But the world knows not “the thoughts of Yahweh, neither understand they His counsel (plan)”
Welcome to the May 29, 2009 edition of Bible in the News. This is Glenn Abel with you.
The Obama administration learned over the past week that a strategy of “diplomacy” and “rational dialog” with an irrational opponent has a tendency to blow up in one’s face. This week, North Korea decided to poke a finger in the eye of the world by detonating another nuclear device, heightening tensions in East Asia and causing consternation around the world. And in case that wasn’t enough, they also performed a number of missile tests.
“Shock-waves” reach Jerusalem
The “shock-waves” from the situation in East Asia reach all the way to Jerusalem - not that North Korea has much of an interest in Israel, but because the US and the world has allowed North Korea to get to this point and the inherent implications for Iran.
Going back to 2006 when North Korea first conducted a nuclear test, the US and its regional allies have since tried everything from “tough talk”, sanctions, and “deals” to get them to change their course. However, none have worked. Indeed, the regime in North Korea is as strong as ever and has made great strides in North Korea’s military capabilities, to the point where military action against them seems to be out of question.
Watching all this has been Iran with their President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who would very much like to steal a page from the Pyongyang playbook. So far, it looks like they are on track - just a little behind, from a technological perspective. However, North Korea has been helping Iran with their military technologies - from missile technology to the plutonium production factory that Iran financed in Syria, which was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force in a 2007 raid. In fact, a number of experts have indicated that Iranian officials have been present in some capacity for many of North Korea’s tests.
For now, Iran, who recently conducted their own missile tests, demonstrating capability to hit Israel, is trying to deflect the obvious comparisons. The official line is “We’re opposed to nuclear proliferation; we’re opposed to storing nukes”, and, “There is no cooperation between us [Iran and North Korea].” Of course, there is no reason to store nukes when you intend to use them!
Israeli officials have all the evidence they need to show, however, that the same global policies used towards Iran, that have already been used in the case of North Korea, will inevitably lead to the same result. The pressure to act against Iran must be as strong as ever.
The reality of the situation today is that Israel finds itself increasingly isolated, with everyone demanding of them the following in three main areas: First, to agree to a two-state solution, with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem; Second, to withdraw from the West Bank and all settlement activities, including “natural growth” (one proposal has a complete withdraw to pre-1967 lines); and Third, to ease the embargo on the Gaza strip.
Indeed, the words of the prophet Micah come to mind: “Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.” (Micah 4:11)
“Pressed” by the Obama Administration
That pressure was increased over the course of this week by the Obama Administration, who have subscribed to the “linkage” doctrine -- once they solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem all of the other problems in the Middle East will go away.
Last week, during Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, President Obama demanded a halt to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, citing them as a major obstacle to the peace process and to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
In response, Israel took down a few tents from an outpost settlement. This did not sit well with the US Secretary of State, Hiliary Clinton, who, on Wednesday, called for a halt to settlement growth, stressing that Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements - not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interests of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease.” Clinton made it clear that it is their intention, to “press that point.”
On Thursday, Mark Regev, the spokesperson of the Israeli government, indicated that they were not prepared to halt construction in existing settlements: “[Israel] will abide by its commitments not to build new settlements and to dismantle unauthorised outposts... as to existing settlements, their fate will be determined in the final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In the interim period, normal life must be allowed to continue in these communities.”
Not content to leave it at that, Obama, who was meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, drew a connection between the Israeli settlement activity and the long term security interests of America: “stopping settlements and making sure that there is a viable Palestinian state” is in the long term security interests of Israel as well as the US.
A former special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs in the Clinton administration made the comment that “The surprise in this is not the Israeli position. The surprise the forcefulness of the American one. Rarely have we seen it at this pace and with this intensity and unambiguity. The US has taken a position that doesn’t give much wiggle room at all to the Israeli government.”
Squeezed by the EU
The EU Observer reported yesterday in a draft of the statement that will be made on June 15 when Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman visits Brussels, to discuss an upgrade in bilateral ties between the EU and Israel.
The conditions for upgrading ties are predictable: “... the upgrading of relations with Israel should serve the purpose of pursuing the common objectives and interests of both parties... Our common interests and objectives include the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the implementation of the solution based on two states... The [EU] is deeply concerned by the recent increase in settlement activities, house demolitions and evictions in the Palestinian territories, especially in East Jerusalem.”
Why are they concerned “especially” with East Jerusalem? Because that is where they would like to see the capital of a Palestinian state.
Far-right parties look to gain a foothold in EU
On the subject of the EU, next week, between June 4th and 7th, the European parliamentary elections will take place amongst the 27 member states of the EU, to elect 736 members of the European Parliament.
The Guardian, a UK news source, reported that anti-Semitic, far right parties are set to make inroads, “riding the wave of discontent” in places like the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, where immigrants and Jews are blamed for high levels of unemployment and the global economic crisis.
The presence of these parties in the Parliament will surely increase the anti-zionist sentiment coming from the EU.
An Evil Thought
This is all to be expected. The prophet Ezekiel prophesied in chapter 38 about a great military confederacy, led by Russia, including the nations of Europe, which will come up against Israel in the latter days.
Ezekiel 38:8-9: “After many days you will be mustered; in the latter years you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land where people were gathered from many nations upon the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste; its people were brought out from the nations and now dwell securely, all of them.  You will advance, coming on like a storm, you will be like a cloud covering the land you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you.” RSV
Iran is not the only nation looking at the events in East Asia with interest. Russia has seen this as an opportunity to re-assert their influence in the region. Not only that, but the inability of the world to impose meaningful consequences on North Korea and even Iran, must be clear affirmations of their own experience last summer when they invaded Georgia, while a stunned world could only watch. One wonders if this realization will embolden Russia to “think an evil thought” as prophesied by Ezekiel?
Ezekiel 38:10: “Thus says Adonai Yahweh, 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 the evil thought is to go up against Israel, to take a spoil, and to take a prey, to go up against the people of Israel, the Jews, the “daughter of Zion”.
And the confederacy cannot be matched by the other nations, who can only stutter: “Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey?” (v13)
Though the nations are gathered against the daughter of Zion, and say “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion”, they are ignorant of the fact that they are being gathered by God for judgement, as was pointed out in last week’s Bible in the News. The prophet Micah elaborates on why they are ignorant of this fact:
“But they know not the thoughts of Yahweh, neither understand they His counsel (plan): for he shall gather them as the sheaves onto the floor” (Micah 4:12)
The “evil thoughts” of Israel’s enemies are void of understanding of God and His purpose. As we read in Isaiah 55:
Isaiah 55:8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Yahweh.”
Ezekiel’s prophecy, among others, tells us that Yahweh will defeat this confederacy through the agency of Christ and his saints. But those who would go against the “daughter of Zion” ought to understand that part of God’s “counsel” is to empower Israel against their enemies, much the same way as the Jews in the time of Esther were saved by the King and given power over their enemies.
Micah 4:13: “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto Yahweh, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.”
Micah continues in chapter 4:13:
Zechariah 14:14 indicates that “Judah also shall fight at (for) Jerusalem”, and chapter 10:3 states:
...for Yahweh of armies hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.”
The prophet Malachi also speaks of this time when a “healed” Israel will tread down their enemies as “ashes under the soles of their feet:
Malachi 4:1-3: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Yahweh of armies, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.  But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.  And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith Yahweh of armies.”
Look upon Zion
Bible students recognize that the kingdom of Israel will be established in Jerusalem with Jesus Christ as the King, fulfilling the words of Micah 4:
Micah 4:7-8: “And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and Yahweh shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.  And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”
Given the current situation, that seems a long way off, but we are told to be patient, to make the vision clear, for the vision will not tarry.
Habakkuk 2:2-3: “And Yahweh answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
Let us with patience wait for the time when WE can “Look upon Zion”
Isaiah 33:20-22: “Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet habitation, an immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken. But there Yahweh in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams where no galley with oars can go, nor stately ship can pass.  For Yahweh is our judge, Yahweh is our ruler, Yahweh is our king; He will save us.” RSV
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