There is an apocryphal story of Queen Victoria asking her prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, for evidence of the existence of God. Disraeli simply answers, “The Jew.” The context of the story may not be true but the content is. One of the greatest revelations of God must be the Jew. The Jew has stood out above all people groups of the world as the chosen race, God’s covenant people. God calls himself the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel (Zephaniah 2:9). Biblical prophecy is centred on Jesus, Israel and the Jew.
The Bible is full of prophecies, promises and warnings that are fulfilled through the Jew. God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3 have all been wonderfully fulfilled. The 70 years of captivity in Babylon that were prophesied by Jeremiah (25:11), was also remarkably fulfilled. As we saw in the previous chapter, The Praying Premillennialists, God uses prophecy to show that He is the true God (Isaiah 46:9-10), which is why it is important that we must interpret prophecy literally. False prophets write using vague, allegorical terminology so their sayings can have multiple possible interpretations and therefore have a greater chance of fulfilment. God’s prophesies are detailed and specific – even in the case of God using Cyrus to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem in 539 BC. God identified him by name in prophecy through Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1), who lived approximately 200 years before Cyrus. There is also the case of Josiah who is mentioned by name in 1 Kings 13:2, although 1 Kings was written two centuries before his birth.
Deuteronomy 28 records the warnings of what will happen to the Jews if they break their covenant with God. By just reviewing verses 49 to 68 one sees amazing fulfilment of these warnings:
Verse 49: The Lord says that He will “bring a nation against you [Israel] from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you do not understand”. Rome was a nation from far away. The symbol of Rome is an eagle and it “swooped” down upon Israel when the Roman general Titus led some 32 000 infantry, 10 000 archers and 10 000 cavalry against the Jews. Latin, the language of the Romans, was not understood by the Jews.
Verse 52: “They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land [Israel].” Rome systematically moved from north Israel – laying siege to town and city and ravaging the countryside – efficiently moving south to Jerusalem and eventually ending with the suicide of 960 Jews at the siege of Masada near the Dead Sea.
Verse 53: “You will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters.” This scripture was literally fulfilled during the terrible Roman siege of Jerusalem in 68-70 AD, when food stores dwindled to nothing and the desperate population of Jerusalem resorted to desperate means.
Verse 64: “Then the Lord will scatter you among all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other”. As a result of campaigns by the Romans against Jewish revolts in 70AD and 132AD, most of the Jews were scattered, leaving few in Israel. Over the years of finding “no resting place for the sole of [their] foot” (verse 65), the Jews were scattered to all corners of the earth.
Verse 66: “You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life.” This scripture relates to the many pogroms that the Jews have experienced over the years, but no more so than during the holocaust, when Jews lived in continual fear of their discovery and capture by the Nazis, who shipped them in overcrowded cattle trucks to death camps.
Recent fulfilment of prophecy is the restoration of the nation of Israel and Jerusalem to the Jewish people, a sure sign of the soon return of Jesus. Those sceptics who feel that the revival of the nation of Israel and the return of the Jews to their homeland is a coincidence should consider the many scriptures that prophesy that the Jews will return from all nations, such as Ezekiel 36:24 and 39:27-29; Jeremiah 16:15 and 23:3; Isaiah 11:12 and 43:5-6. These prophecies cannot be said to be relating to the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon as there is a clarification within the scriptures that the return of the Jews would be from “the nations”, “out of all the countries” and from “the four quarters of the earth”, not just Babylon.
Israel is at the forefront of End Times prophecy and the restoration of the nation is a vital cog around which all other prophecies leading to the return of Jesus must rotate, and will eventually affect the lives of every person on the planet. James Goll in his book The Coming Israel Awakening interprets Jeremiah 16:16 as a clear indicator that God wants all the Jews to return to Israel, when the Lord says: “I will send for many fishermen and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from every crevice and rock.” Goll explains that God in His mercy and grace is going to send out fishermen who are going to encourage the Jews to obey God’s call to return but if, after a time, the call to return is ignored, God will send out the hunters to drive the Jews out of their comfort zones back to Israel. Whatever factors have made the Jews comfortable in their Diaspora will be taken away. The comfortable will become uncomfortable, even dangerous.
The Church is to play a major role as fishermen in encouraging and assisting Jews to make Aliyah. A prophecy in Isaiah 49:22 even predicts that Gentiles will be responsible for ensuring that Jews return to Israel. This is what the sovereign Lord says: “See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.” Thousands of Jews have been restored to Israel from all over the world by faithful Christians who have been obedient to God’s Word through time, effort and finances. This is an extremely important scripture. Once again, Jesus is raising a banner but this time it is signalling to the Gentiles to bring His brethren home. God is calling on the Church to be fishermen, to help fulfil His call to the Jews and aid them in their return to the Promised Land. After 1 900 years of being scattered to all points of the compass and suffering persecution and hardship, God is bringing them home. How can the Church ignore God’s call to aid Him in His restoration of the Jews? Whatever we do in obedience to God’s command to restore the Jews to Israel will be blessed (Genesis 12:3).
In 1992 The Soviet Union collapsed and the Iron Curtain was lifted, which allowed close to a million Jews to emigrate to Israel during and after the fall of the Soviet Union. Jeremiah foresaw this when he declared that there would come a time when the Jews would no longer say, “As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt” (Jeremiah 16:14), but in the future they will say, “As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them” (Jeremiah 16:15; 23:7-8). Jeremiah finishes the prophecy in 16:15 with the Lord saying, “For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers.” God is clearly showing through this scripture that the return of the Jews to Israel is a mighty revelation of the truth that He is God. The fact that Christians had been responsible for aiding thousands of Russian Jews to return to Israel is not only an act of obedience but it is also honouring God. God brought glory to Himself through the fulfilment of this miracle, and Christians exalted their God and revealed the agape love of Yeshua to the Jews by their obedient assistance of the Russian Jews.
The return of the Jews to Israel is still continuing through their Aliyah Programme, so the prophecies of Jews returning to Israel from all nations are still continuing to be fulfilled. There are also the rest of the wonderful prophecies concerning the ongoing restoration. Deuteronomy 28 gives a detailed description of the judgements that God would bring upon the people of Israel for their rebellion against Him. Leviticus 26 gives further information on these judgements which includes their cities being ruined (verse 31); the land becoming desolate (verse 32); and the people being scattered (verse 33). American novelist Mark Twain gave testimony to the accuracy of these three prophecies when he visited the Holy Land in 1867 and wrote in his book, Innocents Abroad, of the ruined settlements, the desolation of the country and that “there is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent”, evidence that debunks the Arab claim of “Palestinian” settlement in the region. The wonderful turnaround for Israel takes place in Ezekiel 36 when a loving and compassionate God speaks of the cities being rebuilt and inhabited once more (verse 33), and the land being cultivated and becoming like the Garden of Eden (verse 34). This is not for anything that the Jews have done, but because it is part of God’s plan and it brings honour and glory to Himself. These prophecies have been marvellously fulfilled with the land of Israel blossoming under the hand of the Jews. Make no mistake that they have worked hard to bring the land back to life; they have drained mosquito-infested swamps, brought technology to agriculture and made the desert productive. They have toiled and sweated on the lands to make them fertile again. But God has blessed their efforts and the land is fruitful and the desert is blossoming like a rose (Isaiah 35:1-2). Some specific prophecies regarding the “blossoming” land are worth mentioning: Jeremiah 31:5 says, “Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria.” With the West Bank now being a part of the state of Israel, grapes are being grown on the hills of Samaria and the Golan Heights. Along the slopes between Nazareth and Mount Tabor grows a forest of pine and myrtle trees which is a fulfilment of Isaiah 55:13: “Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.”
There is a joke among the Christians living in Jerusalem that the national bird of Israel should be the “crane” because of the towering structures that continually dominate the skyline of West Jerusalem and the machines that labour daily to keep up with the building demands of the burgeoning city. Psalm 102 speaks of God having compassion on Zion and showing favour to her (verse 13). The psalm goes on to say in what way God will show favour to Jerusalem: “For the Lord will rebuild Zion” (verse16). God is indeed blessing Jerusalem, as West Jerusalem is growing at a rapid rate.
Let us review what God is doing for the nation of Israel: He has restored the land to the Jews; He has brought the diaspora back to Israel from all four corners of the earth; He has blessed the land and made it fruitful and productive; He has restored Jerusalem to the nation of Israel and He has defended the nation from repeated attacks from an enemy that wants to see the nation annihilated. Why has God done all this? Many Christians look at prophecy and believe that God has formed Israel again so that He can deal with her as a people, during the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), a time of tribulation for the Jew. This is illogical! Why would God be blessing the Jew in amazing ways so that He can bring judgement on them? That makes no sense! I do not dispute that there are seven years of tribulation still to come which encompasses the time of “Jacob’s trouble”, but I believe that before that can happen there will be a revival in Israel – a last wonderful move of the Holy Spirit and a climax of all the special blessings that God has given Israel. God wants all the Jews to return to Israel because that is where the revival will happen!
With all that God is doing in Israel and for the Jews, what is the role of the Church in all of this? As is shown in the timeline, Christians with foresight took the scriptures literally and God used the Church to pray these prophecies into reality. We are required to continue to pray not only for the continued prosperity of the land and the people with God’s protection over the nation, but also for the return of Jesus, “the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) and the salvation of the Jew. We should do this not only because it is God’s will for us, but because it gives us great joy to be in partnership with God in the great and marvellous things that He is doing.
There are many prophecies yet to be fulfilled in the future of the nation of Israel and the Jews. The focus will be on Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The third temple will be built. Right now, the Temple Mount Museum situated in the Old City of Jerusalem displays some of the artifacts that the Jews have restored in preparation for the building of the third temple and the restoration of the Old Testament sacrifices. Many Jews believe that when they construct the third temple, God’s presence will fill the temple and He will tabernacle with His people once more. This is because of the scripture in Exodus 25:8, “Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” So, the Jews have prepared all the equipment necessary to carry out sacrifices on the Temple Mount. They have also trained up men to fulfil the duties required of temple priests. David Silver in his book Slow Train Coming writes that the Jews have even genetically engineered a pure red heifer, the ashes of which, mixed with the water of cleansing, will be used to purify the Temple Mount and so allow the resumption of sacrifices (vide Numbers 19). The rebuilding of the Temple can only take place if a treaty is signed between the Muslims and Jews to allow the Jews permission to share their holy site. This will require a man of great importance and charisma in the diplomatic realm. This man will be the Antichrist, whom God allows to appear on the End Times world stage as part of His judgements on a sinful world. As we have seen, Islam is totally antagonistic towards Judaism, so to persuade Muslims to share their holy site with the Jews will be no small measure of achievement. Many people will reject even the concept as being impossible, but that is exactly the opinion that people had of the formation of the State of Israel; people said it would never happen. The Old City of Jerusalem becoming part of Israel and the Jews having access to the Western Wall was also thought impossible. The third temple will be rebuilt because God’s Word says it will!
The time of the Tribulation Period (Revelation 6-18) will also include the time of Jacobs’s trouble, as it is during the Tribulation that God will be dealing with the Jewish people. ‘The Day of the Lord’ refers to God’s direct intervention with mankind at this time, but the Day of the Lord also includes the Kingdom Period (Revelation 20:1-6) and the White Throne of Judgement (Revelation 20:11-15). The Day of the Lord during the Tribulation Period is a time of judgement, but it is also when man is given one last opportunity to have a change of heart and to accept the salvation that God has provided through our Lord Jesus.
John P. McTernan in his book As America has done to Israel, points out that the Lord’s judgements during the Day of the Lord include the Palestinians and Israel’s other neighbours. God will hold them accountable for their hatred towards Israel (Genesis 12:3).
- The Palestinians – “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head… The house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame… [The Jews] will possess the land of the Philistines. They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria” (Obadiah 1:15; 18-19). The land of the Philistines is Gaza and Samaria is the West Bank area. God clearly has plans to remove the Palestinians from the Promised Land.
- Syria – An oracle concerning Damascus: “See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of burning ruins… The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim and the royal power from Damascus” (Isaiah 17:1 & 3). Isaiah predicts the future total destruction of Damascus, which implies the collapse of Syria as a nation and very likely also Lebanon, which has been heavily dependent on Syria for support.
- Egypt – “But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of the violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood” (Joel 3:19). This prophecy is repeated in Ezekiel 29:9-12. The prophecies warn that Egypt will become a desolate wasteland because of its loathing of Israel. Egypt has been in conflict with Israel more than any other nation: the 1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Suez Canal War, The Yom Kippur War in 1967, The War of Attrition from 1967 to 1973, and the 1973 War. Now, with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as a political power in Egypt, conflict with Israel will be sure to follow. These conflicts will result in the future destruction of Egypt, leaving it a desolate wasteland because it is responsible for shedding the “innocent blood” of the Jews.
- Jordan – “‘I have heard the insults of Moab and the taunts of the Ammonites, who insult my people and make threats against their land. Therefore, as surely as I live’, declares the Lord Almighty the God of Israel, ‘surely Moab will become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah – a place of weeds and salt pits, a wasteland forever’” (Zephaniah 2:8-9). The modern nation of Jordan comprises the area of three ancient Biblical nations: Ammon, Edom and Moab. We have already seen the judgement of them becoming a desolate wasteland prophesied against Edom in Joel 3:19 and now we have the destruction of Jordan being equated with Sodom and Gomorrah.
These scriptures indicate that the Palestinian conflict will once more erupt into an all-out war between Israel and her neighbours; the warnings of the past conflicts revealing God’s protective hand over the nation of Israel will be ignored. This will result in the fulfilment of these prophecies.
The growth of Russia into a major world power is another “sign of the times.” Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophesy about a major battle which involves a confederacy of nations headed by Russia, referred to as the land of Magog. God has as yet not judged Russia for its rampant anti-Semitism over the years and, in recent times, the military aid it has given the Arab nations in support of their numerous conflicts with the Jews. It seems that God has a purpose in His delay and will use the Russian-led attack on Israel to show the world that He is the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel. He will raise His banner over Israel to show the world once more that He is the true God – the God of Israel defeats the invading armies by the methods He has used to defeat invading armies in the past. This is recorded in Ezekiel 38:21-22. This scripture in Ezekiel prophesies the destruction of a future invading army and reveals that the army will be destroyed by God using all four methods that He has used to deal with four different armies that have previously invaded Israel during Old Testament times, viz:
- The armies turn on each other and fight each other: The Old Testament example is from 2 Chronicles 20:23 where Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah watch God bring confusion on the armies of the Moabites, the Ammonites and the men from Mount Seir, as they fought against each other and annihilated one another, while Israel and King Jehoshaphat sat and watched.
- Pestilence strikes the armies and kills many: The example is from 2 Kings 19:34-36 when Hezekiah and Isaiah pray for deliverance from Sennacherib and the Assyrian army. In answer to their prayers God sends an angel down to the camp to put the Assyrian soldiers to death.
- A storm that cast down great hailstones: The example in Joshua 10:11 where God cast down huge hailstones on the Amorites killing more of them than the Israelites killed with the sword.
- Burning sulphur that is cast down from heaven: In Genesis 19:24 Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed by God for their wickedness.
The irony is that an Amillennialist will say that Ezekiel is a book filled with mystery and symbolism, so chapter 38 should not be taken literally. Yet here we have four examples of how God literally judged nations and cities in the past, that are recorded in Ezekiel as evidence of what God is going to do in the future to show that the defeat of the confederation of armies massing against Israel is God’s doing.
We also have the powerful prophecy of the restoration of the nation of Israel being fulfilled in Ezekiel 37; the nation that was dead is now alive! Once again (in verse 28) God shows that He uses Israel as a banner to the world, revealing that He is Almighty God: “Then the nations will know that I am the Lord”. This is strong evidence that God has a plan and a purpose to restore the Jews back to a relationship with Himself.