A time of trouble is coming upon the Middle East which will affect all of us.
We’re told that we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and ‘blessed are the peacemakers’. Without doubt, we should be working and praying for peace in the troubled Middle East. However there is a Day of reckoning foretold in Bible Prophecy, when a war in that region will culminate in the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
There are scores of reasons to believe that what has been brewing for several decades is that Day. While we pray and hope for peace, we would be foolish to stick our heads in the sand and ignore what we have been warned of. Whatever your opinion of the Bible, it is being shown to be the Word of God. You can ignore it, or get angry with it, or you can be wise and look into what it says about the times we are now in, and the times to come. That’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years, and I’m only more convinced that we are being inexorably drawn towards those Biblical ‘end times’, like leaves to some huge waterfall.
The relevant signs relate to Israel’s regathering to its ancient homeland, to the frictions and confrontations with surrounding nations, to its coming war with the united nations of the world, and to its own purging and deliverance by the coming of the Son of God.
Consider briefly the history of Israel, and how Scripture outlines the history of the nation-and the world-through the present time and into the future.
BIBLICAL PROPHECIES ABOUT ISRAEL (see scripture references below).
Four thousand years ago the land now occupied by the nation Israel (and more) was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham. The promise passed through the genealogical line of Abraham’s son Isaac, and not through Ishmael, the original ancestor of many of the Moslems of today. Abraham’s grandson Jacob was renamed ‘Israel’ by the Lord, and this is where the name for the nation comes from.
The land was promised to the Israelites ‘for ever’, but God did eject them completely from the land twice during their history, because they became so rebellious. The Bible says that after the second return the Lord would establish them in the land permanently, from which time He would be King over the whole earth: human government independent from God would come to an end.
The prophecies state that the second return of the nation of Israel to their land would be miraculous, after a long period of exile and persecution in all nations of the world, and that they would come to a place which had been almost a waste land since they were exiled. They would then become prosperous and productive, with a booming population.
However, the Bible warned that all the surrounding nations would claim the land had become theirs instead. All the nations on earth would side with Israel’s enemies, and would hate the people of Israel.
The most important prophecies relate to the city of Jerusalem, and to Judea, now called the ‘West Bank’. Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital for three thousand years. It was promised to Israel. God called it His holy city. The Bible says that in the last years and days before the return of Jesus Christ to earth Jerusalem would become a major topic of debate among the nations. The nations would be trying to get Jerusalem away from the Israeli people. They would become furious about it, and eventually unite to attack Israel and invade Jerusalem, dividing it and removing half of the population from the city.
Before this attack occurs, there may be other ‘wars and rumors of wars’. The Bible says that there is also going to be some sort of a covenant, agreement, or peace deal made between Israel and several other nations, promising Israel security, and allowing for a new temple for those Jews who are religious. It will be a temporary or interim agreement, scheduled to last for seven years.
Three and a half years after this agreement is made the man who organizes it will double-cross Israel, and try to enforce his, and the world’s plans on the nation. He will meet stiff resistance, particularly from the Jews in Judah, know now as the West Bank He will also enter the temple, and claim, perhaps just in a cynical way, that he is God, or a god, or the ultimate authority on the earth. This event will signal the beginning of a three and a half year period called the ‘Great Tribulation’: a time of judgments, plagues, natural disasters and war around the entire globe. During this period the nations of the world will launch an all out attack to take Jerusalem, and to wipe all Jews (and Christians) from the face of the earth. By then, the nations will know that the Bible prophecies are being fulfilled, and they will gather their armies and make an attempt to stop the return of Jesus Christ. This will be futile: He will swiftly defeat them, and deliver the remnant of Israel from their enemies, at which time they will realize that He was their Messiah all along. He will put an end to all war, and then He will set up His own kingdom on the earth. Jerusalem will be the earthly capital of the kingdom.
ISRAEL’S PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Abraham was the Father of the Semites, including Jacob (Israel) and Ishmael, father of some of the Islamic nations which now surround the present day land of Israel. Moslems claim that the rights of Abraham’s inheritance, including the land of ‘Palestine’ belong to them, but the Bible, which goes back much farther than Mohammed and the Koran, show that the rights of God’s promises belong to Israel.
After 430 years of slavery in Egypt, Jacob’s nation went to the ‘promised land’ of Canaan, now called Israel or ‘Palestine”.
God expelled the Israelites from their land in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, because of the extent of their sin, by using the Assyrian and Babylonian armies. The second exile of the whole nation was in 70 AD, when the Roman army killed perhaps a million of them, pushed the rest out of their land, and destroyed Jerusalem. This action had been prophesied by Jesus Christ forty years earlier. The Romans renamed the land ‘Palestine’ as a final insult to the Jews, since the Philistines, centered in Gaza, had been Israel’s enemies for centuries. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any nation but Israel.
Since 70 AD many people have attempted to control Jerusalem and ‘Palestine’, including the Moslems from the 7th Century on, the corrupt Roman Catholic Church, and more recently the British (in fact the ‘Holy Land’ belongs to God).
In World War II Hitler wanted to kill all Jews living in Europe Many other European leaders had persecuted the Jews through the centuries, but Hitler succeeded in killing six million of them, while Joseph Stalin had been killing many more in Russia. At the heart of this hatred of Jews is Satan’s hatred for God’s plan and God’s people. Also, since the Jews had continually rejected God and His ways, the Lord had finally handed them over to their enemies. However, that’s not the end of the story. The Lord has always kept a number of people loyal to Him, and had a plan, right from the beginning, to restore Israel to their land. Not all those people living in Israel today are faithful to Him, but the plan involves the refining and purging of Israel, as well as the judging of the nations.
After WWII, surviving Jews began to return to their land. They saw the vital need for their own country, and for the ability to defend them-selves in order just to survive as a people. In 1948 they declared a new Jewish state in ‘Palestine’, after the United Nations voted to allow them to, and named it Israel. A Jewish scholar had researched the ancient Hebrew language, and it was once again taught and spoken in Israel, for the first time in over 2000 years. Since 1948 the population of Israel has grown dramatically, with Jews returning to the land from all over the world. The nation has become prosperous, productive and powerful. These facts are in fulfillment of prophecy: an evidence of the truthfulness of the Bible, and of the soon coming of Christ.
Immediately after the new state was declared, surrounding Islamic nations vowed to drive it into the sea, and attacked it (this is never mentioned in media reports now: they will just say that there was a war). The Moslems claimed that the land was theirs, even though most of it had been a waste land. The new state of Israel was only eight miles wide (I’ve walked across it), yet the Israelites, with a much smaller army, fought back their attackers. Israel had to hold on to some of the land they gained, simply to survive future attacks.
The nation of Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the ‘West Bank” (‘Judea’ in ancient Israel) from WWII until 1967, when the Arabs, led by Egypt, again prepared an attempt to drive Israel into the sea. Israel made a surprise attack in order to defend itself, and defeated the combined enemy armies in six days, gaining the whole of Jerusalem in the process. As a mark of good will they allowed the Moslems to retain control of the Temple Mount, the original home of two Jewish temples, where there is a large Islamic shrine and mosque now. Another surprise attack by Arab armies against Israel in 1973, known as the ‘Yom Kippur’ war, was beaten back, despite enormous support for the Moslems from the Soviet Union. Since then there have been continuous small scale attacks on Israel, including constant terrorist attacks on civilians.
Now Jerusalem is considered by all countries of the world to be ‘occupied’, and not rightfully owned by Israel. They refuse to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, even though it has never been the capital of any other nation but Israel. The ‘International Community’, most notably the U.N. wants Israel to give up at least half of Jerusalem and Israel to the Palestinians. Arab countries, who claim that the Palestinians are their brothers, will not give the Palestinians any of their lands, even though they have many times more land than Israel does. In fact governments and people around the world are very angry with Israel. Only the U.S. has supported them – until now. President Obama has been inclined to side with the Moslems, although the U.S. congress and electorate is largely supportive of Israel. Whatever America decides to do in the future, the rest of the nations are angry with the Israelis. They want them to make a treaty with the Palestinians, and to hand over at least half of Jerusalem, as well as what they call ‘the occupied West Bank’, which is Biblical Judea, a central part of Israel. If they succeed, the Moslems will not be content: they will then try to get the rest of the land as well. To date, almost all Islamic nations, including the Palestinians, have refused to accept Israel’s right to exist at all. Some Islamic leaders have vowed to destroy Israel completely. Currently, the tiny state of Israel is hemmed in by Iran’s proxies Hamas to the south, and Hezbollah to the north. Iran is busily arming both, and may well be enriching uranium for nuclear weapons, and has tested ballistic missiles which can reach all Israeli cities. Iranian leaders have vowed that Israel will be destroyed. At the same time, the ‘International Community’ is pressurizing Israel to give up a large portion of their land, which would make it almost indefensible. Public opinion in the West continues to turn against Israel.
There are three more important things to note:
1/ Israelis have not been trying to fulfill Bible prophecy, since most don’t believe it. The conditions are in line with Bible prophecy anyway.
2/ I have observed growing hatred for the Israeli people over the last 30 years, even in my country of origin, England. It’s fed by disinformation through the mainstream media, with no opportunity for the other side of things to be aired. Some times the actions of Israel against their enemies are reported in the news media as ‘atrocities’. Remember that most of the media is already extremely biased against Israel, and often distort the facts. They do not think that Israelis have a right to defend themselves. They are against Israel and against the God of the Bible, and cannot be trusted. At the same time, Israelis are human like any other people group, and they make mistakes and bad decisions. They are not godly people now, any more than any other nation of people is. They too will face their own judgment in the Tribulation, but remember that God said to Israel ‘I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you’ (Genesis 12:1-3). We would make a very serious mistake to support the enemies of Israel along with the rest of the world, especially as the Islamic nations are opposed to the West anyway. Neither is appeasement the answer.
3/ According to the Bible the final world war will be fought over Jerusalem and Judea (called ‘the West Bank’ by ‘the International Community’). This is the very area which is being argued over now. This is one of the amazing facts which makes us believe that the Bible prophecies are about to be fulfilled. The argument over Jerusalem and the West Bank will continue to be an issue until Jesus Christ returns, even allowing for an apparent ‘peace’ deal now being discussed, which the Bible also prophecies. The Moslems’ ‘holy book’, the Koran, does not even mention Jerusalem, but now they are claiming that the city is an important holy site for them and not for Israel. Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, for which we have original documents and other ancient evidence dating back over 2000 years. The Koran was written hundreds of years later, and yet does not even mention Jerusalem.
At the heart of the city, the temple mount will become a main focus of attention. New Testament prophecies seem to require a Jewish temple to be in place for the events of Revelation to be fulfilled. The building of a new temple may well be provided for in the agreement or peace deal now being discussed. It would make a powerful bargaining tool to persuade Israel to give up land. Interestingly, Israeli politicians refer to the modern state of Israel as ‘The Third Temple’.
The Jewish priestly organizations are already making preparations for a new temple, because they want to worship according to their ancient traditions. They are looking for the first appearance of their Messiah, and do not regard New Testament prophecies as God’s Word. They have made all the temple furnishings, and the clothing for the priests. They have architectural plans for the new temple. They have made the main foundation block known as the ‘corner stone’. They are identifying descendants of the original priesthood by genealogy and DNA. They are all ready to build, and only need the permission of their government. Until now the government has been reluctant to anger the Moslems any more than necessary by building a new Jewish temple where the Islamic ‘Dome of the Rock’ now stands. According to Jewish scriptures, the same site is the only place where their own temple can rightfully stand. Perhaps the new temple will be built right next to the Islamic shrine, or maybe some as yet unforeseen event will lead to the building of a new temple for the Jews.
There are some Biblical clues to the timing of the Tribulation, for example, the fact that Israel will be attacked not long after their re-gathering to the land, which began in 1948, and their recapture of all of Jerusalem which occurred in 1967. According to the Bible, this interim period has to be long enough for Israel’s population to swell, with people immigrating from all parts of the world, for the land to be made fertile and productive, for the nation to become prosperous and powerful, and for ‘all nations of the world’ to take exception to the existence of Israel. These conditions have become a reality over recent decades. Bible prophecy is being fulfilled!
As a little bit of my own speculation here, some scriptures indicate that God’s idea of ‘not long’ in relation to man is as little as 47-70 years, and the most significant detail in the reformation of Israel- past, present and future- is Jerusalem and the temple. Jerusalem was regained in 1967.
In the present and coming times all people on earth will have to choose sides (most already have). Those who oppose Israel are, de facto, in opposition to Almighty God – He who is able to destroy or preserve body and soul for ever.
ISRAEL IN SCRIPTURE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
THE LAND OF CANAAN WAS PROMISED TO ABRAHAM’S DESCENDANTS:
Genesis 13: 14 – 17
Genesis 17: 8
THROUGH THE LINEAGE OF ISAAC, NOT ISHMAEL:
Genesis 17: 18 – 21
THE PROMISE IS IRREVOCABLE – IT CANNOT BE CANCELLED:
Jeremiah 31: 35 -37
Romans 11:25 – 32
Isaiah 49: 14 – 18
EXILE WAS A PART OF GOD’S JUDGEMENT ON ISRAEL’S REBELLION:
Deuteronomy 28, especially v.63 – 65
THE FIRST COMPLETE EXILE WAS TO BABYLON:
Daniel 1: 1 – 2
Ezra 5: 11 – 16
THE SECOND WAS TO ALL NATIONS:
Ezekiel 36: 16 – 19
Ezekiel 36: 3
Matthew 23: 33 – 39
THE SECOND COMPLETE EXILE WAS TO BE THE LAST:
Isaiah 11:10 – 16
Ezekiel 37: 21 – 25
ISRAEL WOULD BE REGATHERED TO THEIR LAND BEFORE THE TRIBULATION:
Ezekiel 38: 8 – 9
Ezekiel 39 21 – 29
Zephaniah 2: 1 – 3
THE WASTE-LAND WOULD BECOME FERTILE AND DENSELY POPULATED:
Ezekiel 36: 8 – 12
Ezekiel 36: 30 – 38
ISRAEL’S ENEMIES WOULD SAY THAT THE LAND WAS THEIRS:
Ezekiel 36: 1 – 7
ISRAEL WOULD NOT BE REPENTANT UNTIL JESUS’ RETURN:
Ezekiel 36: 22, 23, 31, 32
Ezekiel 39: 21 – 29
Romans 11:25 – 27
JERUSALEM WOULD BE A ‘CUP OF TREMBLING’ FOR THE NATIONS:
Zechariah 12: 1 – 10, especially 2, 3
Zechariah 14: 1 – 19, especially 2, 3
Matthew 24: 14 – 22
Revelation 16: 1 – 2
THE SO-CALLED ‘OCCUPIED WEST BANK’ IS ‘JUDAH’ IN PROPHECY:
Zechariah 12, verses 2, 6 and 7.
JERUSALEM AND JUDAH WOULD BE THE DISPUTED TERRITORIES
Zechariah 12: 2-3
THEY WILL BE ATTACKED BY THE WORLD COMMUNITY, AND JERUSALEM WILL BE DIVIDED FORCEFULLY:
Zechariah 12:2, 3
THE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL TODAY WERE PROPHECIED 2500 YEARS AGO
All the nations around Israel: Ezekiel 36 – 39; Zechariah 12:2
Russia: Ezekiel 38
Iran (called Persia until 20th C): Ezekiel 38
Turkey (then Gomer) Ezekiel 38
All nations of the world – see below
ALL NATIONS WILL BE ANGRY WITH THE BIBLICAL GOD AS WELL AS ISRAEL:
Revelation 19 – 19
Psalm 2: 1 – 6
Revelation 11: 18
ALL NATIONS WILL ATTACK ISRAEL (PERHAPS TWO SEPARATE ATTACKS):
Joel 3, especially verses 1 – 2
Revelation 16: 14 – 16
Ezekiel 38: 1 – 9
THE ATTACKS WOULD BE SOON AFTER ISRAEL’S REGATHERING TO THE LAND:
BUT FIRST, THERE WILL BE A TEMPORARY ‘PEACE’ OR SECURITY PACT INVOLVING ISRAEL:
1 Thessalonians 5: 1 – 4
Daniel 8: 25 (esp. see the KJV)
Daniel 9: 27
Ezekiel 38: 14 – 16
THERE WILL BE A JEWISH TEMPLE OR WORSHIP CENTER BUILT AT ABOUT THIS TIME IN J:
Daniel 9: 27
Revelation 11: 1 – 2
2 Thessalonians 2: 4 – 6
Matthew 24: 15
PEOPLE WILL BE LIVING ‘NORMALLY‘, UNTIL THE TRIBULATION STARTS:
Matthew 24: 37 – 39
Ezekiel 39: 6
GOD WILL DEFEND ISRAEL:
Zechariah 14: 2 – 5 and verse 12
Zechariah 12: 9
Isaiah 34:1 – 10
Joel 3: 16
Ezekiel 38: 17 – 23
Matthew 24: 30
THIS WILL BE THE END OF HUMAN RULE OVER THE EARTH:
Revelation 19 and 20
Daniel 2: 42 – 45
Isaiah 34: 1 – 4
Zechariah 14: 9 and v 16 – 19