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Ipswich Christadelphians

"Prove all things, hold fast what is good" 1Th 5:21

The Israel/Palestinian problem - A wind of change blowing

 

 

not friends

The Palestinians under their President Mahmoud Abbas have persistently pushed for a Palestinian State, even though at present there are no established boundaries; no recognised government; no national income or law courts. And persistence appears to have paid off for  quite recently two more Nations have come to their aid.

In late October, Sweden became the first EU member in Western Europe to recognise the Palestinian State, saying,’ we hope this will show the way for others'.

Previous to this, the results of a debate in the British Parliament had sent a similar message.

A motion for debate by the House of Commons declared: “This House urges the government to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.” Later and doubtless as an incentive, the phrase “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.” was added. The vote was won comprehensively with 274 votes for and 12 against.  However Prime Minister David Cameron and other government leaders abstained and more than half of the 650 Commons members did not participate in the vote. The result of this debate in itself is unlikely to change government policy but is nonetheless laden with political symbolism; and after Sweden drew anger from Israel by saying it would recognize Palestine, these two events may set a trend for other members of the UN to follow.

A shift in Public Opinion?

The Swedish announcement and the Commons vote came against the background of unilateral moves by Palestinians at the UN Security Council to secure a resolution that would call for the end of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories by November 2016.

Although the vote in the Commons is only symbolic, it has attracted wide comment in Israel, despite attempts by Israeli government officials to largely ignore it. The UK ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, stated that he was concerned in the long run about the shift in public opinion towards Israel in the UK and beyond.

Israel lost support after this summer’s conflict with Gaza, which was followed by a series of announcements on Settlements. He said “This parliamentary vote is a sign of the way the wind is blowing, and will continue to blow without any progress towards peace.”

Some Israelis place a lot of the blame on the shoulders of their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his increasingly troubled foreign policy which, in recent weeks, has seen him engaged in diplomatic disputes with the US, the UN and Sweden.

The leader of Israel’s opposition, Isaac Herzog stated

A cold wind is blowing toward Israel from every corner in the world, but they refuse to deal with the hard facts and are bringing a diplomatic storm,” he said “Netanyahu prefers to confront the whole world, from President Obama to other friends.

USA/Israel the unbreakable bond weakens

Relations with Israel’s long term friend the USA are also becoming soured with the Obama administration angry over Israel’s resettlement policies and the Netanyahu government dismissive of Obama’s understanding of the Middle East. More fuel was poured on the fire recently with the publication of a quote from a senior Obama official who used profanity to describe Mr Netanyahu. Evidently this is how officials on both sides talk about each other behind closed doors and the, for so long, ‘unbreakable bond’ between the two Nations appears to be under considerable strain. Things could get considerably worse after America’s November Mid Term elections – when a good result for the Democrats might even persuade Mr Obama to withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, which has until now been unthinkable!

The future is in God’s hands

The future is, as always, in God’s hands and, as with Pharoah of old, God will channel the rulers moods and actions according to His will. Proverbs 21:1 tells us ‘ The king‘s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Perhaps in the current situation we are seeing God’s hand at work to bring about His purpose in the Middle East.

 For the last 6 years Obama has had to restrain himself and play down all his grievances over what he sees as Israel dragging their feet. However, after the midterm elections there is very little to hold him back from expressing his feelings very clearly. And yet he may still exercise restraint.  Shmuel Sandler, an expert on American foreign policy and US-Israel relations has concluded, “Obama doesn’t want to go down in history as person who destroyed relations between the US and Israel.

 

As one door closes

Its not surprising to Bible students that Israel should lose all her friends and stand alone in the Last Days. Jeremiah speaks of ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ (Jer 30:7) when ‘all thy lovers have forgotten thee’(v14) and Ezekiel 16 prophesying  against Jerusalem, states that there will come a time when all her lovers will attack and despoil her (v37-41). And its interesting to see that, in this prophecy, God condemns the Nation for joining with Assyria (v28); which had happened in the days of Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah, when he made a treaty with the Assyrians (2Kings 16:7-9).

The Assyrians were a Northern host who were most cruel and Hezekiah, when he began to reign, broke his father’s pact which brought the Assyrian army down upon Jerusalem. However, the city was miraculously saved when most of the army was destroyed in a plague sent by God. The Assyrian can be easily identified with the Gog of Ezekiel 38 (10-23) who will come down on Israel like a great cloud and be miraculously destroyed , when .......

Ez 38:16  And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.

17  Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?

18  And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.

19  For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;

20  So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

21  And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother.

22  And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

23  Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.

 

Russia, A New Best Friend?

As we see all Israel’s friends deserting her, perhaps we ought to be looking for a new ‘friend’ appearing in the form of Russia, the modern day Assyrian (also Gog). Russia, like the Assyrians, comes from the North and is at present making overtures of friendship with Israel. For example for the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel a Russian Warship, the Azov, docked in Israel (13May 2013).

With the likelihood of their losing their naval base in Syria, Russia is looking for another in the Mediterranean. There was a general understanding that this visit was not a one time event but that other Russian warships would visit in the near future and Israeli officials have not denied that they are open to further co-operation with Moscow. Also to show the growing friendship with Russia there was the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu to the Russia in 20 November 2013 when he and President Putin discussed Iran and Syria. The prophecy of Hosea appears to be appropriate here Hos 12:1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.

 

Israel shall be saved in the LORD (Isa 45:17)

 A possible scenario for the future would be Russia and Israel drawing up a peace pact, allowing Russia control from Syria to Pakistan – which would solve Israel’s problems with Iran and allow them to deal with Hezbollah and Hamas.

This would bring about the peace and safety described in Ezekiel 38:8,11, which must exist in Israel at the time of the end and which will ultimately tempt Russia to do as Assyria did – make a lightning attack on its recalcitrant partner. And they shall ‘fall upon the Mountains of Israel’ (Ez39:1-4)

Isaiah  also prophecies of the breaking of the Assyrian, it happened in Hezekiah’s day and it will happen again at the Return of Christ, when he shall rule over all the nations in an earth which will be filled with God’s Glory.

Isa 14:24 ¶  The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:

25  That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.

26  This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.

 

photo courtesy of www.theatlantic.com

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