I have been blessed to go to Palestine 4 or 5 times. When I go, I try to listen to the stories of the Palestinian people in the West Bank. I ask them – Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians – what their life is like in the midst of what they would call “the occupation.”
I am also blessed to live in an area of the United States where a few thousand Palestinians live. Many of them I count as dear friends. Like their counterparts in Palestine, I ask them many questions about what life was like in their homeland.
I think the picture above – taken during a protest regarding lands being taken – is indicative of how the Palestinian people often feel:
face down. . .on the ground. . .with a knee on their kneck.
The problem of who the land rightfully belongs to in Palestine is huge, complex, controversial, and extremely emotional. I don’t have the answer. At this point, I don’t think anyone does. Even the Palestinians I have talked to have different solutions!
I do think, however, that God has spoken clearly about issues that matter deeply to Him in the midst of the battle over who should have the land – issues like justice, mercy, and kindness.
I support Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism. I cannot condone Palestinian acts of violence toward innocent Israelis. Having said these things, we must all hear God’s Word regarding how innocent Palestinian people should be treated as well.
My heart longs for the Jewish people and western Christians to hear what the Old Testament prophets said about what is foremost on God’s heart (I will give you a hint: it is not about the land – it is about the heart).
As Jesus – Isa Al-Masih, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach – said, “if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear”:
“Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance” (The Prophet Micah, chapter 2, verses 1-2).
Aren’t these words from Micah – written 700 years before Christ – amazingly descriptive of what happens when the government of Israel takes away the land, the olive trees, the homes, and the businesses of Palestinian people (both Muslim and Christian) so they can tear them down and build “settlements” for Jewish “settlers” from America, Russia, Africa, and so forth?
How can Israel continue to build these settlements?
Micah gave us the answer: “because it is in their power to do it.”
The BBC reports that almost 500,000 Jews live in settlements on occupied territory in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, etc. The settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel strongly disputes this.
I am well aware of the western Christian/Jewish Zionist position that God gave the land which is now known as Israel to Abraham and his descendents (through Isaac, not Ishmael or Esau): Genesis 12:1,7; 15:7,18; 28:13; Exodus 6:2-8; 23:31; Deuteronomy 1:8; Joshua 1:1-6, etc.
But does this position – even if still true today – give Israel the right to disobey God’s words to them through His prophets regarding the all-important issue to Him of justice? And does it mean that western Christians are to support everything Israel does? After all, God doesn’t! He didn’t in Biblical history, and I don’t believe He does now either.
Listen to more words from the prophet Micah:
“He has shown you. . .what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (The Prophet Micah, chapter 6, verse 8).
As I said, I don’t know what a just solution is for the Palestinian and Jewish peoples. But I do know that God in heaven is not pleased with injustice, lack of mercy, and arrogance by Jewish people or Palestinian people or Western Christians. He is not pleased with injustice by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Let us work and pray for a solution that is just and full of mercy – for all people – Palestinian and Jewish.
Let us work for peace – for all people – Palestinian and Jewish.
Jesus – Isa Al-Masih, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach – said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers. . .” (the Injil, the Good News according to Matthew, chapter 5, verse 9, NIV).
“God blesses those who work for peace. . .” (the Injil, the Good News according to Matthew, chapter 5, verse 9, NLT).
Let us see that the Palestinians – a people that God loves – no longer feel:
“face down. . .on the ground. . .with a knee on their kneck.”
(Postscript: I rejoice to see today that Israeli and Palestinian teams are heading to Washington for preliminary talks towards a formal re-opening of negotiations after years of stalemate. I love the Palestinian people. I love the Jewish people. May God help them to work together for a just peace for all.)