THE LAND IS NOT “PALESTINE”
It is Biblically incorrect to speak of the land of Israel as “Palestine.” There are seven places in the Bible where the Hebrew word “p’leshet” is used; Ex.15:14, Ps.60:8, Ps.87:4, Ps.108:9, Is.14:29 & 31, and Joel 3:4. Sometimes it is translated as “Palestine,” other times it is translated as “Philistia.” Regardless of which English word is used, the reference is to the land of the Philistines. Essentially, the references speak of God’s judgments on the Philistines.
“PALESTINE” IS NOT A BIBLICAL SYNONYM FOR ISRAEL
“Palestine” is not a Biblical synonym for the land of Israel. It is simply a designation for a small coastal strip in Canaan, from south of Jaffa to south of Gaza. (cf. Jer.47:1-7; Ezek.25:15-17; Am.1:6-8; Zeph.2:4-7) The name “Palestine” was applied by the Romans to Judea after they had crushed the Bar Kokhba Rebellion. It was intended as a punishment signifying that the Jews would never again live there.
Some 18 centuries later, in the greatest miracle of all that time, the Roman decree was nullified when a language, a people, and a land were brought forth from the dead. The house of Jacob began to again possess their possessions. God demonstrated that His power, His faithfulness, and His Word are greater than the weapons and the decrees of men.
Even as Isaiah had prophesied, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Is.11:11-12)
The return of a remnant from Babylonian captivity was the first return. In it, the dispersed of Judah were not regathered “from the four corners of the earth.” The second regathering has taken place in this century. It is not yet complete, but it is evident to all. Biblically, the land was called Canaan, the land of the Canaanites. God destroyed the Canaanites because of their iniquity, and gave the land to Israel, the people He created, for an inheritance forever. Though it is the common usage of many, God never calls the land of Israel “Palestine.”
ALMOST NONE OF THE BIBLES HAVE MAPS ENTITLED “ISRAEL”
It is interesting that almost none of the Bibles that have maps have maps entitled “Israel”. They have maps of “Canaan” and maps of “The Holy Land,” but they do not have maps of “Israel.” They have maps of “The divided kingdoms of Judea and Israel,” but no maps of “Israel.” They have maps of the “Land of the Twelve Tribes,” and maps of “The Empire of David,” and “The Empire of Solomon,” but they do not have maps of “Israel.” They have maps of “Palestine in the time of the Maccabees” and “Palestine in the Time of Christ.” That is absurd. There was no “Palestine” in the time of the Maccabees or in the time of Christ. “Palestine” did not come into existence as a designation for the land of Israel until the second century. It is like publishing a map entitled “The British Empire in the time of Christ,” or “Downtown San Francisco in the time of the Maccabees.”
Such designations show, whether intentionally or not, an anti-Biblical, anti- Judaic bias. So do the maps labeled, “Palestine Today.” The geographical annihilation of Israel stands in open hostility to the Word of God. It is an evasion and denial of an important Biblical truth.
Since the re-establishment of the State of Israel, those who believe the Church is the “New Israel” have a dilemma. Having the “old Israel” raised from the dead makes the “New Israel” very uneasy about the theological position it has carved out for itself. That is why some who hold this position actually hope that Israel will be destroyed. They are unwilling to turn from their false theology. That is why they embrace “Palestine,” but reject Israel; and call for an end to “the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
GOD CALLED THE LAND “ISRAEL”
To use God’s designation of the land as “Israel” would make the call far less appealing. After all, how many people could be stirred up about ending “the Israeli occupation of Israel”?
Those who want to follow and glorify the Lord would do better to use His designation for the land of “Israel”. As far as God is concerned, there is no question about to whom the land belongs. It is His land, and He gave it to the Jewish people for an everlasting possession. He has given other lands to other peoples. “And He made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitations.” (Acts 17:26) It is God who determines what land belongs to what people. The God of Israel has spoken very clearly about the land of Israel.