Hardship in the Holyland
With terror attacks in Israel and warm meetings between the Israelis and the Russians, there is a lot that we could speak about this week.
Monday, June 13, 2016
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We will however start with the anniversary of the six day war, the taking of Jerusalem and the Biblical Heartland. Welcome back to the Bible in the News, this is John Billington with you this week.
I believe that for our generation one of the greatest signs of the times is the regathering of the Jewish people back to their homeland and capital city, Jerusalem. What makes it even stronger is the simplicity of the prophecies and how directly they have been fulfilled. If we take the time to read and think on those prophecies, I believe it is one the largest proofs of God’s existence and of our faith. It should be no surprise that God Himself turns to the Jewish people to prove His existence in Isaiah 43:9,10 :
“Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
For many alive now, including myself, we can’t remember a time when the Jews were not in control of Jerusalem, let alone when there was no state of Israel. With the passage of time comes familiarity and a complacency. When we look back in history and to the time of Moses and Joshua, we can see that God knew it would be a problem then as well. For this reason God stresses to His people to pass on to the next generation the works that God had done for them. I think that for us it should be no different. This is God’s work. The fulfillment of His word with His chosen people must be told to the rising generations.
Deut 4:8,9 - “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons…”
In our day, and maybe our parents and grand parents days, incredible events have been witnessed especially in relation to the return of the Jews. As God says in Isaiah 43, who else can declare events in advance? The return of the Jews back to their land is spoken of extensively in the scriptures - in most cases directly and if not indirectly, in fact it is prophesied about by almost every minor prophet . This is an event that has only being happening for 100 - 150 years, and on a large scale only for the last 100 years if we are generous.
It is no surprise then when we come to the New Testament that the apostle Peter in Acts 3:20,21 says the following:
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
What restoration have the holy prophets spoken of? By this point I hope its clear, but it’s the same restoration that all the apostles spoke of to Christ after his resurrection in Acts 1:6: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
This is the kingdom that all the holy prophets have spoken of and looked for. The kingdom that Jesus Christ himself spoke and preached of, for example when he is speaking to his disciples at the last supper in Luke 22:29-30:
“And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
It is also the same promise that all those in Hebrews 11 looked for: verse 13,14 - “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” In verse 16, calls it a heavenly country, but lets be clear, not a country IN heaven - we know Abraham was promised land in the Middle East, from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt (See Gen 15:18).
So here we are today, 49 years on from the six day war when Jerusalem was released from Gentile hands. Today we can see without a shadow of a doubt the Bible is real and true. This is unescapable. The Bible’s words are truth and its promises are truth.
If we stand back and look at the prophecies and look for the big picture, we know we are on the edge of some of the greatest events this world has ever seen. We can see the events in the nation of Israel as they turn more and more religious. It was Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple that when the Jewish people turned to God again, that God would hear them. As He has many times in the past He will once again - only this time it will be a much grander scale. We can see the world’s anti Semitism growing at an alarming rate. We can also look at the events in Europe and Russia. Even in our age many Bible students have looked for these events for hundreds of years. Add to this the significance of the jubilee that Dave spoke about a few weeks back.
In 1917 in my great Grandmothers Christadelphian meeting, when the Balfour Declaration was published they stayed up all night singing hymns. This was monumental at that time and what they had been expecting based on the scriptures (Read more about this is Bible Magazine Vol 26, Issue number 1, viewable online). At that time there was so much excitement but as we look back on history there was still many hardships ahead for the Jewish people. Again in the 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel, such an incredible moment but much heartache would follow. It is the same story in 1967, with the taking of the Biblical heartland and Jerusalem. In only six years after that event we have the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In all of this the Almighty is shaping His nation that they may be what they were originally called to be in Exodus 19, “a holy nation.”
Heb 12: 11 says “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” As individuals the difficult things that we go through help to shape us and mold our characters. It certainly was the case with The King of the Jews, the Lord Jesus Christ of whom it is written in Hebrews 5:8 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” That was Christ (which when you really think about make the notion of the trinity impossible) and it is the same process that his nation is going though.
Well after the news this week of the terror attack in Tel Aviv, it is clear that the difficult and painful times are not over yet. It was on Wednesday evening two terrorists had entered the Max Brenner cafe, ordered drinks and then took out guns and began shooting. Four people were killed and many more wounded. Simply horrific.
In many of the Arab villages celebrations erupted, candy and cookies were handed out. In the Arab area of Hebron and in Gaza it was a moment sweet enough for fireworks. So sad and so twisted! But regardless, it did not take long for the worlds warnings to come in as Israel reacted to the attack.
According to Reuters, the US State Department spokesman Mark Toner had this to say: ”We understand the Israeli government's desire to protect its citizens ... and we strongly support that right, but we would hope that any measures it takes are designed to also take into consideration the impact on Palestinian citizens that are trying to go about their daily lives.” This is where things get really ridiculous. Israel has ultimately taken away the ‘hall pass’ for those living in Gaza and the Arab areas of the West Bank, and work passes from others after a devastating terrorist attack on one its major cities. The US says ‘just make sure you don't impact innocent civilian lives’. I am not sure what I am missing, its not that Israel takes pleasure in manning check points and rescinding hall passes, but a country has a duty to protect its own civilians!
What makes it so hypocritical is when you look at the US’s recent record on affecting civilians lives elsewhere in the world. Take the Afghanistan war, 26,000 civilians killed and almost 30,000 wounded. What about Iraq? Since 2003, on the low end 112,000 civilins killed and on the high end some approximate 500,000. Want to add Vietnam to that? Then add 587,000 more civilins. And those are not the numbers of those affected by road blocks and curfews.
To Israel’s actions in the aftermath of the attack, the Jerusalem Post reported the following regarding the response of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein on Friday:
“…This “will only increase the sense of injustice and frustration felt by Palestinians in this very tense time,” Zeid said.
Such actions, he warned, could fuel further Palestinian violence against Israel.”
As I am writing this there has been another terror attack, this time in the US. You can’t help but think they are getting a taste of what Israel has been putting up with. Funny though, events like this are happening even with no land disputes. I am sure the response will not be questioned though.
We spoke about Israel’s hardships not being over yet. Well although we do pray for peace in Jerusalem, we know that from the prophecies such as Ezekiel 38 and Joel 3, that a northern confederacy of nations will come down on Israel, led by Russia and the Vatican. This has been dealt with on this program and in Bible Magazine extensively. This past week, Netanyahu the Prime Minister of Israel traveled to Moscow to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although many in Israel see this is a great relationship to have we know that Russia will be anything but a good friend. In Ezekiel 38:10-12 speaking to Gog the leader of the Russians God says the following:
“It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”
There is an evil thought regarding invading Israel, who is finally living in a peaceful state without walls, bars and gates. This will be a time of trouble such as never was. But through those last final terrible events, Almighty God will refine His nation and lead them to holiness.
Before that terrible invasion, Malachi tells us that Elijah will be sent out to teach the children of Israel. Is that what the temporary time of peace will enable?
Time will tell but this we know for certain, we are in the time of the redemption and have been for quite some time. We are on the door of a new chapter in world history, a chapter in which the Kingdom of Israel will be restored. The fact the Jerusalem is back in Jewish hands is your proof!
Thanks for joining us again this week, come back again to hear how the Bible was in the News.
 Deut 30:1-3 - “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee,
And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee."; 2 Sam 7:10-11 - Nathan to David and in the passage of time this could only come to pass with the return of the Jewish people; Psa. 69:35,36 - Words of David; Isa 11:11,12 - “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”; Jer 31:8-10; Ezekiel 36:24; Dan 11:40-12:1 - The northern invader comes against the glorious land and the Daniels people the Jews are delivered. Again can only happen if the Jews are back in the land for that event; Hos 3:4-5; Joel 3:1; Amos 9:11-15; Obadiah v17-21; Jonah - No direct reference but Jonah’s time in the whale, 3 days and 3 nights was a sign for the time that Christ would spend in the grave before his resurrection. And without a resurrected King what would be the use of bringing the people back!; Micah 4:6-8; Nahum 1:15; Hab 3:12 - In a future vision Habakkuk writes of the Lord going through the land threshing the nations in anger and going forth for the salvation of his people. This is the same story of Ezekiel 38 and again you cant save a people that are not there; Zeph 3:18-20; Haggai 2:6-9 - House of God to be glorious in the future. From other prophecies we know that the restored Jewish people will work in the future temple; Zach 8:1-8; Mal 3:1-4 - The sons of Levi are purified so that they may once again the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant.