Israel Shall Be Saved!

AS WE turn the pages of the calendar to the opening days of a new year, we find this old world continues to be plagued with all the ills that have been with us in the past, with new ones appearing on the scene. To those unacquainted with a knowledge of the Creator’s grand design on behalf of humankind, the outlook can be alarming indeed.

Most of the Western industrial world is treading the slippery path between disastrous inflation on the one hand and a destructive recession on the other. Concern about pollution of the earth, the seas, and the air and the eventual exhaustion of certain essential raw materials causes worry to all who give serious thought to these matters.

Even in this so-called day of enlightenment poverty, malnutrition, and starvation are the inevitable lot for literally hundreds of millions of earth’s population. The widening ghettos of the world’s great cities continue to extend their corrupting grip on additional helpless and suffering millions of earth’s poor. The clamor of minority groups for a larger share of earth’s good things persists, as the people of Rhodesia, South Africa, and many other areas all struggle to bring about a change.

While the United Nations Organization continues nominally to function for the betterment of the human race, cruel and oppressive political regimes dominate numerous nations around the world, and human rights the world over are regularly and viciously violated. Physical torture is inflicted on fellow human beings not only by conscienceless criminals but also by agents of ruling governments against their supposed enemies and even against their own citizens.

The Chinese are suspicious of Russian expansionism, while the Russians worry about being swallowed up by Chinese hordes. Greece and Turkey, Ethiopia and Somalia, North Korea and South Korea—all are at swords’ points. And all of Eastern Europe writhes under the heel of the Communist oppressor.

Immorality of every description is on the increase—worse yet, it is gaining general acceptance. Corruption, stealing, and cheating—in high places and low—have become pandemic. And in the view of some law officials the new wave of terrorism, hijacking and kidnapping has become well-nigh uncontrollable. Meanwhile, the bothersome population explosion continues unabated.

This, as all know, is not a complete catalog of the world’s ills. But it will suffice, And, directly or indirectly, these conditions have an important impact on the health, happiness, and the very lives of virtually every human being existing on this planet.

We are living at a remarkable time in history, when knowledge along all lines has been fantastically increased; but even with this unparalleled mass of knowledge and technical equipment at man’s disposal, he has not been able to rid the world of its ills; indeed, the increased knowledge seems largely to have compounded his problems. But it is interesting, and hope-inspiring as well, to observe that these are the very conditions that our Lord Jesus said would exist at the end of the age and would eventually lead to the establishment in the earth of his righteous millennial kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth.—Matt. 24:3,12,21; Dan. 12:1-4

In short, the very troubles which now bring fear and perplexity to the hearts of those who do not understand God’s loving design for man are the very conditions which cause those who know and trust in his promises to lift up their heads and hearts, knowing “that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” (Luke 21:25-31) But before that great and blessed event can come to pass, the Scriptures show that “this present evil world,” or social order, must be destroyed, along with all its evil institutions, in a final great “time of trouble.”—Gal. 1:4; II Pet. 3:7,10-13

While it seems likely that the fires of this purging time of trouble will rage worldwide, the Scriptures indicate that they will burn with particular intensity in the land of Palestine, where the final phase of that trouble will occur. And today the eyes of the world are once more anxiously turned toward the Middle East, fearful of an escalating conflict that could bring suffering and disaster to all the nations of the world, but unaware of the import of those events for the ultimate blessing of all mankind.

For long centuries God has been patiently and wisely setting the stage for this final act in his dealings with fallen humankind before the establishment of Christ’s kingdom of righteousness, the purpose of which will be to bring joy, justice, and everlasting life to all the willing and obedient of the resurrected race of mankind.

Some 3,500 years ago God chose Israel to be his special people. He wonderfully delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptian oppressor through their leader, Moses. Also through Moses the Lord spoke to Israel, saying: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. … And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.”—Ex. 19:5,6,8

Later, Moses repeated this remarkable promise. “Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God,” he said. “The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. … Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.”—Deut. 7:6,11

But they did not keep God’s commandments. The Prophet Amos calls this to our attention. He said: “Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”—Amos 3:1,2

The punishment the Lord meted out to his disobedient people was to scatter them throughout the world, even as he had warned them in Moses’ day when he said to them: “If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; then … 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. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; but the Lord shall give thee a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind; and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life.” (Deut. 28:58,64-66) This prophetic scattering of the Jews was recorded in the Scriptures some 16 centuries before its occurrence in A.D. 70, when the power of Rome destroyed Jerusalem, scattering the Jews to all corners of the earth, even as prophesied.

But the Lord God, in his great love and mercy, also promised to regather Israel to Palestine. Through the Prophet Jeremiah he said: “For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord; and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” (Jer. 30:2,3) We who are living today have witnessed the wonderful fulfillment of this promise. It was accomplished, first, by holding out enticements to them to return, and later by permitting persecutions to drive them back to the land. Jeremiah speaks of these as “fishers” and “hunters.” (Jer. 16:14-17) The remarkable fulfillment of both of these prophecies is further substantial proof of the authenticity of the Bible as being the Word of God. And now, through the providences of the Lord, the Jews are once more in the land of their fathers.

According to the Bible, the return of the Jews to Palestine brings them initially the opposite of peace and happiness. Indeed, it could hardly have been otherwise, for the land from which they had been driven in A.D. 70, and to which they have now been regathered, has for 1,900 years been occupied by Palestinian Arabs, who also regard the area as their own homeland and Jerusalem as one of their holy cities. And although the Jews are now established in that land as a nation among nations, they are surrounded by bitter, well-nigh implacable enemies with whom they have already fought four agonizing and costly wars.

The Prophet Jeremiah indicates that their return to the land is merely the prelude to additional intense sufferings. Immediately following his statement that the Lord would cause them to return to the land of their fathers the prophet says: “And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble.”—Jer. 30:4-7

The Prophet Ezekiel also speaks of this same troubled time yet to come in the existence of the returned Jews. He indicates that sometime after their return and establishment in the land they would be attacked by a very powerful force from the north, accompanied by many allies. (Ezek. 39:1-16) This mighty attacking force from the north is understood by most Bible scholars to refer to Russia.

The Prophet Zechariah also supplies some details of this final trouble upon Israel. He writes: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I [the Lord God] will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”—Zech. 14:1,2

But all three of these prophets unitedly show that Israel will not be utterly destroyed under this great final attack, for it is the Lord God himself who shall bring about the defeat of Israel’s enemies. Jeremiah writes: “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jer. 30:7) Zechariah climaxes his statement of the attack on Israel by saying, “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (Zech. 14:3) And Ezekiel describes at great length (Ezek. 38 and 39) the utter destruction that the Lord God will bring upon the mighty attacker of the little State of Israel. He further explains that God intervenes to save Israel in order to draw her once more to himself and to demonstrate his exceeding power and glory to the nations of the world. “I will send a fire on Magog [the powerful attacking forces from the north] … and they shall know that I am the Lord. So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.”—Ezek. 39:6,7

The Lord continues: “When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; then shall they [Israel] know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.”—Ezek. 39:27-29

Thus God’s people Israel will be brought back into the fold of his love, and the whole world of mankind will be given a valuable and everlasting demonstration of God’s matchless power and glory and of his boundless love and mercy toward all his erring creatures, both Jew and Gentile.

This is the picture of the ultimate outcome of the situation in the Middle East as painted in broad strokes by the prophets of the Lord. But, surprisingly, at this very moment strenuous efforts are under way by Egypt and Israel to find some solution to the Palestine problem apart from war. This sudden move by Egypt to make peace overtures to Israel, and Israel’s ready acceptance of the move, has caught Egypt’s Arab allies (heretofore presenting unbroken ranks to Israel) by surprise and has been angrily denounced as treason on Egypt’s part.

What has brought about this sudden change in the Middle East situation? Plainly, both Egypt and Israel are in trouble in their own homelands. Four wars between these nations in the last thirty years have impoverished both nations. Both nations are afflicted with rising inflation, ever higher taxes, and discontented people. Only months ago Egypt was forced by an aroused populace to rescind a rise in the price of food-stuffs. The cost of equipping and maintaining armed forces has become an unbearable burden for each nation, diverting, as it does, large portions of the national production from useful consumer goods into wasting war materials.

The effort to avoid war is commendable; but one wonders how the two sides are to arrive at a workable accommodation, for the basic problems between them still exist. Israel’s enemies insist that she provide a homeland for the Palestinian Arabs within her present occupied borders on the west bank of the Jordan; Israel just as firmly insists that the west bank is part of her ancient homeland. The Arab nations insist that the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) be included in any discussions looking toward peace; Israel has stated plainly she will not deal directly with the PLO. The Arabs also demand the return by Israel of the eastern portion of Jerusalem, as being holy ground to Islam; Israel claims all of Jerusalem as her own. Defense of one’s homeland and of one’s religion are always touchy issues, and both are involved in this long-standing dispute between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

It is rarely possible to foresee the near-term turn of events in that volatile and politically convulsed part of the world. And it is never wise to take a position beyond what is written. But is it possible that the newly initiated efforts to achieve peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors, even if successful, will prevent the prophesied ultimate attack on Israel by the mighty armed forces “out of the north parts”? (Ezek. 38:15) On the basis of our understanding of God’s Word, we think not. We believe that terrible event will occur as prophesied by God’s holy prophets.

We also believe, based on God’s Word, that when that dread day occurs, Israel will be standing alone as a nation. All her lovers (allies) will have forsaken her. (Jer. 30:13,14) Thus, when God strikes down the attacking hosts and saves Israel, the glory and the power and the honor will be his, and his alone.

Then will the long-promised, long-hoped-for blessings of Christ’s kingdom be poured out on a joyous, resurrected world of mankind. Arab and Jew, Russian and Chinese, black and white—all will raise their hearts and voices together in praise and honor to the Heavenly Father; all will rejoice together in the bounteous blessings of Christ’s just and righteous and age-lasting kingdom. (Rev. 5:13) Hallelujah! And a Happy New Year in the Lord to all.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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