Israel: God Prevails
Headlines from the Middle East has many people wondering if the nation of Israel fighting
Hamas today in the Gaza strip is the same nation of Israel that Moses led out of bondage in
Egypt, or that Joshua ultimately led into the Promised Land.
Answer is: it depends. The nation now known as Israel didn’t exist until 1948 when the United
Nations declared that the land previously occupied by Palestinians would now become the new
nation. Israel had long since lost control over the land.
Israel was the name God gave to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, who had swindled his twin
brother Esau, and who would go on to have 12 sons who became first became known as the
“children of Israel.”
Forty years after being led out of Egyptian bondage, these 12 tribes officially became a nation
when they were led into the Promised Land. Although even then the land had been occupied
by the Canaanites, God determined that the Canaanites were idolatrous, and He delivered the
land into the hands of Israel.
King Saul was the nation’s first king, who ruled over all 12 tribes which had spread out over the
land now being fought over. King David would succeed Saul, and after David came Solomon,
and after Solomon the kingdom was split.
Ten tribes in the north took the name Israel, and two tribes to the south became known as
Judah; hence the moniker “Jews.” It wasn’t long before the northern kingdom because of their
disobedience to God, was overrun by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., and to this day they are
considered the Lost Tribes.
Judah, on the other hand still existed as a kingdom until around 586 B.C. when their
disobedience led to the Babylonians conquering the land and taking the nation into captivity for
70 years. After the Babylonians, the Persians (modern-day Iranians) controlled the land, but
allowed Judah (now also known as Israel) to rebuild the wall around the city and the Temple.
After the Persians came Alexander the Great, the Greek general, who not only conquered Israel,
but also Egypt, Syrian, and Afghanistan just to name a few. The Romans ruled during the time
of Jesus, and after the Romans came in no particular order, the Turks, the Arabs, even
Crusaders from the Roman Catholic Church ruled over the area for a time.
With each of these conquests, Jewish people were scattered in a diaspora that reached as far
away as Europe and other western countries. By 1948, the land now known as Israel was
mostly occupied by Palestinians, who by the way, are descendants of the Philistines of Goliath
fame – mortal enemies of Israel.
Now that brings us to 1948. Zionists – proponents of returning the land to Jewish rule, had
been harassing the British which now ruled the land under what was known as their Palestinian
Mandate. The British had secured control of the land from the Turks or the Ottoman Empire.
The Zionists, many of whom had emigrated from Europe, were insistent that the British turn
the land over to them, but the British had promised the Arabs control of the land because of
their oil agreements. Ultimately, however, the British relinquished its control over the land,
and the Zionists issued a declaration of independence laying claim to the land.
Then, as now, a war broke out, and with the west almost immediately recognizing the newly
formed Israel as a nation, it quickly gained military superiority.
Today, after years of six-day wars, and Arab-Israeli wars, and acts of terrorism, Israel finds itself
right where it has always been – surrounded by those who seek their destruction.
Perhaps the only solace one can take from such an imbroglio is that in Hebrew, the name Israel
literally means “God prevails.” That’s the only hope for such an intractable conflict.