Is it the End of the World?

At an outdoor mall in Jerusalem this summer, I felt as if I were in a place of limbo. The mall begins just steps from the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, and extends northwestward, into the western part of the city.

Let me explain.

Officially, the Palestinians are asking for a state, with its capitol in eastern Jerusalem. I believe the Israelis have a couple times offered part or all of the Temple Mount, not terribly far from Jaffa Gate.

That makes all this territory terribly volatile. No doubt such seemingly mundane places as outdoor malls would become disputed territory, or at least dangerous areas (the whole city was a battle-zone in 1948).

Yet…as I strolled through this gorgeous gauntlet of high-end stores, I saw something that made me laugh. At various places along the mall, a local artist had placed his biblical-scene sculptures. They are quite beautiful and striking.

Outside a lingerie store, however, I noticed one of these sculptures…Samson and Delilah. Now, most of us know at least the bare details of this story: beauty seduces man of strength and betrays him.

I literally stood there and laughed. Surely the sculpture was placed there strategically. Perhaps it wasn’t. All I know is that it offered a much-needed laugh in a place that has seen too many tears for too long.

The lingerie worked

Since Oslo, when Israel and the Palestinians ostensibly began negotiating for a peaceful solution to their conflict, I have noticed a trend in the West to talk about a place called “Palestine.”

Like Shangri-La, it has seemed to be a dream state, a mythical place many long for.

In my office, I have placed a framed vintage poster (ironically, purchased this summer in Israel) titled: “Come to Palestine.”

A reproduction from the 1930s, the poster invites memories of a different time: Casablanca; Indiana Jones; etc. I like to look at it.

But as we watch with great interest the debate going on within the halls of the United Nations in New York, I think the poster takes on a different feel. One wonders if the Palestinians and their friends on the Left will in fact be able to will “Palestine” into being.

Personally, I wouldn’t bet against them. And, while many of my pro Israel Christian friends disagree, I don’t know that the Bible mitigates against a Palestinian state in the “last days.”

All we know for sure is that the Lord has promised to bring back the Jews to their ancestral land one final time. The area known as the West Bank (biblically, Judea and Samaria) is the point of contention now, simply because huge numbers of Jews live there, and the Palestinians officially claim the area for a future state.

So we have a showdown looming. All I know as an individual is that if Palestine becomes a reality, as a potential tourist, I will see her only from the poster in my office. My heart belongs to Israel.

The two-dimensional state...for now

The issue of statehood for the Palestinians is front-and-center on the global stage right now. This at a time when other major issues are swirling: the global economy, natural disasters, etc.

The theme of this blog is that the biblical view of the end of history is valid, and that we are living in those days. I have learned while writing for Beliefnet that we can’t all be popular (J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, etc.). Even in Christian circles, it is difficult to attain the kind of popularity enjoyed by writers like Max Lucado.

I noticed recently that in one of the few comments attached to my blogs, one person referred to me as a “clown.” There were some other unkind responses.

Actually, that’s okay. In the spirit of shared humanity, we are all on a path. My path follows the bread trail that God left in the form of Bible prophecy. Predictive prophecy fulfilled is a reality in our world today.

I am often reminded of that even in the common things of life. In a furniture store over the weekend, I happened-upon a vintage globe, the kind Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce might have used in an old “Sherlock Holmes” movie.

In any event, the globe had come to rest on the Middle East; evidently someone earlier in the day had had the same thought I did, given the news recently of Mahmoud Abbas’s bold push at the United Nations, appealing for a state of Palestine.

As I squinted, I was able finally to make out the borders of Israel, tiny though they are. I had two thoughts, one about the current situation and one rooted in prophecy.

The first thought is that the Arabs want the UN to carve-out a 23rd Arab state in the Middle East, by carving-up tiny Israel. If the nations had been truly interested in the plight of the Palestinian refugees all these years, why not give them a state in the Sinai, or in the vast expanses of Saudi Arabia, or some other huge country? Why carve-up Israel?

Secondly, the sliver of land which modern Israel occupies is a perfect set-up (if I can say it that way) for the Lord to magnify His own name, when he defeats Israel’s enemies on her behalf (Ezekiel 38-39; Isaiah 49, etc.). Such a tiny country, attacked from every direction, is prophesied in Scripture. We are also told how those battles turn out (hint: Israel is still standing).

I understand that the world hates this, and that certain readers grind their teeth when they read clown writers like me. That’s okay, though. We have the luxury of freedom of speech in this country, this beloved America.

It is a privilege for all of us that we can stick to our principles in a free land, something, for example, Arab-nation citizens do not enjoy.

Will Israel disappear?

I’m doing this from memory, but I believe that I read in Sir Martin Gilbert’s epic work, Israel, that the first all-Jewish town (Petah Tikvah) was settled in 1882.

This was a watershed event, and one that has huge implications for us today.

At the time this village was settled, Palestine (so-named by the Romans in the second century, so driven were they to erase any mention of the Jews from the land) was a pretty desolate place.

Revisionist history today disputes even that, but source documents and eyewitness sightings of the time affirm it.

As the Jews began to come back in large numbers—and I hope you will be as stunned by this as I am, as I read the books of the prophets and realize that the story of the Return is DOMINANT—this created a conflict with Muslims in the region who could not embrace the idea of an eventual Jewish state in the Middle East.

Remember, the 20th century was a period of seismic changes in that region, as the European colonial powers pulled-out and formed borders for Muslim tribal clans.

Now, however, we know there are extreme tensions between Israel and her Arab neighbors. But these tensions have existed since at least 1948, when Israel was established. This was also 16 years before the PLO was formed, an interesting/relevant fact that not many people are aware of in the midst of the conflict.

That means that it has been a significant Jewish presence in the region that has been a trigger for unrest.

From humble beginnings in Palestine, to its current status as an elite economic and military power, Israel is itself a divisive issue in our world today. In terms of Bible prophecy, it is the key.

To my Jewish friends who are living witnesses to the power and majesty of God as He reveals Himself through fulfilled prophecy, I say:

I love you. You are no longer fiction, but reality. So let me quote a fictional icon and say: “Live long and prosper!”