The existence of the modern state of Israel is the one thing which could be firmly considered a sign of the times: a sign that the return of Jesus Christ is near. How near? I’ll give my opinion on that: the result of decades of research and observation. Here, for free, is information you would have to pay for elsewhere, and which may elsewhere be corrupted by faulty or insincere prognostication…
The subject of Israel in prophecy is a huge one on its own, so in order to avoid writing a post so big that almost no-one will read it, I will be merely flirting with the main points. If you want Scripture references and more detailed discussion, see my posts listed below, especially that in note 2. Here I will outline Israel’s history, its current predicament, and its prophetic significance. I will consider what will transpire next, and also what may or may not transpire next, according to Biblical prophecy and common interpretations of it.
Why would a Christian want to support the modern state of Israel? For the answer, see my post in note 1.
With the pervasion of anti-Semitism and the rise of multi-culturalism, common rhetorical questions today are, “Why Israel? Why Abraham? Aren’t the great nations of China, or India, or Russia, more important? There are a number of answers to this. God’s intention, all the way from The Fall in Genesis 3, and actually even before the world began (2 Timothy 1:9) was to raise up the God-man who would defeat Satan’s corruption of humanity. In that regard, the genealogical line of the human side of Christ’s nature obviously had to go through one nation or another. Scripture is partly a record of God’s dealings with that nation, along with its successes and failings. If God had chosen China, we might be asking, “Why China?” The entire Old Testament, centred in the “middle of the earth” (as it certainly was-look at a map) and in the cradle of civilization with its offspring spreading over the earth, also establishes Christ’s right of Lordship-not only over a nation but the whole earth.
Additionally, its important to note that God did not choose Israel because they were a godly or highly moral nation: that’s made abundantly clear in Scripture.
Fathers of the ancient Israelites were in the land today for upward of two thousand years before Christ. The Old Testament as far back as Genesis chapter 12 records promises of ownership of the land, made first to Abraham. The Old Testament also records the troubled, “warts and all” history of the nation. Contrary to popular belief, there is evidence supporting many of the Old Testament characters and events.
THE END OF THE BEGINNING
God judged the ancient nation from time to time, and finally the legions of Rome destroyed Judea and Jerusalem in 70 AD, expelling any Jews they didn’t kill. For this there is also historical and archaeological proof (see the Titus Arch below). Wherever Jews wandered on the earth throughout the centuries they were persecuted. An interesting read in this regard is Deuteronomy chapter 28. Here, many centuries before 70 AD, God through Moses gave the dire warnings of what would happen to the nation if they willfully and consistently rebelled.
Hitler was perhaps the worst perpetrator of anti-Semitism of all time. He attempted to extinguish the entire race, and in his book “Mein Kampf” he laid out his opinion that the Jews were the outworking of the genetic corruption of humanity. They were the least evolved people on earth, he said, followed closely by Africans (a testimony to the evil logic and early discussion of Darwin’s theory). In Hitler’s opinion Jews had to be exterminated for the good of Mother Earth. See my post https://nickyfisher.com/2012/07/15/adolph-hitler-part-5-of-war-religion-and-atheism/
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Against all odds the modern state of Israel was established officially in 1948, immediately after the end of Hitler’s attempted genocide, in a part of Israel’s ancient homeland. There was no or little intent to fulfil prophecy, but the founding of the state did just that, as did the following flood of Jews into the land from all over the world.
In 1967 Israelis, being attacked by all surrounding nations in “The Six Day War” regained control over all Jerusalem for the first time, fulfilling and setting up the fulfilment of more prophecies. As foretold in Scripture, Israel since 1948 has very quickly grown and prospered in every way, and its population has increased greatly. Its determination to hold on to the capital against the will of the world has been successful.
However, much of the small piece of land Israel now occupies is contested, and when Israeli troops re-captured Jerusalem, in a gesture of goodwill to the Arab community, they allowed Arabs to retain control of the temple mount, a site held by Muslims for hundreds of years, and a large area known as the West Bank for the Palestinians. There never was a nation called “Palestine”, but the Romans renamed the area after the Philistines, in a final insult to the nation of Israel.
People today on the Left of politics are accusing Israel of oppressing their rivals and setting up an apartheid state. I have personally spent six months in Israel and witnessed no such thing. Arabs there are allowed to vote and work, to have their own ministers in government, and to live as well as Jews do. Enemies of Israel don’t like to see Israelis defending themselves, and extremists want to elevate one people at the expense of another.
Also in line with prophecy the foretold enemies of the state of Israel have been claiming the land Israel occupies belongs to their religion and not to Jews. Foremost of these is Iran, named “Persia” in Old Testament times. Under President Obama, the United States government was turning against the Jewish nation, and aiding Iran and other enemies of Israel. The election of Donald Trump temporarily halted the world’s schemes and efforts to remove Israelis, or at least professing Jews, from their ancient capital. At present, the Biden administration is looking to aid Iran again.
The “world community” wants to at least divide Jerusalem. Incredibly, this is the message of Old Testament prophecy for end times (Zechariah 14:1-5). The world is going to attempt to forcefully divide Jerusalem, but will ultimately fail, because Jesus Christ will return to personally put an end to the attempt. The potential for such an effort against a regathered Israel in our times is hard evidence, to those of us who care, that Israel is the greatest sign of the times.
SETTING DATES: TIME LIMITS, TIME CLUES
There are two potential problems with the entire Israel regathering “scenario” (to use a prophetic cliché). However, they may not be problems at all-they may be further indication that the time of fulfillment is very near. For my discussion on this, see my post https://nickyfisher.com/2019/01/30/setting-dates-for-the-fulfillment-of-bible-prophecy/
Briefly here, the first problem concerns a Biblical limit to the number of returns of the nation from total exile. The second issue concerns a Biblical limit on the time which can transpire between the regathering of Jews to the land and the judgment of the nations: the invasion of Israel is said to occur within the memory of a recent regathering from the nations.
It seems clear to me that in order for Scripture to mean what it says, and for us not to have to allegorize it all, as some do, what we call “end times” and the return of Jesus Christ must be near. By that, I mean a few or several decades away at the most.
How many times in the course of human history can the incredible set of events prophesied actually play out, in such an amazing series of what would have to be “coincidences”, as they have over the last several decades? The idea that the current return of Jews to the land is bogus, and the real one is yet future, just doesn’t make sense. Also, believing that the real return is yet distant future, we would have to expect the current inhabitants of the land to be driven out by some huge war or other disaster. The land would have to be invaded and claimed by enemies again, and then left empty and waste for a long period of time. Israelis there now would once again be exiled to all corners of the earth for a long period of time.
Some professing Christians allegorize all or some prophecy. Others claim that these prophecies I am considering were all fulfilled in the first century. That makes a nonsense of many scriptures, and reduces others to allegories which are without logical interpretation. Those of you familiar with the seventy weeks of Daniel understand that there is a week of years, or seven years, of prophecies which remain to be fulfilled, particularly involving the nation of Israel but also the rest of the world (Daniel chapter 9). Some think that half of that week has already occurred, so only three and a half years, a period frequently mentioned in Revelation, remain to be fulfilled. I have to admit to leaning towards that conclusion myself.
Revelation makes clear that the man we call the Antichrist will only have power over the world for three and a half years-not seven (Revelation 13:5). Both Paul and Jesus give as the first signs of end times events the revealing of Antichrist, and the beginning of his reign of terror-so he can only be a known entity for three and half years-not seven. He certainly could be known today as a leading figure of some sort, who is not suspected yet (though I have my own suspicions). The beginning of the seventieth week is often linked to the institution of temple sacrifice, and so the dedication of a third temple, and Antichrist is usually credited with the enabling of the building, along with a “peace deal” which he then ends with his own presence three and a half years later. However, Daniel’s prophecy doesn’t actually say that Antichrist arranges for the third temple to be built – that’s an assumption made by today’s “experts”. Neither does it say that he will arrange a peace deal. That’s possible, since he will fool people into thinking he is a peacemaker, but not a given. What Daniel does say is that he will “confirm a covenant”.
It seems to me that this man will have to be in the shadows at this time. He will be like Darth Sidious in Star Wars: scheming and planning, while appearing to the world as just another concerned politician. Therefore he will not openly facilitate the rebuilding of the temple, or he would be recognized before Paul said he could be in 2 Thessalonians 2. Instead, I believe the “covenant” which he confirms is more likely some sort of under-the-table agreement to double-cross the nation of Israel. It will seem like Israel is being befriended, when in fact she is being betrayed, like Judas kissing Jesus and then turning him in to the Sanhedrin.
A THIRD TEMPLE?
Will the temple be rebuilt? In present circumstances it seems impossible. The entire Islamic world would be vehemently opposed to this happening, and the Israeli government and certainly the leftist political scene in Europe and America has no intention of allowing such a thing. This is not necessarily an obstacle. God is able to go around or through any force or eventuality, and if he says there will be a temple, there will be a temple.
Don’t call me a heretic-yet-but I have wondered, given the seeming impossibility, whether there will actually be a temple. Yes, Paul said that Antichrist will be revealed in the temple. However, Jesus said that he will stand “in the holy place”(Matthew 24:15). Today, Jews will not tread just anywhere on the temple mount (even if they’re allowed up there) for fear of accidentally standing on the spot of “the holy place”. Could it be that Antichrist will simply ascend the temple mount as it is now, to stake his claim, without having the need of a temple?
The New KJV and the ESV versions don’t mention the temple, but cryptically say that “… on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate” (Daniel 9:27b).
But isn’t the sacrifice put to an end by Antichrist? It will, or has, been put to an end by “the prince who will come” (Daniel). Could the prince referred to there ultimately be Satan? In this case, he’s already put an end to sacrifice, in 70 AD with the help of Rome. So what of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians where he used the word “temple”? Indeed. And what of John’s mention of the temple in Revelation chapter 11″? It seems so obvious that there has to be a temple, but I can’t help wondering. Some prophecies fulfilled in the past probably didn’t seem too clear until after the fact. God just wants to demonstrate that He knows the end from the beginning.
In any case, the building of the temple is really not greatly significant to the timing of last days events. Trump arranged for the building of an American embassy in Jerusalem, and had it done all in very short time, against the will of most of the world: an indicator of how quickly a temple could be erected on the temple mount.
CONCLUSIONS: MY THOUGHTS
The modern state of Israel-as imperfect as it is-is to me the evidence that the time of the return of Jesus Christ is not far off. It may be a few decades yet, or it may not. It’s clear to me that public opinion around the world has been soured to the very existence of Israel, most immediately by extremist university professors, twisted media hacks, and uninformed and biased politicians; but ultimately by the inspiration of the coming man of lawlessness – Satan. Such a tiny nation, struggling for its survival, receiving so much negativity and hate around the world. This fact alone is almost all the evidence we need.
If a new temple is built it will go up quickly. If not, all that remains is for that man to ascend the slope to the temple mount, and to stand there claiming to be speaking for God. At that point, we will be three and half years from the return of the King.
When do I expect it to happen? It’s impossible to pin the time down to any few years, but as I noted, for the prophecies that we have to be the Word of God, or to not be a collection of impossible allegories, they must be fulfilled, in my opinion, within the next few decades. Until then, it will become more and more clear to us, in many ways, that the time is upon us.