“The people of Gaza and Tyre (Lebanon) have sinned again and again, and I will not forget it. I will not let them go unpunished any longer! So I will send down fire on the walls of Gaza and Tyre, and all their fortresses will be destroyed.” Amos 1: 6-7, 10 NLT
“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout you know without being told that summer is near. Just so, when you see the events I’ve described beginning to happen, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I assure you, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.” The words of Jesus Christ as recorded in Mt. 24:32-35NLT.
On my tenth trip to Israel I spent three months in Jerusalem and I learned so many things that I did not know about Israel. I interviewed Jewish Rabbis, Palestinians, missionaries, taxi drivers, shopkeepers, and just plain ordinary people. Everyone had his own opinion, and I thought that by listening and taking notes I might be able to find truth in the midst of so many diverse views.
One thing I wanted to do was actually go to people’s homes, see how they lived, and learn from them. Each day I prayed and God opened up the opportunities.
When I met Saleem, a Palestinian, he invited me to go with him to the town of Beit Jala.I wanted to see what a real Palestinian’s life was like, so I accepted Saleem’s offer. After we traveled around the first few curves in the road I was completely lost. I knew that we were somewhere south of Jerusalem, but I also realized that I was completely dependent on Saleem for directions. We chatted as we drove into the hills.
“A few weeks ago I had to move my wife and seven children out of my house. Right now we are crammed in with relatives in East Jerusalem. I have to go home a couple times a week to feed the dog and water the plants,” Saleem informed me.
“Why did you move out of your home? “ I asked naively.
“The huge shells from the tanks were crashing into my house and I was afraid that my wife or one of my children would be hurt or killed.”
“Why did the Israeli army shell your house?”
“Because one night a group of masked Arab gunmen broke into my home, forced us all to the floor, and began shooting toward Gilo. Gilo is another town just across the valley where the Jews live. The next day the shells from the tanks began falling on our home. We were afraid of the terrorists and we were afraid of the shells coming in.”
“Did the masked gunmen stay in your home?“
“Oh, no, they move to a different house and neighborhood every day. They seldom get injured. It’s the innocent people, like me, who are caught right in the middle.”
“And the Jews get blamed for targeting civilians?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
After Saleem took care of his dog and watered his flowers, he then picked the first orange from one of the trees in his yard and handed it to me. I will never forget his kindness. In the midst of his own enormous problems he wanted to give me a gift. Then he drove a few blocks away and parked in front of a house.
“I have to get something from my friend. It will just take a few minutes. You stay in the car. I’ll be right back,” he told me.
While I was waiting I suddenly saw four or five masked gunmen emerge from a house about a half a block from where Saleem’s car was parked. I knew that if they saw me, an American, I would immediately become a hostage.
The idea was most unpleasant.
It seemed like a very long time until Saleem returned to the car.
“Don‘t worry, “ he said, “We’ll be O.K. Everything will be all right.”
I wasn’t so sure. The masked terrorists were standing in the middle of the street.
Saleem started the car and began doing a u-turn. I could almost feel the bullets hitting the back window. But no bullets came.I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we were out of sight!
“Now you see what we live with every day!” Saleem exclaimed.
I have learned that I am not to “take sides”, but to love everyone. The problems in Israel are not solvable by any government. Only the Prince of Peace will be able to iron out all of the turmoil created by two groups of people who each believe that The Land belongs only to them.During the weekend of June 9-11 the Arab terrorists fired more than 45 Qassam rockets FROM GAZA into the Israeli towns of Dugit and Sederot. One rocket tore through the roof of an Israeli school, landed next to the teacher’s desk and exploded. Why was no one injured or killed? The teacher had just taken the entire class outside for prayer!And where do these terrorists shoot their rockets from? They always operate in Arab neighborhoods, knowing full well that the Israelis will not blow up five blocks of innocent Palestinians just to get them. In other words, they know that the Jews have a conscience and would not purposefully kill or maim civilians. The same cannot be said for the Arab terrorists, who purposefully target women and children with their suicide bombs. This is a huge difference between the two peoples!You can hardly see Israel on a map of the Middle East because it is so tiny. And yet every day this small nation of Israel is written about in newspapers and periodicals, worldwide. And it is a rare day when Israel is not mentioned on national television. Why is this? Doesn’t it strike you as being very unusual that a country with only six million people makes the news on a daily basis?Imagine a large empty football field. Now, in your mind’s eye, place a matchbox in the center of the field. This will give you some idea of how small Israel is in comparison to the Arab nations that surround her. Do you see how absolutely absurd it is for the Arabs to insist that Israel give up even more of its land to the Palestinian people?The Bible tells us that Israel is the place where God has chosen to set his name (Neh.1:9). Those who study the Scriptures know that Israel, from God’s perspective, is the center of the earth. Men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, and Solomon----not to mention the world’s most famous Jew, Jesus of Nazareth! Mohammed never lived in Jerusalem. Even today when Muslims pray anywhere east of Jerusalem they pray with their backs to the Holy City so that they can face Mecca or Medina.The Scriptures also tell us in several places that, although the Hebrew people become scattered all over the world, God will “hiss” for them, “gather” them, and bring them back to The Land. These predictions in the Bible have come to pass in this current generation, much to the astonishment of many people. And even though a coalition of six nations did everything they could to abort this dream, the dream became a reality anyhow. Israel became a nation May 14, 1948 (5th of Iyar, 5708)!God promised Abraham that all the land would be given to his seed. This Promised Land encompasses all the real estate from the river of Egypt (the Nile) to the great river (Tigris-Euphrates).If you look at a map you will clearly see that the land that God promised to the Jews covers six nations, what are presently Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. An amazing thing will happen in the near future, according to the Bible. All the land will become Israel’s land. This means that the Israel as we know it now will become many, many times larger.The challenging idea for believers is that Israel is a type of the church. What happens to Israel takes place in many of our lives in the spiritual realm. Have you ever compared the suicide bombers in Israel with the massive destruction taking place inside the American church? We have now reached a point in the United States when approximately 50 churches are permanently closing their doors each week! This is horrific destruction.Pastors aren’t running off with secretaries any more---they are running off with other men. The divorce rate, child abuse, and wife battering within the church have exceeded the secular world. It has become embarrassing. We are in a war and don’t even know it. The saddest thing is that we are losing the most precious commodity in our country---our young people!Just as Israel has a much smaller piece of real estate than what was originally promised, we believers have not entered into our promises either. One day Israel will be many times larger than she is now. Hopefully, the church will also see beyond the small perimeters we have painted for ourselves and break out of our tiny cages, entering into the limitless power of Almighty God.The Arab people who now have control of the nations in the Middle East will not freely hand over their countries to Israel. They hate God’s chosen people and would never give them one inch of their land. My guess is that one of these days the Arab nations will provoke Israel once too often and light the fuse that will cause the Jews to use their ultimate weapon---The Sampson Option (read the book by the same title by Seymour Hersh). Many scientists believe that Israel has a secret weapon, aptly named, that can absolutely disintegrate an entire city. When they are provoked, and find themselves with their backs to sea and nowhere else to go, the Israelis will then take the land, which is rightfully theirs---all of the Promised Land.God “hissed” for His people and gathered them to the place He has chosen for them. Six Arab nations attacked Israel the next day, May 15, 1948 hoping to drive them into the sea and bring to pass Hitler’s final solution---the commitment to annihilate every living Jew---the extinction. The Arabs delude themselves in thinking that they can wipe the Jews off the face of the earth, and Israel has decided that it will not accommodate the Arabs by disappearing from the map.The Arabs have determined to liquidate the state of Israel, but God has other plans for His people. After the War of Independence (1948-49) Israel has suffered through, and won, six more wars: Sinai War, 1956; Six-Day War, 1967; Yom Kippur War, 1973; Osirak Raid, 1981; Lebanon War, 1982-84; and the Second Persian Gulf War, 1991. And I have not mentioned here the constant Arab raiding gangs of snipers, and more recently the suicide bombers, who have targeted women, children, university students, and farmers, blowing them to smithereens. Innocent victims riding buses have been killed, permanently maimed and disfigured---faces blown away, limbs gone, eyes gone. Arafat, the costumed multiple murderer, has now gone “where the wicked cease from troubling” (a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island). Before his death Arafat planned and financed these butchers, and then dared to call them freedom fighters. Others have now taken his place. The main difference between the Israelis and the Arabs: terrorists purposely target innocent civilians, whether they are women, children, or the elderly. And the terrorists purposely shoot from civilian neighborhoods, knowing full well that the Jews will not indiscriminately blow up five city blocks of innocent people just so they can kill a hand full of terrorists. They hide behind the skirts of women. Some people call this “shrewd”, we call it wicked.We have been hammered by the media with the phrase “Islam is a peaceful religion”.If this is true Muslims should do their part by not killing people all over the world. President Bush was fed misinformation by Cleveland State University law professor David F. Forte. That’s why, even after 9/11, we have been asked by the liberal press to bow down and cow-tow to Muslims. Just so we can all be politically correct little grandmothers are being spread-eagled and searched at airport terminals, after all, we certainly can’t profile. Better to have an airliner blown up than that we should offend anyone.Many of us are not bowing down!In the War for Independence 6,373 Jews were killed (1% of Israel’s population). That would be like the United States suffering about 32 million casualties, or, to make it even clearer, about 60,000 deaths per state. One wonders how a new, struggling nation could survive such atrocities and weather such horrible storms. This in itself is miraculous. Someone has said, “I believe in God because the Jews exist! ” Think about it.The Jews know that they have nowhere else to go. If they are defeated on their own soil it will be the end of their culture, their nation, their religion, their tradition, the Hebrew language, and their dreams.A Jewish scientist from Tel Aviv sat next to me on one of my flights to Israel. As we chatted I asked him if he had ever heard of any group of people who had returned to the same land after 2,000 years and who had retained its language culture, traditions, and religion.He agreed with me that what the Jewish people have done by returning and building the state of Israel is nothing short of a miracle. This Jewish scientist was an atheist who used the word “miracle” in referring to what his people have done by achieving a national identity.Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism wrote, “If you will it, it is no dream.”The state of Israel is no longer just a dream; it is a reality. It has become fait accompli---an irreversible fact. Israel exists! And the sooner the Arabs recognize this truth, the better. They would do well to read A Place Among the Nations, by Benjamin Netanyahu, or So Sorry We Won, by Ephraim Kishon.Can you blame any people who refuse to be permanently turned into clay pigeons? And the Israelis have learned a truth that America is painfully realizing since 9/11---giving in to terror only leads to more terror.During the Six-Day War of 1967 so many modern day miracles took place that it is impossible to mention them all in this article. Any sane person has to realize that God is on Israel’s side. Surrounded by more than 200 million angry Arabs intent on bathing themselves in Jewish blood, it seemed that the six million Jews did not have a chance, either in 1948 or 1967.When the Six-Day war started there were 100,000 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai with more than 900 tanks. In the North, Syria was invading with six brigades and 300 tanks, from the vantage point of the Golan Heights. Seven brigades and 270 tanks were coming across from Jordan, with more back-up support from Iraq and Lebanon, not to mention the financial backing of Saudi Arabia’s oil money. Syria had been shelling Israel from the Golan Heights for several days before Israel struck back. 175 acres of orchards, 75 acres of grain and 205 houses had been destroyed before Israeli troops counter-attacked. And then the Arabs dared to protest to the United Nations that Israel had provoked the war and struck first.In the natural, Israel did not stand a chance. But in the first six hours of the war Israel destroyed 416 enemy planes, and then totally destroyed and demolished 80% of Egypt’s military equipment. Eleven thousand five hundred Egyptians died and Israel took six thousand prisoners.In the North the young Jewish soldiers faced 300 Syrian tanks, but bravely began clawing their way up the slopes of the Golan Heights inch by inch. I had the privilege of interviewing one of those courageous IDF men. If ever a David had faced off with a Goliath it was that day, when against insurmountable odds, boys spilled their blood and become men on a horrible battlefield. Like Nahshon (the name of the first man into the Red Sea when it parted), and Samuel Brand (Israel’s first legal immigrant, May 15, 1948) these young men chose to step into the line of fire of massive tanks and dismantle them.A death sentence for Israel had been lifted. Israel stared the threat of extinction in the face and decided that there would be no second holocaust.Israeli soldiers rushed into Jerusalem to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall or Kotel) and wept, prayed danced, and shouted. Moshe Dayan, distinguished by his eye-patch, led his men to the Temple Mount for the first time in 2,000 years. Those who were praying at the Kotel pressed kvitlach (prayer requests on small slips of paper) into the cracks of The Wall. Placing the kvitlach has become a tradition. During each of my trips to Israel I carry with me written prayer requests to insert there. I have had some wonderful and amazing personal answers.The Arabs delude themselves into thinking that they can wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. They have found themselves to be fighting against the God of the Bible!“The situation”, a reference to the current danger to Israel’s survival, continues up to this present moment. Even as you read this article there are Arab forces determined to kill one more Jewish person. Each day Arab schools teach hatred and it is pumped into the young minds and emotions of Arab children. They are told that to be a suicide bomber is honorable. They are told that the moment that they give up their life God will take them into heaven where they will be blessed, rewarded, and surrounded by 70 young virgins for eternity. So, believing what they have been taught, hundreds and hundreds of young Arabs strap on the explosives that will destroy them and catapult them into the real eternity---the one without Christ. This is beyond heart breaking, both for the Jews and for these innocent Arab children who have never known any other reality than the lie they grew up with.This brings us to another very serious question. Why do the Arabs hate the Jewish people so much? Personally, I believe that this hatred can be traced all the way back to the day Abraham sent Ishmael and Hagar into the desert to die. Ishmael was only a 14-year-old boy. He loved his father so very much. I’m sure that Hagar loved Abraham, also. Can you ever imagine the emotional turmoil that boiled inside of this young boy? He was rejected by the only father he had ever known.I believe that this rejection not only entered his mind and emotions; it entered his blood, his very spirit. He could never get over it---ever. He was destroyed emotionally, and he certainly passed this deep feeling onto his ancestors. No wonder the Bible immediately states that Ishmael “became an archer”. The hatred that boiled in his blood made him want to strike back because of the injustice done to him. If you want to read more about this story go to Genesis chapter 21 and to one of my articles on the FLC website: http://www.flc7.com/news/www.flc7.com/news/roots.html.The two million Arabs who live in Israel have the right to vote. None of the Arabs living in any of the Arab states can vote because every Arab nation is a dictatorship. This figures; because the Arabs not only cannot get along with the Jews, they cannot get along with each other either. Just take a look at what is taking place in Iraq.Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Arabs can get jobs, run businesses, and be members of a free society in Israel. When Palestinians attempted to settle in Jordan more than 10,000 of them were put to death. Syria butchered another 25,000 Palestinians and it barely made the news. President of Syria, Hafez Assad completely destroyed the town of Hama in 1982. 180,000 people lived there. Did the news media even mention it? And in 1922, 300,000 inhabitants of Smyrna were butchered by Muslims---another example of the “peace of Islam”.But when an Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian terrorist who is attempting to blow people to bits, the press screams out the headlines and publishes the incident for the world to see.What people on this planet, other than Arab terrorists, place their children on the front lines of a war armed with rocks, and then dare to make an outcry to the Western press when one of them gets killed? Why don’t the “brave” terrorists and “freedom fighters” replace these children on the front lines? And why did they hijack The Achille Lauro in 1986, then torture and murder an old Jewish man in a wheel chair---all in front of his wife---and then dare call it a protest against Israel?What would we do in the United States if our citizens were being murdered and maimed on a daily basis? There would be a very great outcry by the American people to find the perpetrators and stop the violence. And we would want justice! We would want the people, whoever they were, and whatever religion they represented, to be imprisoned or put to death.When John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo were indiscriminately shooting innocent people of the back of their car, October 2002, media attention focused on it so much that for a few days there was not much else in the news. And there was a very strong cry for law enforcement to do something about it. For just a few days we Americans lived in fear for our lives. So we have a little understanding of what the Jews have faced since they became a nation.Ever since May 14, 1948 the Jewish people in Israel have lived like this every day! We cannot even imagine how brave these people are. What spirit they have! And they continue going to work, going to the store, going to school, taking busses (that are frequently boarded by suicide bombers), and going for walks.In 2006 I spent May and June in Jerusalem. If you remember, back in August of 2005 all Jewish people moved out of Gaza. It was referred to as “the disengagement”. Many of them were forced out by the Israeli Army. The Arabs had promised that if all Jews were forced out of Gaza then there would be peace. I guess that their definition of the word “peace” is very different from everyone else’s definition of peace.Since the Jews pulled out of Gaza the Arab terrorists have fired more than 800 Qassam rockets into Israel. That is the “thank you” that they have expressed for the Israeli withdrawal.During the weekend of June 9-11, 2006 the Arab terrorists fired more than 45 Qassam rockets FROM GAZA into the Israeli towns of Dugit and Sederot. One rocket tore through the roof of an Israeli school, landed next to the teacher’s desk and exploded. Why was no one injured or killed? The teacher had just taken the entire class outside for prayer!And where do these terrorists shoot their rockets from? They always operate in Arab neighborhoods, knowing full well that the Israelis will not blow up five blocks of innocent Palestinians just to get them. In other words, they know that the Jews have a conscience and would not purposefully kill or maim civilians. The same cannot be said for the Arab terrorists, who purposefully target women and children with their suicide bombs. This is a huge difference between the two peoples!Another major event took place while I was there. Hamas terrorists tunneled almost 1,000 yards beneath the Israel/Gaza border. During the night some of them made their way through the tunnel and emerged on the Israeli side of the border. They then killed two soldiers and kidnapped 19-year old Gilad Shalit. Israel issued an ultimatum: “Release this boy or we will invade Gaza!”Of course the terrorists would not release him. So on the morning of June 28 the IDF re-entered Gaza with guns blazing. This is the continuation of the century-old story of warfare, killing, torture, hatred, and bloodshed. Back in the olden days the Philistines were the enemy. Today, with just a few letters difference, it is the Palestinians. (By the way, the word “Palestinian” did not exist prior to 1967.)A few days later Hezbollah kidnapped and killed several Israeli citizens and then began firing Katusha rockets into Israel from Lebanon. The Katusha rockets are loaded with ball bearings. Upon impact these steel balls are propelled with such force that they penetrate steel. The ball bearings shred human flesh and bones as easily as a knife slices through soft butter. These rockets landed in Tiberias, Haifa, Nazareth and several other towns, killing Israeli citizens. Hassan Nasrallah is the leader of the same Hezbollah that murdered 220 United States Marines and 21 other service members in 1983 by blowing up the barracks in Lebanon. Of course, the European Union does not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, even though Hezbollah has now threatened to send thousands of suicide bombers all over the world to blow innocent civilians to bits, and stated: “We want to start World War Three!”The Hezbollah Flag. Does this look peaceful?What could Israel do? If a neighbor told you point blank, “I am going to kill your wife and children,” what would you do? You could sit by and hope that he really would not do this. Then when he began killing your family you would have to do something.This is exactly the situation Israel was in July 11, 2006 when Hezbollah began killing Israeli citizens. Israel had no choice but to retaliate! The murderous Arab cult forced the Jews to strike back and defend their nation and their people.You might ask the question, “Why did Israel invade Lebanon?” It is because Hezbollah literally took over the southern portion of Lebanon and used it as a military base, stockpiling at least 30,000 Katusha rockets. The Lebanese government was not strong enough to force the terrorists out of their country.Hezbollah receives more than 100 million dollars from Iran each year. This is how it is able to purchase arms and pay its soldiers. The money and military equipment are sent to Syria and then transported by trucks to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran also has at least 300 experts in Lebanon who are training the terrorists in the use of sophisticated weapons. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated, “We want to destroy Israel and the Jews!”Some people have accused Israel of using disproportionate force and not using the conventional method of sitting down at conference tables and negotiating peace. History has proven that nobody can sit down and talk with a group of people who are determined to kill you. Have you ever attempted to reason with a bully? The only thing a bully understands is force. Back during the Iraq war of 1991, on January 18 Iraq launched 42 scud missiles, destroying more than 4,100 buildings. Amazingly only two Israelis died, although 230 people were injured. Another example of God’s protective hand on behalf of his people.Whenever I mention to someone that I lead teams of people to Israel, the very first thing he says is: “Aren’t you afraid to go over there? I wouldn’t go over there for anything in the world.”Statistically, you are much safer in Israel these days than on the streets of the United States of America! My daughter, Martha, and her five children live there all the time. Go to http://www.flc7.com/news/www.shevet.org so you can read about what she does. I feel very comfortable living in Jerusalem and have never experienced any type of fear whatsoever.Golda Meir said, “One trip to Israel is worth listening to 100 speeches!”Israel is mentioned 2,566 times in the Bible, but it never mentions the Palestinians.Jerusalem is mentioned 811 times.The original meaning of the word “Israel” is found in Genesis 32:28 when Jacob, the supplanter (one who supersedes another by force or treachery) or heel holder, was given a new name. “And he said, Your name will not be called Jacob any more, but Israel: for as a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed.”Israel literally means God prevails. As believers we need to hold on to the promises in His Word that he will prevail. As we see world events pointing clearly to the fact that we are in the last days it is our duty to at least watch and pray. That is the starting point. After that it becomes our duty as believers to do whatever God asks us to do.Without a doubt we are living in the end times---the very last days. It all started in the Garden of Eden, and now the world is focusing on Iran/Iraq and the Middle East. Jesus told us to be alert and to pay attention to the “Fig Tree (Mt. 24:32; Mk. 13:28; Lu. 21:29). Throughout the Bible the fig tree has symbolized the nation of Israel. Current events are triggering our entrance into the LAST DAYS as predicted in the Bible. Jeremiah 24:5 makes it clear that “figs represent the Jews”. The FIG TREE is the entire nation of Israel!
Russia has now entered the equation with several very interesting and important statements. Putin declared, “Israel has gone way beyond an anti-terrorist operation. It has used disproportionate force. We offer to place our troops on the Lebanon/Israeli border as a peace-keeping presence.” Why is Russia interested in being there?
In the 38th chapter of Ezekiel God predicts events that will take place “in the latter years”. He clearly states that Gog will come against Israel “as a cloud” to cover the land. The Scripture makes it clear that it will be God who “puts hooks” into Gog’s jaw and brings him to Israel, along with a multi-national force. Many Bible scholars believe that Gog is modern Russia.
The Fig Tree has budded (May 14, 1948) and many other signs and wonders are taking place in modern Israel. Most Bible scholars believe that the return of Jesus is imminent and that the END OF ALL THINGS is at hand. Jesus said that the generation that sees these things would be the last generation!