As Christians around the world are preparing for Christmas, Jews are celebrating an eight-day holiday called Hanukkah. It is variously called, the Festival of Lights or Dedication. The word Hanukkah in Hebrew means dedication or rededication. It is called this because it celebrated the occasion when the Jews reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to God after it had been desecrated by the Greeks. Some people also call it the Jewish Christmas because it takes place in December on the 25th of the month of Kislev on the Jewish calendar and sometimes it overlaps Christmas as well. Most Christians hardly know anything about it and even if they do most disregard it as a Jewish holiday and has nothing to do with us. The fact is very different, it has everything to do with us. Let’s begin by retelling the story of Hanukkah.
The events of Hanukkah took place between the Old and New Testaments, around 165 BCE (B.C.) Because of this, we will not find any account of it in the Old Testament. The only mention of Hanukkah in the Bible can be found in the New Testament in the gospel of John, in John 10:22, the New Living Translation says:
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.
During those days the Greek empire ruled much of the world including Judea. The policy of the Greek Empire was to make all the nations they conquered Greek; what is called Hellenization, they exported their arts, dressing, language, lifestyle, philosophy, and religion to all the conquered nations and wanted everyone to become Hellenised[i]. In the early days of their rule in Judea, the Greeks took a passive approach to this idea; they enticed the Jews to take on their lifestyle. They built Hellenist towns nearby main Jewish towns. In these towns they had all the trappings of Greek lifestyle; theatres, gymnasiums, philosophers in the town square etc. This was to exhibit their lifestyle to the Jews with the hopes that Jews would catch on and change and to be sure, some did.
Later on, however, as new Greek rulers came to power things changed, in particular during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanies, he rose to power in 175 BCE and he ruled a portion of Alexander the Great’s Empire known as the Seleucid Kingdom. Antiochus took a different approach towards the Hellenizing of Judea; instead of enticement, he used force. He installed idols in the temple of God in Jerusalem and sacrificed pigs on the holy altar. He forbade the study of Torah and all Jewish practices such as circumcision, observance of the Sabbath and the Biblical Feasts. Then he sent out his soldiers around the country to force the Jews to sacrifice to the Greek gods.
When the soldiers came to the village of Modi’in they were faced with an old priest named Mattathias who had four sons. He refused to comply with the commands of the Greeks. Instead, they started a rebellion and many followed them and began fighting against the Greek army. They were given the name Maccabees, meaning “hammer” because they hammered at the Greeks.
In many ways, it was a David versus Goliath situation. The Jews were a rag-tag bunch of people with no experience at war and they were fighting against the best equipped and trained soldiers of the time. They fought for three years and eventually conquered Jerusalem and the Temple. They removed the idols and wanted to rededicate the temple to God and to do that they had to light the menorah in the Holy Place. However, they only found oil enough to keep the menorah lighted for one day and it would take eight days until they could get new oil. Judah the son of Mattathias ordered the people to fill the menorah and light it; they did and miraculously the oil lasted for eight days until the new oil arrived.
This is the miracle that Jews celebrate every year; the miracle of the oil and the liberation from the oppressors who tried to change their identity and make them Hellenists. To commemorate the miracle of oil they light a special menorah that has nine branches. The centre light is used to light all the others; one on each of the eight nights of the celebration.
The greater miracle though is how a bunch of ordinary civilians were able to defeat the great Greek army and gain independence from the Empire, this independence lasted about a hundred years. It also brought a spiritual revival in Israel; Torah studies were reintroduced to the nation, and houses of Torah study (Beit Midrash) were built all over the country. The Maccabees turned the nation back to God.
Social / Cultural Implication
Over the years I have heard many messages on Hanukkah, in general, they all focus on the spiritual or religious aspect; the desecration of the temple and Israel being forced to worship false gods. This is correct but the situation has a greater implication; the social and cultural implication. The Greeks not only colonized the nations but wanted to Hellenize the people; make them Greek. This was not a new tactic, the Babylonians before them did the same thing to Israel. They changed the names of Daniel and his friends from Hebrew to Babylonian ones. They were successful at it; today we know them better as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, instead of by their Hebrew names; Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah[ii]. They also tried to make them eat non-kosher food. All this was an attempt to change their identities, we can assume that they did this with most of the people.
Looking at it from the realm of the spirit we see that Satan was trying to remove the Jews from sight, change the people so that they were no longer Jewish and no longer following the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Greek lifestyle was contrary to the Torah observant lifestyle that God wanted for His people. What the Torah called immorality was the norm of Greek society; adultery, fornication, and homosexuality were common. They exalted the human form as we see in ancient sculptures, so to them, circumcision was considered vandalism. Studies have uncovered that some parts of Greek society also practiced child-sacrifice[iii].
Can you imagine what would have been the result if the Maccabees had not rebelled against the Greeks and instead complied with their conquerors? They would no longer have been Jewish, the result would have been that there would be no people through whom God could have sent His Son into this world, and the world would have been totally lost in darkness. This was the very purpose for which God had chosen them; to bring Messiah into the world the first time, and also the second[iv].
Our faith was born out of Israel, Isaiah says in Isa 51:1-2
1 Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him." NKJV
God speaks to people who follow righteousness and seek the Lord (that’s us) and says that Abraham is our father and Sarah is our mother. They are the parents of Israel. Apostle Paul affirms this when he says that those who belong to Christ are children of Abraham[v]. The Bible also says in Romans that we Gentile disciples of Christ are branches from a wild olive tree that have been grafted into the nurtured olive tree of Israel and we get our sustenance from the root, the patriarchs of Israel[vi].
We need to understand that without Israel and the Old Testament, we do not have a theological leg to stand on. The New Testament does not stand alone, the foundation is in the Old Testament.
When it comes to Israel, many Christian leaders try to avoid the “politics”, they don’t want to make a stand regarding land issues, in particular, Jerusalem and the questions “who has a right to the city?” They don’t take into consideration God’s end-time prophecies about His judgment of nations; the basis of His judgment will be on how the nations have treated the people of Israel and the land[vii].
If the UN is successful in tearing away Jerusalem from the hands of the Jews and the city and indeed the whole land is renamed, and the Jews are removed from their land, what would be its effect on Christianity and the Bible? In the future when our grandchildren read the Bible, they will look and see no such place as Israel, Jerusalem or Jews and say that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of stories with good moral teaching but without any reference to God’s redemption plan.
So we should not look at Hanukkah as just another Jewish celebration; it is an event that has significant relevance to us the followers of Jesus Christ. We must be thankful that when God’s people were under threat of extinction one small band of zealots stood up against a mighty army and because of them we, the church, are here today. God bless the Maccabees and the Jewish people.
These past few days have been very eventful, to say the least, with President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel it seems that he has opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box. Reaction throughout the world has been mixed; from criticizing him for destroying the peace process to violent protests in Gaza and Samaria (West Bank). In Israel too reactions have been mixed, many are rejoicing for what they see as America finally making an official statement of the fact while some disagreeing and saying that this will bring more problems for Israel.
As I pondered this issue, the words of Peter in Acts 2 reverberate in my spirit. After the Holy Spirit had filled the hundred and twenty disciples in the upper room they ran out to the Temple steps and a crowd gathered. The people questioned what this unusual occurrence meant. While some mocked and said the disciples were drunk, Peter stood up and said “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16 KJV). He pointed to the prophecy of Joel in Joel 2:28-32 declaring that the prophecy spoken by the prophet almost a thousand years before was being fulfilled.
Could it be that what is happening today is also a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy? Let me explain why I believe it is.
God has an
impeccable sense of timing but unless we understand His way of counting time we
will miss it and see such historic events as happening randomly, but He is not
a “random” God, He is a God of order.
President’s Trump’s declaration is not really new, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been the policy of the US government for many years and other presidents including Clinton, Bush and Obama have spoken about it yet they never incited such reactions as did President Trump’s announcement. So Trump was actually following US government policy that was already in place for years except that this time he plans to follow it with action by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The date when that the declaration was made was Wednesday, 6th of December 2017. On the Jewish calendar that date was 17th of Kislev. Seventy years ago, on the 17th of Kislev (27 November 1947) the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine and gave the Jews a homeland in what is their ancient home. In Bible numerology seven is the number of completion and any multiple of that number has the same implication. So a complete cycle of time has passed since the Jewish people were given a homeland.
In the book of Leviticus chapter 25, God gives instructions for the year of jubilee. Every 50 years the land was to be returned to its original owners. In 1917, the British government issued the Balfour declaration giving the Jews unlimited right of return to what was then called Palestine, this set the ball rolling for the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1947 – 1948. Fifty years later in 1967, Israel had to fight for their lives in the Six Day War, the result was that Israel took control of Jerusalem and for the first time in nearly two thousand years the city was once again controlled by the Jews.
Fifty years after that is 2017, and whilst Jerusalem has always been a disputed city, Trump’s declaration seems to seal it as Israel’s capital and its ownership by the Jewish people.
Like many people I wondered whether God really needed a man, whether Trump or anyone else for that matter, to recognize and declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Can God not do it himself? He is sovereign after all. But then I looked at the scriptures and saw how God has always worked with man to accomplish His purposes, also the people He chose were usually flawed.
He chose Abraham and Sarah to bring forth the nation of Israel and they have become the spiritual parents of all believers in Christ. (Isaiah 51:1-2, Galatians 3:29). They are known as the parents of faith yet, Sarah did not believe when God said she would get pregnant and laughed. Abraham lied, saying that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife. And because they were impatient with God, Sarah told Abraham to have a child with her servant, Hagar.
Moses, the man chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt was so brave that he needed Aaron to go with him and be his mouthpiece. He also failed to circumcise his son, which almost led to the Lord taking his life. He was only saved by his wife’s quick action of circumcising their son. When God instructed him to speak to the rock to provide water for the Israelites, he struck the rock in his anger, which led to him being disallowed from entering the Promised Land.
We could go on and speak about David, Solomon and many others in the Bible.
We also see in the Bible that God uses people who do not follow him to accomplish His purposes in the world. Let’s take Pharaoh for instance, In Romans 9:17 Paul quotes Exodus 9:16 and says”
For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." NKJV
God declares that it was He who raised Pharaoh so that His purpose for Israel could be fulfilled.
When Israel went astray God used their enemies as His instruments to discipline them. In Joel 1:15 God speaks about the coming destruction of the land by the Assyrians and calls that event “the Day of the Lord”, indicating that it was His will.
He also used King Cyrus of Persia, not a person one would consider a godly man by any stretch of the imagination, to release the Israelites from captivity to return to the land and rebuild the temple (Isaiah 44:28 – 45:1).
As a final example let’s look at the Apostles, the people God used to bring the gospel to the world. Peter denied Jesus three times, Thomas doubted him, and Paul persecuted the church.
The fact is that God uses flawed human beings to accomplish His will in the earth. So, can he not use a man like Trump, ungodly in many ways, brash and politically incorrect to accomplish His purposes? Of course He can.
So which prophecy is now being fulfilled? It is that of Zechariah.
Zechariah 12:3 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. NKJV
Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, has become somewhat of a burden on the world’s stage. Jewish claims to this city, which is their ancient capital, is viewed as a stumbling block to Middle-east peace. Because of this the nations, particularly the United Nations, which represents practically all the nations of the world, has been trying to disconnect the Jewish people from Jerusalem.
On October 18, 2016, UNESCO, (United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization) released a resolution saying that the Jewish people have no historical connection with the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem. This was done with total disregard to historical and archaeological evidence proving the Jewishness of the city. Then on December 23rd, just two months later, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 declaring Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem to be illegal.
On November 27 2017, the Security Council passed another resolution declaring that Israel has no legal right to Jerusalem and any laws passed by the Israeli government regarding Jerusalem were null and void. The nations have been trying to remove Jerusalem from the hands of the Jews to the Palestinians. They are trying to move a very heavy stone.
Soon after President Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem, the Malaysian Defence Minister said that they were ready to send their army to Jerusalem. President Erdogan of Turkey is preparing to bring the issue to the Organisation of Islamic Countries presumably to ask for a declaration of war against Israel. God’s warning to these nations is that; they will be destroyed.
Whilst many Christians may rejoice at the thought of end-time prophecies being fulfilled, let me at the same time caution us. When God keeps His Word to destroy those nations there will be repercussions; it will bring about the collapse of the world’s economy. This would possibly be the third seal of Revelation (Revelation 6:5-6) being broken. Doubtless that God can and will preserve His people through those times just as He did in Egypt during the plagues. Still we will not be totally unaffected. We must prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually otherwise we will stumble in our faith and fall away from Christ.
This may seem very dark news but there is light at the end of the tunnel. In verse 10 of Zechariah 12, it says that at that time, when Israel faces attack from their enemies, God will cause them to cry out to him and they will look at Him, whom they pierced and mourn. This means they will repent; this will be a national repentance which will lead to national revival. So as the book of Romans says “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). This in turn will lead to world-wide revival:
Romans 11:15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? NKJV
So even though things are going to get dark, there is hope, and we need to look up to God because our redemption is coming soon.
Can We Know When Jesus Was Really Born? - Apologies this article has been withdrawn due to error.
Theologies Concerning Israel
Concerning Israel, the church has held two theories or theologies; the first is replacement theology which began in the second century. After the Jews were expelled from the land by the Romans and scattered throughout the nations, the early church fathers began to teach that God was done with Israel and they no longer had a place in His plan for redemption of the world. They said that Israel had become like any other nation and lost their calling as His chosen people and that the church was the new “spiritual Israel”. They also taught that all the blessings in the Bible now belonged to the church whilst all the curses remained with the Jews. However they overlooked one verse in the New Testament. While speaking about the religious Jews who were persecuting the Christians in those days, the Apostle Paul said:
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28-29 NKJV)
He said that although they (religious Jews) were enemies of the gospel, God still loved them because of the Fathers, i.e. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or rather for the sake of the covenants that He had made with them. The gifts and calling that God had placed upon the Jewish people have not been revoked, thus they are still the chosen people.
After the rebirth of Israel in 1948, theologians had to rethink this theology and some came up with what I call “separation theology”. They acknowledge that God has a plan for Israel after all but it has nothing to do with the church. I have heard one so called prophet say, “the church is the church, and Israel is Israel and we have nothing to do with each other”. This however is not what God had in mind.
God’s plan is something quite different, it is not a new plan, it was revealed to the Apostle Paul and he revealed it the book of Ephesians:
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-13 NKJV)
He says here that in our natural state we were without Christ and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel but through Christ we have been brought near or into this commonwealth.
He then speaks about the “one new Man”;
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV)
Paul speaks about a wall that stood between the Jew and the Gentile and that Jesus broke down that wall and joined the two parties. The Apostle got this idea from the Temple that stood in Jesus’ day. There was a wall that separated what was called the Court of the Gentiles; where Gentiles could observe the Jews worship God in the outer court where animal sacrifices were offered but were not allowed to enter it (the outer court). There was a sign on the wall that warned the Gentiles that if they trespassed they would be punished with death. This wall of separation has been broken by Christ and now we Gentiles can also worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact the book of Hebrews tells us that we can enter boldly into his presence. (Hebrews 4:16, 10:19).
This concept of Gentiles becoming part of God’s kingdom is not new it can actually be seen throughout the Old Testament
1. When God gave instructions for the first Passover to Moses and Aaron, He said that any non-Jew who wanted to join Israel and leave Egypt with them could do so by becoming an Israelite (Exodus 12:48-49)
2. Rahab was a Gentile from Jericho, but she helped the Israelites take the city and was accepted as one of them and became an ancestor of Messiah. (Matthew 1:5-6)
3. Ruth, was a Moabite who joined herself to her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi. It led to her marrying Boaz and becoming the great-grandmother of King David. Her name is also listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5-6). Jesus also alluded to this; in John 10:14-16, he said:
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:14-16 NKJV)
In verse 16 Jesus said that he had other sheep which were from a different sheepfold, He was referring to the Gentiles. He said that He had to make the sheep of these two sheepfolds into one flock under one shepherd. This clearly tells us that His flock consists of two parts; Jews and Gentiles and we are to be one flock with one shepherd – Jesus.
Jesus also demonstrated His heart for the Gentiles in His ministry:
This woman came to Jesus because her daughter was demon possessed; she believed that Jesus could heal her daughter. Jesus first explained that His mission then was to the Jews, but she implored him and he saw such faith in her that He healed her daughter.
2. The Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-26)
Jesus intentionally went through the region of Samaria where no self-respecting religious Jew would go. There he met the woman at the well and ministered to her. The disciples were amazed that He would speak to a Samaritan, but because of this not only did the woman get saved but the whole city.
3. The Centurion’s servant
In Luke 7 we see the story of a Roman centurion whose servant was very sick and hearing that Jesus was nearby, he sent for Jesus, asking him to come and heal his servant. Jews in those days were forbidden from entering the homes of Gentiles, but the elders of the town implored Jesus to go saying that this man was deserving because he loved the nation (Israel) and even built a synagogue for them. Jesus went and healed the servant. Jesus went because of this man’s love for the nation of Israel.
The roots of the church
The church today is in many ways still Roman. Our traditions and practices are very much rooted in Rome. Many today do not even realize that the roots of our faith are in Israel, with the Jewish people and not in Rome, which polluted the faith with idolatry and hatred for the Jews. The Roman church for centuries taught that the Jews were the murderers of Christ. This was demonstrated in the Second World War when Nazi soldiers would tell the Jews “you killed our God, now we kill you”.
The prophet Isaiah addressed people who follow righteousness and those who seek the Lord. To them he says:
Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him." (Isaiah 51:1-2 NKJV)
Isaiah says here that Abraham and Sarah are the parents of those who follow righteousness and seek the Lord. This therefore includes us Christians and we need to realize that Abraham and Sarah are our forebears, thus making us part of Israel. Paul also says in the book of Galatians that those who belong to Christ (believers in Christ) are children of Abraham.
Did you know that the church was completely Jewish when it was born on the Pentecost in Acts 2?
And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:5 NKJV)
Although Acts 2 goes on to list several nations that were represented that day all the people had one thing in common; they were Jews. These were Jews living in the Diaspora of those days who had returned to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost which is one of the pilgrimage feasts given by the Lord in Leviticus 23. The Holy Spirit made the disciples speak in different languages because these people had been living outside of Judea (Israel) for centuries and most did not speak Hebrew or Aramaic so God had to get their attention. So the three thousand who believed that first day and the thousands consequently were all Jewish.
The Church remained completely Jewish until Cornelius and his family came to faith in Acts 10, about a decade later. In Acts 11 we see the Apostles questioning Peter for entering the house of a Gentile but after Peter explained what had happened and how the Holy Spirit had been given to this Roman family, the Apostles understood that God also wanted Gentiles in His Kingdom.
Apostle Paul also affirms this, in Romans 11 he warned the Gentiles in the Church of Rome (not Roman Catholic) not to be arrogant against the Jews who were in the Church (and Jews in general). He likened the Gentiles to a wild olive tree, one that bore little fruit and was of practically no use, and he said that they (we) were grafted into the Olive tree of Israel and we get our sustenance from them (Israel). Knowing where we came from we must therefore honour the natural descendants of Abraham and Sarah.
Our Role Today
Another thing we need to note is that The One New Man is “in Christ”. Whilst we love and respect the Jewish people and our roots are in Israel, we also need to realize that God wants them to come to faith in Yeshua (Jesus). Apostle Paul speaks very clearly about this in Romans 9:1-3 and 10:1. So we, who have already come to faith Messiah must also seek to introduce Israel to their Messiah. Apostle Paul say we have been saved precisely for this purpose.
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. (Romans 11:11 NKJV)
He says that God saved us to make Israel jealous, so that in their jealousy they would turn to Him. He also says in Romans 10 that we must preach the gospel to the Jewish people.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:14-15 NKJV)
The “they” that Apostle speaks of here are the Jews, they are the subject of three whole chapters of Romans; chapters 9 through 11. In verse 15 he quotes from Isaiah 52:7 and in that verse we see Isaiah says; “say to Zion, your God reigns”. Someone has to speak to Zion (Israel) and tell them that their God reigns, their God is Yeshua who had the sign above his head when he was on the cross that said “King of The Jews”.
So God’s Kingdom has two groups of people; Jews and Gentiles we are the two parts of His flock that He is still making into one flock. This is the One New Man in Christ.
Hashannah this year which fell on October 2-3, an article was published by
“Biblical Sings in The Headlines” talking about the possibility of the rapture
happening this year, the year 5777 according to the Jewish calendar (article) Here I would like to share my thoughts on this and who idea of Rosh
Hashannah being the “Biblical New Year”.
Before I talk about that let me just explain the meaning of “Feast”. In the Bible particularly in Leviticus there are two Hebrew words translated to English as “feast”. The first is “mo’ed” found in Leviticus 23:4 and the second is “chag” (sounds like hug) in verse 6.
“Mo’ed” means an appointed time, these days were appointed by God for His people to gather in His presence.
“Chag” means to move in a circle or cycle, thus were God’s appointments that His people were to keep at their appointed time on an annual cycle.
The cycle begins with Passover which falls on the first month of the year: Leviticus 23:5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover. NKJV
In fact when God gave Moses and Aaron the instructions for the Israelites to escape the angel of death in Egypt, He told them that month was to be the beginning of months for them i.e. the beginning of the year. Exodus 12:1-2
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. NKJV
Therefore according to God’s calendar, the first month is the month on which Passover falls, known in the Jewish calendar as “Nisan”.
Just another bit of information; the months of the year do not actually have names in the Bible, they are simply called the first, second, third month etc. The names that they use today were acquired during their exile in Babylon in fact the month called Tamuz is named after a Babylonian god.
The next issue I want to address is Rosh Hashannah, many Christians including leaders and well known prophets refer to it as the “Biblical New Year”, this is incorrect. Even the Rabbis do not call it such. It is a cultural New Year, only according to Jewish culture. If something is considered Biblical then it must be a given by God.
Rosh Hashannah falls on the first day of the month known as Tishrei. In the Bible it is called “the seventh month”, not the first. If it was the New Year then it stands to reason that it should be the first month, just as January is the first month according to the Gregorian calendar. The Biblical Feast that falls on this date is called “Yom Teruah” better known as the Feast of Trumpets: Leviticus 23:23-24
23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. NKJV
The Rabbis explain Rosh Hashannah as dating from the creation of Adam and Eve but there is no Biblical basis for this, it comes from the “oral Torah” the religious Jews believe in.
(Feast of Turmpets) however as we see is Biblical and it was set aside by God
as one of the holy days. What is it about? It falls at the end of the preceding
month (sixth month) called Elul. This month is known as a time of Teshuvah or
repentance and returning to the Lord. Trumpets precedes the holiest day in the
Jewish year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Biblically it was the day when
the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and Temple to
make atonement for the nation. It is known also as the Day of Judgment. From
Elul 1 to Yom Kippur (10 Tishrei), is the period when God’s people are called
to prepare themselves for judgment. So the sound of the trumpets is to warn the
people of the coming judgment and to prepare themselves by turning back to God.
The days from Trumpets to Yom Kippur are known as “Yamim Noarim”, the Days of
Awe, the last chance to repent before judgment.
So, in my opinion is not a suitable time to release “prophetic blessing” but rather a time to call God’s people to repentance not a particularly popular subject in church circles today.
Now regarding the Rapture, the key scripture that is used to support the doctrine is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. NKJV
But we overlook another scripture about this subject:
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. NKJV
Notice that Apostle Paul says here that our transformation will take place at the “last trumpet” this indicates that there are more than one trumpet that will sound before the rapture. We can see in the book of Revelation that in the end-times seven trumpets will be blown in heaven, this can be found from Revelation 8:7 – 11:19. Each of the first six trumpets releases a plague on the earth and in chapter 9:20-21 we see that God’s purpose for the plagues was to call mankind to repentance but there are those that refuse.
The last trumpet is found in Revelation 11:15 and that trumpet announces the coronation of Jesus as the King of the nations:
Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" NKJV
I do not believe we can disconnect the trumpets of Revelation from the trumpets of rapture. The only reason we do so is to support our theory that we believers will not experience any of the judgments that will befall this world.
We are living in time when the world is rushing towards judgment but we are not yet in the times of the plagues of Revelation and so I do not believe that it will happen in 5777.
While scripture that we do not know the hour or day on which He will come, it tells us to watch; to be observant and to pray so that we will know the signs of His coming.
Matthew 25:13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. NKJV
3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. NKJV
Jesus warned us to not be deceived into chasing every theory concerning His return (Matthew 24:26-28) but if we are observant and understand the signs given in the Bible, we may not know the particular day when He will return but we will be able to discern by observing the events unfolding in the world and the season when it will happen.
Download the PDF file here
What I want to highlight in this article is the date on which this festival falls, the evening of 23 July begins the 17th of Tamuz in the Jewish calendar, the 18th begins a three week fast preceding the 9th of Av also known as Tish B’av. This is the day when Israel remembers the destruction of both the first and second temples; they were both destroyed on the same day of the same month. So it is a precursor of the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of God’s chosen people.
According to Jewish sages many devastating events took place on the 17th of Tamuz:
The first was the breaking of the first set of tablets of the Ten Commandments by Moses after he came down from the mountain with the tablets written by God and found the children of Israel committing idolatry with the golden calf. A day of celebration became a day of destruction which resulted in many Israelites being killed.
It was also the day in later years when the daily sacrifices at the first temple ceased prior to its destruction by the Babylonians.
Thirdly it also marks the day when the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem to destroy the temple and the city. On this day also a Roman soldier name Aspartamus burned the Torah scroll.
Religious Jews remember all these calamities that befell them in history, we can also add that the first world war began on the 9th of Av, this war led to the second world war. Hitler rose to power because of the depression Germany was suffering after the first war and the end result was the holocaust.
This period of three weeks prior to Tish B’Av is a time of remembering destruction and calamities, is it then a coincidence that this “festival” with so much occultic symbolism and connectivity is taking on this date? I think not, I believe the church needs to arise to pray this is a time of immense warfare as the enemy is preparing to bring in the reign of the Anti-Christ.
To know how to pray go this link.
Every year when Christmas comes around and
I mention that Jesus could not have been born in December I am bombarded by
comments like “we don’t know the actual date and it doesn’t matter as long as
we celebrate it sincerely”. As far Christmas is concerned I concede even though
it is impossible for shepherds to be out in the fields in winter in Israel.
However when it comes to commemorating the death and resurrection of our Lord,
it is a different story, because we do know the date when He died, it is given
clearly in the gospel of Luke.
Before I get into that though, a dear brother pointed out that Apostle Paul said that we should not bother about special days and celebrations and new moons etc. This is from Romans 14:5 & 6, I agree on the basis that observing special days and seasons does not save us, nor does it make us better disciples of the Lord. Paul was not saying they should not observe these but that people should not become arrogant about them; the Jews because they kept them and the Gentiles in the congregation because they did not, and everything should be done in love.
My contention however is that if we know the exact date of an important event and we want to commemorate the event should we not do it on that specific date? Take for instance USA always remembers those who died on September 11 on that particular date, regardless what day of the week it falls on, by the way September 11 2001 was a Tuesday, yet how is it that we always remember the death of Christ on a Friday while the date changes from year to year? Every year nations celebrate their independence day on the particular day the received independence. For USA it was July 4, in Singapore, where I am from, it’s August 9. Every year celebrations are held on that particular day and rightly so.
Now do we know the actual date when Jesus died? Absolutely!
7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat." NKJV
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." NKJV
This tells us clearly that Jesus and the disciples were celebrating Passover on the night he was betrayed. Jesus died at Passover as the Passover lamb, John the Baptist pointed to this when he referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God not once but twice (John 1:29, 36)
The problem is that the church today does not know the actual date of Passover, when God has clearly given the date, He gave us His appointed times in the book of Leviticus. These are what Christians have called the feasts of the Jews, however God calls them the Feats of The Lord, His Feasts:
Lev 23:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. NKJV (See also Exodus 12:1-4, 12:18, Numbers 9:2-7, 28:16, Deuteronomy 16:1-8). It is said that if God repeats something in His Word then it must be important and here He has repeated it several times.
In Deuteronomy 16 God commanded his people to his people to keep Passover, it was a command not a suggestion. This has never been rescinded in the New Testament.
He did not say to Moses and Aaron “these are your feasts” He said “these are My Feasts” He also appointed specific dates when these feast were to be observed:
5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. NKJV
So according to God, Passover (and all the other feasts) were to be observed at a specific date in the year. Passover was to be observed inon the 14th of the first month, it is called Aviv or Nisan in the Jewish calendar. In fact history tells us that even Gentile believers in the first to the third century AD were commemorating the Lord’s death and resurrection at Passover, Apostle Paul said this to the Corinthian church, which was predominantly Gentile:
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. NKJV
He uses the analogy of leaven over and over again and calls Christ our Passover and says let us “keep the Feast. What feast is he referring to? Some men of God I know and love say the love feasts that the early church celebrated. This would have been conducted many times a year but he says “the feast”, singular; meaning one particular feast in this case Passover.
Historically all this was changed by the Roman Emperor Constantine who supposedly converted after his vision of the cross in the sky and winning the battle, he then forced the people of Roman Empire to convert to Christianity. Of course practically all of them “converted” but we have to wonder whether these were genuine conversions out of true faith or simply obeying the Emperor who held a sword over their necks? In fact it is said that Constantine himself was not baptized until he was on his deathbed.
At the Council of Nicea in 325 AD they debated on the deity of Christ and came up with what is known today as the Nicean Creed. They also made a decision to change the commemoration of the Lord’s death and resurrection to the first weekend of Spring, which happened to be a celebration for the Roman fertility goddess, and thus the bunnies and eggs that have been associated with Easter. Constantine did this saying that Christians should have nothing to do with the Jews whom he called the murderers of Christ. The church became Roman, Jews were pushed out and it began to follow the Roman Calendar and so we, the church, lost our Hebraic roots and we began to celebrated pagan feasts with a Christian veneer.
Please note I do not condemn anyone or say that a person is not saved because he/she celebrates the church feasts. My contention is, if we know the date when a certain Biblical events took place, we should observe it on that date. Pastors and leaders often say we want to be like the first church, well the first and second century churches observed the Feasts of the Lord not the Roman church feasts.
Let’s get out from under the cover of the Roman church that led us astray and return to our roots.
I could say much more and talk about all the seven Feasts but I shall leave it here for the time being.
Oh and FYI Passover this year falls on April 23 on the Gregorian calendar.
We are presently in the midst of an eight-day Jewish holiday called Hanukkah. The word “Hanukkah” means “rededication”. It is not a Biblical holiday as in it is not one of the Feasts of the Lord as given in Leviticus 23 but what could be called an “extra Biblical” holiday and it is mentioned in John 10:22-23 that Jesus was in the temple compound during the feast of dedication in winter, the New Living Translation very clearly says it was the feast of Hanukkah. This holiday commemorates a great miracle that took place in the history of Israel, it was another one of those times when the Jews were threatened with annihilation and God helped them.
The Story begins during the time when Alexander the Great ruled Judea (not Palestine). He conquered Judea in 332 BC. Alexander’s vision was to make the whole world Greek i.e. to Hellenize the world. He wanted everyone to speak Greek, follow Greek culture, fashion including religion. To a great extent he succeeded, in the first century Judea was ruled by the Romans but the lingua franca of the day was Greek, thus our New Testament was written in Greek. Today the most common form of government in the world is democracy which originated in Greece and carried on with the Romans.
Alexander’s method of Hellenizing in Judea was “enticement”, close to every major town in Judea he would build a Greek town, which would display everything about Greek lifestyle; theatre, gymnasiums, places where people would discuss philosophy and the latest trends of the day, as Paul found in Athens in Acts 17. This was to draw the Jewish people to see what is what like to be Greek and influence them to follow. In the Greek mindset truth was determined by the majority, if the majority of the people accepted something as true then it was deemed to be true. Thus when Pontius Pilate was trying Jesus he asked the question “what is truth”. In Greek thought truth is not fixed but can be changed. Hebrew, Biblical thought however is “truth is revealed by God and is unchanging”. Some Jewish leaders were enticed by the Greeks especially the Pharisees, today Jewish leaders say that if the Sanhedrin (Council) has decided on something even God cannot change it.
Alexander the Great died without an heir and his empire was divided into three major kingdoms; the Ptolemaic, Seleucid and Antigonid kingdoms named after his three generals who took over, there were also a number of small independent states. In 200 BC the Seleucid kingdom conquered Judea and in 174 BC Antiochus IV, also known as Antiochus Epiphanes meaning god manifest, became king. Instead of using Alexander’s method of enticement to convert the Jews he decided to use force. He outlawed many Jewish practices including; Torah Study, Circumcision, Sabbath and Feast observances. He also installed a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificed unclean animals on the altar of God. He appointed his own pagan high priest and sent his soldiers to all the towns and villages in Judea to force the people to sacrifice pigs to other gods.
When they came to village of Modi’in they came across a Jewish priest named Mattathias, he refused to comply with their commands and rebelled, the people followed him and they started a rebellion known today as the Hasmonean or Maccabean revolt. The word Maccabees means “hammer” in Hebrew. Shortly after the revolt began Mattathias died and was succeeded by his son Judah. Judah led this revolution made up of common people; farmers, merchants etc and they fought for three years against the most well equipped and well trained army of the day. They managed to reach Jerusalem and even retake the temple. They cleaned out the Temple and wanted to rededicate it to the Lord but they found only a little oil for the menorah; only enough for one day and it would take eight days to get new oil. Judah Maccabees commanded his men to fill the menorah with what little oil that they had. They lighted the menorah and miraculously the oil lasted for eight days until they were able to get new oil.
So today the Jews celebrate this wonderful miracle with an eight day festival by lighting a special menorah that has nine lamps, the middle lamp is called the “shamash” or servant light and all the other lamps get their lights from it. This is a very happy occasion with special foods like potato latkes, similar to hash browns deep fried in oil, to remember the oil. They also eat safguniyot (jelly doughnuts) and the children play a game with a special top called a driedel. The top has Hebrew letters on it which is an acronym for the phrase “a great miracle happened here”.
Although the major event of Hanukkah is the miracle of the oil, there were also a couple of other miracles that took place. First, the most well trained and well equipped army of the day was defeated by an army of civilians who were untrained in the art of war. Secondly Israel became an independent sovereign nation again for the first time since the Babylonian exile some four hundred years before, after the Babylonians they were ruled by the Persians and although the Persians allowed the Jews to return Israel was still ruled by the Persians and after the Persians came the Greeks. Israel was ruled by the Hasmonean family for about a hundred years. The Hasmoneans reinstated Torah study and established special houses for Torah study, they believed that if they could keep Torah as a nation then Messiah would come.
So what can we, Gentile Christians, learn from the story of Hanukkah.
This great miracle took place at the time between the Old and New Testaments, a time that scholars said that God was not speaking to Israel. It teaches us that even though we may be in a place where it seems that God is silent in our lives, He is still able to to do great miracles. Our situation does not constrain God, you may feel deserted and alone but in the silence God is still at work in your life, remember that God works all things for the good of those He loves and are called by Him. So we can take heart and be encouraged by this.
The second lesson we need to take a stand for the things we believe in. The philosophy of the world today is “just go with the flow” and not cause any trouble. Today we live in a world that is constantly pushing us to think the way everyone does. The world pushes their sense of morality and when people stand against the standards they set they are persecuted; labeled as intolerant and outdated and hateful. If Mattathias had just flowed with the orders of the Greeks like most of the people, the Jews would have become like all the other nations and lost the call to be witnesses of the only God (Isaiah 44:8).
We live in what the Bible calls the “evil day”, spiritual darkness is growing all around, but it is precisely in a time of darkness that we are called to shine, so that people will glorify our Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16). To shine we need to take a stand, the Bible tells us to put on the full armour of God and take a stand: Eph 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. NKJV
This Hanukkah let’s rededicate ourselves and make a commitment to stand for Christ.
Today most of the world refers to Palestine as if it were a nation and the people as if they are specific ethnic group, but is this really the case? To understand who these people are we have to look at the history of the region.
Before we do that let’s take a look at what God says about this land. Over and over again in the Bible God refers to the land as “My land”:
24 The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, "Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: 25That I will break the Assyrian in My land, And on My mountains tread him underfoot. NKJV
Jeremiah 2:7 I brought you into a bountiful country, To eat its fruit and its goodness.
But when you entered, you defiled My land NKJV
16 You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes." 17Thus says the Lord GOD NKJV
Joel 3:2 I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land. NKJV
This was the land known as Canaan to which the Lord sent Abram (later changed to Abraham). When God called Abram He made a covenant with him and in that covenant God gave Abram the land:
17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt the great river, the River Euphrates — 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites." NKJV
7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." NKJV
This covenant was passed on to Isaac:
3 Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4 And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; NKJV
Later on it was given to Jacob:
11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12 The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” NKJV
With these statements God established the line of succession of the covenant which includes the land, to Jacob He said “I give to you and your descendants after you”, Jacob was later renamed Israel so the land was given to Israel and his descendants i.e. the Jews. Notice also in Genesis 17:7 that God describes the covenant as an “everlasting covenant”, everlasting simply means “everlasting” or without end or expiry date. So the covenant was not dependent on Israel’s behaviour, in fact when God made that covenant with Abraham, he was asleep, he had no part in the terms and conditions of the covenant. God did however tell them later on that if they turned away from Him and followed other gods he would expel them from the land but eventually He would bring them back.
Also in Leviticus 25 God decreed that every fiftieth year would be a Jubilee year and during that year all claims to the land were to be voided, this was to teach Israel that they are only stewards of the land and not the owners of it, God is their landlord.
Now Abraham had many children, the two eldest were Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was born of Hagar, the Egyptian maid of Sarah, while Isaac was born of Sarah in her old age, just as God had promised. By the culture of the day the older son was supposed to receive the inheritance from the father, in this case the covenant and all that was included there, which meant the land. When a conflict arose between Ishmael and Isaac, Sarah told Abraham to send away Hagar and Ishmael away, this troubled Abraham but God told him to do what Sarah said, but God also promised that the descendants of Ishmael would become a great nation (Genesis 21:12-13). While the descendants of Isaac are the Jews, the descendants of Ishmael are the Arabs. God also promised that He would greatly bless Ishmael and his descendants (Genesis 17:20-21) but God said the covenant would remain with Isaac. This is the spiritual root of the Arab – Israeli conflict, when God chose Isaac over Ishmael and gave him the covenant, a spirit of rejection entered the heart of Ishmael and that spirit has been passed down through the generations. The conflict that we see today is not just a political or ethnic matter and thus cannot be solved by human means. God said that he would make Ishmael a great nation and bless him and so today the Arabs are a huge nation, they hold 99.9% of the land in the Middle-east while Israel only has about 0.1%.
Another point of contention in the Mid-east is Jerusalem and in particular the Temple Mount. The Palestinian Authority wants to control half of Jerusalem, the half that contains the Temple Mount. Muslims claim that the site is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina, however Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Quran whilst it is mentioned hundreds of times in both the Old and New Testaments. The Temple Mount is the location where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac (Muslims say it was Ishmael), it was also the land that King David bought from Auranah to sacrifice to God after he sinned and God brought judgment on the people (2 Samuel 24). It was the spot on which Solomon built the first temple and where Zerubabel rebuilt the temple after the Babylonian exile, and where the temple stood in Jesus’ day, surely it will also be the site on which the temple will be rebuilt when the Lord returns.
David conquered the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites around 1000 BC (BCE). This is one theory put forth by Palestinian leaders to claim the city, they say they are descendants of the Jebusites. The problem in this is that the Jebusites were not descendants of Abraham which they (Palestinians) claim to be and actually are. The Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who already existed when Abraham went to Canaan.
The other claim they us is that they are descendants of the Philistines thus Palestinians. Another problem here; the Philistines, the ancient enemies of Israel were people who came from across the sea. The Free Dictionary says this about them: The ultimate origin of the Philistines, the inhabitants of the ancient city-states of Philistia (located in what is now the Gaza Strip and the southern Mediterranean coast of Israel), is not known, although some archaeological evidence links them with ancient peoples of the Aegean region and Anatolia. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Philistine)
This would make them foreigners to the land and not the native inhabitants that they claim to be. The Philistines were understood to have been destroyed during King David’s time.
So how did the term Palestine come to being? In Jesus’ day the land was not called Palestine rather it was called Judea; Luke 3:1 says that Pilate was governor of Judea. From 66 to 70 AD (CE) the Jews rebelled against the Roman rulers in what is known as the Great Revolt. General Vespasian and his troops vanquished this revolt and evicted the Jews from Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. From 132 to 135 AD (CE) there was another revolt led by Shimon Bar Kochbah, this too was crushed by the Romans and this time the Jews were evicted totally out of the land of Judea and scattered to the four corners of the earth. The Romans then renamed the land; Jerusalem was renamed “Aelia Capitolina” and the whole land “Syria Philistina”. The Romans named the land after the ancient enemy of Israel; the Philistines as an insult to the Israelites. Thus the land became known as Palestine.
After the Jews were evicted the Arabs from the surrounding nations moved in, the land was ruled by one conqueror after another from the Byzantines to the Muslims, to the Turks and finally the British. During this period of nearly two thousand years there was no nation called Palestine and no people called Palestinians, they were simply known as Arabs, which they are ethnically.
As an aside it must be said that the Arab states that exist today only came about in the last century, the borders of countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait etc were created by the British and French colonialist and they never created a state called Palestine.
In 1947 the League of Nations, predecessor to the UN, demarcated a piece of land to be turned into a Jewish state for the Jews after the holocaust. They also gave a portion of the land to the Arabs. The Jews agreed to this partition but they Arabs did not. There were a small remnant of Jews who were living in the Land then, and in the late 19th and early 20th century Jews from Russia and Europe had begun to move into the land. On 14 May 1948 David Ben Gurion made the declaration that gave birth to the modern state of Israel. On 15 May Arab nations attacked the newly born state. The Arab leaders had told the Arabs living in the land to leave for a while, they promised that they would quickly destroy Israel and the Arab farmers could return to their Jew-free land. This of course did not happen and it left thousands of Arabs in places like Jordan, living as refugees. Until today Jordan has not assimilated these people, they are not given citizenship or any benefits of Jordanian citizens although they are Arab as the Jordanians. The Arabs who stayed in Israel however are given full rights as citizens of Israel, they enjoy the same benefits as Jewish citizens of Israel. They even have Arab members in the Knesset (Parliament) who have the freedom to stand up and criticize the Israeli government in Knesset meetings.
In 1967 Israel fought the most miraculous war in modern history, the Six Day War. In that war Israel won much land including the Golan Heights from the Syrians and the Sinai Peninsula from the Egyptians. The greatest victory however was the victory over Jerusalem which was then controlled by the Jordanians (not Palestinians). Gaza was then controlled by Egypt, but when the Israeli government returned the Sinai to Egypt, they left Gaza under the control of Israel.
The other patch of land that is hotly contested is called the West Bank, also known as occupied territories by the media. These lands are called in the Bible Judea and Samaria.
It was only in 1988 that Yasser Arafat declared an independent state of Palestine, he did this unilaterally without recognition of any world body, and up until then there was never a Palestinian state nor a Palestinian people, this is a 20th century phenomenon. Today they still do not have full statehood status in the UN, they are only hold observer status.
No matter what they or world powers may say the land was given to the Jewish people by God in covenant and that covenant is everlasting and no power on earth will be able to take it away.