Israel on the Spot

By Zola Levitt

If it weren't for the Bible, it would certainly be hard to explain why Israel is considered so important in the world today. Indeed, when we look at nations with populations comparable to Israel's, we find they are only rarely in the news as would be expected. For example, Benin, Paraguay and Denmark have their ups and downs like all nations, but the goings-on in such relatively small places is of little concern to the world leaders, the media and the man on the street.

Media attention is what makes a nation famous or infamous in today's world, and for some reason (known only to God) Israel gets much more than its share. While a handful of reporters cover European capitals, there are 400 newspeople, TV commentators and the like in Jerusalem every day! While entire revolutions take place in countries ten times Israel's size with minor media coverage, CNN virtually stops its news day to report that the orthodox and the secular Jewish people are arguing again on some Israeli street. The Dallas Morning News, a reliable critic of Israel along with so many of its sister newspapers in this country, ran a picture of so-called strife while covering some neighborhood disagreement in the Holy Land in which there were zero casualties. The front-page story was accompanied by a huge photograph of the factions that were arguing. Page 13 of the same paper recorded seven murders over the same weekend in Dallas.

The New York Times, our "newspaper of record," keeps up a steady drumbeat of criticism of this allied democracy no matter what else in the world is happening. I think that if a world war broke out, the Times editor would order his reporters to keep a front-page space open for its usual Israel coverage-whatever else might be happening!

Media attention in the modern world simply means negative coverage, since the media tends to feature the world's troubles. Cynicism, negativism and some sort of nether drama marks our media these days. They are turning into entertainment organizations desperate to draw a crowd to whom they hawk the products of their advertisers. The crowd is evidently better drawn by the sort of negative news that is part and parcel of the human condition. Witness the litany of robberies, killings, fires, and so on reported on the local TV news each night in every American city. The media could cover the good works of their cities every night just as it could cover the fact of Israel's miraculous restoration, in one generation, that evolved into a progressive modern democracy. But news editors favor the tried and true; bad news about good people always sells.

There might be an even more sinister idea at work in the media's negative coverage of the news. Wars are a boon to any media. CNN charged triple the going rate for commercials during its coverage of the Persian Gulf War, and sponsors lined up to pay those prices. It did not escape the notice of the editorial board that real conflict bombs, people dying in the streets, big fires - provided a huge audience like no local robberies and murders could. What if they could arrange their own wars? This almost science-fiction concept may be unconsciously at work today. Coverage of what the media views as trouble spots-Bosnia, Ireland, Africa, and oddly enough, Israel-is in place just in case some spark ignites a real shooting war. And needless to say, coverage of the news in such places aims to exacerbate their situations. Hence the "plight" of the Palestinians and Israel, the "hopelessness" of the arguments in Ireland. We might say that the media are continually publishing introductions for war in the hope that some war will commence where their people are in place. Then the media accomplishes its major purpose, its reason for being: It makes big money.

We must keep in mind that the media are not some public service but simply profit-making businesses that charge substantial fees for the coverage provided. In Forewarning and Foreshocks of Antichrist I pointed out that the media are likely supported by petrol dollars since makers of oil-based products buy a great deal of advertising. If the makers of cars, cosmetics, gasolines and so forth are not pleased with the sort of coverage they receive in the media-if it does not somehow support Arab oil interests-then they may buy less advertising space. And so we have a profit making business covering an ordinary day-to-day life situation in Israel in a most negative and provocative way for greater profits.

For its part, Israel goes along, the only democracy in the Middle East achieving wonderful things. Its per capita income is now comparable to that of England and greater than that in the largest Arab oil-producing states, including Saudi Arabia. As a result the Arabs of Israel, the only Arabs privileged to live in a democracy in the Middle East, are profiting as well and have a standard of living hardly imagined by Arab people elsewhere. (The Egyptian government issues precious few visas for its citizens to visit Israel even though this is perfectly allowable under the Camp David peace accords and Israelis visit Egypt every day in huge numbers. I believe the government of Egypt doesn't want its citizens to see how well the Arabs of Israel are living. They fear an absolute revolution when people see their cousins in the Holy Land driving cars, drinking clean water, having doctors in their villages and schools and so on.)

The international solution to Israel's success seems to be to cut the place in half, give the Jewish people less land and somehow bring peace by dividing one of the smallest nations in the world. Certainly it is the division of the world's available land into smaller and smaller parcels with different governments that causes the rash of "wars and rumors of wars" of the latter half of this century. When the United Nations was founded in the late 40s, there were less than a hundred nations, and at this point there are close to two hundred. Having more nations simply provides the situation where "nation will rise against nation."

Israel must be the most obvious example of creating new boundaries that create new troubles. If Saddam Hussein of Iraq could complain that the British mapmakers drew a boundary cutting off the province of Kuwait from Iraq then what would Israel say? Iraq has a murky history emanating from about the time of the Arab conquest of Mesopotamia more than 1,000 years ago, but Israel started out as one nation under Jewish leadership 35 centuries ago! History and archaeology show this to be Jewish land from the Mediterranean to past the Jordan River, and from the deserts of the south to northern borders that exceed the Galilee and Golan Heights on the north. But even though the formal boundaries of Israel are about half the size of what they were in biblical times, world leaders, and especially Arab leaders, demand that even this small area be cut in half again and an equal portion be given to those who have sworn to drive Israel into the sea.

"It Is Written"

Why is all this happening to Israel? The best of all reasons is that prophetic Scripture says it will happen. While the world press dithers over Israel's supposed intractability with the peace process or bad treatment of the Palestinians or a wrong-headed prime minister, the real reason is that Israel must be maneuvered into a position where it will be "hated of all nations" (Matthew 24:9). It is well to remember that close to 100 percent of end times prophecy concerns that tiny nation, and the biblical signs of the end pertain especially to Israel. The Olivet Discourse of our Lord His answer to the disciples' question, "What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3)-details phenomena that are global in scope but of particular concern to those in the Holy Land. The Lord addresses His disciples as Israelites in particular when He observes, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (verse 13). It is the Jewish people gathered in Israel at the time of Armageddon who must endure "unto the end"-that is the second coming of the Lord-to be saved. At the time, "they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son.... In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" (Zechariah 12: 10; 13: 1).

It is imagined that the Jews are receiving some sort of favor or second chance due to their salvation at the second coming, but they are saved by seeing the Lord come out of heaven to stop that mad battle raging in Jerusalem. Since He is coming back to the earth exactly in their midst where they stand back to back in their nation's capital ("And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives..." [Zechariah 14:4]), they simply see Him come and they believe. Undoubtedly, Gentile soldiers engaged in Armageddon who look up and see Him are saved as well. After all, anyone looking up into the sky and seeing a heavenly figure riding a white horse with a robed army behind Him and an identification on that robe reading "King of kings and Lord of lords" will believe, and that's all there is to that. They believe by seeing, but this is after the age of grace when we believe in "things not seen."

Besides that piece of evidence that the signs of the end are given in particular to Israel, Matthew 24:15,16 advises, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains" rather than try to cope with the Antichrist. The advice presupposes that the Jews are pretty much gathered in Jerusalem at that dramatic time. I belabor the point that Israel is concerned in Matthew 24 because that discourse is often taught in reference to the church and erroneously leads to the church having to endure the tribulation. But obviously Israel is singled out for instructions because it is deeply involved in end-times prophecy.

We know that the start of the tribulation period is signaled by the Antichrist's peace covenant with Israel, and it is obvious that we are being prepared for such news day by day. The "peace process" has conditioned the world to imagine that there is some drastic situation in Israel that badly needs some international agreement to settle it. To look at the world objectively, it is clear that peace covenants are needed much more in other trouble spots where there are real conflicts going on and not in Israel, which is suffering from something more like a common ghetto problem. But to satisfy the prophecy, world opinion is being manipulated to where the Antichrist's seven-year offer will be most welcome. Even the Israelis, I think, will sign that covenant in a hopeful spirit out of necessity at the time it is offered. (The necessity will not be the need to make peace, but simply pressure from the United Nations and certain powerful members to come to some accommodation with the Arabs.) The media will immediately trumpet the idea that peace has at least been achieved in Israel only to be proved as wrong as when we trumpeted the same thing about Ireland in 1998. We can all recall the glad ceremonies and triumphant dinners and toasts that preceded the worst bombing in the history of Irish terrorism.

The Antichrist's false peace will last longer than the Irish false peace by three years or so. At the midpoint of the tribulation, at exactly three-and-a- half years after the signing of the covenant, the Antichrist will perform that "abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet" (Matthew 24:15) and proclaim himself God in the tribulation temple! (The temple may have been built as one of the stipulations of the original peace covenant, but in any case, it will be standing on Mount Moriah at the midpoint of the tribulation.) The Antichrist will "cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease" (Daniel 9:27) as he reneges on his agreement. And that, in a sense, begins Armageddon. I believe it is from that point that the king of the East begins to mobilize the most fearsome army the world has ever known. China and possibly other Far Eastern powers will march 200 million men all the way to Israel evidently to challenge the Antichrist, who they do not believe is God. The Chinese communists, after all, are atheists and believe that no one is God, and the huge number of Chinese Moslems (outnumbering the ethnic Chinese) will take the Antichrist to be a total pretender since he is not Allah. And finally military-minded China will simply note that the Israelis did not believe the Antichrist had supernatural powers since they bolted (taking the Lord's advice). And so the Chinese and other Far Easterners will be motivated to vanquish the pretender, the Antichrist in Jerusalem who claims to be the God of Israel.

A visit by a 200,000,000-man army will do Israel little good. This will be the most difficult-to-handle tour of Israel ever undertaken, and the land and the people will suffer.

Anti-Semitism: A Sign of the End

Anti-Semitism is the motivating factor of the Antichrist, as it is of all of those who counterfeit or simply cannot accept the simple gospel of the Lord. Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the Jews, said that if you're not for Me, you're against Me, and the Antichrist is certainly first among those who are against Him and His people at the end. It is amazing that just a generation after the Holocaust anti-Semitism is obvious again in the world today. In the United States and elsewhere, the Jews, for reasons hard to understand, are despised with special derision. From American country clubs to Swiss banks to Oriental imaginings of Jewish-caused economic problems, hatred of Israel and the Jewish people is a normal state of affairs in this world. And increasing anti-Semitism is a true symptom of the end of the age.

Anti-Semitism has a long history, much of it chronicled in Scripture. Moses' pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus and Titus received scriptural credit for their hatred, or were prophesied about in Scripture, but hatred of the Jews did not let up after biblical times. The coming of the Moslems in the seventh century A.D. was the beginning of a perennial prejudice against Israel as virulent today as it ever was. The Crusades, the Inquisition and general discrimination against Jewish communities throughout Europe and Russia kept the chosen people moving from place to place in hope of respite. Finally in the United States, and seemingly only there, did the soles of their feet find rest, and there they prospered.

But even in America, anti-Semitism has been a latent but effective force against God's chosen. We could take for granted a certain amount of anti- Jewishness in the church, particularly in the "liberal" churches. It was these very denominations who punished the Jews in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. One does not normally find aversion to the Jews among Bible- reading people, but occasionally the biases of the denominations seem to infect the true believers.

When my son Aaron went to a Christian high school, a teacher said one day that Christianity did not start in Israel, but actually in Greece. When I spoke to the teacher, I reminded him that Jesus Christ is Jewish, and so were all of His disciples and all of His apostles. Jesus came to this earth and declared to His disciples, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:5,6).

Obviously, errors are creeping into our Christian universities and colleges. A textbook called A Survey of the New Testament, by Robert H. Gundry, is in use at Dallas Baptist University and Criswell College.

Let me highlight a few of the errors being taught in this book: "'And they glorified the God of Israel' (Matthew 15:31), shows that the 4, 000 whom Jesus now feeds are Gentiles. " This idea on the part of the one who said, "I am come only unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24) is followed by a vain attempt to create a non-Jewish following of Jesus. The author goes on, "Together then, with the preceding Gentile woman and, earlier, the centurion and the Magi, they represent the great mass of Gentiles who are flocking into the church of Matthew's time."

There was no church in Matthew's time, nor any "great mass of Gentiles" saved in the Gospels, though they are to come in considerable numbers later on. The author subscribes to Replacement Theology: "Matthew writes his Gospel for the Church as the new chosen nation, which at least for the time being has replaced the old chosen nation of Israel. "

"Luke was probably a Gentile... his name is Greek. His facility in using the Greek language also suggests that he was a Gentile. " The same things were true of Paul, certainly a Jew and a "pharisee of Pharisees." (This and other points are contradicted by our excellent study by Dr. McCall entitled "Was Luke a Gentile?" which appears in the March 1996 issue of the Levitt Letter. You can read it on our website at

The author promotes an anti-Israel Replacement Theology doctrine, and he appears to misunderstand the mission of Jesus Christ, who came, as He said, to bring the Kingdom to Israel. If secular colleges are bothered by PC (political correctness), Bible colleges need to watch out for PD (Progressive Dispensationalism), the doctrine behind these distortions.

There are plenty of other questionable textbooks in our seminaries, and many other seminaries that have fallen into this sort of doctrine. I believe Replacement Theology teaches a bias against the Jews and their homeland. And so among what should be the best friends of Israel that America contains, a false doctrine based on anti-Semitism flourishes.

Ultimately, the Antichrist will bring the most horrific anti-Semitism the Jews have ever experienced. It is important to the Antichrist's counterfeit of Jesus that he be accepted as the Messiah, and he evidently attempts to make that happen. He is rebuffed by Israel, which has a long history of rejecting false messiahs (and the real Messiah), and so he ultimately enters the temple itself and proclaims himself Almighty God! At this, the Jews flee, and the doom of Armageddon is sealed.

Many teach that-Israel will accept the Antichrist as their messiah, but this is nowhere indicated in Scripture. The fact that they sign a peace covenant with him is an act of far less magnitude than accepting him as messiah, of course. They have been signing peace agreements for years now, and the Antichrist's will seem to them to be just a longer term, more serious attempt to settle Middle East turmoil. Their mere acceptance of his treaty terms does not amount to accepting him spiritually. It is quite possible that they are rightly suspicious of him from the beginning, but they want so badly to have peace-and possibly to have some arrangement whereby they can rebuild the temple-that his covenant will seem acceptable at the time. But when he later reveals himself as a true counterfeit of God, they will have no more of him. And that, of course, sets the stage for the world mobilization for that cataclysmic battle.

Who Is the Antichrist?

I've been asked who the Antichrist is in speaking engagements more than almost any other question these days. I tend to be asked to speak to biblical churches who are reasonably well taught where prophecy is concerned, and the members of those churches realize that the Antichrist is very likely alive and mature today. Some folks make educated guesses, but they've been doing that since the beginning. The various popes, Hitler, Henry Kissinger and so on have been selected, among others, for this very special dishonor. (Kissinger has been a suggestion for some 25 years because he is Jewish.) Today, many people think the Antichrist is to be a Jew. This is almost universally believed in the churches, but there is no evidence for that idea. The scriptural sanction for this theory is Daniel 11:37: "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all." It is rendered this way in the NIV: "He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all."

The second translation is the accurate one. The Hebrew word used for God is not Elohim, but elohai. The difference is crucial. Elohai means gods in the sense of idols. The verse states that the Antichrist will not worship the idols his father worshiped. The King James translators, living in particularly anti-Semitic times in England, must have fallen into temptation to use the ancient Jewish expression "God of his fathers." This indictment of the Antichrist being Jewish has persisted for all these centuries. (The King James translators' aversion to Judaism is obvious again in Acts 12:4, where they substitute Easter for Passover.)

The idea that the Antichrist is a Gentile is easier to support. All biblical persecutors of the Jews were Gentiles, from the pharaohs to the foreign kings to the caesars. Also, Israel undertakes a formal covenant with the Antichrist. If he were one of their own, they probably would not have to actually sign a document. The policies of Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres and Netanyahu were accepted by their fellow Jews without the necessity of formal documents. But dealings with Gentile powers such as the United States, the Arabs, or the Oslo peace accords were contractual matters more like the Antichrist's upcoming covenant.

There is also a lack of logic in assuming that this major antiSemite would persecute his own people. It really is difficult to imagine a Jewish person blaspheming to the extent of claiming to be the God of Israel. But who among the world's Gentiles the Antichrist may be, I just don't know.

Where Do We Stand?

There are many renditions of end-time events and many educated guesses as to the motivations of the characters. Suffice it to say that the construction we just looked at fits with scriptural fact. Other factors not foreseen at this time may change some of the motivations, but I feel that this scenario fits well with what we understand now.

So where do we stand? Today's society is as much on the verge of the end of the age as the newspapers say it is. While there's no biblical sanction for imagining the end to be at the change of millennium, it should surprise no Bible student if it were. The re are any number of factors urging this point of view, including the satisfaction of all of the Lord's warnings in Matthew 24:4-14. The anti-Semitism, which the Antichrist will utilize to justify his ultimate raid of Israel, and the idea that some peace covenant must be made in Israel are in place. The analogy of a stage play with pieces of a set and certain actors being in their right places for the culmination of a play is often used, and it is very appropriate. Around that stage, besides what I have already mentioned, are global economic problems, alliances very similar to that described by Ezekiel in his invasion of Gog and Magog; a powerful European confederacy; a rising of the king of the East to a position where he could conceivably attack the Middle East; the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; the hostility of world Islam to democracy; the apostasy of the "liberal" churches. All these conspire to make it seem like the world has either gone haywire or is simply conforming to our Lord's sad picture of the end of the age.

If these are not forewarnings, then we are misunderstanding either the world situation or Scripture. Each one of us needs to deeply consider his or her position with God at a time like this.

I have always believed that prophecy is placed in Scripture not only for the edification of the saints but also as a tool of witness. Surely a common-sense appeal in a world like the one we live in now is justified. Sometimes when I speak in churches, I am impressed to give an invitation-not so much an emotional appeal accompanied by stirring hymns, but rather a simple, straightforward "don't be foolish" presentation of the gospel.

In view of all of the forewarnings, this is the best time we have seen so far to expect the Lord's imminent arrival. With that in mind, make your peace with Him and reserve your place in a much finer, more peaceful, more wonderful life on earth to come.