Those who follow news from Israel have probably heard talk about the controversial E1 building plan to connect the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem. This is a loaded issue only understood by looking at both the historical and Biblical contexts of this region. In addition, we should primarily be considering the subject via spiritual truths rather than only focusing on the political or physical aspects of the issue.
First of all, we must keep in mind that “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood…but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12, NASB) As believers, our most important concern is on the spiritual level and not in the physical, or against a group of people. At times, many well-meaning supporters of Israel tend to see humans (the Palestinians) as the primary cause of Israel not having gained their inheritance and only see the conflict over the land as primarily a good versus evil type of physical conflict in which Palestinians represent evil. This ignores many layers of the problem.
In fact, many of these Palestinians may even someday share in the inheritance, whether as part of Israel or as foreigners living in the land (Ezekiel 47:22) if they choose to serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There are some Palestinian villages that are actually descended from Israel but were converted to Islam or Christianity during various periods. Many of today’s Palestinians are living in idolatry under Islam or have been deceived by their own leaders and the international community into hating Israel. It is, in fact, the international community and those who are powerful in the world who will be found most guilty of dividing the land (Joel 3:1-3 and Zechariah 12:3). Both Palestinians and Israelis will have to face the consequences of their idolatry and unrighteousness (Zechariah 12:10-14 and Ezekiel 36:31-33) but both will hopefully also experience God’s restoration as He brings healing to an undivided land.
The area of land referred to as “E1” is a largely empty space between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem that Israel hopes to develop, which is located in the Judea & Samaria region (commonly referred to as the “West Bank”). It borders the Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill to the west, where Hebrew University is located, and the city of Ma’ale Adumim to the east. Ma’ale Adumim is an Israeli city of 40,000, considered to be a settlement due to its location over the infamous green line. In recent weeks, there have been protests and anger over the approval by Israel to build in the E1 area. Palestinians are angered, as this will likely make any two-state solution impossible.
This entire area is located in what was Biblically considered the border between land allotted to the tribe of Benjamin and land allotted to Judah (Joshua 15:7 and 18:17). Furthermore, it is part of the Promised Land that will be Israel and Judah’s future inheritance (Ezekiel 47:13-20 and Genesis 15:18-21), which will eventually stretch to the Euphrates! We also can see that the exiles returning to this land is a clear fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 66) and that they are never to be uprooted again (Amos 9:15). All of this makes it clear that the portion of land that E1 is located in – Judea & Samaria – is destined to be part of an undivided, fruitful and peaceful land.
Historically, the region known as the “West Bank” has changed considerably since Biblical times. Once the Romans took Judea, the land was termed “Palestine” or, in Roman, “Palaestina.” From there, the land passed through many hands and the inhabitants that did not go into exile were ruled by many regimes. Jewish and Arab inhabitants often mingled or were converted to Christianity or Islam. The land was “occupied” time and time again with Jordan being the most recent, hence the name “West Bank,” referring to the West Bank of Jordan. During the British and Jordanian periods of rule, many Arabs from surrounding nations arrived to live alongside the more indigenous communities in order to work. This accelerated during the time of Israel’s independence in the late 1940’s, when many also arrived to fight Israel due to Zionism being an affront to Islam. Many of these then also took on the name “Palestinian” alongside those who truly were here for generations.
Once Israel took over the region known as the “West Bank,” the Palestinians protested and reacted violently, claiming their own stake on the land. They thought that the Jews would be driven away from all of Israel but this was not part of God’s plan, as He desired to bring back the exiles from the four corners of the world (Isaiah 66, Ezekiel 34:13, Isaiah 11:11-12) and Israel, instead, gained the land that had been the West Bank of Jordan. The international community then intervened with plans to divide the land and Jerusalem, plans that have no future ability to succeed according to Scripture and will even cause nations to be damaged and judged (Zechariah 12:3, Joel 3:1-3 respectively).
This return of the exiles should not mean that Arab Palestinians could not also be part of the land and of the inheritance, as mentioned earlier. However, it will only be under a unified land serving the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that both Jews and Arabs will ultimately find peace and justice. It will never come from a “two-state” solution, which divides God’s land and disregards His promises.
Ultimately, the E1 issue is not about the lowly people who are arguing over rights to the land or the actual dirt and trees which make up the “land”, but rather about the spiritual battle that continues to rage in which the enemy is doing everything he can to prevent the unification and beautiful restoration of the land and all of its inhabitants-Jewish and non-Jewish alike. God’s wisdom is far above our own and one of the most important things we can do as His followers is to stand for His truth while also embracing His grace and justice rather than chasing after the world’s solutions.
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