What will happen in the Middle East, specifically regarding Israel, in the rest of 2017? Some very important and unsettling events that occurred in 2016 seem to be setting the stage for even greater events in 2017 and beyond. So, what did happen in 2016 to influence future events in Israel and the Middle East?
Anti-Israel Bias Increases at the UN
There were several ‘anti-Israel’ resolutions issued by the UN that were particularly alarming, in light of their importance to Israel and those that support the Jewish state.
First, in April 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a resolution declaring that the Jewish Temple Mount area in Jerusalem be known only as the Al-Aqsa Mosque or Al-Haram Al Sharif, the Islamic names of their religious structures that currently reside on the site. This resolution denies any Jewish/Christian connection to the Temple Mount, in spite of thousands of years of recorded Jewish history and archaeological finds that provide irrefutable proof of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. More importantly, the resolution provides the Palestinians a means of claiming the site strictly for Islam.
This action by the UN infuriated the Israeli government, as well as most Jewish people in Israel and worldwide. Jerusalem, and specifically The Temple Mount, are the holiest sites in Judaism. This is not an action that most Israeli Jews could easily accept. Since the resolution was issued, there have been numerous incidents where the Waqf guards on the Temple Mount have verbally assaulted tour guides at the site for even using the words “Temple Mount” to describe the site to visitors; this situation will only worsen as time goes on.
The US Embassy Move
Second, the US POTUS election, one of the strangest in US history, ended with the election of Donald J. Trump and the rejection of Hillary Clinton by most American voters. During the campaign and afterward, President-elect Trump, who is an outspoken supporter of Israel, promised to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sometime after his inauguration on January 20, 2017. This is a move that should have happened many years prior, based on the “Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.” However, a provision in the Act that allows the US president to delay the move for six months has been used regularly, every six months, by every US president since the Act was passed by Congress. For political reasons, they all displayed their cowardice in refusing to make the move that would have declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s eternal capital.
The fact that President-elect Trump promised to move the embassy, caused an uproar among the Palestinians, as well as other Arab nations in the region. The Palestinian Authority (PA) stated that the move would amount to “a declaration of war.”
Now, the embassy move has again been delayed by President Trump, who signed the six-month waiver in June. A future decision must be made by the president in December 2017 to either move the embassy or sign the delay waiver again.
More UN Bias Against Israel
Third, the UN Security Council (UNSC) issued the now famous Resolution 2334 that called for Israel to abandon all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The resolution passed only when the US Ambassador, on the order of President Obama, refused to veto it and abstained instead. Since it was passed on December 23, 2016, the resolution has only fanned the flames of anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing among Israel’s enemies, with most of the Arab nations rejoicing at its passage. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu stated emphatically that Israel will not abide by the requirements of the resolution, which also repeats requirements from previous UN resolutions that Israel must return to the indefensible 1967 borders in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Lingering Effect of The Obama Policy
Fourth, outgoing US Secretary of State, John Kerry, gave a speech several days after the UN approved Resolution 2334 that lasted more than an hour, during which he laid out his and the Obama administration’s ‘pathway to peace,’ emphasizing once again their support for a ‘two-state solution.’ With only a brief mention of the harm done by the violence and incitement of the Palestinian Authority, Kerry used the majority of his remarks to slam the Israeli leadership for their refusal to be ‘obedient’ to the demands of the UN. The words of the Secretary of State usually create or enforce official US foreign policy; however, as of now, the Kerry speech has not been totally refuted as US policy, which still seems to be seeking a peaceful solution to the ages-old conflict by establishing a separate state for the Palestinian people on land that God promised to the Jews.
With the seemingly everlasting conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, accompanied by the unending hatred most Arabs and Muslims have for the Jews, these four events appear to have the ability to shape and possibly worsen the conflict. So, these are four extremely important events that occurred in 2016.
God’s Word on the Conflict
There does not now seem to be a single nation or national leader in the world that has not formed an opinion on how the conflict should be settled. Of the 193 countries who are members of the UN, most anti-Israel resolutions are passed with more than 150 nations voting in favor.
The most important person has already settled the issue regarding the conflict between the offspring of Abraham and those who would see them destroyed; however, His Word on the Israeli/Palestinian situation goes unheeded by most of the world’s leaders. This person is, of course, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Jews and Christians.
All the leaders who have spoken out on the subject and presented their opinions of how peace can and should be achieved, tend to illustrate their ignorance of God’s Word. They appear to believe their words somehow supersede the authority of Almighty God. In their arrogance, they all seem to think they can solve the conflict between Israel and her enemies by declaring what they claim is a “two-state solution” that will be fair to both Israel and the Palestinians. Their ‘solution’ requires that the Jews of Israel give up more of the meager land on which they now live, which, incidentally, is much smaller than the land promised to Abraham when God made an everlasting covenant with him (Genesis 15). More importantly, the requirement that Israel give up East Jerusalem — where the Jewish Temple stood, as well as the Western Wall of the Temple Mount — for the capital of a Palestinian state, is something that the Israeli government and the Jewish people will not ever agree to.
I won’t predict what might happen at any given time in an area as unstable and explosive as the Middle East, but I believe these events have set in motion the coming events that must occur before the Tribulation Period can begin.
According to Ezekiel 38, Israel will be living in ‘unwalled villages, at rest and dwelling safely’ when the invasion from the north, known as the Gog/Magog invasion, occurs. This is certainly not the case now; Israeli Jews are constantly on guard against jihadis, who carry out terror attacks throughout the country. Something very dramatic must occur to bring Israel to a place where they are dwelling safely and are ‘at rest,’ as stated in Ezekiel 38.
So, what exactly could happen to cause the Jews to feel safe in their own country? I believe that (1) The US Embassy move to Jerusalem, (2) coupled with the fact that Israel’s refusal to abide by any UN action that forces them to divide their land, and especially Jerusalem, could be a spark that might ignite the conflict into a major military action. The Palestinian Authority government, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, is now reunited politically with the Hamas terrorist organization of the Gaza area. The reunification move is supported by most of Israel’s Arab neighbors, and could possibly embolden them to decide to invade and destroy Israel, as stated in the prayer found in Psalm 83. This would be a grave error on the part of the invaders, which could result in a catastrophic defeat of the invading armies by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
The Jewish people have been threatened with annihilation many times since they were dispersed throughout the world shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus nearly 2000 years ago. Approximately six million Jews were murdered during WWII alone. The Jewish people, now in possession of some of the land promised to them in Genesis, and with the most powerful militaries in the Middle East, have declared numerous times that they will not allow another holocaust to occur.
Any decision to attack Israel with the intent to destroy the Jews will be met with an overwhelming response by the IDF, likely leading to a humiliating defeat of the invaders. Such a defeat could also allow Israel to greatly expand its control over much of her neighbors’ current territories, and cause a shudder of fear and amazement throughout the entire world. This could easily cause the world to see the ‘need to make peace’ with Israel through a covenant that would last for seven years. This could be the same covenant that will be ‘confirmed’ by the Antichrist when he appears on the world stage.
The effect of such a covenant, recognized by most of the nations of the world — would, for the first time since the Jewish return of 1948 — seem to provide a setting where Israel could finally relax and ‘live in peace with her neighbors.’ This would certainly set the stage for the Gog/Magog invasion described in Ezekiel 38.
Could this series of events begin to occur in 2017? Based on the hostility to Israel in the UN, I believe there could be further actions taken this year by the UN Security Council. Since all resolutions of the Security Council are considered binding on all parties under international law, any such resolutions will try to force the two-state solution that will require Israel to return to the (indefensible) 1967 borders and cede East Jerusalem, along with the Temple Mount, making it the capital of a Palestinian state. I also believe Israel would immediately announce their refusal to obey these ungodly actions.
As far as the US Embassy move, it is not impossible that such a move could still be decided, started in 2017 and completed sometime early in 2018. If an invasion by the surrounding Arab nations into Israel is delayed until the embassy is moved, the invasion could certainly occur in the first quarter of 2018, after the winter rains are over in the area.
Will this happen according to the timeline I present here? Only God knows that; but, based on the events that must yet occur before the Gog/Magog invasion and the start of the Tribulation, I believe it is certainly possible. Whether it does or not, it illustrates the absolute need for all Christians to go through some serious self-examination to ensure that we are on the right side. That would be the side that God favors. For those who still have questions about who, and what, God favors in this conflict, the answers to all the questions are in His Word. Dig in.