Goodnews Christian Ministry
"I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem and build them again as they were before." ---Jeremiah 33:7
"They carry out plans that are not mine and make alliances not inspired by me,
and so add sin to sin.
They have left for Egypt, without consulting me,
to take refuge in Pharaoh's protection"
Joel's is not the only prophecy concerning the rebuilding of the Jewish state during the age of Babylon. There is another revelation concerning this restoration written in the words of Jeremiah.
Because it shares uncanny similarities with events surrounding the restoration of a militant Israel today, it is an unsettling prophecy -- one pointing to catastrophic circumstances and showing that the Jerusalem which Jesus and his angels approach at the end will be divided and under siege.
Set in circumstances surrounding the time of Nebuchaddnezzar, Jeremiah's oracle describes a brief suspension of the Babylonian exile for a group of Jewish military commanders.
Bowing to Jeremiah's pleas, in about 585 B.C., God allowed a contingent of Jewish army leaders to return and rebuild Jerusalem while the balance of the Jews remained in captivity in Babylon.
This act of God was a holy, but limited reprieve to the first Babylonian diaspora, and because this orignal was scripture's template for the current dispersion of God's people to Babylon, it remains an event of deep interest.
According to the Bible, the return of this military contingent was doomed to fail because these commanders had it in their mind to stray beyond the boundaries assigned to them, and travel instead to 'Egypt'. (Jer.42).
These army leaders had approached Jeremiah and begged that a remnant of Jews might return from Babylon to the land of Israel. Jeremiah, in turn, took their appeal to God.
God agreed to their request, but before He did so, He had Jeremiah warn them, "If you are willing to remain peaceably in this country, I will build you and not overthrow you; I will plant you, and not tear you up. For I am sorry for the evil that I have done to you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon any longer; do not fear him for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hands. I will take pity on you, and move the king of Babylon to pity you and let you return to your native soil." (Jer.42:1-12).
This prophecy governed the framework for the mechanism of the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine just before Jesus' time; and because it mirrors a similar rebuilding in our own time, there is a strong implication that these words by Jeremiah have deep ties to the twentieth century.
In 1947, moved with great pity on account of the horrors of the holocaust, the leaders of this world (Babylon) gathered together in a body (the United Nations) and issued a proclamation allowing a group of Jews -- many of them army leaders from World War II -- to return to their native soil.
Virtually identical conditions were imposed on these modern Jewish immigrants as were imposed on the ancient army leaders when they returned from the first Babylon at the time of Jeremiah 2500 years ago: both were mandated to remain peaceably inside strict boundaries. But neither did.
Using Jeremiah as a conduit, the voice of God warned the returning Jews to stay in their own country and not to go down to Egypt. In the classic terms of biblical symbolism, the word 'Egypt' stands for military preparations and reliance on military strength.
Jeremiah cautioned the Jews that their power had to come from faith in God and not from the strength of their army or their military alliances.
God had cautioned the Israelites in numerous passages throughout the Law and the Prophets that His ways were peaceful and that to please Him they needed to pursue a similar course. "...the throne shall be made secure in gentleness." (Is.16:5).
The whole concept of 'Babylon' was formed around a single underlying theme: the ways of the nations were wrong in God's eyes -- and the House of Israel was not to immitate their behavior.
God told the Jews that their faith had to be in Him, not armaments. As long as they pursued His ways and stayed true to His word, He would protect them with His power and keep them safe no matter how weak their military structure was or how large the forces of their adversaries became. Their faith would keep them secure.
But if they chose to disobey God's directives and pursue the ways of this world, the warning was clear, they would find themselves outside of God's power and at the mercy of the elements around them.
Trusting in pharaoh instead of God, they would sacrifice their divine protection.
This is why Jeremiah's warning to the army leaders was so important. God had permitted them to return to Jerusalem ahead of time -- in advance of the Persian Decree -- but with strict instructions that if they did not stay within the boundaries assigned, a great disaster would befall them.
As Jeremiah's words show, the Jewish army leaders 2500 years ago did not listen to the warning but made straightaway for Egypt. "They carry out plans that are not mine and make alliances not inspired by me, and so add sin to sin. They have left for Egypt, without consulting me, to take refuge in Pharaoh's protection." (Is. 30:1-15).
And true to the prophecy, the entire contingent -- the whole remnant God had permitted to return (except for a few refugees) was annihilated.
This is why the ultimate Jewish return from Babylon had to wait undone the full 70 years -- until Cyrus the Persian issued his decree.
As Peter said, these prophecies were not for themselves -- they were meant for us and for our time. (1 Peter 1:12). And because it concerns Israel's return from Babylon, this is particularly true here.
Jeremiah's ancient prophecy seems to have recrystallized at the very spot where the modern nation of Israel sits today.
Most of the House of God still remains in the captivity of Babylon. There is still an Egypt. And now, by a decree of the world's nations, there is an Israel again.
In the Palestinian area of the world -- especially in Jerusalem -- nothing happens by chance. God has set aside a particular part of the planet and regulated its activities so that all the allegories of scripture are obeyed.
The Jewish captivity in ancient Babylon had immense prophetic significance. It pointed to the dispersion of the people of God throughout the hostile world. Every person that comes to Jesus Christ must do so through a type of Babylonian dispersion. (Micah 4:10). The same is true of the Jews.
The restoration of Jerusalem in scripture follows this theme and relates entirely to a reunion between the Prince of Peace and His people.
It is this fact that makes Jeremiah's prophecy about the army leaders so current. Jeremiah let it be known that the treaty which governed the exile to Babylon and this exception to it were both tightly regulated by God. (Jer.42:20).
In their militancy, the contingent of the past violated the treaty of peace that God had authorized the king of the Jews (Zedekiah) to make with Babylon in His name. (Ez.17:12-14).
The result was disastrous.
Ignoring the treaty, they put their trust in weapons and in the might of Pharaoh -- depending on these instead of God. And that is why Jeremiah's words came against them,
"Understand this clearly: today I have given you solemn warning. You were playing with your own lives when you made me your envoy to the Lord. You have not obeyed the word of God or the message he gave you, so understand this clearly, you are going to die by sword, famine and plague in the place where you have been wanting to go and settle." (Jer.42:20-22).
We can see in this prophecy by Jeremiah that the return of the Jews to Israel from their captivity in Babylon is intimately tied to the word of God. This means that the Jews of today are as bound to the proclamations of scripture as were the army leaders in Jeremiah's day. And both, therefore, to the same warning.
The similarities to the 'Israel' the Jews founded in 1948 and that set up by the militants at the time of Jeremiah, are striking.
Many of those involved in putting together the Twentieth Century's Jewish nation were freedom fighters from World War II. Copying the aggressive behavior of the world around them, their militant demeanor erupted into violent confrontations with the British government even before the treaty was signed.
Terrorist bombs set off by Jewish zealots rocked the city of Jerusalem until the British forces withdrew.
Faced, then, with the hostility of their neighbors, the Jews next applied these same fighting skills to building an effective defense against the Arabs.
As the warfare in Palestine escalated, the Jewish army's violations of the directives of the 'Babylon' which had authorized their freedom (the United Nations mandate) increased dramatically.
Turning their military posture from a defensive postion into one of offense, they used their battlefield skills to expand the borders of their nation almost at will.
And it is this aggressive posture that has helped bring the new nation of Israel face to face with the prophecies of scripture. "Because you have trusted in your chariots and in your host of warriors, turmoil is going to break out in your towns and all your fortresses will be laid waste." (Hos.10:13).
Hosea's prophecy confirmed in its fulfillment that the orders of Jeremiah were iron-clad; and they offer us a clear warning that the security of the modern Jewish state in Palestine has been placed in great peril by echoing the militant actions of its mirror past. (Ez.17:15-18).
By scriptural definition, the exile to Babylon cannot officially end until a Persian decree mandates that end. (2 Chron.36:20). The state of Israel founded in 1948 had nothing to do with a Persian decree.
While rumblings in the present-day Persia give testimony of a power-to-be, no such empire currently rules the Middle East. This proves that present-day Israel exists separate and apart from the ingathering scheduled to finalize scripture.
Modern Israel came into being in precisely the same way that the doomed military state at the time of Jeremiah did -- because God mellowed the heart of the king of Babylon.
In view of this fact, Israel's military alliances and its aggressive stance in the Middle East would appear to have serious implications for its own future.
Much of the world views Israel's military offense as its primary means of protection against the hostility of its neighbors. But God and scripture do not change.
From the beginning, God commanded peace and faith.
Jesus came down from heaven to teach peace to an aggressive people who were preparing for a militant revolt against Rome. He was sent so that these rebels (remember, the name 'Israel' means rebel) might learn God's behavior and convert their lives out of the violence they were heading for, and into the peace of the Gospel.
Jesus told the Jews that they had to forgive the Romans and not revolt against them. (Mt.5:39-44).
But the Jewish leaders had a different interpretation of the scriptures and pursued that instead. It was an interpretation that left the nation shattered and broken, and its citizens scattered to the farthest corners of the globe.
In His Testimony, Jesus reiterated God's commands for peaceful behavior as it was taught in the scriptures, but He went even further. He explained to the Jews that the militant ways of all their ancestors were wrong.
Wrong, for instance, was the violent behavior of Joshua when he led the conquest of Canaan, killing all the men, women and babies he came across.
In direct opposition to the true will of God, such barbarism was a precursor for the inhuman behavior we see today in places like Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda.
None of the violent actions so prevalent in the Old Testament stories represented God-like behavior.
Paul explained that God tolerated the Hebrew's wicked brutality only because they did not know better, but he said that God had set a day for the world to be judged and that kind of violence was no longer going to be acceptable. (Acts 17:30-31).
"Your salvation lay in conversion and tranquility, your strength in complete trust." (Is.30:15).
If the House of Israel intended that God save them, Jesus said they would have to change their militant ways and trust in His peace.
The way the world fights is not the way that God fights. "He conquered the bitter plague, not by physical strength, not by force of arms; but by word he prevailed over the Punisher." (Wis.18:22).
This is why scripture refers to God's word as a sword of conquest. Jesus was like a lamb led to the slaughter. Despite the fact that he could have raised 12 legions of angels against his enemies with a single command, Jesus did not even raise his voice. (Mt.26:53; Is.53:6-7).
He obeyed the covenant precisely as God had instructed him, and he warned us all to follow in his footsteps.
But as far as this world is concerned, Christ's way is weakness and foolishness. Consequently, the power in His instruction was lost on the militant Jewish leadership that surrounded Him.
Had they listened to his words of peace and lay down their weapons, God would have given these Jews not only victory over Rome but ultimate command over the entire world -- just as He gave it to the new tenants He appointed in their place.
In revolt against the Roman occupation, and trusting in themselves rather than in the power of God, the Jews chose their swords and declared war on Rome instead of doing what God had decreed. History bears witness to what followed.
They had no faith in the power of God, only in the power of their own weapons; and that is why the Jews lost their homeland and their leadership over the House of Israel.
Scripture assures us that the wrath of the last days would be held back indefinitely if enough people clung unswervingly to their faith. "Had the citizens of Jerusalem not been entangled in many sins, Antiochus would have been flogged the moment he arrived and checked by God in his presumption." (2 Mc.5:17-19).
Disaster, then, comes from our own behavior, not from the power of our enemies.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel were not the only prophets to share in the vision of a Jewish rebellion at the time of the end. The Book of Daniel bears witness to it as well, declaring that in the last days a group of violent rebels will rise up out of the Jewish people and be destroyed.
"In those times...men of violence will also rebel from your own people, thus fulfilling the vision; but they will fail." (Dn.11:14).
Daniel's reference, "thus fulfilling the vision" really keys this quotation, because it sends us right back to Jeremiah's words concerning the rebellion of the army leaders -- and that, as we have shown, catapults us into the now.
Both prophecies indicate that the militants in Israel will ultimately gain the upper hand and lead the army into a fatal war. Instead of protecting Israel, these well-meaning zealots will almost destroy it.
This is also confirmed by the prophet Zechariah who warned that "even Judah (the Jews) would fight against Jerusalem" in the last days, and so be subject to the plagues he described. (Zc.14:14).
Instead of living in the peacefulness of scripture and putting their trust in God, they will arm themselves and try to take matters into their own hands.
The 'men of violence' that Daniel refers to are the same militants described by Jeremiah -- the Jewish contingent bent on reconstructing the ancient boundaries of the Judean empire through power and force and ahead of freedom's alotted time -- i.e., before the Persian decree has been issued.
Instead of pursuing the peaceful course of the scriptures which Moses said must be kept by all who want to live (Ez.20:21), and dwelling peacefully in the mandate which allowed them their return, the prophecies indicate that these rebels will grow more and more impatient as the days pass. (Ez.20:18).
Entering into a divinely forbidden pact with Egypt, the Jewish militants will align with the Arabs against the Persians.
And, when all is in readiness, the soldiers of Jerusalem will travel north to meet the fate scripture has decreed for them: "I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you together from foreign countries among which you have been scattered. I will lead you into the Desert of the Nations and condemn you to your face." (Ez.20:34-35).
This reward for choosing to pursue violence over peace will occur, the Bible says, along the banks of the Euphrates river and it will annihilate the Israeli army and irrevocably divide Jerusalem.
In this division, one group of Jewish citizens will choose the Bible's ways of peace, acquiescing to the kind of faithfulness commanded by Jesus, the Torah, and the prophets, but the other will seek revenge and opt for more war. (2 Chron.18:4-22).
For the latter group there will be a second catastrophe. "As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so will I judge you -- it is the Lord God who speaks. I mean to make you pass under my crook and I will bring a few of you back; I will sort out the rebels who have rebelled against me. I intend to bring them out of the country where they are staying, but they shall not enter the land of Israel." (Ez.20:37-38).
There is a play on words here. As we have already seen, God's 'land of Israel' is in heaven, not Palestine. Although the Jews will be able to escape the captivity of foreign lands and make their way to Palestine, the only way they can reach the 'Promised Land' of God -- the 'Israel of heaven' -- is through righteous behavior.
The decimation of the Jewish army by the king of the Medes when he gains his power and comes barreling through Babylon will bring many of these prophecies into sharp focus, and that is why there will be such division in Jerusalem as the final Day approaches.
"Terror from every side! It is God who speaks. The fastest cannot escape, nor the bravest save himself: for there in the north, there by the river Euphrates, they have collapsed, have fallen." (Jer. 46:5-6).
When these passages of scripture come into their own time, they will confirm once again the words of Isaiah who, speaking for God, said: "From the beginning I foretold the future, and predicted beforehand what is to be." (Is.46:10).
There can be no doubt of what is coming. All the prophets have given their warning about the final plagues scheduled to descend on Jerusalem just before the End.
The valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) courses right through Jerusalem -- just to the west of its ancient walled city. This valley is scripture's pseudonym for hell (Gehenna). The Bible tells us that the disaster and bloodshed scheduled for this fateful location just before the end will have no equal anywhere on earth.
Even in Jesus' day, when the valley was a garbage dump, the city's trash burned there in a perpetual fire. It's final burning is still to come.
"Persia takes up his quiver, Aram mounts his horse and Kir fetches out his shield. Your fairest valleys are filled with chariots and the horsemen take up positions at the gates; thus falls the defense of Judah." (Is.22:5-8).
While these words point to the destruction of the militants of Israel, they also demonstrate that this disaster when it occurs will be only one part of a greater scourge involving the destruction of the entire world:
"I will rise, he said, and drown the earth; sweep towns and their inhabitants away!...Now, this is the day of the Lord God, a day of vengeance for his revenge on his enemies...Yes, the Lord God Almighty has a sacrifice to make in the north country, by the river Euphrates." (Jer.46:8-10).
This cataclysm at the Euphrates, then, is not to be merely a Jewish-Persian event. It is the day of anguish for the entire world that scripture has predicted from the beginning -- the day of Babylon's ultimate demise.
Lighting not just the fires of Gehenna, it will ignite as well the lake of burning sulphur described in the John's Book of Revelation.
So not only the militants of Israel, but much of Babylon as well is destined to collapse under the onslaught of this eastern army as it roars westward on God's day of sacrifice. (Zeph.1:14-18).
Scripture's words show that the destruction of the restored nation of Judah during this fateful onslaught will be intimately related to the end of the world.
There will be little difference between the armies of Israel and the armies of Babylon. Their close affiliation will bring them both to an end together as Persia begins its incredible rise to world power.
These are the days when the kings of the East are destined to ride across the west in a sweep of fire and terror, and nothing can stop them except faith and prayer.
No army on earth can change the prophecies of scripture. No weapons on earth are strong enough to prevent these things from taking place.
Not even the formidable army of Israel and its ominous stockpile of nuclear weapons can block these prophecies from coming true.
The only elements that can alter the fulfillment of these prophecies are repentance, conversion and prayer in the faith of God. If Jerusalem were to put down its weapons and choose such a course, none of these things would take place.
Because we live in an exile decreed by God, and structured by a divine treaty made manifest by Jesus on the cross, the bondage of the House of Israel in Babylon requires that every member of God's House live in peaceful obedience to the laws of Babylon. (Ez.17:12-14).
The Jews are as bound to Christ's treaty of peace as are Christians and pagans.
When the Jewish nation did not acquiesce to Jesus' mandate for peace, God allowed Rome to physically dispel the Jews from Palestine and He permitted Rome's successors to prevent them from going back there for almost two thousand years.
The phenomenal duration of this second exile proved the real Babylon -- and the real exile of scripture.
Almost thirty times longer than the original, it was far too momentous an event to have occurred outside of biblical prophecy or decree.
It proved beyond doubt the divine mandate that all twelve of Israel's tribes must obey the peaceful ways of the Gospel; and it showed that the ultimate treaty of peace on earth (structured between the king of the Jews and Babylon -- Ez.17) was made by Jesus Christ, not Zedekiah.
As such, the formation of the nation of Israel in our times represents a special codicil within the terms of the treaty of Christ. (Jer.42:7-18).
For this reason, the treaty's provisions need to be precisely adhered to -- something the Jewish militants have not done.
Instead of searching for the will of God in the lessons of Jesus, the Jews in Israel today have pursued a course of violent revenge as outlined in the Torah -- the same kind of militant thinking that brought their ancestors to the brink of destruction at the hands of Rome.
Since the pursuit is the same, the outcome will be the same.
Scripture indicates that the army of Judah is destined to be crushed by the Persian forces near the Euphrates river. (Jer.46:6).
Since the terms of the treaty limit Israel to defensive actions only, its very presence at the Euphrates will constitute a major violation of the U.N. mandate.
Since it is the disobedience of the covenant that brings the wrath, the Jews in Israel have already placed themselves in harms way by failing to abide by the terms of this crucial mandate.
It was precisely this kind of disobedience that Ezekiel addressed: "He has ignored the oath and broken the treaty by which he was bound...he shall not go unpunished." (Ez.17:18).
God's treaty (Jesus on the cross) dictates gentleness and it relates to the nation of Israel in a very special way.
Israel as a world nation was forbidden to exist on earth as a provision of the treaty. This is because the terms of the treaty remanded all the people of God to captivity in the nations of Babylon. "To Babylon you must go and there you will be rescued; There God will ransom you out of the power of your enemies." (Micah 4:10).
The United States, for instance, even though it was founded on principles particularly Christian, is not a nation of God -- nor was it ever. It is a nation of Babylon in which a great many of its citizens believe in God.
Israel, on the other hand, is the one and only nation born and raised of God on earth. This is a crucial difference.
Israel was allowed to be reborn ahead of time (in advance of the Persian decree) by a special codicil to the treaty described by Jeremiah. Its premature rebirth has brought it into existence in accordance with precise biblical rules -- rules, as we have seen, that carry a stiff penalty for disobedience.
It has been argued that many of these prophecies -- most of which stemmed from events occuring during the days of the deportation of the two Houses of Israel from ancient Palestine -- were all fulfilled long ago and therefore have no bearing on events today.
Just the opposite is true. The outcomes will be the same.
Nothing in reference to Israel happens by mistake. The similarities between events of the past and those happening today have been outlined by God through the prophets so that we can understand what we are about to see.
These similarities point out the kind of musical repetition that haunts the history of the Holy Land, rebirthing the ancient visions of scripture. God has taken all the major themes of the Bible and caused them to repeat, both circumstantially and prophetically.
They reverberate like echo's through the pages of both scripture and history because they have a single purpose. Scripture is God's symphony. It's beginning and end are fixed on the same score. The past is fixed on the future and the future on the past.
Because God has chosen to structure the Bible in this fashion, we cannot understand scripture in the way that we would philosophy or narrative literature. We must view it, instead, in the same way we would a great musical score where themes, like melodies, repeat. Not just once, but some times over and over again.
The Bible is the score and history is its orchestration. The years, like instruments, change -- but the melody remains.
And even more like a symphony, there is not just a single melody -- there are many different melodies, all interacting and repeating throughout the score together. Each making its own statement, but related and pointing always to the composite finale.
The themes of God cannot be put away and compartmentalized as we would the past, because they continue to repeat in different ways over and over again.
Current events send us searching the pages of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. That is what God wanted -- it is the reason He authorized these books to be written in the first place.
We are living in times when momentous events surround us, and each time they occur, the voice of God, like a trumpet, rings out within us: 'this is really important -- go back and read -- and see that I predicted it long ago!'
We are absorbed in the trivial and God has to move us to the critical. And this is how He does it. He has made today an integral part of yesterday because Jesus has not yet returned, and the whole score of history and scripture exists soley for that return.
That is why we cannot divorce current events from biblical events. They all intermesh.
The element that keys most of these prophecies to the last days is the inclusion in them of the forces of Persia. Whenever we see Persia mentioned in scripture, we see the End discussed.
The other element that proves finality is Daniel himself. Daniel's visions only relate to the final sequence.
His prophecies show that there will be many skirmishes between the North and the South during the final period. Throughout the early part of these encounters -- until the reversal of Persia's fortunes occurs -- the South (Israel and its Arab allies) will dominate the fighting. (Dn.11:5).
Pressing this advantage against advice, the Israeli militants will solicit military assistance from the west, take the offensive, and suddenly fail dramatically.
"But the prince rebelled and sent envoys to Egypt, asking for horses and a large number of troops. Is he going to thrive? Can he break a treaty and go unpunished? As I live, I swear -- it is the Lord God who speaks -- In Babylon, in the country of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he has ignored, whose treaty he has broken, there he will die." (Ez.17:16).
Here, again, there is a play on words. Connecting the international concept of Babylon (a world Babylon) with the ancient nation Babylon (a country which sat at the banks of the Euphrates), this prophecy reunites the two, bringing them together as one -- a paradoxical union that proves the hand of God.
Israel's forces will be destroyed at the Euphrates. They will fall, not in Israel, but along the shores of the ancient country whose roots founded pagan civilization on the planet -- 'by the waters of Babylon'. (Ps.137:1).
And they will die in rebellion, having gone there in violation of the directives of the United Nations mandate -- the mandate that had earlier put them in Palestine. (Ez.17:16, Dn.11:14).
Crushing the strength of the southern army, the North will gain a huge advantage. (Dn.11:13). According to Daniel, as a result of this victory at the Euphrates, the king of the North will be able to move his forces right into Jerusalem itself.
This incursion will be devastating and the South will be incapable of deflecting it. And only a strong and concerted intervention by the United States will keep the North from taking possession of the city permanently.
Despite its superior forces, the U.S. will be unable to prevent any of these things from taking place once Israel goes to the Euphrates river in violation of the mandate. "Despite the Pharaoh's great army and hordes of men, he will not be able to save him by fighting..." (Ez.17:17).
Our enemies are such that they can be defeated only by prayer and faith. Fighting won't work.
The very fact that God has restored the fortunes of Judah by allowing the Jews to return in our own time to a Jerusalem that they have been banned from for almost 2000 years is certain proof of the nearness of the end.
But, as we have already seen, this restoration has nothing to do with a reconstruction of past Jewish glory.
God has used it, instead, to gather all the nations of the world to trial. (See Joel 4:1-3).
In the prophecy of Joel, the 'Valley of Jehoshaphat' is the place in Israel where God is going to judge all the nations. It is the site of Armageddon.
As we have seen, the name 'Jehoshaphat' means 'God judges'.
Also relating to that judgment, Joel uses a second name for this place, calling it as well, the 'Valley of Decision': "
Let the nations rouse themselves, let them march to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for I am going to sit in judgment there on all the nations round. Put the sickle in: the harvest is ripe; come and tread: the winepress is full, the vats are overflowing, so great is their wickedness! Host on host in the Valley of Decision! For the day of God is near in the Valley of Decision!" (Joel 4:12-14).
This 'decision' is a clear indication that the events of the final End are only the last physical elements of a spiritual choice that has been taking place all over the world since the day of Pentecost -- the calling of the world to the Gospel of Jesus to make a decision.
The Valley of Jehoshaphat is the Valley of Christ.
The restoration of Jerusalem, therefore, has only one purpose. It represents the culmination of the decision -- the time when the Jews themselves must come to this decisive Christian valley.
It is God's signal that the Great Trial is about to begin.
Israel's restoration in this century has not been a sign of its conversion because there has been no conversion there at all. In fact, not only has a persistent resistance to the teachings of Jesus Christ continued in Palestine under Jewish leadership, but since the Jews have come to power there, that resistance has increased.
The ability of Christians to openly proclaim the Gospel in Palestine has been seriously curtailed by a government whose citizens are growing increasingly hostile to Jesus' words.
In many of the prophecies, the unrepentant citizens of Judea were portrayed metaphorically in the context of 'Egypt'. And at the end, as we have seen, the nation of Israel in Palestine will be tightly knotted into a military alliance with Egypt.
At the time of Moses, the House of Israel had lived so long in Egypt (about 400 years) that many of the Israelites had become a real part of that country. That is because, even though they were genetically a part of Israel, their hearts were 'Egyptian'.
This was proved when Moses tried to lead them out of Egypt and back to the Promised Land. During the journey across Sinai, most of these travelers tried to turn back.
The prophets have revealed that this turning back to Egypt was a symbol of the people of Israel refusing to listen to the word of God and of their returning to the ways of this world instead -- a refusal made manifest in their later rejection of Jesus Christ whom God had sent to lead them out of sin.
When John declared Jerusalem to be "the Great City known by the symbolic names of Sodom and Egypt, in which the Lord was crucified". (Rev.11:8), he established that the Palestinian city of Jerusalem and the nation of Egypt are often identical locations as far as biblical prophecy is concerned -- and that both relate strongly to Sodom.
Unrepentant Israel, therefore, has a profound symbolic relationship with the Egypt of scripture. This relationship has peaked in our time.
The classic symbolism of the term 'Egypt' in scripture revolves around militarism and military reliance. No one can doubt that the modern Jewish nation has robed itself in the mantle of this symbolism completely.
A succession of sudden, swift, fearless, brilliant and ferociously powerful Davidic blitzkriegs by the Jewish war machine against raging and hostile Arab forces, especially in the face of overwhelming odds, has given this nation a reputation that dwarfs the military exploits of biblical Egypt.
However, infantry strength is not a substitue for God's directives. Jesus is the meaning of the Bible, not a power of arms.
Because the returning Jews have refused to repent in Jesus and live peacefully in His tranquility, their journey has led them back -- not to Israel -- but to a symbolic 'Egypt' in the land of Palestine -- to a combat zone bristling with the most powerful weapons of modern mankind. (Jer.44:12-13)
Like the Hebrews whom Moses led, the Jews were allowed to return to Judea, but only for the purpose of scripture.
By rejecting God's command to forgive and turn the other cheek, and choosing instead, to pursue a consistent course of retaliation and militant revenge, a large part of the remnant which had intended to rebuild Jerusalem in our own time, have actually settled, not in God's country, but in a symbolic 'Egypt'.
This enigmatic paradox was underscored by Jeremiah in prophecy when he termed Judea 'the daughter of Egypt'. (Jer.46:24).
Sealing this vision, Jeremiah said, "And here is the proof for you that I mean to deal with you in this place...I will hand the pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies and to those determined to kill him..." (Jer.44:29-30).
The assassination of Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, after he formalized a treaty with the new nation of Israel propels Jeremiah's prophecy into the twentieth century. "Things now past I once revealed long ago, they went out from my mouth and I proclaimed them; then suddenly I acted and they happened." (Is.48:3).
According to Jeremiah, this one event -- the assassination of the king of Egypt soon after the treaty is signed -- is to be the proof of all the prophecies concerning the catastrophies destined to befall the Christ-defiant nation in Israel. (Jer.44:29-30).
Anticipating all that lies ahead, Anwar Sadat's assassination stands as a warning that the prophecies, ancient as they are, belong to our own time. It proves that we are at the threshold of the End -- that we have come to the conditions specified by the prophets.
"I will deal as severely with those who have made their home in the land of Egypt, as I dealt with Jerusalem, with sword, famine and plague." (Jer.44:33).
This particular sentence in Jeremiah's prophecy, because it compares the disaster now about to befall modern Israel with the devastation which leveled Jerusalem during the days of Vespasian and Titus in 70 A.D., shows the severity of the catastrophe now poised to ignite the inferno of Gehenna.
"Then the entire remnant of Judah who have come to settle in the land of Egypt will know whose word came true, mine or theirs." (Jer.44:28).
By having Jeremiah use the acronym 'Egypt' to represent Palestine, the Spirit of God not only prepares us for John's prophecy (Rv.11:8), but makes clear as well the mis-directed course of Israeli militancy.
The disaster when it comes will show that Jesus and His Gospel of peace, rejected by this Jewish population in favor of tanks and warplanes, was the only correct course all along.
According to the Bible, only a small remnant of the Jewish citizens now present in Israel will escape these calamities (the "sword, famine and plague" ) and ultimately repent in the name of Jesus Christ.
And it is these -- the Jews who opt to keep the peace prescribed by scripture that Michael and his companions will approach on the last day. The militants will all perish beforehand.
Because the Jews will not accept the new Covenant until the very last moment in history, the restoration of Judah and Jerusalem involves a Jewish nation that will remain hostile to Jesus until the bitter end.
It is against this rebellious Jerusalem that God is gathering the nations to His trial. "Let the nations muster round you in a body, and then return, high over them." (Ps.7:7).
At the very end of all the disasters, at the final instant of time, when all the nations of the world have been gathered together in a body in the land of Israel, and just before the Trial of God begins, the Jews will recognize that Jesus is truly the Son of God and convert.
This conversion will fulfill the prophecy of Moses: "In your distress, all that I have said will overtake you, but at the end of days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to his voice." (Dt.4:30).
Until this final conversion occurs, great misery will encompass Jerusalem. And, as the end draws near, the city's suffering will increase dramatically.
"Wickedness is destined to bring the whole earth to ruin." "If you are willing to obey, you shall eat the good things of the earth. But if you persist in rebellion, the sword shall eat you instead." (Is.1:19-20).
The size of this descending sword is immense. The carnage necessary to strip the land of Israel away from its powerful army in order to accomplish these prophecies can hardly be imagined.
"From a land of horror a harsh vision has been shown me -- the plunderer plunders, the destroyer destroys." (Is.21:2).
During the last days Jerusalem will be subject to more misery than ever before in this city's history as the nations of the world are gathered into her and around her in preparation for the Judgment.
And near the center of Jerusalem, in a valley called hell, a fierce fire will burn.
"I will collect you inside Jerusalem. As silver, copper, iron, lead and tin are thrown into the melting-pot together, and the fire is stoked underneath to melt it all down, so I will collect you in my furious anger and melt you down; I will collect you and stoke the fire of my fury for you, and melt you down inside the city. As silver is melted in the melting-pot, so you will be melted down inside the city; and thus you will learn that I, God, am the one who has discharged my anger on you". (Ez.22:19-22).
It is in this final catastrophe -- a cataclysm that could have been averted by prayer and repentance -- that the world will come to an end.
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