Contrary to all the polls and predictions Benyamin Netanyahu and his Likud party have won another election. Some Israeli observers are calling this a landmark victory, because it came in spite of (or maybe as a reaction to) unprecedented external meddling in the country’s election process.
Now the challenge will be to form a coalition with some of the other political parties because it takes nominal control of at least 61 seats in the Knesset (parliament) to have a workable government and Likud only controls 30. Netanyahu will now have 42 days to accomplish this through negotiations with some of the other party leaders for the remaining 31 seats. Because of the size of Likud’s victory this is not expected to be a difficult process, and Israel should wind up with a decidedly nationalist government.
In the short term, if you believe Netanyahu’s promises, this means the possibility of a Palestinian state becoming a reality is not at all certain, if it ever was. Same goes for the possibility of Iran acquiring the ability to produce nuclear weaponry. I believe it was his public stance on these two issues that resonated in the hearts of Jewish voters and won the election for him.
Some people have written me wondering if I think this will set the end times back a little on the belief that Netanyahu is a stronger defender of Israel’s territory than the other leading candidate. But I think the opposite might be true. Where Israel is concerned, Arab strategy has always been to get as much as possible through negotiations (land for peace) and then get the rest by going to war. Those who are willing to negotiate can keep making concessions to avoid war.
Netanyahu has promised no Palestinian state (although he has since softened a little on that), no divided capitol, and more construction in East Jerusalem. If he sticks to these promises there won’t be much to negotiate. The effect of this could be to convince the Arabs that they will have to fight to get the rest of the things they want. (Of course what they want is no more Israel.)
It’s rumored that the US and other countries will turn to the UN in an effort to force Israel into negotiations with the Palestinians. If so, we may be seeing early hints of the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:3 when all the nations of the world will gather against Jerusalem.
But it’s not my job to offer political commentary or human speculation. It’s my job to report on what the Bible says. So let’s begin.
Psalm 83/Isaiah 17
The combined fulfillment of these two prophecies could well be the next event on the prophetic calendar. In Psalm 83 the psalmist listed a group of adversaries plotting to “destroy Israel as a nation, that the name of Israel will be remembered no more” (Psalm 83:4). The fulfillment of these prophecies are not recorded in history, but may soon become a reality. A careful study of the names of Israel’s adversaries listed in Psalm 83:5-8 shows they all occupied lands adjacent to Israel in their time. The current occupants of these lands appear just as determined to destroy Israel as their historic counterparts were. If the psalmist’s prayer is answered, Israel will emerge victorious. Damascus will no longer be a city, and the threat from the proxy groups controlled by Russia and Iran who are lurking just across Israel’s borders will have been neutralized.
The defeat of Israel’s next door neighbors will fulfill one of the preconditions required for the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 to take place. In Ezekiel 38:11 the Lord revealed these thoughts in the mind of Gog, the supernatural leader of the armies of Magog. “I will invade a land of unwalled villages. I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people – all of them living without gates and bars”(Ezekiel 38:11). This certainly cannot be said of Israel today. But it could be the case if Hezbollah, Syria, the PLO, Hamas, and other contentious neighbors had recently been defeated. The absence of these neighbors from Ezekiel’s list of Israel’s attackers lends credence to the notion of their prior defeat.
However it happens, a large contingent of forces armed and controlled by Russia and consisting of Muslim fighters from around the Middle East and Eastern Europe will suddenly swoop down from the north onto the mountains of Israel. They will descend like a cloud over central Israel, having the goal of conquering the Jewish nation with overwhelming force.
In Ezekiel 38:16 God admitted that He Himself will have orchestrated this attack as a demonstration of his power to the nations of the world. With His signature acts of a great earthquake, plague, torrents of rain, hailstones, burning sulfur, and turning the attackers against each other, He will decimate this invading army and Israel will once again emerge victorious (Ezekiel 38:19-23).
Daniel’s 70th Week
The realization that it was God who won their victory over the Russian/Muslim invaders will make Israel will respond just as God predicted.“From that day forward, the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God” (Ezekiel 39:22). They will renew their national Old Covenant relationship with Him. Employing the altar they have recently completed, the priesthood they’ve been preparing will again offer sacrifices to their God.
After a 2,000 year pause, Daniel’s missing 70th Week will have begun. With the help of an emerging world leader, they will begin constructing a Temple. Many will believe peace in the Middle East has finally arrived.
But too late, they will realize they’ve made a covenant with death, something God also predicted (Isaiah 28:15) The emerging world leader who everyone saw as a great man of peace will turn out to be a conqueror bent on conquest (Rev. 6:2), and war will soon be the order of the day across 1/4th of the world, accompanied by the disease, famine, and death that always follows (Rev. 6:8).
Then this leader will commit an act of blasphemy that in Jewish history has been called the abomination of desolation, previously committed only by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. He will stand in the Temple he helped build and declare himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:4). This is the event Jesus said would signal the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:15, 21). It will take place in the middle of Daniel’s 70th Week.
When He gave this sign to Israel almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus also warned them to flee into the mountains when they saw it, saying this would begin the greatest time of trouble the world has ever seen. Those who are believers will flee, but those who are only Jews by heritage or tradition will accept this imposter. They will think he’s the long awaited messiah and worship him, even as he begins a concerted effort to wipe their believing brethren off the face of the earth.
God will help the believers escape to a place prepared for them in the desert (Rev. 12:14) and will protect them there while He launches the most severe series of judgments in the history of the world. According to Jeremiah 30:11, His purpose in doing so will be two fold. First, He’s going to completely destroy all the nations to which His people have been scattered, and second, He’s going to discipline Israel, purifying them in preparation for opening their eyes so they’ll finally be able to recognize the Messiah.
Toward the end of the Great Tribulation, this will happen.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).
This will be the moment the Lord has been waiting for. 2,000 years ago Israel had asked for a miraculous sign from Him.
He said, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:39-40).
Having waited in vain for Israel to accept this undeniable proof that He is their Messiah, He left them. It was 40 days after His resurrection, and their time of testing was over. This too had been prophesied long ago.
“Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me” (Hosea 5:15).
Finally, in their hour of desperation, they will admit their guilt and mourn for Him. And the Lord will say,
Their blood guilt which I have not pardoned, I will pardon (Joel 3:21).
They will finally understand what the preceding 2,000 years has been all about. It has been about God waiting for Israel to admit that their Messiah had come and they did not recognize Him.
Upon His return the Lord will first go to Petra, where the believing remnant of Israel will be, and defeat all the enemy forces surrounding His people there (Isaiah 63:1-6). Then He will go to Jerusalem to free His city and defeat the forces gathered against Him there. The anti-Christ, who had deceived the whole world, will be captured and thrown live into the Lake of fire, and all his armies will be destroyed (Rev. 19:11-21). At the end of the day He will be King of the whole Earth, and His name will be the only name (Zechariah 14:9).
In the Millennium, Israel will once again be God’s most favored nation on Earth. In fact, He will dwell among them as He did in Biblical times, only this time it will be forever (Ezekiel 43:7). They will occupy all the land he originally promised to them. Peace and prosperity will be the order of the day (Isaiah 66:12), since the nation’s age old enemies will have all been vanquished. Only during the time of Solomon have they even come close to having the quality of life they will soon enjoy, with all the promises God has made to them finally coming true.
When you understand the prophetic view, you can see that everything is falling into place, just like God said it would. Because their hearts remain hardened against Him, there will be some very difficult days ahead for Israel. They will be abandoned by all their friends, at the mercy of their enemies. Even the nation’s self reliance, declared so confidently in the prime minister’s recent speech before Congress, will be insufficient to save them.
But He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). He’s been waiting patiently for the time to come when they will realize that only He can save them, and will humble themselves before Him to ask for His help. Even this has been foretold.
“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1-2).
When that time comes, He will save them and restore them. He will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34). Once again they will be His people and He will be their God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins (Isaiah 40:2). Finally.