Your life will eventually be affected by events in Israel and the Middle East. This would be true even if you could not locate Lebanon, Gaza and Israel on a world map. This would be true even if you have absolutely no interest in current affairs. Important aspects of your future will be determined by what will occur in this volatile part of the world.
The focus is Lebanon
As we go to press, the focus of the political world is on tiny Lebanon, a victim nation that continues to be a battleground over issues not really its own.
The current crisis was begun in southern Israel by Hamas kidnapping an Israeli soldier, following almost a year of Hamas regularly raining down rockets on southern Israel after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.
It widened to Lebanon when Hezbollah fighters launched a rocket attack and crossed the border, killing eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others. Then when Israel retaliated, Hezbollah began firing rocket barrages that hit Haifa and other cities in the north of the country.
As the Lebanese crisis accelerated, the usual calls for a cease-fire and peacekeeping forces from the UN and NATO soon began in earnest. Condemnation of Israel soon followed. Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero censured Israel's Gaza and Lebanon strikes (El Pais, July 15, 2006). Other European nations were furious with Israel just as they were in the early '80s.
The 1982-83 Lebanese conflict
History reminds us of what happened in Lebanon nearly 25 years ago. British historian Martin Gilbert sums up those events. "The costs of the Lebanese war had been high for all combatants… an estimated 6,000 PLO troops had been killed, as had 460 Lebanese civilians, 600 Syrian troops and 368 Israeli soldiers" (Israel: A History, 1998, p. 512). Additionally, 280 United States marines were blown up by a terrorist attack on their barracks in Beirut.
The nation of Israel, always fighting for its very survival, now has to wage a very difficult war with hit-and-run cells from a notorious, well-armed terrorist group that hides among civilians. Islamic political leadership has now shifted not only to rogue nations like Iran, but to radical terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni summed up the seriousness of the Lebanese situation for Newsweek magazine: "Hizbullah is a threat to the region and to the international community. It is the long arm of Iran that wants to keep an open front with Israel in order to destabilize the region. In UN resolutions 1559 and 1688, it was stated that there was a need for the Lebanese government to extend its sovereignty over the entire [country of] Lebanon and to dismantle all militias including Hizbullah" (July 31, 2006, emphasis added throughout).
Practically speaking, Lebanon is so weakened by years of civil war and foreign occupation that it could not then—and cannot now—accomplish this task without the aid of Israel, the cooperation of Syria and Iran, and a reliable and heavily armed peacekeeping force. Sadly, the UN peacekeeping record is undistinguished.
The growing danger posed by Iran
Iran has been warning the West that it had better not be ignored. Leon de Winter states in a feature article for the Wall Street Journal: "It is clear that the Iranian theocracy has set its sight far beyond its region. The rhetoric of the Iranian regime has been clear for years. As with Germany in the 1930s, anti-Semitism plays a very key role in modern Iranian politics.
"If Iran succeeds, its nuclear weapons will be controlled by people who believe that they should bring the end of days closer—a nation not dissimilar to Hitler's apocalyptic visions. An Iranian bomb threatens the very existence of Western civilization" (March 7, 2006).
The primary targets are, of course, Israel and the United States—the latter at least presently beyond the reach of Iranian missiles. Israel is not so fortunate.
In October 2005 Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated at a conference titled "The World Without Zionism" that "anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury [while] any Islamic leader who recognises the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world . . . As the Iman [Ayatollah Khomeini] said, Israel must be wiped off the map" (The Times [London], Oct. 28, 2005).
Hezbollah's fighting force has long been financed, trained and armed by Iran. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah echoed the same general sentiments on April 9, 2000: "The Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities. Anyone who reads the Koran and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out throughout history . . .
"Anyone who reads these texts cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine, because they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment."
Two years later, in comments to Lebanon's Daily Star, he said, "If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide" (quoted by Michael Rubin, "Eradication First, Before Diplomacy," National Review Online, July 17, 2006).
Over the years, many are the statements from radical Islamic leaders—and some secular ones—about wiping out the nation of Israel. The late President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt stated just prior to the Six-Day War on May 26, 1967: "Our basic objective is to destroy Israel" (Martin Gilbert, Challenge to Civilization, 1999, p. 366).
An axis of hatred—not peace
The whole Middle East is now rife with violent hot spots. Any one of several unresolved issues could escalate into disastrous conflagrations. God says through one of His prophets that He would "make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it" (Zechariah 12:3 Zechariah 12:3And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
American King James Version×). God clearly states that Jerusalem, and thus the surrounding area, would be an unsolvable riddle that would exhaust the world community.
But diplomats, world leaders and even theologians don't really grasp the message of the Bible. In the Olivet Prophecy, far from foreseeing a successfully negotiated peace, Jesus instead saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies at the time of the end (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×).
Eventually Israel will become subject to a European-centered superpower (the "king of the North") who will invade the Holy Land as a result of a "push" by the "king of the South" (possibly an Islamic group of peoples) as explained in Daniel 11:40-45 Daniel 11:40-45  And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.
 He shall stretch forth his hand also on the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.
 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
American King James Version×. (For more information, please request a copy of our booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.)
Trying to bring peace to the Middle East during this age of man is a dangerous and impossible proposition. Let peacekeeping forces beware! It is so easy to be inexorably sucked into the swirling vortex of stubbornly unbridgeable divisions and deep-set animosities.
Particularly at the time of the end, the focus of this world will be on the Middle East, just as much of it is now. The final conflagration will finish only with the return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the true Messiah Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:11-21 Revelation 19:11-21  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war.
 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
 And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
 And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the middle of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God;
 That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
American King James Version×).
Wherever you may reside, you need to be concerned about important events in the Middle East. As King David said some 3,000 years ago, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalms 122:6 Psalms 122:6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love you.
American King James Version×). The one and only true Messiah, the Prince of Peace, will come back to earth and bring real peace to Jerusalem, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf region, the entire Middle East and finally the whole world at large. That is His mission. WNP