"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." - Matthew 23:37-39
During the recent presidential debate and this week's vice presidential debate the topic of the relationship between Israel and the United States came up. As usual, the conversation centered around Israel's defense and protection against her neighbors, specifically, Iran, who have vowed to destroy Israel. Iran is not alone in expressing their hatred of Israel, yet few ask, "Why?" Just as a youtube video was blamed for the anti-American hatred expressed by thousands of Muslims in various countries, Israel's existence as a nation on land claimed by Arab countries is the reason given for the hatred of the Jews.
God gives us the true reason in His Word, the Bible. God chose Abraham, and He passed on His promises through Isaac (not Ishmael), and then Jacob, whose name was changed by God to Israel. The miraculous existence of the nation of Israel is a thorn in the side not only of the Muslim nations, but to other nations in the world who are pawns in a larger battle of which they are totally and utterly ignorant - the battle between God and Satan. Only by reading and understanding this battle as God reveals it in the Bible can you understand the struggle in the Middle East and what it has to do with every human being alive on planet earth!
In the verses above, Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders of the Jews. These men should have recognized who Jesus was and received His teaching, but instead, they wanted to kill Him. In Matthew 23 Jesus confronted them with their sin against God, but they didn't want to hear it. So Jesus spoke of the future destruction that would come upon them - UNTIL His return. The very city of Jerusalem has been the center of fighting and war for centuries. It continues to be a stumbling block for any Mideast peace today. Muslims claim it as their holy city, as do Jews and Christians. But God has a plan for Jerusalem.
Zechariah gives two pictures of future battles surrounding Jerusalem. In Chapter 12 God says that He will make Jerusalem an immovable obstacle to all who come against her, and He will bring salvation to Judah and Jerusalem and all living there. But in Chapter 14 Zechariah describes a gathering of the nations against Jerusalem and a horrible siege of the city that will bring death and destruction to many, until the Lord Jesus Himself intervenes. Both of these will happen. The Bible describes two times when Jerusalem will be surrounded by the armies of the nations. Chapter 12 may describe the battle at the end of the millennium, the thousand-year reign of Jesus over all the earth (see Revelation 20:7-10), while Chapter 14 may describe the battle of Armageddon, mentioned in Revelation 16:16 and 19:11-21.
However we understand these prophecies, Jerusalem WILL BE DELIVERED from her enemies and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will finally acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). At that time, all who have believed in Him will be enter His kingdom together and will live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. Then all people who have ever lived will be gathered before the throne of God (Revelation 20:11-15), and the books will be opened, and those who have believed in Jesus will live forever in the presence of God in a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21-22), while the rest will face eternal judgment in hell.
As we watch world events today, these things are unfolding just as God has promised. The rest is soon to occur. The only safety from the coming wrath of God is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who can destroy the body but who cannot kill the soul, but rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Praise God that He has provided an escape through the cross of Jesus Christ and that those who trust in Jesus are forgiven and have received the gift of eternal life. If you believe, you need not fear as you watch these things unfold. There will be difficult times and many trials. Some, even today, are being put to death for their faith in Jesus, and that persecution will increase in future days. Be ready. Stand firm. Trust in the Lord Jesus and He will strengthen you by His Word and Spirit. His Word will come to pass - ALL of it! But in the end - Jesus will reign!
Let these words be your comfort today: "Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory" (Romans 8:17).