Through the Looking Glass: The Middle East
Vol: 39 Issue: 28 Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Sunday’s tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. The earthquake that set it off was so powerful that it actually repositioned the island of Sumatra by some 100 feet to the southwest.
The quake, and the massive shift in both the earth’s mass and the water covering it, actually interfered with the rotation of the earth on its axis, shortening the day by three microseconds.
The tsunami killed uncounted thousands in Asia and was so powerful that it killed hundreds of people in the African country of Somalia more than six thousand miles away from the epicenter.
So what does all this have to do with the reviewing the prophetic implications of the Year 2004 and the Middle East? It provides an excellent object lesson in perspective.
The news accounts are filled with eyewitness accounts of the world’s worst disaster; some from Thailand, others from Indonesia, others from Sri Lanka, etc. All describe the same event, but each account is different. The tsunami that killed an estimated 15,000 in Sri Lanka was the same tsunami that killed hundreds of Somalis half a world away.
And while each account contains the same facts; a rushing wall of water, massive flooding, people being washed out to sea, etc., the description of the event as seen from an eyewitness survivor in Thailand is considerably different than the eyewitness accounts offered by a person in Somalia.
An event that killed hundreds in Somalia would be described in different terms than an event that killed thousands in Thailand. But it would be the same event, described from different perspectives.
That is the key to understanding the signs of our times as outlined by the Lord in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21)
With that in mind, the Olivet Discourse opens with a question to Jesus;
“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3)
Note the perspective. Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, answering a question put to him by His Jewish disciples. The ‘signs of the times’ outlined by Jesus for the last days were given from the perspective of a Jew from Jerusalem.
That perspective is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 24:9, where He warns, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake.”
Certainly that is true of the Church in many nations. But only the Jews are universally hated of all nations. Only the Jews have been systematically delivered up to be afflicted and killed, and the principle excuse offered is that the Jews killed Christ.
To fully understand the implications of current events as they relate to Bible prophecy, one must look at events from the perspective of Israel.
Anti-Semitism was codified as traditional ‘Euro-think’ following a January, 2004 poll timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz from the Nazis.
According to the poll, 46 percent of those interviewed feel Jews are “different,” and 71% of them urged Israel to withdraw from the territories. Nine percent of respondents do not “like or trust Jews,” and 15% would prefer that Israel not exist.
Forty-eight percent of Europeans polled in Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and Britain said that Jews have “a particular relationship with money.”
In all the countries, anti-Semitic sentiment was positively correlated with anti-Israel sentiment. Among all the Europeans, the polls suggest that the most anti-Semitic nation is France.
The “new” anti-Semitism is considered to be so qualitatively different than the old that it needs a new name: Judeophobia. So argue two British editors in a recent collection entitled: “A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain.”
By this account, “Judeophobia might be regarded as referring to both the fear and dislike of Jews: just as xenophobia is used to refer to the fear and dislike of foreigners.”
In February, that anti-Semitism was further confirmed when the World Court concluded Israel violated international law by building a security fence to keep Palestinian terrorists out.
As we asked in February, 2004, “Why DOES the world hate the Jews? Why IS there a WORD for it? Think about it. John Kerry hid the fact his father was a Jew until only recently. Could you tell? Now that you know, do you hate him for it? How does a guy go from being just a guy to being a ‘Jew’?”
There are people who do not WANT to recognize the existence of God, because they fear being accountable to Him. They are comfortable in their unbelief, prefer it that way. Paul described this mindset in Romans 1:28:
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
As you see, some people do ‘not like to retain God in their knowledge’ — the Jew is a constant reminder of God. That was part of God’s plan for Israel in the last days — to remind a Christ rejecting world that He is still in charge.
“And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12)
Israel and the EU are discussing ‘anti-Semitism’ which is a word especially reserved to describe hatred of Jews. That is the fulfillment of God’s promise.
“Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.” (Psalms 44:14)
Anti-Semitism is so much a part of global culture and thinking that more than half of all UN condemnatory resolutions in UN history have been passed against Israel — but nobody cries ‘foul’. Nobody demands an investigation. It is simply how things are — they’re Jews.
“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2)
The Palestinian Authority, which has proved itself time and again to be a terrorist organization on a par with al-Qaeda, enjoys global support, but only because it opposes Israel.
For four years, the Palestinian Authority promised peace but delivered war, and not once in the entire four year uprising (in which Israeli civilians were the principle targets) has the UN condemned the attackers. Just the victims.
From the perspective of Israel, the whole world DOES stand against them, as the ancient Bible prophets predicted.
Israel’s closest friend and ally, the United States, is actively campaigning to create the world’s first recognized terrorist state along Israel’s border.
Since the collapse of Oslo, the United States and European Community have launched various initiatives aimed at salvaging Oslo. Together with the UN and Russia, the so-called ‘Quartet’ agreed to the creation of a Palestinian State beside Israel, despite the PA’s history and Arafat’s leadership.
Now, let’s reexamine 2004 from Israel’s perspective. Jesus spoke of ‘wars and rumors of wars’ as one of the signs of His return.
No nation in history has spent more of its existence in a state of war than Israel. Technically, it has been at war since the day of its birth. It has fought five separate wars aimed at its annihilation.
Despite that, Israel has been the most benign of nations, wanting nothing more than to live in peace, while being blamed for every attack visited upon it.
When it comes to Israel, EVERYTHING is through the looking glass.
Consider the following: During the entire period of the uprising, Israel has been under constant criticism for refusing to negotiate with Arafat because he was simultaneously conducting a war against them.
It was Israel’s fault, according to the UN and the EU.
But when Arafat finally died in November 2004, a ‘new wind of hope’ allegedly blew through the region because it meant the possibility of a less-militant leadership.
In the looking-glass year of 2004, Arafat was both a ‘martyr’ AND an obstacle to peace — but it remains, as 2004 draws to a close, ISRAEL that must make all the concessions FOR peace.
Arafat’s ‘funeral’ was one to befit an unrepentant terrorist. At one point, unable to remove his coffin from the helicopter because of the mob, the Palestinian ‘Authority’ simply backed an SUV through the crowd at high speed, running over any too slow to get out of the way.
It is these people that would make up the state that the world is forcing Israel to accept on its borders.
2004 was the year that the collective insanity where Israel is concerned infected the whole world.
The United States is currently conducting a global war against Islamic terror that threatens its very existence. The Bush Doctrine declares any state that sponsors terrorism to be an enemy state subject to preemptive attack.
But in 2004, President Bush formally called for the creation of a Palestinian state and recognized the right of a terrorist organization as its legal representative.
The administration is endorsing an election in which recognized terrorist organizations, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades are all running candidates.
The Olivet Discourse was delivered from the perspective of Israel AS it prepares to enter into the Tribulation Period.
Speaking of the wars and rumors of wars, Jesus said, “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. . . ” (Matthew 24:6)
Among the newest threats facing the Jewish state is the prospect of a nuclear Iran, thanks to the IAEA’s decision not to refer the matter to the Security Council in November after the EU struck a transparently false 11th hour deal with Tehran.
The Iran threat comes as Israel witnesses the war ongoing in Iraq, braces for its possible escalation into Syria, and watches as a new terrorist state is being assembled on its doorstep.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (24:7,8)
Viewed from the perspective of one seated upon the Mount of Olives, that pretty much reads like an Israeli Year in Review, 2004, from the ethnic conflicts raging all around them to this week’s catastrophe sparked by an earthquake so powerful it affected the rotation of the earth.
According to Jesus, the ‘sorrows’ come next.
It is difficult to encapsulate so much into so few words; I know there is much I haven’t touched on, but the objective is to examine the events of the past year in the light of Bible prophecy and see if we can get some idea about where things lie.
The Olivet Discourse is the best general guide we have — provided we read it in perspective.
The Church witnesses much of the first part of it, but the Rapture takes place at some point before the events beginning with 24:9;
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake.”
2004 provided a glimpse at shadows of what is to come during the Tribulation. According to Jesus, the actual Tribulation will be, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (v.21)
We are not in it yet. But in 2004, we could see it coming more clearly than at any time before.
In 2004, the European Union launched an effort to expand itself into the Middle East, and provisionally accepted Israel as a member of its new Mediterranean Neighborhood Policy.
That sets the stage for the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy that the seven year peace covenant between Israel and her enemies will be under a European leader.
America’s war on Islamist terror has devalued the US as a viable peace broker between Israel and the Arab world, while the Euromed policy has put Europe in a much better position to pick up the pieces.
In 2005, it is no stretch to imagine our influence with Israel taking a nose dive as the administration continues to push for a Palestinian state without the security guarantees that only the Europeans are in a position to make.
2005 portends the existence of a Palestinian state, a nuclear-armed Iran, a waning of US influence in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the prospect of an ever-widening war in the Middle East.
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)