PATHWAYS TO ARMEGEDDON, AND BEYOND

 

CHAPTER 7

THE ISRAELI PATHWAY

(News event “Milestones” through 7/2002)

 

The Pathway of Israel is truly the highway of  all biblical prophecy.  It is to Israel that God made His promises to all mankind and though Israel that key prophecies are fulfilled.  Two cornerstone promises made to all mankind are:  the promise to provide the Messiah, and the hope of His Kingdom of peace.

 

Firstly, God chose the people of Israel to carry the lineage of the Messiah.  When God chose Abram, He promised that through him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed".  That promise, that blessing is that through a son of Israel -- the Messiah -- reconciliation and peace with God would be made available to all mankind.  Secondly, God chose the Land of Israel to fulfil the promise of the Kingdom.  Israel is a tract of Land and Jerusalem is a city which God has reserved for Himself.  Soon, Jerusalem will become the capital of the Messianic Kingdom.  God is united with both His Land and His People in a mystical bond.  When Israel is faithful to Him, He has assured her union with the Land.  When Israel has been disobedient, that bond has been broken and she has lived in exile as punishment.

 

The enemies of God have tried to both usurp or preclude the fulfillment of these promises. Usurpers who have tried to fulfill the promises on their own have been called "anti-christs".  The word 'antichrist' does not mean “against Christ” as one might think, but rather 'instead of Christ'.  History is replete with a long line of men who have tried to set up a Millennial Kingdom and bring the world to heel.  Shortly, the Prince Who is to Come, will be the next major “anti-christ” and appear to be the world’s best and only hope.  Other enemies have tried to preclude God’s fulfillment of his promises.  Jewish history is full of attempts by satanically driven evil men to massacre the Jewish people, eliminate the Messiah, and separate the Jewish people from the Land.  They have always failed, God will prevail.

 

Today, we see Israel's bond with the Land being negotiated away by some and openly questioned by others.  Once again her enemies are trying to separate God's People from His Land.  Let's look at this long history of territorial struggle. 

 

WARNING: This chapter is exceptionally rich with historical context (read: ‘long’).  Please bear with me, for without a deeper understanding of Jewish history, it is impossible to put the insanity of our time into context.

 

THE CORNERSTONE OF THE ISRAELI PATHWAY:

ISRAEL'S DEED TO THE KINGDOM -- ERETZ YISRAEL

 

Today, the only nation whose sovereignty is seriously questioned in the world community is Israel.  An yet, Israel is the only nation on the face of this planet whose deed to the land sits on your bookshelf!  Israel's deed to the Land of Israel is found in the book of Genesis.

 

That book begins with the record of the creation of the universe, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."   Out of that vast universe, on the tiny water planet called earth, He selected a tract of land for Himself, Eretz Yisrael -- the Land of Israel.  Within that Land, He would select a City for Himself -- Jerusalem.  The Creator populated that tiny planet with a life-form modeled after Himself -- mankind.  From that species, He chose and directed a lineage of men who would, through their progeny, fulfill His promise of a Messiah.

 

To one of those "chosen" men on this path of promise, He deeded the Land which He had reserved for Himself -- that man was Abram, later called "Abraham".  In Genesis 12, God told Abram that he would carry the lineage of promise.  God then commanded Abram to leave his home in Ur (modern Iraq), and to follow Him.  This obedient man of faith was then lead to the land of Canaan (modern Israel).  Thus began the bond between the People of Israel and the Land of Israel.

 

Once in Canaan, Abram was told that he and his descendants would possess that land.  The Abrahamic family was deeded the vast tract of land from "the river of Egypt" to "the river Euphrates".  When Abram asked for assurance that this would actually come to pass, we are told in Genesis 15, that God entered into a blood covenant.  A blood covenant is an ancient ritual whereby those who are guaranteeing a contract cleave animals in two, and then pass between the halves of the carcasses.  The purpose was to visually emphasize what would happen to either guarantor if they broke the covenant.  It is interesting to note that after the animals were cleft, only God passed between the carcasses.  Therefore, with this act, God unconditionally deeded to Abram and his descendants not only His Land, but the entire "Fertile Crescent" and guaranteed it by nothing less than His own eternal life.  This deed was not a shabby "99 year lease", it was a perpetual contract.  We are told in Genesis 17:7-8 that this was an "everlasting covenant" and Canaan would be an "everlasting possession" -- terms any real estate developer could envy.

 

If both the Arabs and Israelis both descend from Abraham, who legally inherited this real estate fortune?  This question is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict today, for Abraham had eight sons.  His first son, Ishmael, was born to his wife's Egyptian maid.  Ishmael later became the father of twelve Arab tribes.  Fourteen years after the birth of Ishmael, his second son Isaac was born to his wife, Sarah.  Isaac later became the grandfather of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Abraham had six more sons by another concubine named Keturah, who later became his wife after the death of Sarah: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 

 

Under Hebrew inheritance law, a firstborn son received a 'double portion' or two thirds of the father's property.  Some believe that the sons of Ishmael are therefore entitled to two thirds of Israel's land.  However, by law inheritance rights applied only to the sons of LEGAL wives.  The sons of concubines, did not participate in the division of inherited property, but were given "presents". 

 

While the distribution of Abraham's property followed this legal formula exactly, his "will" did not make it to probate court.  While he was still alive, he distributed his property himself.  He gave all that he had to his only "legal" son, Isaac.1  He then gave gifts to his remaining seven sons and sent them away from Isaac to the land of the "east".  Ishmael and his sons, of whom there were 12, settled from Havilah (the Gulf Oil Emirates) to Shur (northern Sinai) "in defiance of all his relatives."2  Thus the "Arab" branch of Abraham's family was separated from the land of Israel and the sons of Isaac.  This nullifies any "ancient" Arab claims to the land of Israel.

 

God did not leave His inheritors to "chance", but actively directed their selection.  Even before Isaac was born, God confirmed that he would be the inheritor of God's promises and covenants.3  Isaac later became the father of twin sons -- Esau and Jacob.  While they were still in the womb, God told their mother, Rebekah, that her firstborn son would serve the younger.  When the two young men were grown, Esau sold his "birthright" to his younger brother, thus legally transferring his inheritance as firstborn to Jacob.  Isaac preferred Esau, and ignoring this "purchase", he intended to bestow upon him his full inheritance before he died.  Through guile, Jacob was able to secure that which was legally his -- his inheritance as firstborn and his father's blessing.  Thus through Jacob, Israel's right to the Land superseded the claims of Esau -- father of the Edomites, one of modern Jordan's tribes.

 

Jacob, whose name was changed by God to "Israel", became the father of twelve sons -- thus began the twelve tribes of Israel.  These twelve titleholders of Canaan were forced to flee their land holdings due to a famine.  Initially, they found refuge in the land of Egypt.  Unfortunately, their descendants would serve the next four hundred years in Egyptian slavery.  Moses and Joshua were raised up by God.  They led the sons of Israel out of slavery and into the promised land of Canaan.

 

Thus, from the beginning of time, the Land of Israel has been reserved by it's Creator for Himself and His "chosen" inheritors.  Those whom He has "chosen" are the sons of Israel.  "Eretz Yisrael" is the eternal possession of Israel, whether they are "in residence" or not.  For as we will see, the four hundred years of Egyptian servitude was not the last time that the sons of Israel would be driven from their property.

 

2500 YEARS ON THE RUN

 

When Israel has occupied her inheritance, her neighboring "cousins" have continuously harassed and attacked her.  Twice, defeats in battle have forcibly removed Israel from the Land.  Both times, these expulsions were punishments from her God.  Perhaps this breaking of the bond between His People and His Land, is God's way of shaking Israel to her spiritual senses.  The first expulsion was at the hands of the Babylonians, the second was at the hands of Rome.

 

Babylonian Captivity:

Prior to her fall to the armies of Babylon, Israel was given one last chance to mend her ways.  In Jeremiah 7, God charged Israel with: a prejudicial justice system, mistreatment of the helpless, murder of the innocent, and idolatry.  Had she listened to God's faithful prophets, she would have been spared, and would have remained united to her Land: 

"Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. ... For if you truly amend your ways and your deed, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever." Jeremiah 7:3,5-7

 

Instead of mending her ways, Israel chose to listen to her false prophets who predicted peace.  They could not believe that God would allow His own Temple to be destroyed.  But God preferred that His Temple be destroyed by His enemies, than be defiled by His friends.  Jeremiah 7 describes the nature of this defilement:  entire families were participating in the worship of a goddess, they put objects of foreign gods in the Temple of the Lord, and they set up altars to a foreign god and there sacrificed their children.

""Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out libations to other gods in order to spite Me. ... For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight," declares the Lord, "they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it.  And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command and it did not come into My Mind. Therefore, behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when it will no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of the Slaughter, for they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place.  And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the sky, and for the beasts of the earth; and no one will frighten them away. Then I will make to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land will become a ruin.""  Jeremiah 7:17,30-34

 

Thus, acting on bad advice from the false prophets in his court, King Jehoiakim, became embroiled in a war between Egypt and Babylon.  His two successors continued his doomed pro-Egyptian policies and revolted against Babylon.  By January of 588 BC, Babylon sent its armies into Judah to deal with this rebellious people once and for all.  For ten years, Babylon had granted Judah some degree of sovereignty and did not look kindly upon this Judean "treachery" -- she was "baited for bear".  Stronghold after stronghold fell until Jerusalem itself was surrounded.  In 587 BC, the walls of Jerusalem were breached.  On the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, "Tisha B'Av", the Temple of God was looted and burned.  The sons of Israel were carried off into captivity which would last for seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied. 

 

Israel lost its sovereignty, its Temple and its treasures, including the Ark of the Covenant.  After seventy years of captivity, and with the permission of King Cyrus of Medo-Persia, God regathered a remnant of Israel and His Temple was rebuilt.  Amazingly, much of Israel chose to remain in exile.  Although Israel was once again in the Land, she was no longer sovereign.  Except for a brief period in the second century AD, Israel would not regain her sovereignty until 1948 AD, 2,500 years later.

 

Messianic Times

During the Roman occupation of Israel, God chose to fulfill a group of His Messianic promises.  In the tiny town of Beit Lechem (Bethlehem, the House of Bread), a son was born to a young Jewish maid named Miriam (Mary).  She called her son Yeshua (Joshua, later called by the Greeks ‘Jesus’).  For the next thirty three years, this babe grew into a young rabbi, and he traveled the country on foot calling Israel to repentance.  He declared the arrival of the spiritual Kingdom; the physical Kingdom would come much later.  Many sons of Israel accepted his message and believed that he was Messiah.  Others rejected him: some did not want to rock the Roman boat, some did not want their own power threatened, some wanted a liberating King who would expel the Romans, not a spiritual redeemer.

 

His righteous life was ultimately sacrificed at the hands of the Roman oppressors and the corrupt Israeli leadership.  What they intended for evil, God intended for good.  Through His substitutionary death, Messiah offered redemption to all mankind.  By his life, death and resurrection, He fulfilled a great body of prophetic Messianic references.  In Biblical prophecy, Messiah would fulfill the roles of a Suffering Servant who dies for the sins of his people, and a Redeemer/King who leads those people victoriously into the Kingdom of peace.  Finding it impossible to reconcile the two roles, Jewish legend and Talmudic tradition split the prophecies into two "messiahs" -- Moshiach ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph), the Suffering Servant; and Moshiach ben David (Messiah son of David), the Coming King.

 

Messiah's arrival in Israel and call to repentance was timely.  For approximately 600 years after returning from Babylonian captivity, Israel had slipped back into her old ways.  She once again faced judgement.  Ezekiel 36 describes the causes of the second expulsion:  spiritual impurity and idolatry, and murder of the innocent:

"Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity.  Therefore, I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols.  Also I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the lands.  According to their ways and their deeds I judged them.  When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them "These are the people of the Lord, yet have come out of His land.""  Ezekiel 36:17-20

 

Roman Occupation

Prior to the exile, Rome's domination of Israel was oppressive.  All other conquered nations did not have a problem worshipping the Emperor of Rome -- Israel could not.  While Israel was not faithful enough to God to please Him, she was not pagan enough to suit Rome and was oppressed.  In 66 AD, Israel began to revolt.  When the revolt could not be controlled by the local governor, three Roman legions were dispatched. In the year 70 AD, Jerusalem fell and, again, on the  ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, "Tisha B'Av", the Temple of God was looted and burned.

 

This destruction of the Temple was predicted by Messiah Jesus 40 years earlier:

 "And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.  And He answered and said to them, "Do you not see all these things?  Truly I say to you, NOT ONE STONE HERE SHALL BE LEFT UPON ANOTHER, which will not be torn down."  Matthew 24:1-2

 

The Temple was made of limestone.  When placed next to an accelerant, limestone crumbles, and when it is laden with water, it explodes -- an awesome scene to be sure.  Perhaps this is what Josephus was describing when he wrote: "While the holy house was on fire, everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain... The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were slain; and because this hill was high, and the works at the temple were very great, one would have thought the whole city had been on fire.  Nor can one imagine anything either greater or more terrible than this noise. ... Perea did also return the echo, as well as the mountains around about [the city], and augmented the force of the entire noise."4

 

As the Temple burned, it is said that the gold ornamentation liquefied and ran between the foundation stones.  The Roman soldiers, anxious to retrieve this treasure, began pulling down even the retaining walls of the Temple platform.  Thus, Jesus' prophecy that 'not one stone would be left standing upon another' was fulfilled.  Today, visitors to the southern wall of the Temple Mount can see the lone, surviving course of the original Temple wall.

 

With the City and the Temple destroyed, Israel was scattered throughout the Roman Empire:  "It took a month for Titus to wipe out all pockets of Jewish resistance.  Then, like Nebuchadnezzar, he decreed that the survivors be sent into exile, and most of Jerusalem was reduced to rubble.  In all, according to Josephus, 110,000 people died by fire or famine or sword in the long campaign and siege; another 97,000 were made slaves and scattered throughout the empire. ... In Jewish history, this is a turning point.  It is the point from which the dominant theme of Jewish life is the diaspora, the condition of being dispersed, of being scattered."5

 

This relatively unremarkable conquest of Judea was greatly celebrated by Rome.  Why would an empire which had conquered all the known peoples of the world find such delight in their conquest of the tiny and remote land of Judea?  This question was raised by Abba Eban: "There was nothing unique about the suppression of the Jewish revolt by the Romans.  There are records of revolts in Armenia, in Britain, and a particularly brutal subjection of the Belgian tribes.  And yet the defeat of the Jews seem to have inspired a particular pride in the Roman commander Titus and his father, the Emperor Vespasian.  Why else would they have had coins struck bearing the inscription "Judea Capta" -- Judea is in captivity?  Why else would Titus have built a triumphal arch at the place where the Jewish captives bearing the Menorah from the Temple were dragged into the Forum?"6

 

Did Rome believe she was victorious over the God of Israel?  After all, Rome was able to successfully break that bond between His People and His Land.  Perhaps they were thinking, just as God had predicted: "These are the people of the Lord, yet have come out of His land."  The nation of Israel remained scattered until this century, when God began to regather her. 

 

THE YEARS OF EXILE AND OPPRESSION

 

During almost two millennia of exile, Israel endured great persecution and frequently faced annihilation.  Individual hatreds and local persecutions frequently ignited into mass murders of entire Jewish communities.  When the pope called European Christianity to mount a crusade to liberate the Holyland from the "infidels", the Crusaders began their "holy quest" with the murder of their local, Jewish neighbors.  When the Black Death ravaged Europe, another opportunity to exterminate the Jews appeared.  Jews were accused of poisoning the wells and were murdered in towns throughout Europe.

 

Amazingly, Moslem controlled Spain offered the Jews a brief respite from the storms of persecution.  This was a golden age for Jewish culture and scholarship.  As the Moslems were driven out of Spain, the Roman Church felt the need to flex its power over the Spanish monarchy.  Under the influence of the Spanish Inquisitors, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed an edict on March 31, 1492 whereby the Jews were either forced to convert or be expelled from Spain.

"No event since the destruction of Jerusalem fourteen centuries before had shaken the confidence of Jews everywhere more than the expulsion from Spain.  Expulsion was not a new experience; Jews had been expelled from France, England, and many cities in Germany.  But none of these events had a traumatic effect in any way comparable to that of the sudden edict of banishment from Spain.  Jews had never lived anywhere else as harmoniously or creatively as in Spain.  They had taken an active part in the life of Spanish society while also cultivating their own particular legacy.  They had been prominent in commerce, medicine, literature, and the arts.  One out of every ten Spaniards had been Jewish or had descended from Jews.  And now this flourishing community, the largest Jewish community in the world, had been eliminated with a single stroke of the pen.  Jews everywhere were reminded of their acute and inescapable vulnerability."7

 

Anti-semitism, which was originally fostered on tenuous "theological" grounds took on an economic tone during the Middle Ages.  Europe was in a cash poor position due to a severe trade imbalance.  Cash reserves were depleted as Christian Europe indulged itself in foreign wars, and risky mercantile adventures to buy Oriental luxury goods and spices.  The Jewish community provided European nobility and merchants with the cash they needed.  When the loans came due, the Christian debtors refused to pay not only the interest, but the principal as well.  Laws were drafted, including the much revered Magna Carta, to cancel Jewish claims on Christian estates.  Great tension developed between the Christian and Jewish communities over these bad debts.

 

While the Protestant Reformation in Europe marks a return to the truth of the Word, it also marks the beginning of a new, virulent wave of anti-semitism.  Martin Luther was a leader of the German reform movement.  While much of Europe remained staunchly Catholic, Germany in particular, was profoundly influenced by Luther's teachings.  On the one hand, he reintroduced the church to the doctrine of salvation through faith.  On the other hand, he polluted German society with anti-semitic invectives.  In 1542, Luther published a pamphlet entitled "Against the Jews and their Lies": 

"What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?  Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we cannot tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy...  First, their synagogues ... should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it... Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed.  For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues.  For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives. Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmud in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.  Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach anymore.  Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews.  For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like.  Let them stay at home...  Sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury.  All their cash and valuables of silver and gold ought to be taken from them.  For this reason, as said before, everything that they possess they stole and robbed from us through their usury, for they have no other means of support.  Seventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the ax, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle, and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses as is enjoined upon Adam's children...  To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in you domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden -- the Jews."8

 

Although separated by the centuries, the German National Socialists learned Luther's lesson well.  On Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938), Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were destroyed and burned throughout German controlled Europe.  Subsequently, all books -- religious or secular -- having Jewish authorship were burned by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels; Jewish property was confiscated; and European Jewry was 'collected under one roof' and placed in forced labor camps. 

 

Then, following Luther's recommendation to "find a better" way to make Europe "Judenrein"-- free of Jews -- the Nazis developed the "Final Solution."  With the assistance of the indigenous population of Europe, Jewry was rounded up and sent to death factories designed for their efficient extermination.  The "Holocaust" claimed the lives of six million Jewish souls -- 75% of European Jewry. 

 

Of the 3.3 million Jews living in Poland, it is estimated that 3 million were murdered.  Today, fifty years later, those national wounds are just now being addressed.  "In an unusual, emotional speech to the Israeli Parliament, President Lech Walesa of Poland apologized today for anti-semitism in Polish history.  "Here in Israel, the land of your culture and revival, I ask for your forgiveness," he told a chamber filled with Israel's leaders, some of them survivors of Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps built in Poland after the Germans overran the country, where three million Jews then lived. ... "I am a Christian, and I cannot weigh with a human scale 20 centuries of evil for both of our people," he said."9

 

For two millenia, Jewry had been used, abused, pillaged, hunted down and murdered.  The enemies of God had come ominously close to annihilating Israel thus nullifying His ability to fulfill His promises.  By the end of World War II, Jewry was dispirited and despoiled.  Then God began to move in dramatic ways!  God began to fulfill His promise to regather Israel a second time!

 

DAWN OF THE KINGDOM

 

At the same time that God revealed His plan to exile Israel, He also revealed His promise to regather her.  The physical rebirth of the nation of Israel would be closely followed by her spiritual rebirth. 

"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.  And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances."  Ezekiel 36:24-27

 

In this day, at this time, God has begun to fulfill His promises leading to the return of Messiah and the establishment of his Kingdom.  Let us now look at these two rebirths -- the physical and the spiritual.

 

THE PHYSICAL REBIRTH AND THE OPPOSITION

The starting gun for the Kingdom building process sounded with the Balfour Declaration in 1917.  At that moment the reconstitution of the People and the land of Israel began.  While God has been working to bless Israel with increased population and the bounty of the land, the nations have dealt her only betrayal and violence.  Knowledge of these events gives us needed background for understanding developments in the Middle East today and in the future.  The key to the ongoing violence in the Middle East is the organized effort to abort God's work of regathering His People and establishing them in His land.

 

Balfour Declaration:

Ever since their expulsion from Israel in 70 AD, Jews around the world dreamed of returning to their land.  In the late 19th century, God aroused in the hearts of the Jewish people an unquenchable determination to return to Zion, or "Jerusalem".  This determination took on form and organization -- it became a movement called "Zionism".  In 1897, Theodor Herzl organized the first World Zionist Congress.  Leaders of this movement began consulting with heads of state regarding their desire.  The British Government, sympathetic to Zionist objectives, originally offered the Jews a homeland in Uganda, of all places.  This proposal was rejected -- there is no substitute for the ancient bond between the Land of Israel and the Sons of Israel.  Diplomatic discussions and negotiations continued.  This diplomatic path eventually lead to Vatican City: 

"The best interview of all was with the pope himself, on May 6, Benedict XV was an ardent Liberal who had been deeply perturbed by the persecutions of Jews in Eastern Europe.  From the beginning of the conversation he made clear his sympathy with Zionism.  "What a turn of destiny!" he said.  "Nineteen hundred years ago Rome destroyed your homeland, and now, when you wish to rebuild it, you have chosen the path that leads to Rome."  "I am deeply moved by such historical memories," Sakolow replied.  "And may I be permitted to add that that Rome which destroyed Israel was appropriately punished.  Rome fell shortly afterward, whereas the people of Israel still live.  They are so alive that now they even desire that their land be returned to them."  "Yes," said the Pope.  "It is Providential.  God has willed it." 10

 

After the end of World War I, in 1917, the British government wrote the following "letter of intent" called the Balfour Declaration11:

Foreign Office,                                                            November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet: "His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to  facilitate the achievement of this object, it being  ³    ³   clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jewish in any other country."  I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

 

Yours,

Arthur James Balfour

 

Until the end of World War I, the Holyland had been under Ottoman Moslem control.  The whole of the Middle East had been incorporated into one great empire without internal borders.  With the defeat of the Axis and her Ottoman allies, the British saw the opportunity to establish the Jewish homeland in "Palestine."  However, "Palestine" was a rather amorphous term and had to first be carved out of the vast Ottoman Empire.  Regardless how vague, the Balfour Declaration raised hope in the Jewish community.  Already, there was a relatively large Jewish population in the Holyland.  In 1917, Israel's demographics included approximately 45,000 Jews, 10,000 Moslems and 15,000 Christians.

 

Israeli land is the perpetual inheritance of its original owners.  In the Law12, God commanded that land could never be sold, only leased.  The price of the lease was to be adjusted relative to the number of years until the year of "Jubilee".  A Jubilee occurred every fifty years and it marked a time when all land reverted to the original owners. 

 

Here is an interesting thought for your consideration -- in 1917, Israel had been living in exile for approximately 2500 years, since the time of the Babylonian Exile.  Twenty five hundred is 50 times 50, or a Jubilee of Jubilees.  Therefore, the Balfour Declaration marked the beginning of the ultimate and final return of Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, to its original owners!

 

The British Mandate:

The territory of the defeated Ottoman Empire had to be governed.  Based upon the intent stated in the Balfour Declaration, the Supreme War Council gave Britain a mandate to caretake "Palestine" until an independent Jewish homeland could be created.  That Mandate included the territory which is today Israel and Jordan. 

 

Then the first act of treachery -- in 1922, the League of Nations approved the British Mandate with the provision that the portion of Palestine known as Transjordania would be exempt from the commitments of the Balfour Declaration.  In keeping with this provision, Britain divided "Palestine".  In 1928, the state of Transjordan was created under the rule of the Hashemite Dynasty.  Through this division of the land, approximately three quarters of the land held in trust for the Jews was given to the Arabs. 

 

Britain continued to administer the remaining quarter of the land, but with great difficulty.  The Palestinian Arabs hated the Jews.  Consistent with all other enemies of God and Israel, they placed continuous pressure on Britain to forbid or severely restrict Jewish immigration and the sale of land to Jews.  This act became all the more heinous in light of the growing persecution of Jews in Hitler's Europe.  Soon Arabs and Jews engaged in open warfare.

 

The frustrated British, called in their "management consultants".  After many studies, interviews, and much analysis, a series of reports were released:

1930  SIR WALTER SHAW REPORT - this study indicated that the source of the conflict was Arab hatred of Jews.

1930  LEAGUE OF NATIONS REPORT - this report condemned the British for inadequate policing.  This is interesting in light of the constant criticism which the Israeli government receives today when trying to control Arab violence.  Britain may do well to remember its own inability to control Arab-Israeli violence the next time the Security Council is considering condemning the Israeli government for harsh policing tactics.

Later, in 1937, the British set up military courts to deal with terrorism.  Members of the Arab High Committee were deported.  Anyone caught carrying firearms or bombs were subject to a death sentence.  Today, Israel is condemned by the UN for deporting convicted murderers and merely arresting terrorists.  Some nations are moving to hold Israel in contempt of the Geneva Convention.

1937  PEEL COMMISSION REPORT - this study determined that Jews and Arabs cannot live together in peace.  It audaciously Recommended further partitioning of the land.  The remaining quarter of the original Mandate would be divided into thirds: the Jews were to be given the coastal plains in the North, the British would retain a corridor from the port city of Jaffa to Jerusalem, including Bethlehem, and the Arabs would be given the rest.

Amazingly, the Jews accepted this twelfth portion of their mandated territory.  The Arabs rejected the plan.  They demanded that the British abandon the concept of a Jewish homeland and stop Jewish immigration.  In exchange, they would 'allow' the Palestinian Jews to remain as a "guaranteed minority."

1938  WOODHEAD COMMISSION REPORT - this report reevaluated the concept of partitioning and determined that it was impractical.  It recommended that a conference be held instead.

1939  PALESTINE CONFERENCE - this conference was convened and a British proposal was presented.  It recommended that a joint Arab-Jewish Palestinian state be created within ten years.  Within five years, Jewish immigration would have been stopped with a cap of 75,000 immigrants; and the sale of land to Jews would be severely restricted.  This plan was rejected by both Arabs and Jews.  By this time, the Holocaust was in full swing, and the British in Palestine turned away Jews fleeing death in Europe.

 

The United Nations Intervenes:

After thirty years of failure, the British give up trying to find a peaceful solution to creating a Jewish state in Palestine.  Britain had found the truth in the prophecy that Jerusalem was  "a burdensome stone FOR ALL PEOPLES; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces..."13   In 1947, they turned the "Palestine" issue over to the United Nations. 

 

Following the lead of the Peel Commission Report, the UN voted to partition the remaining quarter of "Palestine" into an Arab and a Jewish state, and kept Jerusalem for themselves -- putting it under UN trusteeship.  And just as with the Peel Commission report, the Jews accepted the plan and the Arab League Council rejected it.  So violent was the Arab rejection that the Arab League Council announced that it would stop the division of Palestine by force.

 

Ongoing Arab Wars

Since 1948, the living memory of many of us, Israel has been fighting for her life.  Reviewing these relatively recent events allows us to understand why present day negotiations of a Middle East Peace Covenant have been so difficult and fraught with distrust.  Assumptions which we often make about who possessed what and when, are often wrong -- the product of a disinformation campaign.

 

In advance of Israeli statehood, the Arab League began boycotting any corporation with business ties with the Palestinian Jews.  This boycott which began in 1946, is still in force today.  In 1948, the reborn nation of Israel declared her statehood and was immediately attacked by her Arab neighbors.  The western nations, many of whom recognized her statehood, betrayed her and let Israel twist in the wind:  "When the newly reborn State of Israel was fighting for its life, in 1948, it called the White House, begging for weapons with which to defend itself.  President Truman didn't answer.  The U.S. had declared an arms embargo on the Middle East -- meaning Israel, since the Arabs were being armed to the teeth by the British."15

 

Transjordan captured the territory of Judea and Samaria -- "the West Bank" and east Jerusalem.  Looking forward to the day when they could finish Israel off, the Palestine Congress adopted the Transjordanian king as the "King of Palestine".  To celebrate their unlawful annexation, the nation changed its name from Transjordan ("across or the other side of the Jordan") to Jordan, for now they possessed both banks.  During Jordan's occupation of this land, there was no world condemnation of its "occupation", there was no further talk of internationalizing Jerusalem, Judea and Sameria were shown as part of Jordan on every map, there was no Jordanian Resolution 242.  In fact, it has become "conventional wisdom" that the "West Bank" was Jordanian territory illegally captured by Israel during the Six Day War.  This is dis-information!

 

In this same war, Egypt "illegally" seized the Gaza Strip.  Israel was under siege for approximately fourteen months, but by the grace of her God and the courage of her people, she survived.  Then in 1956 Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal and closed it to Israeli traffic.

"In 1956, to halt the fedayeen raids from Egypt, Israel joined England and France in their war against Egypt to take control of the Suez Canal.  Though the allies were victorious, President Eisenhower intervened so that England and France relinquished their control of the Suez Canal.  Israel gave up the Sinai in exchange for a "guarantee" that the U.S. would defend Israel from any future attacks from Egypt.  The 1967 War proved that "guarantee" to be absolutely worthless."16

 

In the early to mid 1960's, the Arab nations began conspiring to divert the Jordan river before it entered Israel, and began to prepare a plan for the next war.  As these plans and troop movements became an open secret, Israel was again betrayed by the West.

 "In the spring of 1967, as the Arabs' noose tightened around Israel's neck, as Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran, as the Arab armies marched toward Israel's borders and the Arab leaders vowed to annihilate the Jewish State, the Israelis called the White House for assistance.  President Johnson didn't answer.  He had forgotten the promise that Eisenhower had made to the Israelis back in 1957, the promise that the U.S. would insure that the Straits of Tiran would stay open."17

 

The Arab nations sensed the approach of an opportunity to abort God's work and push the Jews into the sea.  The Arabs prepared for war.  Israel would be massively outnumbered and overwhelmed.  The Jordanian "King of Palestine" looked forward to annexing the rest of Israel.  "King Hussein gave orders to his men that when Israel was defeated, every man, woman and child in Israel was to be killed.  Nasser told the UN to vacate the buffer zone at the Sinai border with Israel and the UN complied instantly.  The Arabs attacked, but with the help of G-d, the Israelis defeated the combined Arab forces within six days, reunited Jerusalem, and took Judea and Samaria and Gaza."18

 

In a brilliantly executed and desperate tactical move, Israel preemptively destroyed the Arab airforces on the ground.  The war ended almost as quickly as it started, lasting only six days.  Although vastly out-gunned, Israel took back Judea, Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and additionally captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. 

 

The Sinai Peninsula, had a lower strategic importance -- it is a vast, uninhabited wasteland thus offering a low military threat.  This territory would eventually be returned to Egypt.  On the other hand, the Golan Heights are just what their name indicates -- high terrain that overlooks populated Israeli valleys.  For twenty years, this strategic high ground was used by Syria to bombard Israeli settlements.  Return of this territory, also known as ancient Bashan, is in doubt, for Jeremiah 50:19 says:

"And I shall bring Israel back to his pasture, and he will graze on Carmel AND BASHAN and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead." 

 

Israel is an incredibly small nation.  Someone has said that it is the only nation in the Middle East that is so small that its name on a map has to be placed in the Mediterranean Sea.  If you include the area of Judea and Samaria, Israel is approximately the size of San Bernadino County in California.  In contrast, "Arab" lands total twice the size of United States.  When you remove Judea and Samaria from Israel, the area which contains 75% of its population and industrial sites becomes a mere 9 miles wide.  That this small scrap of land could be so hotly disputed is evidence that the problems in the Middle East are not about land, but are about stopping the work of God to restore and bless Israel.

 

The concept of creating a separate Palestinian State on "Israeli" territory, as proposed in the Peel Commission Report and others, was never acceptable to the Arabs as long as they thought they could annihilate Israel.  The urgency for creating a mythical Palestinian State only gained widespread acceptance after Israel regained strategic territory and her military conquest seemed less likely.  The strategic importance of the Golan Heights and the "West Bank" is one of the major sticking points when negotiating "Middle East Peace."  Both sides of the battle know that possession of these territories will make or break Israel.

 

Soon after Israel's resounding victory in the '67 Six Day War, the United Nations passed the now infamous "Resolution 242".  Conventional wisdom indicates that Resolution 242 states that Israel must return to its pre-1967 borders and that Israel is a renegade nation for not having abided by that resolution.  More disinformation!

 

The following excerpt was written by Eugene V. Rostow, a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and who as Under Secretary of State from 1966 to 1969 helped write Security Council Resolution 242:

 "Security Council Resolution 242, approved after the 1967 war, stipulates not only that Israel and its neighboring states should make peace with each other but should establish "a just and lasting peace in the Middle East."  Until that condition is met, Israel is entitled to administer the territories it captured -- the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip -- and then withdraw from some but not necessarily all of the land to "secure and recognized boundaries free of threats or acts of force.  The practical reasons behind both halves of that bargain remain valid today.  The first requires no withdrawal without peace -- a rule often wrongly described as "trading land for peace."  Actually, it is quite different.  It prescribes that there should be no withdrawal until peace is made; then there can be a complete withdrawal, a partial one, or none, depending on what the parties decide.  The second reason is that Israel's new boundaries need not be the same as the armistice lines of 1949.  This provision specifically addressed the problem of peace with Jordan.  No state has title to the land between Israel and Jordan.  Jordan's claim to have annexed the West Bank, never generally recognized, has been abandoned.  The rulers of the Ottoman Empire were the last recognized sovereigns in the territory. ... Israel has a stronger claim to the West Bank than any other nation or would-be nation because, under the League of Nations Mandate, Israel has the same legal right to settle the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem that it has to settle Haifa or West Jerusalem."19

 

Arab pride was severely damaged by the Six Day War.  Another war was therefore inevitable.  This occurred on the holiest day of the Biblical Calendar in 1973, Yom Kippur. 

"When Sadat succeeded Nasser in Egypt, Russia convinced the Arab states to take another shot at Israel.  That was the Yom Kippur War of 1973.  ... Israel's control of the Sinai, Judea and Samaria gave Israel an opportunity to mobilize and in a remarkably short time Israel managed to turn the tables."20

 

"As the Arabs prepared to invade in 1973, and Israeli intelligence detected the imminent attack, Prime Minister Golda Meir called the White House for help.  Henry Kissinger warned her that if Israel launched a preemptive strike, the U.S. would give it no weapons.   Golda succumbed to  the pressure, Israel suffered devastating losses, and the U.S. Refused to give Israel any weapons throughout the fist 10 days of the fighting -- Kissinger's way of making sure that the Israelis would not win too big a victory.  Near the end of the 1973 war, when Israel had the Egyptian Third Army trapped in the Sinai Desert, and Israeli troops were on the road to Cairo, the Israelis made the mistake of calling the White House to consult -- and Kissinger replied by pressuring them to halt their advances and release the trapped Egyptians."21

 

In 1978, US President Carter brought together the leaders of Israel and Egypt to sign the Camp David Accords.  Egypt became the only Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel.  In exchange for peace, the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt.  As a result of negotiating an independent deal with Israel, Egypt was ostracized from other Arab nations until 1989.

 

The Camp David booty has allowed the Egyptians to declare "victory" in the Yom Kippur War.  On the road to the Cairo airport, there is now a building called "The Panorama of the October 1973 War".  This Arab monument may give insight into the change in the Egyptian mindset: 

"The centerpiece ... is a panel portraying the capture of the Bar-Lev line.  At the heart of the panel are long rows of Israeli prisoners, heads bowed.  In case the observer may have missed the point, the accompanying text states: "Israeli prisoners with heads bowed."  It mentions also that as a result of the war, Egypt recovered all its lost territory "down to the last inch... including the city of Taba."  One grasps from this how supremely important regaining Taba was to Egypt -- it wasn't a kilometer of sand with a luxury hotel, but "the last inch," whose recovery constitutes a central element of Egyptian national pride.  For all the harrowing associations the panorama evokes, the exhibition also has a deeply satisfying message for an Israeli.  It says that Egypt has purged itself of the humiliation of the Six Day War.  It suggests that Egypt can deal with Israel rationally -- that while it is an Arab state with Arab obligations, it no longer has a deep psychological need to strike back at Israel in order to erase its own scars.22

 

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Israel was being regularly attacked across its northern border with Lebanon.  Lebanon had become a PLO outpost, and a weapons cache for Syria and the Soviet Union.  In 1982, Israel launched "Operation Peace for Galilee" and invaded Lebanon.  The PLO was cornered and the weapons caches seized.  The United States intervened on behalf of the Arabs and pressured Israel to allow the PLO to peacefully withdraw rather than be defeated.  "What Nixon and Kissinger did for the Egyptians [in 1973], Reagan and Haig did for the PLO, pressuring Israel to lift its siege of Beirut in 1982 and refrain from wiping out Arafat and his hordes."23

 

By 1985, Israel withdrew from much of Lebanon, with the exception of a security zone in the south.  Within two years the PLO began the "intifada", a movement to foment violent unrest within Israel's borders.  The PLO has received incredible sums of money from the Arab nations and Europe to finance their civil war.

 

The Diplomatic Wars:

In addition to physical warfare, the greater community of nations has waged constant diplomatic warfare against Israel.  The conclusion of Gulf War I witnessed a great flurry of diplomatic activity to secure an Arab-Israeli peace. Great pressure was put on both Israel and the Arabs to seek peace. 

 

Diplomatic pressure in the Middle East is rarely equitable or just.  Even during the recent homicide bombings in Israel, the diplomatic positions of the Nations defy logic.  The EU is blatantly arabist.  It is always willing to condemn Israel and financially support the Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances.  Under Arab pressure, the UN has passed 175 resolutions condemning Israel.26  UN condemnation is never evenhanded -- it's focus is always Israel, although many nations engage in the same activities to greater degrees.  Israel is regularly condemned for not "returning" the territories it recaptured in the 1967 War.  And yet, Russia has refused to return the Kurile chain of islands seized from Japan at the close of World War II.  For that matter, consider the ongoing territorial disputes between: the American Indians and the US, Mexico and the US, the Canadian Indians and Canada, Ireland and Britain, Pakistan and India (Kashmir), Argentina and Britain (Faulkland Islands).  How many of these territorial disputes have received Security Council attention. 

 

The world's view and God's view of Israel are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  While the world questions Israel's borders and even it's right to exist, God is implementing His plans to make Israel the chief among nations.  As God regathers His people in their Land, the world is attempting to frustrate His efforts and prevent Him from fulfilling His promises.  Those nations who stand in God's way as He fulfills His promises to Israel would do well to remember God's promise to Abraham:

"And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse..."  Genesis 12:3

 

THE SECOND RETURN, IN OUR TIME

In Ezekiel 37, the prophet relates how he was taken to a valley which contained the bones of the nation.  God told Ezekiel to tell the bones that He would restore life and flesh to them.  As Ezekiel spoke, he saw the bones assemble, and ligaments grew to hold them together; muscles covered the bones and skin covered the flesh. 

"So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them and they come to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.  Then He said to me, " Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished.  We are completely cut off.'  Therefore prophesy, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My People; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.  Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land,   Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it," declares the Lord."  Ezekiel 37:10-14

 

The Zionist movement began in the late 19th century.  By the early 20th century, Jewish settlers began draining the malaria infested swamps and planting forests to reclaim the land.  It was a humble, yet significant beginning.  Then in the dark days of World War II, European Jewry faced extinction -- six million Jews were "exterminated".  Hitler and his minions attempted to abort this rebirth of Israel and seal Jewry in their graves.  The British, who were administering the Mandate, controlled and severely restricted Jewish immigration.  In these desperate days, Jews must have thought: 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished.  We are completely cut off.'  But then the bones began to rattle!  The end of World War II was soon followed by Israeli statehood.  Jews began to return in ever increasing numbers.  That which began as a trickle at the end of the 19th century, has now become a flood.  As communism "fell" in 1989, the gates of all nations began to open.  The government of Israel is today in peril because of their success -- a tidal wave of Jewish immigrants which flow into it daily.    ""From the East and West, from Persia and Ethiopia, from Bukhara and Samarkand, and from Moscow and Kishinev, the Jews are coming to the only country that wants them and is waiting for them," said Counsul General Aryeh Levin as he raised the Israeli flag above Israel's Consulate in Moscow on Thursday." 31  Since the fall of Israel to Rome, the majority of Jews have lived in the diaspora -- dispersed among the Gentile nations. 

"And they will fall by the edge of the sword and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."  Luke 21:24

 

The days of the Gentiles have been fulfilled in our time.  In 1967, Jerusalem was unified and became the capital of Israel.  In keeping with the prophecy, God is leading the captives back to their land.  With more and more Jews "making aliya" -- "going up" or "ascending" to Israel -- the majority of Jews may soon live in Israel:  "As a result of the Soviet aliya, it is likely that the majority of the world's Jews will be living in Israel in another 10 years, Prof. Sergio Della Pergola, a Hebrew University demographer, said last week.  Only about 30 percent of world Jewry lives here now."32

 

In Ezekiel 36, God promises to multiply the men of Israel as part of his nation building process.  Truly, this is what we are witnessing in our day: 

"This says the Lord God, "On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places to be rebuilt." ... 'Thus says the Lord God, "This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them: I will increase their men like a flock.  Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men.  Then they will know that I am the Lord."  Ezekiel 36:33,37-38

 

In that day, we are told by Jeremiah, the flight to Israel by the Diaspora will be so dramatic, that it will supersede the memory of the Exodus:

""Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord, "when they will no longer say, 'As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,' but, 'As the Lord live, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.'  Then they will live on their own soil.""  Jeremiah 23:7-8

 

Since Israel became a state in 1948, there have been numerous national efforts to rescue Jews from captivity, all of them very heroic.

  KNOWN

YEAR             NATION            RESCUEES     REMAINING             OPERATION

1948-on          Romania           300,000

1948-on          Syria                      4,000          5,000

1948-50          Yemen                 45,000          few thousand             Operation Magic Carpet

1948-53          Egypt                   10,000                                         Operation Goshen

1949-50          Iran                      25,000          significant number

1949-50          Afghanistan           4,000

1949-50          Kurdistan              7,000

1949-50          Iraq                   110,000           several hundred         Operation Ezra and

   Nehemiah - 2,000 flights

1949-51          Libya                  32,000

1951              India                     2,500                                          from the port city of Cochin

    50's                                     12,000                                          Bene Israel community

1953              Turkey                35,000           many

1956              Egypt                  12,000

1959-65          Morocco            250,000

1979              Iran                       2,000           significant number

1985-90          Ethiopia              20,000           many thousands        Operations Moses and

       Queen of Sheba

1989              USSR               250,000           many thousands        ongoing

1991              Albania                    300

1991              Ethiopia              14,000           few thousand             Operation Solomon

based upon "Israel's Rescue Operations Since 1948"33

 

PREPARE, YE, THE WAY OF THE LORD

 

The physical rebirth of Israel is just the beginning of God's Kingdom building process.  The physical rebirth of Israel is a sign to the nation that: they would also be spiritually reborn as well, that they would continue to live, despite the aggression of the nations, that they would possess the land of Israel, despite the best attempts of the nations to negotiate her out of it, and all of these commitments are assured by God Himself.  This promise is recorded in Ezekiel 37:

"Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land.  Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it," declares the Lord."  Ezekiel 37:13-14

 

The spiritual rebirth of Israel may seem the boring stuff of theologians and historians.  And yet, in the fall of 1990, when the UN was delicately maneuvering, hoping to avoid a world war in the Persian Gulf, that spiritual rebirth was enough to pull the world's attention  to Jerusalem -- the spiritual heart of Israel, the capital of the Kingdom. 

 

JERUSALEM.  CITY OF PEACE.  GOD'S APARTMENT ON EARTH.

Jerusalem.  City of Violence.  Centerpiece of the world's three major religions.  The World's most hotly contended real estate.

 

On October 8, 1990, the world stood on the brink of a third world war.  The Security Council of the United Nations had been meeting for over two months to try to control the Iraqi aggressor and avoid world war.  On October 8, 1990, approximately 5,000 Moslems gathered on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Just below, at the Western Wall of the Temple, 10,000 Jews were praying, celebrating the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, Succoth.  By the grace of God, they ended their worship and had just begun to disperse.  Rumors were flying.  "Solomon's coming!"  "The Jews are invading!" rang out the mosque loudspeakers.

 

The 5,000 Moslems began to riot.  Police and remaining Jewish worshipers were assaulted by a deadly hail of stones, bottles, pipes and other projectiles from the top of the Western Wall.  The scant number of police began firing wildly, desperately trying to defend themselves against an enraged mob.  In the end, 21 Moslems were dead, 140 wounded and 270 arrested.

 

"The secular underground leadership of the uprising, known as the intifada in Arabic, encouraged Palestinians to kill soldiers and police officers immediately after the Al Aksa killings on Oct. 8."47   With that encouragement and the absence of U.N. condemnation for the Arab violence, there was almost a daily stream of reports where Israeli Jews are being stabbed, and sledgehammered by Arabs.

 

What was the spark that ignited this violence?  It was the threat that "Solomon's coming!"  Who is Solomon, and why would he instill such fear in Moslem hearts?  His name is Gershon Solomon.  He is the leader of the ultraconservative Temple Mount Faithful.  His group believes that the Temple must be rebuilt on Temple Mount and they have gone about hewing stones and creating the new furnishings.  They also believe that by building the Temple, they will expedite the coming of Messiah.  In prior years, this group has brought foundation stones into Jerusalem and there consecrated them.  They have not yet been allowed by Israeli authorities to even attempt to place a stone on Temple Mount.

 

These folks are viewed by secular Jews as troublemakers, by Talmudic, orthodox Jews as fanatical heretics, and by Moslems as the "ultimate threat".  If the great preponderance of Jews and the Israeli civil authority do not support their goals, why do the Moslems take this small group so seriously?  It's simple; the Moslems know that the age of their dominance in Jerusalem is nearing its end.  The Age of the Gentiles is drawing to a close.  They are having problems reconciling their emotions with their knowledge that they will shortly have to spiritually surrender Temple Mount as they did physically in 1967.

 

The following is a retelling of the events following the capture of Jerusalem by Israeli troops from Jordanian control:  "The Ne'emnei Har HaBayit [Temple Mount Faithful] particularly mourn the great loss of opportunity, immediately after the liberation of Jerusalem and the site of the Beis HaMikdash 22 years ago.  "By Divine grace, we were given a golden opportunity to change the course of Jewish history, to bring Moshiach [Messiah] and the Geulah (redemption) closer.  And we let that golden chance slip out of our fingers.  The entire world expected us to do what we were supposed to do."  Solomon tells of conversations with many Christians who were astounded and even disappointed at the failure of the Israelis to rebuild the Holy Temple.  "Your dream of centuries has come true and instead of fulfilling your Divine task, you have handed the Mount back to the enemies of G-d," many Fundamental and other Christian leaders and individuals said. 

 

Not only Christians -- who saw the Israeli victories in 1967 as a fulfillment of the Prophetic promises and as a beginning sign of the redemption of the world -- could not understand the Israelis; the Moslems couldn't either.  And here Gershon Solomon reveals a startling story:

 "On the fourth day of the war, Solomon and his military unit were on the Mount.  They entered the Dome of the Rock, the El Aksa Mosque and other areas.  There was not a single Arab in sight.  Suddenly a well-dressed Arab appeared and introduced himself as a representative of the Waqf.  He offered to show them around.  But instead of guiding them through the places that are sacred to the Moslems, the man showed them all the places on the Mount that were of Jewish significance, demonstrating an impressive knowledge of the history of the Beis HaMikdash.  To Solomon's inquiry, the man answered: "The Moslem epoch on the Mount has come to an end.  We knew that the day will come when you Jews will take it over.  We have a tradition that Allah had entrusted us with the Mount to guard it until you people are ready to rebuild your Holy Temple.  This is written in our Holy Scriptures and is told by our elders from generation to generation."" [Jewish Press, 8/11/89]

 

The spark which ignited Jerusalem was the knowledge and fear that the prophecies of God regarding His People are and will continue to be fulfilled.  The Jews WILL live in Israel.  The Jews WILL continue to be gathered in from the nations, displacing resident Arabs.  Israel WILL be sovereign over Jerusalem.  The Jews WILL rebuild the House of God on Temple Mount.  Her Messiah WILL come.  Israel WILL be the head of the nations in the Messianic Kingdom -- all things difficult for her oppressors to accept.

 

Preparing the Third Temple

Since 1967, when Israel gained control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, there has been a great debate -- whether or not to rebuild the Temple.  Although Jews pray three times daily, 'May it be Thy will that the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days', some view the prospect of rebuilding the Temple figuratively and others literally.  In October 1989, Israel's Ministry of Religious Affairs sponsored "a first ever Conference of Temple Research to discuss whether contemporary Jews are obligated to rebuild."48  To some, it seems clear that if God has returned Israel to her land, then they are obligated by Biblical commandment to begin building.

""V'Assu Li Mikdash (Exodus 25:8) -- And they shall make unto me a sanctuary" is a commandment that was given the Children of Israel when they were in the desert, on the way to the Promised Land.  This Mitzvah [good deed] prevailed later as well, upon their entry into the Land of Canaan.  In fact, it was one of the first three Mitzvot [good deeds] that the People of Israel were obligated to perform when they came to Eretz Yisrael. ... When the modern Jewish renaissance culminated in the practical and victorious success with the establishment of the Zionist State of Israel,  some individuals -- who later developed into groups and movements -- turned the dream of rebuilding the Beis HaMikdash [Temple] into real and serious hopes.  Subsequently these hopes became plans, with quite a lot of practical detail, so much so that, if Moshiach were to come today, he would find all the plans and blueprints ready and the people prepared and willing to go ahead with the work immediately."49

 

The Temple Mount Faithful have consecrated stones and have made a few attempts to place them on the Temple Mount.  Their efforts have always been aborted by Israeli police.  But this has not dampened their spirit.  When Gershon Solomon was recently asked what he would like to do given a free hand, he said:  "I would remove50 the Moslem presence from the Temple Mount, announce to the world that the Temple Mount is the center of the Jewish People, and start building the Third Temple."51

 

Until 1983, conventional wisdom indicated that the Dome of the Rock -- a large mosque in the center of the Temple Mount -- was situated squarely on the site of the Jewish Temple.  In 1983, Asher S. Kaufman, a physics professor at Hebrew University, published an article in Biblical Archaeology Review entitled: "Where the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem Stood: Extant "Foundation Stone" for the Ark of the Covenant is Identified"52.  Professor Kaufman, after extensive research presented a convincing argument that the Holy of Holies was not located under the Dome of the Rock, but under a small cupola called the "Dome of the Tablets", and "Dome of the Spirits".  This cupola, which resembles a small gazebo, lies on the large, vacant platform north of the mosque, directly opposite the Eastern Gate.  It shelters a flat, exposed portion of Mount Moriah's bedrock.  This exposed rock may have been the ancient resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.  In that the Ark contained the Tablets of the Ten Commandments, and was the place where the Spirit of God met man, the traditional names of this cupola supports Kaufman's findings.  While it may not be spiritually "preferable" for a mosque to share the Temple Mount with the Temple of God, Kaufman's research indicates that it would be possible to establish a place of worship on the site of the original Holy of Holies without regard to the Dome of the Rock.

 

We know from Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15 that during the period of the seven year Covenant, there will be a holy place established in Israel which will be suitable for conducting Biblically instructed sacrifice.  Whether it is a stone Temple or the refurbished Tabernacle, we are not told.  However, in Revelation 11:2 there is a clue that the Dome of the Rock may be standing along side this Temple, for John is commanded to measure the Temple... :  "And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months."

 

In some rabbinical traditions, the next Temple will not be built with human hands, they believe that God will 'build it with fire':  "Everyone of us is praying, crying, that G-d will bless us to again have the Beis Hamikdosh [Temple] -- but it is not in our hands to build it.  We have to wait until we are blessed by G-d as we are promised  -- "Ato Hashem be-eish hitzato uve-eish ato atid livnoto"  "G-d, who burned the Beis Hamikdosh, will build the third Beis Hamikdosh with fire."  Only G-d can build the third Beis Hamikdosh."53

 

This rabbinical tradition is somewhat disturbing in light of the text of Revelation 13:13-14.  It is possible that the Prince and his Cabinet Chief may exploit this tradition in order to validate their false messianic credentials.  What would men think if they were able to call down fire from heaven, and "create" a Temple:  "And he [the false prophet, the Prince's Cabinet Chief] performs great signs, so that he even MAKES FIRE COME DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN TO THE EARTH IN THE PRESENCE OF MEN.  And HE DECEIVES THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE EARTH BECAUSE OF THE SIGNS which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life."

 

Some Christians, citing the efficacy of Messiah's sacrificial death, view with contempt Jewish desires and plans to rebuild the Temple of God and begin sacrifice.  They say that Temples and sacrifices are passe.  However, God Himself has provided the plans for another Temple which has not yet been built.  Some refer to this Temple, described in Ezekiel 40-45, as the Millennial Temple, for it will be built and functioning during the thousand year Messianic Kingdom.  This Temple will not only be a site of worship, but a site of blood sacrifice as well.  Ezekiel 46 describes in great detail the sacrifices and burnt offerings that God will required of the priesthood and the prince of Israel during that period.  These sacrifices are different than those prescribed in the Law.  Some have suggested that these sacrifices are a remembrance of what Messiah has done, much like the bread and wine that Christians symbolically use in their remembrance services.

 

Preparing the Temple Furnishings

Be it a rebuilt Temple, the Tabernacle, or the Millennial Temple, the priesthood will require tools for worship.  Today, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem, there is a group called "The Temple Institute" headed by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel.    This group is working on creating "authentic kosher vessels and Priestly garments" as was used in the previous Temple.  These items include a silver menorah, trumpets, harps, goblets, ritual slaughtering knives54, lyres, a jeweled breastplate for the high priest, lottery boxes (for distinguishing between sacrificial and 'scape goats), and lavers. 

 

""Our task," states the institute's American-born director, Zev Golan, "is to advance the cause of the Temple and to prepare for its establishment, not just talk about it."  During six years of research, the institute has reconstructed 38 of the ritual implements that will be required when Temple sacrifices are restored; it will complete the other 65 items as funds permit."55

 

Menahem Burstin is a scholar who specializes in Temple service.  He has been directing his efforts toward the more "biological" aspects of Temple worship: 

"On the advice of leading rabbinical figures like Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and Rabbi Eliezer Schach, Burstin began researching the more "esthetic" aspects of Temple service, like incense offering.  He consulted with botanists and painstakingly gathered herbs and spices from all over the world to find the ingredients required by the Tora, for such offerings.  Later, his studies led him to explore the mystery of Techelet, a bluish (some say violet) dye that was used in the Temple and that was also prescribed for the fringes of the tzizit.  After nearly 14 years of researching the dye, which is produced by a sea-creature called the hilazon, Burstin published a book on the subject last year.  At the same time, he began a worldwide search for the red heifer, used during Temple times to "purify" those who had become ritually unfit through contact with the dead. ... "I have an obligation to study all the laws in the Tora, including those relating to Temple service.  This form of research is exciting because it brings to life all the verses and the mishnaic and talmudic literature on Temple service.  According to that literature, the red heifer is burned together with eitz erez, eizov and tola'at shani (cedar-wood, hyssop and scarlet).  Burstin is convinced that he has accurately identified these items -- the scarlet for instance, is a colour made from Crimson Worm -- but he lacks one vital ingredient: the ash of a previous red heifer that must be mixed with the new ash."56

 

As we discussed in Chapter 6, the search for those ashes are well underway.  Perhaps the efforts expended in this search in 1991 will at last bear fruit.

 

Burstin's identification of the blue dye used in prayer shawls has been coincident with the abundant arrival of the snails that produce that dye: 

"Once every 70 years, says the Talmud (Menahot 44a) the shores of Eretz Yisrael are visited by the segulit snail from which, according to the late Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, the techelet (blue coloring) used to mark certain religious items was made.  During recent weeks [11/90], these snails have been found in abundance along the Mediterranean coast.  Some Orthodox Jews believe the reappearance of the snails to be a sign of the Messianic age."57

 

This blue dye is being designed into restyled religious garments for the coming Temple: 

"Religious fashion for the Third Temple era:  Jerusalem, Israel -- An evolution in religious fashion is taking place in Jerusalem as preparations are being made for the rebuilding of the Third Temple.  The common thread among those creating garments for the modern Israelite is the revival of ancient regional themes.  Bypassing the mode of 18th-century Polish and Russian nobility, adopted as a uniform by the devout, the people researching and creating fashions for the observant are now producing long, fluid, tunic-style shirts fringed at the corners.  In Numbers 15, we read that God commanded Moses to tell the Children of Israel to make throughout their generations fringes on the corners of their garments, and to put a thread of blue in each corner with the fringes.  The knots and tassels in all four fringes are intended to serve as a constant reminder of the obligations the Children of Israel took upon themselves when they accepted the Tora at Mount Sinai. ... In the exile, as a result of persecution Jews stopped wearing fringes on their outer garments and they began to hide them under Gentile apparel.  With the return of the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland, we can once again don our ancient garb, and walk proudly, upright in our Land.  Beged Ivri is producing garments that conform to the Biblical edict, yet are sufficiently contemporary and attractive to appeal also to the non-observant." 58

 

Preparing the New Priesthood

Entry to the Jewish priesthood is not as simple as filling out an admission form at the local seminary.  In Exodus 28:1, we are told that the priesthood was the inheritance of the sons of Aaron.  These priests were assisted by the sons of Levi.  To participate in the Jewish priesthood, one must prove oneself to be a son of these priestly families, and be free of physical defect or infirmity.  Today, after 2,000 years of 'forced retirement', Israel is again training her priesthood to perform Temple service.

 

"Two Talmudic schools located near the Western (Wailing) Wall are teaching nearly 200 students the elaborate details of Temple service.  Other groups are researching the family lines of Jewish priests who alone may conduct sacrifices.  Next year [1990] an organizing convention will be held for those who believe themselves to be of priestly descent."59

 

Unfortunately, not all branches of Judaism are "on board" with the restitution of the biblically prescribed priesthood and Temple worship.  Some factions of Judaism have shifted their doctrinal focus.  The Talmud is a recording of the "oral law" - traditional wisdom, stories, legends, legal decisions and commentary on the Tenach (Old Testament).  It was developed in the 5th century AD and is studied by rabbinical Jews along with the Bible.  When viewed as traditional literature, it provides much useful historical detail including how Temple Service was actually executed, supplementing detail provided in the Tenach.  Unfortunately, some have elevated the Talmud to equality with the Word of God -- imbuing it with a degree of inerrancy.

 

Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah to men of his day which had fallen into this very same error: 

"And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.  But in vain do they worship Me.  TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' NEGLECTING THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, YOU HOLD TO THE TRADITION OF MEN."  Mark 7:6-8

 

Judaism could be headed for its own "protestant reformation", if the enthusiasm of the reformers is not compromised.  Who are these modern reformers?  The Jews of Ethiopia!  These Jews have been separated from the main branch of Judaism, possibly since the time of Solomon, some 3,000 years ago.  By Ethiopian tradition, they are descendant from Menelik, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and the leading Jewish families in his entourage.  Some believe that Menelik was concerned about his fathers lapse into idolatry, and before his journey to Ethiopia, he swapped the replica of the Ark of the Covenant given to him by his father for the real thing.  These same people believe that "Operation Moses" an "Operation Solomon" have not only returned an ancient branch of the Judaic family, but has also clandestinely returned the Ark of the Covenant -- time will tell!

During their 3,000 years of exile from the main body of Judaism, Ethiopian Jewry has not been exposed to rabbinical and Talmudic tradition.  They do not even have rabbis, they have priests  With the successful completion of Operations Moses and Solomon, God has infused some 35,000 "Torah only" reformers into Israel.  There are two possible outcomes.  In the worst case, Ethiopian Jewry will forsake all of its traditions, and be subsumed into their new culture and religious tradition.  Alternatively, the Judaic leadership could take the opportunity to reexamine and/or reclassify all their teachings and refocus their emphasis on the Word of God.

"Kes Menassie Zimru, the 83-year-old Ethiopian spiritual leader, shocked many Knesset members last month when he addressed them on matters urgent to the Ethiopian Jewish community.  Few expected the recent immigrant's remarks to focus so exclusively upon religious issues such as the need for women to remain in separate living quarters (the Beit Nida) and not immediately rejoin their families after childbirth and during menstruation.  This throwback to Talmudic times reminds one of the burning issues in the minds of many Ethiopian spiritual leaders here and in Ethiopia, and derives from the fact that the Ethiopian Jews practise a strict form of Judaism which calls for a literal and unwaivering obedience to the Tora. ... "Jews around the world may have superficial differences," he noted when asked about Jewish customs in Ethiopia, "but our Tora is the same Tora and our traditions arethe same. ... We live separately from other peoples and obey the laws of Moses.  Our Commandments are not oral history, but are written down in the Tora, which we received from Moshe in Sinai.  We are not allowed to add to what Moshe gave us."60

 

In Zephaniah 3:10-12 says:

""From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, My dispersed ones, will BRING MY OFFERINGS.  In that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds by which you have rebelled against Me; for then I will remove from you midst YOUR PROUD, EXULTING ONES, and you will never again BE HAUGHTY ON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN.  But I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.""

 

Could God's gift be the refocusing of Judaism on its Biblical, doctrinal treasures?  Who are these prideful ones who have been haughty in His Presence and who will be removed?  Perhaps this could be the pruning of the religious leadership, and the emergence of the biblically prescribed priesthood of the Third Temple.

 

Other Prophetic Preparations

 

When God delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery, the Israelites were forced to wander in the Wilderness for 40 years due to their sin.  But God did not force them to forage for their own food.  As any good Father, He provided His children with a daily meal of manna and quail -- a bit boring but life sustaining.  When the evil prince comes to power, Israel will be pursued and forced to live in the mountains of Judea for 42 months.  Just as God stocked the Wilderness pantry with quail to sustain the millions who fled Egypt, God seems to be preparing His menu for Israel's flight to the mountains: 

"The most amazing thing about the chukar partridges, Alectoris chukar, is that there are so many of them.  Wherever you go in the hilly regions of Israel you see them. ... The reason their numbers are surprising is that the late autumn to early spring hunting season is largely concentrated on this species.  In addition, at least 50 percent of their nests -- a shallow bowl scooped out on the ground -- are destroyed by predators, for the chukar is a most important part of the food chain that nurtures most small predators.  But despite this there are plenty of them about. ... The female lays anywhere from six to 20 small speckled eggs and broods on them for 26 days. ... If a nest is destroyed by a fox or other predator, and if it isn't very late in the season, the pair will most often start a new brood, although these replacement broods are usually smaller, about six to 12 eggs.  Although the male usually leaves the female when she begins to brood, cases have been known in which a single female laid two clutches of eggs and the male brooded on one of them.  No one knows exactly what circumstances elicit this behavior.”61

 

Birds of a different feather will not appear on the menu, but will be sitting at God's feasting table.  In Ezekiel 39:17-20 the invitation is issued to come and feast on the fallen invaders of the Russo-Israeli War:

"And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God, 'Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, "Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood""  Ezekiel 39:17

 

In preparation for this great feast, God has been multiplying his invited guests.  Every spring and fall 15 million raptors -- birds of prey -- commute through Israel on their way to or from their homelands. 

"European buzzards migrating southeast meet up with flocks flying southwest from Afghanistan.  From Turkey and Russia rise eagles, falcons, jackdaws, and storks to join them -- nearly 300 species in all.  An estimated 15 million birds migrate annually from Europe and Asia south to Africa along a narrow land corridor -- Eretz Yisroel.  All this takes place in late September and early October. ... The prophet Ezekiel in two chapters (38 and 39) foretells the attack by Gog, King of Magog, and his allies upon an Eretz Yisroel rebuilt and resettled. ... The tenth sentence of the haftora (39:4) is addressed to Gog: "You will fall on the mountains of Yisroel, you and all your troops and the many nations that are with you; to the birds of prey on the wing and the animals of the wild have I given you to be eaten." ...  How convenient of G-d to have some 15 million raptors overfly Eretz Yisroel every Sukkos [Feast of Tabernacles] ready for this tremendous feast predicted more than 2,300 years ago!"62

 

Perhaps in preparation for the coming of the King, archeologists have made another exiting discovery in recent years.  Israel now possesses an ancient jug of Balsam oil that could be used to anoint their Messianic King.  God had hidden this oil away for 2,000 years.  In early 1989, it was released to the press that:

 "Israeli archeologists, searching caves near the Dead Sea, have discovered what they believe is a 2,000-year-old jug of once-fragrant oil of the kind used to anoint the ancient Israelite kings.  Even though the oil is thought to have been placed in its earthen container at the time of Jesus, it was still fluid and had maintained its original chemical composition, though it had lost its fragrance."64

 

NEW HEARTS, EYES AND SPIRITS

 

In addition to promising to regather Israel and establishing them in their own land, God also promised to put His Spirit in them.  As a result of this new spirit, they would be able to recognize the moving of the hand of God in the lives of the people.

"And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land.  Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it," declares the Lord."  Ezekiel 37:14

 

Israeli statehood not only fulfilled the Zionist dream of a Jewish Homeland, it also began the fulfillment of this promise.  Jews have begun to realize that the Messianic age is about to dawn.  "We have no prophets among us today, but students of the Bible can easily see that the day of redemption is coming closer."65  As Rabbi Meir Kahane wrote before his assassination:  "One who lives and looks about and considers and contemplates the extraordinarily awesome events of the past 50 years and does not understand that here is the Divine hand of the Almighty moving His world into the final chapter, is either blind beyond hope of vision or a stiff-necked soul who deliberately refuses to see and acknowledge." 66

 

While, a number of years ago, the moving of the hand of God may only have been recognized by those considered "religious," today, that recognition is at a grassroots level.  All Israel has been awestruck by the Divine intervention evidenced in two major events -- the dramatic ingathering of the exiles and the Persian Gulf War. 

 "According to Menachem Brod, spokesman for Habad in Israel, the expectation that the arrival of the Messiah is imminent arises from a series of signs which have appeared over the past few decades. ... Even the establishment of the State of Israel, Bord said, could be viewed as part of the preparation for salvation.  True, he said, Habad did not share the view of religious Zionists who view the establishment of the state as "the first flowering of our redemption," but certainly the fact that all Jews could come to the Land of Israel was significant."67

 

The Prime Minister of Israel has publicly declared that the massive immigrations which his nation is experiencing is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy:  "The current waves of Jewish immigration to Israel are a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir declared in his address to the nation on Israel's Independence Day.  The immigration from Russia, Ethiopia, and Albania is the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah.  " I will bring your offspring from the East and gather you from the West; to the North, I will say, 'Give them up, and the south. Do not hold them.'""68

 

The chemical threat to Israel during Gulf War I which caused them to live in "sealed rooms" was also viewed as a direct fulfillment of prophecy:

"The Prophet Isaiah in chapter 26, verse 20, foretold the present day danger to the people of Israel.  According to the Radak, in the time of the wars of Gog U'Magog... there will be danger.  Therefore, the Prophet Isaiah advises: "Go, my people, enter your room, close and seal the door and hide therein for a moment until the danger passes." (This is happening today.)  The Prophet continues: "Then the L-rd will come forth and punish the sinners (the murderers) for their iniquity and the earth shall no more cover those who were slain (the Jews)."  The murderers will be punished."69

 

In the tense moments before the Gulf War, "over 25,000 Jews flocked to the Western Wall under heavy police protection Monday afternoon to pray for G-d's help in enduring the safety of the Jewish people if war breaks out. ... Calling on people to pray to G-d to "save us from those who rise up against us," the poster quoted the verse from Psalms: "Some depend on horses and some on chariots, but we invoke the Name of G-d our L-rd.  They stumble and fall, but we are risen and stand firmly."70  Israel sought the protection of her God and received it!

 

The Divine and miraculous protection which Israel enjoyed during Gulf War I was viewed as a major "sign" of the coming Messianic age.  Belief in the immanent advent of Messiah has excited Jewish desires and cries for redemption now!

"Most Jews believe in the coming of Moshiach [Messiah].  But often it has become a dry, abstract belief, just mumbling over the "Ani Maamin" by rote.  By realizing how we have witnessed supernatural miracles, we now have a Heaven-sent opportunity to bring our believe in the Moshiach to life.  Even more vividly can our belief in Moshiach be brought to life by studying Torah subject about Moshiach and the Messianic age ...  Now it depends only on us.  We have all seen the miracles.  All we need do now is believe with all our hearts in the coming of Moshiach and to implore the Almighty -- and really mean it -- to bring the geula [redemption] immediately.  It is essential that those with access to the media, like writers and newspaper editors, should now utilize their full talents to bring the message of these miracles to the widest possible public. ... All Jews, especially writers and editors, have the sacred duty to help create a storm of public opinion that will demand of the Almighty: After all Your amazing miracles, please, please, keep Your promise by bringing us the Moshiach NOW!"72

 

Would that all Jews and Christians would open themselves to the same "reality of doctrine", expectation, desire, commitment to study and need to spread the message!  However, there are still sceptics in both communities.  But strong teachers can make a difference:

 "One afternoon during the [Gulf] war, several hundred students crowded into the lecture hall of a Zionist Yeshiva in Jerusalem.  Relaxed and smiling, they have been given the afternoon off from the rigors of study.  Their bearded instructor comes in with a pile of texts.  He begins his lecture by listing parallels between the current crisis and signs of the messianic age.  As he speaks, a low swell of laughter rustles the room.  He smiles, this situation having occurred before.  Plugging into images and passages from the Bible, Talmud, and other halachic writings, he tells the students: "Right now you're smiling, but by the end of my lecture, you may be frightened."  One of the most prominent scholars seeing the Messianic process in recent events is Rabbi Professor Leon Ashkenazi, a Jerusalem-based Sephardi scholar.  Ashkenazi believes that, "one does not just get up and start  believing in a Messianic Era just because of what happens this year.  I believed that process was underway a long time ago, because the advent of Zionism signified the Ingathering of the Exiles."73

 

Jews the world over are sensing the dawn of the Messianic Kingdom.  Soon they will be sought after -- not to be murdered -- but because of their special relationship with God.

"'So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of host in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.'  Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."'"  Zechariah 8:22-21

 

At that time the nations will stream to Jerusalem to be taught and judged:

"And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains.  It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it.  And many nations will come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths."  For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. ..."  Micah 4:1-3

 

The Messianic Era is dawning!  Those who chose to look can see it! 

 

THE STEPS AHEAD

 

The Israeli Pathway is a busy one!  We will soon encounter each of the major Signposts and intersections with every other Pathway.  The steps until the mid-point of the Covenant are already clear:

·          Israel has been reborn in Eretz Yisrael,

·          her children -- cast to the four winds -- are returning home, most dramatically, Soviet Jewry (those held by "Gog") and Ethiopian Jewry (those held by "Cush"),

·          she is actively preparing for the reinstitution of Temple service,

·          she is being fitted for a diplomatic and  economic noose by the forming European Empire, and

·          she is being increasingly pressured to enter into a Middle East Peace Covenant that will once again attempt to break the divine bond between the Land and the People of God.

 

At this late hour on God's timepiece, it should come as no surprise that even more distant steps on the Israeli Pathway are coming into view.  The steps which fall between the mid-point of the Covenant and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom are appearing out of the mists of time.  These include:

·          the rise of anti-semitism on a world scale,

·          Jerusalem becoming

·          the seat of the Prince's kingdom and the site of his deification

·          "a cup of trembling [or reeling] unto ALL THE PEOPLES ROUND ABOUT..."74 -- the Arab nations are intoxicated with the thought of repossessing the City of God, and are prepared for war; allied first with Gog and then with the evil prince

·          "a burdensome stone FOR ALL PEOPLES; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces..."75 -- Jerusalem is a diplomatic dilemma that all foreign ministers feel compelled to address and mishandle

·          an international "outlaw" -- Jerusalem is consistently condemned by the world community; soon to face "Operation Armageddon"

·          the demand for fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah and the dream of the Messianic Kingdom becoming a tangible reality.

 

Israel's prophets, priests and kings longingly looked forward to the arrival of Messiah and the establishment of His Kingdom.  Think of them!  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and all the other faithful servants of God who prayed that they might see His coming.  And by the evidence before us, it would appear that you and I will be the ones privileged to witness His return.  We are truly a blessed generation!

 

We can see the hand of God moving in the most visible ways! 

·          He has reestablished His people in their land. 

·          He is regathering His people a second time from the four corners of the earth in the most dramatic ways. 

·          He has ensured Israel's victory in battle. 

·          And now, He has renewed in the hearts of His people the hope of the Messianic promise. 

 

There is electricity in the air!  The signs of Messiah's arrival are so numerous that the Promise is becoming tangible.  The coming of Messiah is no longer a dry doctrine or a repetitious prayer.  The voices of Jews and Christians are joined in prayerful petition that God complete His Messianic promises now.

 

As we soberly consider the sins which will be committed against God's People and His City between now and the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom, let us share in the song of David in Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper who love thee."

 

Let us comfort ourselves in knowing that our God reigns -- now and throughout eternity!

 

 

FOOTNOTES

1 Genesis 25:5

2  Genesis 25:18

3  Genesis 17:21

4  Josephus, translated by William Whiston, The Works of Josephus Complete and Unabridged, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Mass, 1987, p. 741.

5  Eban, Abba, Heritage:Civilization and the Jews, Summit Books, NY, 1984  p 87-88

6  Eban. Op Cit  p87-88

7  Eban, Op Cit, p 177

8  Eban, Op Cit, p 199-200

9  New York Times, 5/21/91

10  Sanders, Ronald, The High Walls of Jerusalem: A History of the Balfour Declaration and the Birth of the British Mandate for Palestine, Hold, Rinehart and Winston, New York, p 508

11  Ibid, p612-613

12  Leviticus 25

13  Zechariah 12:3

14  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 4/13/91

15  Jewish Press, 6/29/90

16  Jewish Press editorial, 3/22/91

17  Jewish Press, 6/29/90

18  Jewish Press editorial, 3/22/91

19  New York Times editorial, 3/19/91

20  Jewish Press editorial, 3/22/91

21  Jewish Press, 6/29/90

22  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 4/6/91

23  Jewish Press, 6/29/90

24  New York Times, 5/24/91

25  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 4/28/91

26  Jewish Press, 2/15/91

27  The Jewish Press, 4/5/91

28  The Jewish Press, 4/26/91

29  Ibid

30  New York Times, 4/19/91

31  Ibid

32  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 1/19/91

33  Jewish Press, 5/31/91

34  New York Times, 5/25/91

35  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 2/16/91

36  New York Times, 5/25/91

37  Ibid

38  New York Times, 5/26/91

39  New York Times, 5/26/91

40  Ibid

41  Ibid

42  The Jewish Press, 4/19/91

43  New York Times, 3/15/91

44  New York Times, 1/9/91

45  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 1/12/91

46  New York Times, 1/9/91

47  New York Times, 11/24/90

48  "Time for a New Temple?", Time, 10/16/89

49  The Jewish Press, 10/6/89

50  In the same interview he indicated that he would not like to see the existing mosques on the Temple Mount -- The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque -- destroyed, but would like them to be moved, perhaps to Mecca.

51  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 4/13/91

52  "Where the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem Stood: Extant "Foundation Stone" for the Ark of the Covenant is Identified", Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1983

53  The Jewish Press, 11/3/89

54  New York Times, 4/9/89

55  "Time for a New Temple?", Time, 10/16/89

56  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 8/19/89

57  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 11/10/90

58  Jewish Israel: A guide for Jews to the land of their fathers.  Nima Publications, Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel, 1988. p94-95

59  "Time for a New Temple?", Time, 10/16/89 (Richard N. Ostling)

60  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 3/30/91

61  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 3/9/91

62  The Jewish Press, 10/13/89

63  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 9/15/90

64  New York Times, 2/16/89

65  The Jewish Press, 9/7/90

66  The Jewish Press, 8/3/90

67  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 5/4/91

68  The Jewish Press, 4/26/91

69  The Jewish Press, 2/8/91

70  The Jewish Press, 1/18/91

71  The Jewish Press, 1/25/91

72  The Jewish Press, 5/3/91

73  The Jerusalem Post International Edition, 3/9/91

74  Zechariah 12:2