Historical Questions with Pastor Moline

On October 7, 2023, a group of terrorists initiated an ongoing war in the Holy Land. This war has sparked many questions to Pastor Goodroad and I about the state of Israel. Is the Israel of today the Israel of the Bible? Isn’t Palestine their land? (insert whichever noun you wish for the word “their”). Should we as Christians support one side or the oth-er in this conflict?

As is often the case, there are no easy answers in a sinful world. My goal here is to show you why by examining the history of one city in particular – Jerusalem.

Historically, Jerusalem is one of, if not the most fought over city in history. By some counts, the city of Jerusalem has changed hands through warfare some 40-50 times. There isn’t space to cover all of these in a News and Notes article, so I’ll try to summarize. Note, that while these are specific dates, there is a great deal of overlap as peoples changed. Things are not cut and dry in the annals of history, so we’ll paint with a wide brush. One item to keep in mind: There is a distinct difference between temple pe-riod Judaism, and modern Judaism. Israel from today isn’t Israel from the bible, even if they are distantly related. Don’t equate Israel in the bible with Israel today.

From c. 2000 BC to c. 1000 BC, Jerusalem was under the control of the ancient Ca-naanites, specifically, the Jebusites. During this time is the life of Abraham, (Gen. 22) and the Exodus and Conquest (c. 1450 BC). C. 1000 BC is the time of King David, who con-quered Jerusalem and made it his capital and spiritual center. It is at that time that the city comes into the control of the ancient Israelites. These Israelites were the descend-ants of Abraham, and they controlled the city until 586 BC. In 586, the city was razed by Nebuchadnezzar and only the poorest were left in the city ruins. In 539, the Jews re-turned and re-founded Jerusalem as a Jewish city, but one under the control of the Persian Empire. In 331, Alexander the Great conquered the Persians, and Jerusalem came under Greek control, but remained Jewish. In 167 BC the Jews revolted from the Greeks under the Maccabees, and established an independent Hasmonean dynasty. This kingdom exist-ed until Pompey the great subjugated the Jews to the Romans in 63 BC.

Jerusalem existed as a Jewish city under Roman rule until 135 A.D., at which time Emperor Hadrian outlawed Jews from living in Jerusalem following the Bar Kochba revolt. At that same time, Christianity was on the rise. Jerusalem was officially a pagan city, Ae-lia Capitolina, until the time of Constantine the Great in 325. However, it should be noted, that more and more Christians were living in Jerusalem during this time frame. Jerusalem remained Roman and Christian until it was conquered by the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate in 637

During the crusades, the city became Christian again. In 1099 it fell to Crusaders, but again in 1187, it fell to Islam. It remained under Islamic control, but with a healthy Christian population, until the Zionist movement began in the late 1800’s. In 1948, the modern state of Israel was established as a result. This followed the collapse of the Otto-man Empire in WWI, and the end of the British Mandate period.

This information can be summarized in two ways, po-litically and theologically. For this, I will also be making a distinction between “Temple Judaism” which is what we see in the Scripture, and modern “Synagogue Judaism” which is what exists today. I’ll draw this line at 33 A.D., when Christ fulfilled the need for the temple, but many others would draw that line in 70 A.D., when the temple was destroyed by the Romans. It is also worth pointing out that my theologi-cal numbers are “very blurry.” Unity in faith across an en-tire society is rare throughout all history, so it is difficult to measure. See my summary chart.

So what do we learn? There is no good historic argu-ment to be made on who should control Palestine politically or theologically. Today’s country of Israel is separated by 1900 years from the Biblical Israel. One shouldn’t make modern political decisions based upon an assumed history! The actual history is actually much more complicated than is depicted on the news. As a Christian, you are free to sup-port one side or the other, but have no obligation to one side because of your faith. As with all nations, kingdoms rise and fall, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.

Who has been hurt by the wars that have afflicted Palestine over the years? Christians. Christians had lived in Palestine since the first century, but in the last few decades they have been driven out by the constant conflicts in the area. There are in fact very few Christians remaining in Pal-estine today. That is the true tragedy that we ought to pray for now: that our brothers and sisters in the faith may not perish from the land our Lord walked. Peace in the holy land is to be sought for the sake of Christians who have lived there since the time of Christ. Additionally, we should not rejoice in the conflict that kills humans outside the Christian faith. Rather we ought to pray for their repentance and con-version to the Christian faith, and work towards that end, something that becomes impossible if they have killed each other in warfare.

DID YOU KNOW? KNNA-LP 95.7 FM The Cross plays the Sunday morning Divine Service in its entirety every Sunday at 8 and 10:30 am. Did you know that the Sunday service is also replayed every Sunday at 7 pm? You can also listen to the Wednesday 6:30 pm service live. Most of the special services, including funeral services, are broadcast live as well. If you cannot be here in person, consider listening on KNNA. If you cannot listen on your radio, you can also access the services on the KNNA website at www.thecross957.org. Thanks for listening!

STEWARDSHIP MOMENT— Matthew 5: 24 “First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” First things first: the Lord won’t be bribed by our giving. Our giving must flow forth from a faithful Christian life that receives Christ’s forgiveness and freely shares that for-giveness. Or, in other words, a good work isn’t a good work if it doesn’t flow from faith.

LIFE MOMENT We may think our prayers are small in relation to the magnitude of the problem of abortion. Not so! … Educate yourself, your children, and the people you know … Support leaders who embrace these words, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Hap-piness …” We have the most hopeful message the world has ever heard. You know it. God does big things with small stuff. How can we be so sure? Shiphrah and Puah, Jochebed, Miriam, and Moses … and especially Jesus. Amen.

JULY MISSION PROJECT: FLOOD RELIEF FOR IOWA We are changing our July Mission Project to meet some more immediate needs of our neighbors in Spencer, Iowa. The two LCMS congregations in Spencer count 71 fami-lies who are dealing with damage from the flooding. Rev. Kaldahl (father of Joel Kal-dahl) has spoken with our Pastors about these needs … and so we will be receiving donations to help meet those needs. Thank you for your help!

COMING HAPPENINGS Vicar Garrison’s last Sunday will be August 11th. Details for the Vicar Farewell are still pending. Watch for the info.

Vicar Flanick will be installed on Sunday, August 18th. We will be welcoming him and his family at the church picnic sometime in September. Details are pending.