The Pattern for Peace

Mid-East peace, as it is termed, has been an issue that American presidents have attempted to resolve, mostly unsuccessfully, ever since the Carter administration. One plan after another has been proposed; some clearly better than others.

The current peace plan certainly has its positive aspects, some of which have never been proposed before. That, in and of itself, is exemplary. Notwithstanding, the plan has serious flaws which have made it a complete non-starter from the very beginning. In so many words, the pattern of the peace plan is such that it was actually designed to fail. Anyone with even limited understanding of the situation would have known that the Palestinians, for example, would never accept that, in return for anything, they would have to recognize Israel’s complete sovereignty over an un-divided Jerusalem.

The funny thing is, not only do the Palestinians reject this plan, but many evangelical Christians do as well. If you listen to the likes of John and Josh Rosenstern of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, for example, you will find that their position is that to divide the land in any way is strictly un-biblical. They resolutely state that God gave the entirety of said land (whatever it is really supposed to look like on a map) to the Jewish people via a promise to Abraham. Thus, they oppose the peace plan (even though they vehemently support Trump in literally everything else) because it proposes to divide the land. This biblical promise is found in Genesis 13. But, they, and others of their persuasion, focus only on the very end of the chapter where the promise is contained.

The entire chapter, however, is instructive. It reads as follows (from the NIV):

13 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

14 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. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever. 16 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. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

Reading this chapter in its entirety demonstrates that Abraham did something before the promise was made. One can infer that God made this promise to Abraham specifically because of Abraham’s actions here. And, to what specific actions do I refer? Abraham himself proposed to Lot that they divide the land. Shocking, I know! The very patriarch of the Hebrew faith proposed that the land be divided so that quarreling would cease. Both he and Lot recognized the seriousness of the situation and that they could no longer dwell together.

ONLY THEN did God make the promise to Abraham that these evangelical-types focus on so sternly. The fact of the matter is that, even before the promise was made, Abraham had de facto say over it. How do we know this? Because the promise was already made, although less specifically, in just the previous chapter. God had already told Abram (as he was then called) that he would possess the land that he was to journey to. Never mind that other people already possessed it. Therefore, it was within the purview of Abraham to do with the land as HE chose. It was HIS. And HE chose to divide it. THAT is biblical.

The Bible clearly teaches here that, where there is conflict, compromise must be made. It’s plain and simple. And, there is reward in the future for simply doing the right thing. So, let’s please stop the unnecessary squabbling and come to a compromise that actually works. It IS possible.

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