Understanding the Times of the Signs Part Three
Vol: 89 Issue: 25 Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The AFP is reporting today that Secretary of State Clinton ‘rapped’ Israel for “blocking aid into the besieged Gaza Strip” and threatening to “raise the Issue” when she visits the region next week.
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz says US envoy George Mitchell is “expected to issue a strongly worded statement on the situation when he travels to Israel this week.”
There are two main sticking points. Israel has linked opening the Gaza crossing points to the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Hamas kidnapped Shalit in 2006. If Shalit is released, Israel will open the crossing points.
It is worth mentioning, however, that Israel has not blocked all aid into Gaza — just the luxuries. And kidnapping is an international crime; hostage-taking is against international law. Hamas admits it holds Shalit.
The second sticking point is that Hamas is STILL launching rockets into Israel from Gaza. Two rockets landed in southern Israel five hours ago (at the time of this writing).
So which of these two sticking points can Israel un-stick on its own? Hamas has exclusive control over both issues. I read not one word of condemnation for Hamas by either official or in either report. It is as if Hamas were some kind of other-wordly species of being not bound by the standards of normal human behavior.
So what if Hamas is still holding Shalit hostage? So what if it is still shooting rockets at random into Israeli cities and towns.
That’s what Hamas does. That’s why Israel is getting ‘rapped’ by the US and not Hamas. Hamas is simply following its religious duty — which is to destroy Israel by any and all means available.
Wisdom Plus Knowledge = Understanding
We’ve looked briefly at the high points of both Islamic and Jewish eschatology. One of Islam’s major signs is when Muslims defeat Jews in battle. One of the ten signs of the coming Messianic Age is when Jews turn against Jews.
Hezbollah considers the Lebanon War of 2006 a tactical defeat for Israel. So do many analysts. Israel’s war objective was the disarming and destruction of Hezbollah as a fighting force and the recovery of two similarly-kidnapped soldiers. Hezbollah survived and Israel withdrew without recovering its men.
Hamas claims a similar ‘victory’ in the Gaza incursion. Israel vowed to end the rocket attacks from Gaza and recover Gilad Shalit. As noted earlier, Shalit is still in Hamas’ hands and two rockets just landed in southern Israel.
Wisdom is knowing the signs will be fulfilled; knowledge provides the background necessary to connect the dots; so understanding is therefore, the application of wisdom plus knowledge.
This series is about understanding the times within the context of the signs given by Bible prophecy. I wasn’t just using clever wordplay when I titled this series of articles. The signs have been right there in the Bible all along.
It is the times that make the signs relevant.
The Times of the Gentiles
The global Islamic population is estimated at about 1.2 billion. The number of professing or cultural Christians worldwide is estimated at roughly the same number, 1.2 billion.
That is 2.4 billion, more or less, out of a world population approaching 7 billion (in 2012).
The worldwide Jewish population is estimated at 13.2 million.
Let’s express it in percentages. Roughly one third, or 33% of the world is either Christian or Muslim. The global Jewish population is roughly 0.2% or two-tenths of one percent.
Islam has its major and minor signs signaling the return of the Mahdi. The Jewish Sanhedrin identifies the ten signs that will precede/accompany the Moshiac. Christian theology divides its major and minor signs as the “beginning of sorrows” or “birth pangs” and the “birth pangs” themselves.
The beginning of sorrows are political; (wars and rumors of wars) natural; (famines and earthquakes) and religious: (false prophets and false Christs) (Matthew 24:5-7) and unique (reestablishment of Israel) (Matthew 24:32, Isaiah 11:11-12)
The birth pangs include; the restoration of Temple worship (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 25:15, 2nd Thessalonians 2:4) the persecution of Israel and a rise in worldwide anti-semitism, weather anomalies, celestial disturbances (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:25) and brief period of world wide Christian revival (Matthew 24:14)
Note something remarkable here. Israel’s ten signs of the Messianic Age require the reestablishment of Israel as a state to be relevant. It is the existence of Israel that defines this as the Messianic Age. The Messiah must be anointed with the oil of anointing in a restored Temple on Temple Mount.
Jewish theology demands Jewish possession of the Temple Mount. But it doesn’t require the existence of either Christianity or Islam to be relevant.
Islam also requires the existence of Israel for its eschatology to be relevant. An Islamic military defeat of Jews in battle, one of Islam’s major signs, demands an Israel to do battle with.
Without Jews to defeat and Christians to betray afterward, Islamic eschatology would collapse.
Christian eschatology is utterly dependent upon the existence of Israel for relevance. The restoration of Israel is the singular event that nails down this generation as the generation that will see the return of Christ.
All the subsequent birth pangs; Temple worship, abomination of desolation, global antisemitism, false christs and prophets, etc., demand the existence of Israel in order for them to be relevant to our age.
Islam needs Israel as a target to hate. Christianity needs Israel the way a child needs a parent to explain its existence. But the central point is that both NEED tiny Israel’s 0.2% of humanity to exist in order for them to be relevant.
It is the existence of Israel that defines the “Times of the Gentiles.”
Taken together, what does it all mean? First, we have to understand that eschatology is as central to Islam as it is to either Christianity or Judaism — maybe even more so.
It is a central feature to Islamic prophecy that Allah will eternally destroy Israel at the Last Day. From the date Mohammed first began preaching his new faith until May 14, 1948, there had never been an Israel to destroy.
We also need to understand that Islam’s adherents are sincere believers. They believe as sincerely in the tenets of their faith as we do.
Just as Christianity imposes a religious duty upon Christians to share the good news, Islam imposes a religious duty on Islam to overspread the Dar al Harb (Zone of War) by proselytizing where possible and by the sword where necessary.
It is central to Islamic eschatology that Israel be utterly destroyed and that Jerusalem be restored to Islamic rule. The Mahdi would not and could not return unless and until there was a Jewish state for him to destroy.
It is central to Jewish eschatology that Israel not only be restored, but ultimately to regain possession and control of Temple Mount from which the Jewish Messiah can be anointed when he comes (Daniel 9:24)
It is central to Christian theology that the antichrist, when he comes, finds the Jews in possession of Temple Mount. He can’t desecrate the Jewish Temple until after it has been re-consecrated.
We opened this report with a discussion of the US effort to get the peace process back on track. For that to actually happen, the Arab negotiators have to be willing to abandon much of Islam and its central doctrines.
They would have to at least entertain the notion that Israel will continue to possess Jerusalem or parts of it, as well as the Noble Sanctuary at al Aqsa. (That’s what recognizing Israel’s right to exist entails.)
The Jews would have to be willing to abandon the most important sign of all — the existence of a Jewish State for the Messiah to rule.
This is what global expectations for a successful peace process would require of its participants.
Conversely, Christian prophecy requires a peace process since both Daniel and Paul predict its confirmation as the starting point to the 70th Week of Daniel and its collapse as the starting point of the Great Tribulation.
The Olivet Discourse is a study in wisdom, instruction, and knowledge. Having outlined all the signs of His coming, Jesus pulls it all together in a single, blinding flash of inspired understanding.
He said, “And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.”