Israel's Moment of Truth
Various Series of Events are Bringing Israel to some Critical Junctures
Friday, February 24, 2012
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This week an opinion piece on the Ynet news website entitled "Revenge of the seculars", highlighted once again the religious, secular tensions that exist in Israel. The article subhead says, "Haredi radicalization prompting secular response, as Israel's moment of truth nears." Haredi Jews are commonly known as "ultra-orthodox" and have a very rapidly growing population in Israel and elsewhere. The piece begins by suggesting that, "The past year has been characterized by unremitting instances of religious radicalization across Israel." Some of the big issues are the fact that many Haredi Jews don't serve in the army and other issues such as the use of buses on the Sabbath. As the various religious segments of Israeli society experience rapid growth, the secular segments have low western level birth rates. As time goes on Israel is rapidly becoming a more and more religious nation, if time goes on the religious segments will dominate simply by sheer numbers. These factors are pushing Israel to a "moment of truth". Will the nation be secular or religious? How will this influence laws that are made and the underlying values of society?
According to the Bible, in the future the nation of Israel will be a completely religious nation. The prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31 and verse 34 says: "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." This will not take place as a result of birth rates however. Verse 31 reads: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:" Verse 33 continues, "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." It is the making of the new covenant with Israel that will lead to Israel being united in a true religion. For the new covenant to be made with Israel requires the arrival of the "messenger of the covenant". This prophecy is in Malachi chapter 3. Here are the first four verses:
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years."
Just before introducing the idea of Elijah the prophet being sent to the Jewish people in the latter days, in Malachi chapter four, the God of Israel instructs his people to "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments." With these scriptures in mind, these recent events of a growing religious trend in Israel and the active debate regarding religious issues is very interesting. A general trend away from ungodliness and secularism toward the law of Moses is a sign of the approaching return of the Messiah. There still needs to be a further move, indeed a religious revolution, away from the oral tradition of the Rabbis and the extrapolated system of Jewish religious law and tradition, which completely obscures the true import of the law of Moses. This will probably not take place however, until the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, is present in the earth.
The moment of truth in Judea and Samaria.A new proposal to annex a large swath of what is known as the West Bank, is getting attention and generating discussion in Israeli circles. The plan is that Israel should annex 60% of the West Bank, or the area of Judea and Samaria that is under full Israeli control. This would simplify issues for Israel, in these areas, in regards to international law and accusations of apartheid. The 50,000 Arabs living in the areas would be granted Israeli citizenship. The birthrate amongst the national religious Jews that make up a large portion of the population in area C, is very high. The Jewish population in this area is approaching, or past 400,000 by some estimate. It has probably passed the point at which the Jewish population could plausibly be relocated elsewhere, as the 7000 Jews were from the Gaza Strip. The moment of truth as to whether Israel should hold this territory or not, may have already passed. From the prophecy of Ezekiel 38, it is apparent that there are Jews populating the central mountainous portion of the land at the time of the coming of the Messiah. Verse 8 says:
"After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them." Verse 12 adds that these are those who dwell in the midst of the land.
The criticism that the plan is getting is also noteworthy. The article reports that Knesset member Eitan Cabel said: "It appears that people within the Yesha Council have lost touch with reality and are drafting plans that are based on the coming of the messiah." Little does the Knesset member know that his tounge-in-cheek sarcasm is absolute reality!
The moment of truth with Iran.The front page of the Economist this week features the problem of the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran. The cover and the inside article suggest that an armed attack will not eradicate the nuclear threat. The writer suggests that at best it would delay the nuclear program by ten years. Israel may see things differently. Ten years without a nuclear armed Iran would be very welcome. Things appear differently when you are the target. Again the situation has reached a crisis point and what will happen remains to be seen. We do know however, that Iran will be with the King of the North at the time of the end. Russia's constant backing of Iran and Syria is exactly what a student of Bible prophecy would expect. In fact the current Iranian crisis, is dividing the Middle East more and more upon the lines described in Ezekiel 38.
A moment of truth for all of us.These critical junctures for Israel indicate that there is a moment of truth coming, for all those who wait for the return of Christ - the Messiah - to the earth, to judge his saints and restore the kingdom in Israel. As we look at the Bible in the News and see the scene being prepared for the introduction of the great King of Israel onto the stage, we should all pause and consider our ways. So that when our moment of truth arrives we can hope for mercy in the eyes of the King.
Thanks for listening, this has been David Billington with you for Bible in the News.
Printed: Friday, February 24, 2012
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