print' and the spiritual picture. If we don't, then as Christians, we become distracted and bogged down by human issues, rather than divine ones.
When the 1950s came, Jordan quietly annexed East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, calling it the West Bank. It never belonged to them; it was an illegal act. Only Britain and Pakistan recognised this move. Rather than calling the West Bank the occupied territories, we should remember Jordan illegally occupied it first!
It was June 1967. God rested on the seventh day and was pleased with His creation. The Israelis, similarly, had much to be pleased about on their seventh day. Seven days earlier they looked south and saw Egyptian tanks at the border with a blockade on Israeli shipping; to the north Syria was bombarding Israeli villages from the Golan Heights; to the east Jordan and Iraq were gnashing their teeth, ready and waiting. War had not been officially declared, but you'd hardly believe it. The airwaves around Israel were full of the boasting rhetoric of Arab nations vying with each other to be first to 'liberate' Palestine. Nassar, the Egyptian leader, declared a jihad, a holy war against the infidel Israel. Israel was outnumbered 5 to 1 in troops, 3 to 1 in tanks and nearly 3 to 1 in combat aircraft. Like schoolyard bullies her enemies postured and posed, growling and threatening trouble.
But the Israelis hadn't read the script, especially as it was written in Arabic, in blood. Orde Wingate, their British military mentor from the 1930s, would have been proud of them as they clinically unleashed one of the most decisive battle plans in military history.
On June 5th, Israel attacked. It destroyed almost all of Egypt's air force, the largest in the Middle East, in three hours. Most aircraft hadn't even taken off. To all intents and purposes the war was over. From then on confusion and fear reigned in the Arab forces. By the end of the week Israel had captured Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and the rest of Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. Israel had increased its size by an incredible 300%! Historian Cecil Roth later described the Six Day War as ‘perhaps the most brilliant campaign in military history ... the Israeli army had shown itself the best fighting force in the world’.
The truly interesting fact concerns Jerusalem. Jerusalem wasn't included in the original U.N. Partition Plan agreed by the Jews, yet they took the Western part of it as spoils of war in the War of Independence. Also, knowing that any battle for Jerusalem would be costly, the Israeli leadership tried to come to a compromise with Jordan over it, during the Six Day War. But Jordan refused, having been confused by a false report that Egypt had destroyed the Israeli air force! So the Israelis took the whole of Jerusalem after the heaviest fighting of the war. It seems that Jerusalem was being coaxed into Jewish hands, by fate, providence ... or do we dare to say, through a miracle of God?
Jerusalem was in Jewish hands for the first time in 1,897 years. We are reminded of Scripture. Luke 21.24 says ‘They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ Could this be the end of the times of the Gentiles, that began when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70? Perhaps it was the beginning of the end of the times of the Gentiles. However you look at it, God was on the move.