We must not forget the basic truth that Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah carried out His mission in the Land scripturally guaranteed to the Jewish people.
To this land, covenanted to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Son of God descended from heaven. In this Promised Land He taught, performed miracles, was crucified, and from Jerusalem, the Land’s capital, He returned to His heavenly Father.
In the Gospel of Matthew (2:19-21) we read: “Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the Land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.’ Then he arose, took the young Child and his mother, and came into the Land of Israel.”
It is absolutely clear that Joseph, Mary and the Lord did not depart from “a land” on their way to Egypt, and they also did not return from there to the “land of Arabs.”
Biblically, the Promised Land is not nameless. Even more than 1,000 years before the Messiah Yeshua appeared in Bethlehem of Judea, Eretz Yisrael was the physical country of the Jewish people.
During the Lord’s ministry on earth the literal name of the Land was Judea (Mark 1:5), and it was recognized by the Roman rulers as the Province of Judea. This is evident, for example, from the Roman imperial coins of the period. The name of the province remained Judea until the mid-2nd century AD, when the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome was crushed in 135 AD. Only then did the Roman Emperor Hadrian change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina and the name of Judea to Palaestina.
“What would Christ say and do if He were to stand in front of a checkpoint today?” This question was posed recently by some Palestinian Christians, referring to Israeli army checkpoints. Perhaps however, one can imagine that on their way to Egypt and back, Joseph, Mary and the Lord did have to cross several checkpoints, either controlled by King Herod, the Romans or the Egyptians.
While the New Testament says nothing about that, it does, in fact, undeniably identify the land as Eretz Yisrael, Israel’s heritage, estate and homeland.
Clause number 9 in the Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto published by the Bethlehem Bible College declares, “For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.”
Such a general statement concerning “the occupation” is a smokescreen because it misleads those unfamiliar with the geo-political reality. When altogether undefined, “occupation” includes the entirety of Jewish land in Eretz Yisrael, even the borders within the UN Partition Resolution of 1947, which was rejected by the Arab leaders. This Arab rejection actually ignited ongoing attacks against Israel.
Dr. Gershon Nerel is a historian of the modern Messianic Jewish movement and a certified tour guide in Israel. www.iseeisrael.com
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