Israel's Situation in the Middle East Assessed as we bring in the Jewish New Year.
Will there be an Arab state in Judea?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
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Shana Tovah. It's the Jewish new year. Welcome to Bible in the News, with you this week is David Billington. As the new Jewish year comes in the Middle East it is a very turbulent situation and the future looks very bleak--especially without the Bible. For this weeks Bible in the News we want to assess Israel's situation in the Middle East and try and see where things are headed with Bible in hand.
Israel's northern front is in a very edgy situation. Syria has become much bolder ever since the Lebanon war last summer and recently it has been reported that they are acquiring new weaponry from Russia. It seems Israel made a strike deep inside Syrian territory this week with various reports suggesting different targets, such as weapons being shipped to Hezbollah, or even a hit on some kind of nuclear complex that is being built by the Syrians with help from South Korea. Syria has threatened to respond to the Israeli strike, however so far they have not done so. Hezbollah is still very powerful in Lebanon and it has been speculated that they may try and take over the country. There could be a serious explosion on Israel's northern border at any moment.
On Israel's southern border with Gaza things are also tense. Kassam rockets continue to batter the southern city of Sderot with the government and army doing little to respond, the Israeli government seems to have given up on doing anything about it. However, this week the Arabs in Gaza managed to score a direct hit on an Israeli army base, where about 65 soldiers were wounded. Over fifty were treated for shock and about 10 suffered shrapnel wounds, two of the injured were critical. So far the Israeli government has done nothing in response to this attack, which is strange as it seems that the government is usually quicker to respond to attacks on the army than civilians. This shows how hopeless the situation has become and what a failure the Israeli pull-out from Gaza has been.
Meanwhile the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert seems bent on giving the West Bank to the Arabs, reports coming out saying he is willing to give up sovereignty of the temple mount to the Arabs, allow them to have a capital in East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank--which would of course entail the destruction of many Jewish communities. One can't even imagine what a mess this would be, with so-called Palestinian refugees arriving by the thousands from the camps in Lebanon, many of them terrorists. If the Arabs had the West Bank pretty much all of Israel's major cities, its international airport and industrial base, would be in range of something like the Katyusha Rockets Israel was hit with during the war last summer. These have a 12.7 mile range, and which can also by the way, carry a chemical warhead. For Israel to turn over these strategic highlands to the Arabs seems crazy, yet humanly speaking there seems to be no way to stop this process. But we've been here before. About seven years ago Ehud Barak who is now defense minsiter tried to give all this territory to Arafat at the Camp David Summit with Clinton. Thankfully Arafat turned it down. Then it was the Taba Summit, again the Arabs wouldn't take it. Last summer Olmert was just about to start destroying Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria when the Lebanon war broke out. Despite all the talk of destroying these communities, they have flourished in the last seven years and many more have been established.
Yet it still seems impossible to stop what seems to be the number one goal of the Israeli government, the United States, Britain and of course the European Union, of establishing a Palestinian state in the Biblical heartland of Israel--Judea and Samaria. Well thankfully "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsover he will..." and He is in control.
There are some strong indicators in the Bible that make a hand-over of the Biblical areas of Judea and Samaria to the Arabs unlikely. In Joel chapter three God says that "...in those days, and in that time when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land." God has brought back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem and the prophecy doesn't allow for a hand-over back to the Arabs. Judah is the southern portion of the West Bank. Further, when we combine this with Ezekiel 38 it seems even less likely. Ezekiel 38 is a prophecy which occurs in the "latter days", "after many days", and "in the latter years (verses 8,16); also in a time when "the land is brought back from the sword", and "is gathered out of many people." We also know this regathering that we have witnessed in recent history, is the regathering that the prophet is speaking of because he says they will come "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." This is against the mountains that have always been waste. Not built up, destroyed and then built up again. Today the mountains of Israel that have been desolate for many days and always waste are built up, this is the same as saying that the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem has been returned. The prophecy doesn't allow for them to be destroyed again as far as I can see. The only thing we haven't seen is all of them dwelling safely, at rest, without wall bars and gates as the prophet Ezekiel wrote. There has not been a peace like this in the middle east and in case you may think that this applies to the time of OSLO years when Arafat shook Rabin's hand on the Whitehouse lawn--think again. More Israeli's were killed by terrorists after that event than before. As a matter of fact, between 1967 and 1997 the years with the highest terror fatalities were directly after the OSLO accords, the worst years in order were: 1996, 1994, 1993 and 1995. The Israeli-PLO accords were signed in September 1993. Overall, Israel suffered 73% more terror fatalities in the two years after the 1993 deal than in the two years before it.
From these scriptures we see we are still waiting for there to be peace and safety in the land of Israel and it seems very unlikely--although against all odds--that the Arabs will take over the territory of Judah. But don't think we are waiting for there to be peace and safety before the return of Christ to the earth, to sit on David's throne in Jerusalem. The peace and safety could very well come after the return of Christ and before Armageddon, during the period of the judgment of the household and the instruction for those Jews in the land that have an ear to hear in order to make them wiling in the day of his power (Psalm 110).
We can be sure that at the time of the return of Christ to the earth: there will be Jews living on the mountains of Israel in the territory of Judah in the cities that have been always waste but are now inhabited; those Jews will be living in a state of peace and safety having no walls, bars or gates, either at the time of the return of Christ or shortly thereafter. The prophecy does not require that these cities be a part of the modern state of Israel, only that they exist in the required conditions. We will have to keep our eyes on the news and most of all on our Bibles as we wait and watch for the return of the King of the Jews. May he soon reign in Zion.
Come back next week, God willing, as we open our Bibles and consider the headlines at www.bibleinthenews.com.
Printed: Thursday, September 13, 2007
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