Saturday, July 30, 2011

The McInerney Trial: The One That Should've Grabbed Our Nation's Attention

While viewers sat transfixed watching the Casey Anthony trial on their TVs, Smartphones and iPads, a more significant case was brewing in Ventura, California.

The McInerney trial currently being tried in Chatsworth due to the pretrial publicity in Ventura, has all the sensationalistic makings of the Casey Anthony case minus the attractive mother accused of murdering her daughter.

In the Brandon McInerney case we have a growing list of hot issues:
•the 2009 murder of a gay teen in front of his fellow students during a lab class
•a 17-year-old being tried as an adult for a hate crime murder
•a flamboyantly gay middle school student permitted by school authorities to wear inappropriate gender-bending clothing to school
•the suspicious connection of a murder suspect to the Silver Strand Locals, an Oxnard white supremacist gang known for its hatred of gays
•an increasing roster of state employed teachers more concerned with their tenures than making correct decisions regarding the safety of their students.

Brandon McInerney is being tried for the February 12, 2008 murder of gay student Larry King during a lab class at E.O. Green Middle School in Oxnard.  In plain sight of at least 100 students, while some were snickering at King's feminine clothing, McInerney shot King in the back of the head two times.

Brandon McInerney

According to the 2008 article in the Ventura County Star, "McInerney is charged with murder and a hate crime in connection with the classroom shooting. King, an eighth-grader from Oxnard, dressed in a feminine manner and told friends he was gay. McInerney faces a sentence of 51 years to life if convicted of all the charges."

It would seem this would be an open and shut case.  However,  during the case which completed its fourth week, other important issues are grabbing center stage.

•King, for several weeks prior to the shooting, started to wear suede high-heel boots, tight girl's jeans and eye shadow to school.

According to the VC Star King's clothing was becoming an increasing distraction and disruption during school hours. According to California Education Code 48900.2 a student who is charged with “disrupting school activities or willfully defies valid authority” can be suspended.  Why wasn't King disciplined by school authorities?

During the court proceedings, King's former teacher Dawn Boldrin and her assistant admitted they did nothing about the fact King was violating school rules. Boldrin suspected King's clothes were outside the mandated dress code and asked her assistant to look into it. Nothing further was done by the teacher.

If a girl is wearing a revealing top or tight fitting jeans or a short skirt, the school administration would've most likely sent her home or demand she wear a gym sweatshirt the rest of the school day to cover her up. Several students rightly complained King was receiving special treatment.

Should I state the obvious? King was given a pass because he was a gay teenager and his teachers were fearful of offending him or being called a homophobic.  What other reason would there be to enforce dress code rules for heterosexuals, but not for a homosexual teen?  Isn't that discrimination against heterosexual students? 

•King's teachers were negligent out of self-protection.  King's teacher Dawn Boldrin admitted she did not want to say anything about King's dress,"I was not tenured at that point and didn't want to make a wave," she admitted under oath.

One wonders if Boldrin and the school administration had demanded King start wearing gender appropriate clothes to school whether the tragic outcome could have been avoided.

No, King's clothing and gay lifestyle does not excuse McInerney for his vicious hate crime, but perhaps his anger may have been abated if the school took proper measures consistent with the way they treat other students.  Just wondering.

In another related incident King asked Anne Sinclair, a special-education teacher, if he could use the restroom.  Sinclair said no. Meanwhile, King who was standing, had his mid-section inches away from a sitting student's face.

Sinclair described this incident as sexual harassment - a violation of section 212.5 of the California Education Code. King made the incident even worse when he started doing a dance moving back and forth on his legs indicating his need to use the bathroom.

Asked why the special education teacher did not report this act of sexual harassment, as required by state law, she answered, "Other times, when I tried to report things, it wasn't being addressed. And I was not tenured at that point and I was looking out for my tenure, to be perfectly honest."

Like Boldrin, this state employee was thinking more about her tenure and retirement than the welfare of a student on the receiving end of sexual harassment.

How surprising since other Ventura County schools such as Conejo Valley Unified School District schools will cite a student who uses sexting with sexual harassment and report the student to the police for distributing child pornography - whether they are the perpetrator or on the receiving end.

Once again, a case can be made Larry King was given special treatment because he was gay.  His teachers wanting to save their tenure and not want to be politically incorrect by reporting a homosexual student may have contributed to a series of incidents that fueled McInerney's hatred for King.

•King's teacher also gave the middle school student a homecoming dress. How can a female teacher give one of her male students a dress? Was she condoning King's gay clothing in the context of school, and if so, why wasn't she disciplined for this action?  Did she ask King's parents permission before giving the boy such a controversial gift?

Is this another case where a gay person is given a pass out of fear by his superiors who want to avoid being labeled anti-gay?  Can a male heterosexual teacher give one of his female students a dress? What if a male teacher gave a female pupil a blouse that was revealing?

The McInerney case is far from over. It has yet been proven whether McInerney belonged to a white supremacist gang known as the Silver Strand Locals or that gang is racist.

Despite all these issues, McInerney is guilty of committing a hate crime and murdering Larry King in cold blood in front of numerous witnesses.

Let's not forget the school administration should still be on the witness stand for their special treatment of a student because of his sexual orientation . . . a treatment that would not be given to a heterosexual pupil.
We may never know how much their negligence fueled the hatred of McInerney towards King despite the fact the 17-year-old bears full responsibility for the death of his fellow student.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nakba Day Holds Key To Lack of Peace in the ME

What is Nakba Day?  I myself never heard of it until recently, and yet I discovered this Palestinian "Day of Mourning" holds the key as to why there is no end to the Middle East conflict.

Nakba Day occurs on May 15th, the day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israel's Independence Day. In Israel, Nakba Day events observed by Arab citizens have been held on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day), which is celebrated in Israel on the Hebrew calendar date (5 Iyar or shortly before or after).

While Israelis are celebrating their Day of Independence, on Nakba Day Palestinians are mourning the establishment of Israel.  Mitchell Bard, in his book Myths and Facts : A Guide to the Arab/Israeli Conflict suggests, "Had the Palestinians . . . accepted the UN partition resolution in 1947, the state of Palestine would have been celebrating its birthday" (pg. 257).

Al Nakba means "The Catastrophe" referring to the creation of the State of Israel.  Yet what Palestinians complain about the most is the "occupation" of the territories Israel captured in 1967 after three Arab nations (Syria, Jordan and Egypt) threatened to destroy Israel and drive the Jewish people into the sea. If the "occupation" is the major issue for the Palestinians, then why isn't "The Catastrophe" observed in June on the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the Six Day War?

This day of mourning for Palestinians actually started in 1998 when PLO head and terrorist Yasser Arafat kicked it off.  Following Arafat's declaration of recognition for the day, over one million Arabs participate in marches and other events on this day each year.
Palestinian children observing Nabka Day

The significance of this day is further explained on the Virtual Jerusalem website:

The 1948 Palestinian exodus, also known as Nakba, meaning the "disaster", "catastrophe", or "cataclysm", occurred when approximately 725,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, during this bitter war.

If you look up NAKBA online, the search returns numerous Palestinian websites claiming to explain this phenomenon in Palestinian history and eliciting sympathy and even financial donations for the numerous Palestinian refugees in the Arab countries who are descendants of the original refugees from Israel's 1948 War of Independence. 
Those who support a full return of the refugees to Israel forget that this would mean the end of Israel since the number of returnees would spell the end of the Zionist project population-wise. The Palestinians right of return to Israeli territory is an impossibility as they would outnumber and overtake the Israeli population.

To understand the hostility towards Israel contained in Nakba Day, one needs only observe one of the customs that occur in Palestine on this day. Again, I quote Bard on a Nakba Day custom:  "traffic stopped and people stood straight and silent as sirens of mourning sounded, intentionally mimicking the Israeli practice on Holocaust Remembrance Day" (pg. 257).

In this custom Palestinians are comparing the creation of Israel with the Holocaust!

I challenge Palestinian Christians to confront this satanically inspired attitude of their Palestinian brothers towards Israel. I want to know if Sami Awad and others who are part of his non-violent movement and his organization Holy Land Trust,  also equate Israel's creation as a catastrophe on the par with the Holocaust? What do these non-violent Palestinian Christians do on Nakba Day?

Is the evangelical world, influenced by liberation theology and embracing Palestinians as the underdog, any more enlightened than the anti-Zionist secular politicians? With the theological hostility spawned by the likes of Stephen Sizer and Gary Burge, conservative Christians are falling into the anti-Christian Zionism camp and are being deceived into supporting a terrorist mentality fostered by the PA that refuses to accept the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

The real question is what have the Palestinians done to foster peace in the Middle East?

In a column in the Jewish Journal David Suissa brilliantly argues that Israel, despite all its attempts to make peace with the Palestinian is "sitting isolated and hated, while the uncompromising Palestinians, who . . .  joined forces with the terrorist group Hamas, [are] sitting pretty in top of the diplomatic world - and delegitimizing the Jewish state at every turn."

In every attempt by the Israelis to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians one issue is always a major stumbling block - for Palestine to affirm Israel's right to exist as a nation. This dream will never happen as long as Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abba describes Israel's decision to to create a Jewish state in 1948 as a "crime" (Jerusalem Post May 15, 2005).

Jewish Journal writer Suissa declares we need to see the naked truth about the Middle East conflict,
The reason there is no peace has little to do with Israel's refusal to make more concessions, and everything to do with the Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of a Jewish state -- settlements or no settlements.
The speech [Obama's June speech about Israel] forced us to confront the worst-kept secret in the Middle East: Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a mirage. The conflict is about existence, not borders. The Palestinians would have had their own state 63 years ago if they could make peace with the Jews. But how could they make peace with those they have been taught only to hate?


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is the Modern State of Israel A Fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy?

Tell Aviv
If Jeremiah the prophet took a drive through the modern state of Israel, what would be his reaction?  Would he be happy with the modern state of Israel?  According to Rev. Dr. Gary Burge, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and New Testament scholar at Wheaton College and Graduate school, the "modern injustices that occur in the state of Israel" prohibits him from seeing the nation as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

From reading the Book of Jeremiah, we learn the prophet was used by God to chastise the nation for their injustices - seeking after other gods (Jeremiah 2:28); lying (Jeremiah 5:1); lack of fear of God (5:22); neglect the poor and orphans (5:28); filled with false prophets (5:31) and so forth. To punish His faithless nation, God promises to bring a foreign nation (Babylon) against Israel to judge them.  In Jeremiah 5:15 we read:
"People of Israel,” declares the LORD,
“I am bringing a distant nation against you—
an ancient and enduring nation,
a people whose language you do not know,
whose speech you do not understand.
To Burge modern Israel is a merely secular state not founded on biblical principles not much different from the Israel of Jeremiah's day.  He warns in a 2010 radio conversation on Moody Bible Radio that Christians should be careful about claiming the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy.  Giving divine validation to modern Israel, says Burge,  flies in the face of the prophecies Jeremiah made to Israel in the pre-exilic period.

In response we only need to consult the entire context of the prophetic message concerning Israel in the Old Testament. The prophet Ezekiel like his contemporary Jeremiah was well aware of the national sins of Israel. Ezekiel 36:17-19 records:
“Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions.
Ezekiel also speaks of the Lord scattering the Jewish people among the nations for a period of time due to their uncleanness before the Lord.  But in vv. 22-24 the Lord tells the prophet He will regather His people from the four corners of the earth not because Israel earned God's blessing but in order to honor His name:
I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.
In a similar pattern in Ezekiel 37:11-13 the Lord  describes the scattered people of Israel as dry bones in need of spiritual regeneration.  However, previous to their spiritual revival the God of Israel brings the Jewish people in their unbelief back to the land regardless of their spiritual condition:
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 
At that time the Lord will then cause a spiritual reawakening to happen to Israel as described in Ezekiel 37:14, "I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’”

God's blessing of Israel by bringing them back into the land is unconditional and not dependent on how deserving they are.  Once the people of Israel are back in the land as they are now, they will come to know the Lord.

Gary Burge is adamant concerning modern Israel being compared to ancient Israel, deserving of God removing them from the land once again and dispersing Israel among the nations.

As we look deeper into the beliefs of the Wheaton professor, we learn Burge has more than theological problems with modern day Israel.

In Burge's book Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and Palestinians (2003 Pilgrim Press), we learn from  Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), that "this book is a combustible mixture of misinformation and theologically justified hostility towards modern Israel."

If anything comes forth from Burge's writings and lectures about Israel, it is the fact that he betrays his own hostility towards the Jewish nation based on his Replacement Theology.

What's most disturbing is that Burge's book has been endorsed by mainline and evangelical church leaders and publications.  He understandably received a sympathetic review from the liberal Protestant new source Christian Century. 

Surprisingly,  Christianity Today, the major magazine publication for evangelical Christianity,
Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and Palestinians, gave Burge's book the "award of merit" in its 2004 Book Awards.  David Neff, longtime editor of CT, praised Burge's book and wrote a glowing account that appears on the book's back cover.

In May 2007 Hank Hanegraff, host of Bible Answer Man, conservative Christian talk show promoted and sold Burge's book on his website informing his listeners that it was "an incredible book that you need."

As a result of his book, Burge has earned credibility in the evangelical world and is a sought after commentator about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  Can you imagine Burge, with his theological hostility towards Israel as a reliable source of information about the Middle East conflict?

The Wheaton scholar is president of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), under whose guidance has been responsible for "immersion" trips for American Christians to learn more about Israel through the eyes of Palestinian Christians. In other words, EMEU is an organization whose goal is to indoctrinate Christians to become anti-Israel.

At a Presbyterian Church (USA)  conference in 2005 to explain the 2004 General Assembly's decision to pass a divestment resolution against Israel, Burge was one of the featured speakers.

Burge also lectured at "Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict," sponsored by Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. Van Zile says of Sabeel that it has "been a persistent source of anti-Zionist agitation in mainline Protestant churches in the United States since its founding in 1994. The organization subjects Israel, Jews, and Judaism to intense scrutiny while remaining nearly silent about Arab and Muslim extremism in the Middle East.

In a CAMERA article, "Mainline Churches Embrace Burge's False Narrative," Dexter Van Zile lists some of the falsehoods found in Burge's book:
  • Rev. Dr. Burge attributed a quote to David Ben-Gurion that had been exposed as false and fabricated several years before publication of Whose Land? Whose Promise? 
  • Rev. Dr. Burge falsely stated that Israeli-Arabs are denied membership in Israel’s labor movement, when in fact, one of the books he cites reports that Israeli-Arabs had been allowed full membership in Israel’s largest union – the Histadrut – since 1959.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are barred from the service in Israel’s military.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are prohibited from joining Israel’s major political parties.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge mis-characterized UN Resolution 242 as requiring Israeli withdrawal to its “pre-1967 borders” when in fact it does not.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge portrays Hezbollah as a “resistance organization” when in fact its political agenda and leaders clearly state the organization is dedicated to the destruction of Israel – a fact he omits in his description.
  • Rev. Dr. Burge portrays the founding of the PLO as an attempt to resolve the problem of Palestinian refugees created by the 1948 war when in fact its founding was motivated by a desire for the destruction of Israel.
From Burge's book and his readiness to condemn the modern state of Israel, it becomes clear the professor is not providing an analysis of Israel but an grossly erroneous indictment of the nation. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Did God Lie to Israel About Promising Them a Homeland? Part 3

When it comes to Christians supporting Israel, we have to ask ourselves an important question.  Do I stand for Israel because of my love for the Jewish homeland and its people, or do I support Israel only because Israel's salvation is the key component to hurrying the return of Jesus?

Sadly, I think the latter is  mostly true. When I tell evangelical leaders and lay people about the current anti-Israel "Evangelical Intifada" taking place in the church, I often fail to observe a serious reaction. I witness a response that tells me a large segment of evangelicals don't care whether Israel is being trashed by some evangelicals unless it takes place in their own house of worship.

I also observe Christians who listen to anti-Israel speakers or view pro-Palestinian films like Little Town of Bethlehem and With God on Our Side, do so with an attitude of malaise. It is the rare Christian who is going to do the research and reading it'll take to refute and burst the propaganda bubble surrounding these films and lectures.

I would hope that my blogs and the writings of so many other evangelicals (see my Blog Log) who see the serious of the anti-Israel invasion of the evangelical church will cause the church to wake up.

One of the battle fronts of this "Evangelical Intifada" is theological.  Names like Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church in the UK and Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge are among the theologians who espouse the scriptural nuts and bolts of the anti-Israel invasion.

In a recent radio conversation with Michael Rydelnik, Jewish Studies department head at Moody Bible College, Burge states the covenants God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been fulfilled in Christ.  Christ, according to Burge, is the true seed of Abraham.  The promises Christians experience in Christ have been "elevated above the promises made to Abraham".  No longer is God concerned with the land of Israel, but is more focused on the whole world.

If Burge is correct, then the nation of Israel should not be of any concern to the writers of the New Testament after the coming of Jesus.  The major focus should be on Christ and the church - not one nation, especially Israel.

In Galatians 3:9 Paul writes,  "Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

Burge correctly notices God's focus today is urging all humanity to find salvation through Israel's Messiah.  Burge fails to understand the verse quoted by Paul from Genesis 12:3 simply states Lord's intent from when He first chose Israel as His people - to bless the whole world through the people of Israel.  Through progressive revelation, the prophets revealed this blessing would come through one seed of Israel - the Messiah.

However, the salvation of the earth brought through the messianic seed of Israel is not at cross purposes with God's other covenants with Israel.

In Romans 9:4-5 Paul writes concerning  the people of Israel, "Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen." Paul traces God's plan to bring the Messiah forth from Israel who will bless all of humanity.  Yet Paul never says the other covenants God has with Israel will be nullified once the Messiah comes. Only theologians like Sizer and Burge spout forth that false belief.

Paul says later in Romans 11:25-27 He will bring Israel into the blessings of the New Covenant and will forgive their sins.  This is a promise that will be fulfilled with the nation as a whole but in the meantime the God of Israel is saving a remnant of  Jewish people as they place their trust in Yeshua (Romans 11:5).

Further evidence is found in the prophetic passages of the New Testament that describe Israel back in the Promised Land after the present diaspora. In Matthew 24:15-16 Jesus quotes from the Hebrew prophet Daniel (9:27) that in the last days prior to his return, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." For this passage to be fulfilled, a Jewish temple must be standing in Israel. Consequently, the rebuilding of the Temple can only occur if the Jewish people are back in the land.

For those Reformed theologians and adherents of replacement theology who see these events as already fulfilled in the first century, then they would be forced to conclude Jesus has already returned. In the passage after the mention of the "abomination that causes desolation," Jesus adds, “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other"(Matthew 24: 30-31).

From these New Testament passages we can only conclude the Jewish people will be back in the land prior to the return of Jesus when the abomination [the Antichrist] stands in the Jewish Temple to desecrate it (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

The presence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel prior to Jesus' return fits with other passages in the New Testament.  In Acts 1:11 in harmony with Zechariah 14:4 the scriptures teach the Messiah's feet will stand on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In Zechariah 14 the prophet is speaking to the Jewish people and telling them the nations of the earth will come against Israel (vs. 2) but the Messiah will come to Jerusalem to defeat their enemies.  How can such a passage be fulfilled unless the Jewish people are back in the land?  Despite the New Testament's focus on the gospel going forth to all humanity (1 Timothy 2:4), God's dealings with the people of Israel never cease.

In the radio interchange between Rydelnik and Burge, the Moody Bible College professor brings out the fact Israel is mentioned in the Book of Revelation in harmony with Matthew 24 and the Old Testament prophets.  The Jewish Temple is mentioned in Revelation 11 as being rebuilt prior to Jesus' return. In Revelation 12:5 Israel is seen under the figure of a woman who gives birth to "a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”  In this passage Israel becomes an object of Satan's hatred and is persecuted by the devil or dragon.

In response Burge answers like most scholars who refuse to see the obvious by saying, "scholars debate the images seen in the Book of Revelation." I'm sorry to inform Gary Burge but when God gives instructions to measure His temple  describing the altar and the outer court of the gentiles (Revelation 11:1-2), the interpretation of the text is not figurative but literal.

Where will Burge stop with his excuse of referring to the use of figurative language in Revelation to avoid acknowledging Israel's place in prophecy?  Is the return of Jesus in Revelation 19:11-16 figurative or literal?

My next blog on this subject will deal with the question whether the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy?


Monday, July 25, 2011

Did God Lie to Israel About Promising Them a Homeland? Part 2

Does it matter whether or not God keeps His promise to give Israel a homeland?  Yes. But why?

First, the trustworthiness of the Lord is at stake.  Can God's word be trusted?  Since God went into such detail in the Jewish Scriptures concerning the geography of the land He promised Israel, to discover these promises are no longer applicable would change the way we perceive God's veracity.

Second,  in explaining the claims of Jesus to Jewish people, the Jewish individual would be surprised that the promise of the land of Israel is no longer on the table, but has now been reinterpreted or no longer applicable.

Finally, any view of prophecy must take into account the centrality of Israel to the prophetic timeline as described in the Holy Scriptures.

I have found replacement theologians who believe the Church or Christ has replaced Israel in the New Testament era, are not amenable to be called "replacement theologians."  Some of them like evangelical  Professor Gary Burge of Wheaton College prefers to be tagged as a Reformed theologians. Burge's aversion to being called a "replacement theologian" is a decoy meant to distract his readers from the fact no matter what he say, he still fits the description of a replacement theologian.

In a 2010 radio conversation on Moody Radio, Dr. Burge and Michael Rydelnik, head of the Jewish Studies program at Moody Bible College both theologians shared their views on what they believe the Bible teaches about the land promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Old Testament.

Burge is adamant that in the New Testament God changed His focus from a geographical or territorial framework to His spiritual promises to the whole world.  God is no longer concerned with the boundaries of Israel but rather His concern is that the gospel message reaches beyond the boundaries of the Jewish homeland to all the earth. The territory of Israel is no longer significant to God.

To get a better grasp of the scriptures used by Burge and other replacement theologians, we go back to the original promise made to Abraham found in Genesis 12:1-3:
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; 
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; 
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Notice that God commanded Abraham to go to a specific place . . . a  land.  Then the Lord promised Abraham that He would cause His offspring to increase into a great nation. Most important is the final promise:  all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through Abraham.  Through Abraham and his offspring, the world will experience blessing.

Once more in Genesis 13:14-17 the Lord is more specific about the land promises to Abraham and his descendants:
The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
Nowhere in the text does it say that the universal blessing provided by Abraham's seed replaces the land promises as Burge claims. The Wheaton professor quotes from Hebrews 11:9-12, 16 to make his point:
By faith he [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
  And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
According to Burge in Hebrews 11, the New Testament switches the focus from Abraham seeking territory on earth to seeking a heavenly home.  Notice some of the problems this interpretation creates:

First,  the other promises God made to Abraham about having descendants as numerous as the stars still holds true in Hebrews 11.  In fact, the writer of Hebrews makes it clear the descendants are not Abraham's spiritual seed but his physical seed since the author mentions the descendants came from Abraham and Sarah through the miraculous childbirth of Isaac.

Second, it is no surprise that Abraham was looking forward to "the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God," and that his descendants were also looking beyond the land as the ultimate destination of the human soul but to a heavenly homeland. Yet that does not cancel out the promises made to Abraham and his seed about the land.  Why can't Israel be promised an earthly homeland with the greater hope that in the afterlife they will enter into an eternal homeland into the presence of the God of Israel?  Why does one have to cancel out the other?

Replacement theologians must grapple with several other New Testament passages in Romans that reiterate God's commitment to fulfill His covenants with Israel which include the promise of land:

  What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar.
Romans 9:3-4  For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.
Romans 11:28-31 they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.  Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[a] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.
In all three passages from Romans, Paul makes it clear God has not taken away His promises and covenants He has made with Israel.  God is faithful to His promises. Yes, the nation of Israel will find their fullest blessing of eternal life through acceptance of their Messiah Jesus. In the meantime, Paul warns gentile Christians like replacement theologians in Romans 11:20-21, "But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either."  

Gentile Christians are to beware of becoming conceited not only in their attitude towards Jewish people but also in their theology that replaces God's promises He made to Israel and transferring them to the Church.  Replacement or Reformed theology is arrogant in their attempt to ignore God's commitment to Israel despite their present and temporary rejection of their Messiah. God is not finished with Israel yet.  Romans 9:4 is stated in the present tense which means the covenants and promises belong to Israel now and they have not been relinquished.

Another passage referred to by Burge in the Moody Radio conversation is Matthew 23: 37-39 where Jesus weeps over Israel due to their rejection of Him as their long awaited Messiah:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus speaks of the destruction of the Temple and by inference the third major diaspora of the Jewish nation. Because He did not mention the land, says Burge, it is no longer important. A "holy geography" is no important to God, but the salvation of Jewish souls.  Yes, Burge is correct. Again, the focus on Israel's salvation  as a nation or as individuals does not cancel out His land promises.

Instead of focusing on the land promises,  says Burge, God now "sees the whole world as holy territory," as stated in Romans 4:13, "It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith."

n Romans 4;!3  Paul is broadening and clarifying the promises given to Abraham that his seed would bless the whole world.  He is not changing the Old Testament text. Rydelnik states that according to Daniel 7 the Messiah will rule over the world when He comes to earth and will sit on His throne located in Jerusalem. Just as the Abrahamic Covenant is concerned with the whole world (Genesis 12:3), Yeshua will rule over the earth with His immediate rule over Israel and through the Jewish nation will rule the nations.

The seed through which this blessing comes is the Messiah Jesus (Galatians 3:19). The blessing given to the world is the offer of salvation through Jesus which comes to people through the declaring of the good news of salvation through Yeshua (Acts 1:8).  God now focuses on the whole world not just one territory, Israel.

Didn't the Lord tell the disciples to take the gospel beyond the borders of Israel into the whole world? (Acts 1:8).  Burge fails to make the distinction between the declaration of the gospel message to the whole world and the declaration of specific territory to one nation.  One does not rule out the other except in the mind of the Wheaton professor dead set to deny Israel its promises. There is no evidence that God chucked the land promises to Israel for the mission of bringing the gospel to the whole world.  Both are true.

Let it not be missed throughout the Jewish Scriptures, the God of Israel described the whole world will acknowledge Him as seen in Psalm 9:11, "Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done."

God is other-nation conscious throughout the Old Testament (Psalm 18:49; 22;27). Right now, the Church is given the mission of declaring the Word of God among the nations but the time will come when Israel will step back into its God-given role as seen in Revelation 7 when144,000 Jewish people declare the New Testament message to the gentile nations prior to Jesus' return to earth.

In the Book of Revelation, which is concerned with end time events prior to the return of the Messiah, the focus of the book is centered in Israel.  When confronted by Rydelnik about Israel's presence in John's revelation, Burge gave the standard line when a scholar can't answer a question or is cornered, "Well, there is a lot of debate over the interpretation of the Book of Revelation."

In another blog I will address this issue in greater detail. However, do not miss the fact when Israel is clearly described back in the land and in the center of God's program, the replacement and Reformed theologian will always fall back on the fact "this matter is up to debate" instead of dealing with the actual texts where Israel is mentioned.

Burge's ploy of not dealing with the obvious placement of Israel in the Jewish homeland prior to Jesus' return is a dead giveaway. Though he claims to love the Jewish people, like many replacement theologians, he exposes the truth that he has little regard for God's covenant promises to Israel except to deny them.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Did God Lie to Israel About Giving Them A Jewish Homeland? Part 1

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them," said Jesus in Matthew 5:17.  Despite Jesus' commitment to not abolish the prophetic message, Reformed theologians believe the modern state of Israel has not been divinely given to the Jewish people as promised by the prophets.

 One such theologian is Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge.  More than a theologian Burge often serves on panels where politically charged anti-Israel messages are delivered by himself and other speakers.

In a radio conversation on a 2010 Moody Radio broadcast between himself and Moody Bible College Jewish studies professor Michael Rydelnik, Burge explains his position on Israell:  Since Israel is not faithful to the covenant God made with Israel as found in the Mosaic Law, then the land does not belong to the Jewish people.

Professor Burge noted the modern state of Israel bears no likeness to a country living in obedience to the Torah.  In fact,  the state of Israel was founded by secular Jews not religious ones. The modern state of Israel, according to Burge, is disqualified from having divine ownership of the land.

So the question remains, "Did God make a promise to Israel that still holds true or is it no longer relevant due to Israel's disobedience?"

Burge argues the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob concerning the land of Israel were conditional upon Israel's obedience.  To prove his point he points to the times when God took the Jewish people from the land and  delivered them into the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities due to their refusal to heed the statutes of the Torah.

The professor is correct on the fact God removed Israel from the land because of their disobedience.  Leviticus 20:22 warns, "Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out."

Though God sent His people out of the land, it is essential to note that He never took away their title deed to the land.

The interplay between Israel's disobedience caused them to be removed from the land and later returning to the land is explained in Leviticus 26:3-6.

Initially, God focuses on Israel's enjoyment of the land in Leviticus 26:3-6 when He cautions:
If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 
Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.
Then He warns Abraham's descendants they will be removed from the land if they refuse Him as witnessed in Leviticus 26:32-35
I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.  I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. 
Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.
Finally, God says He will bring His people back to the land upon their repentance and humbling themselves before Him as described in Leviticus 26:40-42
But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin,  I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
Notice, God says He "will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember my land." The covenant He refers to is the Abrahamic covenant as found in  Genesis 12, 13, 17 where God promises the land to Abraham's seed without any strings attached.  In fact, when God ratifies the covenant He alone passes through the pieces of the sacrifice needed to ratify His promise,  and then restates the covenant to Abraham and the geographical boundaries of the promised Holy Land in Genesis 15:17-20
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,  Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Yes, for Israel to enjoy, not own the land, they are to be obedient to the Lord. Most importantly, when we read the prophets, we witness the grace of the Lord is promising to bring the Jewish people back from their worldwide dispersion into the land of Israel despite their disobedience, but in order to protect the honor of God.  This prophetic promise is found in Ezekiel 36:22-24:
Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.
For Burge to deny this passage and many more like it, is to make Jesus abolish rather than fulfill the prophecies of the Jewish Scriptures

The weakness of the Reformed position is that most of their advocates like Burge are weak in their knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures. Their Reformed systematic theology forces them to ignore myriads of prophetic passages where God promises the land of Israel to the Jewish people.

Gary Burge maintains those who believe God promised the Israel to the Jewish people hold to a "land theology." He also states this "land theology" is not in the New Testament. Rather, the New Testament moves away from the territorial aspect of God's promises to Israel and focuses solely on the spiritual dimension.

Individuals who hold to God's promise of the land to Israel are guilty of holding to a "Jewish theology" not a "Christian theology."  I prefer to call what I believe a "biblical theology" - a theology that encompasses both testaments.

Burge, like many theologians who deny the land is promised to Israel, start with a presupposition they cannot prove - any of God's promises found in the Old Testament that are not repeated in the New Testament are no longer applicable. I find his position untenable simply because it is a man made theological belief not found in any biblical passages.

I wonder since Burge maintains that if a promise of God is not repeated in the New Testament, it has been superseded by New Testament theology, how he feels about God's promise in Genesis 9:11-16 to never destroy the earth with a flood? The sign of this covenant is the visible appearance of a rainbow;
 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 
Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,  I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
This promise is not repeated in the New Testament, so according to the Wheaton New Testament professor, the promise doeS not hold true and God can destroy the earth with a flood again. We see how foolish Burge's presupposition is when we apply it to many Old Testament promises that are not repeated in the New Testament.

Burge grew strangely quiet during his interchange with Rydelnik when the Moody professor read Romans 11:28-29 regarding God's unchanging covenants with Israel:
but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.
Though Burge claims he is not a replacement theologian which teaches the Church has replaced Israel, Gary still tiptoes through the minefield of replacement theology and agrees with them on many points.

To his credit, Burge expressed his conviction that God has a special love for the Jewish people and that antisemitism is a sin against the God of Israel.  However, after Burge is finished stripping Israel of the promises the Lord laid down in the Jewish scriptures, he still ends up with the position that the church has replaced Israel. No longer are Israel's national promises of a land, a growing nation and the blessing of all the nations through Israel applicable. According to Burge, all the promises made to Israel are now fulfilled in Christ. That sounds like replacement theology to me. 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ziggy Marley Refuses to Cancel Israel Concerts

Today the Jerusalem Post  reported reggae musician Ziggy Marley, son of icon Bob Marley did not bow to anti-Israel pressure to nix his two concerts in Israel. Instead, Marley kept his commitments to perform in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at Sacher Park.

In light of the recent pressure by activist groups wanting musicians to boycott Israel, Marley's snub of these anti-Israelists comes as an act of courage on his part.  Along with Bob Dylan's concert in Israel last month, it is refreshing to know certain musicians will not politicize their music or allow others to drag them into their anti-Israel politics.

My hat's off to Ziggy Marley. Though I'm not as familiar with his music as with his Dad's, I may even go out and buy one of his CDs to show my approval of his decision.

Reggae star Ziggy Marley rejects calls to boycott Israel


“Rastafarianism has a lot to do with the Old Testament and Solomon and David and Moses, so we have a strong connection from many years back,” singer says.

Online pressure to boycott Israel didn’t dissuade reggae star Ziggy Marley from performing in Tel Aviv Tuesday night or on Thursday at the Return to Zion festival at Sacher Park in Jerusalem.

“People say, don’t disgrace your father’s name by going to Israel and all these type of things,” the eldest son of the late musical icon Bob Marley said at a press conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv, referring to the negative responses he saw on Facebook and other sites upon publication of his Israel tour dates.

“What I tell them is that, listen, I follow nature, I follow the universe, I follow God. I’m not a part of the segregation that people put on each other … I’m a part of nature and God, and God made the sun shine for everybody.”

This isn’t Marley’s first visit to Israel, both as a performer and visitor. His wife is Israeli and he said his young children speak Hebrew. And there are other ties to the land for Marley, who said his culture of Rastafarianism is rooted in concepts developed in “this region of the world.”

“Rastafarianism has a lot to do with the Old Testament and Solomon and David and Moses, so we have a strong connection from many years back,” he said.

Marley, who recently released his latest album, Wild and Free, said the message he is trying to convey is one of love and spirituality.

But at the press conference he didn’t shy away from questions of a political nature. Marley weighed in on the Knesset’s recent passing of the antiboycott law, which allows civilians to file lawsuits against organizations or people who impose boycotts on Israeli economic, academic or commercial institutions.

“I think the people should have a right to boycott whoever they want to boycott without the government making them into criminals, and try to protect corporations from people,” he said. “They should protect people from corporations.”

A strong advocate of the widespread use of marijuana, Marley also chastized corporations and politicians for criminalizing and demonizing the plant. He said hemp seeds have nutritional and environmental benefits, and can be used in a wide variety of sustainable practices.

But the tour this time around is mostly about music, and Marley said he is still happy to be known as the son of Bob Marley.

“People love me everywhere I go,” Marley said to laughter.

Becoming serious, he said his father is one of his favorite musicians.

“He was just a great artist and that is one of my biggest inspirations.” But he said he doesn’t expect his children to follow in his or his father’s footsteps, adding that he hopes his children do whatever they feel “inside of them.”

Asked whether he or his family practices Judaism at home, Marley replied: “I practice love.”
Download JPost's iPhone application


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Are Evangelicals Pulling The Plug on Supporting Israel?

Ever since I've been a follower of Jesus, life has been one long battle in standing for the truth. Over the years I've stopped trying to end the combative lifestyle I find myself in and have accepted the fact conflict comes with the territory of defending God's word against those who would try to corrupt it and deny its truths.

In my 20s  I enrolled in Dallas Baptist University as a religion major,  There I discovered my professors were all replacement theologians who believed the Church had replaced Israel and now all the promises made to Israel in the Jewish Scriptures are fulfilled in the Body of Christ.

I was confused, angry and felt as a Jewish person I had been duped into believing in a faith that caused me to mistrust God's word and those who interpreted it. How could God promise Abraham a geographical territory known as Israel, but later on reveal that His land promise was not to be taken seriously? Now the land of Israel, as I was taught, has been replaced with heaven, the true territorial goal of the Christian.

For the next few years I familiarized myself with books written by Covenant and Reformed theologians, amillennialists, post-millennialists and historic pre-millennialists (George Ladd).  During college and seminar I wrote papers disputing the replacement theological system and in the process became stronger in my belief that the New Testament makes a clear distinction between the Church and Israel, and that Israel is never replaced by the Church.

My break through came in an hermeneutics (science of biblical interpretation) class taught by Dr. Bell, a renegade graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.  When Dr. Bell pronounced he was a "true Jew" and that Jewish people were no longer God's chosen people, I almost fell out of my chair.  I responded, "Dr. Bell, I perceive the weakness of your theology is that you totally disregard 1000s of passages in the Old Testament describing God's plan for Israel and it's those very passages that dismantle your theology.  It's as if you have a theological filter through which you interpret the Jewish scriptures that fit your theology but the passages that won't pass through your pre-conceived filter are ignored."

I made an "A" in Dr. Bell's class, God rest his theologically incorrect soul.

Today a  new element has been added to replacement theology. No longer is replacement theology or Reformed beliefs (it's all the same Israel denying theology) just a theological system but it has taken on a political dimension.

Replacement theology and their theologians such as Dr. Gary Burge, Wheaton College New Testament professor,  has now formed a clear merger with Palestinian Christians who are dead set on promoting an anti-Israel perspective in evangelical churches.

Already several Christian leaders have drunk the Palestinian Christian Kool-Aid such as Lynne Hybels, wife of mega church leader, Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church), Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Tony Campolo and others who appear on the docket at the 2012 pro Palestinian Christians Christ at the Checkpoint Conference at Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank.

These theologians and activists claim to be non-violent in their stance against Israel, yet they all share the common goal of distorting the history of the Middle East to make Israel the sole culprit of perpetrator of all of Palestinian ills. Sami Awad, in a lecture given at the Arvada, Colorado Vineyard, complains that the Palestinian Christian community has shrunk from 30% to 3%.  Yet he fails to go through the sequence of historical events in which the Palestinian Authority disrespectfully destroyed Christian churches and took over these holy sites as locations to engage the Israelis in battle.  Did Sami ever ponder the fact that Christians are leaving the disputed territories due to the mistreatment of his fellow Christians by Palestinians Muslims?  Oddly, the Christian population in Israel is increasing.

Bottom line: Evangelicals are being taken on a wild ride by these anti-Christian Zionists and Palestinian Christians who distort facts about Israel's involvement in the ME conflict, misuse biblical passages about God's promises to the Jewish people, claim to advocate non-violence while refusing to condemn the PLO or Hamas and focus only on Israeli soldiers and appeal to the evangelical concern for the underdog to persuade followers of Christ to play into the hands of these double tongued leaders who come "bearing words of peace."

What can be done?  If you are an evangelical -Jewish or Gentile - I appeal to you to share the blogs you find on Thinking Outside the Blog about the Palestinian Christian issue.  Read other blogs such as and ElderofZyon.blogspot and a messianic Jewish blog Share the articles you find on these blogs on your Facebook page.  Tweet the articles you find on my blog and others.

The underhanded work of Palestinian Christians in America's evangelical churches must be stopped. Do not be fooled by their words of reconciliation, "just cause" and non-violence.  Most of these groups such as Sami Awad's Holy Land Trust align themselves with Israel hating groups involved in divestment, boycott and sanctions against Israel and do all they can to foster an anti-Israel theology in the evangelical church.

I admonish my readers to start reading books on Middle East history so you can respond to the twisted lies perpetrated by these leaders who speak to unknowledgeable Christians regarding the recent history of Israel.  Go out and purchase Mitchell Bard's Idiot's Guide to the Middle East Conflict for starters.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Truth Doesn't Matter for Hanegraff Regarding Israel

Christian Research Institute headed by Hank Hanegraff (the Bible Answer Man) prides itself on its motto, "because Truth matter." However, in a recent article authored by Palestinian Christian Mourice Mrabe,  despite CRI's stance, truth went out the window.

Mrabe tells the story of his youth growing up in the Arab Christian community in Palestine.  Usually with Christian ministries and leaders, if a person puts the word "Christian" after his nationality, then it is assumed that person is telling the truth.  In this case Mrabe is poor example of CRI's commitment to checking out the facts behind one of their writer's claims.

Mourice Mrabe states that during the 1948 war of Israel's independence, the Jewish forces "took over most of Palestine, leaving only twenty percent of the land for the Arab majority, and displacing at least 750,000 from their homes and villages." As a result of the Israeli "take-over" Mrabe ended up as a refugee in the West Bank.  The Israeli showed no discrimination is ousting both Arab Christians and Arab Muslims from the land.

It is very common for Palestinian Christians who speak to Christian groups to emphasize how the Israelis expelled Palestinians from the land during the period of 1947-1949. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Let it not be forgotten if the Palestinians accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not a single Palestinian would have any need to become a refugee.  An independent Palestinian state would now exist beside Israel.  The actual responsibility of the refugee problem, as unpopular as this sounds, rests with the Arab peoples.

In fact, even the numbers of refugees Palestinian Christians commonly quote is highly dubious.  They claim 800,000 to a million Palestinians became refugees during Israel's War of Independence. The last census taken by the British in 1945 found there were approximately 1.2 million permanent Arab residents in all  of Palestine. A 1949 Government of Israel census counted 160,000 Arabs living in the country after the war.  In 1947 a total of 809,100 Arabs lived in the same area. This means that no more than 650,000 Palestinians could have become refugees.

But Palestinians often forget the Jewish side of this story when it comes to refugees.

Palestinian Christians conveniently forget the large number of Jewish people who fled from Arab states. In fact, the number of Jewish people escaping Arab countries for Israel after the War of Independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine! In fact, Arab countries expelled over 820,000 Jews from their lands between 1948-1972.  Of these refugees 586,000 settled in Israel without going to refugee camps like Palestinians.

What's even more astounding is that through November 2003, 101 of the 681 UN resolutions regarding the Middle East conflict solely concerned the Palestinian refugees. Not one mentioned the Jewish refugees who fled from Arab countries.

Christian Palestinians like Mrabe fail to mention that Jewish leaders prior to the War of Independence invited the Arabs to remain in Palestine and to become citizens of Israel.  A few sentences from the Assembly of Palestine Jewry issued in October 1947 will suffice:
We will do everything in our power to maintain peace, and establish a cooperation gainful to both. It is no, here and now, from Jerusalem itself that a cal must go out to the Arab nations to join forces with Jewry and the destined Jewish State and work shoulder to shoulder for our common good for the peace and progress of sovereign equals (David ben Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, pg. 220). 
In the weeks following the announcement of the UN partition resolution, the Arab exodus already started. The first to leave were roughly 30,000 wealthy Arab who anticipated the coming war and got out of Dodge to other Arab lands to wait out the war.  Less affluent Arabs also left Palestine to live with relatives and friends.

I. F. Stone in This Is Israel recalls that by the end of 1948, the evacuation of Palestine by its inhabitants was so alarming that the Palestine Arab Higher Committee "asked neighboring [Arab] countries to refuse visas to these refugees" to stop the flow of abandonment.

When one reads the press reports during the War of Independence, there is no mention of any forcible expulsion of Arabs by Israeli forces. Rather, the press described the Palestinians as fleeing and evacuating their homes on their own recognizance:

Let us not forget Palestinian were also encouraged to leave their dwelling places to make way for the invading Arab forces.

In his memoirs, Haled al Azm, the Syrian PM in 1948-1949, also admitted the Arab role in persuading the refugees to leave:
Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. (The Memoirs of Haled al Azm pp. 386-387) 
in recounting his story Mrabe tells how one of his brothers sought work in Jordan and was refused entrance to be reunited with his family in the West Bank by the Israelis. Since his brother could not come back to the land, he went to Lebanon during the 70s.  The brother joined the PLO while in Lebanon "after suffering the loss of his homeland." Mrabe claims that his father believed his PLO gave his life for the cause of peace.

The PLO is a terrorist organization devoted to the destruction of Israel and whose aim is to expel the Jewish presence from the Holy Land.

The fact that Mrabe did not even refer to the terrorist nature of  the PLO is disconcerting. This is especially true because in ending his article Mrabe, worship leader of a church in Sacramento, mentions Palestinian Christians play an essential role to bring "individuals closer to God" and provide "reason and hope for equality and reconciliation between the different groups in Israel/Palestine."

I'm not sure how useful Palestinian Christians can be if they refuse to recognize the terrorist nature of the PLO and find it useful to revise Middle East history for their own self serving aims.

Hank Hanegraff and the Christian Research Institute dropped the ball on doing their research in allowing a Palestinian Christian to get in his digs against Israel without checking out his facts.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Messianic Jewish Scholar Debates Christian Professor Over Israel

The debate over the ownership of the land of Israel is not a dead issue in evangelical Christian circles.  On one side, there are theologians who believe the covenants God made with Israel continue even to this day.
Those individuals refer to such statements made by Paul in Romans 11:28-29 which states "but as far as election is concerned, they [Israel] are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable."

On the other side of theological aisle is professor Gary Burge from the New Testament department of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.  Burge, a self proclaimed Reformed theologian, believes the Bible teaches that because of Israel's disobedience in rejecting Jesus as Messiah, the Jewish people have lost ownership of the land of Israel.

Burge maintains the Jewish people living in Israel today have no divine right or authority to claim Israel as their God-given homeland. Like a domino affect Burge has also become involved in evangelical efforts to delegitimize Israel's claim to land and has become a participant in various pro-Palestinian Christian efforts to cast dispersion on the nation of Israel in their treatment of Palestinians.

The debate rages on.

Last year Rydelnik and Burge appeared on Moody Radio on the Janet Parshall show to discuss their views on "land theology."  I recommend my readers spend the time to listen to this quick moving dialogue over an essential issue.

Has God given the Jewish people the land of Israel to be their homeland, or has the covenant God made with Abraham to give his descendant the land of Israel ended because of their disobedience?

Listen to Rydelnik and Burge hash out their different perspectives on this most essential issue. Please click here to listen to this broadcast.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bob Dylan Plays in Tel Aviv Despite Pleas to Boycott Israel

On June 20th Bob Dylan performed in Israel amid a lot of pressure by various anti-Israel groups in favor of boycotting the Jewish state. One group Please Don't Play for Apartheid Israel expressed their disappointment when the legendary rocker ignored their pleas and went forward with his concert.

Hooray for Bob Dylan who stood up to these groups calling on the singer to boycott Israel. Such groups are using videos to call on such artists as Paul Simon, Moby and Duran Duran to cancel their concerts. Some of the artists who have honored the boycott include Carlos Santana, who cited scheduling problems for the cancelation. Yet boycott groups against Israel are claiming Santana as one artist who has honored their call to boycott Israel.

Regardless of the call for a boycott, Dylan performed and even sang several of his Christian songs for the mostly Israeli crowd.  I've gained a new respect for Dylan for standing up to pressure and not giving in to pressure to anti-Israel groups.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Are Anti Zionists also Anti Semitic?

A standard line by anti-Zionist Christians is that their stand against Israel does not mean they are anti-Semitic.

Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church in Surrey, UK is a noted anti-Zionist who claims to be pro-Israel and not an anti-Semite.

I ask you to be the judge of whether Reverend Sizer, who appears at almost every Palestinian Christian conference, is an anti-Semite. Based on the company he keeps and the authorities he quotes, I have good reason to tag this Christian pastor as both anti-Israel and an anti-Semite whose writings help fuel the enmity of Israel's enemies against the Jewish nation.

This is the same Stephen Sizer who is a featured speaker at the Bethlehem Bible College's Christ at the Checkpoint Conference which includes such notables as author John Ortberg, Lynne Hybels, wife of Willow Creek Pastor, Bill Hybels, Christian writer Ron Sider, Jews for Jesus worker Richard Harvey, speaker and author Tony Campolo and many others.

Here is a recent video on Stephen Seizer and his associates: