February 20, 2009
Ever wonder why such a small spot on the earth constantly dominates center stage in today's world? - No other nation occupies the planet's attention like tiny Israel. Author and Christian Jew, Joel Rosenberg, calls it the epicenter.
Jesus said the re-birth of Israel will be one of the major signs of the last days. Matthew 24:32-35 says, "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Also Mark 13:28-29 NIV)
On more than one occasion in scripture, Israel is compared to a fig tree. Hosea 9:10 states, "When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert: when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree..." I believe that when Jesus spoke of the fig tree in the Matthew and Mark passages, He was referring to the re-birth of Israel.
Also too does Ezekiel 36 and 37 refer to the regathering of God's people once again. When the nation of Israel comes back into existence, Jesus was saying, it is a clear sign saying that His coming is near.
Of course, we know this prophecy was fulfilled not that long ago. On May 14, 1948, against all odds, the Jewish people returned to their homeland and were re-established as a nation.
This was and is unprecedented in human history for a nation to essentially cease to exist, then to come back into existence once again. -- Why? -- Because God said so. (Ever hear again of the Amalekites, Jebusites, Perrezites, Amorites, Hittites, or Canaanites?)
After the State of Israel was declared in 1948, a war of independence left the city of Jerusalem divided. -- Jordan retained control over the old city, including the Temple Mount and most historic sites. -- During the 6-Day War in 1967, Israeli forces once again captured the old city and re-unified all of Jerusalem. -- The City of Jerusalem was under Jewish control for the first time in many centuries. Bible prophecy had been fulfilled perfectly.
In Zechariah 12:2-3, God said, "I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves."
So when God says that Jerusalem will be the focal point of the last days scenario, we see this already happening. -- You can hardly scan today's headlines without reading something about conflict in the Middle East. -- So often it centers on Jerusalem/Israel.
There are many, many passages of scripture that specifically say Jerusalem will be at the heart of it all. Jerusalem, of course, remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many Arab leaders world-wide insist that the old city and entire West Bank are rightfully Palestinian territory and must be ceded back as a condition for peace.
We watch this happen and see this conflict continuing.
Scripture tells us that God will gather all the nations of the world together against Jerusalem. As well as Zechariah 12:2-3, which we've already seen, Zechariah 14:2 also says, "I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it..."
The only true peace that will ever come is when the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the Prince of Peace comes back and establishes His Kingdom on Earth.
This is what we need to be looking for!
Let's look at some of the prophetic scriptures of Jewish national fulfillment ---
Isaiah 43:1 and 5-6  says:
"But now, that is what the Lord says --
He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel:
fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name, you are mine."
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east 
And gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, give them up!
And to the south, do not hold them back.
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughter from the ends of the earth."
Ezekiel 11:17  says:
"Therefore say: 'This is what the sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again."
Jeremiah 16:14-15 says:
"However, the Lord's day is coming, declares the Lord, when men will no longer say, 'As surely s the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt', but they will say, 'As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north, and out of all the countries where He had banished them. For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers."
Jeremiah 31:4,8 says:
"I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O virgin Israel". And "See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return."
In anticipation of this great day, King David wrote in Psalm 126:1-2, "When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.'"
The regathering of the Jewish people and the re-birth of Israel is no historical aberration! The restoration of Jerusalem/Israel is a prelude to the return of our Lord. --- The Bible says, "When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in His glory." (Psalm 102:16 KJV).
Scripture makes it unmistakably clear that when the Lord returns, it will be to a sovereign Jerusalem controlled by the Jewish people.
Shifting gears for just a moment, let's talk about the "Oslo Accord" and its offspring, the "Roadmap to Peace." - both talk about Israel's withdrawal from Jerusalem. -- Any Jewish leader that supports this withdrawal and/or the division of Jerusalem is the wrong leader. Simply put, the current "Roadmap to Peace", which is currently supported by the U.S. Government, cannot work. In fact, we can now see the results of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. In a comparative look, it would be like putting a base of operations for Al Queda on the Potomac! 
Bluntly stated, Islam wants Israel pushed from the land. An indicator of this, Iran, which is on the verge of nuclear weapons, wants Israel utterly "wiped from the face of the earth."
God has set up this final stage of man's history exactly as His prophets predicted. - This is exactly why each and every one of us should set our priorities on bringing as many as possible to the saving faith in Jesus.
Continuing on, Jerusalem means the "City of Peace" - Lasting peace will not come to her until the Messiah returns. Isaiah 2:4 says, "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
Jerusalem is now, and will be in the future, the center of the world. There will be no world peace until there is peace in Jerusalem. She is like no city on the face of the earth because Jerusalem is nothing less than the City of God.
Israel without Jerusalem would be like a human body without a heart.
II Chronicles 6:6, 7:16 and 33:7 says, "I (God) have chosen Jerusalem....that my name be there forever, and my eyes and my heart will be there perpetually....In Jerusalem, which I have chosen - I will put my name forever." 
Now go to Ezekiel 37:1-14 and read about the miracle of the "dry bones." --- The prophet Ezekiel more than 2600 years ago, prophesied the resurrection of Israel from the Gentile graves in the lands to which she had been scattered. -- Again, this happened on May 14, 1948.
Ezekiel also prophesied about the holy war that will take place in Israel some time after the restoration to independence (Ezekiel 38 and 39). (See separate study.)
God gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley of dry bones. In Ezekiel 37:11 God told him, "Son of Man, these bones are the whole house of Israel."
In the vision, God took Ezekiel to a valley full of dead bones that were dry and scattered. This was God's physical portrayal of the nation of Israel.
Remember that Israel ceased to be a nation in A.D. 70 when the Jews were scattered to the end of the earth by the Roman army under Titus. It would be more than 2,000 years before Israel became a recognized state.
God asked Ezekiel a perplexing question; "And he said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' " (Ezekiel 37:3)
Ezekiel responded by saying, "O Lord God, you know." (verse 3) --- In other words, he was saying "I don't see how its possible. - Death has done its work. - Life is gone. - Lord, if these bones live, it will require the miracle-working power of Jehovah God."
In response to Ezekiel's question, God told him to do something very strange. -- It was the strangest message to the deadest congregation in the history of preaching!
God told him to preach the Word of the Lord to the dry bones. ---"Again, he said to me, prophecy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.' " (verse 4)
Ezekiel's faith conquered the limitations of his carnal mind, and he obeyed the voice of God.
(Note: We need Ezekiel to preach in many of todays churches.)
It is a Bible fact, - obedience brings blessing, and disobedience brings judgement. --- Ezekiel looked at the valley full of scattered, dry bones and preached this message:
"Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.'" (Ezekiel 37:5-6)
Ezekiel proclaimed that God was going to do a supernatural work that would make those dry, lifeless, scattered bones live again. It would be a reversal of death and corruption.
In perfect obedience to the Word of God, Ezekiel said:
"So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them." (Ezekiel 37:7-8)
Notice that the restoration to life for the bones was a process. It was not an instantaneous event.
The bones were dry, scattered and dead for a  very long time. The dry bones in Ezekiel's vision represent the nation of Israel during the Diaspora, beginning in A.D. 70 (Ezekiel 37:11 means, "cut off") - Gradually the bones came together and the sinews and flesh came upon them.
It was at this point of Israel's restoration that people like Theodor Herzl (Beginning of the 20th century), the father of Zionism, began to call the Jews back to Israel. The sinews and flesh continued to come together as the Jews of the earth returned to Eretz, Israel, to drain the swamps and transform the desert into a rose.
On May 14, 1948, at 4:32 p.m., the State of Israel, after 2,000 years, was reborn. Ezekiel's prophetic vision was fulfilled; 
"Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land.'" (Ezekiel 37:21)
God made it exceedingly clear that He would bring the Jews back to their "own land". He would not bring them back to the Palestinian's land. He would restore them to the promised land of the eternal covenant God had made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants.
At the conclusion of Ezekiel 37, the nation of Israel had been physically reborn. Today they have a flag; they have a constitution; they have a prime minister; and a Knesset. -- They have a police force, a powerful military, and the world's best intelligence agencies. -- They have Jerusalem, the City of God. -- They have a nation. -- They have everything but spiritual life.
Like the dry bones of Ezekiel 37, Israel awaits the spiritual awakening of the breath of God and Coming of Messiah!  ~R.M.

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