Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that he has no intention of sharing the holy city of Jerusalem with the Palestinians. This statement did not generate too many headlines, but I believe it is very significant in showing us where we are in Bible prophecy.
“And 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” (Zechariah 12:3).
The Palestinians’ claim to Jerusalem is based on a massive sham. Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for three thousand years. There never was a Palestinian people, nation, language, culture, or religion. The archeological record points endlessly to a Jewish heritage for Jerusalem. If the Palestinians had any common sense, they would go pick some other city as their capital.
Since Netanyahu came to power nearly two years ago, he has accepted the principle of a Palestinian state next to Israel. There is growing indication that Netanyahu is beating the Arabs at their old game of repeatedly agreeing to something but never getting around to actually accomplishing the task.
The international pressure on Israel has been relentless. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been pushing hard to get Israel to give on the core issues of Jerusalem’s status. In one recent speech, she urged both sides to reach a final agreement “without delay and with real specificity.” She pointedly called for compromise on the contested holy city, observing that
“there will surely be no peace without an agreement” on Jerusalem—”the most sensitive of all the issues.”
Bible prophecy promises calamity for any nation that seeks to divide Jerusalem. I believe a key reason America’s economy has stumbled in recent years is the pressure we’ve been placing on Israel. Now that the Obama administration has decided to increase the pressure, I would expect to see greater trembling in the land.
Israelis have a good reason to stick with the status quo. A decade ago, the public lived in terror of being killed in a suicide bomber attack. After trying everything to combat the problem, the Israeli government was finally driven to the point of walling itself off from the Palestinians. Since the borders were sealed, there has not been a single terrorist attack in the past several years.
Another reason for Netanyahu to play coy with the Arabs is that it doesn’t have any land to give away that will not jeopardize Israel’s security. In the past, the Jews made the Arabs happy by giving them the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, a southern zone of Lebanon, and partial control of the West Bank. The Arabs always come back asking for more land.
The situation reminds me of story about a woman who was once chased by a grizzly bear. A human can only run half as fast as a bear, but the woman saved herself by taking off several items of clothing. Every time she dropped an item to the ground, the bear would momentarily pause before resuming the pursuit. At this point in the Middle East chase, Israel is down to its underwear, and instead of one bear there are about two dozen pursuing the Jewish state.
One of Satan’s key goals is to gain control of the city of Jerusalem. The devil certainly knows that his only chance of delaying events that will lead to his destruction is to capture Jerusalem and destroy the Jewish state. So far, Satan has edged closer to this goal by using peaceful means. Now that it looks like the Jews are not going to give up any more land, his next move will likely be war.
Prophecy teachers have long said that we are in the last days because our generation witnessed the rebirth of Israel. Perhaps it is time to say the Lord’s return is near because Jerusalem has now become the focal point of world attention.
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).