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Jesus Christ in Biblical Prophecies

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

The spiritual and doctrinal value of various articles currently published on Israel is extremely poor. Authors mostly offer only a secular review of news events without giving a balanced biblical perspective on them.

It is an alarming fact that even Christian analysts on the situation in the Middle East reveal very little insight into Israel’s end-time position. Obama is now blamed for isolating and forsaking Israel. Is he responsible for these actions or did the Lord ordain them? According to Ezekiel 22:18-22, Jeremiah 30:7 and Zechariah 14:2, the Lord will bring Israel into great affliction because they have, spiritually, become dross in His eyes for dishonouring His Word and rejecting the Messiah. In the light of this situation we should understand their international dispersion during the past 2000 years, as well as the Holocaust of World War II. Or will we merely blame the Roman Empire, the Nazis and other nations for this human tragedy? These nations are definitely guilty, but Israel is more guilty and mainly responsible for their own problems. Didn’t Jesus say that Jerusalem would be destroyed and trodden down because its inhabitants refused to accept Him as their Messiah (cf. Matt. 23:37-38)? In the attached addendum a Messianic Jew, Arthur Katz, explains the full implications of Israel’s sin and lack of faith.

As for Israel’s future, it is really irrelevant what Obama, the pope, the EU, Iran or Russia say or do with regard to Israel. If they don’t persecute or isolate Israel the Lord will allow other groups or nations to do just that. The fact is that the Israelis have to go through the time of Jacob’s trouble because of their continued apostasy.

Why are there so few people who have the boldness to inform Israel on the true reasons for their problems? Why is their own spiritual bankruptcy not addressed? Why are even organisations such as the International Christian Embassy engaged with the establishing of good relations with unsaved Israel without explicitly proclaiming the Messiah to them? Why do preachers such as John Hagee deny Jesus as Messiah of the Jews by alleging that they don’t have to accept Jesus to be saved? Why do all the Christians follow him and merely donate money to Israel, but withhold the gospel from them, which is their only hope?

When will Israel’s fortunes take a turn for the better – when the United States again support and assist them militarily, or when they have accepted the Messiah? Will they ever seek the Messiah unless they are in a great affliction (cf. Hosea 5:15; 6:1-2)?

Israel’s unreasonable treatment by America and other countries can certainly not be justified. But we have to clearly indicate that current Jewish, American, Russian, Arab, and European perspectives on the Middle East are completely at variance with the Bible. Whether the media intentionally distort reports on the Middle East in the interest of the political or strategic interests of major powers, or not, the fact remains that none of them even closely reveal the deep spiritual core of these escalating problems. Some of them do know something about the Islamic jihad but they have little understanding about the only Christian defence against this problem, or its solution.

It is conspicuous that the name Jesus Christ is increasingly disappearing from people’s thinking – also from the conversations and writings of many Christians. They still refer to God and God’s people, also to Christianity and the Bible, but very seldom to Jesus Christ as the only King and Saviour of Israel and the whole world. Yet it is He who is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel and the rest of the world; it is He who will judge His church at the Bema; and it is He who will surrender Israel and the unbelieving nations into the tribulation. Without Him none of these events can be properly understood, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). In Him the judgements can be escaped, but outside of Him the judgements of God will be poured out upon all unbelievers.

All the detail on how the nations are turning against Israel, how Israelis are further hardening themselves spiritually and making life difficult for the Messianic Jews who believe in Jesus, and how various signs indicate the nearness of the rapture and the tribulation period, are all of secondary significance. We should guard against a tendency of becoming too involved with the detail of these matters. We already know enough to be able to conclude that the rapture and the revelation of the Antichrist are very near, and therefore also the time of God’s judgements upon a wicked world.

In view of these facts we should proclaim a particular message to the world. The true church of Christ must be called to greater holiness and dedication to the Lord as preparation for our appearing before the judgement seat of Christ. Unsaved people, including the large number of nominal Christians, must be called to repentance (Eph. 5:14). From the viewpoint of Old Testament prophecies Israel must be informed on the identity of their Messiah, and also on the dreadful alternative of a covenant with the coming false messiah, should they not be reconciled with Jesus of Nazareth. Everything revolves around the Messiah - or around the false messiah who will be accepted by those who do not serve the true Messiah.

It is clearly a futile exercise to carry on working up a great expectation when events of possible prophetic significance occur in Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, America, Russia, Georgia or Iran, leading to speculation that the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 can break out at any moment. Even if it does happen, none of these arguments will draw people to the Lord Jesus – neither will they contribute to the salvation of Israel. We should offer books, articles and websites in which Jesus Christ is the central theme – who He is, what He expects of us, and how He will be revealed in the end-time. In His programme for the end-time He will first remove true believers from the disaster area of divine judgements (Luke 21:36; John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 1:10) and judge their works at His judgement seat (2 Cor. 5:10); then He will judge the unsaved world during the tribulation period (Rev. 6:12-17); after which He will radically transform the world spiritually, morally, politically and economically during His thousand-year reign of peace (Isa. 2:2-4; Jer. 3:17). Everything must directly be related to Him – blessings as well as judgements.

The less people think and speak about the Lord Jesus, the less they will believe in His promise of a pretribulation rapture (Luke 21:36); the less they know about His judgement seat, the less they will be prepared for His sudden coming (1 Cor. 3:9-15). Many people become so involved with a study of the signs of the times, including possible dates for the second coming of Christ, that they never seriously attend to the necessities of our relationship with Him (holiness), and also neglect to work for Him while it is still day – the night of God’s judgements is approaching when no one can work.

I do believe that Israel and many other signs are prophetically significant, but this knowledge should lead to deeper spiritual insights and particularly to the glorification and exaltation of the Lord Jesus – also to fear for the coming day of His wrath upon sinners, including all the carnal, agnostic and unholy people. His judgements should be considered as part of the bigger picture, lest people think that the nature of the future world will only be determined by the decisions and military actions of the present generation of world leaders. One actually pities them when listening to their decisions and beholding their military manoeuvres, as they don’t have the faintest idea of what is waiting for them. They don’t know that they will be gathered in Israel to be judged by the Lord (Joel 3:2; Zech. 14:2,12).

Israel is prophetically one of the most uninformed nations in the world as far as events at the end of the church dispensation are concerned. Their ignorance will cause their virtual downfall as they will lead the way in concluding a covenant with the Antichrist under the false impression that he is the true Messiah (Dan. 9:27; John 5:43). I fear that we as Christians have not seriously heeded the basic command of the Lord Jesus: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; emphasis added). Many of the Christians in Jerusalem are afraid to do just that, fearing that they might offend orthodox Jews. In the rest of the world, people are declared saved in the easiest possible way - without explicit reference to the Lord Jesus and His demand of faith and repentance. This low standard is indicative of the fact that such evangelists are not filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore lack the power and boldness to do what they should.

People in the end-time are shallow in their thinking and judge all things in terms of secular, humanistic criteria. Even Christians start conforming to this way of thinking and are in most cases not able to correctly determine and describe a spiritual perspective on world events. Many of them do not even realise their own spiritual poverty and blindness, which caused the Lord Jesus to say to one of the churches in Revelation: “You say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

We will have to more seriously consider our relationship with the Lord Jesus if we wish to have enlightened eyes of the mind to correctly discern spiritual things, and also to have the correct biblical perspective on Israel and the signs of the times.

Addendum: Israel’s spiritual blindness

Serious Bible students are compelled to offer an explanation for the terrible suffering of Israel – the severe afflictions and loss of lives during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in the first century, the persecution of Jews by the Gentiles throughout the centuries, the Holocaust in which six million Jews died during the Second World War, as well as the biggest suffering of all time which awaits them during the coming great tribulation. The many questions on the true cause for all this indescribable suffering are answered by a Messianic Jew, Arthur Katz, in his book, The Holocaust – Where was God? An Inquiry into the Biblical Roots of Tragedy, published in 1998.  Quotations used with permission of Art Katz Ministries (www.artkatzministries.org).

“The issue of the Holocaust raises very great questions: Why did God not intervene in the midst of our unspeakable sufferings? Where was the God who claims to be omnipresent, all powerful and all knowing? Did He not see the horrific tragedy that allowed His covenant people to be systematically annihilated in the most bestial and cruel destruction that has ever come upon people? How could the long-awaited Messiah have come, as Christians have told us, and yet allowed the decimation of His own people? Where is the mercy of the New Testament God, if this kind of thing could take place in modern times through the auspices of a ‘Christian’ nation: Lutheran Germany? … Why was God silent?” (p. 6-7).

“I was left with one of two options: either to agree with many commentators that God is dead, or accept the testimony of our scriptures that God’s silences are in direct proportion to our sin. I had then to consider the Holocaust as judgment; that it was neither an aberration nor an historical accident; and that somehow the magnitude of our suffering is directly proportional to the magnitude of our sin. Can there be only one meaning then for Jewish suffering, namely, the judgments of God upon a people who have forsaken the true knowledge of Him, and who have not walked in His covenants, nor fulfilled their obligation to be His witness people? … And if that, is it not a judgment that is the fulfilment of what is biblically promised would come in ‘the latter days’ upon an unbelieving and unrepentant Israel? The phrase ‘the latter days’ has always been regarded as the period of time just prior to the establishment of the messianic kingdom” (p. 7).

“It is remarkable how much the interpretation of the Holocaust, as being the judgment of God, radically explains God as God, and brings with it a fear of God as Judge. This fear of God is painfully lacking in our modern consciousness. We have grown up without the sense of the awe of God and the fear of Him. This is one fruit of the unanswered questions raised by the Holocaust that we have chosen not to ask” (p. 7-8).

“We do not have a perspective of God as Judge. Consequently, we have paid a high price for the loss of the understanding of God, both in judgment and in mercy, in severity and in goodness. God’s dealings with Israel (past, present and future) are absent from our consideration or awareness, and we have therefore voided the most profound revelations of God given us in Scripture… There is something about God in judgment that reveals God as He is not to be seen in any other way. Yet, it is the one aspect of the attributes of God from which we instinctively shrink. We cannot reconcile the God who is mercy and love, just and righteous, with a God who would be the Judge to bring affliction of this magnitude on mankind – and particularly on Jewish mankind. If our God does such things, then the most distasteful, the most painful, and the thing most calculated to destroy our own religiosity, becomes the most precious and true revelation of God. Is it not in this contradiction, if we would see it through, that the deepest revelation of God is to be found?” (p. 9).

“Could it be that we cannot understand the Holocaust from God’s perspective unless we bring eternity into view? Only eternal consideration makes the calamity of the Holocaust in any way intelligible… It is only in the hope of averting another fire, one that is inextinguishable and eternal, that makes this fire, in any way, comprehensible. If the one will teach us and save us from the other, then it makes supreme eternal sense…. To omit eternity from our consideration is to disfigure reality itself” (p. 9-10).

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that our finest and ablest spokesmen, under the compulsion of trying to understand the most devastating tragedy of our national experience, make little or no attempt to find explanation in any reference to Scripture at all. We are generally a biblically alienated people” (p. 27).

“Catastrophe, as judgment fulfilled, is God’s penultimate provision to bring an awareness unto repentance to those who would otherwise have no consciousness of that need. The failure to interpret catastrophe in that way, and the failure to see the hand of God in our judgments, must necessarily result in our seeking to place the blame on men. We will find the fault as being with the Germans and Hitler. This is not to say that they were blameless, but we are stopping short of seeing the greater truth. In the last analysis, those who blame men end up blaming God. If we will not see ourselves as the factor for the judgments that have come, then we will inevitably come to the place where God Himself becomes ultimately the evil one. God is judged and found wanting. If man will not accept himself as being the root cause of his own judgments, ironically, God is the one who ends up being condemned for inherent defect in His creation seeing that He was apparently ‘unable’ to intervene in preserving Jewry from calamity. We have a much greater facility to find fault with God than with ourselves. That in itself sums up how lamentable our condition is… How important, then, to rightly interpret our tragic past. We would be fools not to receive the benefit of that past and to anticipate what is to come again if its root causes are not recognized and dealt with repentantly. If our judgments are in direct proportion to our sins and the magnitude of our judgments indicate the magnitude of our sin, then we need to be awakened to something of which we are not personally and subjectively aware… [God] stretches Himself and extends His mercy, and He sends His messengers, which messengers we have historically rejected. In our resiliency, we somehow find a way to recover from our calamities... finding a way to remove the onus of its true meaning as judgment, not seeing it in terms of our national sin” (p. 79-81).

“I have a sense that [the end-time judgments] are impending and near, and that the only thing that restrains them is the hand of God. Is not everything positionally in place and could explode in a moment? The weight of our Jewish unbelief and unrelatedness to God must bring us down. When He takes His hand away, then we will slip, slide, and fall into destruction and devastation in a moment. We are already under the sentence of condemnation until that condemnation is lifted by the receiving of that One whom God sent to bear it, namely, the Messiah of Israel – Jesus of Nazareth. In the continuing rejection of God’s gift, all Israel stands under this sword of judgment, hovering over our heads, waiting for the moment when God simply takes His hand of restraint away. I would rather be proven false, but I believe that this present generation of Jews is going to suffer devastation on a world scale that will eclipse the Nazi era” (p. 89).

“We are going to be viciously hated and pursued, suddenly uprooted, losing everything in a day, having to flee with only what is on our back and in panic not knowing where we are going… We are going to suffer double for our sins but our God has said, ‘I will restore.’ How urgent, then, to believe that the God who promises judgment and fulfils it is also the same God who promises restoration and will also fulfil it… Not to believe God’s judgment as the fulfilment of His word now is to nullify all hope of believing for His future intervention then. This is the scenario for the last days, namely, the restoration of Israel by the unmitigated grace and mercy of God – so totally undeserved” (p. 90). (End of quotations from the book by Art Katz).

In view of what Art Katz rightly said, every Christian is committed to inform Israel on the correct biblical route to their full restoration. If they are not warned against the coming false messiah and the great tribulation, how will they ever be able to correctly understand these times and make the right decisions? Without accepting Jesus the Messiah by faith they cannot be saved – neither can they share in the blessings that He promised to the believing remnant in Israel and also to the whole world during His coming reign of peace.

AW Tozer 22