About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Balaam To Barack
Balaam was an ancient
pagan prophet who King Balak conscripted to curse the Jews.
While observing them from afar Balaam said; "From the rocky
peaks I see them, from the heights I view them.
I see a people who live apart and do not consider themselves one
of the nations (Numbers 23:9 NIV)."
Balaam thus concluded. "How
can I curse those who God has not cursed (Numbers 23:8)."
Balaam's observation that the Jews considered themselves to be a
distinct and separate people among the peoples of the world has
irritated kings, prime ministers, and presidents, throughout history.
Menachem Begin was Prime
Minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983.
When he first met President Jimmy Carter in 1978 he explained to
him the distinct nature of the Jews that Balaam noted centuries earlier.
He pointed out that many religions and ethnic peoples have a
variety of countries they can claim as their own, but not so with the
Jews. Jews, for one specific
Biblical reason, have one country they can call their own.
Although Carter understood Begin's point, he opposed his view
concerning Israel's historic place in Biblical prophecy. Their
difference of opinions made the
Reagan, but especially
Carter, had knowledge of Biblical issues, but their understanding of the
Old Testament was insignificant when compared to Begin's understanding.
One example of this was seen in Begin's 1982 address to the
United Nations. From his
Hebrew language Bible, he read Isaiah 2.
He then proceeded to exegete the text in fine rabbinical fashion
which included a detailed explanation of Hebrew words and grammar.
His love for the Hebrew Bible was also seen in a September, 1982,
letter to President Reagan. He
ended the letter with one of his favourite verses.
"For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's
sake I will not remain silent, till her vindication shines out like the
dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch (Isaiah 62:1 NIV)."
Begin inherited the sentiment expressed in this verse from his
father. It became the
driving force in his life. It
was his relentless fight for Israel's survival that many viewed as a persistent stubbornness that prevented
the peace proposal from moving forward.
Begin believed the
foundation of Jewish
The distinctiveness of Israel
among the nations was later clarified to Moses by God.
"Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of
all the nations you will be my treasured possession.
Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of
priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5 - 6 NIV).
In short, God's prize possession would be His priest, His
representative, to the nations. For
this specific reason the Jews have only one nation they can rightly call
their own; a nation that is constantly contested.
This was fundamental to the formulation of Begin's foreign
policy, a policy that frustrates world leaders to this day.
We know the history.
promised to obey God (Exodus 19:8, 24:3), it didn't.
So, like many who embrace Replacement Theology, Carter believed,
and still does believe, that Israel
forfeited its international priestly responsibilities because it failed
to obey their God. Begin,
however, stood firm on his conviction that the Old Testament predicted
the day when Israel
would return to its land, to its God, and also to its priestly
prophet Daniel put it this way. God's
court will sit and "The sovereignty, power, and greatness of all
the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people (Jews)
of the Most High (Daniel 7:26 - 27 NIV)."
We're now 32 years
removed from Begin's prime ministership and 34 years removed from
Carter's presidency. Barack
Obama has ripped a page fro
"On that day, a
fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
On that day, I will banish the names of their idols from their
land, and they will be remembered no more, declares the Lord God
Almighty (Zechariah 13:1 - 2 NIV). Until
then, Christians must follow the prophet Daniel's lead.
While exiled in