You Are But Tenants in the Land

Commentary by Jack Kelley

The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. (Leviticus 25:23)

When God brought Israel into the Promised Land He explained that they were His tenants, forbidden from selling or giving the land away (Lev 25:23).

He also commanded them to let the land rest for one year out of every seven (Lev 25:4), the so-called Sabbath for the Land. But for 490 years they failed to do it.  So while the root cause of the 70-year exile to Babylon was their fall into idolatry (Jere. 25:7-11), its duration was determined by the number of times they had ignored the mandatory year-long Sabbath for the Land (2 Chron 36:21). 490 divided by 7 equals 70, so they “owed” His land 70 years of rest. True to His word, when the 70 years were ended He sent the Persians to defeat Babylon and release the Jews to return to their land.

An Everlasting Possession

The world would do well to remember that episode. In giving the land to Abraham’s descendants, God had made it their “everlasting possession”(Gen 17:8). But at Mt. Sinai He explained that in order to live there and enjoy its benefits they had to obey the covenant He was making with Moses.

Several times they’ve either lost their independence or been evicted for violations of this covenant, but only temporarily. He always restored them, and that’s the part of their deal with God the rest of the world seems to forget. The reason they’re in the land today is because He remembered His promise to their forefathers and brought them back (Ezekiel 36:22-24).

Evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews bemoan the fact that Israel has agreed to trade land for the promise of peace … land the Bible says they have no right to trade. But if unbelievers, whether Jew, Arab or Westerner agree on anything, it’s that the provisions outlined in “some ancient book” are not going to govern their actions today. We’ll see.

Land For War?

A strong contingent among Israel’s neighbors has always opposed the Mid-East peace plan and tries do anything they can to stop it. They don’t want to share the land with Israel, they want it all.  Every time this contingent has seen Israel trade land for the promise of peace they’ve reacted with violence. The more land involved the more violent they’ve become.

In his first term as Prime Minister, Binyamim Netanyahu slowed down the transfer of land begun under Yitzhak Rabin and continued with Shimon Peres, and the violence subsided. Under intense pressure from Bill Clinton, Netanyahu’s successor Ehud Barak agreed to give Yassir Arafat 97% of the land he wanted, including East Jerusalem, in return for peace. Arafat turned it down and then went home to start the 2000 Intifada. After Ariel Sharon was elected, Israel got tough again and the violence subsided once more.

Predictably, the result of Sharon’s abrupt abandonment of the Gaza Strip was an escalation of violence.  Moreover, with the frightening array of war materiel now being smuggled into Gaza and Lebanon (also part of the original Promised Land) it’s hard to see how anything but total disaster can come of it.  Incredibly, the world is now demanding that Israel trade more land for peace.  How can they expect anything but war as a result?

The latest ruse being foisted upon the Jewish people is the claim that the US has offered some fighter aircraft (which won’t be delivered until 2020) and some future diplomatic support, but only after the two-state proposal has been successfully implemented, and then only for one year.  Israel, of course, must agree to give up its land in advance.  It’s still unclear whether the US actually made this offer, and even if it did, whether it would be acceptable to all parties.

But the contrast between levels of terrorism during conservative and liberal administrations is apparently lost on both Jewish and Gentile observers, because they  seem unaware of the fact that agreeing to yield more land has always brought increased violence from Israel’s enemies. This time it will likely bring the fulfillment of Psalm 83.

God Is The Same, Yesterday, Today, And Forever

God has often used His enemies to accomplish His purpose (Jer. 25:9) and promises to do so again (Ezekiel 38-39). So, are we missing something here?  I don’t pretend to be a political analyst or commentator. But I am a student of prophecy and delight in overlaying the proven strategies of our Lord upon current events.  And in the current affairs of Israel, I see a definite pattern.

God is opposed to trading land for peace and I believe He’s using Israel’s enemies to say so. I believe He’s trying to dissuade Israel from giving away land that isn’t theirs to give, and to convince them that in their own strength, however formidable it may be, they are not equal to the task of defeating their enemies. The upcoming Psalm 83 scenario will initially appear to be a military success for Israel, but in truth it will only set them up for another even more forceful attack to follow.

After all it was God Who said, “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). You can almost hear Him repeating those words as He gives His people sign after sign that it’s time to stop giving away His land and come back to Him.

Will He Ever Quit Trying To Convince Them?

Let’s ask Him.

This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name:

“Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.”

This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:35-37)

If those who subscribe to replacement theology (the heresy contending that after the cross the Church replaced Israel in God’s plan, and therefore there’s no place for the Nation of Israel in the world today) are correct, then the Lord has broken this promise to Israel, because the sun shines every day, and the moon and stars every night.  And anyone near a seacoast can hear the constant roaring of the waves.

So What’s It Gonna Take?

One day in the not too distant future an international coalition of Moslem forces will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting Israel with overpowering force, and when that happens the King of the Universe will come roaring out of the Heavens with warfare on His mind and vengeance in his Heart, for whoever touches Israel touches the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8).

When the dust has settled the invading forces that had covered the land like a cloud will lie slain in their tracks, food for the vultures. “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. (Ezek. 39:21-22)

All these things must come to pass because God has seen the end from the beginning and has revealed it through His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).  The fact that they seem to be coming soon is another sign that the End of the Age is upon us. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.  11-20-10

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