The Mideast March to Megiddo

By Paul Feinberg

Those who live in the Western world tend to think that the most important world events happen in Washington D.C., Ottawa, London, or at least in the United Nations. But serious Bible students have long realized that this is simply false. From a divine perspective the Middle East, in a very real sense, is the center of divine activity in human history. It was there that God chose a small nation from which the Messiah and Savior of the world was to be born. And it is there that the events which mark the end of human history will take place. Therefore, whenever social, political, or economic unrest takes place in that part of the world, serious Christians observe the activity with close attention.

In this chapter I would like to tell the biblical story about what is to take place there in the future and also examine current events in this area to see what light they might shed on what the Bible says.

Daniel's Seventieth Week

Daniel 9 reveals a very important and fundamental prophecy,' one which has to do with a time after the church has been taken out of the world to be with her Lord in heaven. Daniel is told that this revelation is about His people, Israel, and His city, Jerusalem. Daniel 9:2 and following states the occasion for the giving of this prophecy: Daniel, who is studying the prophecy of Jeremiah (25:11,12; 29: 10), in which God says that the desolation of Jerusalem was to last 70 years because of Israel's sin of idolatry, becomes concerned; he wants to know when this period will be completed. He is uncertain as to when the 70 years of exile will be over because there were three sieges of Jerusalem, the city falling only on the last.

God does not answer Daniel's question directly, but gives him a related revelation. It is not about 70 years in which idolatry will be ended, but about 70 "weeks" or heptods (490 years) in which all iniquity, transgression, and sin will be put away from the nation of Israel and eternal righteousness will be established (Daniel 9:24). Sixty-nine of these "weeks" are now past; they ended with the coming of Messiah, the Prince, at His baptism and entrance into the messianic office (Daniel 9:25). After the first 483 years and before the last seven years, two things will happen that are related to God's people Israel (Daniel 9:26): Messiah will be cut off and have nothing (the word translated "cut off" is used of a violent death) and the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed, an event which we know occurred in 70 A.D.

That brings us to verse 27, the most important one for the topic at hand. Some interpreters believe that week 70 immediately follows the end of the sixty-ninth week. The antecedent of the "he" which begins the verse, in this view, is Messiah, the Prince, of verse 25. This interpretation states that the covenant which the Messiah makes with many is the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 and Hebrew 10. This covenant was established by Christ's death on the cross. The most serious objection to this view-and a decisive reason for rejecting it-is the fact that the new covenant is not a seven-year covenant, but an eternal one.

The correct interpretation of this verse identifies the antecedent of the "he" with the ruler who will come. If this were not the case, then it would be impossible to explain why "he" is in the text. Verse 26 makes perfect sense without his mention. Again, the only explanation for his inclusion is that "he" is the antecedent of the pronoun that begins verse 27. Therefore the seventieth week of Daniel is not about the Messiah, but Antichrist. Daniel's seventieth week will be the week of Antichrist. On the basis of this text, Christians talk about a time of trial or tribulation which will last for seven years before Christ returns to the earth.

A Counterfeit Trinity

Satan, the great counterfeiter of God and God's truth, will present a counterfeit trinity to the world during Daniel's seventieth week. Revelation 12 and 13 describe this trinity. Chapter 12 reveals the motivator and central figure-that old dragon, Satan, who has two masterpieces described in chapter 13: the beast from the sea and the beast from the earth, or land. Since the sea often symbolizes the nations of the world, it is fair to say that Antichrist will be a Gentile. Moreover, this deceiver's functions will be political (Daniel 2, 7). The second beast will be from the earth or land. I think he will be an apostate Jew, as the land of Israel is often referred to as "the land." This beast's functions will be religious (Daniel 8,11; 2 Thessalonians 2:3ff.).

This trinity, then, will consist of Satan himself, a Gentile political leader located in Rome, and an apostate Jewish religious leader who will operate from Jerusalem. Some refer to the first beast as the Antichrist or the beast; others call the first beast the Antichrist and the second the false prophet. Therefore it is helpful to observe each one's function and location to avoid ambiguity. The two will try, however, to establish a worldwide rule during the tribulation period.

Peace at Last?

We are now able to identify the "he" of Daniel 9:27 He is the first beast of Revelation 13, the political leader. We learn that this final week of Daniel's prophecy will begin with a covenant that this leader will make with many in the nation of Israel for one "week" of seven years. This agreement will guarantee Israel's political and religious sovereignty and autonomy. The Jews will be allowed to build a tribulation temple and establish a sacrificial system. Scriptures indicate a brief period of peace for the first 3 years, although some of the judgments of Revelation 6- 19 will begin to fall on the earth.'

A number of things will happen at the midpoint of the week to radically change what will take place. First, Satan will enter heaven and make war with Michael the archangel. Michael will prevail against Satan and his followers, who will be cast to the earth. Satan will immediately turn his rage and anger against the nation of Israel, pictured as a woman. It is clear that without God's supernatural intervention and protection of the woman, Satan would destroy her (Revelation 12:13-17). The temple worship of sacrifices and oblation will cease (Daniel 9:27).

Although some would disagree with this, I think that this time frame will roughly be the time of the revelation of the second beast, the world religious leader who will come into prominence with the destruction of the harlot of Revelation 17 and the end of temple worship in Israel. Jesus taught that what will follow will be a time of great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world and never equaled again. As a matter of fact, if the days of the severest trial were not shortened, no flesh would survive (Matthew 24:21,22). We can see what Jesus meant. The number and severity of the divine judgments spoken of in Revelation 6-19 will intensify. This counterfeit trinity will take power and try to subject the entire world to its authority (Revelation 13:15-18). There will be the abomination of desolation in the holy place (Daniel 9:27; 12: 11; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4; Revelation 13:11-15).

It is difficult to identify precisely what is meant by the abomination of desolation, but this phrase often refers to idols or idolatry, which would indicate that an idol-most likely of the first beast who was wounded, died, and rose again-will be placed in the temple. This world religious leader will try to establish the final form of apostate religion, the worship of Satan as God. Failure to comply will be met with the most severe physical, social, and economic sanctions (Revelation 13:15-18).

The Meeting at Megiddo

Within this context, the nations of the world will march to a meeting with Almighty God at Megiddo, or Armageddon. The relationship between these two terms is not entirely clear. In fact, the name "Armageddon" appears only once in the Bible, in Revelation 16:16, and it does not appear in any Hebrew text that we possess, leading some interpreters to suggest that this refers not to a geographic locality, but rather to an event. Others believe the word "Armageddon" is a corruption in the language, and really means "city of desire" or "his fruitful mountain." If so, it might refer to the city of Jerusalem. However, the most popular explanation- and the one that I think is correct-is that Armageddon refers to Mount (Ar) Megiddo (Magedon), a military stronghold (Joshua 12:2 1; 17; Judges 1:27; 2 Kings 8:27) which occupied a strategic position on the southern rim of the Plain of Esdraelon in the north of Palestine.

Megiddo is mentioned often in the Old Testament. It was a royal city for the Canaanites (Joshua 12:21), and after the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, it was given to Issachar (Joshua 17: 11), although it later became the possession of the tribe of Manasseh (judges 1:27). Megiddo did not become secure within the land until the time of Solomon, who built fortifications in the area and placed 12 deputies over Taanach and Megiddo (1 Kings 4:12; 9:15) .5

A number of significant Old Testament historical events occurred in this locality. It was here that Barak was victorious over the king of Hazor, whose army was under the command of Sisera (judges 4:13-15). In addition, Gideon defeated the Midianites here (judges 7), Saul died here (I Samuel 31:6-8), and Ahaziah, king of Judah, fled to this place and died here (2 Kings 9:27). However, the primary historical interest in this area lies in the death of Josiah, who attempted to stop Pharaoh Neco of Egypt as he passed through Carmel into the plain of Megiddo. Unsuccessful in his attempt, Josiah was shot by an Egyptian archer as he tried to escape. He died on the road to Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:29,30; 2 Chronicles 35:20-24; Zechariah 12: 11).

Megiddo is identified with the modern archaeological site of Tell el-Mutesellim. This site has been extensively excavated, and is one of the most important sites in Palestine.

Mount Megiddo or Armageddon is important not only historically but prophetically as well. This is where one of the climactic battles of human history-a conflict between the forces of God and the forces of Satan-will be fought. The Bible tells of a period of time called "the day of the Lord" that precedes the return of the Lord to this earth. This will be a time when a multinational war will take place (Joel 3:9-15; Zechariah 14:1-5; Zephaniah 3:8; cf. Mark 13:7,14ff., 24ff.). For premillennialists, this will come before Christ sets up his kingdom on this earth for a thousand years.

Armageddon: Battle or War?

As I have already said, there is some disagreement over the scriptural meaning of Armageddon. One problem facing the biblical interpreter is that it seems difficult to present a coherent picture of all that is said on this subject. For this reason some commentators think that Armageddon symbolically represents this final conflict. They caution against taking the prophetic, apocalyptic imagery too literally.

However, I believe there is a better way of dealing with the interpretive problem: We must recognize that Armageddon is not a battle, but a war. This can be supported by two considerations. First, the only actual mention of Armageddon in the New Testament is in Revelation 16:16, and it is in the context of a battle on the great day of God Almighty (Revelation 16:14). This Greek word may be translated either as "battle" (NIV) or "war" (NASB). I prefer the NASB rendering. That is, Armageddon will not be a single battle, but a full-fledged war.

Second, as we gather all the texts that relate to this conflict, we see fighting throughout the land of Palestine. Revelation 14:20 speaks about blood flowing out of God's winepress as high as the bridles of the horses for the distance of about 180 to 200 miles-the distance from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. Having said this, the Bible describes three principal areas of conflict: fighting to the south of Palestine (Daniel 11:40-45), which is said to occur in Egypt, Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Ethopia, as well as in the south of Israel by the Dead Sea; fighting in the north (Ezekiel 38, 39; Daniel 11:40-45); and conflict in the city of Jerusalem and the Kidron Valley (Joel 3; Zechariah 12, 14).

If this is the correct understanding of the teaching of Scripture, then Armageddon will not be just a battle, but a war-with three major areas of fighting-that will ultimately engulf the entire land of Palestine. And it gets its name from one of the major battles or areas of conflict.

All the Nations of the World

Not only will this war involve the whole land of Israel, but the Bible teaches that all the nations of the world will also become embroiled in it (Zechariah 12:3; 14:2; Revelation 16:14). These nations quite clearly will form four power blocks or alliances: nations to the south of the land of Palestine; a confederacy from the West; armies from the East (Revelation 16:12)-mounted troops will number 200 million (Revelation 9:16); and finally, nations from the north of the land of Israel (Ezekiel 38, 39; Daniel 11:40-45).

When the Bible speaks of all the nations of the whole world, does this mean that every country in existence today will do battle in Armageddon? Obviously not. just within the last decade, we have seen some nations come and go. None of us can say for sure just what nations will be in existence at the time this prophecy is fulfilled. Will the nations of the Western Hemisphere- the U.S., Canada, and Mexico be a part of this final conflict? They are not mentioned by name anywhere in the Bible. This does not mean that they will not be in existence, but neither would any prophecy be falsified by their absence.

While certain nations are not specifically mentioned in any way in prophecy, other nations are clearly named as participants in Armageddon. Some of the nations named fall under general designations. Daniel 2 and 7 clearly indicate a Western confederacy of nations, although the exact nations included in that alliance are not clear. These two chapters speak of four world powers that will arise one after another. Though not all Bible students agree, it seems best to identify this fourth kingdom with Rome, which we know will exist in prophetic times. During Daniel's seventieth week a little horn will arise and take power. He will be the world political leader.

We are not certain which nations the symbols of ten toes and ten horns signify. Some have tried to identify this prophecy with the creation of an European Common Market in our time. It is difficult to say whether this is correct. If Christ were to return for His church today, it could well be that this Common Market would be used in the fulfillment of this prophecy. However, if Christ's coming is some years off, even centuries into the future, we cannot say what the case will be. Recent history teaches us that nations making up the Common Market have changed; nations have come into and out of existence. What we can say with confidence is that, if we are correct in our interpretation of the Daniel texts, God will raise up a confederacy of nations in this general area to participate in the event of the end times.

Similarly, Revelation 16:12 indicates that a group of nations will come from the East to Armageddon. The nations are not named, but the size of their troops is enormous. This fact, in addition to the fact that the Euphrates River is dried up to aid their march to Megiddo, precludes this as a reference to the nations to the immediate east of the land of Palestine: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq. So some interpreters identify this contingent with nations such as India and China.

Other nations named specifically as participants in this conflict include: Ammon (Jeremiah 9:26; Ezekiel 25:1-7; Daniel 11:41); Assyria (Isaiah 14:24-27); Egypt (Isaiah 19, 20; Ezekiel 29, 30; Daniel 11:41); Libya (Daniel 11:43); Moab (Isaiah 15, 16); and Syria (Isaiah 17), to name just a few. There is also the possibility that Babylon (Isaiah 13, 14, 21) will be rebuilt. Ancient Babylon is modem Iraq and part of Iran. The Bible speaks of its absolute destruction, and this seems never to have occurred historically. While we do not know exactly what nations will be in existence at the time of Armageddon, the Bible states clearly that all those nations which do survive until eschatological times will participate in the meeting at Megiddo.

Battle Plan for Armageddon

So far we have seen that Armageddon will involve all the nations of the world and will be fought over the entire land of Palestine, but exactly what will happen? Three passages in Scripture help us understand the battle plan for Armageddon: Daniel 11:40-45; Revelation 16:12-21; Revelation 19:11-21. This war will begin with simultaneous invasions into the Holy Land from the south and the north. The invaders will be successful at first, with many countries falling. While the power blocs mentioned before will fight one another for their own self-interests, they will arrive at the city of Jerusalem, where they will decide to unite against God and His people, Israel.

But God will respond to the challenge of the nations against his people Israel. Christ will return to the earth in great power and glory with the armies of heaven. From His mouth will come a sharp sword, with which He will strike the nations of the world. Christ Himself and the armies of heaven will make war against the ungodly trinity. The seventh bowl of judgment will be released. This will include flashes of lightning, rumblings, thunder, and a great earthquake which will cause the City of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives to its east to be split. The enemy will be struck with panic and madness. Islands and mountains will disappear. God will hurl from the sky huge hailstones that weigh a hundred pounds. The political and religious leaders who have deceived the world will be caught and cast into the lake of fire.

It is not hard to imagine what this will do to the nations of the world who have come against the Jews: They will do their best to get away from the destruction. At this time God will destroy the armies that flee to the south (Daniel 11:42-44) and to the north (Ezekiel 38 and 39). While some students of prophecy understand Ezekiel 38 and 39 to take place in the middle of Daniel's seventieth week, I think it is better to place it as a part of Armageddon. Since this speaks of the destruction of armies on the mountains of Israel in the north, this may explain the significance of the battle and why the war is called Armageddon.

I place the prophecy here because of the completeness of the destruction. It will take seven years to put out the fires God has sent forth from heaven, as well as seven months to bury the dead. This seems out of keeping with something that will take place in the middle of the tribulation period. Further, Ezekiel says that this conflict was spoken of in the former days by the prophets. I think these prophets speak of God's wrath in connection with the return of Christ, not with the events in the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel.

Can This Be True?

What I have just described is what I call the biblical story, or at least an important version of that narrative. At this point some would argue that we have a compelling reason for rejecting the Bible as true and relevant to our lives today.

This is an ancient book, some 2000 years old, they would say. It may have been written by people who were spiritually sensitive, but they could not possibly have known anything beyond their own historical horizon. How could a writer of 800 B.C. or A.D. 95 know anything about the geopolitics of the final generation ? To think that they might is foolishness of the highest order.

We conservative, evangelical Christians have a ready and correct response to such claims. The Bible is indeed a human book. It has human authors who wrote using their own personalities, style, and vocabulary. But the Bible has dual authorship; it is not just a human book, but a divine Book as well. The Holy Spirit superintended the genuinely human authors so that they were kept from error and had access to knowledge that transcended their time-bound place in history. The Bible is not ahistorical, but what is expressed in it transcends the writers' place in history because God is also its Author (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1: 16-21). Therefore, when the Bible predicts what will take place in the future, we have a good reason for believing what we read. This point has been substantiated concretely, for the Bible not only tells us what we should expect at the return of Christ and afterward, but it told us what would happen at Christ's first coming. Christians have always pointed to fulfilled prophecy in Christ's first advent to justify our confidence in what is said about the second advent.

There remains, however, another question, one which comes not from those who reject the Bible's authority but from those who accept it and believe that whatever the Bible teaches is true. The question they raise is about the interpretation of prophetic literature. They would respond to my description of the biblical story with accusations that I have taken the texts I have discussed too literally. Their position would be something like this: The Bible does teach that there will great evil on the earth before Christ returns. However, we should be careful in taking what is said too literally. Prophetic literature is full of symbolic depiction of events, and thus Armageddon is a name given by biblical writers to an end-time conflict between good and evil. God is victorious, but care should be exercised in the description of the details.

At this point a look at current history will show that while the geopolitics of the world have certainly changed over the nearly two millennia since the close of the canon of Scripture, the Middle East still plays a critical role in the modern world. That is, though we may think that Washington D.C. or the political centers of Europe are the center of politics in our world, our attention continually returns to events in the Middle East. Before I turn to examine some of these events, a word of caution seems in order. The student of prophecy should avoid two mistakes when thinking about current events. The first is to ignore the events as if they have no significance in relation to what the Bible has to say. To do this is to allow the events spoken of in the Bible and unfolding in history to overtake us without our proper preparation!

Second, prophecy students should avoid identifying events as explicit fulfillment of prophecy. If the rapture of the church is the next event on God's prophetic calendar and if it is not preceded by any signs, then we should be very careful about talking about the fulfillment of signs which show that Christ is coming for His church. Closely related to this point is the fact that Scripture does not tell us the time of Christ's coming, which is imminent; that is, it can occur at any moment. Jesus could have come for His church in the first century A.D. or He could come many years, even centuries, from our time.

Current events might look strikingly similar to those prophetic signals which God's Word says will precede Christ's second advent-that is, His literal return to earth to set up His millennial kingdom. However, since Scripture teaches that there are no signs that precede Christ's coming for His church in the air (i.e., prophecies yet to be fulfilled before the rapture of the church), we must be careful not to dogmatically proclaim that events we see occurring today are signals of the imminent rapture. We should not pass over this point rapidly. We need to understand that attributing to current events prophetic significance pointing to the rapture is an error that might cause the unsaved, who so desperately need Jesus Christ, to go even deeper into unbelief.

With this in mind, let us turn to what I have called the facts of current history in the Middle East.

Armageddon and Oil

Clearly, a major reason for the importance of this region is related to its oil reserves. Many readers remember the gasoline shortage of the early 1970s. Since almost everything in highly industrialized societies runs on petroleum products, anything that can upset the free flow of oil from the Middle East poses a serious threat to the industrialized nations of the world.

Even more of us remember the events of 1990, when, while much of the world was either on vacation or asleep, Saddam Hussein took Kuwait by force. That act placed under Hussein's control 20 percent of the world's known oil reserves. Within two weeks the price of gasoline at the pump rose by 50 percent; in two months the price increased by 100 percent.' Hussein was then in a position to control navigation on the Persian Gulf, a means of transporting 40 percent of the oil from the region. The nations of the world could not stand idly by and watch 46 percent of the world's oil reserve threatened.' Seldom has the world witnessed such unity among the world's leaders. They met at the United Nations and voted sanctions against Iraq.

The abundance of oil in Arab countries has resulted in a redistribution of the world's wealth. In those countries where oil is plentiful and the population is not dense, per capita income can be as high as 17,000 dollars, as in the United Arab Emirates.' Oil revenues are so great that they could make it possible to buy the Bank of America in six days and IBM in 143 days. Given the oil reserves of this area and the economic power that comes from the redistribution of the world wealth to this region, it is not hard to imagine the prophecies of the ancient seers coming true. Though many regimes seem grossly out of step with our modern, high-tech societies, there is wealth and power enough to send all the nations of the world there to protect what they see as their own self-interests.

Longstanding Hatreds

Give peace a try! This popular slogan certainly seems to be good advice. With oil and wealth come economic prosperity. Why resort to war? All of this might make perfect sense to the rational mind, but irrationality is the order of the day in the Middle East. Hatreds there are longstanding and run deep. Israel is a small nation surrounded by hostile neighbors, some of whom are sworn to drive her into the sea. The hostility that rages has a very long history, one that we can trace back to Isaac and Ishmael in the book of Genesis. So when Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat shake hands and make peace on the lawn of the White House, it is no small accomplishment.

As if the hostility between Jew and Arab were not enough, little unity exists among the Arabs themselves. While it is true that the Arab League has been formed, old and deep hostility remains among Arabs. We can see this in two ways. First, leaders of Arab states who try to make peace with Israel are in danger of losing their lives. For example, when Egypt and Israel made peace, Anwar Sadat paid for this courageous act with his life. Lest we think the Jews are exempt from similar acts, just remember the murder of Yitzhak Rabin. Second, even where a peace accord has been reached, radicals who oppose the peace resort to violence to overturn it. Peace seems eminently rational for this region, but though it sometimes seems within our reach, it always eludes our grasp. Hatred makes this area unstable.

The Supernatural Factor

No analysis of the Middle East is complete unless we recognize that supernatural forces are at work. Human history is an arena in which the struggle between God and Satan is played out. This is where the conflict between good and evil stages its last act. Almost every passage that gives us the biblical story shows this supernatural factor at work. In Revelation 16:12-16, the New Testament passage in which we see the word "Armageddon," John sees three evil spirits that look like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon. These evil spirits went out to the kings of the whole earth to bring them to Armageddon. Great deceptive power was given to these demon spirits so that they could perform miraculous signs. In Zechariah, it is God who says that He will make Jerusalem a burden to all the nations of the world (12:3), and that it is He who will gather all the nations to this city (14:2). Ezekiel puts this same point in striking language. He says that God will put hooks in the jaws of the nations of the world to bring them to Armageddon (38:4), and that He will turn them around and drag them along (39:2). The nations have hated God and His people Israel. Now the nations are brought supernaturally to the valley of Jehoshaphat so that God can enter into judgment against the nations (Joel 3:1-3).

Supernatural forces are not only responsible for the nations coming to Armageddon, but repeatedly we are told that God sets the limits on the success of wickedness. Daniel says that God's court will sit in judgment of this end-time world political leader, and that his power will be taken away and he will be completely destroyed (7:26). Concerning the end-time religious leader, God says that his end is decreed (9:27), and that he will come to his end and no one will be able to help him (11:45). Ezekiel teaches us that God does this to show His greatness and holiness (38:23) and that throughout the punishment of the nations God will display His glory among them (39:21).

God is at work through human means to accomplish His plan. Everything is transpiring right on time, and victory is assured both for Him and for those who are His.

What Can We Do?

Sometimes all of this seems so abstract and beyond our control. Mat difference does it make to my everyday life? More importantly, "at can I do to make any kind of difference? As Christians we are never taught to acquiesce to circumstance or to give ourselves over to despair. We are clearly commanded to do certain things.

1. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and this region. The Holy Spirit says through David that we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem among its neighbors (Psalm 122:6). Notice that we are never commanded to pray for the wrath and judgment of God to fall on the nations. These things will come; that is certain. However, we are to be peacemakers. We are to pray for peace. This is something that we know we should do, but too often we think our prayers will be ineffectual; even worse, we forget to pray for peace at all. Only heaven will show how the prayers of God's saints have changed the course of human history. Let us not be so fainthearted that we lack the faith to believe that God may grant peace, even in our time.

2. Share the gospel with precious Arab and Jewish people. Again, this is something that most of us would consent to in theory but fail to put into practice. Paul says that the gospel is the power of God. From a human perspective it seems as though there is no hope for peace in the Middle East. However, with God anything is possible! We realize that if relationships between nations and within nations are to be changed, it will only come through a change of heart, and only God can do that. Evangelism among Arabs and Jews is not easy; it takes some preparation on our part, and it seems even more difficult because many of us can travel to the Middle East only for a short visit, if at all. Thus we need to provide means for mission agencies as extensions of our feet and our lips in the carrying of the good news to these needy hearts in these nations.

3. Support attempts to bring peace and justice to the nations of the Middle East. Sometimes our eschatology has been used to justify our inaction. We say that we are really happy that things look bleak, because then it is more likely that the Lord will return soon. And we want Him to come. But Christians are to be peacemakers, not warmongers. Peace will not come and it certainly will not last where there is no justice or fairness. justice is difficult to describe for the Middle East. The Jews are God's chosen people. But the Arabs for the most part are also the descendants of Abraham. So when God says that He will bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him, that principle applies to both Arab and Jew. While the land of Israel has been promised to Israel, that is after the return of the Messiah. Furthermore, the reason the Jews have been in exile is because of disobedience and disbelief. Though God holds nations responsible for their actions toward Israel, in an important sense they are His chastening rod. Therefore, as informed Christians, we need to be fair. We need to find and support justice for all parties, realizing that there is a time when the judge of all the earth will set things in order and see that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

4. Rest in the assurance that God is in control of human history, and He will be victorious. His glory will be displayed to Israel and the nations. The study of prophecy is practical indeed. We already know the end: God is victorious. Nothing can defeat His glorious will. We are on the winning side. A healthy appreciation of God's activity in history allows the saints to rest in the serenity of eternity while still living in the chaos of time. Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!