Parashat Chukat (The Decree of…) Numbers 19:1-22:1
Haftarah: Judges 11:1-33
Many of you know that I see a direct correlation between Edom and the “Palestinians” of today. The patriarch of Edom was Esau and the Scripture is clear that Esau had a tendency to behave in a manner that was against what G-d had for Israel. In this week’s Torah portion, in spite of the fact that Israel promised not to touch Edom’s fields or vineyards nor to drink Edom’s water, rather only to travel on the king’s road; Edom refused to allow this and even threatened to come against Israel with the sword (See Numbers 20:17-18). Even after promising to pay financially if any member of the Children of Israel violated such terms. Not only did Edom refuse but the text states,
“He said (Edom), ‘You shall not pass through!’ And Edom went out to meet him (Israel) with a heavy and strong people.” Numbers 20:20
It must be pointed out that the very purpose of the king’s highway was for people to travel upon it. The king of Edom might have his concerns seeing not a few individuals passing, but a massive group like the Children of Israel numbered; however, it is clear from the text that he did not fear the Children of Israel and according to the language of Numbers 20:20, Edom appeared more in number that Israel. In the end, Israel turned away from Edom, traveling a longer route. This concession should have demonstrated to Edom that Israel did not have any intent to harm the Edomites, nevertheless throughout the Scriptures Edom constantly behaves in a manner to afflict and harm Israel.
This behavior is not unique to Edom, but is rooted in a satanic influence that is prevalent today. If there is one thing that can bring a consensus to the United Nations, it is a resolution against Israel. This week the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, voiced his policy against Israel building in Judea and Samaria. He did not state any objection to Palestinians building in Judea and Samaria. Over and over I have spoken and written about how Jewish people living in the heartland of historical Israel is viewed problematic by the world, yet when one consults the prophets he finds that if the world wants blessings and the establishment of Messiah Yeshua’s Kingdom on earth, Israel must inherit and dwell in Judea and Samaria, not to mention the other places that are promised. The truth I want to emphasize is that Jewish people dwelling in this land is prior to the Kingdom being established and not dependent upon Israel accepting Yeshua.
A friend of mine sent me an e-mail with a link to a friendly debate between David Brickner, Executive Director of Jews for Jesus and John Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. This article appears on the Christianity Today Website. While reading this article I was struck by several of the statements of Mr. Piper. For example,
“Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians will not quibble over the real estate of the Promised Land because the entire new heavens and the new earth will be ours.”
Mr. Piper understands that ultimately believers will dwell in the new heavens and new earth (note: in the same passage from the book of Revelation that has this phrase, the new heaven and new earth is called the New Jerusalem). This is correct, I am not aware of any theologian that would dispute this statement. However the issue at hand is not who will inhabit the New Jerusalem, but whether a believer in Yeshua should stand for the rights of Jewish people to inhabit Judea and Samaria today or not? Piper sees absolutely no reference in the Scriptures promising this Land to the descendants of Jacob today; rather, he understands the promise of the Land as only applying to believers. Although he sees a future day of salvation of the Jewish people, he does not think the return back to the Land by the Jewish people as related to this. Instead of Biblical prophecy being used by believers to form their opinions, Piper states that the Scriptural understanding of justice and mercy should be used. For me, these two are not mutually exclusive. Mr. Piper’s failure to accept the numerous prophecies that relate to the Jewish people’s return to our Biblical homeland as not a precondition of faith in Messiah Yeshua, but a key part of Israel coming to salvation, is most disturbing. In other words, the fact that Israel exists today and the vast amount of Jewish people who have returned to the Land is totally unrelated for Mr. Piper in his understanding of G-d’s prophetic plan.
Mr. Piper’s theological position in regard to the future is most confusing. Although he refers in the following quotation to the “millennium“, much of his writings on this subject in other places does not show a distinction between these two most distinct periods. Below, as in most of his other statements, he links the Millennium and the New Jerusalem together as one entity. I am at a lost as to how he could use the term” the new Palestine” in referring to the location where most believing Jews will reside in the future. His particular avoidance of the Biblical term “the New Jerusalem” is very strange.
For all I know, in the millennium and in the new earth redeemed and glorified ethnic Israel will locate mainly in the new Palestine. But she will also own the world, and no saint will begrudge her emigration, or any Gentile’s immigration.
Palestine is not a Biblical term unless one understands it as relating to the ancient Philistines, who were constantly at war with David. The fact that Mr. Piper uses such a term, rather that Israel, is most informing of his bias.
He writes in the same article,
“Then he sent Jesus, the Messiah, to Israel, knowing they would crucify him…”
My understanding is that my sins and the sins of every other individual, Jew and Gentile alike is why Yeshua was crucified. The Scripture never states that Israel or the Jewish people in general crucified Yeshua. Yes the vast majority of religious leaders of Israel participated in the plan to crucify Yeshua, but so too did some of the Romans. The Scripture is careful not to blame the crucifixion on any race or ethnic group, but upon humanity at large. For Mr. Piper to lump Israel as a whole as “Christ killers” is so problematic that it is beyond the scope of this article. Most theologians understand that the fact that some Jews and some Gentiles planning a role and carrying out this plan to underscore what I previously stated about human sin as the cause for the cross.
For Mr. Piper to make such an assertion that Israel crucified Yeshua alone without any mention of the role that Gentiles played is most offensive and theologically incorrect!
Finally, Mr. Piper demonstrates his lack of understanding when in writing about the New Jerusalem he speaks about “emigration” and “immigration” he states,
“For all I know, in the millennium and in the new earth redeemed and glorified ethnic Israel will locate mainly in the new Palestine. But she will also own the world, and no saint will begrudge her emigration, or any Gentile’s immigration.”
After the millennium, in the New Jerusalem, there will not be any other cities or nations as such. The new heavens and the new earth (the New Jerusalem) is one location. The point that the Scripture makes is that G-d will dwell with all believers there. To imply that during this time that there will be emigration and immigration reveals a failure to understand the nature of believers’ eternity. Allow me to affirm that I am not claiming a vast understanding of this period, but Mr. Piper’s statement truly misses what can be known about the New Jerusalem.
In conclusion, it is sad to see that the Edomite spirit is alive and functioning in the Church today.
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