The 6th of December 2017 will go down in history as that day when Jerusalem was once again recognised as the capital city of Israel as it was in the days of King David. It was in Jerusalem where King David sought in his heart to build God a house. The temple was completed by King Solomon in seven years, 480 years after Israel came out of Egypt. God calls Jerusalem, “the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there” (1 Kings 11:36b). Jesus Himself will return and stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east. Are we approaching the days spoken of by the prophet Zechariah?
President Donald Trump sent the nations reeling when he announced that Jerusalem will be recognised as the capital of the State of Israel with his decision to move the United States embassy there. The Palestinians in the region are calling for a new intifada. Clashes between protesters and Israeli soldiers have already broken out in the West Bank and Gaza strip following the announcement. We understand from the Scriptures that Jerusalem is the spiritual, religious, national and historical capital of the Jewish people. There’s heightened sensitivity along political and religious fronts and what’s our response to this?
Just about a month ago on 2 Nov 2017, the commemoration of the centennial celebration of the “Balfour Declaration” took place. This declaration was negotiated and released to the public immediately following the victory at the stalemate in Southern Palestine which was broken by the “Battle of Beersheba” on 31 Oct 1917.
Interestingly, “Beersheba” means “Well of Oath” or “Well of Seven”. It was here where Abraham dug his first well, entered into a covenant with Abimelech, king of Gerar. It was also in the region of Beersheba that “Hagar wandered with Ishmael and God heard the voice of the lad; Hagar then saw a well of water and the boy lived. Thereafter they moved from the region of Beersheba to the wilderness of Paran where Ishmael grew up and dwelt.” This is significant because Beersheba, as we understand from Scriptures, is the southernmost tip of Judah. We often read from Dan to Beersheba, and this illustrates the physical region that covers Israel and Judah.
The second time we read of Beersheba was after Abraham returned from Moriah where he did not withhold Isaac from God. The Lord confirmed again His covenant, choosing to bless Abraham, and in his seed all the nations shall be blessed.
The third time was when Isaac remained in the land of the Philistines in the time of famine. After he named the third well “Rehoboth”, he moved on to Beersheba. There the Lord renewed His covenant to Isaac, which was given to his father Abraham. Isaac dug his fourth well, and Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar, made peace with Isaac and called the well “Beersheba”.
Finally, we read about Beersheba, a place made holy by sacred memories, where Jacob began his journey going down to Egypt and where Joseph was preserved and raised to prominence to provide for Israel.
This is the journey of the nation of Israel, the multiplication of the descendants of Abraham in Egypt, the trying of the faith of a peculiar people who were to worship none other but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the journey of faith, the hope and trust to believe in the God who keeps His covenant; Who’d bring them into their inheritance if they had faith to believe.
In the New Testament, we see a similar thread concerning a young man named Timothy, who was exhorted by Paul to stir up the gift of God which is in him through the laying on of hands, and to remember the genuine faith of Lois his grandmother and Eunice his mother, which is also in him.
In conclusion, God does set boundaries concerning the inheritance of His people – from Dan to Beersheba, and with his choice places. When the “Balfour Declaration” issued by the British government 100 years ago during World War I (after they overcame the Ottoman Empire and broke through into Beersheba) secured the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, what’s next for Israel as she celebrates her 70th year as a nation on 14 May 2018?
Our response is to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, where Ps 122:5-9 says, “For thrones are set there for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’ Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.”
And so, let’s encourage our Israeli brothers and sisters, uphold their hands and stand with them in this trying time concerning their land.
Pastor Daphne Yang