The Bible and the Land- Introduction
By Re. Dr. Munther Isaac
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the most complex conflicts in modern history. At its core, it is a conflict about territory and control. It is a conflict about land, and not merely any land, but the biblical land. Over the years, religion has been used in this conflict by many parties to justify acts of violence and land confiscation.
These days Jewish settlers seize control of Palestinian land by force, protected by the Israeli army, and motivated by their religious tradition. All historical Palestine, they argue, is “the land of Israel,” given to their ancestors (and by extension to them) as an eternal possession. All attempts by Palestinians to prove ownership of the land by legal documents or historical arguments are deemed irrelevant. When the United Nations voted unanimously against the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Israeli ambassador to the UN responded by holding a Bible in his hand and citing thousands of years of Jewish history in the Holy Land.
The Bible and the Land – 1 Whose Land is it Anyway?
Whose Land is it Anyway?
By Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac
When it comes to the question of “the Bible and the land,” we must begin with the question: “Whose land is it?” This is a simple yet immensely significant question. You get this wrong, and you get the rest of the story wrong. And the good news is that you don’t need a PhD to get this right! Are you ready for it?
THE LAND BELONGS TO GOD. PERIOD.
The Bible is clear that the whole earth was created by God and belongs to Him. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1; see also Deut. 14:10). What the Bible teaches about creation is foundational for our discussion on the theology of the land. God created this earth and appointed Adam as His representative on it, and Adam was assigned as God’s vicegerent. As humans, we are stewards of God, and He holds us accountable for our actions with regards to His creation. The earth – God’s earth – is humanity’s mandate:
The Bible and the Land – 2 What Were the Boundaries of the Promised Land?
By Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac
The Bible and the Land – 2
What Were the Boundaries of the Promised Land?
Many Bible-believing Christians assume that the modern region known as Israel and Palestine reflects the actual boundaries of the biblical Promised Land. But is that true? What were the boundaries of the Promised Land? The issue is controversial because of the different descriptions that we find in the Bible of these boundaries. The Bible does not give just one description of the boundaries. It is not that simple.
But let me try to simplify things, by dividing these different boundary descriptions into roughly two maps: (1) the land of Canaan, (see map 1 below) and (2) a wider territory (from river to river) that includes most of the Ancient Near East (see map 2 below). In addition, in the different periods, the land had different shapes. The allotted land in the days of Joshua, for example, is different from the land during the reign of David and then Solomon. In both cases, the boundaries went beyond modern day Israel and Palestine.
Palestinian Christian pastor, theologian, writer, speaker, blogger, and more importantly, a husband and a father. Munther wears many hats. He now pastors Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, and is at the same time the Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible. He is also the director of the highly acclaimed and influential Christ at the Checkpoint conferences, and is a board member of Kairos Palestine.
Munther is passionate about issues related to Palestinians and Palestinian Christians. He speaks locally and internationally on issues related to the theology of the land, Palestinian Christians, and Palestinian theology. He is the author of "From Land to Lands, from Eden to the Renewed Earth: A Christ-Centered Biblical Theology of the Promised Land".
Munther is a musician. He plays the guitar and the flute. He is also an avid sports fan, specially football (aka soccer!) and basketball (NBA).
Munther originally studied civil engineering in Birzeit. Realizing that numbers and construction sites are not his thing, he obtained a Master in Biblical Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary and then a PhD from the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.Munther is married to Rudaina - an architect, and together they have two boys: Karam (4) and Zaid (2).