Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Palestinian State - Part 1

The following is an article I wrote earlier this year as a summary of a book I read called From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish conflict over Palestine by Joan Peters (2002 JKAP Publications, USA). What was a 12-page article I have broken down into 8 parts to be posted over the coming 8 weeks. While it isn’t devotional reading, it relates to a topic that I believe should be a focus of every serious Bible student, namely, Jesus’ second coming. It of course also addresses a much-reported and hotly-debated issue in world affairs today: the ongoing struggle in the Middle East. I hope that this will prove informative reading and provoke you to further Bible study. I welcome any feedback and would be happy to email you the article in its entirety for you to print or pass on to others.


And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. Zechariah 12:3

Recently there have been renewed calls for a Palestinian state in the Middle East.

The ongoing struggle between Israel and the Palestinians—and all of Israel’s Muslim-Arab neighbours—has had far more news media coverage over the years than any other local conflict. The Middle East crisis weighs heavily not only on the nations involved, but every nation of international significance.

Thousands of years ago, God, speaking through Zechariah said that’s exactly how we should expect it to be in the last days. God’s work in the world is on an individual level with each of us, on a corporate level with us as the church, but (and we easily forget this) it’s also on a national level with all the nations of the world. This of course includes Israel. Since the rebirth of the Jewish nation in 1948, God’s words to Zechariah have been remarkably fulfilled—Israel, and in particular Jerusalem, really has become a very heavy stone for all peoples.

It can be easy to assume, and most do, that because it’s (generally speaking) one nation versus half a dozen others, the aggressor is Israel. But there is a lot more to the history of this conflict than most know about. I’ve recently finished reading a book called From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine, written by secular journalist Joan Peters (first published in 1985). Being a historical book of almost six hundred pages and having been written by a very wordy journalist, it was a difficult read and very slow going, but what she uncovered and presented in her book is truly astounding. It has taken me some time to collect my thoughts and write a summary of her book, but I feel it is really important that I share this so that others can hear about the true origins of the Arab-Jewish conflict. Knowing these origins explains so much of today’s situation in Israel, and it is very important for Christians to have clarity on this issue in a time when there is great controversy in the church over Israel and her place in God’s plans for the future (eschatology).

You won’t find out about the origins of this conflict from the popular news media. The common understanding of events—the one presented by the press, and believed by the majority—goes like this: “The Arabs, Palestinian and otherwise, have nothing against Jews—Arabs and Jews lived harmoniously in Arab lands before 1948; it was only the alien European ‘Zionists’ who came back after two thousand years to usurp the property of the Palestinian Arab native throngs. AND when Palestine became Israel in 1948, Jews forced the exodus of millions of Arabs from their plots of land inhabited by them from time immemorial” (p. 5-6). This commonly believed scenario is based on the following premises:
­- The “Palestinian people” had an identity with the land, and this identity goes back thousands of years.
­- In 1948, “alien” Jews returned after two thousand years, displacing these “Palestinian Arabs” and forcing them to flee their homeland.
­- It is Arab land—the Arabs were there first.
­- The modern-day state of Israel comprises the totality of Palestinian land (and there is no other Palestinian land in which the “Palestinian refugees” could resettle).
­- The “Palestinians” who today suffer poverty and oppression in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are descendants of Arabs who had lived in the disputed land for thousands of years before Jews displaced them.
­- Israel is responsible for the current plight of the “Palestinians refugees”—therefore Israel is principally responsible for the ongoing strife in the Middle East today.

This was the perspective of Joan Peters as she approached her book. In fact, in her words, “the book was originally meant to be solely an investigation of the current plight of the ‘Arab refugees’” (p. 3). She explains in the introduction her original intentions for her research, but how the data she uncovered eventually compelled her not only to change her perspective on the Middle East, but the focus of her book entirely. So rather than documenting the plight of the “Palestinians”, what her book did was to document how far the popular understanding of the origins of the Arab-Jewish conflict is from historical reality. It’s these discoveries that she made that I want to share with you.

Prepare to have many of your assumptions challenged.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Coming Fellowship - 06/09/2008

For you "Timothy's":

Having received a "snail-mail" invite to this coming Fellowship, it's probably stuck on the fridge, or in your "in-tray". If you haven't received a invite in your post box, but you have been to a Timothy Fellowship before, please take this as your invite! So for your convenience (since we seem to plugged into the web these days), here are the details again:

When: Saturday the 6th September 2008, 5.30pm till 9.30pm
Where: Eddies Cafe, cnr Dorene Street & Rothesay Ave, St Marys (South Australia).
Teacher: Rev. Dr. Noel Due, Senior Pastor at Coromandel Baptist Church (, Noel was previously Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Highland Theological College, Scotland (
Topic: New Testament theology of the Atonement.
Cost: $20 (includes 2 course dinner, drinks, supper and free resources)

Any questions? Have you crashed into this web page somehow and would like to know more? Would you like to attend? Please email:

Remeber to visit this website regularly for updates, and don't forget to comment on what you read.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Mighty Fortress...

The Reformation is not primarily dealing with the Doctrines of Grace, though the Reformation saw a return to Sovereignty. The Reformation was a reform of a group of "saved folks" (Protestants) who heeded the words of God: "come out of her my peoples". These chosen souls separated from the Roman Catholic system, protesting against that system, and they began to build their lives on one pillar alone - Scripture. Was that the end? Maybe not...

From the book "Is the Reformation over?" by Scott Manetsch:

"So, is the Reformation over? It depends on what one means by “Reformation.” If one means the particular constellation of religious, political, and social events in sixteenth-century Europe that brought renewal to western Christianity, then of course the Reformation is over. But if one means the fundamental doctrinal divide separating official Roman Catholic Christianity from classic Protestant Christianity, then most certainly “no,” the Reformation is not over."

So often we act as if the Scriptures no longer need defending, "let's just teach positive things" some say, but Jude said, "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered". This is not our bread and butter, but contending for the faith never stops. We need to ensure we stay "Protestant", that we stay seperate, that we understand the gap that exists and proclaim it, or we will (like many already today) be absorbed back into a religious life, dictated to us by a man, rather than God.