Pretend Palestine

“Palestine” is a word that we hear a lot lately.  Recently, I did a search for “Palestine” on the internet and it yielded 457 million results.  Many of those results were stories of suffering and conflict. Although “Palestine” is apparently ubiquitous on the internet and in the news, one word you will never find in the Bible is “Palestine”.  Admittedly, some theological writers have referred to Deuteronomy 30:1-10 as the Palestinian Covenant.  These 10 verses are God’s promise to return Israel to the Land He had promised to them.  A land bound by the Euphrates River, the Jordan  River, the Mediterranean Sea and the River of Egypt, which I understand to be a reference to the Wadi el-Arish.  But “Palestine” is never mentioned in these verses.  Why? Because it is a made up word for a made up country.

Referring to the land bound by these rivers and seas as Palestine is unbiblical, inaccurate, plays into a Satanic subversion, and does not reflect reality. It is inaccurate in that Palestine is not a geographic or political entity that is reflected in the Bible.  Instead, Palestine is a term originating in approximately 135 AD when the Roman Emperor Hadrian attempted to eradicate Judea.  He renamed this area from Judea (a Latinized form of the name Judah) to Palestine as an affront to the Jews.  So, to that extent, we can even say that the word Palestine is an anti-Semitic term.

After the fall of the Ottoman empire at the end of WWI, the name Palestine was used with reference to the area incorporating the region from the Jordan to the Mediterranean sea and from Galilee south to the Negev which fell under the British mandate.  So the designation of this area as Palestine began as an insult and was perpetuated by those who were occupiers and administrators but not inhabitants.  Obviously, as my internet search showed, the inaccurate and unbiblical designation of the land that God gave to Israel as Palestine continues to today.

It has been subverted in that Palestine as a political entity and people did not come into existence until 1964 with the original Palestine National Charter.  This charter continued Hadrian’s insult to Israel.  If you look up the charter it explicitly declares Israel to be an illegal nation (Article 17), with no right to a homeland (Article 18), and an agent of fascism (Article 19). The term Palestine, therefore, has been subverted to refer to pseudo-state and pseudo-nationality and a de jure nation with an anti-Israel agenda.

It is Satanic because this renaming of the land is directly contrary to what God has said.  From Hadrian’s decree, through the British mandate, through the Palestinian National Charter, to today’s news the substitution of the word “Palestine” for “Israel” opposes what God has both decreed and guaranteed by covenant and oath.

Finally, the term “Palestine” attempts to mask the reality that God has sovereignly given the land to the nation of Israel.  Not only did God give them this land by He pledged it to them by both unconditional covenant (Gn. 12:1-3, 15:7-21, 17:6) and oath (Gn. 26:3).

When will their be peace in the mid-east? When the people who reside there and the nations that try to have an influence there yield to God’s sovereignty over the world He has created.  No matter how artful a deal for peace that may someday be struck, no peace will come until the rule of the true Sovereign is honored.

Whatever He Pleases, He Does

Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” 

(Psalm 135:6, NASB95)

Everything that Happens to You is Redeemed by the Sovereignty of God

One of my very favorite theologians, Charles Ryrie, wrote “The word sovereign means chief, highest, or supreme. When we say that God is sovereign we are saying that He is the number one Ruler in the universe…The concept of sovereignty involves the entire plan of God in all of its intricate details of design and outworking. Although He often allows things to take their natural course according to laws which He designed, it is the sovereign God who is working all things according to His wise plan.⁠1

Everyone implicitly or instinctively recognizes there is a god who is in control of all things.  As I write this Hurricane Dorian was swept through the Bahamas and is heading toward Florida.  When asked to explain why this devastating Hurricane has wreaked such damage may will simply say “It was an act of god.”

When I was a boy I often heard the dreaded words “Wait until your father gets home!”.  This was very bad news as it was the promise of a coming spanking.  In the same way God’s sovereignty is bad news for some.  Sovereignty means that God, specifically the God of the Bible, is able and will vent His wrath against all things evil. 

For others, God’s sovereignty is great news.  It means that nothing is out of God’s control.  When things are going great we can easily affirm that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17).  But can we also affirm that God is in control when suffering blows into our lives like Hurricane Dorian (Philip. 1:29, 1 Pet. 3:17)?  The sovereignty of God means that we can.  Every disappointment, personal disaster, physical, emotional, psychological hurt, every unkind word, every unfounded accusation and rumor is purposeful in our lives.  God’s sovereignty in suffering means that everything that befalls us serves to make us more like Jesus (Rom. 8:28-29).

How does this work out in practical terms? Let me give just one example.  God allows us to suffer so we can comfort others in their suffering (2 Cor 1:4).  Mutual suffering welds us into a fellowship of suffering.  It is a fellowship that includes Jesus.  He suffered unjustly at the hands of government and religious leaders who conspired to put Him to death.  And this was all according to God’s plan (Acts 2:23). When someone experiences a catastrophic or even minor setback we can empathize with them because, after all, we too have suffered.  We can also turn with them to Jesus who is able to sympathize with our suffering.  

On the other hand, when someone overflows with joy we are also ready to share their joy because we know what joy is.  And we can share this joy with Jesus who knows joy (Heb. 12:2).

So whether you are suffering or joyful today take comfort in the sovereignty of God.  He is with you and is using your suffering and joy to draw you closer to fellow Christians, closer to Christ Himself, and closer to becoming like Him.

1 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972).