Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Defining the Last Generation - By Gary Stearman -
The New Testament's Olivet Discourse holds a very special place in the hearts of Christians everywhere. Its setting on the Mount of Olives places a dramatic vista in the mind of the reader, as Jesus answered His disciples' questions about the future. They were seated across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount complex ... considered to be a world-class architectural triumph. In Matthew 23, Jesus had lamented the grief that would befall His own generation.
Of His own people, He had said, "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matt. 23:36). He made it clear to His disciples that their beautiful Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. They knew that He had come to bring about the Kingdom, and they now had learned that this event was to be delayed. This raised two major questions in their minds: 1. "When will these things be?" 2. "What is the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?"
He answered, telling them of future global wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. These, He called the "beginning of birth pangs." He told them of the Great Tribulation, and of His Second Coming. Finally, he spoke of the Fig Tree, sprouting forth as a sign that all these things were about to come to pass. He referred to it as a "generation." He went on to say that the conditions experienced by this generation would be similar to those witnessed by Noah and his family, when the whole earth was immersed in divine judgment.
As He spoke, He concluded with a remark that has stimulated a number of conjectures over the years. He said, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34).
His proclamation refers to what has been called "the last generation." The context of His prophecy is critically important. He is speaking to a Jewish audience, addressing His remarks to members of the "fig tree" nation. These would be Jews of the generation that witnesses events leading up to the Great Tribulation, then moving forward to actually experience it.
Are the Jews of our generation the people that Jesus spoke of? To answer this question, we shall examine several biblical expressions that actually use the term, "generation."
There is a Hebrew expression found in the Old Testament that is usually translated as, "the generation to come." This idiom is taken from some form of HaDor HaAcharon. The most direct translation of this phrase is, "the last generation."
As we shall see, the meaning of Jesus' prophecy is greatly clarified by an understanding of this phrase and its common use in the Old Testament. A bit later, we will return to this expression to show how it points forward to the period of the latter days.
As He spoke to His disciples, Jesus was well aware that the meaning of a "generation" would be something of a mystery to his hearers. But He spoke in a context that had meaning to them. One imagines them seated in the shade of an ancient olive tree, as they gazed across the Kidron Valley toward the magnificent complex of concourses, stairways, porticos, palaces and courtyards. The centerpiece of their attention was the Temple, itself.
Construction on this huge project - considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - had begun some fifty years earlier! At the time Jesus spoke, it would still be almost twenty years before the completion of the whole Temple complex. Tragically, the completed development would last only about a year before being completely destroyed by the Roman forces of Titus and Vespasian in A.D. 70.
As Jesus addressed the inner circle of His followers, He spoke of future world wars, famines and diseases. In this context, He mentioned the latter-day rebirth of Israel, something the disciples could not have understood at the time. He commented upon Daniel's prophecy of the antichrist in the Temple. He used the term, "great Tribulation," to describe the events surrounding Israel's regathering. He even spoke of His Second Coming in the clouds of glory.
It was at this point, that He spoke one of his most famous parables:
"32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:32-35.)
It's safe to say that from the day He made this pronouncement, right down to the present day, men have not ceased trying to understand precisely what He was saying.
What Did Jesus Say?
Today, some (preterists) are convinced that He was referring to the generation then alive. The longest-lived among His disciples was John, who died at the end of the first century. Under this premise, one could stretch Jesus' prophetic words to this particular event. So the wars, abomination, famine, earthquakes and great Tribulation all took place in that time period. Instead of interpreting His prophecy as a global phenomenon, they make all His prophecies into the local setting of first-century Jerusalem.
It is true that Israel is the centerpiece of the prophecy, but its context must agree with all other New Testament prophecy, the book of Revelation in particular. There, the prophecy is clearly global in scope.
Nevertheless, His reference to the key prophetic generation of the entire Bible is given in the image of a fig tree. This tree is depicted "putting forth leaves," as it would in the spring, when getting ready to bear fruit. The point is that the prophetic tree is growing, not diminishing.
So, "this generation," is the "fig tree" generation, and often goes by that name. The fig tree is the symbol of National Israel. A key prophecy given by Jeremiah makes this crystal clear:
"5 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. 6 For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart" (Jeremiah 24:5-7).
Here, the good figs are the leaders of Israel. Their wholehearted return to the land of Israel is not the near fulfillment witnessed in the Israelite return from Babylonian captivity. This Scripture predicts their final return, when they shall receive a new heart and revival in the Spirit of the Lord. Jeremiah says that they will be planted and not pulled down. They were, in fact, pulled down in A.D. 70, and again in A.D. 135, following the revolt led by Simeon Bar Kochba. In the final regathering, they will be permanently replanted. And what do you get when you plant a fig? You get a fig tree! That's Israel!
This is the generation to which Jesus undoubtedly referred.
When Was The Fig Tree Planted
The dark years following Israel's first-century diaspora really began to brighten in the year 1878, when a few Russian Jews pioneered efforts to "make aliya" (go up to the Land), and establish settlements in the stark deserts and swamps of a then-desolate Israel. Their efforts, and the work of those who followed them, raised the consciousness of world Jewry. In 1897, the first World Zionist Congress was held in Basle, Switzerland." Plans were laid out to win back Israel, then held by the Ottoman Turks.
World War One brought Israel into the sights of British politicians and generals. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 promised Israel access to their Land. But before that could happen, Jews of the diaspora were forced to bear the insults of World War Two, the Holocaust and the ravages of international anti-Semitism.
Following the United Nations Mandate of 1947, Israel declared statehood on May 14, 1948.
Metaphorically speaking, Jeremiah's description of the planting of figs corresponds with Israel's laborious restoration of the Land. Through many difficulties, wars, pogroms and the enormous obstacles of weather, drought and financial need, the Jews converted the barren Land to remarkable fertility. The first half of the twentieth century saw the first planting of Jesus' prophecy come to fruition. By the year 1948, the leaves of the tree began to shoot forth. Expressed differently, the tree of national Israel had grown to the point that it was recognized as viable and strong. Israel is placed in an international context in Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse:
"29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled" (Luke 21:29-32). Here, the text adds an additional note of clarification. Not only are we to watch the "fig tree" (national Israel), but we are to watch other trees, as well. If Israel is represented by the fig tree, the other trees would be the nations that rise up at roughly the same time Israel became a nation.
Recent history reveals precisely this kind of development. At the midpoint of the twentieth century, most of the current "nations" were third-world enclaves of tribal illiteracy. In the last fifty years or so, they have rapidly grown (both in numbers and capability) to become important players on the world scene. The following brief look at the U.N. membership roster shows just how rapidly their numbers have grown.
On April 25, 1945, representatives from 50 nations met in San Francisco at "The United Nations Conference on International Organization." They agreed upon a charter, which was signed on the 25th of June of that year.
By 1948, membership had grown to 58. The following year, Israel became a member, bringing the total number of represented nations to 59. By 1960, membership had grown to 99. Growth continued at a rapid rate. By 1970, 127 nations were included. In 1980 the number had risen to 154. In 1990, the number was 159. The year 2000 saw 189 nations in the roster.
Currently - and remaining more or less stable - U. N. membership now encompasses 193 nations.
Their rapid growth meets the biblical prediction that they would "shoot forth." Trees that had languished under the long winter of the dark ages, feudalism and colonialism are now realizing modernization through international banking and high-tech telecommunications. Real-time satellite transmission and the Internet have brought them into the cultural medium of the twenty-first century. As the angel told the prophet Daniel, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4).
Just as Luke's Olivet text predicted, we have now seen the latter-day multiplication of nations erupting with unprecedented speed. He added that when this phenomenon was observed, "summer is now nigh at hand." Summer, of course, is the time of harvesting the fruit of the trees. And Jesus, Himself, said, "... the harvest is the end of the world." Here, He refers to the completion of the "age," from the Greek word aion. In context, He is speaking of the grain harvest as a metaphor of the final judgment. It should be remembered that summer is the season when both grain and fruit are harvested:
"38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world" (Matthew 13:38-40).
There are many expressions of the harvest as judgment in the Day of the Lord. One of the clearest is found in Micah, Chapter 7:
"1 Woe is me! For I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit" (Micah 7:1).
Here, Micah expresses the same thought as did Jesus in His famous discourse. He speaks as the plaintive voice of national Israel at the time of judgment, when the tiny nation faces the persecution of a massive world system during the Great Tribulation. When the nations spring forth as trees, the harvest judgment is near. This is the generation of which Jesus spoke.
This brings us back to the Hebrew expression we mentioned at the beginning of this article. It is ha dor ha acharon. It is first found in the book of Deuteronomy, in a prophecy that foretells the dispersion of the Jews, as they are scattered to the four corners of the world. This phrase is found in the following passage, where it is translated, "the generation to come,"
"21 And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law: 22 So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it; 23 And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: 24 Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25 Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: 26 For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: 27 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: 28 And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day. 29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:21-29).
This is the prophecy of Israel's complete dispersion. After years of disobedience, their covenant with the Lord through Abraham finally catches up with them. The generation addressed here is the one that we are most familiar with. It began with the diaspora of AD 135 and two millennia of desolation. The land of Israel became a treeless, swampy, drought-ridden desert. It was a testimony of Jewish disobedience. Many thought that they were through forever ... set aside to see others take charge of the ancient Kingdom promises made to the twelve tribes. It was generally believed that their forsaking of that covenant meant permanent exile.
Here, we have a prophecy of latter-day Israel, ravaged by sin and time, its people dispersed and despised. The generation mentioned here is the generation that is now in the process of returning to restore the Land. As we have seen, the first stage of this regathering has already begun. This passage clearly refers to what it calls "the generation to come." At first glance, it seems to be speaking of some indeterminate future generation. In fact, it clearly refers to the final generation.
It is most important to understand that ha dor ha acharon can just as easily be translated as, "the last generation," since the word acharon means, "hindmost, last in order, last of a series" or simply, "last." It is clear that this prophecy is referring to the last generation - the one that comes back to prepare Israel to bring in the Kingdom Age.
The Generation Following
Other variations of this expression are also found within the framework of Israel's latter-day regathering. Psalm 48 offers an excellent example of the placement of the "last generation" into a prophetic context. This Psalm is focused upon Mount Zion, the Temple Mount. It opens upon a chorus of praise for Jerusalem and the Holy Mountain:
"1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. 2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. 3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge. 4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. 5 They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, and hasted away. 6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. 7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. 8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah. 9 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple. 10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. 11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. 12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. 13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death" (Psalm 48:1-14).
In these words, there can be no doubt that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are the focus of the Lord's long-term redemptive plan. This Psalm opens with praise for the City of God, then closes with a command to Israel: Spread the news of Israel's regathering to the whole world. It uses a variation of the "generation to come" phrase found in Deuteronomy 29. In verse seven we find a prophecy about the "ships of Tarshish." They are the merchant traders of the Western world. In a monumental stroke of diplomatic perfidy, they attempted to blockade the ships of Jews returning to Israel after World War Two and the Holocaust. But they were defeated.
Here, Israel's leaders are urged to survey the Holy Mountain, called "Zion," marking its chief features and foundations. This is exactly what modern Israelis have done, since the earliest days that Israel was replanted in the Land. But note the closing reference, which we have highlighted above.
Here, the phrase, "to the generation following" is a translation of the Hebrew l'dor acharon. Again, we find the term acharon, meaning "last of an order," or simply, "last." This is a reference to the generation that would return to Israel, there to be charged with the responsibility of surveying and restoring the ancient Temple Mount. It is the "last generation."
The political obstacles to their task are formidable, yet they have made slow but significant progress toward the establishment of the Temple. In June 2005, the newly-restored Sanhedrin even called for the preparation of a prefabricated Temple that could be quickly assembled on the Mount.
Psalm 78 offers another reference to the last generation. Here, it is given in the context of Israel's latter-day spiritual condition. The Spirit of the Lord is shown giving them guidance, in spite of their continued unbelief: "1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. 5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast
with God. (Psa. 78:1-8).
In the verses above, we have highlighted two occurrences of the phrase, "the generation to come." In Hebrew, these two phrases are identical. They are again translated from l'dor acharon. We have identified this phrase, as referring to "the last generation." Note that the Lord is making an impassioned appeal to this last generation. He asks them to listen and understand the ancient words of Scripture. There, they will find "dark sayings." That is, they are to search the Scriptures for the hidden, inner meanings that will illuminate God's plan for them. Chiefly, these would be Messianic prophecies, which have been hidden to Israel for many generations.
Now, in this "last generation," they are urged to look deeply, so that they will be prepared for that which, from their perspective, is shortly to come.
The Restoration of Zion
There is yet another reference to the last generation, using the same Hebrew term. It is found in Psalm 102. And again, this Psalm refers to the restoration of Zion. Note that it speaks of the very building blocks ("stones") in the ancient architecture of Zion. In fact, the rebuilding of Zion is the heart of this prophecy. It begins as the prayer of a saint, overwhelmed by seemingly unconquerable difficulties. Its title says exactly that:
" A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD." Then it begins in earnest:
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth. 4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. 5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top. 8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. 11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass. 12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. 13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. 14 For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. 15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. 16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. 17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. 18 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD" (Psalm 102:1-18)
It would be hard to find a prophecy as distinct and specific as this one. The rebuilding of Zion is the destiny set out "for the generation to come," in other words, the last generation. Once again, we find the familiar Hebrew phrase, l'dor acharon. When Jesus told His disciples, "This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled," He was speaking of the generation of the "fig tree," and "all the trees." And the "set time" has come!
Downfall of the Antichrist
There's another reference to the last generation that seems to refer to the Antichrist, placing a curse upon him:
1 Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; 2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. 3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. 4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. 5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. 6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. 7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. 8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office. 9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. 10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. 11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour. 12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children. 13 Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
The prophecy against this "wicked man" is clearly directed toward the latter days and the House of David, which is here accused of being God's adversaries despite His love for them. Virtually every prophecy of the Antichrist shows him being empowered by Satan, and certainly, that is the case here. This prophecy also agrees with many others, showing that he will be completely defeated. But here, even his posterity is accursed. Their names will be removed from the Book of Life "in the generation following." Once again, the Hebrew source of this phrase indicates that it is the last generation that is intended.
The six occurrences of the Hebrew phrase meaning the "last generation" tell a specific story, in the order of their appearance:
FIRST - Found in Deuteronomy 29:22. In this context, it tells the future story of Israel returning to a land ravaged by "plagues, sicknesses, brimstone, salt and burning." This is exactly what the Jews found when they returned to the land in the 19th century.
SECOND - Describes the activities of Psalm 48:13, where Israel is seen surveying the ancient roads and ruins of Israel, and probing the buried archaeological treasures that tell the story of their ancient history.
THIRD - The phrase is found twice in Psalm 78. The first time, in Psalm 78:4, it speaks of the new generation of returned Israelis, who are learning the ancient Scriptures. (In the twentieth century, Hebrew began to be the spoken language of Israel).
FOURTH - In Psalm 78:6, this amazing phrase depicts a generation who have arisen to defend the land and declare their hope in God.
FIFTH - In Psalm 102:18, we find that the last generation encounters great difficulty: "For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones burned as an hearth." Latter-day Israel has, of course, been plagued with wars and opposition, which will continue into the days of the Antichrist.
SIXTH - Last, we find the Antichrist: "Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand" (Ps. 109:6). About whom, we read: "Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out."
There is no doubt that this is an extended prophecy of events to be experienced by the "last generation" of which Jesus spoke as He sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives:
* Deuteronomy 29:21 - Israel returns to a barren land ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 48:14 - Israel rebuilds the land ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 78:4 - Israel recognizes prophetic Scripture ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 78:6 - Israel begins spiritual revival ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 102:18 - The Tribulation begins ... [Not yet.]
* Psalm 109:13 - The Antichrist arises ... [Not yet.]
If the leaves of the fig tree can be said to have sprung forth with Israeli statehood in 1948, then this particular generation is now seventy years old. Of course, no one can be certain about the actual birth date of the last generation, but Israel has aptly been called "God's timepiece." This is true for a reason. Because, when Israel is in her own Holy Land, miraculous things begin to happen. Years of drought have now given way to fruition. Israel is the California of the Middle East, with fruit and vegetable exports that keep Europe fed. Israeli technology and invention leads the world. Sadly, Scripture predicts a coming series of wars there, followed by the rise of the Antichrist. On the bright side, through the prophecies of the Bible, we can now view Israel's march toward the establishment of the Kingdom.
There is hardly any doubt that we are witnessing the conditions surrounding the initial restoration of Zion. We must, therefore, be living in the last generation. Yet to come are Israel's decisive latter-day wars (Ezekiel 38, in particular) and the revealing of the Antichrist.
Looking back at the sixfold sequence of events, it stands to reason that Israel has already fulfilled all but the last two. And before that happens, the Church will be caught up in the rapture, which could come at any time.
The Secret Reason Arabs Reject the Jewish Nation-State Law - by Bassam Tawil - https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12785/israel-arabs-nation-state-law
The hypocrisy of the leaders of the Arab citizens of Israel, who are now crying foul over the new Jewish Nation-State Law, has, in the past few days, reached new heights.
These are the same leaders whose words and actions for the past two decades have caused serious damage to relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, and to the interests of their own constituents, the Arab citizens of Israel.
Israeli Arab leaders, specifically the Knesset members, say they are outraged not only because the law defines Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, but also because the new legislation does not include words about full equality of rights for all citizens.
If there ever was a tempest in a teapot, this is it. It would have been redundant to add those words: the new law does not rescind any previous law or Israel's Declaration of Independence, which already encompass all that. In Israel, there are also other Basic Laws that guarantee equal rights to all. For example, the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, passed in 1992, stipulates:
"The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."
"Fundamental human rights in Israel are founded upon recognition of the value of the human being, the sanctity of human life, and the principle that all persons are free; these rights shall be upheld in the spirit of the principles set forth in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel."
Israel's Declaration of Independence from 1948, which obviously is not affected by the new Jewish Nation-State Law, also promises equality to all citizens, irrespective of their religion or color or race. It states:
"The State of Israel will foster the development of the country for all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."
So, as Israel's pre-existing laws and its Declaration of Independence remain unchanged and guarantee equal rights to all citizens, what exactly is behind the Israeli Arab leaders' fierce attack on the Nation-State Law? Is it really because they are worried about equality or is it something else? The answer can be found in their own statements: they are basically opposed to the idea of Israel being the homeland for the Jewish people. They know very well that the Nation-State Law does not affect the Arab citizens' status and rights as equal citizens of Israel.
Take, for example, the case of Arab Member of Knesset Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union), who announced this week his intention to resign from parliament in protest over the Nation-State Law. He complained that the Knesset had become a "rubber stamp for racist legislation."
First, Bahloul is the last Arab citizen of Israel who is entitled to complain about discrimination. For decades, he was one of Israel's most popular sports journalists, revered by Arabs and Jews alike. As such, he has always enjoyed a comfortable life in Israel -- one he could never have dreamed of experiencing in any Arab country.
Second, if Bahloul has a problem with a law that defines Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, what is he doing in a party called the Zionist Union? Once you agree to join a Zionist party, you cannot later complain when Israel says it wants to be the homeland of the Jewish people. Does anyone seriously believe that this Arab parliamentarian did not know all these years that Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel?
Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab Member of Knesset, is the last Arab citizen of Israel who is entitled to complain about discrimination. For decades, he was one of Israel's most popular sports journalists, revered by Arabs and Jews alike. He has always enjoyed a comfortable life in Israel -- one he could never have dreamed of experiencing in any Arab country.
Third, it is also worth noting that his Zionist Union party was fed up with Bahloul anyhow, and planning to get rid of him, especially after his decision last year to boycott a Knesset ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Ironically, the second part of the Balfour Declaration stipulated that the establishment of a Jewish homeland must not "prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."
The current controversy over the Nation-State law, then, is not about equal rights. Instead, it is about accepting the existence of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Bahloul boycotted the Balfour Declaration ceremony in the Knesset apparently because he is opposed to the very idea of a Jewish homeland. Otherwise, why would any Arab living in Israel oppose a declaration that openly states that a Jewish homeland must not "prejudice" the rights of non-Jews?
Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay had criticized Bahloul's decision as "extremist."
Bahloul presumably knew he was going to be thrown out of his party, and seems to have decided to use the Nation-State Law as an excuse to quit, and to smear Israel by inaccurately calling it "a state with symptoms of apartheid," and the Knesset a "rubber stamp for racist legislation."
Fourth, note that Bahloul did not immediately submit his resignation from the Knesset. Instead, he said that he will submit his resignation letter when the Knesset returns from its extended summer recess in mid-October. In other words, Bahloul evidently wants to spend a few more months in the Knesset, probably so that he can continue receiving a fine salary and other privileges granted to members of parliament. By postponing his resignation, he is also most likely hoping that someone will come begging him to rescind his decision -- as if he is saying, 'Please hold me back from leaving the Knesset!' Well, Mr. Bahloul, if you are so upset about the law and do not want to be part of the Israeli political system, why don't you just get up and leave now? Why would you want to stay for a few more months in a parliament you accuse of being "racist" against Arabs?
The "dirty little secret" is that even if the words about equality for all citizens were added to the new law, Bahloul and some of his Arab colleagues in the Knesset would still have opposed it. They are simply vehemently opposed to the very idea of Israel being a Jewish state.
Some of them, such as Ahmed Tibi, have consistently called for the transformation of Israel from a "Jewish state" into a "state for all its citizens" or a "state of all its national (ethnic) groups."
Another Arab Knesset member, Jamal Zahalka, recently mocked Jewish symbols and said, "I would rather die than sing the Israeli national anthem." Many Arab Members of Knesset have never accepted Israel's national anthem or its flag, which carries the symbol of the six-pointed Star of David. About the Israeli flag, Zahalka said, "Any flag for me is a rag. It's a piece of cloth. It's a lot worse than a rag."
Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi was nothing if not straightforward in voicing her opposition to the definition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. The Jewish people do not have the right to self-determination, she said in October 2017.
"The Jews are not a nationality, so we cannot talk about self-determination for the Jewish people... The Israelis, they can have self-determination, but not as a Jewish State, within a secular democratic state."
It is worth noting here that Zoabi, who hails from a large clan from Nazareth, was suspended from the Knesset in 2014 for incitement after she justified Hamas firing rockets at Israel and the abduction (and subsequent murder) of three Israeli teens by Palestinian terrorists.
It is the likes of Zoabi who have -- and continue to -- cause grave damage to relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Their vicious anti-Israel rhetoric and actions are the main reason why a growing number of Jews are beginning to look at the Arab citizens of Israel as if they were a "fifth column" or an "enemy from within."
Some Israeli Arab leaders speak disparagingly about Israel for publicity. They know that no newspaper would ever mention them if they were dealing with issues such as sewage or a shortage of classrooms in Arab schools. However, if they say something bad about Israel or provoke the Jews, they will certainly receive a headline in the press.
The number one priority of Israel's Arab citizens is lowering the high rate of unemployment among Arab university graduates. Israel's Arab citizens want to be fully integrated into Israel. They are fighting for better government services, especially with regards to infrastructure in their towns and villages. But instead of representing the real interests of their constituents, Tibi, Zoabi, Zahalka and others spend their time condemning Israel and identifying with its enemies.
The actions and words of these Arab Knesset members have only served to deepen the rift between Jews and Arabs, at a time when serious efforts are being made by the Israeli government to improve the lives of Arab citizens. For instance, an Israeli parliamentary committee last April announced a decision to allocate 20 million shekels ($5.6 million) to a new program designed to increase the number of Israeli Arabs with jobs in the tech sector. The committee said that the Israeli government has already invested $1.2 billion out of the $4.2 billion allocated to the economic development of Arabs and other minorities as part of a 2015 cabinet decision.
The Arabs in Israel are equal citizens, and the rights they enjoy are far more than what they would enjoy in any other Middle Eastern country. In a poll published in 2016, 55% of Israel's Arab citizens said they were proud to be Israeli citizens. Another poll, published in 2017, found that 60% of the Arab citizens of Israel have positive attitudes towards the state.
Israeli Arab leaders can incite against Israel as much as they wish. Their slander will not change the reality that Israel is the only thriving democracy in the Middle East, and treats its minorities with respect. While minorities are being persecuted and murdered in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and other Arab and Islamic countries, the Arab citizens of Israel are being integrated into the state. They hold high positions in the Supreme Court, the Foreign Ministry, the health sector and even the Israel Police.
The new law has not changed this reality; in fact, most Arab citizens do not even seem to be that bothered about the new law. The majority of the Arabs in Israel continue to wake up in the morning and get on with their lives. They can work anywhere they wish, they can travel anywhere in the country and they will continue to enjoy all the privileges, benefits and freedoms that Jewish citizens do.
Some of the leaders of Israel's Arab citizens, however, have something very different in mind. They want Israelis to give up their wish for Israel to be a Jewish homeland, because they are hoping that one day Jews will become a minority in their own country. For far too long, these leaders have been inciting their constituents against Israel and Jews. If these leaders are so unhappy in Israel, perhaps they should consider moving to Ramallah or the Gaza Strip or any Arab country. Perhaps they would like to resign from the Knesset. Why do they refrain from doing so? Because it is in the Jewish homeland, supposedly so harmful to them, that they and their children can live and thrive.
Nearing Midnight: Thief in the Night - Terry James -
No scriptural proof-text in God's Word more clearly points to the first of the two phases of Jesus Christ's Second Coming than does the following: "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2). We who hold to the pre-Trib Rapture viewpoint are often accused of being deceivers. We are condemned by our detractors as leading astray Christians alive now-if they live to see it-who will be required to endure the tribulation, thus to wash their robes clean in preparation for inheriting God's Kingdom.
We are castigated for foisting upon innocent, gullible believers a "secret rapture" that will somehow lead these Christians to take the mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:16-18).
I'm not precisely sure of their "reasoning," but I think they claim this because they are convinced that the ones who fall for the Rapture viewpoint won't be able to recognize Antichrist when he comes to power. We who teach the pre-Trib rapture, so the accusation goes, would have falsely led these people to think the Church would not be here when Antichrist is on the world scene.
Almost all who are antagonistic to the pre-Trib Rapture doctrine teach that the "elect" will have to endure part or all of the seven-year tribulation era. Those who hold to a post-Tribulation Rapture, or a no-Rapture position, believe that Christ will come back at the end of the Tribulation, at Armageddon. They hold to the notion that that is His only return in the Second Coming. Other views have Christ returning when the earth is perfected and made ready, but we won't go there in this essay.
Let us look at only the pre-Trib Rapture and the post-Trib Rapture positions for the purpose of exploring what is meant by the "thief in the night" references in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10.
These two viewpoints-the pre-Trib, and the post-Trib-offer the greatest contrast to examine in consideration of the second advent of Jesus Christ, within the overall belief that Rapture will, according to Bible prophecy, happen before Christ's foot actually touches down on Planet Earth.
The pre-Trib view of Rapture says that Christ's Second Coming is in two phases, separated by at least seven years. The post-Trib rapture view says that the Rapture and Christ's coming back to the Mount of Olives will occur almost simultaneously-certainly with no more than a matter of days separating the two events. The post-Trib position says there is no "secret" Rapture. Christ's coming again will be fully seen in the heavens by all, including Christians who will be watching for Him to break through the darkness of that hour.
We agree that the Rapture of the Church (all born-again believers in Jesus Christ for salvation since the Church Age began at Pentecost) will be anything but a "secret." The world will instantly go into cataclysmic chaos at the moment that stunning event takes place. The imagination is hard-pressed to fathom the ramifications of what will happen when millions suddenly vanish. Every child below the age of accountability will be gone in that mind-boggling instant of time. I am convinced that all babies (including those in the wombs of their mothers) will be instantly in the presence of Christ in the clouds of glory.
Every corpse of every dead Christian will be raised to join with his or her soul to meet Christ in the air in that atomos of time. The Rapture will be mystifying, and to some an inexplicable phenomenon, but it will not be a secret. It will happen before the eyes of a stupefied planet of left-behind earth-dwellers. This declaration that Jesus will call His Church to be with Him seems audacious to many. But, it didn't seem so to the Apostle Paul. He was quite confident-even adamant-in his prophecy concerning the "mystery" he had been given by the Holy Spirit to instruct all believers down through the Age of Grace (Church Age).
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
He explains what will take place next, in that stupendous fraction of a second:
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
Jesus Himself told of this "mystery" Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15:51. The Lord explains what happens after believers-both the bodies of the dead and those who are living-are caught up in the air to be with Him:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
So, the Rapture will take place. Believers and the bodies of those who died during the Church Age will be "caught up" in one single moment of time. "ALL," not "some," will go instantly to be with Jesus, who will then take them into heaven, where He has been preparing their dwelling places since He ascended from the Mount of Olives.
Again, the pre-Trib position on this joyous event is that it is imminent (could happen at any moment), and will happen before the Tribulation Period begins. The post-Trib position says that it happens at the end of the most terrible time in human history, just as Jesus Christ is returning from heaven at Armageddon.
The pre-Trib view holds that it will occur at an unknown time. It will be a stunning, sudden, and unannounced-to-the-world-at-large break-in upon business as usual on Planet Earth. The post-Trib proclaims that it will occur following all of the horrors of the judgments outlined in Revelation. The pre-Trib view says that the world at large (left-behind earth-dwellers) won't see it coming. The Rapture will cause all left on earth to wonder what
has happened. The post-Trib view says that all eyes will behold Christ's coming again to a hellish planet, and the living and dead saints will then be gathered to Christ.
The defining thing to consider in thinking on the two diametrically different views of the Rapture and Second Coming is wrapped up in the term "thief in the night." The Apostle Peter again uses this mysterious term, first used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:2:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peters 3:10)
Peter is saying here that the day of the Lord-that time when God and His Christ, His Son, takes over this fallen planet-will begin like a thief in the night. It will be a sudden, catastrophic break-in upon a world doing business as usual. (Read Luke 17:26-29 to understand how things will be going along as usual when Christ comes back.)
This description hardly fits the post-Trib view, or any other view that says Christ will Rapture His Church during a time of unprecedented trouble (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:21). This indicates that it will be a total surprise, because a thief in the night doesn't announce his coming with great, cataclysmic fanfare. The break-in is swift, stealthy-a totally unexpected event.
Peter foretells in these passages that the "day of the Lord" will then run its course, until the remaking of the heavens and the earth. The Rapture will begin this "day of the Lord," which will then run at least 1,007 years.
This is the first phase of Christ's Second Coming. The Rapture occurs like a "thief in the night." The second advent, when Jesus' foot touches down on the Mount of Olives, is the second phase.
There are those who say with vehemence that it is blasphemous to equate Christ's coming again as being like the break-in of a thief in the night. How dare we liken their Lord to a "thief"!
Really? Here's what Jesus, the Creator of all things, said about this matter:
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 24:43-44)
Looks like a pretty good case for the Lord's sudden intervention into the nefarious affairs of this increasingly wicked world, does it not? That thief-in-the-night moment could happen, literally, at any moment. Certainly, signals of the Tribulation are beginning to come to pass.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)
Biblical Prophecy Meets Coffee Table Book in Stunning 'Then and Now' Photographs - By Eliana Rudee -
EDITORS NOTE: Folks, I purchased a copy of this book a couple of months ago on Amazon, and it is truly an amazing book. It is an excellent book to display on your coffee table, quest will want to look through it, and it could open a door for sharing the Gospel. I highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy Bible Prophecy.
I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you back to your own land. Ezekiel 36:24 (The Israel Bible™)
In the Hebrew Bible, one reads the prophetic story of the Jewish nation, scattered around the world, to gather back home in the Jewish homeland. Rarely does one have the opportunity to step foot in the land of Israel to see the prophecy come alive. But one need not hop on a plane to see the landscapes that were barren just decades ago, now rich and fertile.
New and unique photojournalism book "Israel Rising: Ancient Prophecy / Modern Lens" tells the visual story of Israel's miraculous journey from unforgiving desert to thriving nation, juxtaposing 175 pictures of the Holy Land taken between the 1880s and the 1940s to contemporary images of the same locations from the same angles. Its pages tell a story of a land dry, brown and dusty, now green and lush; embodying Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion's vision to "make the desert bloom."
"This land has changed dramatically since Israel became a nation in 1948," said author Doug Hershey. "Just as Ezekiel prophesied and I have the old photos to prove it."
In addition to the photos and starting with Ezekiel's prophecies, the book explores historical accounts from Jewish, Christian and Muslim eyewitnesses of what the land and region has experienced and endured.
According to Hershey, the quotes tell of a "desolate land and region in severe poverty, with multiple empires conquering and reconquering, destroying and decimating coastal cities."
"In the 10th century, a Muslim writer lamented that there weren't worshippers in the mosque and most people who live in Jerusalem are Jewish. During the Ottoman rule, and even until the 1930s, eyewitnesses told of a declining population and the land suffering, with top soil being blown away," he told Breaking Israel News.
Now, said Hershey, the photos speak for themselves.
"Thousands of years ago, the prophet Ezekiel foretold a future time in which the arid land of Israel would come alive for its people. Now, we see the fulfillment of this vision, from the hills of Shiloh where shepherds once roamed, to the booming city of Tel Aviv, founded on sand dunes, to the stellar beaches of Caesarea, transformed from a small village into one of Israel's most stunning coastal cities and finally Jerusalem, the Eternal City of Peace, where in ancient times the power of worship resounded from the Temple," he said.
As Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary, the book depicting the transformation of Israel has sold tens of thousands of copies on Amazon and is currently the #2 book in Torah, the #8 book on Israel, and the #11 book on Judaism.
Hershey, founder of Ezra Adventures, an Israel-focused travel and education company, recalls becoming inspired to write the book while on his favorite drive in Israel - driving south on Highway 90 - and noticing that the journey now, compared to the journey 14 years ago, has a completely different landscape.
"Today, this same journey is virtually green with desert orchards, vast greenhouses and small farms. The land is changing and today exports 1.5 billion flowers to the U.S. and Europe, grown mostly in the desert," he said.
Along with photographer Elise Monique Theriault, Hershey journeyed by foot and helicopter to access the vantage points required to match the original photos, from the rooftop of Israel's National Museum of Science, Technology and Space in Haifa, to Jaffa Port's breakwater.
Through the book's limited-circulation 100 year-old photos and their comparisons, one witnesses the virtually unseen changes, such as the vast desert farms in the Negev, now bustling coastal cities, and a fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets' vision of ancient cities being rebuilt.
Hershey's rare perspective on the connection between the Jewish Scriptures and present day Israel is informed by years of hands-on experience exploring these very areas, combining service projects, biblical sites and adventure options immersed in Israeli culture for his Ezra Adventures tours. Cultivating unique relationships in Israel and out, Hershey often speaks in churches and synagogues about the prophesied restoration of Israel.
His first book, The Christian's Biblical Guide to Understanding Israel: Insight Into God's Heart for His People, released in 2011, offered a comprehensive guide to understanding God's special connection with Israel and why Israel is important, both in the Bible and today.
"The books chronicle an ancient people with ancient history - an anomaly in history. No other group has a 2,600 year-old history unfolding exactly as it was foretold," Hershey said, adding, "it is an anomaly in history which can be clearly explained by the everlasting covenant with God written about in the Jewish Bible; which foretold that after the Jewish people return to the physical land, the land that was desolate and destroyed will respond. Seeing this come true today verifies the accuracy of biblical accounts in the same way that biblical archaeology in the land verifies history."
Daily Jot: Lest we forget legalized infanticide - Bill Wilson -
It's been some 45 years since the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize abortion. President Donald Trump is actively appointing pro-life judges and curbing tax money to abortion providers. Let's remember the history. The decision, which was justified through privacy provisions in the Constitution that prevented an overpowering government from occupying your personal property without consent, was based on a deceptive lie from the beginning. Both the Roe and the Doe cited by the Supreme Court were women who were not seeking an abortion at all. They were lied to by their attorneys about their cases and were used by an over zealous leftist legal system to essentially unleash infanticide in America.
Sandra Cano, the "Doe" in Doe vs. Bolton, the companion case to Roe vs. Wade, told a Senate Judiciary hearing in 2005 that she always was against abortion. Abortion was always against her wishes. She never sought an abortion and never went for an abortion. She has said when she approached her attorneys for help, she understood her case as an effort to obtain a divorce and regain custody of her children. She was pregnant, and unbeknownst to her, her attorney and her mother arranged an abortion for Sandra. Sandra, to this day, says such an act was so far from her intentions that when she discovered the plan, she fled to Oklahoma alone.
The "Roe" in Roe vs. Wade is a similar case. Norma McCorvey was a rough talking woman who drifted from job to job and had three children, all of them given up for adoption. She never had an abortion, she just signed the affidavit provided by her slick attorney and was expected to melt into the background and keep her mouth shut. For years she was an abortion advocate, but then a young girl named Emily struck up a relationship with her. When McCorvey found out that Emily was almost aborted, she put a face with the decision that bore her name. McCorvey could not fathom that her young friend Emily may have fallen victim to abortion. McCorvey then became a Christian and a pro-life advocate.
Both women became pro-life and petitioned to have their respective decisions overturned. Since 1973, over 60 million babies have been sacrificed to abortion in America. Worse yet, your taxpayer money has supported this abomination. Nearly half, (about $500 million) of Planned Parenthood's budget comes from federal, state, and local tax dollars. Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions. Jesus said in Luke 17:2, "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." Jesus loved children. And Jesus is the one who gave us all eternal life. Abortion is death. Life is the way of Christ.
Daily Devotion: Watching and Waiting - By Greg Laurie -
The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. -2 Peter 3:9
I've been a pastor for more than forty years now. When I first started out, I preached on the soon return of Jesus. I even designed a bumper sticker with my cartoon character Ben Born Again, with a caption that read, "Jesus is coming!" We printed it. And then we reprinted it.
I don't regret doing any of that. Just because it was forty years ago doesn't mean that I was wrong. We're now forty years closer to the return of Christ than we were back then. And I'm still excited about it. I think we should live every day as though it were the day that Jesus Christ is coming back because one day it will be the day. In fact, a lot of people ought to be glad that God didn't answer our prayers in 1970, because they weren't Christians back then.
The Bible tells us, "The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent" (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).
When you believe that Jesus could come back at any moment, it has a spiritually purifying effect on you. We are told in 1 John, "And all who have this eager expectation [the expectation of the Lord's soon return] will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure" (3:3 NLT).
So how are we to live as we await His return? We are to live godly, uncompromising lives for His glory. We should live every day as though it were our last day because it could be. What is your attitude toward the Lord's return? The person who is right with God will say, as the apostle John did, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
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