ALL EYES ON ISRAEL:
AND SOME TITANIC TRUTHS ABOUT THAT NATION
August 23, 2009
If you have received any e-mails from me, you may have noticed a saying, called a signature, that I attach to my electronic letters. It is a quote from the 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer which says: All truth passes through three states. First, it is ridiculed, Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. To illustrate the meaning of this pithy saying let me take you back to the year 1999. There was a lot of hype and fear as the year 2000 approached. Y2K! Remember this? As the world's clock's finally ticked over to 12:00 midnight and the dreaded year 2000 became a reality, it became obvious that Y2K doomsday prophecies had failed. Earnest predictions about massive computer chaos, power disruptions, bank failures, stock markets crashing, nuclear missiles launching, and the resulting global terror, all proved to be false!
I ask you: is it possible that certain popular end time predictions about the nation of Israel will also fail?
On that same New Year's Eve in 1999, Israeli police assembled in record numbers inside Jerusalem. They were determined to keep the peace in the midst of growing concerns about terrorism and the possible explosive actions of religious fanatics. Thousands of pilgrims and worshippers were crowding toward the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall as news reports from around the globe swarmed throughout the City of David. With the approach of the long expected new millennium, apocalyptic interests was at its height. Countless Christians were thinking, if the arrival of the year 2000 has anything to do with prophecy and the end of the world, then surely Jerusalem is the place to watch!
YET NOTHING HAPPENED!
Why are the eyes of so many people fixed upon Jerusalem? Why is Israel considered the hot-spot of readers of prophecy and well-intentioned Christians? There are many reasons, yet one big one is clear. The fact is, literally millions of Christians who study prophecy firmly believe Plant Earth's final events will one day swirl around the Middle East, Jerusalem and the Jews. According to what is commonly understood, what happens to the modern nation of Israel is definitely connected with an upcoming bloody battle of Armageddon. the return of Christ and the end of the age.
When the horrors of World War II were finally over and Hitler's Third Reich had come to an end, the world awoke to the nightmare of the German dictator's "final solution." Approximately six million Jews had been brutally murdered - many in gas chambers inside of death camps. Public opinion then favored the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. Most of that opinion based on the feeling that this would serve as a way of expressing sorrow and paying sympathy for their loss of their loved one's lives. To this day, there is a pervasive need to uphold, preserve, defend, protect and, if need be, place our nation in harm's way, for the nation of Israel.
Our financial support of this nation represents 53 percent of the United State's foreign aid budget, with 59 other nations around the world splitting the remaining 47 percent. The largest, most influential and most wealthy lobby in the United States is the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Berith, the pro-Israel, pro-Semitic organization which advances Israeli interests in the U.S. Israel's welfare is so strong largely due to the Fundamentalist involvement in the politics of our country today. Candidates for congress and the Presidency receive huge backing by the ADL and fundamentalists Christian groups who have adopted the dispensational view of John Nelson Darby, the Scofield Reference Bible and the Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Prior to May of 1948 the British controlled Palestine. On May 14, empowered by a resolution of the United Nations, the Zionist Movement proclaimed the rebirth of the State of Israel. For almost 2000 years the Jewish people had been "wanderers among the nations." Now they were home. Yet their struggles had just begun.
An Arab League composed of Egyptians, Iraqis, Syrians and Jordanians quickly invaded Palestine in an attempt to crush out the new nation. The fighting was heavy. Yet, by 1949 the Arabs were defeated, and Israel was still in the land. In May of 1967, Egypt, Jordan and Syria prepared for another attack. The Israelis struck first, and the war was over in six days. In 1973, at the beginning of the Jewish season of Yom Kippur, the Egyptians and Syrians attacked again. The battles were fierce and bloody. Yet by 1974, Israel was again on top and still in the land.
For more than 50 years these astonishing events have gripped the attention of much of the Christian world. A conclusion has been reached by millions: This must be the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This conviction is now being expressed on TV, radio, in books and magazines, at prophecy conferences, in Christian seminaries, and on the internet. The rebirth of the State of Israel in 19489 is now considered by countless Christians to be the most significant prophetic event of the 20th century.
An example of the belief may be found in the popular book, The Next 7 Great Events of the Future by Randal Ross. The author declares: "I call the establishment of the State of Israel 'the ultimate prophecy time bomb,' because when Israel became a legitimate state in the eyes of the world in May 1948, that single, seemingly isolated incident stated the prophetic time clock ticking down toward the 'zero hour' and the end of time." Hal Lindsey dittoed saying, "Since the restoration of Israel as a nation in 1948, we have lived in the most significant period of prophetic history." Today, the majority of Christian beliefs about the end times rest firmly upon this 1948 platform.
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic set sail from England for America. The largest ship in the world at that time, she was considered unsinkable. But after four days of smooth sailing, she hit the ice. Three hours later she was underneath freezing water, sinking down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. In many ways, the 1948 theory is like the Titanic. In the minds of countless believers, it is considered unsinkable. However, as you read on, in a few moments, this popular theory is going to hit the ice of God's Word. If it begins to sink, we should abandoned ship as soon as possible.
There are three main arguments now being used to support the theory that Bible prophecy was fulfilled in 1948. Let's examine them:
The "Fig Tree" Argument: Hal Lindsey wrote: "Jesus predicts an extremely important time clue. He says, 'Now learn a parable of the fig tree' (Matthew 24:32, 33) ... The most important sign in Matthew has to be the restoration of the Jews to the land in the rebirth of Israel ... When the Jewish people ... became a nation again on May 14, 1948 the 'fig tree' put forth its first leaves. Jesus said that this would indicate that He was 'at the door,' ready to return."
Is this really what Jesus said? In a parallel passage, Luke records: "Then He (Jesus) spoke to them a parable: Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21-29-31).
Because Luke wrote the phrase, "and all the trees, when they are already budding," we clearly see Jesus did not have in mind just one tree representing Israel in 1948. In Matthew's gospel, Jesus explained the parable of the fig tree. "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near - at the doors!" (Matthew 24:33) When fig trees, and all trees, start blooming at the end of winter, we know, summer is near. "So ... also," said Jesus, when we see "all these" various signs given in Matthew 24 occurring at the same time, then we may know His return is near. The fig tree is not the sign. It simply represents "all" the signs in Matthew 24, none of which is the specified rebirth of Israel in 1948. The ice of God's Word has just ripped the first hole in the bottom of the 1948 ship!
The "Israeli Victories" Argument: Many view the Israeli victories on 1949, 1967 and 1973 as strong evidence that God had regathered Israel and was now fighting for His chosen nation, even though the leadership of that nation still firmly rejects its own Messiah. Again, let's examine the argument.
First of all, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). God says, "I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6). With this principle in mind, let's ask, "Was God able to fight for Israel in the Old Testament when they were in unbelief?"
After the Exodus, God promised to bring Israel into the land of Canaan (see Exodus 33:1-3). Twelve men were sent to spy out the territory. Yet after all the people heard the "bad report" about "the giants" in the land, they "complained against Moses," saying, "Let us return to Egypt" (Numbers 13:32-33; 14:2 & 4). Then God pronounced this judgment: "But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years....and you shall know My rejection (Numbers 14:32 & 34). Thus, because of Israel's unbelief, God was unable to fulfill His promise to that generation. This proves that God can make a promise, but not fulfill it to a certain group of people.
Those ancient Israelites were unwilling to accept that 40-year sentence. The people proposed to go up anyway "to the place which the Lord has promised" (Numbers 14:40). Moses said, "This will not succeed. Do not go up ... for the Lord is not among you....the Lord will not be with you....But they presumed to go up....Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites ... came down and attacked them" (Numbers 14:41-45). This passage is full of instruction. Because of Israel's unbelief, God could not fight for her. Even though He promised, He wouldn't fulfill it. Years later, when Israel again "forsook the Lord ... they could no longer stand before their enemies" (Judges 2:13-14). This truth is repeated many times in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other books of the Old Testament.
Again, God does not change (See Malachi 3:6). All throughout sacred history, He could not fight for Israel while they were in unbelief. Thus He could not have been fighting for the Jewish nation in 1949, 1967 and 1973. Because a nation wins battles is not evidence in itself that God is fighting for that nation. Was God fighting for Hitler when he won so many battles? Was the Lord with the Nazis when they successfully incinerated so many Jews in crematoriums? Obviously not! Dear friend, the "Israeli victories" argument is not based on a thorough study of the Word of God. Ice has just ripped a second hole in the hull of this unsinkable theory.
The End Time Regathering Argument:
This is the big one. The idea is now being expressed all around the world that ancient prophecies which predicted a regathering of Israel back to their land were fulfilled in 1948. The main prophecy quoted is found in Ezekiel chapters 36-48.
In chapter 4 of Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, the author gives the following three reasons why Ezekiel's prophecy most point to a 1948 fulfillment:
A. God told Israel: "I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land" (Ezekiel 36:24 KJV).
B. The phrase, "out of all countries," must apply to "world-wide dispersion," and therefore cannot apply to the Babylonian captivity.
C. Ezekiel's prophecy will be fulfilled "in the latter days" (38:16) which supposedly is a "definite term" apply to "the time just preceding" the second of Christ.
These three reasons are accepted as unsinkable evidence of a 1948 fulfillment. BUT WAIT! ...
At first glance, Lindsey's arguments seem conclusive. But the following five responses not only cast doubt upon the author's three points, but also prove that prophecy could not have been fulfilled in 1948. The reasons why are:
A. God specifically told ancient Israel He would gather them "from all the nations" immediately "after seventy years are complete at Babylon" (Jeremiah 29:10, 14 & 18). Thus an out-of-"all nations" gathering need not apply to the end times.
B. The time period right after the Babylonian captivity was also called "the latter days" (see Jeremiah 29:10-14; 30:24; 27:2-7; 48:47; 49:39; 50:1); thus this phrase is not always a "definite term" applying to "the time just preceding" Christ's return, as Lindsey claims. Moses also told ancient Israel, "I know that after my death ... evil will befall you in the latter days" (Deuteronomy 31:29).
C. Three times in Ezekiel 38, the regathered Israelites are described as a people who "dwell safely ... dwelling without walls" (verses 8, 11 & 14). These words "safely" and "without walls [of protection]" do not apply to modern Israelis who now "dwell" amidst terrorists, experience regular attacks from Islamic Jihad, and witness friends being blown apart by suicide bombers.
D. The reason Israel was scattered in Old Testament times was because she forsook God, broke His law, and disobeyed His word (see Jeremiah 16:10-13; 29:18 & 19). If you look carefully, according to the same Old Testament passages, Israel must first repent of her sins before such a regathering can be accomplished by God. Here is the proof. God told Israel: "It shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse ... and you shall call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you shall return to the Lord your God and obey His voice....and gather you again from all the nations" (Deuteronomy 30:1-3, KJV).
According to these inspired words, when God scatters Israel among "all the nations," if she returns and obeys His voice, then He will gather her. If she doesn't return and obey, then this prophecy cannot be fulfilled by God. Because the Messiah has come, this "return to the Lord" must include filly embracing Jesus Christ. The facts of history reveal that Jewish Zionism did not meet this spiritual condition in 1948.
Again, God told ancient Israel, "If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me ... yet I will gather them" (Nehemiah 1:8-9). "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations" (Jeremiah 29:13-14). These Scriptures are plain, Israel must first repent, then God will gather her. Once again, this condition was not met by the Zionist movement in 1948. The "unsinkable" theory is starting to go down. "Lower the lifeboats" is the cry from this Watchman!
Even Ezekiel 36 contains conditional elements. Notice carefully, "Thus says the Lord God: 'On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt" (Ezekiel 36:33). Thus, "on that day" God cleanses Israel from "all" of her sins, on that day He would "also enable" her to dwell in her cities. This did not happen in 1948. Israel as a nation was not cleansed from "all" her iniquities at that time. Especially had it not forsaken its Heaven-confronting sin of rejecting God's Son (see Matthew 21:37-39).
Jonah predicted, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4) Yet forty days later, Nineveh remained unscratched. Why? Because the prophecy was conditional. Nineveh repented, so God's judgment was deferred. The same conditional elements are also found in the regathering prophecies. Because Israel did not first repent and return to the Lord Jesus, the promises of regathering could not have been fulfilled by God in 1948.
E. Ezekiel declared: "Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog....In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people....You will ascend, coming like a storm....against a people gathered from the nations....And it will come to pass at the same time, when God comes against the land of Israel,' says the Lord God, 'that My fury will show in My face....I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone....Then they shall know that I am the Lord'" (Ezekiel 38:1-2. 8-9, 12, 18, 22-23).
Chapter 5 of The Late Great Planet Earth is called, "Russia Is A Gog." There Hal Lindsey applied the Ezekiel 38 prophecy to 1948 and then to a final Middle East conflict between Russia and Israel. Yet the explosive truth is that the Book of Revelation actually applies Ezekiel's prophecy to a global event predicted to occur at the end of the millennium!
Earlier we discovered how Mathew took Hosea 11:1, which originally applied to Israel, and then declared it "fulfilled" in Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:15). We also saw how Paul made a similar Old Testament to New Testament application when he applied "the seed of Abraham," which was definitely "Israel," to "one ... who is Christ" (Isaiah 41:8; Galatians 3:16). Amazingly, Revelation 20 does the same thing with Ezekiel 38. Revelation 20:7-9 says:
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
The major elements are the same. Both Ezekiel 38 and Revelation 20 speak about Gog, Magog, a great army, a final gathering for battle against Jerusalem, and fire from Heaven. Yet Revelation 20 applies these things to the end of the millennium, to a global Gog and Magog, and to a final global battle against the saints and the beloved city, which is the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 3:12; 21:10; Hebrews 12:22). Thus Revelation 20 takes what originally applied to Israel and applies it to a final global battle against the saints of Jesus Christ who are inside the New Jerusalem at the end of the millennium.
Why does Revelation do this? For the same reason we discussed earlier: So that the "word of God" won't be made of "no effect" in spite of the unbelief of many natural Jews (Romans 9:6). God did promise in Ezekiel 38 (and in Zechariah 14) that He would defend Israel and Jerusalem during a final battle. And He will. He will defend His Israel in the Spirit which will dwell inside the New Jerusalem at the end of the millennium. According to Revelation 20, this is how Ezekiel 38 will be fulfilled. The big question is: Are we willing to accept the New Testament's inspired application of Old Testament prophecies? If not, we are not being faithful to the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
On April 15, 1912, at 2:20 AM, the unsinkable Titanic was fully underwater. A third of her passengers sat shivering in lifeboats, yet the majority were corpses plunging lifelessly through dark waters toward the murky bottom of the Atlantic. How about us? Will we abandon the "1948 ship" before we get into serious trouble? Our Captain is pleading, "Get off the sinking ship and get into the lifeboats!" If we refuse, we may sink far below the safety of God's Word.
We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.