Who Owns Palestine? - Part 1

Who Owns Palestine?

Dr. Noel Smith
Reprinted from the Baptist Bible Tribune, Oct. 4, 1957 from The Best of Noel Smith by Norma Gilming. Used by Permission.

This is the first of five articles.

So far as the Bible is concerned, there never has been and there is not today any semblance of doubt as to the rightful claimants to Palestine. On no question is the Bible's language clearer, more exact or precise. Here is what it says:

And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD. Genesis 13:14-18

And in the fifteenth chapter we read this: In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: Genesis 15:18

And in Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, as follows:

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When Ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. Leviticus 23:9-11.

Leviticus 25:23 - The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

Numbers 32:7-9 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them? Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land. For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.

Deuteronomy 1:8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.

Joshua 21:43 And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which, he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.

The territory conveyed and deeded to Abraham and his seed "for ever' not only embraces the 12,000 square miles universally recognized as The Holy Land (the State of Israel currently occupies 8,000 square miles), it embraces all the territory between the Nile and Euphrates Rivers that is 300,000 square miles – twelve and a half times as great as Great Britain and Ireland.

God owns all the earth. But He owns that territory in a unique sense. Every foot of that land is holy land. The fact that the descendants of Abraham have never possessed any considerable portion of it, except in the days of Solomon, doesn't alter a word in the deed. The King of the Jews has never a day sat on the Throne of David; but the Throne belongs to Him. He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:32,33).

This territory was conveyed and deeded to Abraham and his seed "for ever" through the line of Isaac.

Genesis 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Genesis 26:23, 24 And he went up from thence to Beersheba. And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.

Whether or not anybody likes it, God has not revealed Himself as the God of Abraham, Ishmael, and Esau. He has not revealed Himself as the God of the Romans, the British, and the Americans. He has revealed Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Ishmael, like all of us Americans, was a child of natural law. But Isaac – unlike Ishmael, and unlike we Americans – was not a child of natural law; he was a child of promise and pure grace. The grace of God, not natural law, produced Isaac.

That's one reason he has never been so popular with many of us. We are not too enthusiastic about anything we don't have a hand in.

And that territory is the only piece of this earth that its Owner has ever conveyed and deeded to anybody. You may be able to trace the deed to your property to the land grants of the English kings; and you may be able to go on beyond them, clear to Adam. But when you get to Adam you will come to a dead-end street; who gave Adam authority to deed a piece of this earth to anybody? (But, things being as they are, if I could get back to the English kings, I wouldn't lose too much sleep on the uncertainties that might lie beyond.)

The earth is the Lord's. The fact that a hijacker doesn't concede the rightful ownership of his stolen booty doesn't invalidate the owner's title and claim to it. Later on, a court's opinion may be at variance with that of the hijacker.

Neither Arab, Jew, or most Christians, will concede that this earth belongs to God – except when they are preaching.

But their opinion is at variance with that of the Almighty. And history has proved that it is not in the best interests of men for their opinions to be at variance with those of God. God has a variety of ways of validating His claims to His property; and often those ways are not pleasant and peaceful - as events in the Middle East are showing today.

The quarrel over the ownership of this territory is not with the Jews, the United Nations, or an international committee; the quarrel is with God. Is He the rightful owner of the earth? Does He have the right to convey and dispose of it as He wills? Has He conveyed and deeded to Abraham and his seed "for ever" the territory lying between the Nile and Euphrates Rivers?

If a judge who seriously believed in the God of the Bible, and in the authority of the Bible, were hearing this case on the rightful claimants to this territory, he would tell counsel that the questions above were the core of the case and that he wanted to hear arguments on them alone.

One of the ablest, most resourceful, energetic and formidable adversaries of the Jewish state is Mr. Alfred M. Lilienthal, a Jew who has become a Universalist. Mr. Lilienthal is as unbiased as any man who has his picture taken with King Saud at Washington, with his Majesty all but embracing him; and with President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Cairo, with his excellency looking as delighted as if one of Ben Gurion's ships had suddenly ben sent to the bottom of the Mediterranean.

Alfred M. Lilienthal

On Saturday, Jan. 9, 1954, his Majesty addressed at his royal palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a visiting press delegation from Jordan. He told his visitors that the Arab Nations should sacrifice up to 10 millions of the 50 million people, if necessary, to wipe out Israel. "Why don't we sacrifice 10 million of our number to live in pride and self-respect?" And he said, "Israel to the Arab world is like a cancer to the human body and the only way of remedy is to uproot it just like a cancer." (As reported by the AP in the Greensboro (N.C.) Daily News, Jan. 10, 1954)

Before Mr. Lilienthal wrote the book mentioned, he wrote another one: What Price Israel (Henry Regenery Co., Chicago, 1953). With most that he says about the arrogant political Zionists and their methods of coercion and duress I am in agreement. With his silence on Mohammedan plunder, rape and murder, I am not in agreement.

But I will give Mr. Lilienthal credit for one thing: He recognizes – as most don't – that you can't discuss this question of Palestine without taking the Bible into account. On page 1 of his second book he says this:

The father of the new state of Israel lies in an unknown grave. For without the anonymous poet who wrote the 137th Psalm there would be no "Jewish State" today.

Lurking behind that exaggeration is the accusation that the Bible must shoulder a great guilt.

On Pg. 67 of his book, Mr. Lilienthal says that "biblical sentimentality," was one of the factors in the thinking of Earl Balfour, General Smuts and others who interested themselves in the return of the Jews to Palestine.

But with "biblical sentimentality," the "anonymous poet," a foggy Moses, two Isaiahs, and everything else he could pick up in the Modernist lumberyard, Mr. Lilenthal is unable to impeach the Bible's testimony as to the rightful claimants to Palestine. It stands there.


Dr. Noel Smith was the founding editor of the Baptist Bible Tribune.

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