The Pursuit of Peace in the Biblical Heart of the 10/40 Window

At the heart of the lands we call the Middle East lie the nations of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, which together frame the geographical center of God's Biblical revelation. Its history stretches back through the millennia to the dim beginnings of civilization. Today its agonizing search for "peace with justice" occupies the headlines of newspapers and the lead stories of television around the world.

Two years ago I asked a Jordanian news anchor -- who also is an Arab believer -- what his major news item was. Without hesitation he answered, "The peace process." I recently asked him the same question. His answer was the same, but with a telling addendum: "The peace process... and that it will continue."

The Middle East is rich in history, laden with sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Vanished civilations and modern mechanized armies have waged endless wars across hills, valleys and rivers whose names appear in the oldest written texts and latest electronic headlines:

Jerusalem
One of the world's most famous cities, Jerusalem dates from at least the third millennium BD... and it's been fought over ever since. In this focus of countless wars, Christ gave his disciples the mandate to "tell people about me everywhere: in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8 NLT).
Jordan
The river from which the nation of Jordan derives its name has been a hotly contested natural border ever since Joshua led the Israelites on the dry river bed, between its parted waters, into their Promised Land.
Bethlehem
Today it lies in the area known as the West Bank. The city where Jesus was born, it is mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible. Here a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel to announce, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests" (Luke 2:14). That peace is unknown in Bethlehem at the turn of the new millenium.

Abraham is the father of the approximately 15 million Jews worldwide, of whom about six million live in the United States. Over 800,000 Russian Jews have immegrated to Israel in the 1990s, bringing the total Jewish population in Israel to five million. Susan Perlman of Jews for Jesus, who was raised in the Jewish faith, recently noted: "As we enter the 21st century we are witnessing an emerging Judiasm that is radically altered from the century past."

Approximately 300 million Arabs also trace their lineage to Abraham. Arab history encompasses one of the most formidable empires the world has ever known.

Ishmael, the forgotton son of Abraham, was promised to be a recipient of blessing. Isaac, the miracle-born son of Abraham was promised not only to be a recipient of blessing, but would also be a channel of blessing, i.e., through his seed, the Christ would come. Arabs and Jews need each other to experience the blessing of peace.

"The Arab-Israeli conflict has indeed been one of the more complex and difficult problems of the second half of the twentieth century. The first step to understanding its complexity is a recognition that there is no single Arab-Israeli dispute, but a cluster of distinct, interrelated conflits. The is a classic dispute between two national movements claiming title to and vying for possession of the same land; the broader political, cultural, and increasingly religious conflict between Israel and Arab nationalism -- the bilateral disagreements between Israel and each of its Arab neighbors; and the international structure; in which in which colonial and postcolonial power rivalries, geopolitical factors, and talk about the 'Holy Land' all play a part."

- From Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs
at the End of the Century
, by Itamar Rabinovich
Israeli Scholar-Diplomat

The primary issue occupying modern Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority is their fitful pursuit of a lasting peace. The slogans are many: "Choose peace!" "Fight for Peace!" "Struggle for Peace!" "Talk Peace!" "Wage Peace!" But progress is slow and erratic. The complex and difficult issue was summed up with wry and insightful humor by one observer: "We are, after all, the sons and daughters of Abraham."

Peace... My Peace

From nearly every viewpont the primary issue at the heart of the 10/40 Window is the pursuit of peace. While governments debate the issues and argue over the details, evangelical believers worldwide debate God's end-time prophetic agenda, especially as it relates to the place of Israel. Some believe that the signing of a peace pact will launch a series of end-times events that will lead to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

In the midst of the uncertainty, Messianic Jewish and Christian Arab leaders are quietly joining in prayer for the lasting inner peace that comes only through Jesus/Yeshua/Yasua. They pray for a spiritual unity among their people while maintianing their distinct Jewish and Arab identities.

That's a difficult and elusive goal. But it can become reality, for peace is the heart of the Master, the Prince of Peace. "Peace I leave with you," he said, "My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives" (John 14:27). Peace has already come into the world through Christ (Luke 1:79; 2:14; 29-32). By Jesus peace is bestowed (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; John 20:19, 21, 26). We, his followers, are to be messengers of that peace (Luke 10:5-6; Acts 10:36). Shortly before his return to the Father he told his disciples: "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (John 20:21).

Lasting peace -- the kind that can be found only in and through Jesus/Yeshua/Yasua -- is spreading throughout the land of his birth. Pray that God's peace will prevail, both in that ancient land and in the hearts of its people.

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8/14/00