The Bible Magazine About Bible in the News Contact Us
In a Political Move Church of the Nativity Gains UN Heritage Status
Another sign of the approaching war of Armageddon
iTunes Download Badge    Google Podcasts Download Badge    PodBean Podcast Badge
June 29, 2012 - Audio, 10.75 MIN
(Links at bottom of page to download free viewers.)
This Friday June 29, in St. Petersburg Russia, UNESCO granted the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem endangered world heritage status. Welcome to Bible in the News this is David Billington with you. Thirteen of the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee voted in favour. The move was a very political one as the Church was designated an heritage site in "Palestine" and not in Israel. Palestine is a non-existant nation. This is part of the effort by the Palestinian Arabs to be recognized unilaterally as a member state of the United Nations.
The bid for recognition was considered under an emergency procedure. Quoting the Jerusalem Post, the Palestinians said that, "... the church needed urgent repairs and that it was additionally in danger from Israel’s “occupation” of the area."

However, the Montreal Gazette noted that, "Independent experts sent by UNESCO to examine the church recommended turning down the request, saying that while the church roof needed patching up, the shrine could not be considered “to have been severely damaged or to be under imminent threat.""

The Montreal Gazette also reported the, "Palestinians had pointed to what they described as the dangers of Israeli occupation and cited in particular Israel’s 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity where militants took sanctuary during a Palestinian uprising." This incident was when Palestinian terrorists found shelter in the Church during the intifada in April 2002 and while Israel did not damage the Church at the time, the BBC reported that, "The Vatican has issued a stern warning to Israel to respect religious sites in line with its international obligations, following a gun battle around Bethlehem's besieged Church of the Nativity." The Vatican didn't seem very concerned with the terrorists residing there.

It is fairly clear why the Palestinians would want to become recognized, as the state which would have the mandate to protect a world heritage site, and not just any world heritage site, but one of the shrines apostate Christianity holds in very high regard. It is a step towards statehood.

But not only would UNESCO have to be happy with a non-existant nation being given responsibility over an heritage site, as well the owners of the Church must have been consulted. The custodians of the Church are the Greek Orthodox Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church and the Franciscan Catholic order. These three groups don't have a record of working together well, or at all. Territorial fights have broken out in the Church and just in December 2011 a huge brawl broke out, with clergymen going from Christmas cleaning to beating each other with brooms. There are several videos on the internet featuring the bizarre scene. Well it can only be assumed that all three groups agreed to the Palestinians holding the world heritage status.

Israel has always bent over backwards to please everyone in regards to the "holy sites". While the Vatican usually sides with the Palestinians and supports the creation of a Palestinian state, on January 4, 2006  Ynet News ran an article with the headline: "The Vatican Also Wants Jerusalem?". The article read: "Israel cannot be trusted? The Vatican's legal advisor in Israel, David Jaeger, harshly criticized Israel's policy regarding safeguarding Christian holy sites. Speaking during an international conference at Haifa University on Tuesday, Jaeger said Jerusalem is an important city the fate of which should not be left in the hands of Israel and Palestinians." He went on to say that, "the Palestinian Authority has also failed in keeping with international conventions on preserving holy sites." Yet clearly the Vatican supported the UNESCO bid, as the other church bodies must have also.

The Vatican has in fact participated in demonstrations in Bethlehem against Israel. Here is the original Yahoo news captions which went with the picture to the left, "A Catholic priest holding a loudspeaker admonishes Israeli soldiers to leave Bethlehem, as he stands on top of a concrete block surrounded by barbed wire in a fortified Israeli military position in front of Rachel's tomb in the West Bank town Bethlehem during a peaceful march led by Christian Patriarchs towards Manger Square Tuesday Oct. 23, 2001." Catholic Nuns have also participated in demonstrations against Israel in Bethlehem, the other pictures show these Nuns walking past Israeli armour carrying Vatican flags. Time and again the Vatican has clearly stated that they want control of the so called "holy places". The desire to control the holy places is rooted in the desire to control those many people, who have a strong religious connection to them.

In the book, "The Vatican and Zionism", by Sergio Minerbi, he summarizes Theodore Herzl's first meeting with the Papal representative regarding the formation of a Jewish state, "The problem of Jerusalem thus came up at this first meeting with a papal representative; the Vatican wanted Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth to remain outside the Jewish state if such a state should be created. This territorial conception would continue for many years as a basis of Vatican policy toward Palestine." However much the Jewish state attempts to pacify Vatican policy, they will never be able to satisfy the requirements. The issue is not how the holy sites are cared for, or free access granted, the issue is theological. Minerbi continues and quotes from the first reference to Zionism in a Catholic periodical in 1897. "According to the Sacred Scriptures, the Jewish people must always live dispersed and wandering among the other nations, so that they may render witness to Christ not only by the Scriptures... but by their very existence. As for a rebuilt Jerusalem, which could become the center of a reconstituted state of Israel, we must add that this is contrary to the prediction of Christ Himself."

This ignores one of the well known prophecies of Christ himself in Luke 21:24: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

What is happening in Israel today is a war over holy places - a war over places with religious significance in Israel. In many ways the same war that was waged by the Catholic crusaders a number of centuries ago. Today the war is different by way of the means employed, however the objective is the same. Today the Palestinian people are being used by the Vatican as a tool, in an attempt to remove Israel from the Biblical heartland and Jerusalem. Likewise the Muslim Arabs are open in their hostility to Israel and their desire to eradicate the Jews from the "Holyland". Today there is a holy war being embarked upon. If the objective is not reached by means of politics, civil unrest and terrorism; open war will result. The objective will not be reached and the region will eventually descend into an giant conflagration. This is predicted in the Bible and we can see all the pieces falling into place.

Joel chapter 3 is a prophecy that is clearly concerned with the battle of Armageddon and the reasons for it. It concerns the time when Judah and Jerusalem are restored to the Jewish people - verse 1. The nations go to war, in order to dislodge the Jewish people from their land, but Yahweh the God of Israel goes forth in war and roars out of Zion. Joel 3:9-10 says, "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong." The words "prepare war" are the imperative or command of the verb to be holy. So the nations are to sanctify or consecrate war.

In Daniel chapter 11, in the section at the latter part of the chapter dealing with the "time of the end", the prophecy speaks of the time when the King of the North will enter the holy land and plant his palace on the holy mountain of Jerusalem, attempting to seize dominion of the holy land and control the holy places.

"And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown... And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him." Daniel 11:41,42,45

This desire to control the perceived "holy places" and so control the hearts of men, is one of the reasons why God acts for his holy names sake and restores the Jewish people to honour. This is brought out in Ezekiel 36, "Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD: Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession..."

There are many signs of the approaching end of the age. These witness to the fact that all things do not and will not continue as they have been. We should consider our ways. Jesus speaks to us directly in Revelation 16:15, with a warning for this generation: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." Join us next week as we continue to consider the signs of the times.

Bible in the News provides a weekly analysis of world politics and events
in the light of Bible prophecy — the Bible in the News!