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Schalit Palestinian Prisoner Swap

The announced prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas appears to have broken a 5 year stalemate in negotiations. The Jerusalem Post confirms that Israel and Hamas have agreed to exchange 25 year old Jewish soldier Gilad Schalit for 1027 “security” prisoners.

Have been thinking about the guarded sense of deep emotion that families on both sides must be feeling today… and the additional emotions of others who fear that such a release will result in more violence than peace.

On a visit to Palestinian Ramallah a few years ago, I remember seeing posters around the city honoring Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian Fatah leader who was jailed in 2002. Yesterday it was announced that he would be among those released. But Israeli authorities have since denied the report.

Last year, while doing work for Bible Lands programs for Day of Discovery, I visited the vigil that Noam and Aviva Schalit had been keeping for their son outside the President’s residence in Jerusalem.

So now that an exchange agreement has been reached, how are we to interpret the thought of 1 Israeli being exchanged for 1000 Palestinians?

And why mention it here?

One reason is that the story reflects the value of human life, and the longings of those who have been separated from a son, daughter or any loved one.

I’m inspired by the love of the parents who vowed not to go home without their son. Yet at the same time, I’m bothered by the fact that I am able to easily identify with the Israeli parents without having the same exposure to the thousands of Palestinian parents and friends who, for the same passing hours and years,  have been grieving separation from their own loved ones.

I’m troubled by the fact that, depending on our nationalistic, political, or theological point of view, we find it easier to identify with the humanity of prisoners, families, and friends on one side of the conflict rather than the other.

I’m most troubled by the thought that the Bible is so often used to honor one side while dehumanizing and demonizing the other.

If we were living before the death of Israel’s long awaited Son and Messiah, speaking with contempt about one side or another would reflect the natural, nationalistic animosities that divided Israel from other nations.

But ever since the life, death, and resurrection of the Savior of the world, any story that alludes to one life given in exchange for others gives us reason to think twice about expressing contempt for any people group or person for whom Christ died (John 11:49-50).

Caiaphas, as the high priest of Israel in the days of Jesus, thought it politically expedient that one person should be sacrificed for the life of a nation. But, when he said that, he had no clue that the person he was talking about was about to show by his own death, the value that God puts on the life of everyone (John 11:51-53); (Romans 5:18-19); (Rev 5:9); (Rom 11:32-36); (John 3:16) .

Another thought that I keep coming back to with stories like this is that whenever something true (or even shrewd) is said (i.e. when Caiaphas made his comment about it being politically expedient for one to die for the nation), there is always a bigger and better story running in the background…

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27 Responses to “Schalit Palestinian Prisoner Swap”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    It would be easy for me to lay out the differences between the two religious groups Mart has given us in this topic. It would be easy to show the unbalanced action from one toward the other. As Mart has rightly stated I could easily demonize one over the other.

    I am not even sure what question Mart wants discussed here in this Topic, so I will say this.

    I am very happy for all of the prisoners who have been freed, and especially for those who love them and now will have them home again.

    For them I hope this ends a season in their lives and they have peace for the remainder of their time on earth.

    In some way it is up to them as to what they now do with their freedom, I hope the efforts of all on their behalf were not in vain.


  2. Mart De Haan says:

    Good, morning, Steve, I think you’ve expressed a good starting point. One of the things I hoped we would think about– is exactly what you did– to consider the different paths and approaches we can take to any subject and the merits of going one way rather than the other.

    Have just added one more thought to the end of the article…

  3. florida7sun says:

    Focus on the Family’s outstanding series “What Is Truth?” is meaningful to me in reflecting upon today’s post by Mart. It reveals in so many ways how men, women and children throughout the world are held prisoner by humanistic lies taught by those having a worldview that exclude our Creator.

    There are those elite among us who claim “there is no God” outside their own intellect. How foolish.

    How foolish it is to create a box, a prison for oneself, and exclude our Father in Heaven. And then, through worldly power and temporal influence, these self-righteous imprison others in subservient positions by banning the Word of God.

    Still… Our Lord and Savior whispers to us through the bars we establish: “Open the door. Be set free. Live abundantly. Let me come in and exchange my life for yours.” – Revelation 3:20

    Yet so many do not hear His voice as other prisoners continually rattle their cages and voice obscenities. Many are threatened by loss of employment, emotional and physical abuse… even death so they comply with their handlers and shout out, “Crucify Him.”

    And so it goes. Our Father weeps as His Obedient Son freely offers His Life in exchange for all of humanity.

    “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” – 1 John 4:9-12

    He set us free, Ray

  4. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Mart, you just wrote:

    “Another thought that I keep coming back to with stories like this is that whenever something true (or even shrewd) is said (i.e. when Caiaphas made his comment about it being politically expedient for one to die for the nation), there is always a better story running in the background…”

    I have personal sentiments about the primal struggle between these two peoples (sons/daughters of Abraham!) that tempt me beyond my covenant with Messiah. Shame on me! The wall between Bethlehem & Jerusalem! The sea of red-tape between the two administrations. Oy vay! Grown men and women using the Holy Land for a deadly “board game…”

    At the same time, the discipline of Scriptural holiness speaks louder than the “blood of Abel.” (Matthew 23:35-36) Caiaphas spoke the truth. I often wish we had the memoirs of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea. If a discussion among three Jews yields at least five opinions, then the Sanhedrin must have been like a boiling pot in the day.

    I am rendered silent to contemplate that there was a political movement for the Rabbi from Nazareth that was shouted down. “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25) Amen. Maranatha.

  5. florida7sun says:

    Just a note to clarify that “What Is Truth?” is the underlying question in Focus on the Family’s series entitled The Truth Project led by Dr. Del Tackett.

    “…I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” – John 18:37


  6. SFDBWV says:

    Whenever I think of Israel today, I am blessed because now here in my lifetime there is an actual nation of Israel reestablished as such in the world community in 1948.

    I am blessed because it makes my interpretation of prophesy in scripture clearer and more agreeable to understand related to the *nation* of Israel, especially as looking at it from the angle of its being the end of the age.

    A few topics ago we were immersed in prophesy about our various looks at how we see the Feasts of Israel and the prophesies of such Prophets as Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zachariah all speak together in God time tables.

    Before the reestablishment of the current nation of Israel, the view of the end time nation of Israel had to seem a far distant item of faith. However we now have established prophesies evident in our lifetime.

    It is prophesied that Israel will become a problem for the whole world, and ultimately Israel will stand alone against all of the nations that they will be attacked from every side by her enemies, and that the world will see her salvation in God alone.

    Because I see this scenario played out in scripture clearly and see Israel as the preferred nation to God in this event of the end of the age, I am then left with no other alternative than to side with Israel and so with God.

    At the same time I am a professing Christian and so must look at all peoples and tongues of people with the same view of lost and hurting souls in need of Christ. Nationalities flags or politics should hold no influence in that I see all people as simply people.

    So it would seem then that I see the world for what it is and so see right and wrong, good and bad played out by people. Because I am aware I can not help but make observations and so then opinions…….a small step away from a judgment.

    In the view of prophesy, there is a bright and happy future for the entire world, but there is a trial by fire that the whole world will endure to get there.

    In a future time Israelite and Palestinian will be united together as brothers in Christ. In a future time Israel, Egypt and Iran will become brothers united in Christ. In a future time there will be peace upon the whole earth as all nations will be Christian and all united under their King in Jerusalem Jesus of Nazareth King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

    However to get there, there will be tremendous horrors and bloodshed suffering on a scale the world has never seen.

    The whole world is rushing toward that final stage of history, but today we can be happy for the 1028 people who have been freed from prison. As well as knowing the billions set free from prison by the sacrifice of one man, Christ.


  7. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart, I hope it happens as stated, and that Shalit is finally free. There of course was no real justice done here, just some worldly grandstanding and a show of false power, that made Shalit a held too long pawn. If he does get to come home, Israel is the real hero as they all suffered for just one of their own to be released. The unequality of the exchange number seems a victory to the world that supports the larger number, but Israel has won a great battle today as God is not impressed with numbers.
    He gave up the only sinless one, for the multitudes of sinning humanity, that He might save a few of them.
    This msy well be another exchange where the numbers don’t compute well while His Ultimate Plan is fulfilled.

  8. pegramsdell says:

    Amen Steve. I am praying for the peace of Israel too.

  9. poohpity says:

    Life is not fair, boy am I forever grateful that it isn’t because then I would have to get what I deserve. When I read these kind of stories I always think back to Solomon who helps us see that in life not to much makes sense unless we feel it comes out in our favor. The only thing that came out in my favor was what Jesus did on the Cross.
    Solomon brings out some really good points in Ecclesiastes 3:17; 7:15; 7:20; 8:14; 9:1.

    All peoples on this earth are in this thing called life together and even though things may not seem fair we will all stand before our Maker on Judgment Day to give an account of our lives and the effect we had on others once again I can only say that I am so glad that I have One who will stand up for me that is His righteousness that God will look upon.

  10. pegramsdell says:

    You know Jesus said He would leave the 99 and come after me when I was lost.

  11. foreverblessed says:

    Wasn’t that great that God did that? How gracious God has been for us, we can sing praises to Him, with all our voices together.

  12. bratimus says:

    In this swap, i see a lot of political motives on both sides. It is great the the Israeli soldier is coming home.

    When your releasing 1027 prisoners swapped for one, lets say that even if 10 of the 1027 go on an do a terrorist act. you could be risking 10 or deaths. I imagine that Hamas wouldn’t agree to this unless they got some people back the really wanted, and are probably pretty dangerous.

  13. poohpity says:

    It is a hard thing to think about, bratimus, but maybe just one of those 1027 will turn to the Lord so which ones do we say should not go home to their family even if they are going into Hamas. It is hard to look at things above our worldly views isn’t it?

  14. bratimus says:


    Prisons are obe of the best places that people find Christ. Paul lend many to the lord when he was imprisoned.

    I just thought about it in these terms.

    How about an American soldier was kiddnapped by the Taliban. and the Taliban ask the U.S. to release every prisoner in Gitmo. I wonder what would happen.

    What is to stop Hamas from kiddnapping a higher proflie person, now that Israel has done what it has done for one soldier.

    Out of this ordeal we see a lot of good intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions.

    I just get a bad feeling in my stomach, when things have political motives and agendas on both sides. and it just not done because it is the right thing to do.

  15. Mart De Haan says:

    If we look at all that the Scripture says about the history of Israel, can we safely assume that a follower of Christ has no choice but to side with Israel (politically, nationally, militarily, morally, spiritually, economically etc)?

    Is siding with God equal to siding with Israel in each and/or all of these ways?

    I think this is something that deserves a lot of careful thought.

    Might be good to think about the way God himself has drawn lines between what he supports, who, and how.

    I often think about what happened when, having finally come into the promised land, Joshua is confronted by what may have been a pre-incarnate appearance of our Savior (Joshua 3:13-15).

    Startled, Joshua asks, “Are you for us or against us?” The response seems telling, “No, I have come as Captain of the LORD of Hosts”.

    The implication seems to be that even in the days that God was giving the land to Israel, the Lord made a distinction between himself and his people.

  16. tracey5tgbtg says:

    While I believe God clearly says that the Israelites are His chosen people, and that salvation is from the Jews and Jesus came to earth as a Jew, I have always wondered about the passages in Genesis concerning Ishmael. Genesis 21:11 Ishmael was Abraham’s first born son and it distressed him that Sarah insisted Ishmael leave. God told Abraham he would make Ishmael into a great nation. Genesis 21:13

    Technically, Abraham “sacrificed” his son Ishmael when he sent him into the desert to die. Genesis 21:14 It was God’s will for Ishmael to live. Genesis 21:17-18 and God was with Ishmael as he grew up. Genesis 21:20

    In Genesis 17:20 God says He will bless Ishmael and make him into a great nation. Genesis 17:21 The covenant will be with Issac.

    In Genesis 16:11-12 God knew that Ishamel would live in hostility towards his BROTHERS.

    Does God want us to take sides? Good question.

  17. pegramsdell says:

    Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
    I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
    Isaiah 43:4

  18. SFDBWV says:

    I have often contemplated what would life on earth had been like had Adam and Eve not eaten the forbidden fruit.

    Would that have meant that there forever would have only been two human beings in all the earth?

    Or were they to procreate more of their kind, and like the fish of the sea, the grass and trees and all other creatures fill the earth?

    Free of sin God would not have had to develop a plan of salvation would not have had to create nations of different speaking people; He would not have had to interact with people and kings to separate out for Himself a special people for a special purpose.

    If you make a study of the matter there is an interesting point of occurrence where God favors the second born, as in Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob and I may say Saul and David and especially Adam and Christ.

    Before Jesus was born it was already spoken in prophesy as to every detail of His birth life, death and resurrection. Also spoken into prophesy was Israel’s birth, life, death and resurrection.

    Israel was created by God to be a light unto the world and bring mankind back into fellowship with Him; however God knew they would fail so from them would come the true provider of salvation and the real light to illuminate the way back to God. Jesus of Nazareth the Christ.

    Along the way, God made promises to the people known of as Israel, as well as warnings. If we look at prophesy we see the warnings all came to pass. Israel was scattered all over the world its temple destroyed so that not one stone stood upon another she was conquered defeated and ceased to exist as a nation. God clearly said all of this would happen to them.

    God also said that He would honor all of His promises so in the end God will gather back from all the nations the scattered Israelite and reestablish them as a nation.

    Of all the nations of the earth that God mentions in scripture, only Israel is given such favor.

    This is not to mean that God doesn’t bless other nations, He surely does as long as they recognize Him as God obey His commandments and not delve into sin.

    The job of being a light unto all nations including Israel fell to Jesus Christ or God Himself as stated in Ezekiel 34: 11-16 the story of Israel’s failure is shown in verses and chapters that follow.

    However Once Jesus came into His own He, and through Him we, are given the responsibility of being that light unto all nations and unto all mankind as to the way of salvation and reunited in fellowship with God.

    This is an awesome responsibility and were it not for the grace of God we too would fail and face the same fate as did Israel.

    Jesus first came to the house of Israel only, but then extended His purpose to all mankind making no distinction between nations.

    We followers of Christ have no alternative other than to follow His lead. But knowing that there is a promise given to Israel by God that those who bless Israel God will bless and those who curse Israel God will curse, I have no alternative other than to bless Israel when ever given the choice to do so, and heed the warning never to curse her.


  19. oneg2dblu says:

    Does God want us to take sides? Absolutely Yes!
    He wants us to take His side! Christ said, You either stand for me or against me. So, we must take a stand.
    He gave us freedom to choose, commandments to obey, and His Only begotten son to follow. So, we take a side through every choice we make.
    Does God want us *involved* in the Israeli conflict with all those waring nations around her?
    I guess that depends if you are willing and able, if you want to follow God, or follow this world and asll its worldly problems.
    But as for me and my household, we will follow the Lord.
    Is this modern day state of Israel to you, following that same Lord??
    That is the bigger question and who among us can ever answer that, but God?
    When I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, does it mean I’m involved in the conflict, or does it show how I choose to take my stand? Only God can answer that! Gary

  20. Mart De Haan says:

    Yes, “bless and do not curse”, Jesus said (Matt 5:44); (Luke 6:28); and his apostles repeated (Rom 12:14); (James 3:9).

    Praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psa 122:6) seems to imply praying for the time when the world will be ruled by the Prince of peace.

    Praying for the peace of Jerusalem also seems to include a longing for the blessing of all nations (Gen 12:1-3)…

    But does the meaning of “bless” imply enabling (or turning a blind eye) to injustices on either side of a conflict that involves “God’s chosen people” whether a/the nation or a/the church?

  21. SFDBWV says:

    Mart I am zeroing in on your last paragraph in your last comment. Does bless imply enabling injustice on either side of a conflict where Israel is involved or the church.

    Before I answer too quickly, I must consider the term injustice. Obviously this is a relative term and has different understanding from whichever side of the issue one is one.

    However let me look at scripture for example. When Joshua destroyed the city of Jericho, what injustices had Jericho inflicted upon Israel? Yet Israel with the aid of God killed all inhabitants with the exception of Rehab and her family. It would seem that Israel inflicted massive injustice upon this walled city in obedience to God. So God would in this case be the one to decide whether there was an injustice or not.

    An even greater form of injustice is the Passion of Christ, yet God ordained it and the ultimate Judge of all matters can not be seen from me as *unjust*.

    Is it unjust for me to consider the religion of another to be false? Is it unjust for me to ally myself with people who are on my side and concerned with my wellbeing? Is it unjust for me to form a political opinion even though I am a Christian?

    Jesus was ask the question “who is my brother” so He answered with the story about the injured man and the Good Samaritan.

    Clearly if you see the world as all people are the same all over the world and right and wrong as black and white, then any wrong perpetrated upon another is *wrong*.

    Injustice is a matter of discernment. God in the OT favored Israel, this would seem unjust to every other nation.

    So today if I look at the matter of the Palestinian and Israel from a view of just and unjust, let me begin with the obvious. Is it just to expect Israel to release 1027 criminals in exchange for one Israeli hostage?

    From the limited view of events I am privileged to, Israel was given back a homeland by England, flawed because of compromise at the end of WWI. However after WWII when England allowed for a homeland to be given the Jew, Israel had to fight on their own with no help from any outside nations against all of her neighbors in order to reclaim her homeland. She won the war, her neighbors lost.

    Again in 1967 we have the 6 day War whereas Israel had to defend herself against her neighbors, unprovoked she had to defend her right to exist and almost supernaturally she defeated her enemies just as she had for all of her efforts seen in the first conquest of Canaan.

    Today we see the losers of these conflicts using outside political pressure against Israel in order to get back the territory that Israel had won in a war. We also see outside political and religious forces using the *Palestinian* people as pawns in their political war against Israel.

    So from an outside view of things on that scale, I see plenty of injustice perpetrated against Israel by her neighbors.

    At the same time little smaller items of activity that I am not privileged to see or know about I am sure occur daily between the Israelis and the Palestinians with injustice being maligned against both parties.

    So Mart it comes to this, if I must and am forced to make a decision as to whom I am for or against, I am for Israel and against sin and wrong doing everywhere.


  22. florida7sun says:

    Thank you all for sharing this morning. Reflecting upon Mart’s comments my thoughts took me to Galatians 4:4-5 and Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane: John 18-10-11.

    The Lord created time. He has a plan. Each element of His plan is fulfilled in the fullness of time. He commanded us to love all and to share His Gospel.

    We see His radiance through the glory of His creation and come to an understanding of the truth through the living expression of His Word.

    He is in control. He is sovereign. He desires all to come to His Cross and lay down their swords. He has commanded us to proclaim His Gospel of Good News. He is the resurrection and the life.

    Mart, as you referenced Psalm 122:6, I think of the Great Commission and Acts 1:8.

    The peace of Jerusalem is wherever the Lord resides. As our bodies provide a tabernacle for the Prince of Peace through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, the expression of His Nature and the brightness of His Character should be displayed in our homes, our neighborhoods, in our nation and throughout the world.

    As a Christian saved by His Grace, I praise Him for being the potter. And, as Julie Link noted in her ODB offering today, I pray He is seen more in me now than yesterday and will even be more visible tomorrow.

    Much work needs to be done, but He is faithful and continues to hold me in His hands.

    In this morning’s Jerusalem Post, Hamas indicated that it refuses to abandon its policy of kidnapping Jews.

    Looking closer to the neighborhood that surrounds me, there are people and institutions that refuse to abandon their policies promoting abortion, pornography, humanism, and other Godless character that steals and kills all that is precious to Our Savior. Many are being kidnapped – even by those who govern.

    Then I look to the scripture quoted on my calendar for Friday, October 14, 2011 and it reads: “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” – Proverbs 4:18

    A perfect day is coming in the fullness of His time.

    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray for His Church. Pray for all kept in bondage by the deceiver of souls.


  23. oneg2dblu says:

    Good morning all… great topic developing itself here as we all try to figure out our personal perspectives on this epic problem of the tension in middle east,not to mention the rest of the world, and even in our own house.
    Steve, you said, “Is it unjust for me to consider the religion of another to be false?”
    For me personally, having a Christiasn upbringing and being a practicing Christian, it tells me that All Religion is False, for it does not produce any form prefection in man. Only a personal relationship with Christ can result in a perfected position with God for any man.
    Sorry to offend all those who feel their chosen religion has it all togetherr and solved for us, if we stay with it, closely obeying all their doctrines, traditions, and expected protocols, too bad it just does not work that way!
    Who did Christ say his mother and brother are?
    We are not qualified by serving any religion that is for sure. Gary

  24. poohpity says:

    The bible seems to tell of the nation of Israel being lead astray by the surrounding nations and God allowing them to be taken into captivity with a purpose and that was for them to return to their God. To depend on Him rather than anyone else but only a few have done that but God in His infinite wisdom continued to let them, as He does with us, to go our own way. We know that in the end a new Jerusalem will be established in peace with our God living among us.

    So are we to take sides? I do not think so if it means alienating another people group from the arms of the Lord. From what I understand in scripture there is no longer Jew/Gentile, slave/free, or man/women we are all one in Christ Jesus. The distinction then seems to be those who are in Christ and those who are not but still that does not push us towards separation but the desire to go and tell more people about Christ. If we have a prejudice then it will be shown by our heart attitude towards that person.

    God has to do what He has to do to bring people back to Himself and that may require allowing them to go their own way and experience the consequences of those choices. If we choose the side of justice which is what we are told to seek then that would not depend on “(politics, nationality, military, morally, spiritually, economically etc)”? Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8

    It would seem if we concentrated on what we are given to do there would be no sides but the desire to get the Word out that there is a God and He loves them very much and we could take the side of the oppressed, hungry, sick, homeless and those who are in need of a Savior. Those types of people are in Hamas, Islam, North Korea, next door and in our own homes.

  25. petros says:


    Your thoughts today inspired me to reference a piece you wrote that may have been featured on this site in addition to having been a piece inserted into ODB, called; “Jerusalem, Sodom, and Jesus”.

    It seemed to me to have been an urging to readers toward introspection. The reason I have visited this site a dozen times or so since!

    “Sodom and Gomorrah are certainly not to be envied. Living more than 1,200 feet below sea level, on the
    shore of the Dead Sea, these two twin cities sank low enough spiritually to be judged by fire from heaven.

    But their judgment does not make them uniquely evil or miserable. Ezekiel makes it clear that the
    “abominable” things Sodom is known for are rooted in equally detestable sins of pride, fullness of food,
    abundance of idleness, and a failure to help the poor and needy.”

    Very inspiring commentary by you on Ezekiel 16:49-50, and whether intended or not, a possible heads up for us all.


  26. Mart De Haan says:

    This is a really important discussion that I’m going to bring forward to another post. Am working on it now and will try to get it up this morning. Thanks to all of you for digging into this with me.

  27. oneg2dblu says:

    petros… yes, as you say, low spirituallity was their problem, but I thought the “haughty abonimnation” was their sexual immorality. It certainly is another spiritually defiling factor overlooked by too many today. I wonder if it is not being equally evil or judgemental, or seen as being equally unloving, as so many popular chuches today seem to leave that one factor out? Perhaps they are too close to a Dead Sea as well. Just a thought…

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