By Garner Ted Armstrong
What is ahead for Israel and the Middle East? Will there ever be peace? Will Israelis abandon their many settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza, and “trade land for peace” with the Palestinians?
Will a Palestinian State mean peace and security, and an end to all the bloody mayhem and suicide bombings?
As shocking as it seems, your Bible does not predict peace and security for Israel and the Mideast! Christ’s own ominous predictions foretell quite a different scenario — in fact, Christ foretold a great, widening WAR which will ultimately involve the United States, Britain and Europe, and the entire Middle East, and, eventually, the WHOLE WORLD!
Believe it or not, Jerusalem is the key! Struggles over Jerusalem will eventually ignite a war which will lead to another holocaust!
To millions, the term “holocaust” means mass murder; pogroms; genocide. But it means, literally, “holy burnt offering.” The Jewish people adopted this term as a result of the systematic murder and cremation of six million Jews in Europe during the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler.
Harking back to their roots, the surviving Jews in Europe and the Israelis used the practice of the burnt offerings of lambs to Jehovah (Leviticus 23:9-12) as an analogy.
Today, the tiny Jewish state is beleaguered on every side and from within. Almost daily suicide bombings take a bloody, heartrending toll. Syria reportedly is supplying the Hizbollah, ensconced along the northern Israeli border with Lebanon, with longer range rockets. The PA itself was discovered making munitions in a factory in the Gaza Strip. Saddam Hussein has stated he will attack Israel if the US attacks Iraq. Tarik Aziz, Saddam’s lickspittle “foreign minister” threatened the same thing at a top level meeting in Europe recently.
Israel has made plain that if Saddam attacks with nuclear weapons, Israel would retaliate with nukes. As one US military man said, “The nuclear genie would be out of the bottle.”
As the UN inspectors muddle about in an impossible, hopeless task, many cling to the false hope that Saddam will confess; that he will have a change of heart, and that war will be unnecessary. Others hope he will be toppled from within. Others say “We stood off the Russians, who had nukes, for several decades — we can do the same thing with Saddam.” They fail to remember that Saddam has already used weapons of mass destruction against his own citizens.
It was reported recently that Saddam had begun moving supersonic Mirage I delta wing jet aircraft to underground hangers in southwestern Iraq, along the border with Saudi Arabia. Also, he has positioned slow-moving single-engine aircraft there, which are capable of flying under Israeli Radar, and delivering chemical or biological weapons to Israeli cities.
WHY are the Jews so hated? In a recent “Word From” article published on our website at “garnertedarmstrong.org/,” and printed in our newspaper, “The Intercontinental News,” I explained why the ancient hatred between Ishmael and Isaac still seethes in the breasts of Arabs and Jews; why these peoples have never truly trusted one another and been able to live side by side in peace.
Retaliation for retaliation makes no sense. But then vicious hatred makes no sense, either. Yet, from the time Israel was established as a nation in the Mideast following World War II, to a significant degree by emigres from Europe who had escaped or survived Hitler’s death camps, there has been ongoing violence by the Arab nations and Palestinian Arabs within Israel against the Jewish state.
In 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish AND AN ARAB STATE! Furious that the hated Jews could even be considered as deserving a homeland, the Arabs rejected the proposal. Following World War II, Britain had occupied the area, maintaining a system of forts in an attempt to keep the constant violence to a minimum. Several Jewish organizations (which have been labeled “terrorist” by the Arabs ever since), such as the Irgun, the Palmach and the Hagganah, continually carried out attacks and kidnapping against the British, who were turning away a growing flood of Jewish refugees from southern France and Europe.
In 1948, upon Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence, six Arab nations attacked the little fledgling state. Israel survived, defeating the combined might of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, and actually gaining territory in the process! Though some of the characters are fictitious, the principal players in Leon Uris’ novel, “Exodus” gives one a poignant sense of those times; the desperate flight of Jews from France; the British blockades; the 1948 war of independence. The book was made into a movie, which is well worth seeing.
From 1948 to 1967, a UN “peacekeeping force” patrolled a no-man’s land between the Arabs and the Jews. Jerusalem was a divided city. The Old City, with its “holy places” was a part of Jordan. Jordan reaped a golden harvest in tourist dollars for nineteen years, as pilgrims flocked to traditional holy sites during various holidays. Christian pilgrims, that is. Jews were not allowed. The Jews constructed a site from which they could pray “at” their sacred “wailing wall,” the huge stones which represent all that remains of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by Titus. Conversely, once Israel had possession of the holy sites, all Muslims were allowed free access.
A truce treaty was signed by the Arab states in 1949, but continual terrorist attacks occurred along Israel’s borders, and inside Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. During these years, neither Syria, who controlled the Golan Heights, nor Jordan, which had the entire West Bank and the old city, nor Egypt, which possessed the Gaza strip, suggested that any of these areas become anonymous Arab territory. Nor did any Arab state suggest to Egypt and Jordan that the West Bank and Gaza should become a “Palestinian State”. Egypt’s leader Gamel Abdul Nasser, an ardent admirer of Hitler (who welcomed many escaping Nazis, many of which were hard at work on a missile program for Nasser), continually insisted that the UN troops were a violation of international law; that UN personnel in Gaza, which was viewed by Nasser as sovereign Egyptian soil, were an effrontery and should be removed.
Eventually, on May 19, 1967, the UN gave in to Arab demands, and left the demilitarized zone. On June 5, the combined armies of Syria, Egypt and Jordan once again attacked the state of Israel, after Nasser had reoccupied the Gaza strip, and closed the Gulf of Akaba to Israeli shipping. This time, Nasser of Egypt and Assad of Syria, both of whom had been equipped with state of the art Russian MIG aircraft and Russian-made tanks, believed their air forces and army would surely prevail. They had visions of the utter destruction of Israel. Instead, the Israelis defeated them, gaining huge amounts of territory, including the Golan Heights, the entire West Bank, Gaza and the Sinai.
Following the 1967 war, Israel desperately wanted secure borders. They labored to construct the “Bar Lev Line” along the Suez Canal by constructing huge sand berms, punctuated by hardened concrete bunkers and artillery positions. The line was over 100 miles long. Israel began exploring the Sinai for oil, discovering and developing oil-producing sites.
Once again, on Yom Kippur in 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked. This time, Egyptian forces breached the Bar Lev Line by using powerful hydraulic hoses and barges. Israeli forces were barely hanging on in the Golan, while they managed to construct an ingenious floating bridge with huge metal rollers, wrestled it into position to the south of the Egyptian forces, and crossed the Suez with tanks and armored columns.
Israel called upon the Nixon administration for help, when ammunition and spare parts were in very short supply. Nixon approved the airlift of military supplies from forward NATO bases in Europe. Meanwhile, Israeli forces had flanked and isolated the Egyptian third army by crossing the Suez to their rear. The way to Cairo lay wide open to Israeli tanks.
At this time, the big powers intervened through the UN, and demanded a cease-fire. Again, UN “peace keepers” were positioned in the region. Under a provision of the cease-fire, Israel withdrew from the Bar Lev Line.
One may remember that, despite assurance from members of congress that the “Arabs will never use oil as a weapon,” the Arab nations of OPEC, furious that Nixon had allowed the re-supply of Israel, clamped down an oil embargo, which caused an immediate panic in Europe and the US. How well I remember the four-hour wait at gas stations in southern California; the skyrocketing prices! Their oil embargo was a harbinger of the future. The western governments got the message.
This is partly why every US administration from that time has been so careful not to “offend” the Saudi royal family. Though we know their people are seething with hatred against us, we play the ridiculous game of extortion and blackmail, thinking we can “buy lovers” abroad, even though they hold the proverbial sword of Damocles over our heads.
Eventually, when Anwar Sadat went to Israel to meet Begin, a peace treaty was signed between Israel and Egypt. Israel handed over the entire Sinai, complete with working oil production facilities, thus making Egypt not only self-sufficient in oil, but an oil exporter. Have you ever seen or heard any Arab state giving Israel thanks and credit for such a move?
But rumblings from the east were ominous. Israeli intelligence discovered that Saddam Hussein was about to begin production of nuclear bomb-making materials at his newly constructed nuclear reactor at “Osirak,” a suburb of Baghdad. Israel did not ask the UN, nor did it announce intentions in advance, or seek a coalition. Instead, Israeli F-16's flew to Osirak on June 7, 1981, and completely destroyed the facility.
As I write, ongoing suicide bombings and bloody attacks continue between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. From the onset of the most recent violence, 1,934 Palestinians and 678 Israelis have been killed. The latest “Intifada,” or “uprising” began after the current Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, widely-believed responsible for the mass killings of Muslims in southern Lebanon refugee camps by Christian militia during Israel’s occupation there, decided to go to the temple mount, where stands the famous “Dome of the Rock,” the gilt-domed Moslem mosque.
Sharon correctly observed that the entire region is under Israeli sovereignty, and that the Arabs had no right to prevent those of any race or religion access to the site. Yet, a kind of unwritten law had gradually been obtained; Jews were forbidden to go to the so-called “Harm al Sharif,” or the large, stone-paved area around the Dome of the Rock. Intent on a symbolic visit, Sharon went there with massive police and military protection. Bloody riots ensued, and the second “Intifada” began. Such actions cruelly hurt families of Palestinians who have jobs inside Israel. Boycotting Israel means those with jobs have no income; have no access to their job sites. Moderate Palestinians (if there are such) pointed out that the Palestinian Arabs who daily went through checkpoints into Israel to their jobs were hurt worse than the Israelis, to no avail.
Today, the Intifada continues, with bloody consequences on weekly basis.
The prophecies of Jesus Christ are very near to being fulfilled. Unfortunately, the prophecies of your Bible do not predict peace and security for the little state of Israel! Instead, the very opposite is predicted. Christ said, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20).
This is hardly a prophecy of peace and security for Israel! Though Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans under Titus in 70 A.D., just 39 years after Christ spoke those ominous words, none of the major parts of His prophecy took place. The prophesied “Times of the Gentiles” did not come to an end; every stone was not thrown down (Matthew 24:2); “all things that are written” were not fulfilled; there were no heavenly signs; Christ did not return then. Yet, His prophecies contained all of these events.
The prophecy is DUAL. There was to be an early “typical” fulfillment, and a later literal fulfillment. We are now on the precipice of the LITERAL end-time fulfillment of Christ’s words!
He said, “Then [when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies] let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto” (Luke 21:21). This does not describe a whisking away of God’s people to a “place of safety” in Petra, or the Jordanian desert. Nor does it describe any kind of “rapture.” Instead, it describes a grueling, harsh, almost impossible flight of people in every direction of the compass ON FOOT, or by whatever conveyance at hand!
Jerusalem is high in the mountains. Steep, precipitous mountains are in every direction. Christ did not specify which mountains, or state any particular direction for this flight of frightened refugees -- only that they should FLEE!
Those who will not listen to and obey His commands are in for a horrific surprise. There are some who would try to GO TO JERUSALEM at such a time, which He strictly forbids!
He continued, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
“But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
“And there shall 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 21:20-26).
None of the accompanying heavenly signs have occurred. Jerusalem is at the moment the sovereign capital of Israel, and is not trodden down by Gentiles. Therefore, this ominous prophecy of privation, hardship, destruction and death is yet future!
As horrifying as it may sound, the little nation of Israel is going to be OCCUPIED by a great ten-nation power, which will sweep into the Middle East, probably as far as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan! This may not happen for some few years yet, but the prophecies of Christ are SURE! Toward the end of His “Olivet Prophecy,” Christ went on to say, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:27,28). The second coming of Jesus Christ occurs at the end of the Tribulation, the Heavenly Signs (Revelation 6 and 7), and the plagues of the Day of the Lord. Much is to take place in this world prior to the time of the heavenly signs and the plagues which will swiftly follow. God’s people are told NOT TO FEAR all this, but to LIFT UP THEIR HEADS and WATCH, because they know the time of their deliverance is near!
However, the “beginning” of the great time of world trouble is certainly upon us! Yes, the United States is, for the time being, a great super power. Yet, the US finds itself without friends in the world, except for our staunch brother country, Britain. We are universally hated by hundreds of countries. Anti-Americanism is particularly virulent in all Islamic countries, and in much of Europe, especially Germany!
We have been viciously attacked by cowardly terrorists, who send their fanatics to their suicidal mass murders, and then scurry into their warrens like the craven cowards they are.
They HIDE, scurrying here and there, using disposable cellular telephones and clandestine communications channels, sending their minions to do their dirty work, such as little girls and boys with bombs strapped around their waists! But the cowardly leaders of Al Quaeda, under the leadership of the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, HIDE, like frightened rabbits, terrified they may be found, and brought to justice. May their terror be ever more protracted, and may they flee when no man pursues.
Christ’s prophecies did not speak of the US being brought to its knees by a hand full of craven Muslim fanatics. Instead, He said a great ten-nation combine; an end-time resurrection of the old “Holy Roman Empire,” would rise up and occupy the Mideast - would become the greatest enemy of the so-called ”Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.”
But those “lost Tribes” have been FOUND! Be sure to read my book “Europe and America in Prophecy” for the truth about where the US and Britain, along with the major nations of Europe, are identified in your Bible!
No, we are not under attack by the powers of the Beast of prophecy. Bombs are not falling on New York, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles!
At the moment, and only for the time being, Israel continues to experience vicious terrorist attacks, but no armies are advancing on Jerusalem.
When you SEE “armies surrounding Jerusalem” then, as Christ said, you will KNOW that the Tribulation has truly begun! For a complete understanding of the sequence of events to occur in the Middle East; to understand EUROPE’s ultimate involvement, be sure to read my free booklet, “Mideast Strife — Will It Lead To Armageddon?”
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