Saturday 19 November 2022
Deep Christian Roots
The first time the area of Gaza is mentioned in the Bible, it is in the realm of the Canaanites, the Phoenicians, who dominated much of the East and South Mediterranean. Later the people of Caphtor, the Philistines, controlled the area.
The settlement of the Philistines in Israel roughly coincided with the settlement of Israel in the land of Canaan, and the two nations warred constantly over the area, until King David conquered them.
Gaza went from a land where the Anakim (nephilim) reigned:
"21 And Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua devoted them to destruction with their cities. 22 There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain" (Joshua 11:21-22).
To a land where God was praised. A land ruled by pagandom, and the corrupted offspring of the Nephilim, made part of the earthly kingdom of God.
In the Christian period Christianity flourished for centuries in the land:
"The Australia War Memorial says returning an ancient Palestinian mosaic to the Middle East would be difficult, but has acknowledged that the precious artefact would not be accepted into its collection under today's standards.
The Shellal Mosaic was uncovered by Australian soldiers in Palestine during the World War I, and was brought to the country where it was installed into a wall of the memorial in Canberra 81 years ago.
There have been calls for the nearly 1500-year-old mosaic to be returned to its place of origin, however a spokesperson for the memorial said that could result in the artefact being damaged...
...The Byzantine mosaic, which is inside the Hall of Valour, once formed the floor of a church near Gaza.
According to historians, Australian troops found it while digging a trench in 1917 and it was excavated and dismantled with the support of amateur archaeologist and senior Chaplin to the ANZAC Mounted Division Reverend Maitland Woods."
Still to this day, descendants of the early Church worship and praise God in this area. The Christian legacy is literally deep in this land, both historically and physically under the ground. Christianity is in the soil of Gaza.
Christians who deny the sovereignty of Palestinian Christians in this land abandon their brothers and sisters whose legacy goes back to ancient times.
All who believe in Jesus are children of Abraham. And in a physical and spiritual sense Abraham's Christian descendants live in the ancient land promised to the descendants of Israel.
The Australian War Memorial holds a physical emblem of the presence of Palestinian Christianity in the land. Why is the Church not aiding their cause to be recognised as a sovereign people? Because it has been trained in many quarters to believe it exists to serve another people, who in large measure deny Christ. It truly is a tragedy.
I don't mind where the memorial ends up, but Christians need to change how they treat their brothers and sisters in the ancient land of Gaza. It's legacy runs deep for the people of God.