The Rapture and the Fullness of the Times By Randy Nettles To tell a complete…
Will Israel Survive?
By Dr. David Reagan
The answer to my title question from the viewpoint of world politics is an emphatic “No!” And the reasons are painfully obvious:
– Israel is a tiny country the size of New Jersey with a Jewish population of only 7 million. It is surrounded by 22 Arab countries with a population in excess of 350 million, nearly all of whom are dedicated to the annihilation of Israel.
– The Arab military forces adjacent to Israel now have sophisticated missiles, which they are willing to use indiscriminately.
– Iran (a non-Arab neighbor) has missiles capable of reaching Israel and is developing nuclear capacity. Its leaders have announced repeatedly that as soon as they produce a nuclear bomb, they will use it to annihilate Israel.
– The world’s major international organizations (the United Nations, the European Union, and the Vatican) are all committed to forcing Israel to surrender her heartland to the Arabs, leaving the country only 19 miles wide at its narrowest point.
– The same organizations are demanding that Israel surrender all or half of her capital city of Jerusalem.
– The world’s two superpowers, the United States and Russia, have joined the rest of the world in demanding the creation of a Palestinian state in the heartland of Israel, a state that would become a terrorist launching pad for the take-over of all of Israel.
– The people of Israel have grown war-weary after 74 years of never-ending hostilities.
– Many of the current leaders of Israel have grown corrupt and have lost the Zionist vision. And some of the most corrupt are religious leaders who will sell their souls for a shekel.
– The secularization of Israeli society has produced a loss of faith in God and in the truths of their religion, which, in turn, has generated an attitude of defeatism.
– Both the people of Israel and their leaders have embraced a policy of appeasement that only whets the appetite of the Arabs and encourages them to press harder for more and more Israeli capitulations.
– And so, understandably, from the world’s viewpoint, the annihilation of Israel is only a matter of time.
But there is a supernatural Power of Protection at work here that the world does not recognize nor understand. They should, because that Power our Creator God — has manifested Himself on behalf of the Jewish people throughout history.
In the Bible, we read of empire after empire coming against Israel — the Hittites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans — yet, where are these empires today? They are all in the dustbin of history; whereas the Jews are back in their homeland with their own nation-state.
Likewise, in modern times, since the re-establishment of the state of Israel, the enemies of the Jews have come against them time after time in efforts to destroy them. In fact, the Jewish state has fought at least a dozen wars since 1948, and the periods between the wars have been times of extreme tension due to unending terrorist attacks.
Yet, despite all this never-ceasing violence, Israel has survived. The reason, of course, is that the Bible says, “He who keeps Israel, neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4).
The Crucial Question
But what about the future? Does Israel have any hope? Again, the world would answer with a resounding “No!” But what does the Bible say?
Well, my friends, it says just the opposite. The Bible portrays some dark days ahead for Israel, but it also asserts that Israel will come through those days victorious. Let’s take a look at the dark days that are prophesied.
Dark Days Ahead
1) The War of Extermination
Psalm 83 states that the immediate neighbors of Israel will launch a war for the purpose of “wiping out Israel as a nation” (verse 4). The nations described as being a part of this nefarious effort are those with a common border with Israel today (verses 6-8) — Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Gaza.
The second half of the psalm is a prayer for the victory of Israel (verses 9-18). The war’s outcome is not specifically stated, but we know from other scriptures that Israel will be victorious.
For example, Zechariah 12:6 says that in the end times Israel will be like “a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples…”
Continuing, the prophet further asserts (Zechariah 12:8-9):
“In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
Prophecy scholar Bill Salus believes this war of annihilation will boomerang on the Arabs and will result in their overwhelming defeat, producing great territorial expansion and enhanced national resources for Israel. It will also produce the security spoken of in Ezekiel 38, where it says that before the War of Gog & Magog, Israel will live in security. Incidentally, it is during this war that Israel will most likely destroy Damascus, in fulfillment of prophecies in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49.
But the security provided by the Psalm 83 War will not last long because the Arab nations will most likely turn to their natural ally, Russia, and cry out for help — resulting in…
2) The War of Gog & Magog
This is the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39, where Russia comes down against Israel with certain specified Muslim allies. I believe the Russians will be delighted to respond to the Arab cry for help because they have always dreamed of taking the oil fields of the Middle East. They will, therefore, launch an invasion for the stated purpose of helping the Muslims destroy Israel. Their specific allies will involve the outer ring of Muslim states that surround Israel — all but Saudi Arabia.
I believe Russia’s unstated agenda will be to use the Arab invitation as an excuse to expand their sovereignty over all the Middle East. This ulterior motive is mentioned in Ezekiel 38:12, where it says the Russians will come “to capture spoil and to seize plunder.”
The invading armies will be supernaturally destroyed by God “on the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 39:4). The Lord will accomplish this destruction through earthquakes, pestilence, hail storms, fire, brimstone and battlefield confusion (Ezekiel 38:19-22). Even the Jewish people will recognize that the victory belongs to God, and many will open their hearts to Him (Ezekiel 38:23).
The Timing of Gog & Magog
The greatest mystery concerning this war is its timing. Most have placed it at the beginning of the Tribulation. Others delay its start to the middle of the Tribulation. But increasingly, in recent years, the tendency has been to place it before the beginning of the Tribulation.
The best discussion of timing that has yet been written can be found in Ron Rhodes’ book, Northern Storm Rising (2008). He concludes that it is most likely to occur 3½ years before the Tribulation begins.
His conclusion is based on the following reasoning. The Tribulation lasts seven years. Ezekiel 39:9 says the Jews will spend seven years burning the weapons they will capture when Russia and its allies are destroyed in the Battle of Gog and Magog (possibly nuclear fuel). Revelation 12 says the Jews will flee from the land into Jordan 3½ years into the Tribulation when the Antichrist tries to eradicate them. Therefore, the only way the Jews could spend seven years burning the weapons is for the war to begin 3½ years before the start of the Tribulation.
This raises a question: Does this mean the wars of Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 and 39 must occur before the Rapture? Not at all. The Rapture could occur anytime before, during, or after these wars.
Keep in mind that the Rapture is not what marks the beginning of the Tribulation. The Tribulation will begin when the Antichrist signs a peace treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). Several years could elapse between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation.
3) The Unveiling of the Antichrist
The next dark moment for the Jewish people will occur in the middle of the Tribulation when the Antichrist comes to Jerusalem and declares himself to be God.
Up to that point in time, the Jews will have considered this man to be their political savior because he will initiate the Tribulation time period by guaranteeing the safety of Israel and allowing them to rebuild their Temple. But once he comes to their rebuilt Temple and declares himself to be God, the Jewish people will totally reject him, and he will respond with a vengeance.
Satan will inspire him to once again try to annihilate the Jewish people, picking up where Hitler left off. Many of those in Israel will flee to Jordan. The Antichrist will pursue them, but he will not be allowed into Jordan because this remnant of the Jews will be given supernatural protection by God.
The Antichrist will then launch a second worldwide Holocaust, and in the process, he will manage to kill two-thirds of the Jews remaining in Israel and around the world. We find this prophecy in Zechariah 13:8-9:
“It will come about in all the land,” declares the LORD, “that two parts in it will be cut off and persh; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them…” – Zechariah 13
This is the reason that Jesus referred to the last half of the Tribulation as “the great tribulation” — not because this half will be worse than the first half, but because the wrath of Satan will be focused on the Jews.
So, the Antichrist will be very successful in his war against the Jews, but he will fail in his ultimate goal of annihilating all of them. For we are told repeatedly throughout the Scriptures that a great remnant of the Jews will live to the end of the Tribulation at which time they will receive Yeshua as their Messiah.
The Good News
1) The Return of Jesus
The good news for the Jewish people does not start until the return of Jesus to this earth at the end of the seven years of Tribulation. After the Jews have come to the end of themselves, due to their unparalleled persecution during the second half of the Tribulation, Jesus will appear in the Heavens, and the remaining remnant will repent and accept Him as their Messiah.
Here’s how it was described in general by Moses before the children of Israel entered their Promised Land (Deuteronomy 4:30): “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.”
The prophet Zechariah describes it in greater detail (Zechariah 12:10): “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
The climax of this great day is related in the next chapter (Zechariah 13:1): “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.”
Jesus Himself stated in Matthew 23:37-39 that He would not return to this earth until a remnant of the Jews were ready to receive Him as their Messiah.
2) Regathering in Belief
When Jesus returns, all believing Jews on planet earth will be regathered to Jerusalem. The current regathering is in unbelief. This one at the end of the Tribulation will be a regathering in belief. This regathering is mentioned in several places in the Hebrew Scriptures. Here’s one from the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 30:1-4):
“So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse… and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back.”
We are then told in the Scriptures that Jesus will begin His millennial reign by establishing Israel as the prime nation of the world. Jesus will reign from Jerusalem as King of the World. David, in his glorified body, will reign as the King of Israel. Believers, in their glorified bodies, will be scattered across the earth to reign with Jesus over the Gentile nations.
Isaiah devotes three full chapters (60 thru 62) to a description of the blessings that God will pour out on the Jewish people during the Millennium. Just consider for a moment some of the blessings that Isaiah mentions:
– The Shekinah glory of the Lord will appear over the nation (Isaiah 60:2): “…the LORD will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you.”
– Foreign aid will come from all the nations of the earth (Isaiah 60:5-6, 10, 16): “…The wealth of the nations will come to you. They will bring gold and frankincense…”
– Israel will be rebuilt (Isaiah 61:4): “Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities…”
– The Temple in Jerusalem will be beautified (Isaiah 60:7): “…I shall glorify My glorious house.”
– Israel will receive the respect of the nations for the first time in its history. Zechariah 8:23 says the Jews will be so respected that when one walks by, ten Gentiles will grab his robe so that they can walk with him. Isaiah puts it this way (Isaiah 60:2-3): “…The LORD will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah adds (Isaiah 60:15): “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated with no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, a joy from generation to generation.”
– The peace and joy of the nation will be guaranteed (Isaiah 60:17): “…I will make peace your administrators and righteousness your overseers.”
– The Jewish people will be a channel of blessings to all the nations (Isaiah 61:11): “For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.”
– The city of Jerusalem will be adorned with blessings (Isaiah 62:1-3, 7):
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate. You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God… And [God will make] Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
– And the reason for all of this is that the Lord will make the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem His home during His Millennial reign (Isaiah 60:13): “…I shall make the place [Jerusalem] of My feet glorious.” Ezekiel confirms this statement in Ezekiel 43:7 — “He said to me, ‘Son of man, this [Jerusalem] is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever.’”
Israel has some very difficult days ahead, but God has made wonderful promises to them that they can rely on:
– “Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).
– “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).
– “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:8-16).
Our nation needs to pay attention to these promises of God. In recent years, we have put enormous pressure on Israel to follow a path of appeasement by “trading land for peace.” In the process we have increasingly given encouragement to Israel’s sworn enemies. If we continue to manhandle Israel, we are guaranteeing our own destruction.
In conclusion, the Scriptures teach that Israel will not only survive, but the nation will emerge as the prime nation in all the world as God fulfills His promises to the Jewish people and comes to live in their midst.
What a glorious day that will be — not just for Israel, but for all the world. A day of absolute victory is coming for Israel — that will also mean victory for the Church.
In Psalm 122 we are told to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” The Scriptures make it clear that Jerusalem will never experience peace until Jesus returns. So, when you pray for the peace of Jerusalem, you are praying for the Lord’s return.
We are also told in the New Testament to pray the Aramaic phrase, “Maranatha!” which means, “O Lord Come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22). So each morning as you awake, pray for the peace of Jerusalem and then look to the sky and cry out in your heart, “Maranatha, Maranatha, Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
And on the glorious day when that prayer is answered, the Jewish remnant will cry out, “Baruch Haba B’shem Adonai!!” meaning, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23:39).