. The Middle East Crisis (Part 2)

THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS FROM A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE (PART 2)

Last week we had lesson one on the Middle East Crisis.

 

In my first Point ….I SPOKE PARTICULARLY ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE THAT IS BEING FOUGHT BETWEEN: The DESCENDENTS OF ISHMAEL, THE MAJORITY WHO ARE ISLAMICS AND WORSHIP A GOD CALLED ALLAH …AND THE DESCENDENTS OF ISAAC …THE JEWS … WHO WORSHIP JEHOVAH GOD. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME GOD …I ALSO TOUCHED BRIEFLY ON THE PERSECUTION OF THE JEWS….

I ASKED THE QUESTION; WHO ARE THE PALESTINIANS? AND LASTLY I LOOKED AT THE BIBLICAL BOUNDARIES OF THE PROMISED LAND.

 

So let’s get started.

Today we will consider:

 

  1. The results of Israel’s disobedience to Jehovah God.
  2. The persecution in more detail.
  3. The prophesies regarding their return.

 

Let’s start then by taking a look at a further element that we must never ignore when we look at the Nation of Israel.  Even though they are God’s chosen people, God’s covenant people; God’s covenant involves responsibility and obedience…

Let’s look back in time, and see that during the dedication of the Temple that Solomon built…God warned His people: “If you turn and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other God’s, and worship them, then I will uproot them (the Jews) from My land which I have given them; and this house (the Temple) which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples” 2 Chron 7: 19-20

 

NOTICE: In Solomon’s time God warns them. Then they persist in disobedience and God’s judgement came: In Jeremiah 9: 13-16 God says: “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the BAALS. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles”

 

Let’s continue to look back in history, and we will see how the Israelite’s disobedience has brought defeat after defeat / calamity upon calamity. It was already evident just after the reign of King Solomon when the Kingdom was divided in two. The Northern Kingdom known as the Kingdom of Israel with Samaria as its capital and the Southern Kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its Capital. Notice that just before the Northern Kingdom was conquered in 722 BC by the Assyrians… The Prophet Hosea said:“  Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing and lying, and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. (Hosea 4 : 1-3)

“My God will reject them because they have not obeyed Him; they will be wanderers among the nations” (Hosea 9 : 17)

 

Friends, the Assyrians conquered the North in 722 BC and that was just the beginning of many times of exile for the Jews. In 597 BC the Babylonians Captured the Southern Kingdom of Judah. First Exile to Babylon. Ten Years later the City of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. And the second exile to Babylon took place. Although… we must be clear on this, there was a continued presence of Jews in the Holy Land by those not taken into captivity.

 

After 50 years in Exile, God allowed about 50.000 to return to Jerusalem, that’s when the Temple was rebuilt. BUT---- despite God’s warnings through His prophets, the majority of the Jews still persisted in their disobedience and so God allowed them to be conquered and ruled by the Greeks for 165 years / Then the Romans became the ruling world power, around 63 BC and during their reign the Messiah was born.

 

And let me tell you, there are dozens of prophesies regarding His coming, yet the majority of Jewish people persisted in sinful living and denial of His reality. The Bible says…He came to His own… but they received Him not …” Folks it’s no wonder that in the year 70 AD the Lord allowed His Temple to be totally destroyed and also allowed His people to be scattered to the four corners of the earth.

 

Since that time … 70 AD … THE JEWS SUFFERED WITH NO OFFICIALLY RECOGNISED HOMELAND.

 

They were hunted down, tortured, persecuted and murdered … for centuries. By the Romans / the Mamluks of Egypt / The Ottoman Turks / Even by the Christian Church of Rome. We don’t often speak much of the dark ages of Church history. But the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades (and in particular the Knights Templar’s) and the pogroms of Russia, all cry out of the sinfulness of a Church bent on the destruction of the Jews.

During the Spanish inquisition 323.000 Jews were burnt to death. “Kill a Jew and save your soul” was the cry of the Crusader. The theologian Martin Luther wrote that Jewish synagogues were to be burnt and their home’s destroyed. Even closer to our time … there have been the pogroms of Russia and perhaps the most heart rending event in living memory, the gas chambers and murder of 6.000.000 Jews of the Holocaust. I read earlier from Jeremiah … Repeat. In Jeremiah 9: 13-16 God says: “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the BAALS.. I will scatter them also among the Gentiles”

 

History shows that God did just that …And so we could be forgiven for thinking that the Jews brought all this upon themselves, and that God had given them a chance and they had blown it. Some people may even want to argue that all these other nations and the persecutions were nothing less than instruments in God’s hands to punish Israel’s wickedness…it may be true to a degree, BUT THINKING THAT WAY IGNORES THE FACT THAT GOD MADE A COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM … AND GOD ALSO MADE OTHER PROMISES AFTER THE ONE I JUST READ. THE BIBLE ALSO SAYS : “For behold the days are coming says the Lord that I will bring back my people “ Jer. 30:3

 

“Fear not for I have redeemed you…I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east and gather you from the west; I will say to the North, “give them up! And to the south, do not keep them back! (Isa. 43:1, 5-6)

 

I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” Ezek. 11: 17

 

Certainly God brought back His people from the Babylonian Exile, but we can ask the question; was this the return prophesied by Isaiah or Ezekiel? And I ask this simply because that was not a scattering of the nation to the four corners of the earth. The Great Diaspora took place AFTER 69-70 AD.. The return as prophesied by the OT prophets  STARTED happening during the British Mandate between 1917 …1948. The land was given back in 1948 …All according to prophesy …

 

So let’s get to the last point…

Prophesy regarding the rebirth of Israel …

 

Now we need to remember that we looked at the centuries following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 and the great dispersion that also resulted in unimaginable persecution of the Jews. Keep in mind though, that during all those centuries … there was always a Jewish presence in Jerusalem and that Jerusalem was never in that time the Capital City of any of the conquerors.

 

Let me take you back to Exodus 15 :17 … Immediately after the crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaohs army, the Israelites began singing praises to Jehovah and in this song a remarkable prophesy is found…“You will bring them in and plant them on the Mountain of your inheritance. The place, O Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. The Lord will reign for ever and ever…. AMAZING … Because this was before the Israelites knew where God intended taking them and before the 40 years of wandering in the desert. Before the tabernacle, before the Ark of the COVENANT, before the establishment of Jerusalem as the Capital of the Nation, and nearly five hundred years before the Temple was built, God already knew WHAT would take place …

 

Further notice, God also declared He would reside there forever. In the same way, (through various prophesies) God also promised that after all their years of exile and persecution the Hebrews would be returned to the country THAT GOD GAVE TO THEM….

 

The prophet Zechariah in Chapter 2:12 says: “The Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem” Perhaps I need to say something more here: The Judah, spoken of here is the Southern Kingdom of the Nation of Israel. The name Judah was also the basis for the name used by the Maccabees and Romans, when they became the rulers around 167 BC.

So when the Romans ruled, the area occupied by the Jews was known as a province of Rome, called Judea. And interesting enough, this was FURTHER changed in about 135 AD by the Emperor Hadrian; He wanted to shame and insult the Jews after their AD 70 massacre, defeat and dispersion so he renamed the Holy Land, calling it Syria-Palestina. From which emerged the common name: Palestine. Which literally means.. LAND OF THE PHILISTINES…

 

And of further importance the Philistines were not as the Islamic’s claim, Arab peoples. All scientific and anthropologically supported studies show that the Philistines were descendants of the Greek peoples who were not the Arabs.  So even the claims that the Arabs occupied the area of Gaza before the Israelites is nothing more than a fabrication and a lie, sadly, most of the world, and even many Christians believe it.

 

But I must get back to the point of prophesy. Zecharia goes on in Chapter 8 : 3 and says:

“Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The mountain of the Lord of Hosts. The Holy Mountain….”

 

FOLKS… PROPHESY AFTER PROPHESY SAYS God will bring His people back. Even after God’s Land Covenant and warning of the diaspora in Deuteronomy. He also prophesied their  return … Listen to Deut. 30…the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you; Then the Lord the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your father’s possessed, and you shall possess it.

 

The Prophet Isaiah who had prophesied the return of the Babalonian exiles, also prophesied a second gathering that would herald the Messianic age:  Isaiah 11: 11-12 says: “It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left. He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

 

Two full chapters ….Chapters 36 and 37 of Ezekiel are devoted to the subject of the restoration of Israel …And on and on in Hosea…Isaiah…Jeremiah…and Amos …

 

Were these prophesies fulfilled?

No doubt about it: Around about 1880 (God raised up) a man who came to be called Eliezer Ben Gurion who started a movement to reach the millions of Jews who were scattered around the world. He knew that for eighteen hundred years his people had had a God given passion to return to the Promised Land. So started the slow trickle of Jews, from many countries, returning to their ancestral home. This trickle increased during the British mandate of Palestine which started in 1917. When approximately 600.000 returned. And this led to an agricultural miracle …  Folks … during the centuries of occupation by other nations, the Holy Land was unfruitful and was described by travelers of that time as desolate and abandoned.

 

BUT LISTEN TO EZEKIEL: 36:8-10 ; 34-35 “But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for My people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favour; you will be ploughed and sowed, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt; The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say,’This land that was laid to waste has become like the Garden of Eden. The cities that were lying in ruins desolate and destroyed are now fortified and inhabited.”

 

FOLKS-This prophesy was being fulfilled by the miraculous transformation of the land in the 1920’s ….‘30’s …and 40’s  And even continues today. Why … did the desolation change to new life for the fruit of the Land? Firstly because God prophesied that it would and … Secondly because only true love for a possession or item under anyone’s care will respond.  The tragedy is that the world ignores Ezekiel’s prophecies that are amazing beyond compare.

 

They pinpoint an exact time, place, and precise historic conditions of a future world catastrophe.

 

Ezekiel names the peoples and nations involved in an intricate convergence of history. And he predicted all these things more than 2600 years ago. Ezekiel chapters 36 through 39 contain one of the most amazing series of prophecies in the Bible.  In chapters 36 through 38, Ezekiel foresaw the following events. And remember, this must be seen from Ezekiel’s perspective of 7th Century BC.

 

  1. The Israelites would be driven from their land for a very long period of time
  2. The Israelites would survive as a distinct people
  3. Their land would be confiscated by the surrounding nations
  4. These nations would be descended from Esau and  Ishmael
  5. These peoples would have a perpetual hatred of the Israelites
  6. The land of Israel would become an utter desolation and not respond to the agricultural efforts of the usurpers
  7. Against all odds, the Israelites would return and become a nation
  8. The land would miraculously respond to them and flourish
  9. The Arab nations would conduct an unending war against the Israelites
  10. Israel would survive all assaults and prosper
  11. This will finally provoke a confederation of the Russians and a Persian led Confederacy of all the surrounding Muslim nations to DESTROY Israel.

 

Most important to this prophesy is WHEN if would take place. Ezekiel carefully pinpoints the time:   “After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8 NAS)

 

Note that when Ezekiel made this prediction,

1.    Israel had not been scattered throughout all nations.

2.    Its land had not been reduced to “a continual waste”.

3.    Its people had not been brought back to the land from a very long worldwide dispersion.

4.   It was not “the last days.”

5.   And Israel by no means was restored to the land to dwell securely.

 

Historically, this can only apply to the events that began to take place in the early 20th Century and culminated with the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948.  Moses first predicted that this would happen. He predicted that this would occur after the second destruction of the nation. The first was the Babylonian Holocaust. The Second was the Roman Holocaust of Titus and the Roman Tenth Legion in AD70. Moses predicted both the Babylonian and the Roman dispersion.

 

About the second destruction, Moses forewarned,

 

“Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, `Would that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, `Would that it were morning!' because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see.” (Deuteronomy 28:64-67 NAS)

 

All of this is assumed by Ezekiel’s prophesies in chapters 36-39. One of the most amazing wonders concerning the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is that they could remain a distinct people in spite of the centuries of exile and relentless persecution.  Ezekiel clearly predicts that God would scatter them among all nations, “Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands.  According to their ways and their deeds I judged them.” Yet he predicts that in the latter days God would gather them from all nations, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24 NAS)

 

Ezekiel forewarns the surrounding nations of the Arab people who confiscated HIS Land; “Therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God. Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the forsaken cities which have become a prey and a derision to the rest of the nations which are round about, therefore thus says the Lord God,  ’Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all EDOM, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and with scorn of soul, to drive it out for a prey.” (Ezekiel 36:43-5 NAS)

 

Ezekiel forewarns the Arab people of the last days who would confiscate Israel’s land;

 

“Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two lands (Israel and Judah) will be mine, and we will possess them,’ although the Lord was there, ‘therefore as I live,’ declares the Lord God, ‘I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them; so I will make Myself known among them when I judge you.’” Ezekiel 35:10-11 NAS)

 

The whole world has been drawn into this ancient conflict. No one has been able to resolve it because of the supernatural hatred that has been enshrined in the Muslim religion toward Jews. When Ezekiel made these predictions, Israel was not an utter desolation. But he foresaw the terrible desolation that would come upon the land during the centuries the Israelites would be scattered among the nations. Ezekiel refers to this desolation when he predicts Israel’s restoration to the land;

 

“After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel WHICH HAD BEEN A CONTINUAL WASTE; but its people were brought out from the nation …” (Ezekiel 38:8)

Samuel Clement, or Mark Twain, said of Israel while touring there in 1867; “... [It is a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent mournful expanse ... A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action … ... We never saw a human being on the whole route … There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.” (From his book, Innocents Abroad)

 

This was the condition of the land until the Jews began to return around the end of the 19th century. When the British Christians began to argue for what became the ‘Balfour Declaration’, they argued for returning the Jews to Palestine by saying, “A people without a land for a land without a people.” That is how desolate and barren it was. Ezekiel predicted that the Israelites would miraculously begin to return and become a nation again in the last days. God made it clear that He would do this despite the fact that the Israelites did not deserve it. God said He would do this for His great name’s sake. He swore an oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He would establish David’s Throne and kingdom on earth. So His Word is at stake.

 

This is why God said,

 

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:22-28)

 

But let me get to the final prophesies regarding the re-birth of Israel; Friends after all those centuries of exile after all the pogroms……after all the wars …after all the anti-Semitism……after 6.000.000 murders in Nazi Death Camps; On the 14th May 1948 a miracle happened and a further prophesy was fulfilled: The following statement was broadcast across the world, by David Ben Gurion: “By virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish people and of the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, we hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called “Medinat Yisrael” the State of Israel.” Brothers and sisters, this was surely the fulfilment of an event that Isaiah spoke of 2500 years ago when he said in Ch. 66:8 “Who has ever heard of such a thing Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day, Or a nation brought forth in a moment?”

David Ben Gurion concluded his speech with a plea to the Arabs and I quote: We extend our hand in peace and neighbourliness to all the neighbouring states…”

 

THE FOLLOWING DAY THE NEWLY FORMED, AND LEGALLY RECOGNISED STATE …WAS ATTACKED FROM ALL SIDES BY FORCES FROM: Egypt…Syria…Iraq …Lebanon…and Jordan.

 

Since then there have been Seven Major wars waged against Israel…Thousands of attempts to eradicate the Jews have taken place. Dozens of suicide bombers have died in the name of Islamic fanaticism; and thousands of God’s people have died in these attacks… The Crisis in Gaza today … is another attempt by the Arab nations, to undo what God has promised and what God has fulfilled …

 

At the moment of preparation (Tues. 5 August) there is a partial peace, a 72 hour truce … a cessation of war. But friends, no cease fire or peace deals will ever last. There will be that final battle the final battle of Good over Evil….

 

The Battle of Armageddon …This isn’t fiction, it is scriptural truth. And what is happening in the Middle East is mild compared to what is still to come, and it is closer now than it ever was.

In the mean time I hope that these insights have been sufficient to make many of us think twice before we willingly and consciously ignore God’s word. When He says He will curse or destroy or punish evil doers, He does it. When He says He will bless people He also means it.

 

We would (I believe) be in serious error when we side with those who are against God and His chosen. I and my wife have chosen to stand for Israel / The Jews and in so doing bless them. Our decision is based on the Word of God and not on the Worlds opinion.

 

You and I need to choose carefully how we live and what we believe!!  SHALOM.

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Logos Community Church:- 17 August 2014