Sometimes people ask me, "What do you think about what’s going on over in the Middle East right now?" By the term, "right now", this has meant many things including the war in Iraq, the war between Lebanon and Israel, the inability of the Palestinians to provide physical or political peace amongst themselves, Iran’s anti-semitic stance, terrorists acts by Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, and Hamas, Israeli leadership shifts, and many times the status of the city of Jerusalem. There is an awful lot going on over there. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of it all.
Every once in a while I read a Middle East news story that makes me think about the end of this age. The city of Jerusalem is of great importance to us as eschatology students since God has future plans for this city. Obviously, there will be a New Jerusalem, but what about God’s plans for the Jerusalem that currently exists? This news story here seems to convey the idea that perhaps Israel will regain sovereignty over Jerusalem again. The idea in this article is that perhaps Israel is doing such a good job at maintaining peace in their sector, that the "powers that be" will allow Israel to maintain all of Jerusalem, maybe even the temple mount itself. At this link here we see the desire on the part of many Israelis to renew their focus upon the temple mount. The occasion? The 40th anniversary of the six day war, also known as Jerusalem Day.
If Israel were to regain complete sovereignty over Jerusalem and the temple mount before any of our end times events occurs, that would go against many things that I have posted in a number of places. I have pointed to Luke 21:24 many times to show that Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentile nations until the end of the age. This verse coupled with Revelation 11:1-2 tells us that the final 3 1/2 years at the end of this age will still include the holy city being trodden down by the Gentiles. So according to my view of the scriptures, Israel will not regain complete sovereignty over Jerusalem before Jesus Christ shows up in the flesh.
So I breathe a sigh of relief when I read in this new article that the United States and European Union ambassadors are boycotting the 40th anniversary celebration of the six day war. I’m not breathing a sigh of relief because I’m glad that Israel’s intentions are not backed by the "powers that be", I’m breathing a sigh of relief because actual events are pointing toward a literal fulfillment of the scriptures. Also, if you read this news article you find that the majority of Israeli Jews will not be celebrating Jerusalem Day. This tells me that while some Israelites are trying to establish a vision for the temple mount, most are apathetic.
If Israel is to do anything with the temple mount, it will have to be in conjunction with other world powers. There is too much tension in the Middle East for Israel to do something without the entire world noticing. If temple rituals will be observed, it is going to be under the watchful eye of some political entity such as the European Union, the United Nations, NATO, the Arab League, or all of them together. This is where it gets very interesting to be an eschatology student. If there is to be some type of agreement between the world powers if Israel is to do anything on the temple mount, then we must have some type of treaty (or should I write, covenant?) which will supposedly allow Israel to have her dream granted.
This leads me to another possibility that some have been suggesting for years. Jerusalem may very well become an international city. If Israel is the nation closest to having sovereignty over Jerusalem, but Arab nations will not trust Israel with Jerusalem, and Israel will not trust anyone else with Jerusalem, then it seems they would be at an impass save for some type of international agreement to be regulated by the presence of a multinational force. I have mentioned in other posts that OT prophets spoke of a future covenant that Israel would make with other nations which would be broken. Isaiah 28:14-18 terms it a covenant with death (notice how it is directed at Jerusalem). Isaiah 33:8 speaks of broken covenants in an end times passage. Then of course there is Daniel 9:27 which mentions the establishment of a covenant with many (many nations?) at the beginning of a seven year period only to have sacrifices stopped in the midst of the seven year period along with an abomination of desolation.
If Jerusalem becomes an international city under the umbrella of some type of covenant, what would be the future of such a city? Would the Vatican want to move their headquarters to the holy city claiming to be the center of the Christian faith? Would Islam allow Israel to remove the dome of the rock, or would they insist that Muslims be allowed to worship on the temple mount? Would Israel want to reestablish temple mount sacrifices? All of these things would be possible if a covenant with many resulted in Jerusalem being proclaimed as belonging to all nations. We could see Jerusalem become the center of the world’s religions in our lifetime.
Remember also that there is an end times city known in scripture as Babylon which will be the center of trade for the entire world. One of the things they buy and sell is the souls of men, Revelation 18:13. At Babylon’s destruction, the blood of the prophets was found in her, Revelation 18:24. But Christ said that Jerusalem is responsible for the blood of the prophets, Matthew 24:29-39, Luke 13:31-35. At the slaying of the two witnesses, Jerusalem is referred to as a spiritual Sodom, Revelation 11:8. We see also that the end times ruler who will lift himself up against God will enter into glorious land, establish his ruling place on the glorious holy mountain (Mount Zion, the temple mount), but meet his end at that time, Daniel 11:41-44. What does that tell us about the future of the present Jerusalem and the temple mount? It tells me to keep my eyes on Jerusalem. That’s where it’s all going to come together. For the worse at first. Then comes Israel’s Messiah.
One other item. Zechariah 5:5-11 tells me that something is going to happen in the land of Shinar (ancient Babylon or modern Iraq). With Iraq’s peace in question unless the nations come together brings up another possible scenario. If the only way to keep the peace in Iraq is to establish a multinational force there as well, could we see the restoration of ancient Babylon? Perhaps the United Nations will move their headquarters there.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman