Just come across this brilliant animation which brilliantly conveys the profound military and political vulnerability that the territory of Israel/Palestine has ALWAYS faced. For when you come to think about it, this narrow strip of inhabitable land (between sea and desert) is a corridor linking 3 continents: Africa, Asia & Europe. As such, it is a strategic and hence very desirable possession for anyone seeking world domination. And the history of the world has certainly seen a number of those types. What you see from this animation is how over 5 millennia, the threat to its inhabitants has come from all 3 continents, at one time or another – and sometimes even all at once.
This provokes a big question and some serious awe.
- The Big Question: Why did God make this strip the Promised Land?After all, there are more secure places (in fact, when the Zionists first started discussing with the British where to have some territory of their own at the turn of the 20th century, Uganda (!!!) was regarded as a distinct possibility by some – including Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism).
- Surely one reason was to teach the lesson that pervades the OT – that Yahweh can be trusted, even in the face of acute political vulnerability? Sure alliances are attractive and might hold off the invader for a time. But history proved time after time that this was not a good long-term strategy.
- Surely another is the fact that Jerusalem provides an incredibly strategic base of operations for the gospel message when it was finally time for that? When the time came, Acts 1 makes it clear that there would be a gospel ripple effect of which Jerusalem would be the epicentre. We know at least of Paul and Peter taking the gospel to Europe, an Ethiopian going back home to Ethiopia and legends have it that Thomas et al took it to India. Where else could possibly provide a better starting point?
- Now for The Serious Awe: in the light of this vulnerability, isn’t simply miraculous that the Israelites, however imperfectly and irregularly, clung to monotheism? They were resolute about it – despite the fact in the ancient worldview systems contemporary with the OT, people would usually adopt the religion of the invading army (on the basic principle of your god must be bigger than my god if your army can defeat our army). Even in the Babylonian Exile, which was as militarily and theologically a dead end as you can get, the monotheism of trusting Yahweh persisted. Now that, as far as i can see, is pretty awesome…