By Babu G. Ranganathan
The best way for Israel to stop terrorist attacks in its territory is by first ceasing its occupation of all Arab lands and the continual, unrestrained building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
In 1967 Israel went to war in self-defense and captured Arab land. Israelwas right in defending itself. However, the issue now is no longer so much self-defense. The problem is that Israel will not pull back to its pre-1967 borders so long as many Israelis and most evangelical Christians in America continue to believe that present day Jews have a biblical right to all of Arab territory in Palestine. For this reason a biblical examination of the issue is necessary.
As an evangelical and conservative Christian, of Indian origin, I wish toset the biblical issue in proper perspective.
Although the modern state of Israel now has every right to exist as any other nation (as long as it honors the UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights) this does not mean that Zionism (the belief that Jews have a biblical right to all of Palestine) is correct. And it is Zionism that is primarily fuelling the building and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Arab land.
From a purely biblical perspective Zionism has enormous problems.
The fact is that almost none of the Jews in modern Israel are descendants of the original Jews of Palestine thousands of years ago. Most of the Jews in Israel today are descendants of Europeans who had converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages (known as Khazar or Ashkenazi Jews).
The last time God had promised in the scriptures to bring the Jews back to their ancestral homeland was fulfilled centuries ago when He brought them back from their Babylonian captivity. Thus, the Jews in present-day modern Israel are not a fulfillment of that ancient promise.
Furthermore, God's promises concerning the land to the Jews in the Old Testament were conditional - only so long as they continued to obey Him were those promises concerning the land binding (read Deuteronomy 28). In any case, as I have already noted, God fulfilled his promise concerning the land to the Jews centuries ago.
We read in the Book of Joshua 21:43, 45: "And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel ; all came to pass." Thus, there is no promise concerning the land that still awaits any fulfillment.
Most evangelical Christians today are looking forward to the seven-year tribulation period of Israel which would require for the Jews to be in the land. But this period had already occurred in history during AD63 to AD70. (seven years) when the Roman army besieged and destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple.
It was this destruction that Jesus said would mark the end of the age (the Jewish Age, that is). During these seven years, there was a brief respite from the attacking Roman army and this respite gave an opportunity for believing Jews (Christians) of this time to escape the final destruction of Jerusalem and have their lives spared.
Most evangelical Christians, who are dispensationalists, are still seeking for an Israel that the New Testament says is the spiritual body of Christ made up of both Jew and Gentile believers in Jesus Christ and who together (as one seed) inherit the same (not different) promises (Galatians 3:14-16).
The New Testament refers to the Christian church as the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16 ). There is good reason to believe that some of the Old Testament descriptions of God's future dealings with Israel are already being fulfilled spiritually now in and through the Christian church which is made up of both Jew and Gentile believers in Christ inheriting the same (not different) promises.
The problem with most evangelical Christians today is that they interpret the Book of Revelation literally. But Revelation is a book of symbolism and should not to be interpreted literally. The Book itself tells us not to interpret it literally.
In the very first verse of the very first chapter we read, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God (the Father) gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John" (Revelation 1:1, KJV). The word "signified" in the passage comes from a Greek word meaning "signs" or "symbols". Thus, Revelation was meant by Christ to be interpreted symbolically, not literally.
The Book of Revelation, like the rest of the New Testament, was originally written in Greek so sometimes we must go to the Greek language to have a more precise understanding of certain words.
Many evangelical Christians believe (wrongly) that the " Great City " in the Book of Revelation, which God destroys in His wrath and which is referred to figuratively as Babylon , is Rome . They believe it is Rome because the city is described as being surrounded by seven hills.
However, Jerusalem , also, is surrounded by seven hills. The proof that Jerusalem is the city and not Rome is found in Revelation 11:8 where we read, "And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt , where also our Lord was crucified".