May 14, 2018 is the day that United States of America opened its embassy in Jerusalem. The consequences of this development are open, in the view of many, to a large degree of controversy, belligerence and further unrest in the Middle East. Alternatively it can be hoped that ” Trump style” diplomacy could have as yet unforeseen benefit. Many specialists have given the Arab-Israeli conflict considerable thought.
It would thus be appropriate to reflect on the views of Prof Benny Morris (Author of Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist Arab conflict 1881 to 1999: Vintage books New York) who in an address in South African at the University of Cape Town Summer School, indicated, in answer to the question “Who is a Jew? Responded “Anybody who thinks that they are one.” Pursuing the matter further, the questioner asked “If that be the case what would be significance of The Covenant?” The Professor responded by stating that ” He did not know of what the questioner was asking about.” This is a secular viewpoint. Changing the religious or sacred to that which is opposed to sacred things.
Today, Israel holds that it is indeed a secular country. It’s origins however stem from the Abrahamic covenant with God “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis chapter 12 versus 2 and 3 . This, for some, is the basis of Israel being identified as “The Promised Land”. Israel today however proclaims that it is a country “created by a secular people” and is now an expression of Jewish nationalism rather than Jewish Faith. This renders the country as being foreign to the sense of the Israel spoken of in the old Testament.
Against this background we have the existential concerns and future well-being of the Palestinians. A native people of the former Middle East country who were displaced when Israel became a State. Many claim the experience of knowing that Palestinians do seek a settlement with Israel that is just and equitable. Alex Awad 2001 ( His book Through the Eyes Of Victims. Bethlehem Bible College) states “Most Palestinians have a clear vision of workable peace between themselves and Israel………. While they wish for their plight to be acknowledged they know they cannot seek absolute justice, but settle for relative justice that take note of the present realities.”
Against this background one has to recognise that the continued lack of unanimity within the Christian church, as to the theological and political importance of Israel, casts serious doubt in the secular mind on the veracity and reliability of the Bible as the direction giving basis of the Christian faith. Through study of the ” Word” they worship the ” Truth”. This burden of current doubt does not set us free. In essence this long-standing ongoing formidable fiasco blinds many to the suggested fact that Israel’s restoration is an essential imperative to the restoration of the kingdom of God.
The global conception, establishment and recognition of a “New Jerusalem” has great Christian theological significance. This is a concept that is not a matter of concern to only Jews and Israelis. It is of significance to “believers in the Messiah, even if they are Gentiles” (Rev JRW Stott) This is surely the only accomplishable way forward, as a basis for peace in the Middle East and the uniting the Christian church by way of a non-geographic resolution of a problem that could otherwise become a reprehensible calamity.. Realisation of this ultimately Provident driven alternative could ensure that the United States Embassy could thus be sure of its physical and diplomatic future in Jerusalem.