Israel and Lebanon – The Gathering Storm?

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We have been watching the events in Lebanon and Israel unfold on our TV screens with growing concern. Innocent civilians are being killed and injured. Families are being wrenched apart as foreign nationals are evacuated by sea and air. The plight of young women with babes in arms and toddlers appears especially poignant, as we watch sailors carrying the little ones aboard ship and mothers tearful with relief as they land at Heathrow with their few salvaged possessions and their sleepy children.

A report by Save the Children posted on the web says this:

The situation in Lebanon: Our partners are reporting that 45% of those killed in Lebanon are children and of the 500,000 people who have fled to safety, some 200,000 are children. Save the Children is working hard to provide blankets, nappies and food to the displaced families.”

Endless discussions have taken place in the media and around the conference tables of the world. Is Israel’s response to the rocket attacks disproportionate? Should America delay intervention to allow Hezbollah (a guerrilla organisation dedicated to the establishment of a Palestinian homeland) to be rendered incapable, of further attacks on northern Israel, by the Israeli armed forces? Is the Lebanese government too weak to control what is happening on its own borders? Are Syria and Iran behind the current escalation of violence? Could this local conflict erupt into full scale war involving many more countries?

army helmetThere are no clear answers to these questions. However the Lord Jesus Christ has something to say on the subject in his Olivet prophecy:

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “… what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains… (Matthew 24 v 3 – 8)

… How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.“ (Matthew 24 v 19 – 22)

Wars and reports of wars have been common place for a century or so! Women and children have always suffered at the hands of militant men folk. Famines are also reported frequently as are the devastating results of earthquakes and tsunamis. The Bible describes an attack from the north as preceding “the great and dreadful day of the Lord”. There are a number of references which imply that a northern power will invade the land. There are also many references to the problem of Jerusalem – a city holy to at least three religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity. More than ever before it is a stumbling block for the nations!

“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. (Zechariah 12 v 2 – 3)

The world’s patience with Israel will run out! Their armies will invade the land. Jerusalem is not yet surrounded by armies and Israel has not yet realised that success lies in trusting in Almighty God. He is in control! In the midst of the most terrible conflict, the Lord Jesus will return to the earth. He will come back to the Mount of Olives!

Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zechariah 14 v 3 – 4)

This will not be an easy time for the world. The battle will be fierce. The Lord Jesus will eventually subdue the powers of evil and set up a Kingdom based on Jerusalem. The nations will go up to worship there and a new era of peace and harmony will prevail. Read about it for yourself in Isaiah 65 and 66, and in Zechariah 13 v 16 – 21! Israel will finally recognise and pay homage to their Messiah.

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. (Isaiah 65 v 17 – 19)

The words of the Lord Jesus are telling. We seem to be entering the last days before his return, but only he and his father know the exact sequence of events. His message, in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 is clear:

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24 v 42 – 44)

We must be ready for his return to the earth! At that time, there will be no more sadness or pain and both old and young will be able to live in complete safety, because our Lord and Master is King over all the earth. Those who wish to have a share in that kingdom age need to be ready to obey the King now! In the days of Noah – also a time of great wickedness and impending threat, salvation lay in the ark! Today salvation depends on repentance and baptism into the saving name of Christ!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3 v 16 – 18)

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