[EDITOR’S NOTE: Highlighting this story, originally published Sept. 21 now that as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have addressed the UN General Assembly. While Netanyahu focused his speech on the Iranian nuclear threat, Abbas gave a list of charges against Israel and announced his intent to seek non-member statehood status for Palestine.]
For then, at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Y’hudah and Yerushalayim, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Y’hoshafat [ADONAI judges]. I will enter into judgment there for my people, my heritage Isra’el, whom they scattered among the nations; then they divided my land. — Joel 4:1-2 CJB
Next week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the United Nations to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer status (like Vatican City). Last year, Abbas tried for full statehood status, which has to go through the UN Security Council. The motion was tabled because there were not enough votes and the United States had promised to veto if there were enough votes.
Map of nations that recognize the State of Palestine as of January 2012. (Wikimedia Commons)
This time, Abbas just needs a simple majority in the General Assembly of 193 nations.
“We have 133 states who recognize a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to dozens of other countries with whom we have good relations and diplomatic representation,” he is quoted as saying in the Jerusalem Post.
Many prayed last year, and the world was given more time to consider the matter. The Quartet — United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations — last year said “Israel and Palestine must agree on a time-frame for an agreement no later than December 31, 2012,” according to About.com.
Valley of decision
In the Joel passage above, the LORD says He’ll gather the nations in the Valley of Jehosaphat. The nations will be judged based on how they dealt with Israel, specifically with the land. In Matthew 25, Jesus says the nations will be sorted based on how they treat the Jewish people, Messiah’s brothers in the flesh.
So, if Abbas calls for a vote in the UN General Assembly this month, will this be the final valley of decision? No, said Tomas Sandell of the European Coalition for Israel when he spoke at Succat Hallel recently.
Sandell pointed out that until the formation of the League of Nations in 1919, there was no entity that represented all the nations of the earth. There was no coalition, no unity as pictured in Joel. Now, since the end of World War I, the nations have had several opportunities to publicly record a vote on the issue of Israel. This month’s likely vote will just be the most recent.
- 1920s — The League of Nations creates the British Mandate for Palestine to administer the land set aside as a national home for the Jewish people based on the principles in the charter of the League of Nations and the San Remo Resolution, as stated on Wikipedia.
- 1947 — The United Nations votes 33-13 (with 10 abstentions) to create both Jewish and Arab states. Most Jews rejoiced while many Arabs spoke of “driving the Jews into the sea.”
Abbas of the Palestinian Authority says he has 133 nations who recognize the State of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital. So, if he does ask the UN General Assembly for a status upgrade, the nations will be voting on whether to divide Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, God’s glory.
Last year, Rick Ridings of Succat Hallel shared a vision about the consequences of the UN vote. This is Roaming Chile’s paraphrase of what he said (Listen to the mp3 to hear Ridings tell it, starting at 33rd minute.):
He saw the nations on a steep mountain face sliding down toward a ridgeline, a watershed. On one side of the ridge was descent into a shallow valley that then rose. On the other side was a deep, dark pit. In the pit were anarchy, confusion, lawlessness, economic ruin and such.
ALL the nations are coming to a watershed moment this September. Those who voted against dividing the Land slid into some decline but then climbed even into economic development. Those who voted for dividing the Land slid rapidly into confusion, fear, economic crisis and lawlessness.
Room to pray for your nation
ADONAI, God, does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. — Amos 3:7 (CJB)
In Genesis 18, the LORD decides to tell Abraham of how He will judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their “serious” sin. Abraham’s response is to intercede for the cities, to ask God for mercy for the sake of the righteous within the cities.
Abraham actually negotiates with God. It’s one of those hutzpah moments that is hard to believe but that should show us the heart of God. God purposed to tell Abraham what He was about to do. Abraham, confident in his relationship with ADONAI, asks God for mercy.
Sandell of the European Coalition for Israel points out that while the Word speaks much about Israel, Zion and Jerusalem, it speaks less about the nations, especially those outside the Middle East. Sandell sees this as a grace that allows us to intercede for our nations.
In Joel, the judgement of the nations is set. We know from other passages (Zechariah 12, among others) that a majority of nations will come against Israel in the end. However, Jesus, in Matthew 25, gives us a closer look. He speaks of a sorting, of actions that will determine judgement. So, we are given grace to pray that particular nations continue to act as sheep even as we know that a majority will ultimately choose to be goats.
Please understand. I am speaking of national entities, of governments. Individual persons will be judged on whether they accept Jesus as Messiah (John 3, Romans 10, etc.)
In July 1938, 32 nations met in France to discuss the growing number of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. In the end, most nations were not willing to take in Jewish refugees. The only exceptions wanted to be compensated for doing so (see Évian Conference entry on Wikipedia).
Sandell asks, “Where were the intercessors, the Abrahams? Will we be there today? On judgement day, let’s not hear from the nations, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell us?'”
In addition to praying, Sandell encourages people to reach out to their governments on behalf of Israel. For more information, visit
The following posts offer background on the Arab-Israeli conflict.