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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Can this be Israel in the Last Days?

Returning to the Land

The Zionist Movement which began in the eighteenth century marked the beginning of Israel's second return to the Land since the founding of the nation by Joshua.  The first return was the return from the Babylonian captivity.  The second return, completed by Israel's statehood in 1948, was the return from the Roman dispersion  in 130 AD.  Neither of these returns were based solely on the resources of the Jews.
The first return, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, was underwritten by the Persian King Cyrus. Cyrus understood that his own kingdom would be blessed for his support of the God of Israel.
The return of the Jews to the Holy Land during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries also involved the support of outside nations.  According to the Jewish Zionist and philosopher Moses Hess, newly liberated France and other Christian nations worked together with wealthy Jewish investors, such as the Rothschilds, in order to build the framework for resettlement and the autonomy which would ultimately lead to the modern nation of Israel.
The Western World, like Cyrus, believed they would be blessed by blessing the Jews.  But, as Hess pointed out in his collection of letters, "Rome and Jerusalem", Christians and Jews shared another powerful motivation for re-forming the nation of Israel; the final fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

"But when you come into the Land"

By far the greatest disparity between the return from the Babylonian captivity and the  return from the Diaspora is the inability of the Israel's current leaders to discourage the Jewish people from sinning against the Lord.
"See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.  But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,  I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess." - Deuteronomy 30:15-18 
Ezra and Nehemiah feared God and punished the people severely when they sinned against the Lord.  And after Israel was liberated by the Maccabees from the Grecian empire, the Pharisees rose up to lead the Jews in the ways of the Lord.  By their strict enforcement of the Law they sought to prevent any sin which might result in yet another expulsion from the Land.
Yet the Jews of Israel today seem to have no fear of God before their eyes.  Tel-Aviv is considered to be the San Francisco of the Eastern Hemisphere because of its raging homosexuality and excessive worldliness.  The sin of the tribe of Benjamin, that all but eliminated one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, now flaunts itself in public parades.  Will God allow the Jews to repel their enemies and remain in the Land?  Has God ever in the past continued to protect the Jews when they refused to turn from their sin?  Would God violate His own Laws concerning His blessings and cursings; clear and vivid instructions for "when you come into the Land"?  Will the holy Lord who commanded Moses to remove his shoes in His presence defend an Israel which has fallen captive to the practices of the wicked nations around them?

Has The Time of the Gentiles been Fulfilled?

"But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.  And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations.  And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." - Luke 21:23-24

Jerusalem is now technically under Israeli control.  But politically, the "Nations" are still preventing the rebuilding of the Temple.  But it should be noted that the "Gentiles", spoken of by Jesus, might be a reference to those who are estranged from God - the people who God calls "Not my people." In which case the "times of the Gentiles" will continue until the Son of God returns to destroy the raging nations of the second Psalm.

"Will you build me a house?" says the Lord

Although it seems fitting, humanitarian, and according to God's will that Christians and Jews have united to re-establish the nation of Israel, Christians should not be too quickly involved in the rebuilding of the Temple.  I would place it under the category of, "suffer it to be so now."  Yes, a Third Temple (built with hands) does appear to be a necessary fixture in the fulfillment of prophecy.  But prophecy also tells us who that temple is being built for - and he's not the good guy.

When Jesus returns either the Ancient Gates will rise up, that the King of Glory may come in; or, the Temple of the Millennium will be built by the Lord.

"Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
From His place He shall branch out,
And He shall build the temple of the Lord;
Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord.
He shall bear the glory,
And shall sit and rule on His throne;
So He shall be a priest on His throne,
And the counsel of peace shall be between them both." - Zechariah 6:12,13

Jesus is greater than the Temple

"I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple." - Matt 12:5
The New Covenant could not even be completed until the curtain to the Most Holy Place was removed.

"The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing." - Hebrews 9:8

Unless the Lord builds the House

King David had it in his heart to build a Temple for the Lord.  But the Lord told David that He would build David a house instead - a house through his offspring - the Branch of Jesse.  King Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise.  If David was unworthy to build the Temple because he was a man of war, it would seem unthinkable that the current ungodly nation of Israel, who does not even hide their sin, would be appointed to build a house for the Lord.  But in fact, it will not be a house for the Lord.  It will be a house built upon the sand.

Jesus said that those who heard His words and did not obey them would be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand.  And great will be its fall.
"And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."- Matt 8:11,12

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. - John 14:6
C.W. Steinle