“Jewish Power” part leader Itamar Ben-Gvir prays at the Nebi Samuel compound.
For my entire life in Israel, I have had front and center these three signs of what the Bible calls “The Latter Days”:
1. God’s promise to return the land of Israel to the Jewish people
2. God’s promise to gather the Jews back from the four corners of the earth to their land
3. God’s promise that all Israel will be saved
This article is written from within this biblical worldview. God’s laws don’t change.
When I moved to Israel in 1967, there were very few Israelis who believed Yeshua is the Messiah. The infant nation was still suffering from the horrors of the Holocaust which had ended only 19 years before.
Living in Jerusalem I learned my way around. A delicious bakery I frequented was owned by an ultra-Orthodox family where the women working there all had numbers tattooed on their arms. Israelis who could or could not afford a car swore they would never buy a German vehicle. Toilet paper was lightly processed from wood; almost no woman wore high heels as the sidewalks were built from rough stones, and, to the grief of many, you had to wait up to ten years for a telephone.
Stores were small with very few products—tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and potatoes were the principal vegetables—maybe a chicken for Shabbat. Nevertheless, the chefs of the Jewish homes from countries and cultures all over the world could still make the most delicious dishes you could imagine.
No. There was not a lot of complaining. Everyone was consumed with a mission to build and expand the State of Israel. A Jewish state. A state without Gentiles who had persecuted the Jews since Bible times. Here religious Jews could serve God the way their Rabbis taught them. Secular Jews visualized creating an army that would protect them from the Arab nations’ terrorism.
But then in 1967, the horror of another genocide of Jews threatened when five Arab nations invaded tiny Israel (established by the UN) from three directions with one purpose—to annihilate the fledgling nation of 2,600,000 Jews. In one of the most remarkable wars in written history, Israel instead routed all five armies. In doing so, Israel gained control of more of the land which God had promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israeli soldiers did it all in six days.
All the Land of Israel Given to the People of Israel
Moses understood God’s promise and informed all of Israel, “The Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed and you will possess it… forever.” 1Deuteronomy 30:5, Genesis 17:8
God even specified its borders to Joshua upon arrival, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.” 2Joshua 1:3–4
Of course, today Israelis are very far from the Biblical promise of an intimate relationship with God, just like every other nation. Yet it is obvious that even before “all Israel is saved,” God’s timetable for the return of the land of Israel to His people was already happening—since 1948, to be exact. But the Islamic world with its immense political influence in many nations would naturally oppose the hand of the God of Israel, as it stands in opposition to the agenda of their god.
God Can Use Anyone He Wants
Historically, we know God has sought out men who would bring about His will. What is mentioned less is that God has used both righteous and wicked men to further His agenda. Cyrus is a great example of a man who is legendary for His opening the door for the Jewish people to return to their land—but he himself was not necessarily the nicest guy.
In 1917, Britain virtually ruled the world as it led the Allies to a great victory in World War I. The United Kingdom was then given an astonishing opportunity—out of all the nations in the world—to gift the Land of Israel back to the Jewish people.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour happened to be a Christian who believed the Almighty had chosen him to be an instrument of the Divine Will concerning Israel. Other Christians in the government agreed that the Jews needed a home and granted Balfour the authority to author the letter known as the Balfour Declaration, which said, “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object….” One month later, General Allenby, also a Christian, conquered the region of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire.
When the war ended, a historic conference was held in San Remo, Italy. The winners of WWI—Britain, France, Japan and Italy—with the United States observing—gathered for seven days to divide the trophies of the war. These seven days laid the political foundation for the creation of 22 Arab League states and the one and only Jewish State of Israel.
Signed in 1919 by His Royal Highness Emir Faisal I (who reigned over Greater Syria) and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, representing the Zionist Organization. They agreed to “encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land…” It continued, “…and to this end Arab and Jewish duly accredited agents shall be established and maintained in their respective territories…”
In fact, the full text of the Balfour Declaration became an integral legal part of the San Remo resolution and after, was ratified by the League of Nations. Thus it was clearly accepted as international law. As such, Britain was mandated by the world’s top authorities to take this land of Palestine and assist in establishing a homeland for the Jewish people. And would you believe, during this tiny window of opportunity, even Arab authorities, concentrating on setting up their own 22 states, did not object to a Jewish nation?
In short, Britain miserably failed to carry out its mission for the Jewish people. Instead, the government released six “White Papers,” each one stripping more of the once powerful Balfour Declaration into fragments of its original purpose and placing strategic obstacles like limiting—then banning—Jewish immigration to their promised homeland. Even Jews already living in Palestine were forbidden from purchasing any property claimed to be owned by Arabs. In a final betrayal, Britain single-handedly denied six million Jews the right to flee to the land promised them by both God and the British Empire.
Nevertheless, God, the Promise Keeper, must find men and women who would carry out God’s plan to give the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the land He had sworn to give them.
Soon, an organization called the United Nations arose on the scene. Would they carry out God’s promise? In one of the very few resolutions that favored Israel, the UN decided to try its hand at settling this impossible conundrum. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly cast 33 votes in favor, 13 against and 10 abstentions.
But even this resolution was halfhearted as it only granted a limited swath of land from the once grand territory designated for them. Most of the land allocated to Jews in this new partition plan was desert with a strip of coastal lands. The most cultivable areas with water resources were designated to the Arabs. Seeing no other options, the Jewish leadership gave a reluctant “Yes.” The Arabs said “Absolutely not!” Within a few days Arab rioting broke out with Jews fighting back. Chaos enveloped Palestine.
Within a few months of this UN resolution, Britain had had enough of trying to govern the stubborn Jews and the violent Arabs who wanted no Jews in their Arab “motherland.” The British generals announced they were leaving Palestine on May 15, 1948 with “a pox on both of your houses.” However, they did take time to hand over their massive stock of weapons to the Arabs. Then they packed up and left.
The day the British left, David Ben Gurion—Israel’s recognized leader and his stalwarts—took on the task of recreating a country called Israel. He sent out his army of 35,000 fighting men, no air force, and six tanks to face five Arab nations which attacked the state that had been birthed only hours before.
Israel lived through the war and solidified its presence in their promised land. But this would only be the beginning of God’s restoration.
The Divine Search Continues
Israel was under attack from the first moments of its existence. However, in each war, it somehow obtained more land—mostly high ground that would serve to protect it from future attacks. The Golan Heights are a classic example of an area Syria used exclusively for military operations to constantly fire on Israel. Israel captured it during the Six-Day War and turned it into a land of vineyards and villages inhabited by Jews, Druze and local Arabs—all of whom would offered Israeli citizenship.
As Israel’s population grew, it began to expand with new communities that the world derivatively calls “settlements.” Different Israeli prime ministers encouraged Jews to settle in the land where their forefathers once lived—Judea and Samaria—to build towns and villages, many with the same names as are found in the Bible.
Needless to say, the United Nations has fought Israel all the way, continually threatening to sanction her, or charge her soldiers with war crimes at its Hague World Court. Yet today over 800,000 Israelis are living in Judea and Samaria.
Since we know God’s intentions for Israel in the last days, may it be assumed He has been looking for someone to lead the way to return more of the land into Israel’s hands?
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Allies
Enter Benjamin Netanyahu. In many ways, Bibi has been a great statesman for Israel. He has boldly defended Israel against many threats, whether physical, political or even economic. He is known around the world as a brilliant, influential world leader, despite Israel’s small size as a country. But after many years of leading the nation of Israel, he has been accused of unethical behavior, as well as being loose with “privileges”. He has been indicted for serious issues that could land him in prison. We will cover his legal issues later in this series.
His legal challenges, as well as his history of not keeping his promises to his political allies, have resulted in burned bridges with the more moderate political leaders. The repercussions of so many politicians refusing to join a coalition under Netanyahu was a major factor in Israel’s recent multiple failed elections. This last election reshuffled the decks of political parties in strong favor of the religious radical right—the only remaining parties willing to join forces under Netanyahu, so long as they could push their agenda.
Netanyahu’s critics argue that his determination to be elected Prime Minister is strategic as he intends to work with his coalition to weaken the Supreme Court’s “veto-power” and then “adjust” Israel’s law to disallow a standing Prime Minister from being convicted or imprisoned.
Therefore, Netanyahu’s political allies understand the timing is right to make their boldest demands because Netanyahu can best challenge his current legal troubles only if he is Israel’s Prime Minister.
Reclaiming Judea and Samaria
In the past, Netanyahu’s Likud platform has not particularly majored on actually annexing Judea and Samaria (the West Bank, which Jordan occupied until the Six-Day War) though he has encouraged the building of Jewish settlements in the area. However, Netanyahu’s current coalition includes “Jewish Power,” an ideologically-driven Zionistic political party, with the passionate goal of annexing a large part of Judea and Samaria.
“Jewish Power” party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir is driven by the belief that the land was given to the Jews by God. His plans are to authorize the launching of many more Jewish communities and businesses and to ultimately merge Judea and Samaria as officially a part of the State of Israel. He also plans to come down much harder on Palestinian terrorism.
As for the massive opposition these moves would have on pro-Palestinian world opinion, Ben- Gvir and his allies have publicly stated they don’t care what the United Nations—or the world—thinks.
But can you believe it? There are even more serious complications that many Israelis are so concerned about that protests have broken out around the country.
Before being elected, Ben-Gvir accumulated over 50 charges for incitement on his record. Even though he has been acquitted of 46 of them, he has also been convicted of incitement to racism, interfering with a police officer, and supporting a Jewish terrorist organization. Despite his criminal background, as part of his agreement to join the coalition, Ben-Gvir was made national security minister, effectively making the police a branch of the government under him!
Members of Israel’s new government including Benjamin Netanyahu (1), Aryeh Deri (2) and Itamar Ben-Gvir (3) (GIL Cohen-Magen / Getty Images)
And that is not all. The head of one of the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Aryeh Deri, is a convicted criminal, convicted of bribery, fraud and breach of trust; he was given a three-year jail sentence. With no shame, he asked to be Finance Minister.
When Israel was formed, certain laws were established as the foundation from which its democracy would grow and evolve. However, for this current coalition of indicted or convicted politicians to function with its ideology, they are challenging these fundamental laws with the goal of changing them. To protect these radical changes, their strategy is to diminish the power of Israel’s supreme court.
Every politician who signed onto this coalition understood they would be voting to change the laws of the land so that Prime Minister Netanyahu, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Aryeh Deri could serve in the highest offices in the land.
Much of Israel is literally in shock.
It seems the task of returning the land to Israel was originally given to God’s followers back in the days of the British Empire. When they failed, the task was handed to world leaders who also didn’t deliver. The question: is the necessity of the return of the promised land to Israel so crucial to God’s plan that He would use men of such bold determination, but with such severe character flaws?
To be continued…