Linda Downing

A sliver of land holds destiny

Isn’t it strange that a sliver of land known as Israel, surrounded by hostility, not only of neighbors but also of the world, is almost daily in the news? Isn’t it strange that the sliver invokes special meetings of the United Nations and the European Union? Isn’t it strange that our U. S. presidents and secretaries of state are measured by their ability to calm the sliver’s shaking? Isn’t it strange that Russia’s President Putin hints he can bring the sliver’s peace? In a world gone dark, isn’t it strange that so much spotlight shines on the sliver?

One book, written over a 1,000-year period by the sliver’s occupants, illuminates not only the sliver’s history but its effect on the world. One book, a best seller from the 16th century until now, holds the key to the sliver’s importance and answers the question: “What is the purpose of all this—of life itself?”

That book, the Bible, does not cause discomfort if suggested from the perspective of its influence on literature, history or law. It can show up in a classroom or a newspaper. Brett Arends, writing for The Wall Street Journal last week, included it in “Books That Can Boost Your Portfolio.” He called it a “deep, deep well,” using an ancient story from 1 Kings 22 to answer a question the International Monetary Fund posited in 2010: “Why did brilliant economists completely fail to predict the biggest financial crisis in 70 years?

In the biblical account a true prophet named Micaiah goes along with the false prophets to speak what everyone wants to hear. Finally, he tells the truth and is rewarded by a literal slap in the face and a prison sentence with only bread and water to sustain him.

Here is the IMF’s conclusion as to why the financial experts goofed: “Everyone was under pressure to be optimistic. Those who warned about the dangers were sidelined or silenced. Everyone went along to get along.”

The Bible does cause discomfort if read from the perspective of what it calls itself: “the Word of God” (Hebrews 4:12). But, if it is, does any other viewpoint count?

Planes are falling from the sky in diverse places, passengers disappearing or obliterated. Girls and women are being kidnapped in droves in Nigeria, sold for $12 as wives for Muslim terrorists. Bombs are being lobbed by the Hamas terrorists into Israel, not to mention their recent attempt to leap from a tunnel dug from Gaza into Kibbutz Sufa, an attempt that forced Israel to launch a ground action and incur the further criticism of a world gone awry.

Israel is a signpost. The biblical reason for the Jews being the “chosen people” and the “people of the Book” boils down to—because God said it. In a world of God-deafness, God is using a sliver to alert God-hearing. Neither the sliver nor its people are infallible. They are making the same mistakes as the rest of us, but…

The biggest mistake an individual, a nation or Christianity’s churches can make is to turn against Israel.

In June the Presbyterian Church endorsed divestment as a protest against Israel’s Palestinian policies. That seems to represent a growing wave of anti-Semitism. It is dangerous because the One who chose to use the sliver to speak to us ultimately controls history’s destiny.

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at