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the truthfulness of the Bible and its reliability in foretelling future events, the modern-day state of Israel often serves as an obstacle to accepting the Bible.

The problem is the misconception that Bible prophecies regarding the Promised Land imply endorsement of all the policies of the government of Israel.

Israeli political leaders have brought worldwide criticism upon themselves for some of their military actions and some of their political action and some of their social actions in regard to the Palestinian people. Does Bible prophecy about the Promised Land mean that God endorses all of those actions?

The best answer is to consider the history of Israel in the Bible. There were many, many times in Bible history when God speaking through his profits expressed his condemnation of the behavior of the nation of Israel.

Most of the kings of Israel and Judah failed miserably. Many of them were corrupt and allowed all sorts of evil things to take place in the land during their reigns. Some of them were especially perverse and even promoted idolatry. Some of them had people killed unjustly. Some of the oppressed the people.

Among the worst was King Ahab who, together with Queen Jezebel, official revived Canaanite worship of phallic images and idols of the god Baal: "Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD , the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him." (1 Kings 16:30-33 NIV)

The Hebrew prophets were often sent by God to denounce the behavior of the Jewish ruling powers. And they documented their misbehavior and their sins in the Hebrew prophetic writings.

So, the Israeli government of modern times is not very far out of step from the pattern of these ancient rulers. Modern Israeli society is fractured, with hostile

factions representing every hue of the Jewish religious spectrum from cultic fanaticism to anti-religious secular humanism.

The key is to realize that the Bible's prophecies regarding the Promised Land are not there to reward Jewish behavior. Nor are they there to endorse the policies of the Israeli government. Rather, it is all about Christ. Besides being a people assigned to preserve a written record of human history going back to the creation, and besides being a people kept separate to preserve the true worship of the true God, the Jews were also chosen to preserve the line of descent leading to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

And their presence as a functioning Jewish state in the Promised Land at 'the time of the end' is essential for the fulfillment of the remaining prophecies concerning Christ's return. The Bible foretells that the Messiah will rule from Jerusalem. So, Israel has to be there, and an Israeli-controlled Jerusalem has to be there. The individuals involved may vary from faithful men like Abraham to corrupt leaders like Jezebel, but the God who predicted these events has the power to make sure that they will be fulfilled exactly as he said they would be.

Chapter 8 Holy City

Unlike the expressions "chosen people" and "promised land," the term "holy city" does not find a universally accepted definition. Some people may apply the term to the Vatican or Rome, while others might apply it to Mecca, and still others may apply it to Abydos in Egypt, Nippur in Iraq, Lhasa in Tibet, Ujjain in India, or a host of other cities holy to one sect or another.

However, the most wide-spread use of the expression "holy city" has application to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a holy city to three of the world's major religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

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