Israel’s primarily secular government has created a state built on concepts more commonly associated with Western democracies. Its national character often makes the country stick out like a sore thumb among its increasingly chaotic neighbors. With such a high profile, Israel is a little country with a big impact on the world. This impact does not go unnoticed, and nations around the world take interest in Israel—both in its strategic position and in its historic, religious and political significance.
One of Jesus Christ’s most striking prophecies hinted at the wide interest Israel will draw in the time leading up to His return. Teaching about the very last days before His return, He told His disciples to watch Israel and the interest other nations show in it as a sign of His coming: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20 Luke 21:20And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is near.
American King James Version×).
Jesus said that before Jerusalem ultimately falls we can be aware of what’s coming when we see armies encompassing the city. While we’ve yet to see this happen, many prominent world armies are closing in on an area not far away from Jerusalem.
The American, European, Russian and Syrian militaries, along with Syrian revolutionaries and ISIS insurgents, all have a foothold in Syria—Israel’s neighbor to the north. Other world powers are also looking to the Middle East as a place of interest (see “China to take more active role in Syrian crisis” on the next page).
As world interest—and increasingly the armed forces of many nations—descends on the areas surrounding Israel and Jerusalem, Christians should vigilantly watch and pray for discernment.