The Land of Milk and Honey
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:12-16
The land of Israel was promised to the Jewish people (future descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) some 4,000 years ago. At that time, the pagan peoples of the Amorites, Jebusites, Amalekites, Canaanites, Girgashites, etc., had occupied the land flowing with milk and honey. Around 3,600 years ago, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made good on His promise and delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage and into the Promised Land (with a 40-year detour added).
3,000 years ago, King David founded the city which up until that point had been the Canaanite (Jebusite) cities of Jeru and Shalem. It is here that the angel of the Lord was in the process of destroying Jerushalem when God stopped his path of destruction near the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24:16) and instructed Gad the Seer to tell King David to make the sacrifice there. Before doing that, King David bought the threshing floor and the bulls to do so. 2,000 years ago, Jerusalem was the established capital in the Roman province of Judaea.
1,000 years ago, Jerusalem had been under the control of the Abbasid Dynasty (Muslim) and was about to be captured by the first Crusaders. 500 years ago, the Ottoman Turks defeated the Mameluke forces and captured Jerusalem. 120 years ago, Theodor Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. It was here that European Jews began planning to move back to their ancient homeland, which at that time, was still under the control of the Ottoman Turks. 100 years ago, British forces liberated Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks (who had sided with the Central Powers in WWI). 70 years ago, the Jews won their right for statehood on November 29th, 1947 at the United Nations with Resolution 181.
50 years ago, the Jewish forces decisively defeated numerous Arab and Egyptian forces in the Six Day War in 1967 and recaptured the city of Jerusalem from the Jordanians in the process. 40 years ago, US President Jimmy Carter along with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin began setting the stage for what would come to be known as the Camp David Accords. The Accords, which would set in place for the next forty years, the idea of “land for peace.” 30 years ago, the Temple Institute was formed to make the third Jewish temple, become a reality. 22 years ago, the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which required the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or be waived every six months.
Five days ago, US President Donald Trump didn’t sign this waiver, and then officially announced Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal, and undivided capital. He then instructed his State Department to begin moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He became the first US president to do so in 70 years.
The significance of what Donald Trump just did should not be underestimated. Three previous US presidential administrations all promised during their respective campaigns to do something they probably had no intention of doing. When elected, they didn’t do it because they thought they could use Jerusalem as leverage for any final peace deals. But since Trump broke ranks and did the right thing, what are we to make of our seemingly paradoxical situation? Will the US be blessed because of what he did, or will our misfortunes as a nation in moral freefall continue on the prophetic glide path towards last-days irrelevancy?
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
from your family
and from your father’s house,
to a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
and make your name great;
and you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and I will curse him who curses you;
and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
To answer my recent question, I believe it will be both. We as a nation might have some respite from President Trump’s decision on a geopolitical level, but I believe the blessing will be with him and those who supported his decision to officially recognize Jerusalem. He may be now viewed in the same category as the great Gentile leaders from antiquity like Cyrus or Artaxerxes II in assisting Israel’s survival as a people and as a nation. (See here for more)
In more recent times, he joins President Truman (the first world leader to recognize Israel as a nation) and President Nixon (who came to Israel’s aid in her greatest hour of need). Both these presidents supported Israel despite tremendous opposition even from within their own administrations (compare with Ezra 4). To his credit, I believe Caroline Glick’s recent article captures the essence of the Trump doctrine and how that will play out in the coming weeks, months, and years.
To sum up then, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump made clear that US support for Israel is not conditioned on anything. Israel, the Jewish state, is supported by the US because it deserves US support as an allied democracy. Trump strengthened himself against his political opponents by taking ownership of a deeply popular foreign policy position. He took control of US foreign policy from a State Department that opposes his policies. He made reality, rather than the defiance of reality, the foundation of US Middle East policy. He put US allies and enemies on notice that he is calling the shots in US foreign policy. And he took a large step toward restoring US credibility as a superpower. Oh, and he accomplished all of these things without spending a dime. For his gift to Israel, Trump now enters the pantheon of Israel’s friends in the annals of Jewish history. For his gifts to America he has taken his place among the most astute American statesmen. And for his political and economic mastery, he enters the ranks of the geniuses of American political history.
As to the relevancy of our nation in terms of the prophetic picture, we are still headed to the same exact place we were while under Barack Obama. Even though Cyrus and Artaxerxes II greatly aided Israel and are remembered in the annals of history for doing so, the mighty Persian Empire still fell to the rising Greek power of Philipp II and Alexander the Great. I believe God will bless President Trump’s presidency, but I also still think that those who are the enemy of God and Israel, will continue to suffer at the hands of divine justice (Romans 1:16-32).
We still must contend with the reality that this world is currently under the management of Satan and his varied forces (Luke 4:5-7, 1 John 5:19). As long President Trump continues in office, he can expect intense pressure to reverse this decision. Even though Nixon aided Israel during the Yom Kippur War, that didn’t prevent his impeachment because of Watergate. However, it was added to the righteous acts he performed in this life. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will protect Trump and his administration until his purposes at this stage of human history are complete. As to the United States, we are still heading to our appointed rendezvous with prophecy. Even we as a nation (if we are still a nation), will one day come against Israel as an enemy.
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. Zechariah 12:2-3
Like the iniquity of the Amorites, the fullness of the Gentiles is about run its course (Luke 21:24). The Pre-Tribulation (or pre-70th Week) Rapture will instantaneously remove all born-again believers from the earth. We know that according to Scripture, there is a final, Gentile kingdom coming that will dominate the earth for seven years (Rev. 13). According to the Prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27), the prince who is to come is from the same people who destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in 70AD. This would make whoever the Antichrist is, come from somewhere within the boundaries of the old Roman Empire. Through the use of advanced technology (quantum computing, artificial technology, digital currency, etc.), and satanically-charged supernatural power, this man of lawlessness will ruthlessly rule the entire planet for a season. He starts his reign of terror with a covenant committed between Israel and the many nations (Isaiah 28:15, Dan. 9:27).
Although we don’t know exactly what this covenant entails, we can reasonably assume it build off Trump’s recent declaration and will probably deal with the final status of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and the building of a new Jewish temple. We know there is a third temple because the Bible demands one to be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40-48, Matt. 24:15, 2 Thess. 2:4, Rev. 11:1-2). The world under Satan’s influence has long desired to make Jerusalem an international city under the pretenses that it serves the world’s three major religions. Each religion can claim some connection as Muslims and Christian’s because both have conquered and held control over it for brief periods of time. In the coming weeks and months, Jerusalem will become an even greater cup of trembling as the nation’s rage over this recent declaration (Zech. 12:2-3).
But what will really happen, is that this man Antichrist (rider on the white horse) will use peace as justification to take over Jerusalem maybe involved in allowing for the Jews to actually build their new temple. At the midway point of this seven years, this same man will desecrate the newly rebuilt Jewish temple by setting himself up as God-incarnate and his false prophet will demand all peoples worship him on pain of death. Jesus said that when the Jews in Jerusalem see this, they must flee Jerusalem and leave without even packing their things (Matt. 24:15-18). God will shepherd them and move them to a safe place to shelter them during the last half of Daniel’s 70th Week (Isaiah 26:20-21, Rev. 12:13-17).
President Trump (like Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar) was selected by God for this appointed time, to at a minimum, do this appointed thing (recognize Jerusalem). We know that there is a spiritual conflict going on because Jerusalem is not strategically significant in any other manner than a religious one. Although the Jews as a people-group have been blinded to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at present (Romans 11:25-29), God’s promises and calling to them are unchangeable (Jer. 31:35-37). After the Rapture and at a certain point during the Tribulation, they will realize that Jesus really was the Messiah, and they will call upon Him for salvation.
“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
Until then, pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122)