Israel Against the World?

Your covenant with death will be annulled;
your agreement with the grave will not stand. Isaiah 28:18

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: “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. (Zech 12:1-3)

Most students of prophecy correctly see this passage as being fulfilled after the church is out of the picture and godless world leaders are free to challenge Israel’s right to exist with impunity. The prevailing thinking is that as long as the evangelical church has any influence, particularly in the US, some measure of restraint will be exercised against the Moslem intention of eliminating Israel altogether.

The increasing frailty of our influence was evidenced this week as US Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to meet with both Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat. On Thursday, after meeting with Moslem heads of state, Powell joined with Moslem, Russian, and European leaders to call for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from Palestinian cities and to cease their efforts at rooting out terrorists and dismantling their infrastructure. There’s incredible pressure on Israel to stop short of achieving their goal and Powell’s statement only served to increase it.

What’s The Point?

At issue of course is not just the escalating violence in the region and the real possibility that it will spill over into neighboring countries. (For example Syria has just given the Lebanese Hizballah permission to begin lobbing artillery and missiles, provided by Iran, into the Golan Heights and Israel has begun to retaliate against Lebanon.) This week the Arab world was pulling out all the stops in trying to force Israel to withdraw before the battle in Jenin could be won, and before the sieges in Bethlehem and Ramallah could force those hiding in the Church of the Nativity and Arafat’s headquarters to surrender.

Aside from the fact that many senior leaders of Arafat’s terrorist coalition are trapped in these 3 locations, the real battle, as with everything involving Israel, is spiritual. The Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah, Yasser Arafat, Osama bin Laden and every other Muslim leader knew that an Israeli victory in Jenin could shatter the myth of the invincible warrior for Islam. With Powell, the Russians, and the Europeans joining in it looked as if the Moslems had indeed aligned the whole world against Israel. The Israelis refused to yield to this pressure and as of this morning it appears as if their army has been successful in Jenin. The Jenin refuge camp was the major center of terrorist activity in the West Bank with extensive training and bomb making capabilities and offered the strongest resistance of any targets in the Israeli campaign.

A Rock And A Hard Place

Remember, Israel’s very existence as a nation violates provisions of the Koran, and Israel’s victories over Islamic forces are therefore intolerable. That’s why in the past, world opinion has always been mustered to force Israel to stop before achieving victory. Conversely, there are many in Israel who believe they have no right to give up any land west of the Jordan River. The Lord commanded them, “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” (Lev. 25:23). The National Religious Party, representing this view, has just joined the Israeli government strengthening Sharon’s position against the liberal faction who still clings to the land for peace strategy and giving him the political ability to stand against all the pressure.

Sharon, a 73-year-old former army general accused world leaders of turning a blind eye to Palestinian suicide bombings and said that proved Israel must defend itself regardless of international criticism. He complained that while world leaders regularly telephoned him to protest at Israel’s military siege of Arafat in his West Bank headquarters, he rarely heard a word of concern about Israeli civilians killed and maimed in suicide bombings.

He also vowed not to be press-ganged by the international community. “Nobody will enforce upon us any decisions or resolutions that might affect our future. Israel is a wonderful country, a courageous country and we should be left to defend ourselves in this historic place,” Sharon said.

A Real Eye Opener

After his meetings with Sharon and other Israeli officials, Powell seemed to have modified his earlier position, reminding the world of President Bush’s April 4 statement that terrorism must be fought and defeated. They had shown him captured documents that clearly indicate Arafat’s personal involvement in the attacks against Israeli citizens, and apparently convinced him of their need to continue with their military actions against terrorist centers. A suicide bombing (now being called homicide bombings by the White House) only ¼ mile from Powell’s location caused him to postpone his meeting with Arafat until he received Arafat’s condemnation of the attack. He later received it and met with Arafat today, but the meeting achieved no progress.

Powell also called his visit to the border with Lebanon a real eye opener. As a military man, he recognizes the threat that the missiles and artillery arrayed against Israel’s northern borders presents. This armament has been provided by Iran and set up with Syria’s assistance and permission.

His in person assessment of the situation in Israel may have caused Powell to soften the hard line position he had voiced following meetings with EU, Russian and Moslem leaders before arriving in Israel. Phone consultations with the EU and Russians before agreeing to meet with Arafat have apparently caused them to soften their positions as well. On Tuesday, Powell will be in Damascus to warn Syria about the consequences of allowing the Hizbollah to threaten Israel’s north. We’ll see what reaction that brings.

In the past Soviet might has been applied to force the US to make Israel quit short of victory. For now there’s no one left to provide the Moslem world with that kind of clout. Could we therefore be leading up to a perceived Israeli victory over terrorism setting the stage for the false peace required before the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 comes? Time will tell. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.