God’s Real Estate
On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendents I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:18-21)
These words have probably caused more problems for the course of human history than any other single Bible passage. It’s a prime example of how the Bible continues to poison our national discourse and adversely impact the lives of millions. Because of this passage…
–The Unites States spends more money on military aid to Israel than any other nation. Your tax dollars at work!
–American politicians–including many running for president right now–feel compelled to out-do each other in their vociferous support for Israel, no matter what, no matter the cost, no matter the consequences.
–Humans continue to be slaughtered because of differing interpretations of this passage. A case in point would be the outbreak of hostilities along the Gaza border in the past couple days.
Of course for American evangelicals the significance of Genesis 15 goes beyond the Jews’ ancient claim on the land. Many Christians see the establishment of modern Israel–along with Jewish control of Jerusalem–as a necessary precursor to the second coming of Jesus.
And why does a tiny nation of some 7 million people have such disproportionate influence on American foreign policy, domestic politics, and budget priorities? All because an ancient, mythical nomad once heard the voice of a deity give the land to Abraham’s descendents in perpetuity. Does this make any sense at all?
Certainly one could make rational arguments for supporting Israel without saying, “for the Bible tells me so.” Israel is, after all, a rare democracy in a part of the world dominated by authoritarian governments. But for god’s sake, leave god out of it. Religion should have no influence whatsoever on how our government responds to geopolitical realities.