There is a great deal happening in the News at the moment which can be directly related to Bible prophecy, and to what we call the “Signs of the times.” Iran, Russia, Europe, the Vatican and a lot of what is going on in the Middle East, and as always — especially Israel. It is all relevant. This week our focus will be upon the so called West Bank — that’s the mountains of Israel, and what the Jews call Judea and Samaria. Having “disengaged” (as they call it) from Gaza and Gush Katif last summer, the Israeli Government is now moving its attention to the West Bank. Isolated settlements that are labeled “illegal” are slated to be demolished and the Jewish settlers to be evicted, just as they were from Gush Katif in Gaza.
At first sight this may seem to be a matter of internal politics within Israel — but if we look at the situation from a Bible perspective we shall soon see that there is more to it than that. The Bible tells us that, in the latter days, there is to be a gathering of people out of the nations who will be located upon these mountains of Israel. You can see this clearly from Ezekiel 38:8 for example. In fact, all the prophecies of the Restoration of Israel which we find in Ezekiel emphasize this gathering on the mountains of Israel. Look at Ezekiel 34:13, 14,
"And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD."
Now look at a relief map — and note just where the mountains of Israel are. They correspond more or less to the West Bank, to Judea and Samaria. this includes places like Shechem (Near to Nablus), it includes the settlement of Itamar in Samaria — it includes places like Hebron in Judea, or "The Hebron Jewish Community has been declared off-limits to anyone not a resident of the community and to anyone not possessing a specially-issued permit, allowing them to be present. All those not leaving within the next fifteen Bethel (Beit-el) where about 1000 Jewish families have settled.
It is, of course, a very dangerous area to live. One settler described the situation in these words:
"You need a lot of faith here, otherwise you couldn’t last a second with all the dangers hiding behind every rock." "This village is located near the bellybutton of the earth and we are here to assure that the bellybutton won’t be cut off from the body."
That is an interesting description— and whether he realizes it or not, that settler is identifying his people with those who are spoken of in Ezekiel chapter 38. In verse 12 of that chapter you can read the words:
"...the desolate places that are now inhabited... the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell IN THE MIDST OF THE LAND."
Now some Bibles have a marginal note here, telling us that this phrase "the midst of the land" is translated from Hebrew which means "The navel of the Land" That’s the bellybutton!!
So the prophets tell us that there will be these settlements, or villages, here in the latter days. Now if we believe what the prophet says, it is hard to see how these settlers can be ejected from there by the Israeli Government and its army. A few of the settlements— maybe. But it seems that something must happen at some point to cause the Government to abandon the policy.
These settlers who are given such a negative image by the media, are not the violent thugs that they are made out to be. Not at all. We have met and spoken with many of them. They are there— despite the dangers and the tragedies— because they believe the Bibles promises. As one of them said (We quoted him already), "You need a lot of faith to live here."
Currently the Israeli forces and the Police are in the process of evicting 9 Jewish families from an area of Hebron. Now I have been to Hebron and interviewed the spokesmen for the Jewish community there— David Wilder — and today he is at he center of things there. He spoke of the situation there the other day, and you can see the deep division that is growing between the secular humanist part of the country, and the young religious settlers. This is what David Wilder said:
"It is clear that the primary reason for the day’s police show is overtly provocative. The police, arriving en masse, hope to ‘be attacked’ by the ‘violent hoodlums’, thereby providing an excuse to beat and arrest them. However, the kids are too smart to fall into the trap. The police experience only cold and boredom. Early evening: Most of the youth have decided to leave. The expulsion is still pending. According to sources within the government, it will not be implemented for at least a couple of more weeks. The kids can take a break and come back again in a week or so, if they are still needed. Many journalists asked: How can you put up with such ‘violent hooligans,’ in their words. The answer is very simple. These youth are neither hoodlums or hooligans. Rather, they are some of the most ideologically motivated people in Israel today. These kids are true lovers of their land, of Eretz Yisrael. These youngsters are still crying the pain of expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria. Their hearts are still bleeding the wounds of our land being abandoned to our enemies. They hurt the hurt of thousands of homeless Jews, who committed no crime but to live in Gush Katif."
I think that those word help us to understand the deep feelings that are here. People are hurt by the treatment that they are receiving.
But the fact is that Bible prophecy IS BEING fulfilled here. Take also the prophecy of Joel 3:1,2
"For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land."
The prophecy speaks of Judah and Jerusalem. That territory was taken by Israel in 1967, and it commenced a string of events that has brought forth hostility to Israel, and to the religious Zionists in particular. It will not be just Israeli solders and police who will come against these people dwelling on the mountains of Israel — it will be ALL NATIONS! This will be the controversy of Zion that we read about in Isaiah 34:8. And it will not be a battle decided in favour of those nations; for this is the time when Israel’s Messiah will be revealed "in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who obey not the Gospel of God."
So it is with intense interests that we watch these events. There has to be a Jewish settler presence in the navel of the land, so it is difficult to see expulsions going very far. But how it comes about we do not know. We may be about to see a major development in Israel — and maybe in the entire Middle East. The details are not revealed — we just know that the picture given to us by the Prophets will gradually come more and more into focus — and so it is that we keenly watch the Bible in the News.
So join us again next week when God willing, we shall bring you another edition.