By Nathan Jones
Could the return of Israel as a nation and her control over Jerusalem be signs of the end times?
On Saturday, April 9, 2011, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of the Blessings to Israel Ministries Saturday podcast show. During the hour long interview we took a look at twelve major end times signs in an attempt to raise the awareness of people concerning the numerous things going on in the world currently, how they relate to Bible prophecy, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
#9-10) The Rebirth of Israel and the Controversy Over Jerusalem
Brian Thomas: The hatred of the Jews and their current control over Jerusalem is the center of the controversy that Zechariah 12:2-3 and Zechariah 14:1-3 speaks of reserved for the last days. These verses tell us that Jerusalem would become the center of world controversy. I think we have definitely arrived to that stage, wouldn't you agree?
Nathan Jones: Oh, goodness, if there is any sign we are witnessing right now that would make you and me to believe that Jesus is coming back soon is that Israel is a nation once again after being exiled for 1,897 years. Back in 70 AD, just as Jesus predicted the Temple was destroyed and Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were scattered throughout the entire planet by the Roman Empire. You can even go see the Arch of Titus in Rome and see the fresco on it that testifies that the Jews and all of their gold items from the Temple were dragged into Rome, so it's a historically supported fact.
We know that the Jews were scattered throughout the planet as a result of the Roman conquest, but amazingly they kept through tradition their own people group and their own identity and because they never did merge into the societies they lived in very well. Always anti-Semitism chased them out of country after country. Finally, with the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and then UN Resolution 181 issued in 1947, Israel was allowed to come and take back at least a small part of their land, though not all of the land God promised them, and become a nation once more.
Israel becoming a nation again after all these centuries is a modern-day miracle. Do we see the ancient Hittites becoming a nation again? Do we see some of the American Indian tribes forming their own nation again? It just doesn't happen, especially after almost 2,000 years. But, it happened to Israel, the major people group of the Bible. This return to the land in fulfillment of Bible prophecies like Ezekiel 36-37 and Isaiah 11:11-12 and 66:7-8 is God saying, "Pay attention, this is a major, major thing happening." In May we came into Israel's 63rd birthday since Israel became a nation again in 1948.
Not only is the controversy over who controls Jerusalem an end times sign pointing to Jesus' soon return, but so is the rebirth of Israel. Jesus in Matthew 24:32-35 talks about a fig tree. In the Bible Israel is sometimes referred to as a fig tree. Jesus said that when it reblossoms, in other words when Israel becomes a nation once again, then we know that the time is short for His soon return.
It just gets me how some Christians will just blow off the miracle of Isreal becoming a nation again as if it's no significant thing. Whole denominations out there are trying to boycott Israel just because it exists. And yet, God wants Israel to exist because the Tribulation is not about the Church. The Church will be raptured and we will be out of here before then.
The Tribulation is in part about the world, the entire planet, and every nation coming against Israel to force them to give up there land and to be destroyed by Christ's victorious return. That, of course, is Satan working in the background. Satan wants the Jews destroyed because through the Jews God's plans will be fulfilled and they will finally as a nation know Jesus as their Savior.
Those who accept Jesus as Savior, both Jew and Gentile alike, who go through the Tribulation and survive will live on into the Millennial Kingdom in their earthly bodies. The Jews particularly will be a priesthood of people on the earth during that time. And so, God has these amazing promises that He made to the Jews.
If Satan can destroy the Jews, he believes it would thwart God's plans. Now, we know that Satan cannot thwart God's plans because God is all-powerful and Satan is nothing compared to Him, so he won't succeed in killing all of the Jews, though many will die. But, he is going to try. So, even though many non-Jews will come to know Jesus as their Savior during the Tribulation, it's about getting the Jews so persecuted that they finally turn to Jesus and accept Him as their Messiah. It says in the Bible that a third of the Jews as a nation will come to Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, and they will be the ones who along with other believers who survived the Tribulation will live on into the Millennial Kingdom in their earthly bodies and procreate and repopulate the planet again.
I have been to Israel a few times and it's simply amazing what they have done with rebuilding Israel in such a short time frame. It was such a barren wasteland that the census could actually count how many trees, something like 18,000 trees, existed in all of Israel. It was an utter wasteland. Mark Twain visited the Holy Land during the 1800's and pretty much declared it a God-forsaken rock. Well, as I was going through Israel it was like a flower-fest. There is more fruit growing there than you can imagine. I think there's like six million people living now in Israel. Supposedly there is actually more rain in Israel than ever before because of the amount of trees and plants they planted has increased the moisture content. Just as Bible prophecy predicted in Ezekiel 36:34-35, the land has been restored along with the people.
The Bible says that God through the coming Gog-Magog Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 will continue to bring the Jews back into Israel from all the corners of the earth. The persecution will get really bad and anti-Semitism will continue to rise around the planet and force all the Jews into returning back to Israel. This return is a major, major sign that proves to us that we are in the season of the Lord's return. Jesus in the Parable of that Fig Tree said that the generation that sees this return — that's you and me — when we see this we can know that Jesus is coming back very soon. So, wow, we are living in exciting, exciting times!
The Super Sign
Brian Thomas: We are living in exciting times. I just wish that the words that you are saying could be spoken in every single church in the entire world, because the Bible is so correct on this. The return of the Jews to Israel and their control of Jerusalem is what so many in the Bible prophecy community call the "Super Sign." It is what the Bible told us to look out for. When we see this happen, we can know the Lord's return is coming soon.
This Super Sign is just so clear cut, yet there are so many out there who say that Israel's return is just a coincidence and that Israel back in the land is merely a historic accident. There are many who would say, "Jesus Christ could return anywhere and it doesn't have to be Jerusalem. It could be New York City. It could be anywhere in the world." But, I say, "Where are you people drawing their conclusion from?" The Bible makes it so clear that Israel is where Jesus will return. People really need to open their eyes to this fact. I'm so encouraged that as you stated there are many who are beginning to recognizing the importance, and I do see that people are recognizing it, too. And yet, there is still a large majority in the Church who seem to be ignoring it, or want to look the other way for whatever reason.
Nathan Jones: Praise the Lord for your ministry, Brian. Blessings to Israel is a great name for a ministry!
A lot of people who disregard the significance of Israel's return say, "Those in Israel are all apostate." As I said earlier, I've been to Israel and it's true that 90% of the Jews living there are secular humanists, while the remaining 10% are Orthodox and do nothing but persecute Messianic believers in Christ. So, there is not doubt that the Jews in this time and age aren't the promised people whom God is talking about. The Church is, but when the Church Age is done, God isn't done with the Jews. He want to convert their hearts to Him. He wants them to respond to His plea that, "Hey, wait, I'm your Messiah. You gave up on me, but I'm still around. I'm going to rescue you out of this your darkest hour. I'm going to be there for you."
While there are so many unbelieving Jews during this Church Age and so mostly the Jews don't know Jesus as their Savior right now, there are many who do. There are over 40 Messianic Jewish ministries over in Israel right now trying to bring their people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We have ministries like yours, Brian, that are here in the United States that encourage people to support Israel. The Lord said in Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you." I think your ministry will be greatly blessed for anything you can do to help Israel and prepare them for the eventually time when they will accept Jesus as Savior.
Brian Thomas: Well, thank you so much, Nathan, that is very encouraging! I greatly appreciate that compliment. Forming Blessings to Israel is something that God just placed on my heart to get the message out and just be a blessing to the nation of Israel. They are in a state of spiritual blindness, but that veil will be lifted and they will accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
What's also great, and I try to get people to understand this, is that as Gentiles within the Church we are not competing with Israel. We are going to all be joined together as one big happy family. And actually, by accepting Christ now, we are already grafted into God's spiritual nation of Israel. I try to get people to understand that. We will be living in eternity as one big happy family under the rulership of Jesus Christ.
The final two end times signs we'll address concern the revival of the Roman Empire and the spreading of the Gospel to the entire world.