What's Special about Israel?
The land variously called Israel and Palestine is extremely small (about 10,000 square miles) compared to its neighbours. Its original Jewish occupants were scattered to the nations some 2,500 years ago and since then it has been occupied by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persions, Greeks, Romans, Turks and the British. Even in 1900 the population of Israel was only some 500,000; it was politically and industrially insignificant, with a mix of many peoples representing some 50 languages. So why is Israel frequently in world focus today?
During the 20th century Israel saw astounding development, especially after becoming a state in 1948. For example, from 1958 - 1965 it saw a growth of 13.6% in manufacturing, and the population grew from 0.5m in 1900 to 6.5m in 2005. It now has high-tech industries, forestry and agricultural industries, and a highly developed infrastructure. But these facts alone are insufficient to warrant world attention. There must be a more fundamental reason.
The reason for Israel's prominence today is biblical rather than political. The Bible says that God chose a special people to be His witness to the world:
'"You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen" ... And what nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land ...' (Isa 43.10)(2 Sam 7.23)
Although the nation of Israel was scattered some 2500 years ago, the Bible says that it will be regathered in the last days of this age:
'"I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone ... and bring them into their own land ..."' (Ezek 37.21)
This regathering is now well underway and Israel is taking prominence on the world stage. According to prophecy, the God of the Bible will make a name for Himself through Israel in the last days. The world will no longer be able to ignore Him.
Much of the Middle East conflict appears to be over Israel's very existence. There is intense hatred towards the State of Israel:
"Israel has continued too long ... the battle has come in which we shall destroy Israel" ... President of Egypt, 1967
"Israel should be eliminated from the pages of history" ... President of Iran, 2006
The conflict is also over 'occupied land' and over Jerusalem. For a detailed discussion on land occupation see Palestinian Problem. From a biblical point of view, the land of Israel was given by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, see The Purpose of Israel. The biblical injunction to Israel is to occupy the land but embrace the foreigner in the land. The future biblical boundaries of Israel range from 'the river of Egypt' (not the Nile) in the south, to the Jordan valley in the east, to Hamath in the north (see The Millennial Reign of Christ). Clearly, the boundaries include both the Gaza strip and the West Bank of the Jordan. They also include significant parts of present-day Syria i.e. up to Hamath, and probably all of Lebanon.
Future Middle East War
Bible prophecy is very clear on one thing: the nations will invade regathered Israel. We have:
■the 'Gog-Magog' invasion of Ezek 38,39
■the 'all-nation' invasion of Zech 14
Consider the 'all-nation' invasion first.
'I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle ...' (Zech 14.2)
The timing of this invasion is clear: it is defeated by Christ as He returns to earth (Zech 14.3,4), and so it occurs at the very end of this age. We also know significant detail about this invasion:
■the location is Har-Magedon (Armageddon), a reference to the ancient city of Megiddo built on a hill and located in northern Israel
■the city of Jerusalem is captured
■God Himself fights against the world's armies
■the Israeli's (the 'tribe of Judah') also fight
■the attacking armies suffer a 'flesh-rotting' plague and are defeated
■the end time world ruler is captured
This last battle of the age sees the end of the godless World Government and ushers in the millennial reign of Christ. Prophecy also suggests the type of weaponry used. This last war could use neutron bombs (since these vaporize flesh at close range) and also nuclear devices (since Malachi 4 refers to a time of fierce heat when attackers will be burnt to ashes).
The 'Gog-Magog' invasion involves a confederacy of nations, particularly Iran (Persia), Ethiopia, Put, and Gomer (Ezek 38.5,6). Put is associated with Africa, possibly Libya, whilst Gomer is probably identified with an Aryan group who conquered Armenia from their Ukrainian homeland. The invasion is led by 'Gog', which could be a specific people, or symbolic of anti-God forces. The invaders fall on the mountains of Israel and in the open field (Ezek 39.4,5).
The nature and timing of the 'Gog-Magog' invasion is less clear. Some see it as distinct from the 'all-nation' invasion and occurring at the end of the Millennium as Satan is briefly released to deceive the nations (Rev 20.7-10)(see also The Last Years of this Age). There is biblical support for this view. For example, Israel will make fires with the invasion weapons rather than cut down forests (Ezek 39.9,10), and Gog will invade on horses (Ezek 38.15) - suggesting primative weapons. Also, the details of how God defeats the invader are different in Ezek and Zech. It also appears to be specific nations rather than 'all' nations that invade.
Others see the Gog-Magog' invasion as occuring at the end of this age, and soon. In fact, both invasions could be one and the same if 'all nations' is widely interpreted and we accept some symbolism in the prophecies. The biblical support for this view is considerable:
■Both prophecies (Ezek and Zech) say that it is the God of Israel who defeats the invading armies
■Both prophecies describe how the invader turns and fights against himself (Ezek 38.21, Zech 14.13)
■Both prophecies describe a great earthquake in Israel at the time of the invasion (Ezek 38.19)(Zech 14.4,5)
■The Gog-Magog invasion occurs when Israel dwells securely (Ezek 38.11). A false security could occur when the end-time world ruler makes a peace treaty with Israel, prior to his invasion of Israel (Dan 9.27)
■Israel works to clean up the invasion site for 7 months after the invasion (Ezek 39.11-16). This could occur at the start of the Millennium
■It is after this final battle that God pours out His Spirit on Israel, and they recognise Christ as Saviour (Ezek 39.29)(Joel 2.28)(Zech 12.10)
■It is only after this final battle that the nations acknowledge the God of Israel (Ezek 39.7)(Zech 14.16)
The last two points in particular imply that the Gog-Magog invasion must occur prior to the Millennium. Zechariah 12 seems to provide a summary of this great end-time battle, combining the prophecies of both Ezek 38,39 and Zech 14.
The Implications for YOU
End time prophecies are being fulfilled before our eyes; the emergence of a World Government, the emergence of Israel, the emergence of electronic ID, and the ubiquitous climate change. You are being swept into a humanistic, godless and potentially brutal World Government or New World Order. Sooner or later this system will require you to receive the mark of Revelation (the ultimate electronic ID) in order to buy or sell. And because of its hatred towards the God of the Bible, Christians and Jews, this world system will conspire against Israel. National armies will be mobilised for war against Israel. You may even be asked to have some part in this invasion.
The turmoil in the Middle East and the rapid emergence of Israel are signs that this invasion will take place in the foreseeable future. Within just 100 years Israel has gone from insignificance to the vortex of the world. The significant point is that when the invasion starts Jesus will return to earth. In fact, there is strong biblical support for the view that Christians (believers in Christ) will be taken from the earth just prior to this invasion (see The Last Years of this Age).
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