There are dangerous developments in the Middle East. The whole region is in turmoil. I am convinced that a large part of this has to do with a Messianic Zionist movement in both the evangelical church as well as in Jewish circles. They believe in the prophetic promise of a Greater Israel (see map below). They believe they must move this prophetic destiny forward with war. There is big disaster coming...here is why.
I have had emails sent to me arguing I am wrong in my interpretation of prophecy because the Lord is going to still restore a "Greater Israel" as promised to Abraham and repeated to Joshua. This is to be the great Israel that Jesus is to rule from in the Millennium. This will include a rebuilt Third Temple, with sacrifices and a priesthood. Prophecy writers eagerly look for signs of Israel planning to build a new temple. They urge Israeli leaders to make no concessions on land for Palestinians, in fact they demand the expulsion of all Palestinians from Israel. No two-state solution.
If you have a close look at the above map of prophetic "Greater Israel" you will see the amazing coincidence that every country falling within the vision of Greater Israel is in a state of war, turmoil and destabilization. Is this coincidence? Is this radical Islam at work? For centuries Shiites and Sunnis lived peacefully side by side. Why the terrible destruction now? Is there a third force at work here?
Among prophecy writers the main support they provide for this vision of "Greater Israel" and a rebuilt Third Temple are the prophecies of Ezekiel. Specifically chapters 40-48 that seems to be unfulfilled prophecy of a coming greater Israel and a rebuilt temple and functioning priesthood. I did not address these chapters in my book, only chapters 36-39. I need to answer that issue here as a warning for those evangelicals pushing Israel to war...this is going to end badly!
The general narrative of the interpretation of Ezekiel's prophecies in chapters 36-39 goes something like this:
- Israel scattered among the nations is to miraculously be re-gathered by the Lord in the last days.
- After a series of wars the Jews once again reclaim their land and declare an independent Jewish state with Jerusalem as the capital. (supposedly in 1948 and 1967)
- After living in peace through a pact made with the Antichrist Israel is invaded by the armies of Gog and Magog (i.e. Russia and her allies) which results in the battle of Armageddon.
- Jesus and the armies of heaven miraculously appear and destroy the gathered armies of the earth aligned against Israel.
- And here we then come to chapters 40-48 of Ezekiel; the borders of Israel are extended and the third temple is built and Jesus rules the earth from Jerusalem.
- An important change to this scenario has been made by Bill Salus in his book "Isralestine" and to which most prophecy preachers now support. It is this: Greater Israel is prophesied in Psalm 83 to occur before Armageddon and the coming of Christ so that means the great Middle East war to extend Israel's borders to the Euphrates can start now and does not need to wait for after Armageddon and the Millennium. (very dangerous misleading teaching!)
The great danger for the world is that a very important part of the American and Israeli military and policy elite believe in these prophecies or at least in this interpretation of prophecy and what helps of course is the promise of the incredible wealth of oil in this region and the new huge discoveries of gas reserves off the coasts of Israel and Lebanon. The long term future of American energy supplies are at stake here. Add into this volatile mix a very committed minority of Shiite Islam that believe in the prophecies of the coming of the 12th Imam when the world collapses into chaos.
Now let me explain to why all this is wrong and why the prophecies of Ezekiel were wonderfully fulfilled in history...
Most of this I explained in depth in my book but I need to fit chapters 40-48 now into this explanation. Unfortunately most prophecy commentators don't study history and so do not know how to fit prophecy into history.
The kingdom of Israel was divided into the northern ten tribes called The House of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah after the death of Solomon. Each had its own kings. The northern House of Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721 BC and settled into the lands of the Medes. (I Chron. 5:26; 11 Ki.17:6; 18:11). The southern kingdom of Judah was taken captive by Babylon in 604 BC and Jerusalem and the temple destroyed in 587 BC after a revolt by the remaining Jews. Ezekiel himself was taken captive to Babylon with the captivity of Jehoiakin in 599 BC and settled into the colony in NE Babylon by the river Chebar close to the House of Israel in next door Media. Ezekiel dates his 14 prophecies in his book from the year of captivity.
God used both the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel to encourage the captives that all was not lost even though both kingdoms of Israel were in captivity, the land was desolate and occupied by other people and Jerusalem and the temple with the priests and Levites, destroyed.
Both prophets not only gave the Jews and Israelites the promise that the "dry bones" of Israel would live but also both gave a timeline when this would happen. Daniel gave a 490 year timeline for the coming of the Messiah (see my book chapter on how this was miraculously fulfilled) and Ezekiel in chapter 4 gave a timeline of 390 years and 40 years when the nation and the monarchy would be restored after a period of wars. I covered this in my book but for the sake of clarity let me repeat and then show you how chapters 40-48 fit in.
Historically this is what happened:
In 536 BC Cyrus the Mede conquered Babylon, established the kingdom of Medo-Persia as the Lord predicted 200 years before through Isaiah (Is. 45 naming him by name) and in 533 BC the decree was made by Cyrus that the Jews and Israelites may return to their land and rebuild the temple and Jerusalem.
Prior to this release the elders of the previous House of Israel (that were taken captive by the Assyrians in 721 BC) sent a delegation to the prophet of Judah, Ezekiel to enquire of the Lord as to their future (Ezekiel 14:1 and 20:1). They had no prophet among them. Ezekiel gave them good news and bad news. The good news was that the time is coming when all Israel north and south can return to the ancestral land, the Lord was not through with Israel. But they needed to get rid of their idols and return to a pure worship of the Lord. Now here is where the prophecies of chapters 40-48 come in.
The Lord showed Ezekiel a vision in chapters 40-48 of what he would give Israel if they returned back to the Lord and return to a pure worship of the Lord. He would give them the lands promised to Abraham, He would give them a restored temple in which He would dwell among them and a restored purified priesthood. But this is what happened historically: Ezra tells us that when the time of release came in 533 BC only about 42,000 Israelites of the great multitudes of both kingdoms in exile decided to return to rebuild the nation.
Historically we know that the vast tribes of northern Israel decided to migrate out of Media not to Israel but north through the Caucasus mountains and a thousand years later had lost their identity and were known variously as the Scythians, Goths, Vandals of Europe... The southern kingdom Jews only a few returned. Most were very comfortable in Babylon and prospering and decided to stay on in Babylon.
The brave 42,000 took up the challenge of the Lord to return and rebuild. As Ezekiel promised it was tough and constant war and conflict. But 390 years later in 143 BC under the Hasmoneans (the Maccabbees) Israel was recognized by both Syria and Rome as an independent nation. 40 years later in 103 BC the new nation of Israel had a restored monarchy along with their restored temple and priesthood. It took 500 years but the prophecies of Ezekiel of restored Israel re-gathered from the nations was fulfilled. As they dwelt safely the next prophecy of the invasion of Gog in 37 BC was also fulfilled. The destruction of Gog and his armies and allies were fulfilled in 70 AD in the battle of Armageddon as Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelations predicted and most importantly Jesus prophesied "this generation" (His generation) would not pass away until all these things be fulfilled. (see my book for in depth explanation of why there is no 1000 year Millennium and who Gog was).
There are several lessons for us here. The Lord offers people great blessings, that most of the Israelites did not respond to the promises of Ezekiel 40-48 and come home to build the nation and extend its border is not unusual. Jesus rose from the dead and the Bible tells us He appeared to more than 500 people. He invited all of them to gather in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father...the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. How many actually turned up? 120!
Historically Alexander the Great did take up the offer to possess exactly those borders that you see in that map. He did it with an army of 30,000 Hoplites against a Persian army of more than 500,000 and he did it from a small insignificant rocky patch of ground made up of a few city states. He also did it at the time Israel could have done it if they had believed the promises of the Lord.
For us in the Kingdom movement the following:
- God's promises are only valid to the true seed of Abraham. And Paul made clear in both Galatians and Romans that not all Israel is Israel and only those of the faith of Abraham are the seed of Abraham. Race and DNA mean nothing in the Kingdom of God.
- The Jews in Israel need to learn what the Afrikaners in South Africa had to learn. We are called like Abraham to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Racial Apartheid is not part of God's plans for His Kingdom.
- The Jews like the Afrikaners have a wonderful ability to make the deserts bloom, produce food, produce jobs, deploy technology, teach, organize and bring prosperity where they live. That is their calling in the Middle East. That is our calling in Africa. - The Lord wants peace on earth and good will to all men. Evangelicals must get out of this warmongering spirit of the age. The sons of God are peacemakers. We are called to a ministry of reconciliation, black with white, Jew with Arab. The Lord wants revival and missions into the Middle East nor war and conflict.
- Those pushing for war while supposedly "praying for the peace of Jerusalem" are hypocrites, they secretly long for a great military victory of Arabs slaughtered as a supposed sign of the Lord's blessing on Israel. They are as deceived as the 1,100,000 gathered in Jerusalem in 70 AD with the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem. Most of them were 'Messianics". A million people believing a great miracle was about to take place...Jesus the Messiah promised to return to establish a Jewish Kingdom. They died deceived by false prophets.
- To those preaching once again the same militaristic false gospel in the churches let me tell you the real gospel of the Kingdom of God:
Jesus is Lord now!
The Kingdom of God already came at the resurrection of Jesus and is spreading till it fills the earth.
The only Jerusalem that is being built by God is the New Jerusalem which is the Church if Jesus Christ
The only Temple being rebuilt by God is the Temple of His, the Body of Christ wherein God now dwells.
The borders of the real Israel of God, the Church, is all the world!