Monday, May 15, 2006

What the Future Holds (1)

This is part 1 of chapter 10 of my book, Biblical Glasses.

About a third of the Bible is prophecy, some of which refers to the Messiah, Who came in the Person of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. Some also relates to various events regarding nations and people of the Old Testament. A majority of Bible prophecy concerns the end times, when Jesus will come to earth a second time as judge of the world.

Many unbelievers mock God, because He has not yet come in judgment, as He said He would. They maintain that if God was all-loving, He would have already rid the world of evil, pain, and suffering. We saw God’s victory over evil in the resurrection of Christ, but we must be patient for the complete results of that victory to be realized at the second coming of Christ. Remember, God is patient, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

If God destroyed all evil right now, including potential evil, then potential Christians—potential followers of God—would forever be lost. Because God knows who will choose Him as Savior, He is waiting patiently and mercifully for that last person to repent from sin and come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. It is out of perfect mercy that God has yet to eliminate evil, but we know from the fulfillment of several key Bible prophecies that the end times are growing near. Judgment is coming!

In this chapter we will note several Biblical references to the end times and mention specific prophecies coming true in our day. We will look at the varying positions of theologians on end times events. We will also contemplate the glories awaiting believers in heaven. But first, we need to address one current events issue that arises in nearly everyone’s ponderings of what the future holds. It is critical to acknowledge the significance of the modern day, tiny nation of mostly-Jewish Israel and its relationship with its larger, neighboring nations made up of mostly-Muslim Arabs.

The Arab/Israeli conflict is not solely based on a property issue as many people think. Nor is it only a religious feud; rather, it is a family feud. It is the oldest ongoing family feud in the world. Arabs, a majority of which are Muslim, do not hate the Jews only for their faith; they do not hate the Jews only for their land—although it is “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8, among others). They hate the Jews, because it is in their nature to “live in hostility toward all their brothers” (Genesis 25:18, emphasis added).

Recall that Abraham had a legitimate son, Isaac, by his wife, Sarah, after committing adultery and producing a bastard child, Ishmael, by his wife’s handmaid, Hagar. This family feud between the Jews and Arabs has been in the works ever since. Abraham’s wife and her handmaid fought for his affection, and his wife won. Sarah and Isaac stayed with Abraham, and the nation of Israel was formed. Hagar and Ishmael were sent out into the wilderness, and the angel of the Lord prophesied that Ishmael would “be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12).

Thus the Arab nation was born. Its people would forever feel scorned; they would be hostile toward their brothers, the Jews. The Bible “seemed to anticipate a common result of human rejection: Hurt people tend to hurt people.” It foretold both Isaac (the legitimate son) and Ishmael (the illegitimate son) fathering great nations; indeed this happened. Both nations have tremendous impact on the world, even in today’s society some 4000 years after their conception.

The Bible prophesied that the Arabs would covet the land of the Jews in the end times. Well, the Arabs actually took it by force in the 600s A.D.; then the Crusaders took it back; then the Arabs had the land from the time of the Ottoman Empire until World War I, when it was ceded to Britain. Even before Britain gained control, the beginning of the twentieth century saw Arabs selling what appeared to be worthless land to poor Jewish settlers at outrageous prices. The land had become desolate while controlled by the Arabs, so they took advantage of the Jews, who just wanted their homeland back.

The Jews planted millions of trees and provided proper irrigation; the land has since become beautiful again, just as the Bible prophesied. In 1922, Britain decided to use the land to create an Arab and a Jewish state. Britain gave two-thirds to the Arabs, calling the territory Trans-Jordan (the present day nation of Jordan), and one-third to the Jews. This did not satisfy the Arabs—they want the Jews wiped out! In 1948, after World War II, the United Nations approved the designated Jewish state, and Israel was reborn. The surrounding Arab nations immediately attacked this newly created state, but Israel miraculously defeated its invaders and gained more territory, which has since been returned to the Arabs. The Arab nations have ever since been aggressively fighting against the existence of Israel.

The P.L.O. (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was founded in 1964; its primary purpose was—and still is—to eliminate Israel. In 1967, the Six Day War saw the Arab nations fail again in their objective to destroy Israel. After the war, Israel offered to return the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank in return for peace, but Yasser Arafat, allied with Sadaam Hussein and extremely anti-Semitic Communist nations (such as the former Soviet Union), refused to accept the offer. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1978, and those neighboring nations are on slightly better terms.

Israel has survived and thrived by allowing people of all religions and nationalities to live within its boundaries. The same is not true for the Arab nations. Interesting ….

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