This is the Bible in the News brought to you this week by Paul Billington. Not too many people will connect the two news stories this week that tell us what Israel is planning and doing in the West Bank, and Russia's claim to the vast energy reserves thought to be beneath the North Pole.
The connection between these two events can only be appreciated through Bible prophecy, and through Ezekiel's prophecies in particular.
First, let us note the struggle for the mountains of Israel. The Palestinian Arabs hope to get them as territory for their sovereign state. The Religious Zionists--the Jewish settlers--believe that God has promised the Land to them so they are intending to do everything possible to build settlements there. The present Israeli Government that wants peace with the Arabs at almost any price, and which is being subjected to immense pressure from the world in general, says, Okay, let the Palestinians have the Land (that is the Biblical Judea and Samaria--the mountainous ridge that runs down the middle of Israel). Israel is so keen to comply with this idea that they make war on their own people, the Jewish settlers, and expel them from their homes. Even though this policy back-fired after the Gaza disengagement, Israel has dismantled settlements in the West Bank such as Homesh, Amona--and this week sent in 3,000 troops and police in order to evict two families from Hebron. These moves which border upon religious persecution, send troops and police in full riot gear against defenceless families and children, and against a handful of young people who come along to protest what they see, as blatant wickedness.
This Israeli Government headed by Ehud Olmert (as long as he survives politically that is!), with Ehud Barak as his Defence Minister (that is the fellow who, as Prime Minister just seven years ago, tried to give the West Bank and East Jerusalem to the Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat--but Arafat wouldn't accept it); this Israeli Government now desperately wants the Palestinians to take over the mountains of Israel, but the problem is that they cannot accept this generosity because they say they are incapable of policing it!
Now if we put Bible prophecy into this strange situation, we have to ask whether or not the present policy (known as a two-state solution) is doomed to failure? Prophecy clearly and definitely puts the Jews on the mountains of Israel. Ezekiel 34:13,14, but also Ezekiel 36:8.
"But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come."
Ezekiel 38:8 has Jews dwelling (or settling) there also.
But in this chapter an assembly of nations from the north is seen coming against Israel. Ezekiel 38:15 in the Revised Version reads:
"...thou shalt come from thy place out of the uttermost parts of the north..."
This power, described in the same version as "the prince of Rosh" (verse 2) comes from the far north--from the North Pole, we might say!
Now doesn't this connect with that other news story this week--with Russia's claim to the uttermost parts of the north? You cannot get much further north than that, can you?
And, in a sense, the treatment of the Jewish settlers by the Olmert Government is inviting just such a disaster upon its self and people. The principle is given in Matthew 7:12 if we can receive it.
But what if?--and there is always a 'what if?'--what if the Israeli Government and the world leaders do impose a Palestinian State upon the mountains of Israel? This is what George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair (with the Pope's encouragement) are currently pushing. Israel's Government is keen to go along with this version of the road map. If it comes off what then? Will all the Jewish settlements be successfully demolished? It might not be that easy.
Now religious Jews are not in favour of fighting fellow-Jews; not even secular Jews--but if it came to fighting against an Arab Palestinian Authority who tried to demolish their homes and settlements, then watch out! We could begin to see a force emerge upon the mountains of Israel that this world's leaders never dreamt of!
The world saw what happened in Israel's War of Independence in 1948; it saw what happened in 1967. Who is to say whether, if pushed to the extreme, Zionist settlers would not take control of Judea and Samaria? What would happen then? Would the outside world intervene? Would all nations come against the mountains of Israel just like Ezekiel 38 predicts?
We are not saying that this is the course that events will follow. We must make that clear. but what if...?
Our point is just this: the Word of God clearly states that Jewish people will be gathered out of the nations and will dwell, or settle, upon the mountains of Israel. We see that. But where do we go from here, and how will the situation stabilize so that it may be said that they are:
"... at rest, dwelling safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates" (Ezekiel 38:11)?
We must keep our minds open as to how this situation might be achieved. If Ezekiel the prophet saw a Palestinian State in the West Bank, he has not told us about it. However, he did see a people--termed in Ezekiel 38:16 "my people of Israel"--dwelling in the midst of the land.
So we continue to watch events in God's Land, and we also watch the Prince of Rosh preparing for himself and his company as is foretold in Ezekiel 38:7, which says:
"Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them."
It is becoming clear that part of this preparation involves Russia's present policy of securing energy sources sufficient to supply her own needs as well as those of her assembled company in Europe. As one news item put it, this is all bringing the world back into a new cold war. Indeed, the cold gusts are coming down from the north.
"Moscow has sought to position itself as a force to be reckoned with in international disputes from Middle East peacemaking to U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, seeking to reclaim much of the clout it had when it was the capital of the Soviet empire.
"Russia's bold and sometimes confrontational positions have brought it increasingly at odds with the West.
"* Ties with Britain plummeted after Moscow refused to send a Russian businessman to England for trial in the poisoning and death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.
"* Relations between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest level in years because of disputes including the final status of Kosovo and U.S. plans to put missile defense elements in former Soviet bloc countries.
"* Last month, Putin suspended Russia's participation in a key Soviet-era arms control treaty for Europe and threatened to withdraw from it completely."
So continue to watch events with us, as the momentum increases, leading ever more closely to the coming of the great Deliverer, to the salvation of Israel and to the completion of God's great Purpose with this earth.
Want to know more about it?
Listen again next week, God willing, here on www.bibleinthenews.com or www.biblemagazine.com