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Jerusalem a Burdensome Stone
Political Earthquakes as Netanyahu Contemplates Jerusalem's future at the Jerusalem Conference.
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February 21, 2008 - Audio, 17.00 MIN
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As the world reels from political earthquakes, the declaration of independence in Kosovo and Russia's reaction, The 5th Annual Jerusalem conference is going on. One of the main issues: Jerusalem!

Welcome to another edition of The Bible in the News. This is Jonathan Bowen joining you. This week we will go to the Jerusalem conference in Israel.

But before we go to Jerusalem, a quick glance elsewhere. While the world watches the US primaries for the upcoming presidential election, other political earthquakes have been erupting around the globe. This week President Musharif of Pakistan was pummeled in the polls. Calls for his resignation have been sounded around the country – creating a degree of instability in the “war on terror”.

Cuba’s president Castro has finally stepped down, opening the way for change with one of the last “cold war” adversaries of the United States.

Kosovo’s Independence

The Serbian province of Kosovo declared independence this week. The U.S., France, the U.K., Germany, Australia, Turkey and Italy have all so far recognized Kosovo. This has added to global instability.

Russia has reacted strongly to the declaration of independence and current recognition by Western nations. This week, Britian’s Daily Telegraph depicted Putin as cracking the old hammer down on Eastern Europe, signifying turning back to former Russian policies of global domination.

Russian News Service Novosti quoted Sergei Ivanov, the Russian first deputy prime minister, as stating:

"I am convinced that the recognition of Kosovo sets a precedent. The system of international law that we have lived under for more than a century is being undermined."

The article went on to quote Ivanov who said, “the declaration would open a Pandora' Box of declarations of independence as de facto independent republics across the world asked themselves the question, "How are we any different?".

Well, Ivanov’s prediction seems to have some weight. A B.B.C. headline stated on Tuesday, “Palestinians 'may declare state'”. The article stated,

A senior Palestinian official has said the Palestinians ought to unilaterally declare a state if peace talks with Israel do not succeed. Yasser Abed Rabbo is a top aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and a member of the team currently negotiating with Israeli officials.
He said the Palestinians deserved independence more than Kosovo. His comments come a day after talks between Mr Abbas and Israeli PM Ehud Olmert closed without visible progress. “Kosovo is not better than us. We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence” –  Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Arutz Sheva News reported, however,
PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas ruled out the idea, suggested Wednesday morning by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a co-founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
"We will pursue negotiations in order to reach a peace agreement during 2008 that includes the settlement of all final status issues, including Jerusalem," said Abbas in a statement.
If the talks reach a deadlock, he added, "we will go back to our Arab nation to take the necessary decision at the highest level."

The 5th Annual Jerusalem Conference

This brings is to Jerusalem and the 5th Annual Jerusalem Conference. Responding to the overall threat of Militant Islam, and the proposition of divining Jerusalem, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the 5th Annual Jerusalem conference Wednesday. His comments are of great interest as we watch the Bible in the news.

Militant Islam is the force that is threatens our world and is threatening Israel directly. It is posing an unconventional and conventional threat to our future. The unconventional threat is clear it is ticking away in the east. Our policy should be clear. It should be that Iran should not acquire nuclear weapons… period. The conventional threat is also clear and yet is not understood or at least is not challenged by the present government, and indeed by successive governments. The conventional threat of militant Islam, spearheaded by Iran is to build militant Islamic basis in the Middle East, specifically Militant Islam is rolling over the politics of Lebanon and has established a mini state there, with the Hizballah proxies of Iran. It has established a similar base in the Gaza district. Both of these were done with the assistance of unwitting Israeli governments. The first hasty withdrawal from Lebanon enormously facilitated the rise of Hizbullah. The second unilateral withdrawal from Gaza brought Hamas to power. Both of them enabled these places to be penetrated and stockpiled with enormous armaments. We have been rocketed by 4000 rockets in the Galillee, roughly the same in the south. The first thing we have to do is to ask what to do? I ask what not to do? What not to do is to build a third militant Islamic base right here in the heart of Jerusalem and above Tel Aviv. That would be a tremendous, tremendous mistake.

Former Prime Minister Netanyahu clearly states that Hamas in Gaza and the Hizbullah in Lebanon are proxy armies of Iran. Iran is identifiable in the scriptures as Persia who would be allied with the Russia in Ezekiel 38:5. These proxy armies are doing the will of Iran. Israel National News reported Wednesday:

“Iran's fundamentalist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unleashed a fresh round of threats Wednesday against Israel, calling the only Jewish country in the world a "filthy microbe" and a "savage animal." Speaking to an Islamist rally in the southern city of Bandar Abbas that was broadcast on national television, Ahmadinejad told supporters "World powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and have unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region."

We can certainly see the calcification of positions in the Middle East as the stage is being set for the great conflict prophesied Millennia ago by the word of God. This hatred of God’s people is one of the catalysts for the invasion of the Middle East. Ezekiel 38:16 describes Gog and his confederacy coming up “against my people of Israel”.

Jerusalem a Burdensome Stone

Netanyahu went on to discuss the importance of keeping Jerusalem united:

But, especially because we are dealing with a Jerusalem conference. The argument is, if we have an agreement that encompasses Jerusalem, this will bring an end to the conflict. Well, I beg to differ. We are sitting in a place that is adjacent to the most explosive square kilometer on earth. We have here the holy sites of the three great monotheistic religions. The Western Wall of the Jewish Temple, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock. So Islam, Christianity and Judaism, they are all here.

This comment is particularly interesting when you put it against Zechariah 12:3

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”

Hatred of God’s people, the Jewish people, and controversy over the city of Zion are the issues that will precipitate this great conflagration. Netanyahu identifies the city of Jerusalem as this catalyst. However, somehow before the great invasion there must come a time of peace and stability. How will this come to pass? We do not know. But it is interesting to listen to the political agenda of the former Prime Minister as he lays out his platform and vision for the future:

If you want the peace of Jerusalem, keep Jerusalem united under Israel. But if you want to break that peace, not only locally, but internationally, amid the three great faiths, then proceed with what is apparently happening right now, whichis to break our sovereignty in Jeruslaem. That this is happening I have no doubt. We hear senior Palestinian official saying that Jerusalem is on the table. We hear it officially, we hear it unofficially, the government is denying it. The prime minister said that Jerusalem wont be settled until everything is settled, meaning we’ll only concede it after we concede everything else. But,  if it walks like a duck, it looks like a duck… they are carving up Jerusalem and that is what they are doing right now. So what should we do?

1.    Neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat

2.    We should not build Iranian bases on our doorstep

3.    We have to ensure that Jerusalem remains united in our hands

4.    Keep security in our hands

5.    The only real progress that we can make with our Palestinian neighbors here in Judea and Samaria is economic progress.

Economic progress and economic peace does not substitute for a political negotiation. It does not solve, or resolve Palestinian political aspirations. I’m talking about those who do not want to jettison (Israel) into eh sea. It does not pretend to do it. It never did anywhere. It didn’t do it in Ireland, it didn’t do it in Cyprus, it didn’t do it in some of the Balkan states. You have enduring conflict, enduring disagreements, enduring political, ethnic and historic conflicts between groups and nations. But what we have seen is that where you have economic progress, the extent, the acuteness of these conflicts is mitigated substantially. And I think what we can engender right now, while Israel keeps security, is to focus on four or five projects for economic advancement. I would include another component here, and that is economic cooperation, especially with Jordan, to include them in this arrangement as well. And to get economic growth. Does that solve the problem? Well, it helps. Tony Blair told me that in Ireland, it took a  long time, but the economical miracle in Southern Ireland, what we call the Republic of Ireland, certainly influenced the people in Northern Ireland, the warring parties. They said we want to partake in this too. It helped usher in the Good Friday Agreement. It took another 10 years to develop and it is still an ongoing process. If you look at Cyprus a divided island, still hasn’t been resolved, but you see the tremendous economic growth because of the reforms. In Greek Cyprus and now it is percolating into northern Cyprus. Again you can see the same process in the other the Balkan states. That’s a realistic process that we should undertake. That is what our government would do if we get in. And I believe there is a very good chance that we will get in.

Here we see the platform of the Likud party in Israel:  Peace through prosperity. Interestingly the Bible paints a picture where peace and prosperity go hand in hand prior to the great invasion. Ezekiel 38:10-12 tells us:

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”

Should Mr. Netanyahu be given a mandate to form a government and be able to deliver on his promise, he may well be setting the stage for the invasion spoken of.  We have to wait and see.

Netanyahu went on to speak about a Western world that was unprepared to meet the challenges of a Middle Eastern war and the threat of Islam. Interesting that Ezekiel describes the merchant’s of Tarshish with the young lions being taken by surprise in Ezekiel 38:13. Listen to what he has to say:

I began my remarks by saying that militant Islam is a danger to Israel, and a danger to the entire world. It is not clear yet whether the West has woken up to the full extent of this danger. In fact, I would say that it is probably true that it has not. There is this pattern, this cyclicality that Churchill once spoke about, of this sleep, the sleep of the democracies, and they are only woken up by the jarring gong of danger, usually when it is about to be too late. So far they have woken up in time, but not really, because the last time we’ve had a totally implacable ideology, a very violent one, actually messianic in the form of Nazism, they didn’t wake up in time. Yes the west was saved, but we know how many millions died, including millions of our own people. The jury is out whether the west has the power to roll back this current danger. Where that question will be tested is throughout the world, in the Middle East, in the distant Middle East too, in parts of Asia, in Europe. But above all it is going to be tested here, in the land of Israel, in the city of Jerusalem, let us not fail that test! Thankyou.

Netanyahu has told the world not to sleep but to watch. The world may be asleep, and especially the western countries in which so many of us live, but while the world is asleep and unaware of the impending conflagration in the Middle East let us take comfort from the scriptures. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10:

“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.”

Let us not fail this test!

To listen to Netanyahu’s speech and ongoing coverage of the Jerusalem Conference tune in to Tune in next week for another edition of the Bible in the News: This has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.

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