Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is This It?

I'm sure by now most of you have become aware of the conflict that has begun in the Middle East between Israel and the militant government Hamas located in the Gaza Strip. It also should come as no surprise that, because of the nature of what I teach, I have begun to get questions asking if this is the beginning of the conflict that gives rise to the Antichrist and ushers in the period of time we know as the tribulation? So I will devote this blog to try to explain what is happening now, and what I think may happen in the future, in order to make some sense about what is going on in that part of the world.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed General Assembly Resolution 181 which in effect, created the nation of Israel with defined borders in the area then known as Palestine. This resolution was accepted by the Jews, but rejected out of hand by the Arab states, and the Arabs living in Palestine. When negotiations appeared doomed to failure, on May 14, 1948, the members of the leadership representing the new nation passed a declaration of independence citing the boundaries given in the UN resolution and in essence created the nation of Israel. It should come as no surprise that on May 15, 1948, Israel was invaded by the armies of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in what has become known as the War of Independence. Israel won that war, but has been subjected to many conflicts with it's Arab neighbors ever since, with only temporary ceasefires or peace agreements that never seem to last very long.

The conflict in the Middle East right now is between Israel and the ruling government in the Gaza strip called Hamas. In August of 2005 Israel, which had up to that time been occupying Gaza in an effort to keep the peace, decided to remove all it's troops and give the authority to self-rule to the Palestinians who lived there. Hamas is the political party which rules in Gaza, and is considered by most of the world's governments to be a terrorist organization. Until last week they had a ceasefire agreement with Israel which had for the most part resulted in a relative peace between both parties. That agreement expired, and instead of renewing it, Hamas began to fire rockets into Israel cities. After enduring almost a week of rocket fire, Israel decided to respond and began to bomb Hamas government buildings, police stations, and known warehouses which stored arms for use against the Jewish state.

As of this morning, close to 300 people have died, and it would appear that Israel is moving troops to the border in what many believe will result in a ground incursion to attempt to remove or seriously cripple the capability to launch rockets into Israel's cities. The problem as I see it is not what Israel can expect from Hamas, because I believe Israel is well aware of the military capabilities they possess, but rather the response from other Arab states which support the Hamas cause. Most troubling to Israel should be the question of whether or not Hizbullah, another radical group which occupies Lebanon to the north, decides to join in and attack from the north.

In 2006 Israel and Hizbullah fought a war that lasted a little more than a month and resulted in losses for both sides in what many believe was a war with no winner.
The conflict ended with the acceptance by both sides of UN Resolution 1701, which called for the retreat of both sides, and the disarmament of Hizbullah. Unfortunately for Israel, almost immediately Hizbullah began stockpiling new weapons with an even greater capability and range than they previously possessed. These weapons have come from Iran by way of Syria, two countries who have made no secret of their hatred of the nation of Israel, as well as their stated desire that Israel cease to exist.

The question before us is twofold; will Hizbullah join in this conflict and attack from the north, and if so, will Israel decide not only to respond to Hizballah, but to respond by attacking the two countries which support and arm them? If you are familiar with my book, and the prophecy of Isaiah 17, you can see where this question may in fact have apocalyptic implications. Remember, I believe the progression of events leading up to the tribulation and the emergence of the so called Antichrist is this; Isaiah 17 where Israel uses a nuclear device on Syria, Ezekiel 38 where the world responds with an futile invasion of Israel where God directly intervenes on Israels' behalf, and Daniel 9 where an individual we know as the Antichrist brokers/enforces an agreement between Israel and it's enemies for a period of 7 years.

So where are we? I believe we need to watch closely what Hizbullah, Syria and Iran do about this conflict Israel is having with Hamas in Gaza. Early this morning, (Sunday 12/28), reports from Lebanon are that Hassan Nazrallah, leader of Hizbullah, appeared in public (which he has hardly ever done since the Lebanon War) and stated that "Northern Israel will burn as Gaza is burning". Also Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on all Muslims to oppose Israel's actions and any Muslim killed as a result would be considered a "martyr". Are these signs of what is to come? Keep watching.