Discerning the Times
Vol: 28 Issue: 15 Tuesday, November 15, 2016
We live in an age of miracles unlike any the world has ever known. In this generation, man has unlocked the secret of the genome, can ‘create’ life in a test tube, can duplicate that which is already created [cloning], develop medicines and compounds that can prolong life, and it seems as if there is almost nothing that we cannot do.
Science expects to one day be able to control the elements, bring rain where drought is, anticipate natural disasters like earthquakes, and perhaps, even prevent them.
We can travel outside our atmosphere, and one day expect to reach distant stars. In the natural, it would seem that there is nothing we will not eventually be able to do.
Science has pretty much been able to naturalize, internalize and explain away what were, in previous generations, miracles, reducing them to probabilities, equations, charts and graphs.
With one exception. We can do everything except tell the future. The future contains too many variables to accurately predict. Take the restoration of Israel, for example. Israel was destroyed in 702 BC by the Assyrian king, Sargon II, who conquered the kingdom of Israel.
It was common practice for a conqueror to uproot and displace the conquered people to another part of the empire, repopulating that place with a conquered people from somewhere else.
The reason for that was to separate a people from their land, which effectively prevented uprisings. The northern Kingdom of Israel was scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire, and was effectively lost to history, leaving only the tiny southern kingdom of Judah.
A century later, the Kingdom of Judah was similarly conquered by the Kingdom of Babylon, who also displaced its population, deporting them into captivity in Babylon.
To a Jew living in Babylon during the Captivity, it seemed certain that Judah would go the way of Israel and would similarly be lost to history.
Yet the prophets of the Captivity, like Daniel and Ezekiel, wrote confidently that in the last days, there would again be a nation called ‘Israel’ and that its citizens would once again inhabit the same piece of real estate from which they had been displaced, seemingly forever.
Yet Ezekiel wrote,
“And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.” (Ezekiel 34:13)
The Jews would be gathered from the countries, and brought into THEIR OWN LAND, upon the mountains of ISRAEL, and not some other place.
Writing of the Gog Magog invasion, God inspired Ezekiel to prophesy;
“After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8)
In this passage, we find the time frame in which Ezekiel’s prophecy would come to pass — ‘after many days, in the latter years’. And again, we find that it is not Judah, but ISRAEL, of whom the prophet prophesied. That they would be ‘brought forth from the nations’ to a land that had ‘always been waste’ — until they returned.
For more than 2,500 years, this prophecy remained dormant, until, on May 14, 1948, the survivors of the Holocaust were ‘brought forth’ under the banner of ‘never again’ to the ‘mountains of Israel’ — which ‘had always been waste’ as the nation of ‘Israel’.
In his book, ‘Personal Witness’ Abba Eban, one of the founders of Israel, noted that when David Ben-Gurion cabled President Truman to ask the United States to recognize the Jewish state, the Jews still hadn’t decided what to call it.
Eban noted, ‘Some wanted to call it Zion, others Judah . . .what about ‘Israel’?’ The name was chosen only hours before the state came into existence.
In 1897, the 1st Zionist Congress petitioned the government of Great Britain for a Jewish state in what is today the African country of Uganda. The British told the Jews to petition the Ottoman Empire, who at that time controlled Palestine.
The Jews would have settled for Uganda as a Jewish homeland, but the prophets said that the Jewish homeland of the last days would be ‘on the mountains of Israel’. And that is exactly what happened.
The prophet Daniel, also writing from captivity in Babylon, penned the future history of Israel, [a nation that had not existed for a century] dividing its future into 70 weeks of years. During the 70th and final week, Daniel prophesied the revival of an empire [Rome] that, in Daniel’s day, would not see its FIRST incarnation for another 500 years.
Today, the nation of Israel exists, composed of a people ‘brought forth from the nations’ while, for the first time in 2000 years, a European superstate made up of what had once been the territory of the Roman Empire, seeks involvement in a peace process that Daniel said would be confirmed by a leader of a revived Rome.
Israel was reborn in 1948, as the embryonic European Community of nations was being born out of the 1948 Benelux Treaty.
According to Jesus, the generation that would see His return would be one in which there would be;
“signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)
It would be a period of ‘wars and rumors of wars,’ when,
“nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” (Matthew 24:6-7)
Jesus noted that;
“All these are the beginning of sorrows” (v.8)
Bible prophecy was given the Church so that,
“ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it [His return] is nigh, even at the doors.” (Mark 13:29)
We are indeed living in the ‘age of miracles’ but they are miracles of God, against which the miracles of science cannot possibly compete.
We in this generation have been given the unspeakable gift of certainty that the Lord is about to return, a warning that time is running out, and a renewed commission to go out into all the earth and make disciples of all nations, before time has run out.
No man can know the future, but the God of Creation foretold it –in detail — so that there could be no misunderstanding. The Lord is about to return.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-52)
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)