Dec 20, 2010
Jerusalem at Center Stage
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that he has no intention of sharing the holy city of Jerusalem with the Palestinians. This statement did not generate too many headlines, but I believe it is very significant in showing us where we are in Bible prophecy.
“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:3).
The Palestinians' claim to Jerusalem is based on a massive sham. Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for three thousand years. There never was a Palestinian people, nation, language, culture, or religion. The archeological record points endlessly to a Jewish heritage for Jerusalem. If the Palestinians had any common sense, they would go pick some other city as their capital.
Since Netanyahu came to power nearly two years ago, he has accepted the principle of a Palestinian state next to Israel. There is growing indication that Netanyahu is beating the Arabs at their old game of repeatedly agreeing to something but never getting around to actually accomplishing the task.
The international pressure on Israel has been relentless. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been pushing hard to get Israel to give on the core issues of Jerusalem's status. In one recent speech, she urged both sides to reach a final agreement "without delay and with real specificity." She pointedly called for compromise on the contested holy city, observing that "there will surely be no peace without an agreement" on Jerusalem—"the most sensitive of all the issues."
Bible prophecy promises calamity for any nation that seeks to divide Jerusalem. I believe a key reason America's economy has stumbled in recent years is the pressure we’ve been placing on Israel. Now that the Obama administration has decided to increase the pressure, I would expect to see greater trembling in the land.
Israelis have a good reason to stick with the status quo. A decade ago, the public lived in terror of being killed in a suicide bomber attack. After trying everything to combat the problem, the Israeli government was finally driven to the point of walling itself off from the Palestinians. Since the borders were sealed, there has not been a single terrorist attack in the past several years.
Another reason for Netanyahu to play coy with the Arabs is that it doesn't have any land to give away that will not jeopardize Israel's security. In the past, the Jews made the Arabs happy by giving them the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, a southern zone of Lebanon, and partial control of the West Bank. The Arabs always come back asking for more land.
The situation reminds me of story about a woman who was once chased by a grizzly bear. A human can only run half as fast as a bear, but the woman saved herself by taking off several items of clothing. Every time she dropped an item to the ground, the bear would momentarily pause before resuming the pursuit. At this point in the Middle East chase, Israel is down to its underwear, and instead of one bear there are about two dozen pursuing the Jewish state.
One of Satan’s key goals is to gain control of the city of Jerusalem. The devil certainly knows that his only chance of delaying events that will lead to his destruction is to capture Jerusalem and destroy the Jewish state. So far, Satan has edged closer to this goal by using peaceful means. Now that it looks like the Jews are not going to give up any more land, his next move will likely be war.
Prophecy teachers have long said that we are in the last days because our generation witnessed the rebirth of Israel. Perhaps it is time to say the Lord’s return is near because Jerusalem has now become the focal point of world attention.
"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:36).
Scanning a Fearful Future: Part 5
I must preface what follows by saying that I use Hal Lindsey in this look at the future because I and so many others hold him in high regard as the most widely recognized apologist for the pretribulation Rapture view of Bible prophecy. His book, “The Late, Great Planet Earth,” is of course the work that vaulted him into prominence. His continuing efforts over the decades to forewarn of things to come–with his current TV program serving as an excellent Bible prophecy platform--puts him at the top level of those who watch for Christ’s return, in my view.
Lindsey has indicated on his television program, The Hal Lindsey Report, that he believes America and all other nations of the world are headed into the darkest of socioeconomic times. American Christians, he believes, face persecution unlike any that believers in the United States have experienced. He recommends, as does Glenn Beck, that people store food and make other preparations against possible hyper-inflated times to come.
While Lindsey advocates–as does Beck—that we strive to be good citizens and fight the staunch, patriotic fight through the ballot box in order to return the nation to one centered in morality and freedom, he says in practically the same breath that this world system is doomed. There is no hope, apart from the hope that is in Jesus Christ. His seeming dichotomy of thought evokes concerns that must be addressed.
We began looking into prospects for the near future by considering an email I received from one such concerned Christian. Again, he wrote the following, in part:
I watched the Hal Lindsey Report yesterday in which he said that he believes before the Rapture that Christians were going to be persecuted. After reading your "Nearing Midnight" article today, I can see that Christians becoming more and more isolated for their support of Israel is just another sign that he is right. If Hal is right, with the Rapture being as close as it is, then persecution for Christians has to be very close. What is your take on this?
This writer's perspectives carry much weight. It is Dr. Lindsey’s view of things that impressed the emailer to write. Since I am asked for my “take” on Hal’s position regarding severe persecution for believers being imminent, I must be true to my study of prophecy and risk going somewhat counter to his stated belief that Christians in America are necessarily going to suffer such intensive, satanically engendered travail.
I mean no disrespect for this man, certainly a special servant chosen for the Lord’s prophetic ministry for these closing hours of the age. However, my assessment differs from his forecast to an extent that I sense it needs to be presented here.
We have spent time thus far looking into the eerie, troubling changes taking place across the socioeconomic landscape of America and the world. Mostly, we have tried to get our brains around the apparent insanity of our leaders and why they have created crises then printed trillions of dollars to throw at those crises--all of this sleight-of-hand chicanery done to stave off supposed national and world cataclysm those leaders warned would otherwise destroy civilization as it has been known. Their supposed attempts to preempt economic Armageddon now threaten to bring about the collapse of every economy on the planet.
The foundation had to be laid thusly in order to begin answering the question so many people want to know. Our emailer framed well the fears of many who worry what the near future might hold. Since world conditions are in configuration that includes issues and events much like those for the Tribulation given in Bible prophecy, will Christians in America face severe persecution before Christ returns to this desperately wicked planet? That is among the most expressed concerns in email correspondence I receive these days.
Hal Lindsey, like Glenn Beck, states that he believes there will be a cultural and societal breakdown due to an economic collapse that is surely about to take place in the United States. I infer from his strongly stated position that he believes Christians in America will face severe persecution as a part of the sociol and economic upheaval about to erupt in this nation.
In the final analysis, however, whether I accurately understand and expound upon Dr. Lindsey’s thoughts in these matters is of minor consequence to the treatment at hand. The fact is that many Christians who do observe these times from a prophetic perspective need answers to questions like the one posed by the emailer. Trying to look at what lurks just ahead in the foreboding mist and haze of the coming days is the proposed objective of what follows.
Next time we will attempt to accomplish this, staying within the confines of what God’s Word actually has to say about the very end of the age.