When writers like myself talk about the nearness of the Lord’s return, I’m sure for some it brings up an image of a scruffy old man draped with a sandwich sign with the words “The End is Near!” printed in bold letters on both sides.
After two thousand years of waiting, I know many dear believers have difficulty wrapping their minds around the nearness of the Lord’s return, and understandably so.
Could Jesus really come for His church in our lifetime? Could the tribulation actually start in the coming years? Why do some believe that the end of human history is at hand?
Prophecy. With so many events aligning so closely with what Scripture predicts about the last days, it’s difficult for me to imagine that we are not getting to close to the time of the tribulation and hence to Jesus’ return for His church.
So while we do not limit God’s patience or foolishly set dates, I believe Jesus would have us be wise in discerning the signs of the times in which we live. The Lord chided the Pharisees and Sadducees for not recognizing the signs of His first appearing (Matt. 16:3). Would He not also expect us to recognize the signs of the tribulation or of His return?
For example . . . in just the past couple weeks the dispute over old Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria has reached a fever pitch with highly significant prophetic implications that leap out at us from the pages of Scripture.
The Prophecies Regarding Jerusalem
The prophet Zechariah, writing 2,600 years ago, said this regarding the behavior of the world toward Jerusalem in the last days:
“Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it” (12:2-3).
Zechariah long ago prophesied a future worldwide preoccupation of the nations with Jerusalem to the extent that the leaders of the world would literally become intoxicated with it and eventually injure themselves coming against it. The “heavy stone” signifies a boundary stone thus indicating a fixation on the boundaries of Jerusalem.
Does this not describe what is happening today? Isn’t it bizarre that with all the terrorism and violence taking place in the Middle East, the world remains almost solely focused on Jerusalem? One agency estimates that 90,000 Christians were martyred for their faith in 2016 and yet Jerusalem consumes all the attention of the nations, just as the prophets said would happen in the last days.
The prophet Joel, who likely wrote before Zechariah, said this about Jerusalem and Judah:
“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land“ (3:1-2).
The first part of this prophecy has come true; the Lord has restored “the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.”
The next event in this passage is the gathering of nations to fight against Israel with the Lord’s subsequent judgment on them. But notice the reason for His anger with the nations: it is because they have divided up His land, which is precisely what we see happening before our eyes today.
These prophecies from Zechariah and Joel long ago predicted what is currently happening at the UN. This undue preoccupation with Jerusalem and its boundaries is really no surprise. The ancient prophets said this would happen in the last days.
UN Resolution 2334
On Friday, December 23, 2016 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which essentially divides up the land by making all Jewish settlements in old Judea and Samaria illegal. It gives all this land to the Palestinians. Land, by the way, that never belonged to the Palestinians in the past. Israel took that land from Jordan in the 1967 war and now has a peace treaty with them.
The resolution also gives the Palestinians control of all of east Jerusalem; something Israel will never accept. It’s now illegal, according to the UN, for Jews to go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
As a follow up to this resolution, seventy nations will gather in Paris, France on January 15, 2017. Many believe the goal of this meeting will be to draft language promoting a “two-state solution” for Israel and Palestine. The intent is thus to draw up a UN resolution to this effect to be presented to the UN Security Council before January 20, when Donald Trump, who would sure veto the resolution, becomes president.
The thinking is that Obama, who pushed for UN Resolution 2334, would also “allow” this to pass the UN Security Council.
It’s the prophecies of Zechariah and Joel coming to life before our eyes. Christian author and speaker David Hunt said this several years ago regarding the Zechariah 12:3-4 passage:
“Consider how remarkable even this one prophecy is. Who could have imagined when the Old Testament was written that all the nations of the world would be involved in deciding the fate of Israel? And this involvement of all nations in dividing Israel has occurred exactly as prophesied and is still in the process of being implemented.”
This fascination of the world is even greater now than when David Hunt wrote these words.
What’s the Significance?
Why is the current activity regarding Jerusalem and Israel such a big deal?
Do you remember how the second US invasion of Iraq started? It began with the George W. Bush reciting all the UN resolutions that Saddam Hussein had neglected. Besides the weapons of mass destruction, it was the failure of Iraq to abide by UN resolutions that became the justification for the invasion in 2003.
It may very well be another issue that brings the nations of the world to Israel’s doorstep at the end of the tribulation. However, it’s rather easy to see how the current UN resolution as well as the result of the upcoming meeting in Paris on January 15th could become the impetus for military action against Jerusalem such as prophesied to take place just before the Lord’s return to earth.
Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly stated that Israel will never give up the old sector of Jerusalem. He clearly stated in his response to Resolution 2334 that Israel will not agree to its terms. If the world further seeks to impose a two-state solution upon Israel, it will be met with the same resistance.
Can you see why so many students of prophecy believe we are in the last days? We are already seeing events shape up in the world that could easily set the stage for the great battle at the end of the tribulation, which I believe is at least seven years away.
I pray that President Obama does not allow passage of any UN resolution forcing a two-state solution upon Israel. I sincerely believe this will lead to disastrous consequences for America as well as set the stage for the Great Tribulation. It will lead to greater violence, not peace, and possibly ignite a series of events leading up to the battle of Armageddon.
I also recognize that the refusal of the United States to block such action against Israel may be a part of the fulfillment of end time prophecies. Perhaps we might even expect it even though our hearts react strongly against such action by the UN.
Such duplicity seems similar to that of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Although terrible, it was prophesied in the Old Testament. He did not escape responsibility for his actions, even though Scripture said it would happen.
Is this not similar the potential upcoming votes in the UN? We shudder to think of our nation betraying Israel in such a way. I pray every day that the Lord will restrain this evil and keep it from happening. I know our leaders will not escape responsibility for this great evil.
If the UN votes to officially take land from Israel and give it to a newly formed Palestinian State, will it not be yet another bright flashing sign pointing to the nearness of the Lord’ return? Is this not what the prophets Zechariah and Joel said would happen in the last days?
I very much believe such a vote would signal the approaching of the Tribulation and even sooner appearing of Jesus to take us home to forever be with Him.
Jonathan C. Brentner