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The Retreat To Jerusalem

1 Corinthians 14:1-5 speaks of a need to prophesy to the church for its edification. Let's read it:

1 Cor 14:1-5 (NKJV) Pursue love, and desire spiritual <gifts>, but especially that you may prophesy. {2} For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands <him>; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. {3} But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. {4} He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. {5} I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies <is> greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

Some ministers discourage and shy away from discussing prophesy for fear that what they say may be proven incorrect, but Paul doesn't seem to worry about that, does he?

Today I want to review and discuss some recent and historical events in Israel, including some articles written by prominent authors. We'll also read some Biblical prophesies, particularly those leading up to the battle for Jerusalem and the return of our Messiah. This will be a different type of sermon, one which dwells mostly upon current and recent events. The scriptures we'll reference are intended to tie in with the events we'll discuss.

Let's start off with a scripture in Zechariah with which we are probably all familiar:

(Zec 14:1-5 NASB) Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. {2} For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. {3} Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. {4} And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. {5} And you will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! [Notice Zechariah calls the LORD (Yehoveh) my God (Elohim), the same as used in Jeremiah 23:7 where He is compared to the one who led Moses out of Egypt.]

These verses tell us that the whole world will be attacking Jerusalem, that the city will fall, the people will be abused, and their property plundered. How did Israel end up like this? Let's go back about a hundred and five years and see how this modern era of Israel began.

In 1917, following the defeat of the German-officer led Turks in World War 1, Great Britain, who was given the lands of present day Israel and Jordan by the League of Nations to administer, issued the Balfour Declaration stating that all these lands were to be made available to the Jews of the world as a home. The League of Nations (the forerunner of the UN) represented mainly Christian nations since most other peoples were ruled or controlled by the "Colonial" powers. These Christian nations in the League of Nations empowered Britain to rule Palestine in accordance to the Balfour declaration that called for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish homeland.

The Arabs immediately opposed the British to such an extent that in 1921, Britain acquiesced and gave the land east of the Jordan River to a British installed Arab monarchy headed by King Abdullah. That Arab area became known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan. In the process, the Jews lost seventy seven percent of the land promised to them. In 1947 the United Nations declared that the British Palestine Mandate should be divided into an Arab and a Jewish State. Britain withdrew in 1948 and Israel declared its independence the same year. Why was this land ever considered Jewish by the British? Because in the Bible certain land east of the Jordan River was assigned to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and East Manasseh. Genesis 15:18, Joshua 1:4 and chapters 12 through 19, and Judges 1:18 all describe the territories to be owned by the Israelites. We won't read these chapters in this sermon because they are lengthy and contain many names that are not easily identifiable today, but the lands east of the Jordan were assigned to the three tribes I just mentioned. Gaza was given to the tribe of Judah - the Jews. You can confirm that in your own Bible using the afore-mentioned scriptures.

Immediately after Israel declared its independence, all the surrounding Arab nations, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon, attacked Israel. By what had to be a miracle, Israel, using obsolete weapons, defeated the invading armies but lost control over part of the land west of the Jordan River to Jordanian forces. That area became known as the West Bank after that term was used repeatedly in the world press. Jordan destroyed synagogues, killed Jews, occupied east Jerusalem, and otherwise removed all Jewish influence from their occupied territory. In 1953 Jordan annexed the West Bank.

An uneasy truce lasted until 1967 (2x7 or fourteen years later) when war broke out again after Egypt captured Gaza and blocked the sea routes into the Red Sea to Israeli shipping. In that war, Israel recaptured the West Bank from Jordan including east Jerusalem, the Gaza from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and occupied the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan then officially relinquished her claim to the West Bank.

In 1973 Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar. In that war Israel drove the Syrians back, liberating the Golan Heights, surrounded the entire Egyptian Third Army in Sinai, and crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt. With the UN's agreement to police the frontier, the Israelis withdrew from the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal. It was later reported that the UN reported Israeli troop movements but not Egyptian troop movements.

In 1976, Israel freed 103 Israelis in Entebbe, Uganda who had been seized by Arab and German terrorists.

The period from Israel's independence in 1948 to the Entebbe operation in 1976 can be described as Israel's golden years. Twenty eight years (4x7) when we saw Israel winning against seemingly impossible odds. But beginning in 1982 and especially after Israel's fortieth anniversary as a nation in 1988, things began to turn sour.

Following the assassination of the Lebanese President by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the revenge massacre of so-called Palestinian refugees by Lebanese Christian forces in 1982, the PLO, world governments, and the media blamed the massacre on Israel, even though Israel denied having a part in the slaughter.

Who were these so-called Palestinians? Palestine is the name given to the land of Israel by the Romans when they removed everything Jewish from the land and renamed the land Palestine. The so-called Palestinians are Arabs, pure and simple. Read or request our sermon "The Palestinians" for more information about the so-called Palestinians.

During these past years, under tremendous pressure from many outside governments including the US, Europe, Russia, the UN, the media, and of course the Islamic world, and internally from Arab bombers, we have seen an enormous shift in the Israeli government's attitude regarding the giving away of Israeli land to the so-called Palestinians for promises of peace. This is nothing less than extortion. What is the significance of this? The significance is that mostly secular Israelis have decided that their security comes not from God, who gave them the land, but from their adversary, the so-called Palestinians and other Islamists. What have been the results? Keep listening.

In 1989 PLO violence against Israel escalated over Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip. In what has been called the first intifada, so-called Palestinian protestors confronted Israeli troops who forcibly resisted. Intifada is terrorism against Jewish civilians. Why would Israel resist? Because Israelis believed that both the West Bank and Gaza belonged to Israel and that the Palestinians were living on Israeli land and therefore were subject to Israeli law. Where would the Israelis get such a notion? As we pointed out earlier, their Bible, the Tanakh, and their religious leaders told them it was their land, a gift from God, covenant land.

In 1992, the Labor party won the Israeli elections under Yitzhak Rabin. As Prime Minister and former Army General, he took a very pro-Israel land position regarding security but he also was willing to discuss land concessions for promises of peace by the "Palestinians." In so doing he was inviting further extortion and compromising God's word and God's covenant land. During his administration there were many peace talks with the "Palestinians" and many agreements regarding Israel's right to exist and the PLO being the representative of the "Palestinian" people. Israel and the world had not yet learned that the PLO made public promises to the Israelis and foreign media that they denied making when talking to their own people and other Arabs. Egyptians are known for their cunning. Arafat was born in Egypt. Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, the new PA leader, founded the PLO. Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an orthodox Jew and Arafat has died.

Rabin's successor was Shimon Perez, a true liberal. Alarmed by a series of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israeli settlements, the people voted in Benjamin Netanyahu, a member of the conservative Likud party in 1998. Prime minister Netanyahu met with Arafat and President Clinton at the White House in 1998 to establish an interim accord giving more West Bank land to the "Palestinians" in exchange for more security guarantees. Full implementation did not begin until 1999 and by that time the people had elected Ehud Barak, the Labor candidate. It seems like every time an Israeli leader discussed giving away portions of their land, the leader was removed.

In 2000, Israel pulled all its troops out of south Lebanon; another win for the Islamic side. Barak's US meetings with Arafat failed and the second intifada or Oslo war began. Barak called for new elections, but in 2001, lost to Ariel Sharon, formerly a hard-liner from the conservative Likud party. The Israeli people had misgivings about Sharon but knew him to be a successful General who had promised to never give away an inch of Israeli land, including the settlements, and so were pressured to place their bets on him over the Labor candidate. The warfare between the "Palestinians" and the Israelis intensified with many suicide bombings within Israel and many retaliatory assassinations of Palestinian terrorists by the Israelis. What happened to the former agreements for recognition of Israel? They were not worth the paper they were written on, as was well known by other Arabs who heard Arafat's words in Arabic. What happened to Mr. Sharon's promises not to give away any Israeli land? Mr. Sharon then took the position that Gaza must be given to the Palestinians and that the settlements, small towns and villages formerly approved by the Israeli government but now in land claimed by the Palestinians, must be vacated and destroyed. Regretfully, those have been American State Department positions too. Mr. Sharon is and apparently always has been a secular, pork and seafood-eating Jew. Jeremiah described Israel's past and present attitude about their land:

Jeremiah 2:7-8 (Tanakh) I brought you to this country of farm land to enjoy its fruit and its bounty; but you came and defiled My land, you made My possession abhorrent. The priests never asked themselves, "Where is the LORD?" The guardians of the Teaching [the law] ignored Me. The rulers rebelled against Me,.....

Almost the entire world is now convinced that the Israelis are the cause for all the killings in the middle east. Only the former US and the two Pacific Island countries of Kiribati and The Confederated States of Micronesia could be depended upon to support Israel in the United Nations. All the Arab countries, of course, and the European Union and Russia could be counted on to side against Israel at every opportunity. Israel, in essence, became totally dependent upon the United States for its military, economic, and political support.

In 2003, along came President Bush and "his" road map agreement. Mr. Bush gets credit for the agreement but it was really the brainchild of the Saudis who gave it to him in a meeting in Egypt of all interested parties ..... except the Israelis weren't invited. It was another plan for the exchange of Israeli land for their security. Another pernicious way of taking God-given land away from Israel. But the former Prime Minister of Israel was not a religious man. He did not care about scriptures which describe Israeli land as God-given land. Mr. Sharon cared about the military might of the Israeli army and he knew that he had to please the American government in order to maintain his military. The American government wanted him to give away God-given land so Sharon was willing to do that, even though he had promised his people in his last election that he would never do that.

Again today, the PA polices up to the security fence but hasn't stopped terrorists. The bottom line is, of course, that the Palestinians need only to temporarily restrain the terrorists until they receive more Israeli land, then renew the terrorism to restart another round of land for peace talks. Their declared ultimate goal is to destroy Israel and all its Jewish and Christian citizens. It's part of the PLO Charter. This follows the model set by Mohammed when he was faced with a stronger Arabian tribe to subdue. He simply made a peace agreement with them, then increased his own strength until he was strong enough to conquer his enemy ..Then he massacred them.

President Bush showed his love for the Palestinian cause by his defensive remarks and encouragement of Islam while campaigning for the 2004 elections. His celebration of Ramadan in the White House and his disagreement with others' statements that this country should not allow itself to be so patsy by Islam showed how determined he was to cater to the Palestinian cause. This by a President who promised to attack terrorism wherever it was found following the 9-11 attack. With each public statement and action which supported the Palestinians, natural disasters in this country seemed to follow, but he apparently never got the connection, so assured was he that his policy toward Islam was correct.

His statements indicate no change in his errant policy about Palestinian land but Secretary of State nominee Condoleeza Rice stressed that, "Arab states have responsibilities too." In his inauguration speech, President Bush talked about freedom and how freedom can change the globe. His views mesh with that of Israeli MK Sharansky. Mr. Bush stated that threatening, evil governments could be eliminated by the influences of democratic, free governments. While Mr. Bush's goals were praiseworthy, they were beyond human reach. Your Bible describes the attainment of freedom a little differently.

(1 Pet 2:16 NASB) Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
(Psa 121:7-8 NASB) The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul [nephesh H5315 meaning body]. {8} The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

The newest hope for peace in Israel lies with Mahmoud Abbas, the replacement for Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The media, many Israelis, and the US government think this man walks on water. What do thinking people think of him?

Some years ago, Charles Krauthammer wrote a moving, thought provoking article describing the replacement for Yasser Arafat. I will read it to you in its entirety. He writes:

Has no one learned anything?
On Sept. 13, 1993, I was on the White House lawn watching the signing of the Oslo accords. I also watched the intellectual collapse of the entire Middle East intelligentsia -- journalists, politicians, "experts" -- as they swooned at the famous handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin and refused, that day and for years to come, to recognize what was obvious: That Arafat was embarking not on peace but on the next stage of his perpetual war against Israel, this one to be launched far more advantageously from a base of Palestinian territory that Israel had just suicidally granted him.
Why was this so obvious? Because Arafat said so -- that very night (in an Arabic broadcast to his own people on Jordanian television) and many times afterward. The Middle East experts refused to believe it. They did not want to hear it. Then came the intifada. Thousands of dead later, they now believe it. The more honest ones among them even admit they were wrong.
Now Arafat is dead, Mahmoud Abbas has succeeded him, and the world is swooning again. Abbas, we are told, is the great hope, the moderate, the opponent of violence, the man who has said the intifada was counterproductive.
The peacemaker cometh. Once again, euphoria is in the air. Once again, no one wants to listen to what is being said.
How did President-to-be Abbas campaign?
Abbas, appearing in Jenin, was hoisted on the shoulders of Zakaria Zbeida, a notorious and wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist. Abbas declared that he will protect all terrorists from Israel.
Abbas reiterated his undying loyalty to Arafat's maximalist demands: Complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines, Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and -- the red-flag deal-breaker -- the "right of return," which would send the millions of Palestinians abroad not to their own country of Palestine but to Israel in order to destroy it demographically.

Abbas declared that he will never crack down on Palestinian terrorism.

Abbas called Israel "the Zionist enemy." That phrase is so odious that only Hezbollah and Iran and others openly dedicated to the extermination of Israel use it.

What of Abbas's vaunted opposition to violence? He told Hamas terrorists firing rockets that maim and kill Jewish villagers within Israel, "This is not the time for this kind of act." This is an interesting "renunciation" of terrorism: Not today, boys; perhaps later, when the time is right. Which was exactly Arafat's utilitarian approach to terrorism throughout the Oslo decade.

Some of the American and Israeli responses to Abbas are enough to make you weep. Spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Israel: "We don't think it is useful to focus on every statement by every official; what's important is the process." Official in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office: "Words don't count in the Middle East; what counts are actions."

Have we learned nothing? In the Middle East, words are actions. Never more so than in an election campaign in which your words define your platform and establish your mandate. Abbas ran practically unopposed, and yet, on the question of both ends and means, he chooses to run as Yasser Arafat.

During the decade of Oslo, Arafat's every statement of hatred, incitement and glorification of violence was similarly waved away. Then bombs began going off in cafes and buses, and the Middle East wise men realized he meant it all along. Now once again they are telling us to ignore the words. Abbas does not really mean it, they assure us. This is just electioneering. We know his true moderate heart. Believe us.

Why? On the basis of their track record? And even more important, you do not conduct foreign policy as a branch of psychiatry. Does Abbas mean the things he says about Israel now? I do not know, and no matter what you hear from the experts -- the same people who assured you that Arafat wanted peace -- neither do they.

But we do know this: In Abbas's first moment of real leadership, his long-anticipated emergence from the shadow of Arafat, he chooses to literally hoist the flag of the terrorist al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Can Abbas turn into a Sadat, who also emerged from the shadow of a charismatic leader, reversed policy and made peace with Israel? I'll believe it when I see it.

While President Bush praised the long-standing terrorist Abbas, sent him $10 million, and even invited him to the White House, Abbas announced, "the small jihad is over; the big jihad has begun."

Now I want to read several articles written by several well known authors of their day.

I have an article by Eric Hoffer, which he wrote in 1968, about forty three years ago. Some truths never change. Eric Hoffer was a Non-Jewish American social philosopher. He was born in 1902 and died in 1983, after writing nine books and winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, was widely recognized as a classic.

"ISRAEL'S PECULIAR POSITION By Eric Hoffer (LA Times 5/26/68)"
"The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it, Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese - and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.
Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.
Other nations when they are defeated survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews. No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on.
There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Negroes are executed in Rhodesia. But when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him. The Swedes, who are ready to break off diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.
The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.
I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us.
Eric Hoffer, 1968 June.

Forty two years ago and Arab hostility toward Israel hasn't changed.

The Zionist Organization of America published the following article regarding the pending Israeli withdrawal from Gaza:

ZOA Report: Gaza: The Case Against Israeli Withdrawal

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Gaza is crucial to Israel's security

On June 19, 1967, in the wake of the Six Day War, the U.S. Secretary of Defense instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to present their "views, without regard to political factors, on the minimum territory" that Israel would be "justified in retaining in order to permit a more effective defense against possible conventional Arab attack and terrorist raids."
Ten days later, the Joint Chiefs presented a report which concluded that Israel needed to retain substantial portions of the Golan Heights, and Judea-Samaria, and all of Gaza. With regard to Gaza, the Joint Chiefs wrote: "By occupying the Gaza Strip, Israel would trade approximately 45 miles of hostile border for eight. Configured as it is, the strip serves as a salient for introduction of Arab subversion and terrorism, and its retention would be to Israel's military advantage."
Throughout history, foreign armies have used Gaza as a springboard for invading the Land of Israel, from Pharoah Sethos I in the 13th century BCE, to Napoleon in 1799. The British army, under Allenby, used it as an invasion route in 1917.
In 1948, Egypt used Gaza as its route to invade the newborn State of Israel. Advancing through Gaza, the Egyptians soon reached Yavneh, just fifteen miles from Tel Aviv. Several Jewish towns in Gaza, including Nitzanim, Yad Mordechai, and Kfar Darom, were destroyed by the Egyptians and not rebuilt until after Israel recaptured the area in 1967.

Here's what prominent Israelis have predicted about Gaza:

* Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in 2002: "Netzarim [a Jewish town in Gaza] is the same as Negba and Tel Aviv; evacuating Netzarim will only encourage terrorism and increase the pressure upon us." (Arutz 7, Nov. 25, 2003)
* Then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said in 1988: "To just get up and leave Gaza would be a mistake and a scandal. It would create a chaotic situation, a situation like Lebanon; I don't suggest we take such a step." (Israel Army Radio's "Good Evening, Israel" program, March 22, 1988)
* Yitzhak Rabin's Minister of Housing and Construction, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said in 1993: "I wish I could believe that pulling out of Gaza would solve the problems. But this won't solve anything and is only running away from the problem which we have to face." (Jerusalem Post, March 9, 1993)
* In 1971, Yisrael Galili, a minister in the cabinet of Golda Meir's Labor Party government, said that Gaza was "critical for Israel's security and could never be given up." The Labor government began building fourteen Jewish communities in Gaza. (Jerusalem Report, July 14, 2003)

Gaza has been a part of the Land of Israel since biblical times. The borders of Israel specified in Genesis 15 clearly include Gaza, and it is described in Joshua 15:47 and Judges 1:18 as part of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, and in Kings it is included in the areas ruled by King Solomon. The area came under foreign occupation during some periods, but the Jewish king Yochanan, brother of Judah the Maccabee, recaptured Gaza in 145 CE and sent Jews to rebuild the community there.

Throughout the centuries, there was a large Jewish presence in Gaza in fact, it was the largest Jewish community in the country at the time of the Muslim invasion (7th century CE). Medieval Christian visitors to the region mentioned the presence of the Jewish community in Gaza including Giorgio Gucci of Florence (1384), Bertandon de la Brooquiere (1432), Felix Fabri (1483), and George Sandys (1611). So did Jewish travelers, such as Benjamin of Tudela and Meshullam of Voltera (1481).

The Jews of Gaza were forced to leave the area when Napoleon's army marched through in 1799, but they later returned. The Jewish community in Gaza was destroyed during the British bombardment in 1917, but later it was rebuilt again. When Palestinian Arabs threatened to slaughter the Jews of Gaza during the 1929 pogroms, the British ruling authorities forced the Jews to leave. But in 1946, the Jews returned, establishing the town of Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip, which lasted until 1948, when Egypt occupied the area.

The article continues: Rewarding terrorists is wrong -- and dangerous:

During recent years, Palestinian Arab terrorists have carried out tens of thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel, murdering nearly 1,000 Israelis and maiming many more. The terrorists demanded, among other things, that Israel withdraw from Gaza and expel the Jewish residents. Terrorists, like all criminals, deserve to be punished for their crimes, not rewarded. When Israel withdrew from Gaza and expelled the Jewish residents, it rewarded the terrorists. It also encouraged more terrorism, by demonstrating to the terrorists that additional violence brings about additional Israeli concessions.

The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza actually created a terrorist state because following the first election in Gaza, Gaza elected a Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority government fled to the West Bank. It has not disarmed or outlawed terrorist groups; it has not shut down their bomb factories; it has not closed down the terrorists' training camps. It has rewarded terrorists with jobs in the Hamas police force. In short, Hamas has actively collaborated with and sheltered terrorists. Moreover, Hamas has sponsored thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel by firing missiles into nearby Israeli towns..

Hamas has also created an entire culture of glorification of terrorism and anti-Jewish hatred in its official media, schools, summer camps, and speeches by Hamas representatives. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority school textbooks teach that Jews are "evil racists."

Creating a Palestinian Arab state in Gaza did not lead to peace:

Establishing a state in Gaza did not satisfy the Palestinian Arabs' goals. The aim of a Palestinian Arab state was not to be to live in peace next to Israel, but to serve as a spring board for terrorism and invasions aimed at annihilating the Jewish State. Hamas makes no secret of its goal: The official maps on PA letterhead, in PA schoolbooks and atlases, and even on the patch worn on the uniforms of PA policemen show all of Israel not just the disputed territories labeled "Palestine." As recently as 25 December 2008, Christmas day, over sixty rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel and Hizballah (Party of god) aimed rockets at northern Israel. Hamas threatened to increase the attacks if Israel retaliates.

The Hamas Arab state in Gaza became an anti-American dictatorship:

The last thing the world needs is yet another totalitarian, anti-American terrorist state. Yet that is exactly what a Palestinian Arab state in Gaza has become, judging by the behavior of the PA during the years since it was created. The PA and especially Hamas are a brutal Muslim dictatorship thats tortures dissidents, silences newspapers that deviate from the PA/Hamas line, and persecutes Christians. The official PA and Hamas media actively incite hatred against America, and both maintain warm relations with the most anti-American regimes in the world, including Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea.

The Palestinian Authority and especially Hamas continue to push for all of the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Israeli government continues to be willing to exchange God-given Israeli land for promises of peace. The present path that Israel is following is a path toward self-destruction. As I have mentioned in this sermon, given their successes the last twenty years, the Islamists will continually chip away at Israel until all Israel is gone. As they withdraw and give more land to the Palestinians, Israel's defense gets smaller. What is the conclusion? The conclusion of Israel's present trend if left up to man, is defeat. But as Zechariah 14 states, when even Jerusalem is gone, the return of our Messiah becomes imminent. Jerusalem will be the last vestige of the present country of Israel. With its impending fall, all of Christianity and especially Judaism will feel hopelessly at risk. But scripture tells us that with Jerusalem's fall will arise a Leader and a government and all His saints who will destroy the evil which is represented by all the nations who have attempted to come against Jerusalem. Will the United States, under its president Barack Hussein Obama, be one of these nations? Obama's insults toward Israeli PM Netanyahu might make this more likely. The Israeli uncertainty with Mr. Obama's support of Israel increases Israel's interest in trusting the European Union. The prophesies of Daniel 11:40-45 and Joel 3:2 seem to be becoming more relevant.

(Dan 11:40-45 NKJV) "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. {41} "He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. [The 1921 inheritors of Israeli land] {42} "He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. {43} "He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. {44} "But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.{45} "And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.

The United States currently has the largest navy in the world.

(Joel 3:2 NKJV) I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.

Granted, there are a number of events which must occur in the near future, before our Messiah's return. We must look forward to the coming of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3 and Zechariah 4 who will warn the nations for three and a half years. But on the negative side we must also see the arrival of the false christ and his idols into Jerusalem and the temple mount, and we must see fulfillment of prophesies which seem to predict dire consequences to all nations which get involved in Jerusalem's affairs. Let's look at Zechariah 12 for that entire prophesy:

(Zec 12:1 NKJV) 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: {2} "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.

"All the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem." This verse tells us that both the country of Israel and Jerusalem will be involved. It also tells us that all the surrounding countries will be involved in the threat on Jerusalem and the Jews. Who are the surrounding countries? Well, how about the Palestinians? How about the Lebanese? How about the Egyptians? How about the Saudis? How about nuclear armed Iran and Pakistan and other hostile countries?

Russia, North Korea and China are exporting modern weapons to Syria, Iran, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. Iran, Syria, and Egypt are also dedicated enemies of Israel.

{3} "And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.

Even if all the nations of the earth, a term which might signify the United Nations, want to get in on the action or decision of Jerusalem's destiny, (in our day we would interpret it as other nations who want to decide who will govern Jerusalem) they will hurt themselves by their actions, by their own self-caused penalty of wounding and crushing.

{4} "In that day," says the LORD, "I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. {5} "And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, 'The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.' {6} "In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place; Jerusalem.

Like a hearth of fire among the wood. God will bring about His triumph in a twofold manner: By depriving the enemies of their strength, and by empowering the Jews to resist their adversaries. The enemies will be consumed as wood and sheaves are devoured by fire.

{7} "The LORD will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah.

The Eternal will fight for the Jews first so that any pride of the house of David, whom I suspect, may be "Christians" in that Christ was a descendent of David, and the pride of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not exceed that of the Jews.

{8} "In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them.

Even the feeble (literally, the tottering or stumbling) among them will become as overpowering as the unconquered David. (Reference 2 Sam 17:8). This is invincible power on earth. The house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them. Again, is this God's army? Are they Christian Saints?

{9} "It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. {10} "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. {11} "In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. {12} "And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; {13} "the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; {14} "all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.

Regarding verse 10: After the invading nations have been destroyed, God will pour out upon the house of David and seemingly the Christians in Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications. The reference is to the Holy Spirit. God will pour out on the nation, high and low alike, the spirit of conviction which will compel them to prayer (See Ezek 39:29; Joel 2:28-29). They shall mourn for him whom they have pierced. They will be heartbroken with grief and contrition as for an only son. The most intense private sorrow is indicated in the death of an only son or a firstborn. Verse 10 teaches plainly that in the not too far distant future Israel will see the pierced Messiah return from heaven. It will be the same Messiah they rejected long ago, bearing signs of the selfsame wounds inflicted on him then.

There are a lot more scriptures which describe these days. Since we are mentioning prophesies involving our Messiah, we need to read Matthew 24, a major New Testament prophesy. It's long but we all need to be very familiar with this chapter.

Mat 24 (NKJV) Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. [The buildings sat on the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is there today. The buildings Christ referred to are not.] {2} And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not <one> stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." {3} Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what <will be> the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" {4} And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. {5} "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. [They try to convince people they are the Christ.] {6} "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all <these things> must come to pass, but the end is not yet. {7} "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. {8} "All these <are> the beginning of sorrows. {9} "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you [God's elect] will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. {10} "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. {11} "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. {12} "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. {13} "But he who endures to the end shall be saved. {14} "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. {15} "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), {16} "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. {17} "Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. {18} "And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. {19} "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! {20} "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. [Must be talking to people who know what day is the Sabbath.] {21} "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. [The 3-1/2 year period of tribulation.] {22} "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. {23} "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here <is> the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe <it>. {24} "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. [By that time people will know His arrival is imminent.] {25} "See, I have told you beforehand. {26} "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; <or> 'Look, <He is> in the inner rooms!' do not believe <it>. {27} "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. {28} "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. {29} "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. {30} "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. {31} "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. {32} "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer <is> near. [I think the leaves are growing on the fig tree today.] {33} "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near; at the doors! {34} "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. {35} "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. {36} "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. {37} "But as the days of Noah <were>, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. {38} "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, {39} "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. [Sort of like a tsunami] {40} "Then two <men> will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. {41} "Two <women will be> grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. {42} "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. {43} "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. {44} "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. {45} "Who then is a faithful and wise servant [The definition of "Minister" is "servant" and in this case "servant" means "slave", G1401, Doo'-los.], whom his master made ruler [G2525, from the Greek word "kath-is'-tay-mee", meaning "to put one in charge"] over his household, to give them food in due season? [That's what I'm trying to do right now.] {46} "Blessed <is> that servant [slave] whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. {47} "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler [same word, "kath-is'-tay-mee", put him in charge] over all his goods [all he owns]. {48} "But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' {49} "and begins to beat <his> fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, {50} "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for <him> and at an hour that he is not aware of, {51} "and will cut him in two and appoint <him> his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth [of all these hypocrites].

These last verses are a warning to all of us, not just those of us who have the responsibility to give His household food for spiritual edification. Additional commentary about Matthew 24 can be found on our website in the Prophecy Section.

Perhaps part of the prophesy of Luke 21 also describes the days in which we are living.

(Luke 21:25 NKJV) "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;

Were the South Asia Tsunami, in which over 225,000 died, or hurricane Katrina or Haiti earthquake isolated disasters or do they represent a worldwide trend in increased natural disasters? The answer is not difficult to find.
The World Disasters Report 2004, says: "Over the past decade, the number of 'natural' and technological disasters has risen. From 1994 to 1998, reported disasters averaged 428 per year -from 1999 to 2003, this figure shot up by two-thirds to an average 707 disasters each year. The biggest rise was in countries of low human development, which suffered an increase of 142 per cent."

Is there a correlation between "countries of low human development" and the gods they worship? Was the Southeast Asia tsunami aimed at the Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who live in that area? Was it aimed at people whose religions persecute Christians?

The present intensification of natural and man-made disasters are clear signs of God's final warning to mankind. These disasters tell us that, as in the experience of ancient nations, God will not allow human rebellion and wickedness to continue much longer. Soon Christ and His saints will come to bring an end to the colossal crises that are engulfing our planet. Let's look at Rom 8:19-22.

(Rom 8:19-22 NASB) For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. {20} For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope {21} that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. {22} For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
(2 Pet 3:11-12 NASB - paraphrased) Since all these things are [about to happen], what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, {12} looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God . . . ."?

Yes, events in Jerusalem are going to get a lot worse before they get better. But when we see the events we have just discussed, we will know that our Messiah's return is imminent. Keep your eye on Jerusalem and your ears open to prophesied events occurring in Israel and around the world.

(Isa 40:1-2 NKJV) "Comfort, yes, comfort My people!" Says your God. {2} "Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord's hand Double for all her sins."

And finally, let's read Psalm 122:6.

(Psa 122:6 NKJV) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you."

Sermon Given By Wayne Bedwell
10 December 2011
Copyright 2011, Wayne Bedwell

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