Welcome to another edition of Bible in the News. This is Jonathan Bowen reporting this week. This week we watch with interest as events continue to unravel in the Middle East and hopes of a Palestinian state unravel with them.
This week in Gaza and the West Bank Palestinians have been bemoaning their situation. A Palestinian poet, Mr. Darwish has penned a poem that has taken on great popularity – and holds some significance for bible believers. In an article entitled “June amazed them” on June 21st, the Economist described the feeling of the Palestinians:
“June amazed us on its fortieth anniversary: if we do not find someone to defeat us again, we defeat ourselves with our own hands so as not to forget!”
The article described the feelings of the poet commenting on the situation that is developing:
"Mr Darwish, in his poem, portrayed the Palestinians' perverse self-destruction by distorting a favourite Arab proverb, “I against my brother, my brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the world”
Another stanza sums up the Palestinian quandary:
O future: do not ask us: who are you?
And what do you want from me?
For we too do not know.
Well the Palestinians might not know what the future holds for them, but interestingly the Bible does shed some light on the subject. The Arab proverb of “I against my brother” reminds us of the Biblical prophecy concerning Ishmael, the father of the Arab peoples:
“And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Truly, the words of the LORD are coming to pass. The sword of Ishmael is indeed against his brother. The so called Arab world is divided even in the promised land. Fatah and Hamas have separated with Hamas controlling Gaza and Fatah controlling the Palestinian cities of the West Bank. The same article in the Economist continues,
…The brinkmanship begins. According to the basic law, Mr Fayyad's overworked [Fatah] government—most of its ministers have two or three portfolios—has at most 30 days in power, since the Hamas-dominated parliament will never ratify it. Elections are not for another two-and-a-half years; nobody can dissolve parliament and call new ones except parliament itself. It is possible, however, that Mr Abbas could legally keep appointing governments every few weeks, perhaps rotating the prime minister each time, in the hope that Hamas will crack and agree to an election or some other compromise.
Back in the days of Gideon, the Midianites invaded and settled the land of Israel. Judges 6:4 records,
“And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it. And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.” (Judges 6:3-6)
This is an interesting passage. Settlements like Gush Katif and especially those in the West Bank have been involved in turning “the land that was always waste” (Ezekiel 38:8) into “a land that is inhabited”. Yet as soon as Israel had sown the Palestinians and the children of the east laid claim to the land they had sold to the Jews. Once again Israel is greatly impoverished both diplomatically and economically by the “children of the east”. In Gideon’s day, the LORD saved by few, only three hundred men. He destroyed the host of the Midianites and the Amalekites:
“And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled….” (Judges 7:22)
How God will solve the Palestinian problem we do not know specifically, but we know that Israel will posses the mountains of Israel in the latter day. Perhaps it will be by turning the sword of the Palestinians against their own brethren that God will bring victory for Israel.
It is interesting to note, not only are Hamas and Fatah fighting it out, but Hamas is threatened by rival militant Islamic factions too. Time Magazine in an article entitled, “Can Hamas Rein in Islamic Jihad?” wrote on Friday, Jun. 22, 2007,
Hamas may have emerged victorious over Fatah in Gaza. But there was another militant group with clout in that thin strip of Palestinian territory. And now Hamas must reckon with it as it figures out how to keep a semblance of peace with Israel.
The article talks about the continued provocation being made by Islamic Jihad against the Israel that could provoke a military response. The article continues,
Already, Islamic Jihad has jumped back into the fray. With Hamas' takeover of Gaza scarcely hours old, Islamic Jihad unleashed a barrage of eight rockets on the Israeli towns. "There was an incursion by the Israelis into Gaza, and we decided to retaliate."
The writer concludes stating “The West Bank may be the next battleground between the Palestinian militants and Israel.”
We turn our attention to Britain now where Tony Blair has just been replaced by Gordon Brown as prime Minister. Gordon Brown may move Britain closer to the Biblical role God has described for her as the mother lion of the Merchants of Tarshish. (See the latest special edition of the Bible Magazine). Speigel online, the German newspaper reported this week,
“Europe holds a skeptical view of Brown who, as chancellor of the exchequer, blocked Blair's plans for Britain to join the euro system in 2003. To deter the prime minister from making far-reaching concessions, he indirectly threatened Blair with a referendum over the EU treaty in the run up to last week's summit in Brussels.”
Well, we will see what the new Prime Minister, the son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister will do now he is actually at the helm.
Tony Blair’s swan song isn’t over yet, though. Newspapers reported that Blair is to become a special envoy for Middle East peace for the “peace-seeking “quartet” of countries and international clubs—America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.” The Economist reported on June 27th,
“His expected appointment on Wednesday June 27th has aroused suspicion among many Arabs as well as Europeans, who both deem him too close to America and George Bush and therefore likely to favour Israel; they particularly resented his refusal to condemn Israel for its war in Lebanon last year.”
The European Union and Russia shouldn’t worry about Mr. Blair. After all he finished his term as Prime Minister with a trip to the Vatican. The New Zealand Herald reported on June 28th ,
“Pope and Blair discussed the international situation, Europe and the Middle East, the statement said. The Vatican welcomed Blair's intention to work for Middle East peace and inter-religious dialogue after he steps down on Wednesday.”
Why would the Pope welcome Blair’s intention to work for peace in the Middle East? Read on:
“The Guardian newspaper cited informed sources on Friday as saying Blair had been prepared for conversion [to Catholicism] by a Royal Air Force chaplain who had said private mass for his family for the last four years.”
Well, the Guardian Newspaper ran a headline on June 22, “After 30 years as a closet Catholic, Blair finally puts faith before politics.” The article reported of Blair,
“He has been attending Catholic mass, often with his family but also occasionally alone, since long before he became prime minister. His wife, Cherie, is a lifelong and practising Catholic, and in accordance with church rules their children have been brought up as Catholics and were sent to church schools.”
The article continues,
“In the last 40 years Catholics have entered many senior positions in British public life, generally without comment except among the wilder fringes of Protestant Calvinism: in the civil service, the Foreign Office and industry, as MPs and ministers in Conservative and Labour cabinets. The current director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is a Catholic”
Why all the fuss? We read on.
“But the motives of Catholic politicians have traditionally been regarded with suspicion by non-Catholics, both here and in the US, based on the allegation that they take their orders from the Vatican rather than the electorate. Catholic political leaders have always denied it - but the recent antics of some bishops in the US during the 2004 presidential campaign when they threatened to deny John Kerry communion because of his support for abortion rights and, recently, Cardinal Keith O'Brien's warning that he would do the same in Scotland, have tended to confirm old suspicions.
As Blair prepares to become the Vatican’s turncoat altar boy envoy to the Middle East, it is probably a good thing for Israel that God has moved him out of Prime Minister’s office. After all, “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (Daniel 4:17).
While we cannot put much faith in Blair’s role as envoy to the Middle East as he come out of the Catholic closet. It will be interesting to see events unravel now the hand of the new puppet master is being revealed. The Bible warns us of the Harlot system in the latter days moving the forces of Europe against the Lord Jesus Christ and the nation of Israel. The Lord invites us to:
“Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:1-2)
The warning is loud and clear to all who will listen,
“Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:4-5)
Not a good time for Blair or anyone else to be “joining in with her” and possibly turning their backs on Israel.
God has told us that the days of kingdom of men headed by Baylonian harlot system are drawing to a close. We need to make sure that we separate ourselves from the world at this crucial time. Let us trim our lamps, and keep our garments for the Lord is at the door.
Tune in next week as we watch with excitement the “Bible” in the News.