- 2017 – Four Anniversaries for Israel
- Is Armageddon upon us?
- The Interval – Daniel 9 and the Coming of the Lord.
2017 – Four Anniversaries for Israel
2017 will be the anniversary of the following events in the recent history of Israel:
120 YEARS SINCE THE FIRST ZIONIST CONGRESS
120 years ago the First Zionist Congress took place in Basel, Switzerland, chaired by Theodore Herzl. On August 30th 1897 the Congress stated: ‘Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.’ Following this Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary (September 3, 1897): ‘Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.’ Remarkably it was fifty years later in 1947 that the UN General Assembly voted in favour of the partition of Palestine which led to the declaration of the State of Israel on May 14th 1948 by David Ben Gurion.
100 YEARS SINCE THE BALFOUR DECLARATION IN 1917.
When Herzl said in 1897 that the idea of a Jewish home in Palestine would be greeted with ‘universal laughter’ he was no doubt thinking of the fact that at that time the whole area was under the rule of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. As Sunni Muslims they were not likely to want to plant a Jewish homeland within their territory. However in 1917 the Turks joined the German side in World War One and found themselves on the losing side as the British army under General Allenby defeated them and took possession of Jerusalem in 1917.
At the time Lord Balfour was the Foreign Secretary. Balfour became friends with Chaim Weizmann, a leader of the Zionist movement in Britain, who persuaded Balfour of the case for a homeland for the J
‘His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’
The Balfour Declaration and most of its wording were incorporated into international law in the San Remo Declaration in 1920 and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. This was to prove a crucial factor in the next decisive event in the rebirth of Israel, the UN decision to partition Palestine and allow the State of Israel to come into being. Historians say this would never have come about without the Balfour Declaration and its incorporation into the Covenant of the League of Nations. Abba Eban, Israel’s one time Foreign Minister and most articulate advocate, described it as ‘the authentic starting point of the process that led to the State of Israel.’
70 YEARS SINCE UN RESOLUTION 181 ON THE PARTITION OF PALESTINE.
The British administration in Palestine failed to follow through on the Balfour Declaration, finding themselves caught between competing Jewish and Arab claims to the land. Arab opposition to Jewish migration into Palestine caused them first of all to restrict Jews from entering the land and then close it off altogether in 1939, stranding hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe, many of whom became victims of Hitler’s Final Solution. After the war, the British refused to allow the survivors of the Nazi nightmare to find sanctuary in Palestine.
Facing a growing conflict with Jews and Arabs in the land, the British finally turned the issue over to the United Nations. On 29 November 1947, 50 years after Herzl’s declaration at the Basel Zionist Congress, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed by 33 votes to 13, with 10 abstentions (including the British), the resolution to partition Palestine. This led to the creation of the State of Israel when David Ben Gurion proclaimed on May 14th 1948, ‘By virtue of our natural and historic right and on the basis of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, we hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine to be known as the State of Israel.’
The next day five Arab armies from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded. Palestinian Arab leader Jamal Husseini promised, ‘The blood will flow like rivers in the Middle East’. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Said, said: ‘We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in’. Arab leaders virtually quoted the words of Psalm 83.4 ‘Come let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’
Yet against all the odds Israel pushed back the Arab armies seeking their destruction. At the end of the War of Independence in 1949 its borders were fixed at the cease fire lines, giving Israel more territory than originally allocated to it by the UN. Jerusalem was divided between the western half of the city in Israel and the eastern half in Arab hands. In 1950 King Hussein claimed the area for Jordan, renaming it ‘the West Bank’. During this time Jews were expelled from the historic Old City of Jerusalem where the holy places are and prevented from visiting them.
50 YEARS SINCE THE SIX DAY WAR AND JERUSALEM COMING UNDER JEWISH CONTROL.
In June 1967 Israel faced attack once more from her neighbours, with the threat coming particularly from Egyptian leader Nasser to make an end of the Jewish state. Instead of being ‘driven into the sea’ Israel emerged from the Six Day War victorious, defeating the combined armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan and ending up in control of the whole of Jerusalem, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the Golan Heights, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.
For Israel, taking the West Bank meant taking possession of the biblical region of Judea Samaria which contains the most significant places in their history from a biblical point of view, including the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron. When the Israelis entered the Old City of Jerusalem on 7 June 1967, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Force, Moshe Dayan, stood at the Western Wall and said: ‘We have regained our holiest place, never again to depart.’ Since that time Jerusalem has been run as a united city with Jewish settlement expanding around it on all sides. Some 500,000 Israelis now live in the area of the West Bank, generally preferring to use its biblical name, Judea and Samaria. In 1980 Israel issued its Jerusalem Law, stating that united Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel.
ACCIDENT OF HISTORY OR FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY?
Behind all these events we see the hand of God, overruling human opposition and bringing to pass the birth of the State of Israel in fulfilment of biblical prophecy. Christians who believed these prophecies were involved in supporting their fulfilment. ‘Balfour 100,’ a Christian group which seeks to celebrate the centenary of the signing of the Balfour Declaration, has produced a leaflet which says ‘Christians and biblical teaching were instrumental in the events leading to the Declaration, going right back to the Reformation. This gives Christians who love the Jewish people and the state of Israel a desire to celebrate the centenary of this short but vital document along with the Jewish community.’
There were many examples of past Christian support for Israel’s restoration. In 1897 Herzl was encouraged by William Hechler, an Anglican clergyman who read his book ‘The Jewish State’ and declared to him ‘Your book is inspired. … You are of your people; and your prophets, involved for all time in the sufferings of Israel … God is calling you to your long forgotten Jerusalem. And I say to you with deep emotion, and will repeat it without ceasing, God is with you and you will succeed, whatever happens.’ (‘Hear O Israel’ by Grattan Guinness p 79). Hechler’s high level contacts as a diplomatic chaplain enabled Herzl to gain valuable patronage for Zionism and helped envision influential leaders, giving much needed support and encouragement which helped to birth Zionism as a political movement.
In 1917 as he produced the Balfour Declaration, Lord Balfour was not just influenced by Jewish Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, but also by his upbringing in a Christian home where ‘belief in the Second Advent of Christ and the preceding return of the Jews to Palestine were part of these convictions and many a chapter of Isaiah was read at the regular family reading.’ (Hear O Israel p 89). Other leading politicians of the day including Prime Minister Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were similarly influenced to look well on Zionism and support the Balfour Declaration because of a biblical Christian influence. Across the Atlantic President Wilson confirmed United States support for the Balfour Declaration, which was vital to its acceptance. He attributed his support to his Christian upbringing, writing to Rabbi Stephen Wise, ‘To think that I, a son of the Manse, should be able to restore the Holy Land to its people.’
Many prominent Christians in the 19th century including well-known 19th century evangelical leaders such as William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, Bishop J C Ryle and Charles Spurgeon, believed that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still has a special love for his chosen people, and that the nation that blessed Israel would be blessed of God. Bishop Ryle wrote: ‘In at least ten prophets the gathering and restoration of the Jews in the latter days are expressly mentioned. They all predict the final gathering of the Jewish nation from the four quarters of the globe and their restoration to their own land.’ Some relevant passages on this subject from the prophets are these:
‘He will set up a banner for the nations,and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.’ Isaiah 11.11-2, see also Isaiah 43.5-6. This would be a sign to the nations of the world: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ Jeremiah 31.10. Ezekiel 36 prophesies a time when the ‘mountains of Israel shall shoot forth your branches and yield fruit to My people Israel for they are about to come’ and the Lord will ‘gather you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.’
Jesus also spoke the parable of the fig tree, seen as a symbol of Israel’s national life, being revived as a sign of His return. This is interpreted to mean that Israel will be restored as a nation before His second coming: Matthew 24.32-33: ‘Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!’
OPPOSITION TO BALFOUR 100.
On the other hand there are those who wish to use these anniversaries for anti-Israel purposes. Palestinian Authority President Abbas called on the UK to apologise for the Balfour Declaration during a speech at the United Nations in New York. ‘We ask Great Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous declaration, to apologise to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, misery and injustice this declaration created and to act to rectify these disasters and remedy its consequences, including by the recognition of the state of Palestine.’ A Balfour apology campaign has been launched calling for the UK Government to ‘officially apologise for its past colonial crimes in Palestine’.
For this opposition, Israel is seen as the ‘naqba’, the disaster. Apart from preventing the aims of Arab nationalism, it is seen as contradicting the Muslim view of history. In 638 the Muslims took control of Jerusalem, building the Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa mosques on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is seen as the third holiest city in Islam (despite the fact that it is never mentioned in the Koran). Apart from the brief Crusader period different Muslim empires ruled Jerusalem and the area until 1917. According to Muslim belief once a territory has come under Islamic rule it should remain so until the Day of Judgement.
The UN and most of the nations of the world want Israel to accept the ‘two state solution’, which means setting up a Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. This includes the Old City and eastern side of Jerusalem which has been a central issue in discussions over the division of the territory. Many in Israel see this as a hostile proposal which would give the Palestinian Authority territory to use as a springboard from which to destroy what remains of Israel.
Some on Israel’s side, like right wing Israel Home leader Naftali Bennett, are saying that it is time for Israel to abandon the ‘two state solution’ and to annex the West Bank. On the other side Turkish leader Erdogan has said that ‘it is the common duty of all Muslims to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem’ and that ‘safeguarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque should not be left to children, armed with nothing but stones’. This has been interpreted as a call to arms for all Muslims to bring Jerusalem back to Muslim rule. Iran has been more direct saying that Israel will be destroyed within 10 years. It is arming and equipping itself and terrorist groups, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, to do this. Iran is already infiltrating the West Bank and intends to supply arms for the ‘war in the West Bank.’ If Israel were to pull out of the West Bank, it is likely that Hamas would take over and open the way for Iran to infiltrate the region, setting off the next war.
This situation ties in with the prophecy of Zechariah:
‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.’ Zechariah 12.3.
This means that there is a time coming when the status of Jerusalem is going to be a matter of concern to all nations and that those who come against it are going to suffer as a result. The prophecy of Joel 3.1-2 tells of a time when the nations of the world will ‘divide My land,’ leading to a world war over Jerusalem:
‘For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.’
As we see all these anniversaries coming together in 2017 (5777-8 in the Jewish year), we should watch this space for more developments in the countdown to the return of the Messiah Jesus to His land and His people! He is coming again in fulfilment of prophecies in both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament, this time to take up His kingdom and rule the world in righteousness and peace from the restored Temple in Jerusalem.
‘Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2.2-4)
For more on this subject send for our booklet, ‘Messiah, Israel and the End of Days.’
Is Armageddon upon us?
Recently I turned on Sky News TV to hear the words ‘Armageddon is already upon us.’ The one making this announcement was Sam Kiley, Sky News’ Foreign Affairs Editor, who was speaking about an article he had posted on their Website. Sky News watchers will be used to seeing Sam Kiley reporting from the killing fields of the Middle East. We are not so used to seeing him as a prophet of doom. These were his main reasons for making this statement, which we will look at in this article.
- Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election, the Brexit vote and rise of right wing parties around the world opposed to globalisation and immigration.
- Europe preparing 300,000 troops to defend against a Russian invasion, while chaos and horror reign in the Middle East.
- The degrading of the environment. He said ‘The world will soon be at permanent war over shrinking resources – homo sapiens locked in a permanent fight for survival.’
Donald Trump and globalisation.
Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election was the major shock event of 2016, greeted with horror by most of the journalistic world, including Sam Kiley who accused him of mounting a ‘hateful hate-filled campaign’ and using ‘anti-immigrant racism’ to win the election. They fear this could lead to racial conflict and some kind of fascist state. There are also fears that Trump’s policies could lead to war with China or with Iran. Economists have said his economic policies could cause the US economy to crash. Opponents of Trump have called for protests across America on January 20th, the day of his inauguration and for an ongoing revolution against his Presidency. Those who voted for Trump have been accused of being too ignorant to make the right decisions and some have questioned whether elections are now the best way to appoint governments. If the people make the wrong decision in an election or a referendum, should the elite be able to overrule and reverse their choice?
On the other side of this argument are those who see his election and the UK’s Brexit vote as a rejection of that elite who want to impose their will on the world through the globalist agenda. One way this has happened is through international trade agreements, to turn the world into a ‘single market’ with uniform laws, rules and regulations. The European Union is the clearest example of this happening, with its succession of treaties giving power to the EU as the supranational government over Europe. We gave details of this in our Spring 2016 edition (available on request).
One of the features of this kind of government is the support for mass migration into the wealthy nations of the world. António Guterres, the incoming Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) told a room of policymakers in Europe on 23rd November that “migration is not the problem but the solution”, and said politicians should ignore voters. He said European nations have no right to control their borders and that they must instead take in floods of the world’s poorest people. He insisted that every European Union (EU) nation must be forced to “share the burden” of mass migration. He went on to declare: “We must convince Europeans that migration is inevitable and that it is the multiethnic societies which are multicultural and multireligious who are building wealth.”
This kind of thinking is rejected by Europe’s populist leaders who are doing well in the polls, mainly because of their promises to restore flagging economies, reverse the continuing trend of unemployment, stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa and, in some cases, even leave the EU.
The globalist way of thinking encourages people to see themselves as citizens of the world, not of their nations of birth. The ‘multi-religious’ aspect of this programme causes a conflict with biblical Christianity, especially the claim that there is one way to God through Jesus Christ who said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Me.’ John 14.6. This belief must now be replaced with the idea that all gods are equal (or that there is no God). If you don’t go along with this you are accused of being a bigot, a racist and a threat to the peace.
The people driving this process are generally motivated by a humanist world view that influences much of our educational system and media. This view rejects biblical moral values and replaces them with a relativistic moral outlook that supports homosexual marriage, abortion on demand and now transgender rights. Those who resist this process and speak out for biblical morality are condemned as homophobic and intolerant. In both the USA and Europe freedom of speech is being taken away, especially in the workplace, as lawsuits are taken up against those who express ‘politically incorrect’ views. Many of those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law are Bible believing Christians, wishing to express their faith and their objections to the imposition of what the Bible clearly identifies as sinful behaviour.
Across Europe and America there is a growing reaction against this process. Many Christians in the US supported Trump seeing him as someone who would work against this global governance agenda. His rival, Hilary Clinton, was seen as supporting it. She previously said, ‘My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.’ That sounds like an American version of the European Union, to be linked up with other trading blocs in a coming global government. She also took an anti Biblical stance on moral issues and was expected to appoint a liberal leftist judge to the Supreme Court, giving liberals a majority. This could have led to further legislation on abortion, homosexual rights and transgenderism, causing legal action against Christians who oppose these things and leading to the suppression of biblical Christianity in the USA.
Despite his own obvious moral failings in the past, Trump expressed a Christian faith and said he would support Christian family values. He chose a born again Christian, Mike Pence, as his vice President and said he would appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. He also appealed to pro Israel Christians in the USA by giving support to Israel and promising to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump promised to oppose the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) agreement that the Obama administration has been working on. Along with the TIPP agreement between the USA and the EU this was part of a series of interlocking treaties and international agreements, which would bring together about 60% of the world’s economy and 22% of its population. It is seen by its opponents as another part of the global governance process, along the lines we have already described.
Speaking about Donald Trump’s victory, Nigel Farage wrote in the Daily Telegraph (11/11/16): ‘This is the year of the political revolution. First we had Brexit, which was the first brick that was knocked out of the establishment wall. Then in the US we had in political terms a remarkably similar event. … The age of supranational government, of nation states giving away their sovereignty and control of their borders is over.’
Farage looked forward to further progress in this direction in 2017, beginning in Italy where the leading opposition group, the Five Star Movement, wants to bring Italy out of the Euro currency. In Holland, France and Germany there will be elections in 2017 in which anti EU parties are expected to do very well. In Holland Geert Vilders is riding high in the polls on an anti-EU programme which is particularly focussed on opposition to the Islamisation of Dutch cities through large scale Muslim immigration. If Marine Le Pen of the anti-immigrant Front National wins the French Presidential election she has proposed a referendum to take France out of the EU.
Some of these anti-globalisation movements are quite unsavoury and could well set off racial and social conflict. They will no doubt face determined reaction from pro globalisation forces, as we are seeing here in Britain, where legal and political measures have been set in motion to try to prevent Brexit or water it down so that very little really changes.
We also see the possibility of another round of economic crisis. Already debt is piling up in major economies of the world and there are predictions of a coming economic storm. Mr Trump’s promise to make ‘America great again’ may be unattainable, because US debt has nearly doubled under Obama’s presidency. It is now heading towards $20 trillion, with every taxpayer now owing $149,000 of national debt. The Bank of America has warned that a recession is imminent, and unavoidable. Professor Otmar Issing, the first chief economist at the European Central Bank (ECB) and architect behind the creation of the Euro, has said the Euro will fall like a house of cards. For the past year there have been rumours of the imminent collapse of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, which would most likely bring the Eurozone down with it. Italy’s banks are on the verge of collapse which could also trigger the next round of crisis. China has built up huge debts and is being warned of a ‘full-blown banking crisis’ coming.
Commenting on this Michael Snyder wrote on Prophecy News Watch:
‘The noose is tightening on the global economy and, once again, the mainstream media is too biased or too dumb to see it. The progression of global decline should be apparent to anyone paying attention since 2008. The only question is, when will the average citizen become aware? My feeling according to current trends is, very soon. … The elites want to be free to conjure crisis after crisis after crisis; to have the option to collapse the system only to replace it with something identical in nature but even more oppressive in its function. They want to create chaos today so that greater centralisation can be purchased in the future through mass fear.’ (Prophecy News Watch).
Michael Snyder is here claiming that the elites are not too bothered about the anti-globalisation forces at work in Europe and America and could even use them in their ultimate aim of collapsing the system and then creating a new ‘New World Order’ out of this. Bible prophecy does indicate a form of global government coming into being in the last days of this age. In Revelation 13 we read of the rise to power of the beast, also known as the antichrist: ‘The dragon (Satan) gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marvelled and followed the beast.’ Revelation 13.
One possible reason why the world may marvel and follow this one is that he offers a solution to the political and economic crisis coming on the world – i.e. he heals the ‘mortal wound’ to the world system. The solution he offers will be a dictatorship in which he ‘makes war with the saints’ and leads those in opposition to him into captivity or death (Revelation 13.10). He will also bring in some kind of economic control system, which it will be required to enter in order to buy and sell. ‘He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.’ Revelation 13.16-18.
This antichrist will meet his end as the armies of the world gather at Armageddon (Revelation 16.16) and are defeated by the returning Lord Jesus Christ coming as King of kings and Lord of lords to bring in His Millennial kingdom (Revelation 11.15, 19.11-20.6).
What is Russia up to?
Sam Kiley wrote of tensions in Europe over Russia. According to a survey by the US based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) a NATO-Russia confrontation is a top risk for 2017. This comes as plans are put in place to put 300,000 troops at the ready to defend against a Russian invasion. Apart from continued tensions over Ukraine, Russia has made thinly veiled threats against the Baltic states and warned Poland and Romania about hosting US missiles which it sees as a threat to its own defence. Western observers see Russia positioning warships, anti-aircraft missiles, nuclear weapons and divisions of its military in preparation for war.
For its part Russia is seriously worried about being attacked by the west. On October 4th Russia held a massive evacuation drill for more than 40 million people to prepare for nuclear war. Russian media, in a campaign to incite national fervour against the West, accompanied the national nuclear defence drill with rhetoric blaming nuclear escalation on US ‘schizophrenics’ hungry for war.
At the same time Russia has moved into the Middle East, filling a vacuum which many see has been left by US failure to resolve the crises afflicting the region. Russia has been selling weapons and nuclear technology to Egypt, Jordan and above all Iran. In August it delivered its advanced S-300 air defence system to Iran and announced its intention to sell an additional $10 billion in arms, notably tanks and fighter jets to Iran.
Russia has become directly involved in the Syrian civil war, fighting to save the regime of its ally Bashar al Assad and saying it is acting to stop Islamic terrorists from taking over the country. According to its critics Russia is fighting more against Syria’s moderate opposition in order to preserve its naval and military bases in Tartus and Latakia on Syria’s coast.
The Americans and the EU have backed the moderate rebels against Assad, who have been attacked by Russia. They are now more or less side lined from the conflict, issuing protests at Russia and the regime’s bombardment of Aleppo but are unwilling and unable to take any action for fear of starting a conflict with Russia, which could lead to World War 3.
Russia is joined in Syria by Iran and its Shiite client in Lebanon, both of whom are fighting on the side of Assad. Russia, Iran and Hezbollah now have several thousand troops in Syria. Sunni Muslim Turkey, a NATO member which also has ambitions to join the EU, has also become involved in the Syrian conflict, on the opposite side to Russia. At one point Russia and Turkey nearly came to blows after Turkey shot down a Russian plane which strayed into their airspace. However since the failed coup in Turkey, its leader Erdogan has made his peace with Russia and is now turning away from the west and looking to ally itself with Russia.
The civil war in Syria is happening just across the border to the north of Israel. In fact Damascus can be seen from Israeli military positions on the Golan Heights. Russia has told the Israelis it wants to avoid any confrontation and said that it wishes to have good relations with Israel. Russian Prime Minister Medvedev recently visited Israel and expressed an interest in reviving Middle East peace talks under Russian auspices.
However Israel is wary about the situation, as the Jerusalem Post commented: ‘The Russian bear is already across the border in Syria. Is Israel next in line for Russian domination?’ Mr Netanyahu expressed concerns about Russian military involvement in Syria, particularly the deployment of advanced S-300 and S-400 air-defence batteries to Syria and Iran. Former Israeli Air Force commander, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Ben Eliyahu warned, ‘we must keep in mind that conflict with Russia could happen,’ and if it does, Israel would have no other choice but to destroy the S-300s.’ These missiles would be a direct threat to Israel’s air force if they had to take action in Lebanon in case of an attack from Hezbollah.
Russia’s ally in Syria, Iran has made no secret of its intentions concerning Israel, announcing that it expects to destroy the Jewish state within 10 years. The UN has called on Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria. Russia has endorsed this claim saying that the major oil field recently discovered in the Golan Heights belongs to Syria and should be returned to it.
Israel has no intention of returning the Golan Heights to Syria and said it will not tolerate either ISIS or Iranian or Hezbollah forces operating near this area. In November Israel attacked convoys carrying arms imported from Iran to Hezbollah. This was followed by two targeted attacks causing big explosions at the Mezzeh military facility near Damascus. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel is seeking to ‘prevent the smuggling of advanced weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah.’ Given the reference to ‘weapons of mass destruction’ involved in this attack, Amir Tsafarti, an Israeli Messianic Jew who gives regular prophecy updates from Israel, believes this kind of attack could lead to the destruction of Damascus, as in Isaiah 17.1: ‘Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.’ If this happens he says it would trigger the War of Gog and Magog as described in Ezekiel 38-39.
According to this prophecy after the regathering of Israel from the nations ‘in the latter days’ (i.e. the present rebirth of Israel), a great power to the uttermost north will come down against Israel. This is described as ‘Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.’ Many commentators have linked this with Russia who will lead an alliance including Persia (Iran) and Togarmah (Turkey) (Ezekiel 38.2-6). Significantly these countries are now involved in Syria, to the north of Israel. Ezekiel 38.8-9 says: ‘After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.’
The end result of this attack is that God will destroy this army in a spectacular supernatural event which will be noticed the world over, the war of Gog and Magog. According to Ezekiel 38.18 -23 God will destroy the armies coming against Israel with a display of supernatural power. There will be a great earthquake, ‘flooding rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone’. At this time the Lord says, ‘Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.’
Degradation of the environment.
In Sam Kiley’s article the real Armageddon is going to come from what he calls ‘species extinction’ which he says is now accelerating faster than any previous time in history and is caused by human mismanagement of the planet. He writes ‘Climate change partly drove the “Arab Spring” uprisings after five years of drought. Equally, mass migration from Africa has its roots in unsustainable population growth and climate change. Soon, water and food shortages will be the norm across much of the world’s middle belt. Meanwhile, the oceans are being choked with plastic, suffocated and turned to acid as they rise to drown lowlands.’
There are many who dispute the ‘climate change’ hypothesis, but it is clear that the environment we rely on for life is being degraded in spectacular ways which threaten the future of humanity. Around 40% of China’s rivers are so polluted that they cannot support life, and dead fish appear regularly on the surface of its rivers and lakes. The amount of toxins, chemicals and other dangerous bacteria found in India’s Ganges River are now almost 3000 times over the limit suggested by the World Health Organisation as ‘safe’. The Nile which Egypt depends on for most of its drinking water is heavily polluted and the Nile delta area has been littered with dead fish caused by pollution. The problems of the Nile are likely to get worse as Ethiopia opens dams on the Blue Nile which supplies 85% of the waters running into Egypt. Recently swarms of snakes have been attacking people and cattle in southern Iraq as the Euphrates and Tigris rivers dry up and the reptiles lose their natural habitat among the reed beds. Dams in Turkey and Iraq and the war with ISIS have affected the flow of water on the river. Both these great rivers around which the ancient civilisations of Egypt and Mesopotamia grew up are mentioned in the Bible as drying up in the last days of this age. Concerning Egypt, Isaiah 19 writes: The waters of the river will dry up, and the riverbed will be parched and dry. The canals will stink; the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up. The reeds and rushes will wither, also the plants along the Nile, at the mouth of the river. Revelation 16.12 speaks of the great river Euphrates the great river Euphrates, whose ‘water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.’
Recent news items have shown how plastic waste is killing fish in the sea, along with radioactive waste which is still pouring into the sea from Japan’s stricken Fukushima power station. One report claims the oceans will be dead by 2048 as a result of over fishing and pollution. Foreign Policy magazine reported that ‘West Africa is being swallowed by the sea’. It describes how a stretch of coastline stretching more than 4,000 miles from Mauritania to Cameroon, is at risk of being washed away as rising sea levels are eating away more than 100 feet of land in a single year. In a region where 31 percent of population lives along the coastline, generating 56 percent of total GDP, according to the World Bank, this is a potentially catastrophic problem. ‘In West Africa, infrastructure and economic activities are centred along the coastal region, so as sea levels continue to rise, it threatens our very existence and source of income,’ says Kwasi Appeaning Addo, a professor in the University of Ghana’s department of marine and fisheries sciences. ‘We are sitting on a time bomb.’ Meanwhile a huge area of northern Nigeria, Chad, Niger is facing famine after seven years of war with Islamic militants Boko Haram, who have prevented people from farming and harvesting their crops.
Famine, environmental destruction and war are among the factors fuelling mass migration from areas affected. Most of those from the Middle East and Africa heading for Europe which is now facing growing opposition from its own citizens, frightened that their way of life and social fabric will be forever overturned by the new comers. In Sam Kiley’s article this is a major factor in the anti-globalisation spirit affecting Europe and the USA. He writes about the ‘as yet mostly unspoken realisation creeping up the backs of humankind, that globalisation means that there will be nowhere to hide when global competition becomes a struggle over the very sources of life. When people are scared they get nasty because their futures appear brutish and short. This may explain the circling of the wagons, the retreat from enlightenment into nation, tribe and clan. An urge to greet neighbours with pitchforks not pitchers of beer.’
Droughts, forest fires, floods, sea levels rising, pollution of waters, earthquakes, famine and epidemics – all these events are happening, as prophesied in the Bible for the last days of this age. Isaiah 24 speaks of a time when ‘the earth lies polluted under its inhabitants’. Jesus said in the days before His return there would be ‘on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.’ Luke 21.25-6. Revelation 8.7-12 speaks of a time coming when there would be massive destruction of the environment, a third of the trees burned up, a third of the creatures in the sea being killed and the waters of the rivers becoming bitter so no man could drink them. These conditions give rise to famines, wars and mass migrations which cause ‘the distress of nations with perplexity’ which implies a global crisis with no human solution. It is all a sign of the soon coming great tribulation period which will precede the coming of Christ to the earth.
Sam Kiley in his article dismisses the biblical idea of Armageddon and all ‘eschatological prophecies’ as ‘baloney.’ Sadly in doing this he misses the main point and the only hope for the future. The things happening in the world today do fit in very well with the Bible’s prophecies of what will happen in the last days of this age before the coming again of the Messiah Jesus. The world is on a collision course with God as it races towards the literal fulfillment of the passages in Revelation and other passages in the Hebrew Prophets, the Gospels and the Epistles which speak of the coming ‘Day of the Lord’ or Second Coming of Christ. On that day the Lord will come with power to judge the nations in righteousness, and to set up His Millennial kingdom in which ‘the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.’ The Lord will touch down on the Mount of Olives, on the east side of Jerusalem, at a time when the nations of the world do gather together for the final battle (Armageddon).
At some time before that event He will gather together all those who have committed their lives to Him: ‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.’ Now is the time to make sure we are ready for the coming of the Lord by repenting of our sins and believing that Jesus the Messiah died for our sins and rose again from the dead. If we do this we have a glorious future and hope even in the midst of a dying world that is hurtling towards destruction. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
The Interval – Daniel 9 and the Coming of the Lord.
In our last magazine I wrote about the view that the rapture of the church comes before the great tribulation and mentioned that the prophecy of Daniel 9.24-27 is relevant to this subject. In this article we will look at the interval between the first and second coming of the Messiah and how this passage gives information on this subject.
This is the word given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel, as he was praying for the restoration of the Jewish people to Jerusalem after they had been taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar who also destroyed the Temple and the city of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25, 2 Chronicles 36). In response to Daniel’s prayer God sent the angel Gabriel to give him the famous ’70 weeks of years’ prophecy: ‘Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.’ Daniel 9.24-27.
The subject of the prophecy is ‘your people’ (the Jewish people) and ‘your holy city’ (Jerusalem). The prophecy speaks of ’70 weeks of years.’ A week in this case is understood to mean seven years. This period is divided into three periods of 7 + 62 + 1 times 7 years, so this means 70 times 7 years, equalling 490 years. Verse 24 tells us that by the time it is accomplished these things will have happened:
- Finishing transgression and making an end of sins.
- Making reconciliation for iniquity and bringing in everlasting righteousness.
- Sealing up the vision and prophecy and anointing the Holy of Holies.
There has not been a complete fulfilment of this prophecy. In particular point 3 has not yet been fulfilled as there are still unfulfilled prophecies concerning the Messiah and Jerusalem. So the completion of this prophecy remains in the future.
At a specific point, which comes at the end of the 69th week of this prophecy, it is stated that ‘Messiah shall be cut off but not for himself.’ After this the ‘city’ (Jerusalem) and ‘the sanctuary’ (the Temple) will be destroyed. At the time when Daniel received this prophecy the Temple site was a ruin. Now he was hearing that the Temple would be rebuilt on this site, but this Temple would also be destroyed as the First Temple had been. The fulfilment of this prophecy was the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 CE.
Some time before this event, Messiah would come and ‘be cut off.’ Bible students have calculated that the dates given in Daniel line up with the crucifixion of Jesus (for details of how we come to this conclusion, send for our Winter 2011 edition). In Daniel 9.26 we read that Messiah would be ‘cut off’, but ‘not for himself’ (Hebrew ve’ein lo). The Hebrew has a double meaning ‘not for himself’ (Authorised Version translation) or ‘shall have nothing’ (NIV translation). Both apply to Jesus.
He was cut off / suffered as a judgement for sin not as a result of his own sins, but the sins of others, fulfilling Isaiah 53.6: ‘All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ In the Hebrew prophets there are two sets of prophecies about the Messiah. One set shows him as the Suffering Servant and the other set as the Reigning King. On the occasion of His first coming, Jesus would fulfil the prophecies of the Suffering Servant, not those of the Reigning King.
As a result of this He had no visible kingdom – i.e. He ‘shall have nothing.’ Contrary to Jewish Messianic hopes, the Messiah would not defeat Israel’s enemies at this time nor rule on earth from a revived throne of David in Jerusalem. Instead He would be put to death and rise from the dead. He would give forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all who call on His name for salvation. The kingdom He did have was an invisible one, of souls saved and brought into the kingdom of God through repentance and faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
According to Daniel’s prophecy, Messiah being ‘cut off’ would be followed by the destruction of the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple). This will be accompanied by a flood (a figure often used in prophecy for an invasion) and wars and desolations. Jesus warned that the age following His first coming would be characterised by ‘wars and rumours of wars’ (Matthew 24.6), the opposite of the hoped for age of peace. Jesus also prophesied the coming desolation of Jerusalem: ‘For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’ Luke 19.41-44. This prophecy was fulfilled to the letter by the Romans destroying the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 CE. The long period of Jewish dispersion began and Jerusalem was ruled by different Gentile powers, something Jesus also prophesied in Luke 21.20-24. As a result of the death and resurrection of the Messiah the clock of Israel’s countdown to the fulfilment of the 70 weeks of years prophecy stopped. This creates the interval between the 69th and the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy which separates the events of the first coming of the Messiah from the events leading up to His second coming.
There are other passages in the prophets which speak of this time, including Hosea 3 which describes a long unspecified time when Israel would be without king, sacrifice / priesthood or revelation from the Lord: ‘For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.’ (Hosea 3.4, see also Isaiah 29.9-13). Nevertheless this time will come to an end when God turns again to Israel, revealing the Messiah in the latter days: ‘Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.’ (Hosea 3.5). The New Testament also shows that the Jewish people remain a people before God and will come to salvation through recognising Yeshua / Jesus as Messiah in the last days of this age (Romans 9-11).
The clock of Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks is taken up again when the 70th week begins. The first event of this ‘week’ is this statement: ‘he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week’ (Daniel 9.27). The question here is ‘Who is he?’ The Messiah or the last person referred to in verse 26 as ‘the prince to come?’ If it is the ‘prince to come’ (and I believe it is) this refers to the anti-messiah (antichrist), who rises out of the revived Roman Empire. Why the Roman Empire? Because the previous verse says, ‘the people of the prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.’ The Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem in AD70 and so it appears there is a Roman connection with this one who makes the seven year covenant with Israel.
It is possible that this treaty follows the War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-9) as described in our previous article. The leader of the western alliance brings a peace settlement to Israel, on one level aiming to give Israel security, but in fact leading to control by the antichrist.
It appears that this treaty allows Israel to rebuild a Temple in Jerusalem, which is then defiled by the antichrist at the midpoint of the 7 year period when he puts his image, the ‘abomination of desolation’ in the holy place (Daniel 9.27, 11.31, 12.11, Matthew 24.15 Revelation 13.14-5). This leads to the time of Jacob’s trouble, or the great tribulation (Jeremiah 30.5-7, Daniel 12.1-4, Matthew 24.21-2). This reaches its climax with the armies of the world gathering together against Jerusalem (Joel 3, Zechariah 12-14, Revelation 16 and 19) and the visible, physical return of the Messiah to the earth, when He stands on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14) and brings in the Messianic Kingdom in which He rules the world from Jerusalem.
All of this takes place in the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy and concludes with all that is promised in Daniel 9.24 coming to pass, as Messiah Jesus fulfils the prophecies of His first and second coming.
So what does this prophecy say about the church? Actually nothing, since its focus is on Jerusalem and the Jewish people. However if the clock of Daniel’s prophecy stops as far as Israel is concerned, it starts as far as the church is concerned. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jewish believers in the resurrected Lord Jesus who proclaim the good news of salvation, beginning in Jerusalem, and going into Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, as instructed by the Lord. The believing church, made up of Jews and Gentiles who accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord, becomes God’s means of bringing salvation to people all over the world.
This period will end with the rapture of the church as described in 1 Thessalonians 4: ‘For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.’ Thus the present age fits into the interval between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy.
After the Lord takes the believing church in the rapture, the focus of attention goes back to Israel and the clock starts again with Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy entering its final week. Revelation 6-19 describes this final seven year period on earth before the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth, corresponding to Daniel’s 70th week. According to Revelation 7, 144,000 Jews will accept Jesus as Messiah at the beginning of the tribulation period. They will be supernaturally empowered to spread the message of Jesus during this period after the church has been removed. They will refuse the Antichrist covenant and preach the true Messiah. Multitudes will be saved as a result, many of whom will be martyred.
According to Revelation 11, two witnesses will prophesy in Jerusalem for 1260 days (3 ½ years or half of the seven year period). They will have a supernatural power like Elijah and Moses and will be divinely protected from their enemies until they are killed by the Antichrist, and then rise from the dead. After this, there will be a great earthquake in Jerusalem ‘and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven’ (i.e. they accepted salvation through Jesus). Zechariah 12.10 tells us that at the end of the tribulation period the Spirit will be poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem and ‘they shall look on Me whom they have pierced’ (i.e. accept Jesus as Saviour).
In the final seven years before the physical return of the Messiah to the earth the focus of attention will be on Israel and the Jewish people, but many people from all nations will also come to believe in the Lord. Then He will return to the earth ‘with the saints’ (i.e. those who died in Christ in previous generations and those taken in the rapture) and set up His kingdom ruling from Jerusalem and fulfilling the prophecies of Messiah in the Hebrew scriptures.
There is a fascinating verse in Hosea 5.15 where the Lord says, ‘I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.’ The period of the interval will begin with Israel’s offence of rejecting the Messiah. Romans 11 tells us that through that ‘through their fall, salvation has come to the Gentiles.’ However Israel will remain a people before God and Romans 11.26-7 goes on to speak of Israel being when ‘the Deliverer will come out of Zion and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’
This ties in with Hosea’s prophecy which implies that they will accept Jesus as the Messiah as they ‘acknowledge their offence’ (confess their sin) and ‘earnestly seek Me.’ The next verse says ‘Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.’ Hosea 6.1-2. We may think of the third day as referring to the day of the resurrection of Jesus, but a ‘day’ can also refer to a 1000 year period in the Bible: ‘With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ (2 Peter 3.8, see also Psalm 90.4).
As we approach the end of the ‘two days’ (2000 year period) after the resurrection of Jesus and the birth of the church, we look forward to the ‘third day’, the day of Messiah’s kingdom being established on the earth at His return, when His people Israel seek Him and ask Him to come! He said to us, ‘Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.’ Luke 21.27-8. Those who believe in Jesus now have a soon coming appointment to meet the Lord as He comes for His church. Maranatha, may the Lord come!