About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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The West Bank In Prophecy


"There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.  In the past He (God) humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honour Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea (of Galilee) along the Jordan (River) ... For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, the government will be on His shoulders of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David's throne, over His kingdom". (Isaiah 9:1, 6-7) 


Around 733 B. C. Syria persuaded the northern kingdom of Israel to join her in attacking the Assyrian Empire.  The northern kingdom of Israel attempted to enlist the southern kingdom of Israel (Judah) to join in the fight.  Judah refused, motivating the northern kingdom to attack her.  In the south's defense, Assyria invaded Zebulun and Naphtali, located in the northern parts of the northern kingdom of Israel.  The devastation from this attack accounts for the gloom, distress, and humiliation, of this geographical area as seen in Isaiah 9:1.       


Isaiah 9:1 speaks of a day when the Messiah"will honor Galilee of the Gentiles (Zebulun and Naphtali) by the way of the sea (of Galilee) and the Jordan (River)".  This honoring began to take place when the Messiah (Jesus) moved to Zebulun and Naphtali to begin His ministry.  Matthew 4:12 17 says, "Jesus returned to Galilee He went to live in Capernaum, which was by the lake (Sea of Galilee) in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali to fulfill what was said by the prophet Isaiah; 'the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles "  About 760 years after Assyria invaded Zebulun and Naphtali, Jesus honored this region with His presence.    


Isaiah 9:1 calls the land of Zebulun and Naphtali the " Galilee of the Gentiles" because ever since the Assyrian invasion it has been governed and dominated by Gentiles.  This was the case in Isaiah's day, in Jesus' day, and in our day as well.  Israelis still experience this  gloom and distress throughout the land that was once called Zebulun and Naphtali, but as this prophecy predicts, this will all end.      


Here's what makes Isaiah 9 relevant for us.  The region known by Isaiah as the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, the same region known by Jesus as the Galilee of the Gentiles, is presently known by us as the northern part of the "West Bank".  It's the land that is said to be illegally "occupied" by Israel.  It's the land presently governed by the Palestinian Authority.   


Isaiah predicted a day when the Messiah would honor Zebulun and Naphtali.  That began to take place when Jesus lived in that region.  Isaiah also predicted a day when the government of this region would be on the shoulders of the Jesus, the Messiah.  In general terms this means that Jesus will govern Israel, thus removing the gloom and distress.  However, to be precise and accurate to the context, I suggest the "governing" spoken of here refers specifically to Jesus governing Zebulun and Naphtali, or, what we call the northern part of the West Bank.  Isaiah 9 is often read at Christmas, but it's more about Jesus governing the West Bank than it is about the Christmas story. 


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