When, in the near future, the “International Community” attempts to remove Israel from at least half of Jerusalem in order to hand it over to Israel’s enemies, we will be well into the period of judgment and upheaval sometimes referred to as “last days” events, or the “Tribulation”. This is just one of the many events prophesied in the Bible which are very close to fulfillment in our time. If they are not close to fulfillment, we are witnessing an uncanny dress rehearsal.
To look at the current and future situation in the Middle East from God’s perspective, we first need to review a little Biblical and secular history. Bible references to the points outlined here are listed below.
BIBLE PROPHECIES ABOUT ISRAEL
According to the Old Testament, the land now occupied by the nation of Israel was first promised by God to Abraham and his descendants four thousand years ago. 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, as Islam claims. Abraham’s grandson Jacob was renamed ‘Israel’ by God, and this is where the name for the nation comes from. Even if you reject the Old Testament as real history, you cannot deny the evidence that the nation of Israel was in the land for at least hundreds of years before Christ. Some Muslims are currently attempting to deny that the Jews had any significant presence in Jerusalem, or any interest in it. Note that there are hundreds of references to Jerusalem in the Old and New Testaments as the pre-Christ Dead Sea Scrolls and other sources attest, and none in the Koran. It is only in recent years that Islam has been claiming the city is theirs by right.
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 of descendants of Israel coming from all over the world.
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 oppose 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 the main topic of debate among all the surrounding nations and the nations of the world. They would be beside themselves in their attempts to get it. They will eventually unite to attack Israel and invade Jerusalem.
Before this attack occurs, there may be other ‘wars and rumors of war’. There could be a large scale war before the events of Armageddon. 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, probably 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 plans on the nation. He will also enter the holiest part of 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 time the nations of the world will launch an all out attack on Israel to take over Jerusalem, and to wipe all Jews (and Christians) from the face of the earth. Jerusalem will be divided by force, and for Israelis it will seem like all is lost. By then, the nations will be aware 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 He will set up His own kingdom on the earth. Jerusalem will be the earthly capital of the kingdom, a representation of an incredible heavenly city.
GOD STILL HAS PLANS FOR ISRAEL
A large portion of the Christian Church is still teaching that God rejected Israel in the first century AD: Jews rejected their messiah, and they therefore have no more place in His plans. Apart from all the prophecies listed in this summary, we only need to look at Paul’s survey of their history and future, in Romans chapters 9 to 11, to see that this is not true.
It’s claimed that the Church became Israel. While it is true that Christians are spiritually descendants of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:26-29), we are not physical Israel, and God still has plans for the physical nation of Israel. He has promises to fulfill, and God always keeps his promises. Read chapters 9, 10 and 11 of the book of Romans to see the clear distinction that Paul makes between Jews and Gentiles. In chapter 11 Paul says ‘Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin’ (Romans 11:1). Later, he says,
‘I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in’ (Romans 11:25). There are many references in this regard, for example, Jesus said ‘this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world, as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ (Matthew 24:14). At that time, when Christ appears over Jerusalem, God says, ‘I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child…’ (Zechariah 12:10). Don’t fall for the lie that God has rejected Israel as a nation.
ISRAEL’S ACTUAL PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Abraham was the Father of the Israelites, including Jacob (Israel) and also Ishmael the 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, shows 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 about a million of them, pushed the rest out of their land, and destroyed Jerusalem. The Jewish historian Josephus recorded the events of the Roman devastation of Israel in detail. This calamity had been prophesied by Jesus Christ forty years earlier, because, he told them, they did not recognize Him. They rejected their last chance of national salvation before the onslaught of terrible retribution and exile (Luke13:34, 35).
The Romans ripped Jerusalem apart and ploughed it into the ground. After the event, they renamed the land ‘Palestine’ as a final insult to the Jewish race, 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 wanted 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 and hounded the Jews through the centuries, but Hitler, wanting to exterminate the race, 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, in fact most are not believers, but the plan involves the refining and purging ofIsrael, 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 themselves 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 itIsrael. 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 Israeli nto the sea. Israel made a surprise attack in order to avoid extinction, and defeated the combined enemy armies in six days, gaining the whole of Jerusalem in the process. Those Arabs who were living in the land had been given the chance to side with the Israelis, or at least to remain neutral. The ones who refused were driven back, and because surrounding Arab nations would not allow them into their countries, refugee camps housed those stuck in the middle of the fighting. This gave rise to the P.L.O. and other organizations who were and are determined to get rid of Israel. Within Israel, one third of the population consists of Arabs living alongside Israelis.. They have equal rights and most would rather live in freedom in Israel than in an Islamic state.
As a mark of good will Israel allowed the Moslems to retain control of theTemple Mount after the “six day war”. Centuries before it had been the home of two Jewish temples, the second one having been destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Now there is a large Islamic shrine and mosque there.
Another surprise attack by Arab armies against Israel came on a Jewish Holy Day in 1973 when Israelis were resting and worshipping. This is known as the ‘Yom Kippur’ war. The attack was beaten back, despite enormous support for the Moslems from the Soviet Union. Since then there has been a growing army of malcontents surrounding Israel, which has launched continuous, daily small scale attacks on Israeli civilians, mostly by rocket fire..
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. Governments and people around the world are angry with Israel. Only a few nations have supported them, most recently Canada has been a friend to them. The United States has been their staunchest, and at times their only ally – until now. President Obama seems inclined to side with the Moslems, although the U.S. congress and electorate is mostly supportive of Israel. Whatever America decides to do in the future, most of the nations of the world are angry with the Israelis. They want them to make a treaty with the Palestinians, even though the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. They want Israe to hand over at least half of Jerusalem, as well as what they call ‘the occupied West Bank’, which is Biblical Judea and Samaria, 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, and the Palestinians, have refused to accept Israel’s right to exist at all. Some Islamic leaders, most particularly Iran, 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 is believed to be enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. Iran has recently 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 tiny Israel to give up a large portion of its land to its avowed enemies, which would make the remainder almost indefensible. Israel would be eight miles wide at its narrowest point, and fifty miles wide at its widest. A jet fighter could cross the state in one minute: it would be indefensible. Imagine YOUR country being that small, while all countries around you have vowed to wipe you out. And yet public opinion in the West continues to turn against Israel.
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 the story to be aired. Anti-Semitism has continued in Europe through the centuries, and only faded temporarily after Hitler was defeated There’s a common claim these days that Hitler did not try to wipe out the Jews., even though there is abundant evidence that they did.
Sometimes 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 do 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 and to our way of life and freedoms anyway. European nations are currently allowing Muslims to flock into their countries and change the culture. Most are peaceful, for now, but true Islam calls for the entire world to be subjugated, whether by peaceful means or by violence. Appeasement is not 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 Israelto 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. The Bible predicts the forceful division of Jerusalem and Judea, or the “West Bank” by a coalition of many nations. These conditions have either become a reality over recent decades or appear just about to occur. Bible prophecy is being fulfilled!
As a little bit of my own speculation here (I’m not claiming this is fact), 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 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 FROM THE LAND 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
GOD SAID THE SECOND COMPLETE EXILE WAS TO BE THE LAST:
Isaiah 11:10– 16
Ezekiel 37: 21 – 25
JEWS WOULD BE MIRACULOUSLY REGATHERED TO THEIR LAND BEFORE THE LAST DAYS:
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 REPENT OF THEIR REBELLION UNTIL THE RETURN OF JESUS:
Ezekiel 36: 22, 23, 31, 32
Ezekiel 39: 21 – 29
Romans 11:25– 27
JERUSALEM WOULD BE A SOURCE OF TURMOIL 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
ISRAEL 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 WITH 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 WILL 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