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What in the World Is Going On?10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore
By David Jeremiah
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2008 David Jeremiah
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Israel Connection
MAY 14, 1948, WAS A PIVOTAL DAY IN HUMAN HISTORY. ON THAT afternoon, a car carrying prominent Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion rushed down Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv and stopped in front of the Tel Aviv Art Museum. Four o'clock was only minutes away, and inside, more than four hundred people-Jewish religious and political leaders and press representatives from all over the world-were assembled in an auditorium, anxiously awaiting his arrival. Ben-Gurion quickly bounded up the steps. Precisely at four o'clock, local time, he stepped to the podium, called the meeting to order, and read these historic words:
This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State. Accordingly, we ... are here assembled ... and by virtue of our natural and historic right, and on the strength of the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, hereby declare the establishment of the Jewish State in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.
Six thousand miles away, President Truman sat in the Oval Office, reading a forty-word statement about to be released to the press. He penciled in a few added words, then signed his approval and noted the time. It was 6:10 p.m. One minute later, the White House press secretary read the release to the world. The United States had officially recognized the birth of the modern nation of Israel.
Isaiah's prophecy, written 740 years before the birth of Jesus, declared: "Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once?" (Isaiah 66:8). Secular Israel was born that day.
As I write this chapter, Israel is about to celebrate her sixtieth anniversary as a nation. What amazes many people is that in those six decades, this tiny nation with a population of slightly more than 7 million has become the geopolitical center of the world. Why is this so? Why is a fledgling country with a total land space smaller than New Jersey mentioned in the nightly news more than any other nation except the United States?
To answer these questions, we must understand what happened on that day in 1948, what is happening today in Israel, and how these events affect the entire world. For answers, we must turn not to the evening news or the front page of the newspaper, but to the Bible. As Rabbi Binyamin Elon, a member of the Israeli Knesset, wrote:
I believe that if you do not know how to read the Bible, you cannot understand the daily newspaper. If you do not know the biblical story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you cannot possibly understand the miracle of the modern state of Israel.
The story of Israel begins at the very beginning of the Bible, in the book of Genesis. 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 Abram. Then we find that fully thirty-eight chapters deal with the life stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-the progenitors of the Jewish race. Apparently God finds Abraham and his descendants to be of enormous importance.
The Abrahamic Covenant
The Almighty God of heaven and earth made a binding covenant with Abraham, who was to be the father of the Jewish nation. The provisions of that covenant are recorded in Genesis 12:1-3:
Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Notice that God's covenant with Abraham consists of four unconditional promises. First, God promised to bless Abraham. That promise has been lavishly kept; Abraham has been blessed in many ways. For thousands of years, the very name of Abraham has been revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike-a significant portion of the world's population. Abraham has also been blessed through the gifts God gave to his descendants, the Jews. Mark Twain once wrote:
Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of. He is as prominent on this planet as any other people. His commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also altogether out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world in all ages and he has done it with his hands tied behind him.
One astounding fact that dramatically illustrates Twain's point is the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes awarded to Jews. From 1901 to 2007, a total of 777 Nobel Prizes have been given to individuals in recognition of significant contributions to mankind. Of that total, 176 have been awarded to Jews. Of the 6 billion inhabitants of the world, only slightly more than 13 million are Jewish-less than two-thirds of 1 percent of the total world population. That miniscule percentage of the population has won 22.6 percent of all the Nobel Prizes awarded to date.
Second, God promised to bring out of Abraham a great nation. Currently, nearly 5.4 million Jews live in Israel alone. Another 5 million live in the United States, and a significant Jewish population remains scattered throughout the world. Add to these present figures all the descendants of Abraham who have lived throughout history and you truly have a population as uncountable as the nighttime stars (see appendix A for a chart of Jewish population statistics).
Third, God promised to make Abraham a blessing to many. That promise has been spectacularly kept. Just think what the world would be missing had it not been for the Jews. Without the Jews, we would have no Bible. Without the Jews, there would have been no Jesus. Without the Jewish Jesus, there would be no Christianity. Without the Jews, there would be no Ten Commandments, the Law that has largely been the basis of jurisprudence and statutory proceedings among most of the civilized nations of the world.
Fourth, God promised to bless those who blessed Israel and curse those who cursed her. He has kept that promise faithfully. No nation has blessed Israel like the United States of America, and no nation has been as blessed as the United States. In one of my previous books, I elaborated on this fact:
I believe one of the reasons America has been blessed as a nation is that she has become a homeland for the Jewish people. Here the Jews can retain their religion. Here they have economic, social, and educational opportunities. Today the Christian church in America stands firmly between the Jew and the repetition of any further anti-Semitism.
Throughout history, the judgments of God have fallen heavily upon Israel's oppressors-Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Rome, and in more modern times, Spain, Germany, and Russia. Today, as forces less friendly to Israel gain influence in the United States, there are many who believe that America is dangerously close to being added to this hit list. Hal Lindsey wrote:
Although America continues to be Israel's principle protector, and continues to enjoy the concomitant blessings that come with it, America's good fortunes began to wane about the time the White House forced Israel into the Oslo Agreement. The "land for peace" formula called for Israel to give up some of the land of Promise in exchange for peace. In other words, it was a form of blackmail whose terms were drawn up in Washington and forced upon Israel for the express purpose of undoing what God had already done, including dividing Jerusalem and taking part of it from the Jews.
God has certainly kept his promise to Abraham. He has blessed him and the nation that has come from him; He has multiplied his seed as the sands of the earth and stars of the sky; He has made him a blessing to the whole world; those who have blessed him have been blessed, and those who have cursed him have been cursed.
Of all God's covenant promises to Abraham, I believe the most amazing is His promise concerning the land. God told Abraham to leave his country, his family, and his father's house and go "to a land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). God then led Abraham to the land that would belong to his descendants forever. You can feel the awe and sense the meaning this promise has to Jews in this passage from Rabbi Binyamin Elon's book, God's Covenant with Israel:
I travel to my home in Beth El from Jerusalem on the same route that Abraham and others traveled in Biblical times, from Shechem to Hebron and places in between. Today we pass many other beautiful flourishing Jewish communities along the way ... When I reach the Givat Assaf intersection, I am always inspired by the large sign posted there, sponsored by our local grocer: "Here, in Beth El, 3800 years ago, the Creator of the World promised the Land of Israel to the people of Israel. It is by virtue of this promise that we dwell today in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Shilo, and Hebron."
The Record of Israel's Land
To this very day, the issue of who controls the Promised Land is the most volatile in international politics. But we need not worry; the right to the Promised Land has already been determined by the only One who has the authority to determine it. The land is called holy because it belongs to God. The Bible tells us that the earth is the Lord's to do with as He wills (Psalm 24:1; Exodus 19:5). In His covenant with Abraham, God designated who would control this land: He gave it to Abraham and his descendants, the people of Israel.
We read of God's choice of the Jews in Deuteronomy 7:6, where He declared the people of Israel holy, chosen to be "a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth." When I first began studying prophecy, I remember reading an offbeat little rhyme about Israel by British journalist William Norman Ewer: "How odd of God to choose the Jews." And when you think about it, this poetic quip expresses a valid observation. Doesn't it seem a little odd that of all the people on earth, God selected these particular people to be His chosen nation? Why would God choose the Jews?
The Bible tells us that His choice of Israel had nothing to do with merit. It was not because she was more numerous than other people in the world; she was the least (Deuteronomy 7:7). It was not because Israel was more sensitive to God than other nations. Although God called her by name, Israel did not know Him (Isaiah 45:4). It was not because Israel was more righteous than other nations. When God later confirmed His promise of land to the Jews, He reminded them that they were a rebellious, stiff-necked people (Deuteronomy 9:6-7).
If God chose to bless the nation of Israel not because she was more populous or spiritually responsive or righteous than other nations, just why did He choose the Jews? The answer: because it was His sovereign purpose to do so. His sovereign purpose means He cares what happens to His people and their land. He is not merely a passive observer to all that is taking place in Israel. As He told the people through Moses, theirs was "a land for which the lord your God cares; the eyes of the lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year" (Deuteronomy 11:12).
God's Covenant and the Land of Israel
The people of Israel today are the beneficiaries of God's covenant with Abraham. And to those who are sensitive to the historical nature of the covenant, their possession of the land God promised to Abraham thousands of years ago has great meaning. The deep feeling Jews have for their land is powerfully expressed in this passage by Rabbi Binyamin Elon:
I walk the streets of the Promised Land where Abram walked. I drive through the roads and plains where Isaac tended his flocks. I hike to the hilltops from where Jacob peered expectantly in all directions ... I see these things and remember clearly the biblical truth. God gave the Promised Land, all of it, to our Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Another rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, attributes the Jews' strong connection with their land to the power of God's covenant with Abraham to hold the Jewish people together throughout the ages with a common, bonding love for the land:
The love of this land was due to an imperative, not an instinct, not to a sentiment. There is a covenant, an engagement of the people to the land. We live by covenants. We could not betray our pledge or discard the promise. When Israel was driven into exile, the pledge became a prayer; the prayer a dream; the dream a passion, a duty, a dedication ... It is a commitment we must not betray ... To abandon the land would make a mockery of all our longings, prayers, and commitments. To abandon the land would be to repudiate the Bible.
An Exact Covenant
Some have suggested that the promise of land to Abraham's descendants is not to be taken literally. They say it is merely a symbol that indicates a general blessing, or perhaps the promise of heaven. But the Bible is too specific to let us get by with such ephemeral vagueness. It describes the land in definite terms and outlines it with clear geographical boundaries. Dr. John Walvoord stressed this point when he wrote:
The term land ... used in the Bible, means exactly what it says. It is not talking about heaven. It is talking about a piece of real estate in the Middle East. After all, if all God was promising Abraham was heaven, he could have stayed in Ur of the Chaldees. Why go on the long journey? Why be a pilgrim and a wanderer? No, God meant land.
The land promised to Abraham takes in 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 Palestine at Hamath, one hundred miles north of Damascus (Ezekiel 48:1), and the southern boundary at Kadesh, about one hundred miles south of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 48:28).
An Everlasting Covenant
And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you ... Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7-8)
In this remarkable prophecy God promised Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan as their possession in perpetuity. When you look at a map and locate that tiny strip of land Israel now claims as hers, 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 all the holdings of present day Israel, Lebanon, the West Bank of Jordan, and substantial portions of Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Not until the Millennium will Israel occupy all the land the Lord gave her in His promise to Abraham.
The Relocation of the People of Israel
The Scattering of the Jews
Just as the people of Israel were about to enter the land of promise, Moses told them that a time was coming when their idolatry would cause them to be driven from the land: "And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the lord will drive you" (Deuteronomy 4:27). God reiterated this prophecy through Ezekiel and Hosea (Ezekiel 12:15; Hosea 9:17). Israel had no excuse. Her people had been warned again and again that God was a jealous God and would not tolerate His people worshipping false gods (Exodus 34:14).
Excerpted from What in the World Is Going On? by David Jeremiah Copyright © 2008 by David Jeremiah. Excerpted by permission.
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