This week’s news that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has suffered a massive stroke which has left him in critical condition and unlikely to return as Prime Minister has created another the opportunity for a Pat Robertson initiated controversy in the United States. During a broadcast of his The 700 Club program, Robertson indicated that Sharon’s stroke was a “punishment from God” because of his decision to partition Israel and give the Gaza strip to the Palestinians in a “land for peace” deal. (See related post dated 1/2/06 – which was written before Mr. Sharon’s stroke).
Not surprisingly, virtually all of the major media in this country has vilified Pat Robertson for his remarks, with some calling on the President to repudiate him.
The only problem that I see is because of his history of sometimes reckless statements, anything Mr. Robertson says will immediately be written off as the ranting of a religious lunatic, but amid the noise, the possibility of his statements actually being valid will be totally missed. That I suppose is a burden that Pat Robertson will have to carry, but from my viewpoint, his motivation for wanting to preach the truth of God’s Word boldly before a lost and dying world will actually be looked on favorably by God – who after all is the only judge that matters.
So let’s look at the background behind Mr. Robertson’s statement regarding Mr. Sharon: In the summer of 2005, Mr. Sharon suddenly changed his historically firm stance against negotiating with the Palestinians and adopted the US sponsored view that the Palestinians had legitimate claim to parts of what is now modern Israel. As a result, Mr. Sharon forcibly removed Israeli settlers from their homes in Gaza (located in southwest Israel), and turned the land over to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians are also claiming that East Jerusalem is another patch of Israeli property that belongs to them, and Mr. Sharon’s recent moderate stance on Israeli partition suggests that additional annexing of Israeli land could be forthcoming. Then came the two strokes – a minor one in December 2005 and the second debilitating one this week. Mr. Sharon has suffered what his doctors describe as “irreversible brain damage” and is not expected to recover sufficiently to be leader of Israel anymore.
Pat Robertson referenced the biblical book of Joel as evidence that God was exacting punishment on Sharon for dividing “God’s land”. In Joel I did not see any specific verses of scripture that spoke directly to the Sharon situation, however there is one particular section of scripture that has what I would consider indirect relevance: I will gather all nations…I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. (Joel 3:2 truncated NIV). Here is a clear example where God speaks of clear judgment against those nations that “divided my land”.
Despite no clear scripture speaking to Mr. Sharon’s tragic turn, I actually agree with Mr. Robertson’s general line of argument that there will be judgment on those who divide the land of Israel. Unfortunately, to the politically correct crowd in 2006 as well as the masses who don’t take the Bible literally, nor study it for that matter (both mainly being part of the same grouping), Mr. Robertson’s remarks is nothing more than fodder in the ongoing culture war.
If nothing else however, Mr. Robertson does serve the purpose of bringing awareness to the specter of God’s hands-on relevance in the affairs of this world and with Israel in particular. This issue regarding Israel’s giving away of land to the Palestinians for peace is still in play. Gaza is now occupied by the Palestinian Authority, and as new Israeli leaders emerge, it will be very interesting to see what happens to those who keep to Sharon’s direction of negotiating for peace using God’s land as a bargaining chip
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