Read an Excerpt
The Prophecy Answer Book
By DAVID JEREMIAH
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Dr. David Jeremiah
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCurrent Events
The Bible has proven to be absolutely dependable. Therefore we can trust it as the source of reliable information about the meaning of the events of our day and what those events tell us about our hope for the future as we look toward the return of Christ. The Lord Jesus Himself spoke of the wisdom of discerning the signs of the times and of taking appropriate action as we wait for his re turn (Matthew 24, Mark 13).
* * *
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
Why is a fledgling country [Israel] with a population of slightly more than seven million and a total land space hardly larger than New Jersey mentioned in the nightly news more than any other nation except the United States and why is Israel important in prophecy?
For answers we must turn not to the evening news or the front page of the newspaper, but to the Bible.
Israel's story begins with God's sovereign purpose revealed in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Apparently God finds Abraham and his descendants to be of enormous importance. The very proportion of the coverage tells us something about the importance of Israel. Only two chapters are given to the whole story of creation. One chapter records the fall of man. Eight chapters cover the thousands of years from creation to the time of Abraham. Then we find that fully thirty-eight chapters deal with the life stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-the progenitors of the Jewish race.
Israel is important because the fulfillment of God's covenant with its founder Abraham greatly affects every one of us. The playing out of prophetic events concerning Israel places us in the last days of history's timeline. The miraculous survival of God's covenant people, the Jews, demonstrates God's providence and His ability to accomplish His purpose in the face of what seems to human minds impossible odds. The existence of Israel today is exhibit A in the lineup of convincing evidences that the Bible's prophecies concerning the future will be fulfilled. To this day, the issue of who controls Israel, the Promised Land, is the most volatile in international politics.
Do the boundaries of present-day Israel fulfill God's promise to Israel in the Old Testament?
The land promised to Abraham covers much more area than what the present nation of Israel occupies. Genesis 15:18 tells us that it stretches all the way from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Euphrates River on the east. Ezekiel fixes the northern boundary of Israel at Hamath, one hundred miles north of Damascus (Ezekiel 48:1), and the southern boundary at Kadesh, about one hundred miles south of Jerusalem (v. 48:28).
Today, Israel is one-nineteenth the size of California and roughly the size of our third smallest state, New Jersey. It is 260 miles at its longest point, 60 miles at its widest, and three miles at its narrowest.
When you look at a map and locate that tiny strip of land that Israel now claims, you can see that she does not now, nor has she ever, fully occupied the land that was described to Abraham in God's covenant promise. If Israel were currently occupying all the land promised to her, she would control present-day Israel, Lebanon, the West Bank of Jordan, and substantial portions of Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
Will the Jews ever realize the fulfillment of God's covenant to possess Israel as an everlasting possession?
The prophet Isaiah asserted that it would happen. He prophesied that the Lord would "set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left" (Isaiah 11:11). God also addressed the issue through Ezekiel when He said, "I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land" (Ezekiel 36:24).
The fulfillment of those prophecies was set in motion on May 14, 1948, when the U.S. recognized the new state of Israel. On the evening of that announcement, popular radio commentator Lowell Thomas said in his broadcast that Americans in every part of the country would be turning to their Bibles for historical background enabling them to understand "this day in history." And indeed, as prophecies found in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Matthew, and Revelation show, both the Old Testament and the New Testament pointed to this day when the Jews would return to the land promised them and initiate fulfillment of the ancient prophecies.
The Israeli government established the State of Israel, thus fulfilling the twenty-five-hundred-year-old prophecy recorded in the Bible.
Is Israel's presence in her land today the final fulfillment of God's promise to regather His people?
The answer is no! What is happening in Israel today is primarily the result of a secular Zionist movement, whereas Ezekiel wrote about a spiritual return of God's people to Him when he said:
For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.... Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; ... I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God (Ezekiel 36:24-28 NASB).
The return of Jews to the newly refounded nation of Israel is the first stage of that regathering, but it certainly does not fulfill the requirements of a spiritual return to the Lord.
From the moment of God's promise to Abraham to this present hour, the prophecies concerning Israel's total possession and blessing in the land remain unfulfilled. The most dramatic events lie ahead of us.
What events regarding Israel's total possession of the land remain unfulfilled?
Israel has been attacked over and over since its founding, sometimes in all-out wars and incessantly by terrorists. The Jewish people have survived by remaining vigilant, but they long for peace. According to the Bible, a future leader will fulfill this longing by brokering a seven-year peace deal with Israel's enemies. But Scripture also tells us that this peace plan will be broken, and Israel will be attacked once again, this time as never before. Countless armies will amass against the boxed-in nation, leaving it with no human hope of victory. Only Christ's return, His judgment, and His reign will finally bring true peace to Israel.
It is then that God's covenant with Abraham will reach its ultimate fulfillment. The Jews will return to the Lord and, as Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied, they will be His people and He will be their God. The borders of the land will expand to the dimensions described in Genesis 15 and Ezekiel 48. Christ's return will also fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah that God would gather the Jews: "Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them ... I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God" (Jeremiah 32:37-38).
Ezekiel makes it clear that this gathering means God will return every single living Jew back to their land. For he writes that the Lord said He would gather them again to their own land "and ... none of them [will be] captive any longer" (Ezekiel 39:28).
Today we see this prophecy being fulfilled right before our eyes. In 2006, for the first time in nineteen hundred years, Israel became home to the largest Jewish community in the world, surpassing the Jewish population in the United States. From the 650,000 who returned when the Jewish state was founded in 1948, the population of Israel has swelled to approximately 5.4 million, and it is expected to exceed 6 million by 2020.
Does oil hold a key to the prophetic events of the future?
Oil explains why the Bible focuses its end-time attention on the Middle East, and, more than any factor other than the nation of Israel oil, holds the key to the prophetic events of the future.
Few would question the fact that oil has become the new basis for our world economy. It is now the stuff of life, the commodity most highly valued by the industrialized and emerging nations of the world, the blood that flows through their economic veins and gives life to prosperity in today's global economy. The greatest source of that lifeblood is now in the Middle East, and so that is where the eyes of the world are focused.
What does this tell us about coming events? In Luke's gospel, Jesus contrasts our ability to discern weather signs with our inability to understand the more important signs of the time: "You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it that you do not discern this time?" (Luke 12:56). Surely the world's fascination with oil-a highly valuable commodity with a source in lands hostile or borderline hostile to Israel and to us-qualifies as a "sign."
What do oil and the garden of Eden have in common?
my friend Robert Morgan flew into New Orleans several years ago, and the man who met him at the airport was a geophysicist for a major oil company. Driving to the hotel, he explained to Robert that oil deposits result from the decomposition of plant and animal life now buried by eons of time. Oil is found all over the world, he said, even under the ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. That means forests and abundant vegetation once covered the world until destroyed in a vast global cataclysm (such as a worldwide flood).
The geophysicist went on to say that the earth's richest, deepest, and largest deposits of petroleum lie under the sands of countries just to the east of Israel in the location pinpointed in the Bible as the garden of Eden. Eden was a teeming expanse of forests, foliage, and gardens with rich fertility unparalleled in human history.
Barren sand and blazing desert now exist where once grew a garden flourishing with dense, lush flora, the likes of which the world has not seen since. It was destroyed in some disastrous upheaval and has decayed into the largest deposits of oil in the world. I had never before imagined that the gasoline I pump into my car might be the ruined remains of the rich, vast foliage of the garden of Eden.
It's ironic to think that Satan may finance the Battle of Armageddon at the end of human history with revenues generated from the garden he spoiled at the beginning of human history.
Oil explains why the Bible focuses its end-time attention on the Middle East.
How does today's oil situation align with prophecy?
Since there are no substantive oil deposits in Israel today, we must continue to deal with the reality of a world in which oil remains in the possession of countries hostile to us and to Israel. For example, Ezekiel foretold a time when Russia would attack Israel. In detailing how the military aggression would take place, the prophet listed a coalition of some of the nations that would join with Russia in the attack. "Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet" (Ezekiel 38:5).
Until March 21, 1935, Persia was the official name of the country we now call Iran. Not once in the past twenty-five hundred years has Russia formed a military connection with Persia/Iran-until now. But now these two nations have formed a military alliance that continues to be strengthened by the political situation in our world. Russia recently signed a billion-dollar deal to sell missiles and other weaponry to Iran. And the connection is even broader, as Joel C. Rosenberg, former aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, points out: "Over 1000 Iranian nuclear scientists have been trained in Russia by senior Russian scientists." Here is an end-time alliance that was prophesied twenty-five hundred years ago, and in the last few years it has become a reality. Obviously, the stage is being set!
Oil is the new gold in the world economy and holds the key to the prophetic events of the future.
What is America's place in end-time prophecy?
No specific mention of the United States or any other country in North or South America can be found in the Bible. One reason may be that in the grand scheme of history, the U.S. is a new kid on the block. As a nation, it is less than 250 years old-much younger than the nations of Bible times that are featured in biblical prophecy. In fact, the Bible makes no mention of most nations in the modern world. The ancient prophets were primarily concerned with the Holy Land and its immediate neighbors. Areas remote from Israel do not figure in prophecy and are not mentioned in the Bible.
John Walvoord posited one theory that suggests, "America will be in the mix of the political realignments that foreshadow the end of time through our nations of origin. Most citizens of the United States of America have come from Europe, and their sympathies would more naturally be with a European alliance...." And we can see signs of such realignments taking place today.
With the usual presidential fanfare in April of 2007, President Bush welcomed European Union Commission President Jos Barroso and the serving President of the European Council, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the Rose Garden of the White House. These three leaders signed the Framework for Advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration between the United States of America and the European Union. Less than seven months after its signing, the Transatlantic Economic Council held its first official meeting in Washington, D.C. In a joint statement it was announced, "Since April, the United States and the European Union have made substantial progress in removing barriers to trade and investment and in easing regulatory burdens."
On the surface there seems to be nothing ominous about such an agreement; it appears to be simply about freeing up economic trade between nations. But a similar, less publicized meeting was held in March 2008 at the State Department, which focused on linking the U.S., Mexico, and Canada in a "North American community with the European Union" in anticipation of the "creation of a 'Transatlantic Economic Union' between the European Union and North America." One participant-whose identity is protected by the Chatham House Rule, which permits information to be disseminated without attribution to guarantee confidentiality-made this revealing statement:
North America should be a premiere platform to establish continental institutions. That's why we need to move the security perimeters to include the whole continent, especially as we open the borders between North American countries for expanding free trade.
Statements such as this reveal an intention toward union that has implications far beyond mere economic trade. And considering the speed at which leaders are pushing union between nations, it appears that it will not be long before we see such a union instituted.
Is the unification of Europe foretold in Scripture?
More than two thousand years ago, God gave His servant Daniel a vision of the future that we recognize as the most comprehensive prophetic insight ever given to man. Through Daniel, God gave a composite history of the remaining days of the world. The first kingdom was Babylon, which was to be followed by the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the last world kingdom which would be made up from a restored Roman Empire.
Excerpted from The Prophecy Answer Book by DAVID JEREMIAH Copyright © 2010 by Dr. David Jeremiah. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.