“(9) Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” – Isaiah 46:9-10 KJV
Ever since the Garden of Eden, we are given a very intricate and multi-faceted depiction of an ancient rebellion that has not abated but rather is accelerating toward a series of climactic events the likes of which the world has never seen before. Make no mistake the end quickly approaches with a palpable spiritual tension in the air discernible to even the most apostate, though, of course, it will take far more than a spiritual sensitivity to really understand what is truly at work here. Thankfully, the Lord Almighty has made known the end from the beginning and inscribed His Eternal Purpose for us to seek diligently through the illumination of the Holy Spirit upon His written Word.
The road to understanding this ancient rebellion is fraught with many obstacles not least the obfuscation of the enemy through a myriad of smoke and mirrors to distort perceptions but also those obstacles which arise from our own persuasions, opinions, or prejudices.
Any such bias must be ruthlessly cross-examined and abandoned should it fail to align with the absolute authority of scripture. Yet even here we must tread carefully because our biblical study must adhere to principles of sound exegesis if we are to arrive at the correct interpretation of what we see unfolding now and in the days to come within the Middle East. Whilst I do not consider myself a scholar I do strive as the Bereans did to search the scriptures diligently in the pursuit of truth. So as best I can I want to share with you what I believe to be a fulcrum in discerning the times and seasons in the hope it may prove useful to you in your own journey, although I urge you also to be as a Berean and search the scriptures for yourselves with all readiness of mind to see if these things are so. Acts 17:11.
I suggest the Day of the Lord is key to understanding the Middle East crisis, and when I talk of crisis, I mean not only the tragic eruption of hostilities currently unfolding across Palestine and Israel with all its horrific consequences, but the tensions which have existed for millennia and are now quite clearly entering into an entirely new phase, or as it might be described in chess the “endgame”. And like chess, we might understand whilst many pieces are upon the board, it is the hand above that moves them. Similarly, and this is important, there is need to isolate what takes place in the spirit realm from what takes place in the natural realm.
For example, when considering Israel, it is vital we are able to separate the social-political nation of Israel, from the spiritual nation of Israel, because the two are not the same, and analysis without this distinction is a road leading to confusion and dissension.
The Day of the Lord provides a very clear demarcation of how events will be before that day, from how they will be after it, and right at the centre is the city of Jerusalem. Events will unfold in the visible realm but these will be the outworking of things in the unseen realm, for ultimately this is more than an earthly contest but a spiritual conflict of the highest order, between the Lord Almighty and Satan, between the armies of Heaven and the minions of darkness.
Before the Day of the Lord, there will come an escalation of lawlessness, wickedness, war, pestilence, famines, and earthquakes, and for a short time (namely three and a half years) all hell will be let loose upon the earth. There’s no other way I can say that because it’s clearly written in the Bible. It’s certainly not my intention to incite fear, but the reality is what lies ahead in the short term will not be easy and we must be ready.
The future is not something to be afraid of but rather to embrace and be empowered by an end-time anointing for the Bride to partner with Heaven in the days leading up to the glorious return of her Bridegroom and Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord is able to protect His own and I believe will do so, but that’s not the focus of this Quick Bite, so hopefully we’ll come back to the Divine measures in place, but for now, my intention is to highlight the centrality of the Day of the Lord as key to understanding the Middle East and Israel.
With that said the first point I want to make concerns the timing of the Jewish return to Israel. Let’s look at what scripture says about this restoration of Israel back to its homeland.
“(1) “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call [them] to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, (2) “and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, (3) “that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you. (4) “If [any] of you are driven out to the farthest [parts] under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. (5) “Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. (6) “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” – Deuteronomy 30:1-6 NKJV
There are many scriptures I could have used to illustrate God’s promise to Israel, the sheer volume of those promises punctuating the Old Testament simply makes it impossible to ignore, viz Israel will return to the land their fathers possessed. However, as we shall see it’s not quite that simple.
The question we must ask is whether this promise is conditional or not.
Certainly in the above passage of Deuteronomy 30, verses 1 and 2 do suggest the restoration to their homeland is provisional. That if Israel should remember the covenant He made with them in the desert, and if they return to the Lord and their children with all their heart and with all their soul then the Lord will bring Israel back to their homeland from all the nations where they have been scattered. That reminds me of another familiar promise:
“(14) “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV
As we have seen the restoration of land is by no means guaranteed and there are certain requirements that first must be fulfilled. When shall come the salvation of Israel? Well, the Bible has much to say on this also, so let’s take one example and look at what the prophet Joel foretold:
“(30) “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. (31) The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. (32) And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.” (1) “For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, (2) 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.”– Joel 2:30 – 3:2 NKJV
In this excerpt from a wider prophecy, Joel specifically connects Israel’s salvation and gathering of Judah’s captives at the time of the “awesome day of the Lord”. There are many other scriptures connecting the gathering of the houses of Israel and Judah on the Day of the Lord. Here’s what Zephaniah wrote concerning that day:
“(19) Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, And gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame In every land where they were put to shame. (20) At that time I will bring you back, Even at the time I gather you; For I will give you fame and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I return your captives before your eyes,” Says the LORD.” – Zephaniah 3:19-20 NKJV
And finally, here’s what Isaiah spoke concerning the Day of the Lord:
“(9) They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (10) “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.” (11) It shall come to pass in that day [That] the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. (12) 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 11:9-12 NKJV
At this point, we’ve already entered some turbulent terrain so we’ll take a pause here to digest the points I’ve made so far. But by way of summary, I’m proposing we need to understand the demarcation provided by the Day of the Lord between how things shall be before and after that time. And as we have seen, as far as the gathering to Israel, that is a promise made by the Lord that He would fulfil when they receive Him as their Messiah when He comes again. Next time, we’ll unpack this further to answer the question, if the promise to restore Israel to the land of her fathers is upon the Day of the Lord, what are we to make of Israel’s establishment as a nation in 1948 and the root issues concerning peace (or lack of) in the Middle East?
“(37) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under [her] wings, but you were not willing! (38) “See! Your house is left to you desolate; (39) “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed [is] He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ “” – Matthew 23:37-39 NKJV