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Nigerians needlessly divided over Jerusalem – Prof. Eghagha

•Says Trump set stage for a big conflict
•‘US President fulfilled Biblical prophecy

PROFESSOR Hope Oghenerukevbe Eghagha, two- time Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, who celebrated his 52nd birthday anniversary in 2012 in kidnappers’ captivity, was born in Burutu on September 4, 1959, at the threshold of the nation’s independence, but hails from Mereje in Okpe local government area of Delta State. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of English. Spotted by SAM EYOBOKA at the flag off of this year’s God’s Kingdom Society, GKS, Feast of Tabernacles in Lagos, he spoke on the controversial status of Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. 

Eghagha

We were told during the sermon that Christians are spiritual Jews. What is the implication of President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

The Bible makes it clear that there is the literal Jerusalem which is the land currently in dispute between Palestinians and Israelis—- Jews. The Bible also talks about spiritual Jerusalem which comes from above. The Bible in prophecy also said Jews will return to the promised land which is Jerusalem. Bible historians noted the fulfilment in 1948 with the creation of the modern state of Israel which was a welcome home for Jews that had been in the diaspora after Jerusalem was sacked first in AD70, and you know Jerusalem has been invaded and restored very many times in history. There is a sense therefore in which you can say that when President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, there’s a sense in which you can say it is the fulfilment of the Bible prophecy. What has taken everybody aback is the bitter politics involved. Jerusalem in context is not really for the spiritual reasons, it is for land. Palestinians want land; Jews want land. There are some who believe that Jerusalem should be split into two: one for Jews and the other for Palestinians. But the problem is that Palestinians have not even recognized the right of the state of Israel to exist. So there is a dilemma and somebody has been wisely courageous and bold to say that Jerusalem belongs to Israel. It has set the stage for a big conflict in that zone. How it is going to be resolved, we don’t know but the point is that we can say there is a sense in which that pronouncement is like a fulfilment of the prophecy. But the politics is very unhealthy. I believe that Palestinians deserve a home land, Jews deserve a home land. Both groups should come together and negotiate. This negotiation has been on for over 30-40 years. Under President Jimmy Carter, we thought we were very close to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it deteriorated. And under President Barack Obama, nothing happened in spite of all the promises.

Presidents George Bush, Clinton and Obama all promised during their electioneering campaigns that they would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but when the time came and they were told of the political implication: isolation, insurrection and counter attacks all over the world, they withdrew. But, Trump, in his policy of placing America first, has decided that ‘we are a super power and we can go it solo and the rest of the world can face their own business’; no problem. That is the politics that is unhealthy. The bottom line is this: both parties must believe there is enough land and space to live. Palestinians must recognize the state of Israel to exist and the Israelis must make sure that Palestinians have their own home land. That is the interpretation I’d like to give.

There are two interpretations which I have given: anybody intervening now in favour of Trump will antagonize Palestinians. But when I look at it as a part of the long spiritual objective which God has for Jerusalem, it belongs to Jews. That is the fulfilment of prophecy. And remember, for Jews to occupy Jerusalem when they were promised, they had to fight to occupy the land at that time. There’s a sense in which that fight is still on till now. If you look at it from a religious perspective, Christian theology, it’s a fulfilment of age long prophecy. The world should come together and create a home land for Palestinians on the condition that the Palestinians recognize the right of the state of Israel to exist.

Where does the United Nations come in?

The United Nations, as you can see, is not in agreement with America right now. In the first place, if we want to go spiritual or religious, the United Nations is a birth child of the League of Nations which, in Bible prophecy, wanted to harmonize all the nations of the world. For us in the GKS, no man-made organization can bring peace to the world. Christ Himself said that it is only Him that can bring peace to the world, John 16:33. So the United Nations have failed to bring peace to the world but it is a political organization and, to that extent, it should be able to take a position that will guarantee peace in that region; that is a political solution to the crisis on the ground. But you know there are other factors. One of the biggest voices in the United Nations is America. But America believes it is a super power and it can go solo. I just shudder what will happen if Russia goes that way; if Russia also decides to pronounce Jerusalem as the home land of Palestinians, then you are in for a big conflict. Everyone is watching. But the final resolution, in my view, will come from heaven. We will wait for God to intervene. We will wait for how things play out. I listened to the US Secretary of State the other day and he said the physical occupation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel may not take place in the next two years. He said they have to acquire the land, survey the situation, build and then to move takes time. This pronouncement by Donald Trump is to satisfy his people at home. If it is indeed a fulfilment of Bible prophecy, we can say that God has used Donald Trump, although some of his views and actions are counter Christianity and counter popular culture. Look at his stand on racism, for instance, I’m beginning to wonder if I can qualify Donald Trump as an instrument of God. I am worried about that. That’s part of the reason I’m slightly ambivalent. That’s the reason my own view as Hope Eghagha is that well it is a political thing that he is doing but it may well serve God’s purpose.

Where is all of these leading us to?

I do believe that in the final analysis, the will of God will triumph. It is my thinking that there is no effort that we can bring together that will bring world peace, that this world will suddenly change and everywhere will become suddenly peaceful. From Christian eschatology, peace in this world can come from God but God uses man in positions to ensure that there is stability and peace. And that is the reason we urge politicians at the international level, statesmen, to ensure that they don’t take steps that can aggravate an already tense situation and, again, as part of the counter narrative, you will find that Islam at this time is not popular because of the extremist positions of ISIS and the rest attempting to create an international caliphate. There was a time we went on pilgrimage and we were asked not to visit certain areas because there were hostile people there….that is anti-Christianity. Christ Himself, in the parable of the wheat and the tares, said we should leave everything to God. I visited the Church of Nativity, opposite it is a mosque. There are about three religions in that place. How they have been able to live these many years? You go down the road and people will tell you the route that Christ took when He was going for crucifixion, you see where He was born and look down the road and you see a flag carrying the face of Yasser Arafat. It’s a very complex situation and politicians on ground must tread carefully, must be sensitive. Islamic fundamentalists must realize that if they go the route they are currently going, there cannot be peace and Israel will not trust them enough to say ‘come and share Jerusalem with us’. Look at all the states around Israel, only Israel is at peace, all the others are at war and devastated because of Islamic fundamentalism which they say is a reaction to the ascendancy of the West. That’s why the world is in a dilemma. Yes you sympathize with Palestinians, but what if you then create a side by side state and they are next door and can launch missiles into your territory, then there will be no peace.

How do you see Nigeria in all of these?

Nigeria, as you know, is a secular state, the leadership has been silent on this, they can’t take sides. There are some Christians in Nigeria that are happy, there are Muslims who are threatening and America have even raised an alert that we should be careful in Jerusalem, Abuja and all of that. Nigeria is a secular state and must try to maintain its secularity.

 

 


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