Can you believe we are entering week 5 of our study together? We laid an early foundation by looking at the importance of studying Bible prophecy, then got a glimpse of God’s plan of the end. We followed that by studying the prophet Daniel’s 70 7’s and the prophetic pause. That led us into the study of God’s covenant promises to Israel, and Israel’s miraculous war history. This week, our ship sails into Ezekiel 38-39 as we study the northern invasion of Israel during the last days. Today we’re setting the stage, so don’t jump ship just yet!
Take a look at this map of the Middle East. Do you see the tiny nation of Israel in the midst of her not-so friendly neighbors? Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and the Russian states to the north. Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east. Saudi Arabia to the south, and Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to the southeast. To the west (and off the map) lies Libya, Algeria and others. Of course, inside Israel’s borders lies the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This is what is commonly known as the Middle East. Not exactly a neighborhood that rolls out the red carpet to Jews!
However, there is a bigger picture and I want you to see it. This map is that of the Muslim world. If you are able to make it out on this map, Israel is the teeny, tiny dot of red in the sea of Muslim green! According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2010, there are 49 Muslim-majority nations whose combined land mass is 640X the size of Israel! It is estimated that the global Islamic population is 1.5 – 2 BILLION people (depending upon whose stats you believe), while the global Jewish population is about 14 million (~6 million in Israel).
This causes me to stop and ask a very important question: Is the issue in the Middle East really about land…or does one side want the other side eliminated? Let’s pose that question to some Arab leaders and hear their responses:
- Gamel Abdul Nasser (Egyptian president) comment from 1965: “We aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.”
- Abdur Rahman Aref (Iraqi president) comment from 1967: “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy, which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.”
- Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah leader) comments from 2000, 2003: “That [destruction of Israel] is the principal objective of Hezbollah….If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
- Ahmad Abu Halabiya (Muslim cleric) comments in a Gaza mosque in 2000: “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country…kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them.”
- Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Iranian Supreme Leader) comment from 2001: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.”
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iranian president) comments from 2005, 2006, 2008: “Israel must be wiped off the map…Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation….I must announce that the Zionist regime is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene.”
Thank you, gentlemen…and I ask again: Is the issue really about land…or does one side want the other side eliminated?
But, regardless of what world leaders throughout history have said, here is what God Almighty has to say:
- “I chose Israel…I am the Lord your God!” (Ezekiel 20:5-7)
- “You [Israel] are the apple of My eye…and anyone who messes with you will have Me to deal with!” (Zechariah 2:8-9)
God’s covenant with Israel is forever! He stated it clearly in Psalm 105:8-15 (“remembered forever”), Isaiah 59:21 (“shall not depart”) and Ezekiel 37:26-28 (“everlasting covenant). God confirmed His covenant by putting His name on Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:36, 2 Chronicles 33:4, 7)
There is false theology making the rounds right now that says: “Israel has rejected God; therefore, God has rejected Israel. Thus the church has replaced Israel.” The recognized name for this is Replacement Theology, and it is not Biblical! God has NOT rejected His people! Check out these passages:
- Romans 11:1-2, 11-12, 25-29
- Jeremiah 31:35-37 (My personal favorite!)
- Jeremiah 32:37-42
- Jeremiah 33:19-21, 25-26
So, just as sure as God sustains the things of heaven and earth, He will sustain His people! That means no matter who or what comes against them, He will always be on their side! That is great news…and a truth we must keep in the forefront of our minds this week as we study Ezekiel 38-39 and the northern invasion that will come upon Israel.
As you study those chapters this week, be good detectives! Seek to know:
- WHO is involved?
- WHERE will the invasion occur?
- WHAT will the invaders do?
- WHY will the invaders come?
- WHEN will this take place?
- HOW will it happen?
Enjoy the study this week…and keep an eye on current events as you study. We’re seeing the stage being set for this event in our world today!