Gaza: Territorial Faith
And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. — Genesis 10:19
Genesis 10:1-32 is a genealogical roadmap. The chapter is often called the "Table of Nations" because it catalogs the spread of humanity after the Flood. Although it is primarily a list of names and lineages, it's far more than that. It details how Noah's population branched out from his three sons (Japheth, Ham, and Shem), fulfilling God’s command to "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Genesis 9:1). If you choose to read the whole chapter, you'll notice geographical markers, social groupings, and other historical information.
Focusing on the middle of the chapter, you will find the lineage of Ham (Genesis 10:6-20). It tells us that Ham had four sons, one of whom was Canaan, with eleven descendants dispersed into the "territory of the Canaanites," extending "as far as Gaza."
So why is this important?
From the first chapters of the Bible, we learn that God wanted his people to populate this land. They were the first to inhabit this territory (including Gaza). If you jump ahead in the story, this inclusion was later reinforced when Gaza was listed among Judah’s promised territories (Joshua 15:20, 47).
But for God's people, there was far more behind their understanding of "this land."
"The Land" signified something unique to the people of God. It wasn't just about the dirt or the possession of a piece of property. It described Israel's unique relationship with God. The land was a territory where God drew close to His people. It was a concrete reminder of God's promise to them. The existence of Israel as a nation and the promise of "this land" was grounded in promises made by God. But as you continue to read the story, God is faithful, and his people are not. Eventually, they lose possession of the land because of their unfaithfulness.
But, this past promise doesn't necessarily validate contemporary claims to "the land." God's divine promises were based on Israel keeping its part of the covenant with God. And they proved repetitively unfaithful to the covenant, especially in the matter of Jesus. So, we can't really use historical or theological claims to justify present-day rights to "this land." The land was lost, and the promise was broken because of Israel's disobedience.
Now, let me add a small contemporary caveat to this.
Present-day Israel has a right to defend itself against evil. And the events that have transpired over the last few weeks are acts of evil. Some in government, politics, and media will never address the issue of evil. They won't even mention the word. They will try to assume it away as if evil does not exist. So they will dance around this subject. You will hear them talk about "proportionality" to avoid addressing sin and the problem of evil. The problem with this idea is that some groups (like Hamas) don't believe in "proportionality." They only believe in the complete and total destruction of their enemies because they see themselves as good and their opponents as evil. Hamas will not stop if Israel does not take measures to protect and preserve itself as far as possible.
But if evil exists, it drives us to the core issue — sin. The sin that resides in man's heart. So here's the point.
A people possessing and residing on a piece of land won't fix this issue. Sin will only perpetuate again through the next generation. The only resolution is God possessing and residing in the prime territory of a man's heart. This is where the battle is fought. Therefore, this should be our prayer for the people in this region. Pray that God would stop the progression of evil and do great work in the hearts of sinful men across Gaza, Lebanon, Israel, and Iran. The territory God is concerned about is the soil of our hearts.
How does the concept of "The Land" in the Bible relate to your understanding of God's presence and promises in your life today?
If "the territory God is concerned about is the soil of our hearts," how are you tending to the 'soil' of your own heart to be a place where God can dwell?
DO THIS: Pray for your heart and others.
PRAY THIS: Lord, help me understand that You're most interested in the condition of my heart. Guide me to be obedient and true to Your teachings, reflecting Your faithfulness. Protect me from the negative influences and temptations in life that try to pull me away from You. May You not only be present in geographical places but reign powerfully in the hearts of all who believe in You. I also pray for the people in Israel and Gaza. Bring them peace and stability, and may Your love transform hearts there, steering them away from hate and toward Your everlasting peace. Amen.
PLAY THIS: All Hail King Jesus.
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