I’m very interested in the overall impression that you will get while there [in Israel]. One thing is for sure, like you said, “So much going on in the Spirit that is so intense over here.”
Just like when a child of God is out of order and God will lead that one into some test of adversity to cure them of their presumption, I see the spirit of Islam, raised up like a Pharaoh to send a prodigal son running back into the Father’s arms to receive, in great brokenness, a new heart and spirit.
In the meantime, I see divine tenderness in bringing them back again into their own Land with great tokens of blessing of ‘common grace’. This is a milestone of immense significance, and for that reason so much the greater reason to soberly listen to their own prophets. Why? Well, of course that they might attain to the revelation of the righteousness of God, but also because for 18 centuries, there has been no Jewish nation, particularly one that has only recently returned “after the desolation of many generations” (Isa 61:4; Eze 38:8). Even beyond the explicit references to the return, this is what all the prophets presuppose as the necessary setting “in the Land” for God’s final pleading with His people in their greatest and final crisis. Only since the modern return from “the desolations of many generations” has the stage been set for the far greater and complete return that comes only after the tribulation when the Spirit is poured out on the surviving remnant (Isa 66:8; Zech 12:10; Eze 39:22, 28-29).
So while return to the Land is indeed a miraculous modern fulfillment of prophecy, the presence of an implacable enemy, still possessed of what Ezekiel calls, “the old hatred” (Eze 25:25) and “the everlasting hated” (Eze 35:5), should be sober reminder that though they are back home, they are not yet “home free”. But this is not the first time this situation has existed for Israel. Consider: When the Jews returned from Babylon, there was “a little reviving” (Ezra 9:8-9) . Notwithstanding, the prophets of the return, anticipating the inevitable drift back into apostasy, would continue to speak of the inexorable approach of an ultimate day of the Lord that would be preceded by an unequaled time of trouble, not only for Israel but the whole world. Nevertheless, according to Daniel’s prophecy, Israel’s deliverance would not come before the end of the 70 weeks. This would mean that for nearly 5 centuries the Jews would be back in their Land, but because of the partiality of their repentance, the nation would continue to reel under the cycles of persecution and occupation of successive kingdoms. Still, then as now, there would be extended periods of what we might call, ‘common grace’, which is the grace that God has on the poor, benighted condition of the natural man, as space for repentance is granted in divine patience, pity and love.
But where Israel is concerned especially, God cannot forever settle for this middle ground of in the Land, but never able to realize lasting security or guaranteed permanence in the Land apart from the promised righteousness of the everlasting covenant. As much as everything in our nature would like to avoid that day, it must come, because it is only an entirely regenerate nation that can fulfill the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, as necessary for the kingdom of God to come on earth, and this cannot happen apart from “the bringing in of the everlasting righteousness”, not only for a remnant, but for the entirety of the nation (Isa 4:3; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; Jer 31:34, et al.). That’s the part that so few are really seeing. God’s going for broke here. Can He pull this off? “Has God really said?” Can He, without going to a more ‘cooperative’ people, take the same people He first brought out, and not only bring them in, but keep them in the Land forever, without further threat of covenant jeopardy ever surrendering them again to the will of their enemies?
This is the great test God has appointed for Himself, as He has chosen to bind up His Name and covenant oath with making good on this miracle promise, which is nothing less miraculous than Isaac’s or the Savior’s own miraculous birth (compare Gen 17:21; 21:2 with Ps 102:13; Isa 66:8). This is the great question that the millennium is given to settle openly and forever, in public vindication of the everlasting covenant, as it pertains to Israel in particular (the “scandal of particularity”).
What will make this so remarkable and manifestly miraculous is that this will be the experience of a nation that is NOT yet physically raised to glorified immortality, but newly born, filled with the Spirit, albeit still in their natural bodies. The uniform salvation of every Jewish survivor and every child ever born thereafter to Jewish parentage, will be a burning bush of standing witness to the nations of sovereign, electing grace, simply because while there will be great, unprecedented salvation and evangelistic outreach to the nations, in only one Land and among only one people will there be uniform salvation from the least to the greatest, so that not one of mature age need ever be taught to know the Lord, since they will ‘all’ know Him. This is precisely what Paul meant when speaking of the salvation of ‘all Israel’ when the Deliverer comes out of Zion.
If this divinely ordained demonstration did not require flesh and blood embodiment on this earth, it is hard to see why a millennium would be required after the Lord’s return, which is exactly why so many cannot conceive of an earthly millennial reign, though it is everywhere demanded throughout the OT and spelled out in particular in Revelation. They don’t understand the covenant, at least as it pertains to THEM (i.e., the natural branches), as essential to the great point that God is determined to make through the Jew. What is that point? It is the very purpose for which Jacob was first set apart. It is “SO THAT the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him who calls” (irrevocably). The Jew exists as distinct, not only to preserve the holy oracles and give the world Jesus (and then to have no further purpose?), but they are miraculously preserved, against all odds, as distinct among the nations, that through them, by real embodiment of real, preserved ethnic identity, God might make this very point, and send it home for a thousand years of open, public witness.
Still, there will be pockets of contempt and envy against Israel’s election, until the earth has become full again of covenant haters, election despisers, showing that even under the most compelling and auspicious conditions, the wicked are unwilling to behold the majesty of the Lord.
“Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them” (Isa 26:10-11).
Another point I wanted to make is that NEVER before have such a number of often overlooked details of prophecy existed in such perfect alignment, some that have only fallen into place the last few years. Not only can Jesus NOT come until the man of sin is first revealed, but preterists and amillennialists should be apprised that only now, for the first time, the right enemies are in the right place for the final and plenary fulfillment of prophecy. Not Rome, but Gog and Magog and the distinct nations listed in Eze 38:5-6. Titus was no ‘little horn’! The early church fathers would caution against associating any of the Caesars with the final beast in the absence of the ten kings. Yet, the ten kingdoms mentioned in Ps 83 include the very territories that are ranged against Israel now, who harbor to this day “the everlasting hatred” that the scripture depicts as alive and well at the time of the day of the Lord and Israel’s deliverance for kingdom glory (Obad; Eze 35-36, et al.). It is these nations in particular that all the prophets show to be bringing the final siege upon Israel when the great day of the Lord comes in all its finality. It is Lebanon, Edom (modern Jordan), Assyria (modern Iraq), Persia (modern Iran) and so on we could go.
In only the last few years, even less, the nations that prophecy shows to be belligerents against Israel are turning from an only recent posture of friendship to open hostility. We see this with Turkey, the Togarmah of Eze 38. Conversely, other nations mentioned in prophecy as NOT opposing Israel in the final conflict, but instead being threatened and overrun by the Antichrist, have only very recently moved in the opposite direction. For example, the book of Ezekiel is most prolific in its mention of Egypt. Yet, when we come to the list of nations that are led by the principality, Gog, against the Land of Israel, Egypt is significant for its non-mention. How far this seemed from probable only a short while ago when the radical Muslim brotherhood Morsi government was leading Egypt towards absolute, obsessive belligerence against Israel. Not only so, but Egypt is particularly described in Dan 11:42 and in Isa 19 as being a special object Antichrist rage, no doubt for their policy of moderation towards Israel. Note too that Egypt is overrun in Dan 11:42 only AFTER the abomination has been placed in Dan 11:31, showing this to be AFTER the middle of the week, making clear that Egypt was NOT one of the ten aggressors confederated with the Antichrist in his invasion of Israel.
Another compelling instance is Saudi Arabia (biblical Sheba and Dedan). Mutual regional strategic and economic interests have brought these one time bitter enemies into just the kind of common cause that makes the Antichrist invasion of Israel an occasion for Saudi consternation (Eze 38:13). Not only are the Saudis not supportive of the Antichrist invasion of Israel, they are threatened by it. All of these developments are very recent, but necessary to fulfill many, often overlooked details of prophecy.
Thus we can say that there are many nations that will support the peace arrangement that the Antichrist disrupts in the middle of the week. It is incorrect to suppose that ‘all’ nations go against Israel. They do not! It is the Antichrist with his ten that break the peace and flood the Land of Israel with overwhelming forces. The onlooking nations, unable to repulse his advance (Dan 11:31 with Rev 13:4) are aghast and imperiled. They will be impotent to resist (Dan 11:31 with Rev 13:4). Dissenting nations will soon come under great pressure to capitulate to his demands. Evidently, he does not have complete military control over all the nations, certainly not at ‘the end’ (see Dan 11:40-45), but is able to use his strategic advantage over the flow of vital resources to exert control over the nations through economic sanctions. Besides the sweeping power of unrestrained deception, his chokehold on the world’s economy appears to be a primary means to manipulate compliance with his demands.
The hearts of men will be ultimately tested as to whether they will bow to his demands, and we may be sure that part of the price to escape economic strangulation will be the handing over of the Jews.
All’s to say, these conditions have never existed until now. These developments are remarkably new. So what does this mean for where we are at the moment? How long will the present status quo hold? When we look at the scriptures and the modern situation since Israel’s remarkable return and achievement of statehood, one does not get the impression that the tribulation is that far removed from Israel’s preliminary return in unbelief, coupled with great prosperity and beautification of the Land.
I mentioned that this beautification and prosperity of the Land comes “after many generations of desolation”. Think about it. When has this prophecy been fulfilled in the past? Is it the 70 years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah? That was only ONE generation. Could it have been fulfilled anytime BEFORE Rome’s destruction of the temple when the Jews populated and tilled the Land all throughout the 490 years of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy? No, the only period long enough to account for this prophecy is the period since 70 A.D., especially since 132 A.D. It is only since then that the Land lay barren and untilled until the 19th century. Now observe: In Eze 38:8, the Antichrist invasion of the Land comes AFTER the Land has been for “many days … a continual waste”. This again refers to the long exile that answers to none other than the Roman exile since final Jewish eviction in 132 A.D. But while no definite time is given for how long the Jews will be in the Land and greatly prospering before the Antichrist invasion, it is hard to take the impression that the time can be very long from this preliminary regathering in unbelief to their ultimate regeneration and complete return when the face of God is no longer hidden and the Spirit poured out (Eze 39:22, 28-29).
It is also significant that this is AFTER the desolation of ‘many generations’ but BEFORE the brief desolation of the last 3 1/2 years. Joel describes the day of the Lord as coming to a land that is Edenic BEFORE it is attacked and turned into a “desolate wilderness” (Joel 2:3). This is exactly the condition of the Land that Ezekiel describes as existing just before the attack of Gog (Eze 38:12-13).
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them” (Joel 2:1-3)
Upon the Lord’s return, the Land will be returned to its Edenic beauty during the millennium (Eze 36:35), but this is not to be confused with its pre-day of the Lord condition described by Joel and Ezekiel that is brought into ruin by the ravaging hordes of the Antichrist.
So we’ve come full circle. Jerusalem is again a cup of trembling, as the prophet says she must be just before her final deliverance and glory. It is the controversy of Zion again, only this time is the last time, because unlike former destructions and desolations, the players declared in the ‘fine print’ of prophecy are now, for the first time, even within the last few years, all now aligned in place. All that remains is a peace arrangement that provides for required recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and access for Jews to restore their ancient ritual and temple. This brings the really big question that has recently moved me to tears. What will THIS take and what will it cost?
As Dalton recently posted, and as confirmed by a friend that used to work within the intelligence community, all the other wars have been little wars compared to the big one that is presently building on the northern border. The missiles currently being stock-piled by Iran’s proxies, and now well concealed within Russian protected Syria, are not for self defense but for the day of strategic opportunity to destroy Israel, nothing less.
Knowing that the next US administration may not be so supportive, Israel may well decide to take preemptive action. It has long been my expectation that the changes required in the region to fulfill the final necessary requirements of prophecy will not come by any natural process of diplomacy. Nothing short of war, one that may well threaten Israel’s survival, could account for the kind of changes necessary to fulfill prophecy. Only a seismic re-balance and re-configuration of the whole political landscape could ever change the political deadlock that preserve the present status quo. Yes, it is a war that Israel will win but at what cost?
So how soon? How close are we? Note first that Israel has been in and out of the Land more than once since Jeremiah gave his prophecy concerning their final salvation at the end of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7 with Dan 12:1-2; Mt 24:21). What’s to say that after this return Israel may not dwell in the Land as a prosperous nation for many, many years yet to come? Well, no one text ‘says’ that Israel is only back in the Land a very little while before the great tribulation. However, ‘if’ the case is well enough made that the two days of Hos 5:15-6:2 are indeed symbolic, not of an indefinite short period of time (as most commentators) but as two definite millennia, to be reckoned from the Lord’s ascension. And ‘if’ the recent developments mentioned above are indeed preparation for the kind of conditions that will exist just before the Antichrist’s invasion, then we are looking at a short period of time for such seismic changes to take place.
When the prophecies are closely investigated, it seems clear that nothing on the present horizon, short of a regional, if not world war, could conceivably account for the kind of shift that would induce the Arab world to make the kinds of concessions that prophecy requires. Think about it. The Antichrist hates the covenant. He agrees to the peace only because it is expedient for the moment. From its very inception, he immediately begins to plot against the very covenant he confirms (Dan 11:23-31). This is the man who will bring the world of radical Islam with him in his attack on Jerusalem. Unless there was some unprecedented inducement, would such a man consent to a peace that he so deeply opposes?
It seems clear that the one who will be leader of the ten nation confederacy that descends upon Israel would never countenance such a peace plan, particularly one that must necessarily include provisions for Jewish control of at least some part of the temple mount, unless Israel had attained an overwhelming advantage in the negotiations. It is this kind of advantage that I believe will come to Israel only after another war, sufficient to reshape the balance of power throughout the region and to profoundly revise opinion over how peace can be secured.
This will be particularly true if Israel’s survival is once more threatened by its attempts to accommodate outside pressure. It will produce in the Israeli’s another resolute ‘never again’ posture towards world opinion, as the moderate nations enter into a new phase of negotiations only after another bitter lesson of tragic cost. Of course, this will be the beginning of the end, precisely when things finally look hopeful after so many years of seemingly impossible deadlock and impasse. It will be mankind’s ultimate Babel of humanistic imagination that peace on earth can be attained short of kingdom righteousness, with an all saved Israel at its center.