Modern Israel In Prophecy

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Part Two - Modern Israel In Prophecy

1947, the nation of Israel was reestablished in the land of Canaan. From that moment on, hundreds of thousands of Jews began to emigrate from the Gentile nations to their homeland. It was a time for great celebration by all the Jewish people. For almost 1900 years the nation had existed as outsiders living in the lands and nations of the Gentiles. Though in a few instances they were given the same rights as their Gentile counter-parts, all too often they were treated as second class citizens and even worse. The musical “Fiddler on the Roof” is a testament to their abuse and struggle to survive in a Gentile world. The Holocaust is a testament to the ever present danger that every Jew must face daily.

The Holocaust at the hands of the Germans was a bitter sweet event. It was bitter in the fact that several million Jews were brutally murdered at the hands of anti-Semitic Gentiles. However, the bitterness yielded a worldwide sentiment that produced the sweetness of the return to the land of their Fathers. Finally they were a sovereign nation that had its own land and its own language.

Many saw this revival of the nation in the Promised Land as the fulfillment of the promises made by God through His Old Testament prophets. Was not this the Kingdom that God had promised which would bring great prosperity, health, long life and sovereignty? Though the present restoration resembles many of the promises made of the future Kingdom yet it is clearly not that Kingdom. There are at least 8 things that are missing in the present nation of Israel that will be part of future kingdom nation promised by God.

1) Complete possession of the land: in all the years Israel has been in the land it has yet to possess the total land area given by God. The largest portion of land ever possessed took place under the reigns of David and Solomon. Their kingdoms were quite extensive however they fell well short of what God had promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:18) and what is later described by Ezekiel (Ezek. 47:15-20). Never has Israel possessed the land from the Euphrates River to the River of Egypt. The land was hers for the taking but Israel refused to totally conquer the land as God had commanded. Her lack of faith in God and her apostasy stood in the way of realizing the totality of God’s bestowment. 

The land Israel will possess in the future Kingdom will include portions of land presently possessed by several Gentile nations such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and possibly Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Even with the strongest UN declaration it would be totally impossible for Israel to possess this land given the present situation. The only way this will be possible is if God Himself comes to earth and parcels out the land Himself. This will happen at the Coming of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. 

2) Complete sovereignty of the land: In the complete history of Israel, from Abraham to the present, there has never been a time in which the nation of Israel has had complete sovereign rule over all she possessed. In the time of Patriarchs, many Gentile nations possessed the land. Under Joshua, though much of the land was conquered yet Israel did not wipe out all the Gentile nations possessing the land even though God had promised He would do it for them (Joshua 13:13; 16:10; Judges 1:21, 27, 32). Even under the rules of David and Solomon, part of the land Israel possessed was under the sovereignty of Gentile rulers. For example, David gained control over the land of Moab however Moab still had a King who ruled over the nation.

Since the time of Solomon and the division of the nation, the land has fallen under the control of one Gentile nation after another. There was Assyira, Babylon, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the empire of Great Britain. Even though she is recognized as a sovereign nation today, yet she must share sovereignty over the land with the Palestinians and many Arabs citizens (1/6 of the population). Israel, sovereignty is also still heavily impacted by Gentile nations both foe and friend. The future Kingdom will give Israel complete sovereignty over the land and the nation. With Jesus as ruler, there will be no outside or internal forces dictating or influencing the decision making of this fully sovereign kingdom (Isa. 9:6-7).

3) True worship throughout the Land: throughout most of Israel’s time in the land, though there was a tabernacle and a temple yet the worship of God was usually intermixed with the worship of idolatry and witchcraft. At the time of Christ, the captivity of Babylon and Assyria had finally removed the worship of idols from Israel. However the worship of the idols of the land was replaced by the worship the law and the traditions of men as evident in the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. In the present occupation of the land, the worship of God is still absent from the majority of the Jewish people as they are followers of the sects of Judaism or worship no religion at all. The Scriptures are clear that in the future Kingdom, there will only be one worship, the worship of God through Israel’s Savior, King, & Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ (Isa. 52:6; Ezek. 20:44).

4) Complete freedom from war and conflict: The future Kingdom is promised to be a Kingdom in which Israel will know unparalleled peace (Isa.9:7; 32:17-18; 66:12). If there is anything missing in Israel today it is peace. She is threatened internally by terrorists and externally by the Arab nations. The present tumultuous condition of the state of Israel is far from the perfect peace of the future Kingdom.

5) Dictatorial government over the Land: The present government of Israel is a parliamentary democracy which is made up of the citizenship of the nation. However, in the future Kingdom the government will be a benevolent dictatorship as Jesus Christ will rule as Israel’s King (Isa. 9:6-7)

6) Complete restoration of the Land: Though much of the land of Israel has undergone a reclamation work in trying to restore the land to its original beauty, yet the present land can not compare to the land of the future Kingdom. In that Kingdom the valleys will be raised and the mountains lowered (Isa. 40:4: 49:11), the deserts will bloom (Isa. 35:10), and no one will hunger in all the land (Isa. 49:10).

7) The presence of Elijah: Malachi wrote that before the coming of the Messiah/King and His Kingdom, Elijah would come to prepare the heart of the people of Israel (Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6). Jesus foretold that Elijah was coming before the Messiah’s Second Coming with the purpose of restoring all things.

8) A permanent Occupation: Israel will not only possess the land, but there never be any time after that she will be threatened with removal (Amos 9:15).

Modern Israel’s Prediction in Prophecy

Though the present Israel is not the future Kingdom spoken of by the prophets and longed for by the Jews, yet that does not mean there is no mention of it in the Scriptures. The Bible predicted such a restoration of Israel before the future restoration at Christ’s return. Let us note what the Bible predicts about modern Israel.

1) Daniel 9:27: there will be a nation of Israel present at the time of the rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation. Daniel states that that there will be a peace treaty established between the future Antichrist and the existing Israeli nation in the land. This covenant will make the nation will feel so secure that it will let down its defenses and be a prime target for an invading army from the North and South (Ezek. 38).

2) Daniel 9:27: the nation of Israel present at the time of the rapture have constructed a new temple and reestablished the sacrificial system. We are later told at the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will stop the worship carried out by this nation and will defile the temple by offering an unclean offering and putting in it a idol of himself that will have the ability to speak (Rev. 13:15).

It should be noted at this point that in Israel today, all of the utensils, altars, candle holders, priests clothing, and etc. needed to begin the Old Testament sacrificial system have already been constructed and are waiting for the day that the temple is built. There has been for some time a call for the building of a temple by many Jews. A recent synagogue in Jerusalem that has been destroyed twice and rebuilt for the third time has associated with it a prophecy concerning the start of the temple. It is said that once this synagogue is rebuilt a third time the temple will be started shortly there after. Though this is the prophecy is not found in the Bible yet it demonstrates the desire of the Israelite people to begin their Old Testament worship system.

3) Ezekiel 38: The prophet of Ezekiel indicates that there will be a nation of Israel brought into existence, gathered from the Gentile nations and from the sword (Holocaust?) to dwell on the mountains of Israel (vs. 8). It is important to note two time related phrases found in verse 8. This regathering of the people of Israel into the land will happen after a period of “many days.” This implies that for a long period Israel will be absent from the land. The establishment of the modern nation of Israel follows a period of almost 1900 years of being removed from the land of Canaan. Ezekiel also goes on to mention that this will take place in the “latter times.” The literal rendering of this phrase is “in the latter years.” The latter years is a reference to the close of the times of Gentiles during which Israel is undergoes God’s chastening hand to bring her back to Him. In other words, this regathering will take place in the end of this time leading up to the last week of Daniel and the establishment of the future Kingdom. One important point needs to be made here. Though modern Israel points to fact that we are entering the end of the times of the Gentiles, it does not give us a specific number of years before the end. Therefore the formation of modern Israel can not be used to determine a specific date for the rapture or the beginning of the Tribulation. 

Verse 11 tells us that this nation will dwell in villages without walls, bars, and gates. This would clearly identify present Israel from the Israel of the Old Testament where almost all villages had walls and gates. Verse 12 declares this nation as a place where the waste lands are again inhabited, the people are gathered from the nations, with livestock and goods, and dwelling in the midst of the land. One of the major goals of modern Israel has been the reclamation of the wasted lands into productive areas of agriculture. 

4) Matt. 24:15-16: Jesus addressing His disciples about the events of the Tribulation in His Olivet Discourse, states that when the Antichrist comes to defile the temple at the mid-point of the Tribulation, they should flee Judea. This discourse is written for the Jewish people going through the Tribulation and the fact that our Lord tells them to flee Judea indicates a presence of a considerable number of Jews living in that area at this time. This would seem to fit well with the present nation of Israel. Luke adds to additional content of this discourse by stating that at this moment of time, Jerusalem will also be surrounded (Lk. 21:21-22) indicating a Jewish presence not only in the land but in Jerusalem where probably the temple will be built and sacrifices will be offered.