Israel's Revival - Sure Sign of Christ's Coming
Israel is more than a Jewish foothold in the Middle East, it is a Movement destined to have world shaking consequences, and affect the lives of every living person upon the globe.
World news constantly focuses the spotlight on the seething caldron of animosities, violence and bloodshed that repeatedly erupts in the Middle East.
It reveals an ominous record of antagonism that threatens to plunge the world into the most devastating war known to history. From the terrifying nature of the weapons of destruction today being stockpiled or "improved", it is obvious that a nuclear war could completely destroy civilization, and render the earth uninhabitable.
And the most critical point of impact is the Middle East.
From the time the Jews commenced to return to their ancient homeland at the invitation of the British following the proclamation of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, onwards to the occupation of Jerusalem by the Israelis in 1967, and since then, the Middle East has been in a state of constant international ferment.
These events fulfil Bible prophecy, enlivening the hopes of Bible students. They testify that the world is on the eve of the most dramatic event of all time: the personal, visible return of Christ in power and glory. At the same time, they also warn that the nations are rapidly moving towards World War III - and Armageddon.
And this presents a challenge. We can live in the present with hope or with fear. We can share the glory of Christ at his coming, or the terror of World War III.
Christ set that alternative before his followers. He told them that the last days will reveal "distress of nations with perplexity... men's hearts failing them for fear", but he told his followers that "when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:25-28).
Meanwhile, the world's future is inextricably bound up with the destiny of Israel.
That is obvious whether we heed the Bible or not! It is apparent from a consideration of present events; for they reveal that the future of Israel is a matter of major consequence in national policies. In addition, though Israel is a tiny nation of less than 4 million people, a mere drop in the bucket in comparison with the 4 billion people that make up the population of the globe, its future is of supreme importance in the purpose of God, and the future of humanity.
Israel is more than a Jewish foothold in the Middle East; it is a movement destined to have world shaking consequences, and to influence the future of every living person.
Why Is Israel Tolerated?
Meanwhile, the tiny nation of Israel is a bone of contention in world politics; presenting a problem that the major powers fear to solve. Consider the attitude of Russia. It has not hesitated to attack and invade nations that have stood in its path to world domination, yet it does not do so to Israel. Not yet! When Russia invaded Hungary, and brutally smashed its way through the cities of that unhappy nation, ruthlessly gunning down any who dared oppose it, the Western World protested, but did nothing more! When the Soviet ordered its forces into Afghanistan, callously bombing its towns and citizens without thought to human rights, a vigorous protest was made by the West, but no intervention to save it.
But the Middle East is treated differently. A "peace keeping force" is being mooted for the Sinai as a token of that. And whilst Russia continues to support its allies in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, supplying them with arms, it hesitates to physically intervene against Israel.
Because statesmen know that whereas invasion elsewhere might be tolerated, for the Soviet to attack Israel will mean war!
That is because of Israel's unique position, and the political importance of the Middle East to the modem world.
But the significant fact to Bible students is that the very conditions existing there today were predicted in the Bible 2500 years ago. Together with their outcome!
Israel Is Unique
Historically and prophetically, Israel is unique.
It is one of the oldest countries in the world - and one of the youngest!
It is the only country to have been reborn out of antiquity revived after a struggle as dramatic as those recorded in the Old Testament.
The Jews are the only people to have been scattered throughout the world, bitterly persecuted by most nations for over 2,000 years, and yet gathered together into a nation once again.
Israel's language (Hebrew) is the only speech to have been resurrected from a dead language to a living, virile, modern tongue.
It is one of the world's smallest nations: a strip of land so narrow that on most maps its name must be printed outside its borders. Yet it possesses more historic and religious sites of significance to the world than any other country.
Compressed into those narrow borders is a microcosm of the whole world, for the average Israeli, or his parent, have migrated from any of seventy different lands.
To live in Israel is like living in a pressure-cooker: it is always under tension; yet the nation continues to expand and develop more rapidly than other, larger countries.
It is a nation where the almost miraculous becomes the normal. When Joshua led the people of Israel into the Promised Land 3500 years ago, he had to battle against "seven nations greater and mightier" than they (Deuteronomy 7:1). When the modem State was formed in 1948, it also had to battle against seven nations "greater and mightier" than Israel at the time: Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, and Lebanon! The invading Arabs were supported by a population of 40,000,000 against 600,000 Jews in the Land. The Arabs were professional soldiers, better armed, and with far greater financial resources than the Israelis. Yet the latter won, and the State was formed.
Against great odds, it did so again in the Suez crisis of 1956, the Six Days War of 1967, the Yom Kippur war of 1973 - in spite of the most sophisticated weapons being supplied its enemies by Soviet Russia.
There is more than Jewish brains and muscles in this success. It was predicted by God and recorded in the Bible. Therefore, in Israel the world witnesses a modem miracle. The nation is here to stay, for its destiny is clearly marked out in Bible prophecy. Israel's revival is the great sign of Christ's return. As we shall show, it is also a prelude to Armageddon.
Apart from the Bible and the purpose of God, the existence of Israel in the modem world would be an anachronism: it just should not exist!
Why Israel Exists
Israel exists because God made a promise to Abraham, the progenitor of the Jewish people, and a man of great faith.
That promise forms part of the gospel. Paul declared (Galatians 3:8): "God preached before the gospel unto Abraham. . ." Hence, long before the first advent of the Lord, the gospel had been preached in the form of promises to the fathers of the Jewish race. Accordingly, Paul again wrote: "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Romans 15:8).
And the Lord Jesus taught a truth that must be an embarrassment to those religionists who claim that God has no future for the Jews as a people, for he told one who was in that category:
"Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).
Now among the promises made to Abraham was "I will make of thee a great nation" (Genesis 12:2). As a reward for his faith and obedience, God invited Abraham to survey the whole of the Middle East, declaring: "for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. . . Walk through the land, in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee" (Genesis 13:14-17).
This must relate to the future, for at present the facts are: (1) Israel is not a great nation; and (2) Abraham does not dwell in the land! A change in the status of the former, and the resurrection of the latter, are required before the promises can be fulfilled.
Can we be sure of such a future? Undoubtedly! God has not only given His word to Abraham, but supplied a witness verifying it, and guaranteeing what He has promised. The Jewish people constitute that witness, for God declared of Israel: "Ye are My witnesses that I am God" (Isaiah 43:12).
The Jewish people witness to the truth of God's Word because their very preservation as a people throughout the ages, and the current revival of the nation in the Holy Land are clearly God-designed and God-directed. Note the evidence proclaimed through Ezekiel the prophet:
"Say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for Mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned, whither ye went. And I will sanctify My great name, which was profaned among the nations.... and they shall know that I am the Lord... for I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land" (Ezekiel 36:22-24).
In that declaration, God stated that though the people of Israel would prove false to the trust imposed in them by Him, He would honor the word that He made to Abraham by restoring Israel as a nation in their ancient territory. The revival of Israel today is proof positive that His word can be relied upon.
This was the theme of Apostolic preaching. When the Lord was about to ascend into heaven, his Apostles asked him: "Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom unto Israel?" and he replied that it was "not for them to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath in His own power" (Acts 1:6-7).
He did not deny that the Kingdom would be given again to Israel, merely that the time was not then ripe!
Shortly afterwards he ascended into heaven. And as he did so, two angels addressed the Apostles with these thrilling words:
"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
The personal, visible return of Christ to reign on earth, and the restoration of Israel as proclaimed by the prophets, became the great theme of Apostolic preaching: basic doctrines upon which first century Christianity was established. So Peter preached:
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And He shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must receive UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-21).
The revival of Israel in the land today is preliminary to the restoration of those things spoken of by the prophets.
God's Purpose In Israel
When God brought the people out of Egypt, and entered into covenant relation with them at Sinai on the basis of His law, he constituted the Jewish people as "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). God Himself, was their heavenly King (judges 8:23), and they were His subjects. When kings on earth were appointed to reign on His behalf, they did so as His vice-regents under His direction. They are described in the Bible as being seated on "the throne of the Lord as king" (1 Chronicles 29:23). Therefore, of Solomon, the son of the illustrious king David, it is narrated:
"The Lord hath chosen Solomon... to sit upon THE THRONE OF THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD over Israel" (1 Chronicles 28:5).
But because the people were stubborn in their refusal to heed God's word, the enemies of Israel were permitted to gain the ascendancy over them, the nation was broken up, and they were scattered throughout the earth. The people had been warned:
"The Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other ... and among them nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind; and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life . . ." (Deuteronomy 28:64-66).
This prediction has had the most awful and literal fulfillment. The history of Israel for the past 2000 years is a record of persecution and suffering. Even today, widespread hatred of the Jews is evident throughout the world, dramatized in the way in which Arab terrorists and others wage unremitting warfare upon them. During the German oppression as directed by Hitler, some 5,800,000 Jews perished in the concentration camps of Germany. The Jews had turned their backs on God 1900 years ago, had demanded the crucifixion of His son declaring, "His blood be on us and on our children," and had so denied themselves the help that God could and would have given them had they turned to Him in truth.
In the swift procession of history, the memories of people are short-lived, and the suffering of Jews in Germany is largely forgotten. Consider, however, the following eye-witness account of what happened to them throughout Europe during the Nazi regime. Heinrich Himmler, head of Hitler's Gestapo, had a policy of genocide, and set out to exterminate the Jewish race, openly boasting of his intention of doing so. In a speech made at Pasha to his SS generals in October 1940, he laid out his plans for the attempt. During it he said:
"... The extermination of the Jewish race... is one of those things it is easy to talk about ... Most of you must know what it means when 100 corpses are lying side by side, or 500, or 1000 ... I have issued a strict order that the wealth should be as a matter of course, taken from them and handed over to the Reich without reserve."
An eye-witness of what took place told how he and his foremen heard of 1500 Jews being executed daily at Dubno. He described his experience:
"Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells, and waited for a sign from another S.S. man who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand ... At that moment the S.S. man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about 20 persons and instructed them to get behind the earth mound. Among them was a man and his wife with five children of about 1, 8, 10, and two grown-up daughters. I well remember a girl, slim and with black hair, who, as she passed close to me, pointed to herself and said, '23'. I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grove. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people shot were still moving ..."
It sickens one to read such accounts, but they do help to explain why the Jews in the Land refuse to be intimidated by terrorism or war. They demand the right to live, and their national independence provides the means of that. But though Israel will do all in its power to retain its hold on the land, the Bible foretells, and international politics today reveal that Israel will be subjected to a crisis instigated by Russia that will be beyond its ability to counter or overcome. It will erupt into what the prophets describe as "the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7). The latter-day "Jacob" will only be saved, as the prophet clearly shows, by divine intervention through Christ.
The same prophet declared:
"For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee; though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished" (Jeremiah 30:11).
Israel's history witnesses to the truth of that declaration. It was stated on the eve of their overthrow in B.C. 606 by the then mighty, but now defunct, empire of Babylon. Since then, every world power has dominated the Jew, and many nations, like Germany, have attempted to exterminate him. But in vain. The Jew has stood at the graveside of every persecutor. The words of God have proved true:
"All they that devour time shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey" (Jeremiah 30:16).
The prophet adds: "In the latter days ye shall consider it" (v. 24).
The "latter days" are upon us, and the things predicted relating to Israel and the world have come to pass, thoroughly vindicating God's word.
A Three-pronged Prophecy Today Fulfilling
The return of the Jews to their ancient homeland, the "latter day" revival of Israel, and the manner in which the ancient lands of the Bible are springing into life, not only fulfil Bible prophecy, but also herald the imminence of the most dramatic event of all time: the return of Christ.
These events are inextricably bound up together. The Bible declares: "When the Lord shall build up Zion (another name for Jerusalem from whence is derived the title Zionist) he shall appear in his glory" (Psalm 102:16). In context with that statement, reference is made to "the set time to favor Zion" (v. 13). The Apostle Paul adds this comment:
"If the casting away of them (the Jews) be the reconciling of the world (in that Gentiles can be reconciled to God through Christ) what shall the receiving (restoration) of them be, but LIFE FROM THE DEAD" (Romans 11:15).
Thus both Old and New Testaments point to the revival of Israel as the great sign of Christ's coming.
Consider the sequence supplied in the following prophetic statement:
"Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen (Heb. nations) whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all..." (Ezekiel 37:21-22).
This prophecy depicts three developments:
- The restoration of the people to their ancient territory.
- The revival of the nation.
- The establishment of a monarchy: one king shall be king to them all.
Two parts of that three-pronged prophecy have had partial fulfillment. It first predicts the restoration of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. In A.D. 70 the Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple. In A.D. 135, the Roman Emperor Hadrian destroyed the city itself, and changed its name to Aelia Capitolina, at the same time issuing a law prohibiting Jews ever to return to it!
With the fall of the Roman Empire in the East in 1453, Palestine (as the Land of Israel was then called) came under the control of the Moslems, and eventually was governed by Turkey. World War 1 (1914-18) saw Turkey join the Central Powers of Europe, and declare war on Great Britain. In 1917, under General Allenby, the British forces attacked Turkey from Egypt, and though other points of conflict were bitterly contested, Jerusalem fell without a shot being fired. The Balfour Declaration was proclaimed by the British Government in 1917, inviting the Jewish people to return, and establish a National Home in Palestine.
Thus World War I witnessed a partial fulfillment of this ancient prophecy.
In April 25, 1920, Britain was granted a Mandate from the League of Nations (the equivalent of the UN of today) to govern Palestine and implement this policy. Christadelphians rejoiced at the news. They not only recognized the event as a fulfillment of prophecy clearly recorded in the Bible, but a vindication of their interpretation of the prophets. One of their number, the late John Thomas, in a book entitled Elpis Israel, published in 1848, and still published today, wrote:
"There is, then, a partial and primary restoration of Jews before the manifestation of Christ, which is to serve as the nucleus, or basis of future operations in the restoration of the rest of the tribes after he has appeared in the kingdom. The pre-adventual colonization of Palestine will be on purely political principles; and the Jewish colonists will return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, and of the truth as it is in him. The will emigrate thither as agriculturists and traders, in the hope of ultimately establishing their commonwealth . . . under the efficient protection of the British power . . . but from the subjugation of the Jews for a short time after they have been colonized, the protection of the shadowing power (i.e. Britain) would seem to have been inefficient . . ." (Elpis Israel, p. 441,444).
In view of this anticipation of Christadelphians, it can he appreciated with what excitement the community viewed developments in the Land as the Jews commenced to return and "build up its waste places" as predicted (Amos 9:14).
World War I resulted in the first section of this three-pronged prophecy having token fulfillment.
The Nation Revived
But between World War I and World War II, the condition of Jews both in Palestine and in Europe worsened. In Palestine, the Arabs hardened in their attitude against the Jews; and in Europe, the Hitler regime proclaimed its policy of genocide against them. The Arabs rejected the concept of the Balfour Declaration, and waged unofficial war on the Jews and British; and the Jews retaliated in kind. Palestine became an arena of debate, tension and terrorism. Violence erupted on all sides, and all were guilty of foolish, and often cruel incidents.
But the Jews had nowhere else to go.
In Europe they were persecuted by the rising power of Nazi Germany, and they lived in uncertainty elsewhere. In spite of the turmoil of the Middle East, it was, at least, a home. They continued to return, until pressure was exerted on the British by the Arabs who controlled the increasingly important oil reservoirs of the world, until Jewish migration was reduced to a mere trickle.
So bitter became the opposition to Jews in Palestine under the British, so great was the hatred generated against them in other parts, so many were being executed in the gas chambers of Germany, that a solution had to be found. When, after World War II, Germany lay battered and bleeding through the aerial bombardment of the allies, and its concentration camps were opened so that the frightful atrocities experienced by the Jews were made public for the first time, world Jewry demanded that they be granted independence in their ancient homeland.
In 1947 their case was debated by the UN, and in a remarkable decision in which, for the first, and almost only time in history, the USA and USSR agreed on a common international policy, it was agreed that the Jews be granted nationhood in Palestine.
So, after 2500 years of exile, Israel again came into existence; and the second part of Ezekiel's prophecy had token fulfillment: "I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel".
World War II had resulted in the establishment of nationhood for the Jewish people.
Restoration Of The Monarchy
The final stage in the development predicted by the prophet is the restoration of the monarchy. The last king to reign upon the throne of David, described in Chronicles as the "throne of the Lord", was Zedekiah who was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He was told by Ezekiel the prophet that the throne would be overturned, "until he come whose right it is" (Ezekiel 21:27). Who is that? Who, but the Lord Jesus Christ concerning whom his mother was told by the angel:
"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33).
He is the king referred to by Ezekiel. And as two parts of this three-pronged prophecy has had token fulfillment, surely this is a guarantee that the third part will likewise be fulfilled: "One king shall be king unto them all".
That King is the one whom the Jewish people dragged before Pilate 1900 years ago, demanding "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked: "Shall I crucify your king?" They replied, "We have no king but Caesar" (see John 19:12-15). Under pressure, therefore, Pilate ordered the execution of Jesus Christ by the Roman method of crucifixion, and over his cross was placed the caption announcing the reason for such: JESUS OF NAZARETRH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
It is a remarkable fact of Bible narrative, that Jesus was both born and died as king of the Jews. At his birth there came wise men from the east inquiring: "Where is he that is born king of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2), and when he died he did so because his accusers challenged his teaching that he was appointed to rule (John 18:37; 19:12).
But he has never yet exercised that power nor been afforded that dignity!
Christ affirmed that he was appointed as king, and declared that he had come into the world to bear witness unto that truth (John 18:37). He spoke a parable unto the Apostles because they imagined that "the Kingdom of God should immediately appear" (Luke 19:1 1). In it he likened himself to a Nobleman who had to go into a far country (i.e. heaven) to receive for himself a Kingdom, "and to return" (v. 12). At his return, he would discipline and humble those who "hated him" and would not have him "to reign over them" (v. 14), and reward those of his servants who faithfully fulfilled his will.
Later, he predicted the impending overthrow of Jerusalem (fulfilled when the Romans destroyed the Temple in A.D.70), the scattering of the Jews into all parts of the earth, and their ultimate return to their ancient homeland.
"They (the Jews) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED" (Luke 21:24).
Christ thus taught that the Gentile domination of Jerusalem would be limited until the times of Gentile domination would be on the point of collapse.
That time is now as Psalm 102:16 clearly teaches.
It is an amazing fact, that though the nation of Israel was revived as a consequence of World War II, the UN did not grant Jerusalem to the Jews. It was to remain an International City belonging to neither Jews nor Arabs, but with access to both.
But in 1948, the Jordanians annexed Jerusalem, and then denied entrance to the city by the Jewish people.
For almost twenty years, from 1948 until 1967, Jews could not enter the old city of Jerusalem, even though it was their holy city, the center of their worship.
However, in 1967 an event of greatest significance occurred. Egypt invaded Israel, and the Six Day War broke out. In an amazing manner, one of the swiftest victories in history was won by the Jewish forces. In five days, Egyptian military might was shattered: its army defeated and dispersed, its airforce destroyed, and Israel was victorious. But then, Jordan, believing that Israel was weakened through the effort, and, that its main forces were far to the south, declared war. Israeli authorities appealed to King Hussein of Jordan not to do so, but in vain. The Jordanian army likewise suffered a disastrous defeat and Israel occupied the territory today described as the West Bank, ancient Samaria and Judea, including such cities as Nablus, Hebron, and JERUSALEM!
Christ's prophecy had been fulfilled!
The occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 indicated that "the times of the Gentiles" were about to be fulfilled, and that the world had entered the final stages leading to Christ's coming and Armageddon.
Such teaching is basic to both Old and New Testament Christianity; for the purpose of God is common to both. Accordingly, Paul wrote:
"I would not that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (or secret) . . . that blindness in part is happened to Israel, UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles be come In. And so Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer (Christ), and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they (the Jews) are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's (Abraham etc.) sakes" (Romans 11:23-28).
In these words, Paul predicted that the Jewish people would be blind to the true identity of Christ until "the fullness of the Gentiles come in", at which time, Christ will return, discipline, humble and convert the Jewish people.
Then will be fulfilled the final development in Ezekiel's three-pronged prophecy: "One king shall be king unto them all". Christ will, at last, be King of the Jews.
That third stage in the prophecy will also witness World War III Armageddon!
Observe the development: World War I witnessed the way opened for the Jews to return to their land; World War II brought the establishment of the State of Israel; World War III will introduce Christ to the world as the Victor of Armageddon.
We are therefore living in very significant times.
World War III
Christ's prediction concerning Jerusalem endorses other prophecies of the Bible. For example, the prophet Joel refers to the time when God will "bring again the captivity of Judah (the Jewish people) and Jerusalem (the city)", at which time He will also "gather all nations" to Jerusalem to battle (see Joel 3:1-2; Zechariah 14:1-2).
As we have stated, 1917 saw the people begin to return; 1967 saw the city freed from Gentile domination; and since then there has been a greater involvement of major powers in the future of the Middle East!
These prophecies are being remarkably vindicated.
Following the Egyptian-Israel Yom Kippur war in 1973, when the Arabs were defeated by Israel for the fourth time, they changed their tactics, and used oil as a weapon against the Jews. The impact of that has been adversely felt by the whole world both economically and commercially. As nations have become more and more hungry for oil, so the importance of the Middle East has increased.
This has proved to be an economically good thing for the previously impoverished Arab nations, but politically it has become a most explosive problem.
If any one of the major powers dominated the area, it could hold the rest of the world, and particularly Europe, to ransom!
And Bible prophecy shows that Russia will attempt to dominate the Middle East, in order to control the world.
Russia's actions will trigger World War III: the conflict that will introduce Christ to the world.
World statesmen are predicting that today; the Bible did so 2500 years ago!
Ezekiel warned of an invasion of the land of Israel "in the latter days" by a power "from the uttermost parts of the north" (Ezekiel 38:15-16 RV) to "take a spoil and to take a prey". This power is described as "Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal" (v. 2).
These are ancient territories familiar to Ezekiel but which no longer appear on the world's atlas under those titles. Magog is ancient Scythia, but the Scythians, according to The Pelican Atlas of Ancient History, migrated to eastern Germany, which Russia dominates today. The word "chief" in Hebrew is a proper noun, and should be rendered as Ros as it is in the Revised Version of the Bible. Ros was the ancient name for Russia. Hence the prophecy refers to a time when Russia would dominate eastern Germany as it does today. Meshech and Tubal can be identified with Moscow and Tobolski, major cities of the U.S.S.R.
Ezekiel's prophecy, therefore, predicts an invasion of the Middle East by Russia in the latter days, at a time when "the people of Israel" occupy the land (see v. 16). That is the great threat to world peace today.
When President Reagan appealed to the Senators of US to agree to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, according to Time Magazine (21/11/1981), he was mindful of such Biblical prophecies:
"Reagan tried religion. Said Democrat H.Heflin of Alabama: 'We talked about the fact that the Middle East, according to the Bible, would be the place where Armageddon would start. The President interprets the Bible to mean that at Armageddon, Russia is going to become involved in it'."
Ezekiel refers to "the people of Israel" in "the latter days" - and prior to 1948 Israel was not a geographical or national term! It had not been used as such for 2500 years! The prophecy therefore requires application to events subsequent to 1948.
The prophecy further describes the condition of the people of Israel as living in "unwalled villages" (kibbutzim or rural settlements - v. 11), as "gathered out of many people", and occupying lands that "have been always waste", but to which a measure of fertility has been restored (v. 8).
The restoration of the people, revival of the nation, transformation of the land, and increasing interest of nations in its future have been brought about since 1917. In these things we witness the fulfillment of Bible prophecy announcing the imminence of Christ's return.
The Middle East Peace Keeping Force
At present, USA is proposing a peace-keeping force to implement the Camp David Peace Accord between Israel and Egypt. Significantly, Ezekiel 38 refers to such a force. It predicts that "Sheba, Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof" shall protest at the Russian invasion of the Middle East asking: "Art thou come to take a spoil? Hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey?" (v. 13).
The powers referred to have been identified with Arab nations and the English speaking world. The symbol of the Lion, and the designation of "merchants" have long been associated with Britain and those nations that have sprung from her.
We do not suggest that the peace-keeping force organized by America is that which is referred to in Ezekiel, but the current proposal certainly does show that such an attack on the part of Russia as predicted by Ezekiel would be resisted by the English speaking world and its allies which is what the prophet declares.
Here, again, world events conform to the predictions of Bible prophecy.
The attack of Russia will not succeed. Not because of the protest of the West, nor any military action that it might take, but because Christ will intervene. Zechariah declares: "The Lord shall go forth and fight against those nations as when he fought in the day of battle" (Zechariah 14:3). This demands Christ's return.
The Camp David Peace Accord
The prophecy of Daniel 11:40-45 conforms to that of Ezekiel. He describes how that the power from the north will sweep through the Middle East in a lightning attack against Egypt with Libya and Ethiopia as his supporters (Daniel 11:43), and so "the land of Egypt shall not escape".
This prophecy shows that "at the time of the end" Russia will attack Egypt. That is the reason why, in the days of President Nasser, when Egypt was in close alliance with Russia, we published our conviction that Egypt's policy must change in that regard, and turning from Russia she must tie in her lot with the West.
That has since come to pass under the reign of the late President Sadat.
Gradually the Middle East, and the whole world, is politically conforming to the requirements of Bible prophecy. That is obvious to those who clearly recognize the facts of both. Therefore, whilst the world might be fearful and afraid of current developments, those who understand the significance of Bible prophecy can look upon the scene with hope. Christ declared: "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).
For it will not be the West that will turn Russia back and destroy the spirit of militarism that sweeps through the world today, but Christ. Prior to the battle of Armageddon he will return, to raise from the dead and to reward with eternal life, those who have known and obeyed his will. Daniel, in predicting the events relating to the time of the end, also speaks of the return of Christ, and declares:
"At that time thy people shall be delivered every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:1-2).
Christ will return for that purpose. The world needs his strong, infallible, guiding hands; the signs of the times proclaim the imminence of his coming. He will return personally and visibly to this earth, to set up God's kingdom, and to reign from Jerusalem over a world at peace. Consider the evidence of the following Scriptures. Analyze them in the light of your own hope:
CHRIST'S COMING: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye (Apostles) have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
THE METROPOLIS OF HIS RULE: "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart" (Jeremiah 3:17).
THE NATURE OF THE KINGDOM HE WILL ESTABLISH ON EARTH: "The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).
THE EFFECT OF HIS RULE: "It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains (i.e. at Jerusalem) . . and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:24).
Christ will intervene at Armageddon to establish his power in the earth. He will make Jerusalem the metropolis of his rule, and his power will extend to all nations. With almighty power he will compel nations to submit to his authority; and with divine wisdom he will legislate for their benefit. Instead of war there will be peace.
That is the clear purpose of God as taught in the Bible. But will it happen? That is what many wonder. It seems so unreal that Christ will return to this earth, and mighty nations like Russia will be compelled to submit to his authority. As they see the world given over to every form of wickedness today, with God and His word rejected, they are doubtful that any such change as is suggested in the references above is possible.
In Jeremiah 33:2-26, God issues a challenge to humanity. He declares that if anybody can break His covenant with the day and the night that there should not be day and night in their season, "then they may be able to break His covenant with His people of Israel to restore them in the land." That miracle is happening today. And God declared that it would come to pass, not because the Jews are deserving of any special treatment, but "for My holy Name's sake". He made an unconditional promise to Abraham, and will fulfil it; because His word is true and people can trust it to the uttermost.
He will establish his Kingdom on earth, and establish peace in the earth. Moreover, if death intervenes before his coming, he will raise from the dead and reward with eternal life those who have lived according to his will (Romans 2:6-8).
The restoration of Israel is a guarantee of that!
What does one have to do to inherit eternal life? Christ commissioned his Apostles:
"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel, he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).
Personal salvation requires effort on our part. We must put ourselves in the Way of Truth, for it is the way to life eternal (Romans 1:16). And we must obey the principles set down in the Word. The three steps to salvation are: Belief, Baptism, Obedience.
The purpose of this booklet is to enliven you to the times in which you are living; to bring home to you that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before your eyes; to assist you, if we may, to a better understanding of God's glorious purpose.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please email the site administrator.