October 15, 2023
All Eyes On Israel
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Zechariah 12:1-3
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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With all eyes on Israel right now, it's important for Christians to understand the biblical significance of this conflict. In this sermon, Pastor Philip reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on God's ultimate plan for Israel. We may not understand everything that's happening in the world, but we can trust in the unchanging Word of God.

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Transcript

I want to speak on the subject this morning, All Eyes on Israel. Why would I want to preach in all eyes on Israel? Because all eyes is on Israel. Our world is captivated by the events in the Middle East, the tragedy, the butchery, the savagery, and what’s to come perhaps in a ground war in Gaza, maybe in Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Hezbollah. So I want to take you to a passage, I’m just going to make reference to shortly within the message, but it kind of puts things in their context. Zechariah 12, 13 and 14 speak about the end times. We know from the Olivet Discourse when Jesus comes back, He’s going to come back to the city of Jerusalem and Zechariah 14 tells us that Christ will step foot on the Mount of Olives and rescue the people of God in Judah and in Jerusalem.

And Zechariah 12 is part of this. It speaks about the last days, you’ll find this phrase, on that day. And most commentators put that in the tribulation period around the Battle of Armageddon. And what we have here is the description of the city of Jerusalem and the people of Israel and how the nations are going to come up against them and yet God will deliver them. Listen to these words, the burden of the Word of the Lord against Israel, Thus says the Lord who stretches out the heavens lays the foundation of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him. Notice this, take a good look at this. “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 heavy stone for all the peoples. All who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

All eyes on Israel, Zechariah 12:1 to three, the famous eye-patch-wearing Israeli military leader and statesman, Moshe Dayan, was once pulled over by the Israeli police for speeding. In a conversation with the police officer, Moshe Dayan said this, “I have only one eye. What do you want me to watch, the speedometer or the road?” It’s a funny story. It’s a good story, but let me turn it to more serious things. Israeli hero, Moshe Dayan may have only one eye, but we have two and all our eyes are on Israel at this moment. We, like the rest of the world, have been shocked and saddened and stirred by the gruesome images coming out of Israel following the brutal attack of Hamas terrorists on October the seventh. An attack during which 1300 Israelis were butchered, 3000 wounded, and over a hundred, maybe 150 taken hostage. Among the hostages, an elderly Holocaust survivor, wheelchair-bound. 29 Americans are among that number and possibly 15 amidst the hostages.

Israel’s war is our war. Israel’s hurt is our hurt. Israel’s suffering is our suffering. These killings were without mercy as Islamic militants shot burned, men and women, young and old. Women were raped, some 40 children and babies lost their lives. Some shot in the arms of their mothers, some beheaded. The greatest loss of life took place at an open air music festival for peace where 250 young people were summarily executed. As if killing and rape was not enough, the bodies of Israeli soldiers and civilians were desecrated, mutilated, and some paraded in the Gaza Strip. And to add terror to terror, 100 Israelis and some foreigners within Israel have been taken hostage and their families tormented by the daily threat of daily execution that will be televised live.

This event has rightly been called Israel’s 9/11. Some have even compared it to Israel’s Pearl Harbor. It’s the single biggest loss of Jewish life in one day since the Holocaust. That’s why we need to stop and we need to look and we need to learn and we need to react. Compared to our 9/11 where we lost 3000 lives, Israel by population comparison, last Saturday lost 35,000 lives in one day. What are we to make of Hamas, Hezbollah on the northern border, Iran in the region and their genocidal hatred of Israel? What are we going to make of the apologists of terror and the antisemitism we see in cities around the Middle East, around Europe, around the world, and even here in the United States of America, if you can believe it, calling for the destruction of Israel and the driving out of the Jew from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea?

If you’ve noticed in many of these rallies, this placard, this sign from the “River to the Sea.” That’s from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. That’s what they claim to be Palestinian territory and it’s their intent to extinguish the nation of Israel and to exclude the Jew. Don’t be naive. Don’t be smothered in politics. What are we to make of Hamas, of Hezbollah, Iran? What do we make of the apologists of antisemitism? What are we to make of the Middle East that constantly seems to be a boiling point, a never- [inaudible 00:06:20] cauldron of conflict.

In fact, in one of my visits to Israel, our Jewish guide reminded us that Jerusalem was the most fought over city in human history. And the case is still the case today. In fact, in a website I observed it said this. “3000 years ago, Jerusalem was built as the capital of Israel. It has been attacked 52 times, besieged 23 times, ransacked 39 times, destroyed and rebuilt three times and captured and recaptured 44 times. 3000 years on it remains the capital of Israel.” And you know what? 3000 years on, we’re seeing what Zachariah said here, that God would make Jerusalem a cup of trembling, a cup of drunkenness, a cup of reeling. We’ll get to that in a moment.

I want to help you to understand the events that you and I have witnessed and the world has seen this past week. But I want us to look at it, not from a political perspective, but from a biblical lens. Now, I typically don’t chase the news. Our custom here at Kindred is just to pick a book in the Bible and exposite line upon line, precept upon precept. But there are just some things you cannot ignore. This is the biggest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. I want to understand the world around us by looking at the word before us. The Bible affords us a worldview. The Bible affords us a window into Israel’s past, and present, and future. It’s been well said that the one who reads the newspaper knows what is happening, the one who reads the Bible knows why it is happening. So we’re going to read our Bibles today.

And let me say this by way of further introduction. While this attack was surprising, and surprised Israel, there was a major failure of Western intelligence and Israeli intelligence. But while the attack was a surprise and while the attack is surprising, it’s not surprising. All eyes are on Israel. Why? Because the Bible tells us in the last days all eyes will be on Israel. The prophet Zechariah, as we have read in chapter 12 verses two to three tells us in the last days, around the time of the regathering of Israel and the attack upon Israel by the surrounding nations and the forces of antichrist that God will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling.

And what’s true then in the future we even see today. This phrase, cup of drunkenness, or a cup of trembling, or a cup that causes reeling means this. According to the MacArthur Study Bible, I think it puts it well. Jerusalem is pictured as a large basin from which the nations will figuratively drink with eagerness only to find themselves becoming intoxicated, disoriented, and thus pray for God’s judgment at the end of Daniel’s 70th week and in the Battle of Armageddon when the nations are gathered to attack Jerusalem. So they’ll go up, they think they’ve got the Jew, they think they’ve got Israel, they think they’ve got Jerusalem, and God will send them reeling, staggering back, and He will cut them down in judgment. And what’s true of the last days of the last days is true throughout the last days. Israel’s return, Israel’s rise, Israel’s prominence, Israel’s peril, Israel’s danger, Israel’s deliverance will be the focus of the last days.

Do you realize that Israel and Jerusalem is the center of the world? Geographically, it is the sacred bridge between the three great continents. Historically, Jesus came from Israel, He died on the cross and rose from the dead in Zion, in Jerusalem. Prophetically, the antichrist will gather troops from nations around the world to destroy Israel. That little troublemaker nation of Jews, one son for all and Jesus will come back and save His people. It always has been, it is, and it will be the center of the world and the time piece of biblical prophecy. Just know this, think about this more than you do. The great and final act of human history will not take place in London or New York or Tokyo or Moscow or Beijing, but in Jerusalem. That’s where it’s all going to end. Study your Bible. In the last days, all eyes will be on Israel. Israel reborn will be the focus of the last days.

The antichrist will reign in a rebuild temple in the city of Jerusalem in the last days. The Battle of Armageddon unfolds on the plains of Megiddo in Israel. In the last days, Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem to set up His kingdom and sit on the throne of David. In the last days, all eyes on Israel. Why? Because in the end, all eyes will be on Israel. A.A. Criswell said it well, “If you want to know the time, look at Israel.” Over a hundred years ago, the chaplain to Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia, challenged the king to believe in the Bible. And the king replied, “Why should I believe in the Bible? Prove to me why I should believe in the Bible.” And the chaplain replied, “I can do that in one word.” And pointing to a Jewish man in the king’s court, he said, “Israel.” It’s true.

The Bible’s teaching on Israel is up to date on all things past, present, and future. I think there could be a Titanic shift going on before our very eyes, a prophetic shift of gears that you and I should not ignore. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said in recent days, “We will change the Middle East.” That’s Titanic. Titanic. A senior diplomat from Qatar said, “This is a game-changer.” Just listen to the language of politicians and leaders in that part of the world. It’s a game-changer. The Middle East is going to be reshaped by this. So we can’t ignore that. We’re not going to. And so for the time that remains, and we may go a few minutes over, so get your fan at the ready and unbutton your top button on your shirt. We’re going to look at the excruciating events of these past few days, and we’re going to look back at Israel’s past and we’re going to look around at Israel’s present and we’re going to look ahead to Israel’s future.

Isn’t it amazing that a population of some yet million in a landmass comparable to the state of New Jersey, the fifth smallest state in the United States, garners all this attention and becomes a cup of trembling and reeling to the nations just as the Bible said? Now, three things we’re going to see in these events, a past hatred, a present hostility, and a future horizon. Let’s deal with the first one. A bit more topical today, although I’ll go to text in God’s word to root my thinking in an exogesis of the Bible. But as I look back over the last week, I see a past hatred. Here’s my simple point. The newest attack on Israel is not new. The newest attack on Israel is not new. There’s been a long hatred of the Jewish people. This is the latest act of antisemitism. And I want to say something, and this is where we need to think theologically, not politically.

This animosity, this hatred is as old as the Garden of Eden. This newest attack on Israel is not new. Why would I say it’s as old as the Garden of Eden? Well, if you go back to Genesis 3:14 to 15, when man falls into sin and God judges man and the world and the serpent who led Adam into sin, God curses the physical serpent through which Satan spoke and then God curses the spiritual serpent, Satan himself. And if you go back there, we’re told that God’s going to put enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. There’s going to be a fight between Satan and his descendants, the unbeliever, and the woman and her descendants, Christ and His followers.

We need to see this in the context of something the Bible addresses as spiritual warfare. If I may be as bold, the attack on Israel last weekend was satanic in nature because every attack on Israel, in a broad sense, is a satanic act. Why would I say that an act of violence against Israel is satanic, and I may not say that about other things? Although, you remember, Satan’s a murderer, every act of violence he spawns, but he has a particular hatred for Israel and it stems back to the judgment of God upon sin in man and entering the world. Satan hates Christ, the seed of the woman. And Christ is the king of the Jews and Christ is the head of the church. Satan has a particular hatred for Jews and Christians. Just remember that, because Satan hates what God loves.

And I’ll tell you what God loves, He loves the nation of Israel and He loves the church made up of Jew and Gentile from every nation. Now hold on to seat, I want to say something more. Satan even created a religion in Islam to destroy the Jew and the Christian. I’m not going to get into that. I’ve dealt with that in other cases, but you need to remind yourself that Islam has a false Bible in which Ishmael takes the place of Isaac as a descendant of Abraham. There’s a switch goes on there that’s Satanic. They have a false Christ. They have a Christ who’s not the son of God, who’s not the word incarnate, who didn’t go to the cross to die for our sins. They’ve got a false eschatology in which Israel isn’t exalted among the nations, Israel is destroyed among the nations. And they have a false gospel in the five pillars of Islam.

There’s something satanic about this hatred and it’s been ongoing since the Garden of Eden. Think about this in terms of just Satan’s hatred for the Jewish people. Given what Satan knew back in Genesis 3:15, is it any surprise that throughout history from Pharaoh trying to kill the Hebrew babies in Egypt, to Haman trying to wipe out the Jews in the Book of Esther, or the Syrian monarch, Antiochus Epiphanes, who tried to destroy the Jews in 165 BC. We shouldn’t be surprised at that because Satan knows that through the seed of the woman, the Christ comes. In preventing the Messiah in coming, he seeks to destroy the descendants of Abraham and the nation of Israel from which the Messiah comes. Satan, having failed to prevent the Messiah from coming in, tries to kill Christ at His birth through Herod, a Jewish king or an apostate Jew in Matthew 2:13 to 16.

When this failed, Satan inspired Jewish and Roman leaders to kill the son of God. That failed in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And today Christ lives within the church, and so Satan attacks the church because he hates Christ. There’s enmity between the seed of the women and the seed of the serpent. And Satan continues to hate Israel because someday Christ is going to redeem Israel and sit on David’s throne in the city of Jerusalem. You get a sense of what’s going on biblically? Don’t see this simply as some political clash, some territorial conflict. It’s part of spiritual warfare. It’s light against darkness. Satan against God. Heaven against hell.

You know what’s interesting, by the way, when we think of, oh, the animosity directed towards Israel from the Pharaohs to Haman, to Antiochus Epiphanies, Herod, Hitler, Stalin, the Ayatollahs and the greatest antisemite of them, they all will be the antichrist in a future day who will call himself God in a rebuilt temple. Second Thessalonians two. We see this animosity throughout history and the nations, and ironically, you even see it in a body called the United Nations who have a particular disgust for the nation of Israel. I’m not going to get into this deeply, but Jeff McKinley, who’s been at our church, in his book, Global Reset, along with Mark Hitchcock says this, “The United Nations continues to single out Israel for regular condemnation while overlooking repressive regimes.” The United Nations General Assembly condemned Israel for more than any other nation in 2020. The total number of resolutions against Israel was 17 compared with six for the rest of the world.

This is in a world where you have North Korea, this is in a world where you have the Mullahs and the Ayatollahs of Iran. This is in a world where you have China and Russia? But no, the real villain in the international landscape, that’s tiny, teeny weeny, little Israel. Bizarre, isn’t it? Now, let me say this before I leave this thought, given all that I’ve just said, animosity, satanic opposition, isn’t it amazing that the Jews are still around and about? It’s an amazing thing. I love Psalm 83. Psalm 83 verses one to four. The psalmist kind of talks about the indestructibility of the nation and the people even despite their sin, despite the threats that are around them.

Psalm 83 verse one, “Do not keep silent, O God, do not keep your peace. Do not be still, O God, for behold your enemies make a tumult and those who hate you have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against your people and consulted together against your sheltered ones. And they have said, ‘Come and let us cut them off from being a nation that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.'” That has been attempted again and again and again. When in 1948, Israel emerges from among the ashes. And in a short order there’ll be more Jews in the land of Israel today than anywhere else in the world combined. Satan and those whom he uses have tried to cut this nation off from among the nations and he has failed and he will fail, because God is greater than Satan. Amen. He may be mighty, but he’s not almighty. The sons of David have endured.

I have a friend back in Northern Ireland, Dennis [inaudible 00:23:23], who’s preaching a message today entitled, The Nation That Won’t Go Away. It’s a good title. He should have shared that with me earlier in the week. Hey, concerning the Jew, the king of Egypt could not destroy Him. The waters of the Red Sea could not drown Him. The gallows of Haman could not hang Him. The great fish could not swallow Him. The fiery furnace could not consume Him. The nations could not absorb Him and dictators like Hitler could not annihilate Him. I like what Mark Twain, the humorist said. And by the way, Mark Twain was no lover of the Bible. He was not a Christian man. He was agnostic at best. But in a Harper’s magazine in 1899, he wrote about Israel and especially the Jew. This is before the foundation of the nation of Israel in 1948, but he says this.

“The Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Persian rose filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed made a vast noise and they are gone. Other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jews saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew, all other forces pass, but he remains.”

If you go to Israel today, you won’t find the Canaanites or the Hittites or the Amorites, but you’ll find the Israelites because they’re immortal. God has a purpose and a plan for them rooted in His grace, rooted in His love, not in their greatness. One political commentator noted that Israel is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language and worships the same God as they did 3000 years ago. In fact, when I was talking to my friend Mark Hitchcock about preaching this message, we both collaborated on this earlier this week. He said, “Philip, you know that every time Israel has been attacked and repelled their enemies, they’ve got a holiday.” And I go, “What do you mean?” Well, he actually has this in one of his books.

He said this. “I once heard someone say that every time Satan tries to wipe out the Jews, they end up with a holiday.” Pharaoh tried to destroy them and the result was the Passover. Haman tried to deal with them in the days of Esther and the Jews got the Feast of Purim. Antiochus rose up against them and the victorious Jews celebrated the Feast of Lights or Hanukkah. Hitler’s diabolical plan finally resulted in world sympathy and the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. The immortal Jew.

Let’s go to the second thought here. You still with me? Okay. We see a past hatred. Secondly, we see a present hostility. The present hostility is part of an ongoing dispute between the Arab nations, the Palestinians, and the Israelis stretching back centuries over the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which is both sacred to Islam and sacred to Judaism. In fact, did you know that Hamas’ attack last week was entitled Operation Al-Aqsa Flood? They did it in the name of Islam and they justified it by what they considered incursions or crimes by the Israelis on the Temple Mount. Interesting, isn’t it? Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. They’re fighting over the land, the city, the Temple Mount.

It’s been going on for years, and look, we’re not going to solve all of this today, but I want to make a couple of things clear. So I want to look at two things under the present hostility. Number one, the right, that is the right of Israel to occupy the land. And then two, the refusal. The refusal of the Palestinian people to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors. Let’s look at the right first of all. The right of Israel to occupy the land. I believe that the Jew is in his homeland by divine right. It’s a biblical fact that God gave the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the land we now call Israel. And He give them it as an everlasting inheritance. This is what we call the Abrahamic Covenant. You’ll find it in Genesis 12:1 to three, Genesis 15:15 to 20, Genesis 17:7 to eight. Let me read Genesis 12:1 to three.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, get out of your country,” That was Mesopotamia. “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. I will 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, the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The outline of the borders of the land of Israel is found in Genesis 15 to 20, made in a blood covenant with Abraham. If you go to Genesis 17:7 to 8, I want you to see that this promise to Israel concerning the land is an everlasting possession. That’s why you must reject the replacement of Israel by the church. There are many today in the church who teach that God is done with Israel in terms of Israel as a nation and the promises that He made to Abraham in terms of land and real estate are no longer applicable. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Listen to this Genesis 17 verses seven through eight. This is God speaking. “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you and their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and your descendants after you. I will give to you, and your descendants after you, the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession and I will be their God.”

Little footnote, don’t want to get distracted here, but one of the arguments of the Palestinians is that they’re descendants of the Canaanites and that’s disputed. But even if that’s true, the Bible says that God gave the land of the Canaan to the Jew, to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And so God owns the land, He can give it to whomever He wants. Israel is in the land. It’s their land. It’s the land God promised them as an everlasting inheritance. If you look at God’s promise to Abraham, He talks about soil, a land. He talks about seed and how His descendants will multiply like the stars of the sky. And He talks about salvation, that through Abraham’s descendants, the nations will be blessed. Allah, the Lord Jesus. According to the Bible, the Jewish people have the title deed to the land of Israel. God owns the land, the earth is the Lord’s and He gave it to them. Psalm 24:1 Joshua 14:9.

Does God play favorites in the Middle East? If I was asked that question, I certainly would qualify it by talking about God’s love for the world and for the Egyptian and for the Lebanese and the Syrians and the Iranians and the Iraqis. But if you ask me strictly, does God play favorites in the Middle East? I would say, yes. He made a particular covenant, ratified in His love and underwritten by His faithfulness to Abraham and his descendants. God chose Abraham. God chose Isaac over Ishmael. God chose Jacob over Esau to be the heir of the covenant blessings. God chose Israel over Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, America and all the other kingdoms of the earth.

They are God’s ancient people. They’re not without sin, but as in our case, so in their case, when sin abounds, so does grace. And God has judged them and He has scattered them among the nations again and again, but He keeps bringing them back. The Jewish people have always occupied the land, but they haven’t always owned it and I think it’s important to remember that and you’ll hear a lot of [inaudible 00:32:58] today. Just remember, the Jewish people have not always occupied the land, but they have always owned it by divine decree and that’s why God keeps bringing them back from captivity and diaspora, because it’s a everlasting possession. The immortal Jew will someday occupy this land forever under the administration of Jesus Christ, Luke 1:32, where we read that Jesus will sit on the throne of His father, David.

God has not forsaken Israel. Read Romans 9:10 and 11. Blindness, in part, has happened on the Israel until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Then the Messiah or the deliverer will come out of Zion and all Israel will be saved. There’s a future for the nation. There’s a future for the people. They are still God’s chosen people even in unbelief and God’s not finished with them. They are the apple of His eye.

Let me tell you a story and then apply it. I got this idea from David Jeremiah in his book, I Never Thought I’d See the Day, speaking of this issue of who owns the land of Israel. He says, “I want you to imagine you’ve gone to the theater, you’ve purchased yourself a ticket. And it’s not a general admission, it’s one of those nice seats where you get a number and a place. And you put your coat down and you sit down and you’re ready for the movie to start, and all of a sudden, your cell phone goes off and you realize it’s an important call, so you leave your coat on the seat and you go outside and you take the call. And then when you come back in, you find a stranger sitting in your seat, someone’s squatting on your seat. And you ask them to politely move and you tell them, “That’s my seat”, but they won’t move and so a scene is created. And you’re down to your last ditch efforts, and so you call someone from within the theater and you show them your ticket stub and they tell the person to move.”

Here’s what David Jeremiah says about that illustration. “In that illustration, the theater-goer is Israel, the seat is Israel’s homeland. The ticket is the Bible where the legal assignment to the land is recorded. The temporary vacancy of the seat represents Israel’s temporary absence from the land. The squatter represents various groups that have availed themselves of the land of Israel in Israel’s absence. And the coat represents the historical artifacts throughout the land that attest to Israel’s previous habitation. The usher, at least, is the League of Nations in 1948, who established Israel as a nation within the land.” That’s good. This present hostility, look at the right of Israel to live there. Benjamin Netanyahu said this, “The land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, which Abraham brought the idea of one God to, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the 4,000-year bond between the Israeli people and the Jewish land.”

Okay, let’s move on. The refusal. If you look at this present hostility, the right of Israel to the land, it’s a divine right. What about the refusal? The refusal of the Palestinians to live peaceably beside Israel. This present conflict is just the latest installment of an Arab-Israeli conflict. Now, to cut to the chase, in all my reading, researching, and reflecting, I’ve come to this conclusion, pretty clear conclusion concerning this conflict. The issue is not the size of Israel. Israel can’t get much smaller, if you’ve ever been there. It fits inside the state of New Jersey. The issue is not the size of Israel, although all the international conversation and talk today is of what part does the Palestinian get and what part does the Jews get in a two-state solution?

No, the issue is not the size of Israel, the issue is the existence of Israel. The Palestinian and the Arabs, many of them, not all of them, have never settled and embraced the whole idea of a Jewish homeland and a constituted nation of Israel. It’s not the size of Israel, it’s teeny weenie. The Arabs have 300 times the landmass. 300 times the landmass of the nation of Israel. The Jew is outnumbered in the Middle East by 40-1. That’s just a fact. Now, regarding the land of Israel, it never did belong to the Palestinians. The Palestinians are simply the Arabs who occupied the land during Israel’s absence. In our analogy, they’re the squatters. When Israel was cast out and exiled among the nations after the destruction of Jerusalem and the last revolt of the Jews against Romans in 135.

There’s never been a Palestinian state, ever. There’s been a nation of Israel but not a Palestinian nation or statehood. Israel historically occupied Jewish territory from Joshua on in the 1400s BC. The kingdom of David was founded at a thousand years BC and the first temple was built by Solomon approximately 957 years before Christ. Historically, as I’ve said, the Palestinians are Arabs who occupied the land during Israel’s diaspora. And in fact, the interesting thing is the Palestinians have never been welcomed or assimilated within the surrounding Arab states. They, themselves, are Arabs. Even if you went with this argument, look, give Israel its land. It’s teeny weeny compared to everything else, and the Palestinians could be assimilated into the surrounding nations. But even the surrounding Arab nations don’t want them, never have, never have assimilated them. In some way, simply use them as a political football to kick around and use them as a thorn in Israel’s side with whatever fallacious arguments they come up with.
Here’s another thing as we move towards a close, and our last thought. It must be stated and it must be remembered, and you need to remember this as you hear people talk, that the Palestinians have refused a two-state solution five times within their history. You’ll hear the only solution is a two-state solution. Well, that’s interesting because it’s been offered to them five times and they have refused it five times.

Just give you a little bit of history quickly. I got this from Steve Miller’s book, The Foreshadows, a book on end-time prophecy said this. “In 1937, the British Peel Commission attempted to bring an end to violent clashes between Arabs and Jews by dividing the land.” Listen to this. “80% for the Arabs and 20% for the Jews. The Arabs unanimously condemned the plan and opposed the agreement and any creation of a Jewish state. Then 1947, the United Nations proposed another division of the land that would divide it into two states, but the Arabs who lived in the region that would soon become Israel, as soon as those in the surrounding nations rejected the plan outright, they did not want Jewish state in their midst. When Israel declared itself a state with the backing of the international community, five Arab nations attacked it within a few days and displaced a lot of Palestinian people who fled the war zone.

1967, after winning the Six Day War, Israel proposed giving much control as possible of Gaza or the West Bank to the Palestinians or Jordan in exchange for peace. Both the Palestinian leadership and King Hussein of Jordan rejected the offer. 2000, at a lengthy summit hosted by US President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to give PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, all of Gaza, 94% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians wanted for their capital and he refused. The fifth refusal was 2008. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert added even more land to the offer that Barak had given in 2000, an arrangement that would’ve greatly undermined Israel’s ability to defend itself. Some argued within Israel, even that extraordinary concession made by Israel, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said no.” It’s five rejections to some form of a two-state solution. I go back to my thesis, and let me think it through. It’s not the size of the nation of Israel. I don’t know how much smaller Israel can get. It’s its existence.

Don’t forget the chant in New York, in Berlin, in Sydney, in London, “From the River to the Sea.” Palestine will be free. That’s from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. It doesn’t leave anything for the Jew or Israel in between. It’s not the size of Israel, it’s her existence. There’s a blood lust against the Jew in the Islamic world and a majority, not all, but a majority within that world won’t be satisfied until Israel is nuked. Iran and the Ayatollahs are driven into the sea, the Palestinians, Hezbollah, Hamas, and some in the surrounding nation.

So look, time’s going to beat us this morning, but I want to let a Jewish-American author and radio commentator Dennis Prager, make my point for me. In reality, Prager said this, “The Middle East conflict is amazingly simple. In a nutshell, it’s this. One side wants the other side dead. Israel wants to exist as a Jewish state and live in peace. Look at the Abraham Accords, the attempt to get to a better place with Saudi Arabia.” I’m paraphrasing. “Israel wants to exist as a Jewish state and to live in peace. Israel also recognizes the right of Palestinians to have their own state and to live in peace. The problem, however, is that most Palestinians and many other Muslims and Arabs do not recognize the right of the Jewish state to exist.”

He says this. “If tomorrow Israel laid down its arms and announced, we will fight no more, what would happen? If the Arab countries around Israel and the Palestinians within Israel led down their arms and announced we will fight no more, what would happen? Well, in the first case, there would be an immediate destruction of the state of Israel. If Israel laid down its arms, they would be eaten up. If the Arab nations laid down their arms, peace would happen tomorrow.” That’s what we’re dealing with folks. All right, hang in with me. We see a past hatred. We see a present hostility. Finally, we see a future horizon.

I believe these current events are setting the stage for future events. This is not the first time Israel has been invade, and it will not be the last time Israel will be invaded. In fact, if you go to Ezekiel 39, you can read of an invasion on Israel’s northern border in the last days. It’s called the bottle of Gog and Magog. I don’t have time to go there. Write it down and study it. Ezekiel 39. We believe that that fits within the first half of the tribulation period. The antichrist has signed a peace agreement with Israel and then Israel is attacked by surrounding nations led by Gog. And then we’re told of those nations that will align with Gog and attack Israel during a time of peace and prosperity. And then, God will step in and He will defend the nation of Israel and He will scatter her enemies.

That was written 2,600 years ago about an end-time war involving the invasion of Israel on its northern border by surrounding nations. They’re dealing with Hamas in the southwest of Israel. They’re dealing with Hamas in the east area with the West Bank and they’re dealing with Hezbollah on the north in Israel. In fact, when I was there several years ago, our guide who is a former IDF commando, said to me as we were up in the Golan Heights looking across to Syria. He said, “Philip, in the next three to five years”, and by the way that was about three to four years ago, “in the next three to five years, Israel will have a major war on its northern border.” Why? Because you’ve got Hezbollah, which are Iranian proxies on the northern border of Israel. Iran is in alliance with Russia. And if you go to Ezekiel 39, you’ll read about an alliance of countries. Rosh is modern day Russia. Magog is a geographical area in the southern portion of the former Soviet Union.

Tubal and Gomer refer to modern-day Turkey. Persia is modern Iran, Kush is Sudan, and Put is modern Libya. Just keep listening, keep looking and you’ll hear all those names. The president of Turkey just get into the mix the other day and condemned Israel. They’re in alliance with some of these countries. So what’s my point? Are we watching the beginning of the battle of Gog and Magog? No, that belongs to the period of the tribulation, Jacob’s trouble. And I believe that the rapture will take place before that. We will not be here to witness that. The rapture is the trigger event that brings about these other events.

I remember watching, when I was a boy, several kids programs and some of them involved, those who love to set up these intricate designs by dominoes and it would take days to set them up, could include tens of thousands of dominoes, maybe hundreds of thousands of dominoes, hours and days to set up and then would come the moment. The whole point is to see if they can knock them all down right to the end. There’s a world record to be had if you can do it. It always starts with one domino. There’s the trigger domino. And I want to remind you that the rapture is the trigger domino. And if you look at what we’ve just been reading about the battle of Gog and Magog and the nations will go up against Israel, and the battle of Armageddon. We’ve read about Jerusalem in the last days will become a cup of trembling.

Nations will go up against it and then they’ll reel back like a drunken man, pray for the judgment of God. All the players are in place. The future is nigh. The stage is being set. The last hours of the last days are here. Now, we should stop now because of time, but I’m not going to do it and don’t get up and leave. But let me squeeze in then, just pastor practically and what should be our response. I’d love to have 30 minutes to go on with this, but I’m going to do it in about five or seven. What should be our response? Number one, pray. Pray for kings and those in authority. Pray for our president and pray for those in the Pentagon. Pray for Benjamin Netanyahu and the decisions he’s going to have to make, which are heart-wrenching for the people.

Pray for friendly nations in that area and international partners around the world, they’ll stay faithful to Israel and their right to defend themselves. Pray for the church in the Middle East. Pray for our brothers in Israel, in the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank, in Egypt, in Lebanon, in Syria. The church exists in all of these nations. Pray for our brothers and sisters, that they’d be salt and light. And pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122 verse six. David Ben-Gurion, who was the first prime minister of Israel, when Israel was under attack in 1948. They just constituted as a nation. Five Arab neighbors attacked them all in a day. He was asked what Israel needed and he said this. “The only things we need are things which begin with the letter A. A lot of tanks, a lot of money, a lot of guns, and a lot of food.” Israel needs a lot of things today and they need our prayers.

Secondly, persuade. What do I mean by that? Be a lover of the nation of Israel and an advocate for the Jewish people on their right to their homeland. I’m not saying we are to be blind to Israel’s sins or excesses, no, but we are to be a lover of the nation and the Jewish people. Why? Genesis 12:3. “God will bless those who bless Abraham’s descendants and God will curse those who curse Abraham’s descendants.” I think that’s still true today. I was fascinated this week. Write down, Luke seven verse five, where you’ve got the story of a Roman centurion who’s servant is sick and some from the Jewish community go to Jesus to come and heal him. And you know what’s fascinating, in Luke seven verse five, they say to Jesus, you know what, Jesus, you need to come and heal this man’s servant because he’s a lover of our nation and he built the synagogue. Here’s what they said, “Jesus, you need to bless him because he’s been a blessing to our people.”

You want to be a lover of that nation and be on the right side of history. Advocate for the legitimacy of the seat of Israel. Be a bulwark against the rabid antisemitism. Remember, Israel is our best ally in the Middle East and it’s only democracy. Israel is legitimate since 1948. It shares our history and our morality and it’s the apple of God’s eye. My mother was a great lover of the Jewish people. And my dad told me one day, she died in her mid-eighties, but when she was round by eighty, five foot tall, bent over, height of nothing, a wisp of wind would’ve blown her away. He told me he was down in Belfast one day and he kind of lost track of her and then he find her. About a hundred yards away, there was a group of about 50 pro-Palestinians in Belfast advocating from the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free, and my father found my mother in the middle of it waving her finger, telling them that Israel belonged to the Jewish people. My dad yanked her out of there, said, “Betty, do you want to die today?”

I suppose that [inaudible 00:54:11] doesn’t matter, but I love that story. The courage, proud of her. 80-year old, little 80-year old woman walking into a group of about 50 protestors unafraid to say, you know what, God loves the nation of Israel in a particular way and you’ll be on the wrong side of history if you oppose it. Prepare. Prepare. The rapture will be the trigger event that has a domino effect bringing about the events of Zechariah 12, the events of Ezekiel 39. And the rapture is without signs, it’s imminent, could happen at any moment. And you know what, but it won’t happen in a vacuum. And since we’re seeing the players in place, we’re seeing outlines and shadows and foreshadows of all that’s prophesied going on in some form around us, then high soon must the return of Jesus be for the church.

So give yourself to sanctification, prayer, underwriting gospel ministry. Remember that you’ll stand before the judgment seat of Christ tomorrow, tonight, or the day after. And that means that every act we make is momentous. Every spiritual loss is tragic and every moment is precious. Let’s live as though Jesus died yesterday, rose today, and is coming back tomorrow. Finally, proclaim. We need to take every opportunity to preach the gospel. Matthew 24:14 tells us that the gospel has to go out among the nations prior to Jesus’ second coming physically to earth. And the message is, “Be ready, for in such an hour you think not, the son of man comes.” Matthew 24:44. In the last days, men’s hearts will fail them for fear.” We need to preach hope in Christ. In the last days, confusion and deception will reign. We need to take the Bible, which is a window into God’s work and God’s world and help people make sense of the nonsense.

I hope you have a confidence to open your Bible and show your neighbor, these things were foretold. These things were prophesied. In fact, Matthew 24:44 was the verse the Lord used to bring me to faith. I grew up in a home that was Christian, but I wasn’t a Christian. I loved my sin. I hated going to church, but I went because my parents forced me to go. I was longing for the day to be free, not from loving them but free from their Christian morality and their burden on me and their call for me to repent of my sin and put my faith in Jesus.

I almost escaped. 16, just a year or two ago, but God got ahold of me. Matthew 24:44. “Be ready, for in such an hour you think not, the son of man comes.” See, I loved my sin, but I’d never come to the view that the Bible was wrong. In fact, I’d sat under preachers and I lived in a home that showed me the importance of Israel and world history, and my eyes saw it and my heart felt it. And the Bible seemed to frame the world in all its wickedness and confusion, a world in which I was living and seeing. And I realized, you know what, my mom’s right, my dad’s right. More importantly, the Bible’s right. Jesus is the Messiah and there’s a unseen war going on for the souls of man and for eternal happiness. And Jesus is coming back and I don’t want to be in the wrong side of that moment within history. And so I trusted Him.

And you know what, I want to preach that gospel to you. If you’re here today and you don’t know Christ, I trust that you’ll make yourself ready for the second coming by going back to the first coming and recognizing that Jesus died on a cross for your sin and He rose for your justification. And His exit from the grave gives you the promise of eternal hope.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was of the same mind when he received the Templeton Award in 1983 in London. He declared this. “Today’s world has reached the stage, which if it had been described to preceding centuries, they would have cried out, ‘This is the apocalypse.'” We’re living to see what generations have only imagined, biblical prophecy coming to life. Be ready, be radiant. Be a good disciple of Jesus Christ.

Father, thank you for our time in the word. We maybe have exhausted ourselves, but we haven’t exhausted the tax. We haven’t exhausted the prophetic scriptures. And we thank you for the prophecy of the Bible. We thank you for giving us a window into the world we’re living in, giving us a compass to navigate history, helping us to make sense of the nonsense we see going on around us.

And Lord, like the chaplain said to the King of Prussia, the Bible is true and I can prove it in one word. The Jew, Israel. And Lord, we’re seeing it and high soon must your return be for your church. So help us to stay awake, stay alert. Help us to deny ourselves and take up our cross. Help us to not be possessed by what are possessions, but be possessed by a passion to glorify you with our possessions and serve you each and every day, and speak into the culture bringing the light of the word into the darkness of all the deception. All eyes are on Israel. Lord, we realize at the end of history, all eyes will be on Israel. The time is short. Therefore, let us work for the night comes with no man shall work. Help us reach the Jew and the Gentile alike. For we ask and pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.