So, what is reality?
March 29, 2002
I have listened with interest to the news concerning the conflict in the Middle East. Passover and Easter week causes us to turn our eyes to that part of the world even when there are not tanks rolling into the occupied territories. How much more does it grab our attention when 16 year-old girls are blowing themselves up as suicide bombers.
I have also listened with interest to the “talking heads” and our local talk radio station, WORD. I find it interesting that when the Bible is brought into the discussion, people “ahem” and say something that means, “Thanks for your input, but now to move on to more relevant points of discussion.” In reality, what could be more relevant? I maintain that understanding the Bible can lead to a very reasonable approach to the conflict.
However, just imagine if our President were to verbally admit that he believes the Bible is true and that what it says in this regard factors into his decision making when it comes to the Middle East. Whoa! There would probably be a congressional hearing to determine if he was still fit for office. It is this same reaction that causes many of us who do believe the Bible to back down from using it as support for our take on the situation.
I have been one of them, but there comes a time—especially during this Easter weekend when you have to ask yourself, “Okay, do I believe it or don’t I? If I believe what it (the Bible, that is) says about Christ, don’t I have to believe what it says about everything else? If I don’t believe what it says about everything else, how can I trust it to tell me about Him?” So, if I were President, this is how I would approach the Middle East—based on my understanding of what the Bible tells me.
The Bible tells us that God has set this conflict between the Arabs and the Jews. Peace cannot come unless God removes this established conflict. In other words, man cannot thwart God’s intentions.
Because of this we know that all attempts to bring a lasting peace in the Middle East are doomed for failure. We can respond in two ways to this knowledge. First, we can turn our backs on the Middle East and let events take their course. Second, we can attempt to work with diplomacy that is not naïve to think that we can produce a lasting peace, but does seek to manage the conflict for the purpose of maintaining as much stability as possible. This stability is important to our current security and economic well being.
The Bible tells us that God will someday remove this conflict. However, it will be in His time and under His circumstances.
Because of this we know that Israel will not cease to exist. Actually, it could cease to exist for a time, but the only way future events in the Bible can be fulfilled is for there to be an Israel. At that time, there will be a nation of Israel. This obviously gives the President (me) an inside track in making his decisions. It leads him to seek to not please either side completely, but to hold both sides accountable for their actions.
So, what should be my Middle East plan?
1. Do not run around calling for a lasting peace. You are simply setting yourself up for failure. Our recent history itself proves that such a peace is impossible.
2. Take a proactive stance that approaches the Arab nations to help in the forming of a Palestinian state. Call for Israel to give up a portion of the West Bank and for Jordan to “donate” some property adjacent to this area.
3. Actively join Israel in the fight to weed out the terrorists who are wreaking havoc on the Israeli nation.
4. Penalize Israel economically, etc. if they do not honor this new state. Offer assistance to Israel should an attack be launched from this location but hold their feet to the fire if they become the aggressor.
5. Be prepared to act because you know that there will be terrorists and there will be skirmishes.
The Bible teaches us that the day will come when Israel will have no friends. There will be no American support for the country. Those who would destroy her will surround her. It is in this bleakest hour of modern Israel’s history that Jesus Christ will return to defeat her enemies—and His own. It is at that time that there will be a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Interestingly, one of the legends that circulates about Ronald Reagan—I believe it comes from a story told by James Baker. The President’s cabinet was meeting to discuss the Middle East conundrum and the President said something like, “Well, doesn’t the Bible say all of this is supposed to come about?” He was referring to the Biblical prophecies. About this time the cabinet members “ahemed” and moved to another topic.
The point is that if the legend is true, Ronald Reagan was considered “superstitious” or somehow out-of-touch with reality for saying such a thing. However, I maintain that a proper understanding of the Bible and the history it teaches on the conflict as well as the insight it provides for the future leads to a very reasonable approach to the conflict.
Stop and think for a moment about all the people who believe that out of this thousands-of-years-old conflict there can be a lasting peace established with a few “peace accords.” Now, I ask you, who is out-of-touch with reality?