Photo: Ron Cantrell

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Israeli Tribe of Dan

The initial land allotment for the ancient Israeli tribe of Dan was on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It joined Benjamin’s allotment halfway down the mountain coming from Jerusalem to Joppa. The land allotment was sandwiched between Ephraim and Judah. However, this land area was right in the middle of the International Coastal Highway, used by much more powerful nations than Israel at that time. Egypt used the route heading north in many wars against both the Hittites and Assyrians.

Conversely, Assyria used the route south for similar purposes. All trade from Europe and Asia to Africa used that route. It was one of the ancient world’s most traveled highways. Dan threw up their hands eventually and moved as far north as they could get and still be within the boundaries of the nation of Israel. Their city near Mount Hermon was called Dan. Thus the saying, “From Dan to Beer Sheva,” which meant the whole of the nation of Israel. The important thing about this is the fact that ancient Israel had weak points used by aggressive nations to bring them into submission. Two of those were the routes: the International Coastal Route (Via Maris), the Kings Highway (running along the mountain ridge in what is now Jordan), and the Desert Route (the Jordan Valley highway). When you read the Prophet Isaiah chapter 30 entitled “An Oracle to the animals of the Negev," you see Israel using a harsh, rarely used route to travel to Egypt to form an alliance against their northern neighbors Assyria and Babylon. They were in fact sneaking down that route so as not to be seen by those who used the major routes. Therefore, Israel is weak when her access routes are conquered. Also, it is noteworthy that five of the six cities of refuge (Israel’s ancient judicial system) are now under the control of Islamic countries. The names of the cities are Golan, Ramoth Gilead (now in Jordan), Shechem (now the Islamic city of Nablus), Hebron (now in the control of Palestinians), Bezer (also in Jordan); the only city left is Kedesh on the way to Dan and Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights. Syria is presently demanding that the Golan Heights be returned to them, which will, in fact, be the end of ancient Israel’s judicial system of the cities of refuge. That must have spiritual implications. Mount Hermon itself sits between Syria and Lebanon on Israel’s north border. This mountain, beyond its beauty and modern-day resort status, is the watchtower of Israel, guarding her from potential future invasions from Hezbollah and Syria. The vital importance of this area cannot be overestimated or exaggerated. An area called the "Sheba Farms" is the flash point being used right now by Lebanon and Syria to hold Israel’s feet to the fire on where the border is exactly. The Chinese drip torture of these continual assults upon God’s land and God's people is nothing new. However, if we we are not familiar with history, it is sure to repeat itself with the consent of more powerful nations.

A final word on Israel’s weak points is another highway. The Highway of the Patriarchs runs from Assyria (now Modern Syria) through the Golan to ancient Samaria. It then travels on a very high but flat plateau between Shiloh and Gibeah (of Saul) just north of Jerusalem, through Bethlehem and on south to Hebron, Beer Sheva and finally Egypt. This route now lies mainly in what the media likes to call "the West Bank." The biblical term is Shomron. The "name-change” game assures that Israel’s God-given right to the land is blurred and the term “occupied” then seems politically correct to the Western world. I think you can see the implications of Dan, their move, and Mount Hermon in the larger picture. We find ourselves spinning our wheels in political negotiations several levels removed from the spiritual reality of a land belonging to God and only loaned to a people group called the Jewish nation of Israel. This is the only land in the world with such distinctions.

Today we are faced with challenges as at no other time in history. We sit on the watershed of history wherein the results of events may go one of two or more directions. I believe we stand in the gap for Israel and must do so until the end of all things here in on earth.

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