The Sign Of The Times

by Joseph Hunting

The rebirth of the State of Israel is recognized by many Bible scholars as an event of outstanding prophetic significance. Indeed, of all the notable kingdoms and peoples that have come under the spotlight of the Bible since ancient times, the nation of Israel is the only one that has not ceased to exist, but rather has re-emerged as a nation under the same name and occupying the same territory as in former times. The Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, Philistines, Babylonians, Medes and Persians have all passed permanently from the world's scene, together with their languages.

Not only did Israel re-emerge as a sovereign state on May 14th 1948 on the soil of its Biblical homeland, but its Biblical language Hebrew also has the distinction of being the only ancient language to be revived and spoken as a modern tongue. Any one of Israel's ancient prophets could clearly understand the news given hourly over Kol Yisrael, the Voice of Israel. Admittedly, a few new words such as 'telephone' and 'radio' would sound strange, but the prophet would be perfectly familiar with the language being used in the modern state of Israel.

Now that the dust has settled that surrounded the political intrigue prior to World War II regarding quotas regulating the number of Jewish immigrants returning to Israel; now that we can fully appreciate the massacre of six million Jewish people in the Holocaust; now that the disgraceful role enacted by some of Britain's politicians during the closing days of the Mandate period as been revealed, the rebirth of Israel is seen as an event equal in magnitude to the Exodus from Egypt 3,500 years ago when the whole nation marched en masse to the Land God had promised them.

Only with one exception has there been an event in all history to compare with the saga of Israel's emergence from captivity and slavery, to freedom in a new homeland. And that exception is the regathering of Jewish exiles again to their homeland, but with no Moses or Joshua to lead them. Indeed, in this modern-day saga they have come from the four corners of the uttermost parts of the earth as though drawn by some unseen irresistible force. All the might of Hitler's Luftwaffe, Panzer divisions and the extermination camps could not stem the tide. They merely interrupted it. The laws passed by Britain forbidding their return to the Land of their forefathers, and the might of the British navy to enforce those infamous laws also failed to halt their return. In the great annals of Israel's history that are forever preserved in heaven it is written: "He that scattered Israel shall gather him and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock." (Jeremiah 31:10).

Many Bible students see this great miracle of Israel's rebirth in spite of such overwhelming odds as the prelude to the coming of Messiah.


The nation of Israel has been referred to as the prophetic clock, and Jerusalem has been described as the minute hand of prophetic time. Apart from being the Holy City of three of the world's great religions, it was Israel's capital 3,000 years ago when King David captured it from the Jebusites and made it the capital of his kingdom. Within 80 years Jerusalem was to become the focal point of the then civilized world and its magnificent temple shone with the glory of God's Presence.

Five hundred years later the City and Temple lay in smouldering ruins as Babylonian armies under Nebuchadnezzar ended the Messianic dynasty of the house of David on the 9th day of Av, 586 B.C.

From that date and onwards Gentile nations swept across Israel in succession over a period of 500 years and controlled the destiny of Jerusalem that was rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity of 70 years. Medes, Persians, Greeks and Romans in turn controlled the destiny of Jerusalem except for the brief interlude during the Macabbean revolt.

After a further period of 500 years Jerusalem was again destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans on the very anniversary that the Jews mourned the destruction of their City and Temple by Nebuchadnezzar.

For a further nineteen centuries Moors, Arabs, Saracens, Crusaders, Mamelukes, British and Jordanians in turn trod underfoot the Holy City. The turning point in Jerusalem's chequered history came unexpectedly during the Six Day War of 1967. By mid-afternoon on the third day of this amazing war young Israelis possessed the Old City, and as General Goren blew the Shofar by the Western Wall 2,500 years of Gentile control of the Holy City dramatically ended. Amid the tears of joy and jubilation of the nation the words of Israel's Messiah echoed down the centuries: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24).

This Messianic prediction concerning the end of the Gentile domination of Jerusalem is the prophetic mile peg that marks the end of the long road along which the non-Jews have trodden Jerusalem under their feet. It also marks a new era that heralds the coming of Israel's King-Messiah.


Then President Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem during November 1977 a sudden vision of peace between Israel and Egypt was flashed around the world. When this vision of peace became a reality with the signing of the historic treaty between Israel and Egypt on March 27th the Arab world and Russia reacted with strong opposition.

In the meantime the balance of power in the Middle East has undergone a dramatic change. Iran, once the supplier of 80% of Israel's oil requirements and politically neutral towards the Jewish state, has now become dramatically opposed to Israel's existence and has cut off all oil supplies. At the same time the present Iranian policy to back the P.L.O. poses a very real threat to Israel's security, as the new regime possesses some of the world's most sophisticated weaponry which could be placed in P.L.O. hands.

The Bible prophesies a period of peace in Israel's long and turbulent history. During this time of peace the prophet Ezekiel foretold that an invasion of the Holy Land would be led by a confederacy of Arab nations headed by a nation situated in the "uttermost north" of Israel, obviously Russia. The prophet's warning is very clear. ". . . Thus saith the Lord God, in the day when My people Israel dwell safely, shalt thou not known it. And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee . . . " (Ezekiel 38:14,15).

The New Testament also links "the day of the Lord" (the time of divine judgement on earth) with a period of peace: "for when they shall say, Peace and safety, then cometh sudden destruction upon them . . . " (1st Thessalonians 5:3).

To put this prophecy in its right perspective one must remember that Israel had not known a single day's peace for nearly 31 years of statehood until the treaty was signed with Egypt on March 27th. Indeed, Israel has not known a settled period of peace since the halcyon days of King Solomon. Furthermore, the conditions being imposed upon Israel involve the return of portion of the territory promised to Israel by none other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel. Could Israel's willingness to go along with the conditions for peace be linked with Ezekiel's warning: ". . . they have seduced My people, saying, PEACE, and there was no peace . . . " (Ezekiel 13:10)?

Both the Tenach (Old Testament) and the New Testament warn that in the end times a period of false peace will usher in unprecedented upheaval and world-wide calamities. Both sections of the Bible also warn of a time of travail that will give birth to the Messianic kingdom of equity and peace. Blessed are they who watch and wait for the coming of Messiah the Prince of Peace.