Thursday, May 26, 2011

Buffalo Bill and Olive Ofer

William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846 – 1917)
image wikimedia

Life in the North American continent was changing fast towards the end of the 19th century because of the push of the white man to the wild West. After Christopher Columbus and his crew had discovered Americas both Spane and Portugal had greatly expanded their influence in South and Middle America and Spain had established strong northern footholds beyond Mexico. Names like Los Angeles, San Fransisco, San Diego and others are reminders of those earlier times of settlement by Spanish Catholics.

Towards the end of the century the independent United States had settled the Civil War and was rapidly expanding from the Atlantic coast towards the Pacific coast through the great plains. California was the golden land and economic incentives were strong to the easterners to leave everything, jump in the wagons and start new life far in the West despite of the dangers on the way. Gold rush was not the least among them but wonderful farming land, orange groves, cattle farms and many other things were calling.

But what to do with those native Americans who had lived on those plains since crossing the Bering straits in prehistoric times? Obviously something had to be done as these cruel primitives did not leave the Iron Horse to cross the plains in peace and those wagons had to be set into circles to defend the white woman from horrible fate in their hands. Most of us have experienced through American TV series and movies these feelings and taken part in the pioneer spirit and admired the courage of these settlers dreaming of new life in the West and felt the wonderful relief when US cavalry finally reaches the crisis spot with flags flying and horns blowing and Rin Tin Tin saving the child.

There were several methods how to secure the new settlements and the rail road and the wagon trails in the vast plains were crude pagan native Americans were riding those horses and dancing wildly in their camps around those totem poles and planning the next attack on the white man.

Selling whisky to them was one efficient medicine to the problem of their existence. The fire water had profound influence on them.

Preventing them from getting fire arms was crucial and those bastards who made money by selling deadly Winchesters to the people of "India" are common criminals in American Westerns.

American bison, Buffalo 
image wikimedia

A more fundamental solution was needed, one that approaches true genocide. While some native American tribes were farmers, others were totally dependent on that magnificent animal, bison or buffalo, that roamed freely and provided almost everything to the hunter-gatherer societies. Not all American Indians lived on buffalo hunting but many did.

So, the damned animals could block the rails stopping trains, they could crush the maize and other fields of white Christian Americans trying to make honest living along the wagon caravan routes and they provided nourishment and protection to those hated natives lurking in the dark.

A project was started to slaughter these animals.

William Buffalo Bill Cody was born on February 26, 1846 in the Iowa Territory near LeClare. This territory existed from 1838 to 1846 and it was admitted to the Union as State of Iowa (December 28, 1846).
From wikipedia we learn about the earlier inhabitants of Iowa territory:
"When the American Indians first arrived in what is now Iowa more than 13,000 years ago, they were hunters and gatherers living in a Pleistocene glacial landscape. By the time European explorers visited Iowa, American Indians were largely settled farmers with complex economic, social, and political systems. This transformation happened gradually. During the Archaic period (10,500-2,800 years ago), American Indians adapted to local environments and ecosystems, slowly becoming more sedentary as populations increased. More than 3,000 years ago, during the Late Archaic period, American Indians in Iowa began utilizing domesticated plants. The subsequent Woodland period saw an increase on the reliance on agriculture and social complexity, with increased use of mounds, ceramics, and specialized subsistence. During the Late Prehistoric period (beginning about A.D. 900) increased use of maize and social changes led to social flourishing and nucleated settlements. The arrival of European trade goods and diseases in the Protohistoric period led to dramatic population shifts and economic and social upheaval, with the arrival of new tribes and early European explorers and traders. ...
Approximately seventeen different American Indian tribes had resided here at various times including the Ioway, Sauk, Meskwaki (called Fox in many sources), Sioux, Potawatomi, Oto, and Missouri."

But whats a few thousand years of history, even ten thousand, when these people stand on the way of the progress and legitimate needs and rights of the white man?

"From 1868 until 1872 Cody was employed as a scout by the United States Army. Part of this time he spent scouting for Indians, and the remainder was spent gathering and killing bison for them and the Kansas Pacific Railroad. In January 1872 Cody was a scout for Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia's highly publicized royal hunt."

Buffalo Bill got his Medal of Honor. Many other white men like him were involved in the politically motivated strategic slaughter of the American bison, the buffalo.

Why? Well, we all know why, don't we?

As for the olive tree, the symbol of peace

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.

He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
Genesis 8:6-12.

Olive tree is also the beautiful symbol of the people of Israel and can live undisturbed over a thousand years. It is told that the slow growing tree begins to produce oil about thirty years after planting.

Olive oil production and export to Jordan and other countries is the most fundamental source of income for Palestinian farmers in the West Bank of Jordan.

The popularity of those John Wayne classic Wild West movies depicting bad Indians has steadily declined also in the United States after the publication of Dee Brown's book Bury my heart at Wounded Knee in 1970 which was adapted into a movie.

The other side of the coin can be told now when the conquest of the West is solid and Indians live in their reservates peacefully and without posing any danger to the white man. The social psyche can look at the 19th century conflict more broadly and bravely about hundred years after it is over.

A particularly strong description of the change and how modern Americans see their ancestors not so long ago on their way to settle West is the seven Academy Awards winning movie Dances with Wolves shot in South Dakota and Wyoming.

The Sioux Nation adopted Kevin Costner as an honorary member.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The City of the Great King

Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

Beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.
Psalm 48:1-3

Great King has great capital which is nothing less than the city of the God of Israel.

Quite a city it is.

Sorry, but it is not West Jerusalem where the State of Israel has the parliament house Knesset, residence of the president, supreme court, main rabbinate and other important buildings. This is a modern city that had its beginnings with Baron Moshe Montefiore who in 1878 founded Mishkenot Sha'anim to provide living quarters for poor outside the Ottoman city walls. These "suburbs of Jerusalem" have since spread with the rapid growth of the city that today has more than 500.000 people.

Sorry, but it is not East Jerusalem which greatly resembles older parts of Amman and grew under the rule of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Despite of the importance of the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of al-Aqsa king Hussein was determined to maintain the prominence of Amman as the capital of his kingdom.

Yes, it is the Old City. This is the historical and archaeological area including the city within the Ottoman city wall and the Hill of Ophel south of it and Mt Zion with its slopes. The wall was built by orders of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and was finished in 1548. It is the best preserved Turkish city wall in the Mediterranean region. Ophel is the lower hill south of the temple area and the original City of David which he took from the Jebusites.

Sultan Suleiman was furious that the the wall was not built along the southern gorge of the Valley of Hinnom with its deep slopes and left much of Mount Zion outside. It is said that the two architects were hanged for this and are buried inside Jaffa Gate. However, the wall is mighty and was never broken by an enemy force - it even withstood the special conical explosive built in 1948 to break into the city.

Psalm 48 talks about the city of the Great King in many terms but especially because in the heart of the city stood the Temple of the God of Israel.

Do not swear by the city of the Great King

Rabbi Jesus told the Jewish people in the Sermon of the Mount that they should not swear so much. He gave interesting reasons against swearing by heavens, earth, one's own head or by Jerusalem - all apparently popular witnesses for the truth of the statement in the Herodian period.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.“
Matthew 5:33-37

Direction of prayer
Jewish people have always prayed towards Jerusalem.
Christians do not care about the direction but their churches are built so that altars are in the east where sun rises as the symbol of resurrection.
Muslims first prayed towards Jerusalem, then towards Mecca, then under the Ummayad caliphate towards Jerusalem and towards Mecca since the rule of the Abbasids.
It is said that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, first told his followers to pray towards Jerusalem. But after he noticed that the Jewish people did not accept him as a true prophet of God the direction of prayers was turned towards Mecca where is the holy black stone of Kaaba.
After the Four Righteous Caliphs the leadership of Islam was taken by the powerful Ummayads from Damascus who conquered the world from India to Near East, North Africa and Spain. It has been said that these rulers became worried about the loyalty of the people and that praying towards Mecca and making pilgrimages there would weaken their rule. Therefore, a new holy city was needed. Caliphs Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, al-Walid I and other Ummayad rulers constructed magnificent buildings to enhance the importance of Jerusalem; Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa mosque (705 AD), palaces and madrasas, fountains and gardens in this holy city al-Quds. Roads were paved and new ones constructed for pilgrims to al-Quds. (In my opinion, "Hisham Palace" is actually a five star caravanseray on the way from Damascus to Jerusalem to enhance the importance of the city.)
But what theological reasons could the Ummayad rulers give to the holiness of Jerusalem in Islam?

Lailat al Miraj
Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).
Qur'an, sura 17 (Al-Isra), ayah 1.
Hadith Sahih Buhari gives more details about the nightly vision in which Muhammad rode Buraq to a distant mosque ( المسجد الأقصى‎, al-Masğidu 'l-’Aqṣà) and visited Paradise in the companion of archangel Gabriel (English translation here). Since the geographical location is not told Omayyad caliphs were able to chose Jerusalem and the platform where the Temple of God of Israel once stood as the location of that distant mosque. It was told that righteous Caliph Omar himself participated in cleaning the huge platform of the garbage from the city and build a small house of prayer there. Yearly feast of this beautiful vision is the second most important celebration in Islam, Lailat al Miraj, and brings Jerusalem to the minds of over billion Muslims around the world. al-Aqsa Mosque is called the third holiest shrine in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

Saint Paul in paradise
Interestingly, also New testament tells about a vision in which apostle Paul visits Paradise. This visit of a mortal man in third heaven has never had any cult meaning in Christianity and is not even known by many Christians.

"I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations."
2 Corinthians 12:1-7

Near human sacrifices
The Bible talks about Mount Moriah where Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice him to God.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
According to the Jewish tradition Mount Moriah was the location of Arauna's treshing field and the site where king Solomon built the great temple as a dwelling for the God of Israel.
According to Qur'an Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son to God. Qur'an does not mention Abraham's son by name (sura XXXVII: 100-107) but it is generally believed that it was Ishmael the firstborn from Hagar. This dramatic event is located to Mecca and the feast of Eid el Adha is time of great annual pilgrimage Hadj to Mecca.

Political and religious powder keg
The city of the Great King is quite old. When Rome was established Jerusalem was already two thousand years old.

Yet this old venerable city is today in the heart of world politics, a most modern problem that affects the entire human race.

In nutshell the thing is that the holiest spot on earth for the Jews is under the third holiest mosque in Islamic world.

If the Jews would only have historical and archaeological interest in that spot bordered by the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) there would be no tension and the temple area would not be the powder keg threatening to blow the world into massive world war.

But this is not the case. Judaism today is without temple, without sacrifice, a handicapped religion with the Yavne substitute of prayer for sacrifice.

Royal Judaism in its full glory needs the House of God for the King to enter His capital.

Yesterday 25 May 2011 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated to the congress of the most powerful military and political power of today, United States of America, that Israel is not going to divide Jerusalem between Jews and Arabs.

Why he says so?

Not because of West Jerusalem, not because of East Jerusalem, not even because of the Old City.

Because of the temple of the God of Israel he says so.

And the people of Israel say Amen.

Great King has great capital which is nothing less than the city of the God of Israel.

Quite a city it is.

So keep watching world news.

And keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem!

Oseh shalom bimromav!

Because only God can make peace between the Jews, Christians and Muslims all revering Jerusalem as a religious capital..

Friday, May 20, 2011

King ruling the entire world!

There are many kinds of Messianic expectations. The ideas represented here hardly even scratch the surface of this momentous subject.

I find it kind of sadly ironic that the well-oiled Third Reich propaganda machine used the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion published in Russia in 1903 to such an extent accusing the Jewish people for seeking world domination - and in the same time Adolf Hitler made himself quite an effort to become the sole ruler of the world.

Yetr, it is true that Jews as a people do wait for a world class King.

The wish for the promised King, Messiah (Mashiach), is alive and well in the hearts of many Jews. In Israel - and also in Brooklyn - one can see posters of that elderly gentleman, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the revered Lubawitcher rebbe, greeting crowds gently and with the text Messiah or Welcome Messiah. If I understand right the feeling among his ardent followers is that he was a really close call and anyway on of the greatest teacher of Torah.

Historical expectations
There is a long line of candidates since the days of the Assyrian conquest and before when the God of Israel promised a just and righteous king from the house of David. Was Hezekiah the promised king? What about the just king Josiah killed by Pharaoh Neco in the plane of Megiddo?

During the Roman period expectations of Messiah were high for a King who would free the people of Israel from the hated occupation and build the House of Israel. New Testament tells about one such candidate and mentions others. The great historian of this time, Josephus, tells about this as well.

Dead Sea Scrolls are giving us a detailed view of one group waiting the promised King to free the people of Israel from the Kittim.

That Jesus from Nazareth was utterly rejected by the religious and political leadership at the time. Another candidate, Shimon Bar Kokhba, was warmly accepted by the great rabbi Akiva - the star of Jacob is rising! (Num 24:17). This was met by Roman force and with utterly destructive consequences to the Jewish people leading to expulsion from Jerusalem and the beginning of the long diaspora.

False candidates have come and gone. In the Medieval Europe news spread about the arrival of the Messiah in the Ottoman empire, Sabbatai Zevi, but the news turned out to be bitterly wrong.

The long wait goes on!

Of course, some say that Messiah will not come and does not even bother to make a phone call, but the pessimists are wrong. hashana birushalaim, beshana haba im melekh mosiach!

King of Peace

There may be many different variations of Messianic expectations from ultraorthodox teachings to most liberal opinions. Ultimately all the expectations are based on the Holy Scriptures and the wonderful words of ancient prophecies speaking in the name of the God of Israel.

The image that rises from the Scriptures is bright, brilliant and beautiful.

Jewish people are waiting for their King to bring peace to the world and the people "will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks". (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3).

Maybe there are still those who are ready for a holy war like the people in the Dead Sea scrolls describes the War between the children of Light and Darkness.

Major Jewish criticism against the claim that the man of Galilee, Jesus, would be the promised King is that there really is no peace in the world after him and that his followers have been pretty aggressive in the history of the world.

Forcing the law
Hassidic believers and others may hope that Mashiach will force all the world to follow the Laws of Moses. This is their concept of a religion where things must be done and those who break the law must be punished by the society, the King.

For the King of Israel to bring light unto the nations by force would indeed require world domination. This should include a central government in control of global court system that implements the commandments of Torah and mitzvot as interprated by the learned rabbies. The King should also have an efficient law enforcement system where those breaking the Shabbath and other laws are punished accoring to the rulings.

Comparison to Sharia law
King of Israel who establishes a rabbinically ruled world, kind of maximum theocracy, with forceful enforcement of Mosaic law is a vision of some belieivers. It is conceptually perhaps not so far from the Islamic dream of world domination. The ultimate purpose of the conquest of the true religion is to spread the light of Islam as a blessing to mankind. But it includes forcing all people upon Earth to live under the religious laws of sharia and their interpretations. As we know, many Muslims are so dedicated to the will of God that they gladly sacrifice even their lives to reach the situation where Allah is ruling the entire world through His obedient and willing servants.

Messiah restores the kingdom of Israel

Many Christian followers of Jesus of Nazareth expect Him to return back to Jerusalem as promised to the men of Galilee as written in the New Testament Acts of Apostles:

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
Acts 1:9-12 KJV

Not all Jews are comfortable with the apocalyptic Messianic expectations of American Christians who are truly ardent political and practical supporters of the State of Israel. These visions about the future of the world include the conversion of all Jews to believing in Jesus.

Not irrelevant!
Nobody can say that the King of Israel is irrelevant. Because of His earthly political connotations also counter-terrorism experts in various countries around the world know the subject thoroughly. These are very powerful ideas when people are not just sitting and waiting but turn them into political activity. Things reach headlines of modern news when people feel compelled and invited to become active participants in the preparations for the coming fo the King.

Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be ...

We shall see.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Israel police, pride and prejudice

Now mention one country in the Near East where even a former president can be interrogated about rape charges raised by a simple worker girl from the office.
Well, mention one such country from North Africa?
Europe? South America? North America?
Yes, such things are usually handled by squashing the accuser and her supporters by the powers that be, hidden under carpets and the rapists keep their honor and position.
The law enforcement people of Israel are justly a cause of pride to this struggling small democracy.
I still remember President Moshe Katzav sighing all so softly after another atrocity committed by Arabs "we are so different". And indeed, Israel is truly different but perhaps in somewhat other way that President Katzav had in mind.
One cannot overestimate the importance of such equality before the law, justice that is visible to all. It is like fresh oxygen to people and makes the nation feel good.
People feel sick under truly corrupt regimes where also the police force is controlled by lawless and evil people, organized crime and cannot imagine bringing to justice people in the top of the hierarchy. For example, Egyptians have been telling - now - about the things their local police did to them without inpunity They seek for better government and a police force they can trust.
Law enforcement and even legislation itself, court system up to the High Court, are under pressure in Israel more than in many other countries, totalitarian or democratic, and it takes much personal courage from those in charge to uphold what is right. Sometimes such decisions come with heavy personal price tag. Professionalism, international cooperation, highly skilled technicians, investigators and police force that understands their own people - gifts from God!
Israel Police can be brutally effective, as for example the students experienced under the previous premiership of Benjamin Netanyahu, when they were sent to break up student protests. The press was not kind about this. Israeli Arabs do have their experiences about the deadly efficiency of the police and there is prejudice. The situation is not simple in such a small country like Israel with so many different people!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

State of Israel 63 years

Congratulations to 63 years old State of Israel!

In Finland we do know the location of the State of Israel in geographic maps. It is in Near East on the shores of Eastern Mediterranean and has Egypt as its Southern neighbor, Jordan in the East, Syria and Lebanon in the North.

But it is less clear how the modern State of Israel is located in our spiritual maps that Christians carry in their minds and hearts. Since Israel is one of the most central themes of the Bible and the entire future of the world and the eternal fate of every human being depend on the King of Israel, this is not a minor one.

In this blog I try to sketch in simple lines three basic mappings that I have noticed while looking at life in Christendom, past and present.

Let us first take a look at some Geographic and Demographic facts about the country.
Within the 1967 borders the size of Israel is 20,700 square kilometers. It is 424 km long and at broadest 114 km, at narrowest 15 km. The western border is 270 km of Mediterranean shoreline. Modern Israel is separate from the small Gaza strip and it is actively settling the West Bank of Jordan which has total area of 5,879 km2.

However, it is very important to notice that a large part of Israel - 12.000 km2 - consists of the southern desert, Negev, which in large parts is not habitable. Accordingly, the area that is fertile and good for living is only about 8.000 km2 and from this should be reduced the inland water areas, Lake Kinneret and Dead Sea 445 km2.

Central Bureau of Statistics tells that 63 old Israel has a population of 7,746,000 people. Of them 5,837,000 (75.3%) are Jewish, 1,587,000 (20.5%) Israeli Arabs and other people, Druze, Circassian and others are 322,000 (4.2%).

When State of Israel was established May 14 1948 (5 Iyar 5708) there were 806.000 Jews. The number of inhabitants reached one million in 1949 and two million about ten years later, in 1958.

These statistics make more sense when we compare the fertile area of Israel with the majority of the inhabitants with our own Finnish numbers.

wikipedia tells:
Uusimaa area is 9 096,50 km2 (3,0 % of entire Finland). Sweet waters cover 471,40 km2 (1,4 % of Finnish sweat waters) and sea water6 489,99 km² (12,4 % of entire Finland).

Inland waters without sea is 5,2 % that is about half of Finnish average values.

Uusimaa is by far the most densely populated area of Finland with 1 533 639 people.
About 30 % of all Finns lives in Uusimaa and density is about ten times higher than the average in Finland.

So the surface of Uusimaa is about 9000 km2 as the most dense area of Filand with about 1.5 million people.

The fertile area of Israel within 1967 borders is 7500 km2 with over 7 million people.

Smaller area than one tiny part of Finland, Uusimaa, and almost four times more people, with three quarters Jews and one quarter mostly Muslim Sunni Arabs.

Great majority of the inhabitants of Uusimaa are Evangelic-Lutheran Christians. The number of Jews and Muslims living in Finland is marginally small.

1.Map: Total break between Biblical and Modern Israel

Secular world deals with the State of Israel that was established by a by United Nations vote as one state among others, an ally of United States in the Near East.

Israel is one of the many states with which Finland has normal diplomatic relations and Finnish men and women have served in Peacekeeper troops on her borders in Sinai, Golan Heights and Lebanon.

There is normal commerce, tourism from Finland to Israel is active, there is cooperation in the realms of Science and Technology and other things, and in UN votes Finland follows usually the line of European Union.

Finnish politicians follow actively and support attempts to create a lasting peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Experts are interested in the internal battle between democracy and theocracy and the treatment of minorities living in Israel.

This mapping where Biblical and Modern Israel are sharply kept separate from each other takes different shapes among the Christians.

The Catholic Church has been the leading force in this mapping. The Old Covenant between God and the people of Israel has been replaced by the New Covenant. Instead of the Temple of Jerusalem and the animal sacrifices there is the single sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

By this the Jewish people have lost their status as Firstborn and is no more the chosen people and a Jew is not in the Kingdom of Heaven and has no eternal life there. Christians are circumcised in heart and are now the real Jews and the chosen people of God. Greeks and Jews and all people are similarly saved by faith in Christ with no difference between slave or free, man or woman, Jew or goi.

Church of Christ is the kingdom that Messiah King rules and not the secular modern State of Israel that has no connection at all to the salvation of mankind.

2. Map: Modern Israel is the sign of end of days

Secular world does not recognize such mapping and does not use essentially Biblical and Theological terms when considering State of Israel.

Christians who adhere to this view see the rebirth of Israel as a sign of cosmic significance. The prophecies are coming true and the watches began to count the final time for the world in 1948.

Such ideas have strong roots among the Christians in United States of America, especially among Pentecostals and Baptists. From there they have spread with books and movies and other media to the rest of the Christian world.

Those US Christians who think along these lines have very fundamental ideas about the role and position of Israel in God's plans for this world and its end and the new creation. It is an essential ingredient in their faith and they follow carefully their own congressmen and senators and leading politicians and their statements and actions concerning the State of Israel and especially its security. Many Israeli politicians are welcome to the Christian meetings to talk about current issues and to TV programs and press interviews.

In the elections of the most powerful ruler of current world, the President of the United States, the position of a candidate towards Israel is important to these Christians. Interestingly, while many American Jews vote traditionally for Democrats, Christans often support the Republicans.

In addition to political support, these Christians are actively collecting money and supporting all kinds of projects to help Israel in the difficulties of modern times. This way they not only give humanitarian help but feel participating in the great events in the plans of the God of Israel for the good of the mankind.

Also Finnish Christians have been active in political life in these matters especially during the Cold War when Soviet Union was the strong supporter of Arab-Socialist countries in the Arab Israeli conflict and distributed also to the Finnish people propaganda on the matter aimed mostly at the secular population.

During the time of President Urho Kekkonen Israel became part of inner politics also in Finland, not to the extent of USA of course, and modern political leadership of Finland carry with them various influences from their youth in the Finland of Kekkonen.

The chairperson of the recently chosen parliament is strongly Finnish despite of his definitely non-Finnish name Ben Zyskowicz. Also Max Jacobsen was decidely Finnish: he was almost elected as United Nations Secretary General.

This cultural and political undercurrent obviously affects also Finnish theologians and common Christians and their opinions about modern Israel. In Theology it is a a question of the relationship between Old and New Testaments.

Professor Risto Lauha declared to his students with strong emphasis during a lecture on Exegetics that Old and New Testament have absolutely nothing to do with each other. He probably presented the views of many scholars in Helsinki University Faculty of Theology - but not of all of them.

So if there is such a total break between OT and NT so modern Israel has absolutely nothing to do with Theology. Christian fans of Israel represent to them politically motivated groups of ignorant citizens.

Also in Finland there are many Christians who do not really connect Bible with the hard realities of modern times. Since in general faith has little to do with reality and is a private matter taken care on Sundays, modern Israel is understood in secular terms with no theological significance. These Christians do not expect the end of the world anytime soon. They do not really know the Bible and have only a superficial knowledge of Judaism.

3. Map: Jewish view of the modern State of Israel

Among various groups of Christians there are also those who have studied the Bible and understand Covenant Theology more deeply and are familiar with Judaism and also know more accurately what Jesus and Paul have said about the people of Israel. (Both Jesus and Paul are genuine Jews, children of Abraham).

Third mapping helps Christians to look at modern Israel through the point of view of Jews themselves, on the foundations of Tanakh, Talmud-Judaism totally rejecting Jesus and New Testament Judaism totally accepting Jesus and leading to Christianity.

In my opinion this way is a genuine and fruitful spiritual way of looking at modern Israel and takes into account Bible, wants to learn to know better the Word of God, to learn about the past and present Messianic expectations of Jewish people, the happy and sad moments in the history of God's people, disappointments and hopes and also tries to evaluate the actions of modern Israel from the world of values of Jewish religion today.

Personally I think that the Third mapping would be the best road for Palestinian Arabs in their search for a way to live with the Jewish people in the Near East. They abhor the politically active US Christians who are sometimes quite fanatic in their views of modern Israel and divine rights to Reconquista of the Land and hostility towards Palestinians. (I must add that some actions by the Palestinians or on their behalf have greatly contributed to this hostility also among non-religious Christians.)

It is easily considered "pro-Israel" to know something about the Jewish people and their religion. Almost total ignorance about Judaism and its world causes many problems in attempts to discuss life in the Promised Land and has been quite costly to the Palestinians in the past decades.

Also for Finnish politicians dealing with issues of peace and stability in the Near East it might be a good idea to learn to know the aspirations of the Jewish people more closely and to understand their history more deeply than at the level of knowing what New York Times writes today.