27 Jan 2012
There is so much going on in the world related to Bible prophecy that it is sometimes helpful to take a step back and contemplate a bit on the Big Picture.
It is easy to get so caught up in the details that one misses the awesome power of the Big Picture itself; the embodiment of the old saying about being unable to ‘see the forest for the trees’.
Bible prophecy is more than a prediction about the future. It is a promise about the future. God doesn’t just list events out of context, the events emerge later out of the promises He makes.
God promised the restoration of Israel in the last days as a benchmark against which to measure other end-time’s promises.
To bring about the restoration, God promised that the Jews would be forced out of Israel, scattered worldwide, persecuted worldwide, and that they would then return to Israel.
All of these promises were fulfilled in the context of the greater Promises of the Big Picture; the return of Christ for His Church and the national redemption of the Jews.
The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies. Some were fulfilled more than 3000 years ago. Others have been fulfilled since then.
The most astonishingly unlikely prophecy of Scripture was fulfilled on May 14, 1948, when Israel resumed its seat at the table of nations after a 2700 year absence, as prophesied by Daniel, Ezekiel, Hosea, Isaiah and Jesus.
Israel was established as a nation some 3400 years ago. The Jews lost sovereignty about 2700 years ago. Israel existed under a sucession of conquerors until AD 70 when the Jews were banished from the Holy Land by the Romans.
They wandered, persecuted and afflicted, and were dispersed (but never absorbed) among all the nations of the world. But when God called them back to their land at the appointed time, they came in exactly the order prophesied:
“Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 43:4-5)
Zionist history records the first modern mass emigration of Jews back to the Holy Land as the “First Aliyah” (1882-1903):
“Between 1882 and 1903, approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine, then a province of the Ottoman Empire. The majority, belonging to the Hibbat Zion and Bilu movements, came from Eastern Europe with a smaller number arriving from Yemen.” (Wikipedia entry for ‘aliyah’)
These early immigrants from the East later gathered together with the survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust in Western Europe, and, under the slogan, “Never again” declared the rebirth of the sovereign state of Israel.
The Soviets soon clamped down on Jewish emigration, and Jewish ‘refuseniks’ languished in Soviet labor camps until the USSR collapsed and ‘gave up’ her Jews — from the north.
In 1991, during a 36-hour covert operation, Israel airlifted 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in defiance of the Mengistu regime then in power who was ‘holding back’ the Ethiopian Jewish community from emigrating to Israel.
Since then, dozens of other rescue operations have been mounted for isolated Jewish communities world-wide.
God’s promise was fulfilled exactly as it was given, in order and to the last detail.
“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:10)
Allow yourself a second to contemplate that verse and what it reveals. God’s ‘signature’ is to start at the end with a Promise, then outline in advance how He will keep it.
First, the end — Israel’s restoration — told ‘from the beginning’ and then, ‘from ancient times’ His method for accomplishing ‘the things that are not yet done.’
God not only promised Israel’s restoration, but in so doing, foretold, in detail, the events that would make restoration necessary — and the order in which He would accomplish it.
Down to details like the subtle difference between ‘gathering’ from the West and commanding the South to ‘hold not back’. Awesome.
The prophet Joel foretold that the modern state of Israel will be partitioned by other nations:
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for My people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My land.” (Joel 3:2)
Zechariah foretold that Jerusalem would become the focus of international attention, a ‘burdensome stone’ that will cause all the nations of the world to be gathered against it. (Zechariah 12:1-5)
The prophet Micah said that in the last days, Jerusalem would become the world’s most important religious site. (Micah 4:1)
NONE of this was even possible to be fulfilled only a generation ago. Today, it is so much a part of the daily newscasts that it loses its impact.
Step back from it for a minute and see it for what it actually is.
The scenario playing out before our eyes conforms exactly with God’s promises regarding Israel in the last days. That is just part of the Big Picture. It’s awesome.
All the rest of the details are, in and of themselves, just as awesome.
But when you step back and see how each detail is so interdependent on so many other details, ‘awesome’ isn’t quite adequate to describe it.
The attention to detail confirms for us that no matter how chaotic and out of control world events seem to be, everything is going according to Divine Plan. God remains in control of events and He told us how it all turns out in the end.
And since He hasn’t been wrong yet, we can trust Him on it.
How awesome is that?