Jesus and the Land
by Gary M. Burge
The lengthy conflict in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians affects the world. Among Christians, there is a wide difference of opinion as to the reasons for and solutions to this war. In his book Jesus and the Land, author Gary M. Burge addresses this issue with focus on the ‘Holy Land’ theology from the New Testament scripture.
Burge takes a scholarly approach to defining the promise land passages, translations of the words that are translated into the English word ‘land’, and the culturally relevant practices at the time of writing that give additional meaning to this wording, other than the narrow interpretation that it always means a piece of dirt. Most particularly, that piece of dirt that is now the focus of this conflict. He carefully describes the New Testament teachings of Jesus as the new covenant with God’s people. Jesus came to do away with the narrower definition of God’s people being only the Jewish community, but that God’s promise now encompasses Gentiles. He states: "The New Testament relocates the properties of the Holy Land and discovers them in Christ himself. Thus the most sacred of all places, the Temple, is found in Christ."
This book is a reverent reflection of the reality of Christ in the lives of all people. It never degrades the Old Testament promises to Abraham or the heritage of the Jewish people. God, through Christ, is available to all who listen, accept and obey—Jew and Gentile alike. A mixing of political agendas with Christian interpretation loses the mission of the Christian Church—to bring the presence of God into the nations of the world.
In summary, Burge says: “Amidst calls to reclaim holy land, to reconquer territory in the name of God, to assume religious privileges for one tribe and not another, the New Testament says: No. Jesus called for a faithfulness that abandoned such things—that envisioned a different era, a different kingdom, where old territorial claims backed by religious privilege were no more.