Jerusalem is mentioned more than any other place in the Bible—over 800 times. It is the focal point of the God of this Universe.
This evening what we see before our eyes each day in the news has perhaps blunted the amazing reality of Israel’s very existence. To get us back on track may I read the following excerpt from an article by L. Nelson Bell, M.D., the Father-in-Law of Dr. Billy Graham and the former executive editor of Christianity Today.
“That there is a deep mystery in God’s dealings with and plans for Israel is obvious to all students of the Bible. Many wild interpretations have come out of the study of the subject. But there has come rich blessing to those who will let the Scriptures speak for themselves. In the OT & NT, there are prophecies that speak definitely of Israel as a nation. Many have been fulfilled, and their literal fulfillment strengthens our faith.
Other prophecies have yet to be fulfilled. Our Lord, giving a panorama of the last days (the duration of which is not specifically stated), says in speaking of the Jews, ‘They will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled’ {Luke 21:24). That for the first time in more than 2,000 years Jerusalem is now completely in the hands of the Jews gives a student of the Bible a thrill and a renewed faith in the accuracy and validity of the Bible. The Jews as separate people demonstrate a mystery and hope. Their continuance as a people in the midst of all other nations is in itself a miracle.
These people did not return to Palestine primarily because of religious convictions. It is rather a strong nationalism that has drawn them together. But a small minority in their midst pore over the Old Testament Scriptures and see God’s hand working in their behalf. The entire world has been impressed with the Israeli fighting forces. Military experts have used such terms as ‘unbelievable’, ‘fantastic’, and ‘overwhelming’ in speaking of their brilliant tactics and efficiency in the recent war. We ask, Did this just happen?
Pictures show the pinpoint accuracy of the raid on Arab airfields. In many cases, planes on the ground were destroyed one by one (over 400 in all) without great damage to the landing strips. Just as the Egyptian army was beginning a retreat through the Milta Pass in Sinai, a perfectly placed bomb destroyed a large Egyptian tank in the pass, completely blocking retreat. Hundreds of Egyptian tanks and trucks were either destroyed or stranded. A veteran of Rommel’s retreat at El Alameinsaid that this spectacle of destroyed or immobilized heavy equipment beggared anything he had ever seen. The same element of overwhelming military victory is found in every area of the six-day war. We ask again, Did it just happen? One cannot help thinking that in all of this God was working out His own purposes, far above and beyond the capabilities of men and nations! Christians must remember that in events like this we see only a tiny segment of history. Not only does God move in mysterious ways; with Him a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day.
For this reason, unwarranted dogmatism can lead to foolish conclusions. At the same time, the events in the Middle East certainly fit at least in some measure into the picture revealed in the Scriptures. If we say, as the Arabs do, that Israel has no right to exist, we may prove blind to her peculiar destiny under the providence of God. Isaiah’s and Ezekiel’s prophecies regarding Egypt seem singularly applicable at this time. Nasser’s dire threats still ring in our ears: ‘Israel must be destroyed, ‘We will swallow you up’; ‘You invaders will be driven into the sea’; and ‘The Gulf of Akaba is permanently closed to Israeli shipping.’ But we read in Isaiah, ‘In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand which the LORD of hosts shakes over them. And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the purpose which the LORD of hosts has purposed against them’ (Isaiah 19: 16-17). It is thrilling to see a segment of prophecy being fulfilled!”
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