The world is on edge. Following the slaughter of more than 1,400 Israelis—including women and children—by savage Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, the state of Israel launched retaliatory strikes across the Gaza Strip to destroy the entrenchments of militants who butchered unsuspecting civilians and carried off more than 200 hostages, including Americans and Brits.
The conflict threatened to escalate, as the United States sent carrier strike groups to the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf and warned against intervention by Iran — who supplies arms to Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.
Peace of Jerusalem?
It should come as no surprise that the Middle East — specifically focused on the nation of Israel — is once again the world’s tipping point. Modern Israel was born in 1948, and in my lifetime, tensions between Arabs and Israelis have erupted into battle at least seven times, including the Six-Day War in 1967. The Bible is clear that in the days before the return of Christ, the end-time battle of Armageddon will happen on the plains of Megiddo in Israel, as the anti-Christ and his evil forces seek to destroy Jerusalem, literally the “City of Peace.”
International conflict has defined Israel’s history since the reign of King David and his son Solomon. The people of Israel endured captivity and exile from a succession of hostile world powers, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.
The Roman general Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C., so it was under the oppressive thumb of the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus that a Jewish King, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was born in the small village of Bethlehem to a poor Jewish couple from Nazareth. They came to take part in a worldwide census ordered by Augustus. God moved the entire world in order to get two small people to travel 70 miles to fulfill His Word given to the Prophet Micah 500 years prior: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2, NIV).
“God the Son won the most important battle ever fought, the victory of the cross where our Savior endured the wrath of God for sin, so we might receive forgiveness and the gift of everlasting life.”
God has given me a heart for Israel. When I was 19, I helped lead Christian tours in the little town of Bethlehem. Six miles south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is in a zone now called the West Bank, which today is governed by the Palestinians.
The birth of Christ was the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies, in which God promised a Jewish Messiah, a Savior, a coming King whose rule would extend worldwide. “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).
Those promises were misunderstood by some who believed the Messiah would be a military king, delivering Israel from despised Roman rule. But of course, Jesus’ Messianic reign wasn’t about political change. He was sent by the Father to set mankind free by saving souls from the tyranny and slavery of sin, dying on a Roman cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and rising from the dead on the third day!
The Prophet Isaiah foretold the Suffering Servant’s true mission in perhaps the most well-known of the Messianic prophecies: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).
God the Son won the most important battle ever fought, the victory of the cross where our Savior endured the wrath of God for sin, so we might receive forgiveness and the gift of everlasting life.
For the past 2,000 years, His rule and reign has extended into the hearts of an untold multitude of people. We know the Lord will continue to patiently wait for repentant sinners until His return: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
When that day comes, Israel will be front and center. Revelation 14:1 tells us there will be a special role for 144,000 Jewish people, 12,000 from each tribe, as the Lord prepares to return and establish His Kingdom on Earth, judging the wicked and delivering the righteous.
As Jesus’ millennial reign on Earth comes to its conclusion, ready to usher in the new Heavens and the new Earth, world powers will come together for one last battle to destroy the city of Jerusalem. But of course, it fails. “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).
In the meantime, we are instructed to intercede for the Jewish people: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). ©2023 BGEA
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. The Scripture quotation marked NIV is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version. Decision magazine, December 2023; ©2023 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; used by permission, all rights reserved.