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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Israel’s Troubles

Art Sadlier

From Sound the Trumpet!, August 2014

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues to rise in intensity the politicians, leaders and journalists and Israel’s antagonists vie in their columns and pronouncements with strongly held opinions of what Israel ought to do and what Israel ought not to do.

Solutions are being sought; ceasefires are being called for; tired old lines being rehashed. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion earlier this week that the current hostilities only prove how essential it is to resurrect the peace process that was so recently declared dead in the water. Foolishness abounds, if Israel’s neighbors are bound and determined to destroy her, peace talks for a thousand years would yield no results.

What will Israel do? Some suggest there are four choices facing Israel.

1. Continuing its hi-tech, pinpointed pounding from the air of the terrorists’ infrastructure in Gaza until Hamas is ready to accept a ceasefire. This will not solve the problem but only defer it once again.

2. Send troops in now in an effort to deal a more effective and long lasting blow to the enemy’s capabilities, knowing that soldiers will be killed and wounded, and that the IDF will eventually have to withdraw under pressure, ceding the ground once again to Hamas.

3. Invade to retake the entire Gaza Strip, an operation that IDF planners hold will take ‘just weeks’. This would involve losing soldiers. It would involve months rooting out the Hamas and its sister terrorists, but then what?

4. Pulverize Gaza from the air with carpet bombing. Send an uncompromising message to the ‘Palestinians’ and to the Arab world in general that the Jewish state will no longer play the nice guy with its enemies. This will lead to massive global condemnations of Israel and trigger anti-Semitic outbreaks around the world.

Whatever action Israel takes it will bring the world’s condemnation down upon her. The last two options would bring UN action and probably the intrusion of The Hague against Israel.

Israel is very unlikely to take more action than necessary to give short term relief. Slowly but surely Israel is being delegitimized; its operations in Gaza have brought it nearer to being turned into a pariah state similar to the way apartheid South Africa was.

With one or two exceptions Israel no longer has any friends left in the world; even Israel’s evangelical friends are fast turning away from her.

We know that God will preserve Israel and ultimately bless her. But we need to understand that Israel today is still suffering under the chastening hand of God. Israel’s enemies are not her real problem; her alienation from God is her real problem. Israel today is alienated from her God because of her rebellion against God. We read about that chastening hand in Deuteronomy 28:63¬ 64, “And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.”

For nearly 2000 years Israel has suffered under the chastening hand of God. In our lifetime we have seen the God of Israel begin the process of Israel’s restoration. The dry bones which have been scattered throughout the world have been coming together and are returning to the Promised Land. God has worked upon His people in many ways to bring their hearts back to Him.

The promises given through Ezekiel 2600 years ago are now in the process of being fulfilled. Ezekiel 36:6-8, 24,

“Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame. But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.”

But Israel has not yet turned back to God and in recent times He has allowed three majors wars and terrorism as an instrument in His hand to bring Israel to the end of themselves, that they might look up to Him. He has caused them to prosper in a thousand ways to show His love for them. Yet His people have not returned to Him to this point. They are still rejecting their Messiah, until they recognize Him and repent and return to Him they will remain under the chastening hand of God. No Israeli can or ever will have a relationship with God apart from a relationship with their Messiah, Jesus Christ.

We see that future day in Zachariah 12:9-10 when at the end of the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble,” Israeli’s, as individuals and as a nation will experience salvation in an encounter with Christ. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

Unfortunately, Israel has not yet come to that place and there awaits three more great wars to further chasten Israel and bring them to repentance. Sadly, in the last 3½ years of the tribulation period, 2/3 of all living Israelis will die in judgment at the hand of God because of unbelief. We read about the terrible time in Zechariah 13:7-9,

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”

Notice the climax of God’s working with His people since the call of Abraham, “I will say, It is my people:  and they shall say, The LORD is my God.” Linger over that statement and recall all the way God has worked with His chosen people over the millennia. Think of the love of God for His people down over the years. Realize that God will never let sin go unpunished and that repentance and faith is the only way to God.

In the New Testament this truth is emphasized in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

Israel will know no peace until the Prince of Peace returns to reign on the throne of David. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem we are praying for the glorious return of Christ to Jerusalem to bring peace to Israel and war torn, sin sick world. That peace will not come until sin is judged and the world is purged.

Romans 11:25-26, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

Notice, “The Times of the Gentiles” and the “Fullness of the Gentiles” are two separate terms. The “Times of the Gentiles” refers to the time when the gentile nations have supremacy over Israel. The “Fullness of the Gentiles” refers to the completion of the Church.

When the church is complete and the last individual is saved and placed into the body of Christ, the church will be raptured and taken out of the earth. Then at that time God will begin to finalize His dealing with the nation of Israel.

As we see the hand of God today setting the scene for the tribulation period to begin we know that the rapture is near at hand.

The Lord is at hand! Are you ready? Are you saved?

Remember heaven is forever and hell is also forever. Now is the only time you can be sure of being saved!“...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...” (Acts 16:31)