It has been said that the Epicenter of the world is Israel; Jerusalem is the focus; but the Temple Mount is the Bulls-eye! The most contested piece of real estate in the entire world is the Temple Mount. Daily news from around the world continues to be filled with the conflicts surrounding the rightful ownership of the land of Israel–or Palestine, as it is known by the Arab world. The Jewish people see Jerusalem as their God-given land with Jerusalem as their capital beginning at least 3,000 years ago during the times of King David. The Muslim world however intends to build an Islamic world state in the Mideast with Jerusalem as their capital. This would require the Jews to vacate the land entirely. Islam intends to force the rest of the world to accept Islam as the only true faith and is willing to enforce this with their combined military might if the rest of the world does not submit.
As we have now celebrated the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence in 1948, the fires in the Middle East cauldron continue to heat up, and, just like a volcano that has gone past the point of no return, the unleashing of violence is not a matter of if it is going to happen, but rather, when. Not only has the anger of much of the Arab world been stoked due to Israel’s 70th anniversary, and the inability of Israel’s enemies to have yet driven them from the land since their independence, American President Trump’s confirmation of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital and the move of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has added gasoline to the already near out of control fire..
It is an amazing phenomenon to witness the world’s obsession with this small sliver of land called Israel. At the end of 2017, Israel could only boast an approximate population of 8.8 million. This is a miniscule .11% of the population of the world. About 75% of this population is Jewish. The actual size of the nation is barely larger than the tiny American State of New Jersey. The entire land area of the nation of Israel would fit inside my own American home State of Oregon 12 times! The actual area size of Israel is 8,019 square miles. The West Bank and Gaza Strip consist of about another 2,400 square miles of Israel’s present territory. How is it possible that such a small nation, with such a relative small population is the focus of such an inordinate percentage of world news?
How about the city of Jerusalem? At a metropolitan population of a little over 1.2 million, it is not a small city but when compared to today’s megalopolises, for instance Shanghai, China with its population of nearly 25 million, it is not all that significant. Jerusalem does not have a strategic harbor, it is not built on a river or any other important body of water. Jerusalem doesn’t even have its own international airport! Yet, this city has been fought over 16 times, destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times! What makes this ancient city such a target of controversy and a magnet for conflict? It truly is amazing, is it not? Let’s see what the Old Testament prophet Zechariah had to say about Jerusalem’s future:
…Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem, and it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” Zechariah 12: 1-3
Most of the world has no idea what this phenomenon is all about, and unfortunately, most of the Christian world hardly understands it—nor does it seem to care to. Yet, God has provided us an abundance of information in the Bible about it, even giving us His reason for providing it. Over 25% of the Bible has to do with foretelling the future our world and the human race, and from beginning to end, Bible prophecy centers around the tiny nation of Israel. We should have an interest in what God has to say about Israel and its people because all of human history is intertwined with it. Listen to what the Apostle Paul had to say about the times and seasons and the necessity for us to recognize these times and seasons for what they are:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day, We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Zechariah 12 passage we read is not a prophecy that concerns itself with all of Israel’s history, but rather one specified unique time in history, and that time slot happens to be this generation; our generation. Zechariah is describing a time when the world literally goes insane in its obsession with the Jewish people and the small piece of land that they once again, after having been scattered around the world for nearly 1,900 years, are allowed to call as their own. Israel has always had enemies, but it took no time at all—in fact, the very day of its independence, for the newly formed nation of Israel to be attacked once again by the surrounding nations!
Israel celebrated its independence on May 14, 1948. It was immediately after the announcement, that very evening, that there was an air attack on Tel Aviv by the Arabs. The infant nation managed to resist this air attack but it was followed with a ground attack by Arab armies from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, with Saudi Arabia sending a formation of soldiers to fight under the Egyptian army. Although the United Nations brokered two ceasefires, the fighting continued into 1949. This Unfortunately was only the beginning of a struggle with its neighbors that Israel has had ever since.
My purpose in this article is not to present an exhaustive study of the history of modern day Israel’s conflicts with its neighbors, as much as to show what the Bible has to say about what is currently unfolding with Israel in relation to those who have insisted on being their enemies. I will also offer some of my own personal thoughts on where I believe it is all likely to lead in the immediate days ahead.
The world has heard much concerning “the Palestinian issue.” One world leader after another has hoped to come up with a perfect peace plan that will finally bring the conflict to an end, but with no success. I find it interesting that with all of the expansive lands Arab nations around tiny Israel call their own, not one of Israel’s neighbors will allow the so-called Palestinians a place of permanent residency. There are large camps of Palestinians who have been living in refugee status, some for now longer than 60 years! The Baqaa refugee camp for instance is one of these and has 250,000 residents living in a half square mile of space! Even though they have been living within the Jordanian borders for all these years, they have never been allowed citizenship. I find this to be more than a little strange. It is suspicious.
Although we hear about the Palestinians nearly every day in Middle East news, who are they? Knowing who they are and where they come from is important to our understanding of this controversy. We should also understand what the Bible has to say about this people group and how it will affect how major events unfold in our immediate future.
This present conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis is Biblical proof that we are nearing the end of days. It was the Bible that foretold that the showdown between these two ethnic groups was to unfold in the last days. The conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians will be resolved, and it may begin with the soon unfolding regional mideast war. This conflict will not only involve the Palestinians but also Israel’s enemies on her borders..
So, who are the Palestinians? The short answer is they are the descendants of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob’s twin brother, Esau. They were called the Edomites. In truth, there are the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians of the West Bank, and the Palestinian Refugees. The three groups are comprised of a mixture of peoples who descend from various origins, only one of them being traceable back to Esau, father of the Edomites. According to the research included in an excellent resource book written by author Bill Salus, “Isralestine”, the Palestinians do not have a common historical lineage that specifically links them biologically to any distinct ethnicity, as the Jewish people do in their traceable common lineage to the biblical patriarchs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The genealogies of the Palestinian people can be traced back to the Edomites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Philistines, Sidonians, Ammonites, Moabites, Yemenites, Saudi Arabians, Moroccans, Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, and Muslims from Bosnia, as well as others. For more detailed research and information, I highly recommend Bill Salus’ book mentioned above.
A significant amount of Scripture has been written dealing with the ancient hatred that has raged throughout the centuries. The Bible also gives us the details of the conflict that will ultimately break out and how it will affect our generation. What exactly will be the one thing that finally pushes the Arab confederacy and Israel into a major middle east war is unknown; it could be something rather insignificant, but it will boil over from the ancient hatred that has continued now for thousands of years between the two sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, as well as between Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob.
Having watched the temperature of the mideast cauldron rise for years now, I am surprised that it has taken this long without boiling over. There are however signs today that forewarn us that there is not long to wait. The utter contempt spewed by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the leadership of Iran, as well as other Islamic entities, both the Arab and Persian versions, is not being concealed.
The threat to annihilate the Jewish State is written in Hebrew right on the sides of Iran’s missiles they use for long range tests. The terrorist organization Hezbollah,based in Lebanon, conservatively has at least 150,000 rockets or missiles aimed at Israel. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah claims that Hezbollah is today able to hit any location within the boundaries of Israel with his rockets. Israel’s military has confirmed this as fact.
Then, there is Hamas. The current leader of Hamas, Kahled Mashal, and his terrorist organization make no attempts to cloak their hatred for the Jewish State either. One only need look at a few of the latest videos or photos of the riots on the Israel/Gaza border, beginning on March 30, 2018, labeled the “Great March of Return” with 30,000 protesters/rioters to see the hatred for the Jewish nation. What has added even more gasoline to the fire is the American President’s declaration of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem.
What is adding yet more fuel to this ancient hatred is the passage of the very controversial “Jewish Nation-State Basic Law” in the Knesset on the early morning of the 19th of July this year. Many are saying that the passage of this law will prove as prophetically monumental as were May 15, 1948, the restoration of the Nation State-itself, and June 7, 1967, the restoration of the Nation State Capital. Now Israel has the Restoration of the Nation’s Biblical Identity.
As much as many would like to think that peace will be found without conflict, it will never happen. From one end of the world of Islam to the other, there are increasing threats of all-out war with Israel and its ultimate annihilation. For example, it was just this past mid-May that Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called for an Islamic world summit to unite against Israel and capture Jerusalem. Not long ago, Iran’s supreme leader, Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei described Israel as the cancerous tumor of the Mideast. Along with the rants, ravings, and bellowing bluster by the national Islamic leaders, there is the continuous terror inflicted on the Jewish people, not only in Israel but around the world. News sources site Palestinian arsonists arrested for setting fires in Jerusalem and other locations, Israeli police having to clear the Temple Mount after violent Palestinian rampages, dozens of fires a day started by Gaza Palestinians by means of balloon bombs, and countless senseless stabbings of innocent Jewish people. One recent stabbing was by a 17 year old youth who knifed a young 31 year old father to death, critically injuring another man in his 50’s, and injuring a third man who was armed and finally shot the attacker to death. The Palestinian terror group Hamas praised the attack, with the group’s spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou writing on Facebook: “Hamas blesses the heroic stabbing operation that was carried out in the Adam settlement, south of Ramallah. It is a natural response to the occupation’s crimes and an extension of our people’s ongoing intifada.”
An interesting fact found in Bible prophecy is that the Palestinian’s own allies will use them as pawns to ignite an all-out Mideast war against Israel, hoping to finally push them into the Mediterranean Sea. The animosity displayed toward the restoration of Israel by the Palestinians and praised by Arabs will not subside. It is deeply rooted and will inevitably bring about the major conflict described by Asaph the seer in the form of a prayer, in Psalm 83. Although there are a number of prophecy teachers that disagree with this mideast war still becoming a physical reality before the massive Gog/Magog war described in Ezekiel 38-39—either writing Psalm 83 off as a mere petition to God and not a description of a future conflict, or that the prayer in this Psalm has already been fulfilled via several historical conflicts since Israel’s independence, I believe this war is still to happen in real life, and very soon. I believe God was deliberate in the details He had his prophets write and some of these details written in Psalm 83 have to this date not yet been fulfilled.
Continued in Part Two