The introduction to The Illustrated Atlas of Jewish Civilization states that “Jews are no longer cut off, as they once were over a century ago, from their fellow—Jews in what were then distant lands. Today air travel, television and the telephone, as well as computer—based communications, cover Jews in a protective shield. An indignity or a danger to the community can be known within hours and combatted within days” (2003, p. 7, emphasis added throughout).
The active support of the Jewish community in Britain for Israel’s actions in Lebanon approached 90 percent in August. Yet realistically there is not much these patriots can do to influence the outcome of such conflicts in the Holy Land.
The state of Israel should not be overconfident in its military prowess or its economic success. As the biblical proverb says, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but safety is of the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31 Proverbs 21:31The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.
American King James Version×, King James Version).
British journalist Clifford Longley recently wrote: “Israel’s existence is precarious. It is largely friendless in the Middle East where anti—Semitism is rampant, and has been under siege, since its inception . . . Israel ought to be regarded as a frontier post in the defence of Western civilisation. Yet for some reason Israel is routinely treated in most of the British media as verging on a pariah state itself” (The Tablet, July 22).
As the recent conflict now demonstrates, the regional forces arrayed against the modern state of Israel are very formidable. It may alarm some to learn that Bible prophecy says things are going to go awry in the long run. Indeed Israel’s future in the Middle East is a dire one prior to God’s intervention.
Passages in the Gospel accounts and the Hebrew prophets reveal that Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies and trodden down by gentile nations (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×, 24; Zechariah 14:2 Zechariah 14:2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
American King James Version×). Yet deliverance will come!
The Bible promises divine deliverance
Many biblical prophecies promise messianic deliverance to the Jewish nation. No portion of the Old Testament focuses on this promised deliverance more than the Minor Prophets (not minor in importance, as the term merely distinguishes these 12 relatively short books from the three Major Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel).
Let’s consider these promises in four of the Minor Prophets: Joel, Amos, Zephaniah and Zechariah (all quotes are taken from the New International Version).
Verse 31 of Joel 2 gives us the overall context in terms of world events: “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”
This is a period of extreme world troubles. Then the passages that follow promise divine deliverance: “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls” (verse 32).
The next chapter provides more detail. “In those days and at that time [a period of world upheaval] when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land” (Joel 3:1 Joel 3:1For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
American King James Version×;2).
The concluding verse of Amos provides us with yet another way of viewing this end—time prophecy: “ ‘I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:15 Amos 9:15And I will plant them on their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, said the LORD your God.
American King James Version×).
Zephaniah follows with his own messianic contribution to the overall story. “Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm . . . The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:14 Zephaniah 3:14Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
American King James Version×;17).
This passage speaks of the Messiah, later clearly identified as Jesus Christ of Nazareth in the New Testament.
Zechariah’s encouraging prophecies
The book of Zechariah hones in on the future deliverance of the Jewish nation more than any other of the 12 books of the Minor Prophets. We begin in chapter 8. “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem’ ” (verses 2—3). This is a specific prophecy about the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Anointed One and true Messiah.
“Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth . . . The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there [without fear of terrorist strikes]” (verses 3—5).
Continue in chapter 9: “But I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch” (verse 8).
The story follows on in chapter 12. “The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first . . . On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem . . . On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication” (Zechariah 12:7 Zechariah 12:7The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.
American King James Version×;10).
Finally the last chapter describes the ushering in of Christ’s reign: “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured . . . Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations . . .” (Zechariah 14:1 Zechariah 14:1Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the middle of you.
American King James Version×;3).
In the long term, a wonderful future is prophesied even for the remnant of Israel’s enemies. “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
American King James Version×). This annual festival portrays the divine rule of the Kingdom of God on earth and all the prosperity and plenty that Christ’s 1,000—year reign will bring to mankind. GN
To understand this overall prophetic picture in much more detail, be sure to request or download our free booklets The Gospel of the Kingdom, God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind and You Can Understand Bible Prophecy.