The Nation of Israel in the Last
By David J. Nixon
In 1948 an event of unparalleled Biblical proportions
happened on the world stage as the nation of Israel was reborn in the land by
declaring independence for the Jewish state. For centuries the Church had
metaphoricalised away any significance of Israel in Bible prophecy seeing as the
state had ceased to exist, but once again in an unmistakable fulfillment of
prophecy Israel was back as a world and Bible prophecy player. The Apostle
Paul warned the early Church not to be arrogant in dismissing Israel's continued
importance in God's redemptive program because she would ultimately be restored
into fellowship with God (Romans 11:17-27). This process is not yet complete
because Israel still does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah but such a
day is coming when she shall declare "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the
Lord" (Matthew 23:39).
Reading the Old and New Testament prophecies together you cannot help but reach the conclusion that Israel is involved. Israel forms the centre piece of the 70 Weeks prophecy which is the whole basis for there being a 7 year Tribulation period and indeed it cannot commence until an agreement is made between the Antichrist and Israel which he can then break (Daniel 9:27); Zechariah 12;14 describe the importance of the city of Jerusalem in the last days; Revelation 12 clearly shows that Israel will be the first target for attack by the Antichrist and other chapters describe how two witnesses and 144,000 Jews will be called into evangelistic ministry in the last days to call the nation back to God. The prophet Ezekiel while in Babylonian exile received the vision of the valley of the dry bones become flesh again, describing the future rebirth of national Israel within the land (Ezekiel 37), and the prophet Isaiah prophesied that this event would surprisingly happen in the space of a day (Isaiah 66:8). This almost certainly was the 1948 rebirth of Israel! These are but a few examples of the picture we see unfolding across the pages of scripture concerning Israel's importance but even the Lord Jesus addresses the issue.
The Apostle Peter answers the mocking questions of those asking 'Where is the Lord after all this time?' with the response that God is not at all slow to action but rather is being patient with the world not willing any to perish (2 Peter 3:4-9). Many people today remark that the signs listed by Jesus at the start of Matthew 24, as He answers the disciples questions regarding when He will restore Israel and bring in the kingdom, are so generic that it is impossible to ever know when the Lord is going to return. However, they neglect the image of the fig tree which Jesus goes on to tell the disciples about which will be the Rosetta stone of end time Bible prophecy to warn that the time is imminent for His return: "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Matthew 24:32-35). In the prophetic scriptures Israel is described as a fig tree or as an olive tree, and Jesus symbolically rebuked the unfruitful fig tree which was not ready for when He came to it just a few chapters earlier. This image would then mean that when we see the nation of Israel become fruitful again that this is the sign that the time of the end is near and the Lord's return is in season. Thus we are left with the unmistakable impression that we must indeed be nearing the Lord's return since Israel was reborn in the land over 60 years ago.
With 7 years still left outstanding on the timer of Daniel's 70 Weeks Prophecy we know that in the days to come the Antichrist will form an agreement with Israel, which he will then proceed to break 3.5 years later turning on the nation (Daniel 9:27). His war against Israel frustrated by God's miraculous deliverance of her will come to a head as he gathers his armies in the valley of Jezreel north of Jerusalem at the end of the 70th Week and there he will do battle against the Lord Jesus who returns to bring in the kingdom now that Israel has returned to Him declaring Him Messiah!
Before this time it seems that Israel will come under attack from the Gog Magog (see below) alliance of nations as described in Ezekiel 38 & 39. She will also face the threat of destruction from the nations immediately around her as described in Psalm 83 (see below) where they make plans to wipe Israel off the map. The list of nations in this Psalm are those directly around Israel on all sides and so I would argue, that it is possible Psalm 83 has already been fulfilled by the Arab conflagrations in 1948, 1967 and 1973 when they attempted unsuccessfully to destroy Israel. In all the wars that the newly reborn nation has faced God has delivered her successfully and blessed her greatly with the spoils of victory. Yet still His heart yearns for His nation to return to Him!
Understanding the Bible's prophecies about the last days begins with Israel, the nation which had so much revealed to her and which still forms an important part of God's redemptive programme for the world as His return draws ever nearer!
( see related article "Psalm 83 possibilities" )
( see related article "Gog Magog" )
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