Summary: Third in a prophecy series. Written in summer 2006 after Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists targeted Israel.
When I started this prophecy series, I had sketched out what I thought would be a series of four or five teachings starting with the rapture of the church and culminating with the millennial reign of Christ on earth. This week was to be week three and I was going to speak to you about the Tribulation period and delve into the book of Revelation.
As I was trying to prepare and write this teaching I kept running up against obstacles. I couldn’t seem to organize the teaching into a coherent form. I actually started this sermon four different times, each time coming at the Tribulation from a different direction, and each time I reached an impasse and couldn’t go any further.
What I finally realized, Thursday night around 8 p.m. was that I wasn’t working on the message God wanted me to teach. He was slamming the door on my ideas and I just kept running into the door. Thank goodness, I finally wised-up to what was happening. This morning’s teaching is the message God wants to say to you instead of the message I had planned to give. And the reason I’m so sure of this is because once I started to listen to Him, preparing this sermon became a whole lot easier.
So, instead of focusing on the Tribulation period, we are instead going to turn our attention to what is presently occurring in the Middle East, and more specifically with the nation of Israel.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Israel I have practically been glued to my television set. Questions have arisen as I’ve watched the fighting continue to escalate and the global leaders voice their opinions on what should be done. I’ve wondered if the dramatic events that we are witnessing have anything to do with Bible prophecy? Does God have anything to say about the war(s) in the Middle East? Some people have suggested that we are seeing the beginnings of World War III or maybe even Armageddon. With the many signs that we spoke of last week pertaining to the Biblically prophesied end of the age which we now seem to be staring in the face, it’s important for Christians to stop and examine the things involving this area of the world very carefully.
I. Armageddon Anxieties
“Armageddon” is the Biblical term most everyone thinks of whenever war begins to look imminent in the Middle East. Even the mainstream news organizations bring this troubling name into their reportorial mix at times when war seems to loom.
A. What Is It?
But what really is Armageddon? Armageddon is prophesied in Revelation to be an increasingly stepped-up war, rather than just a single battle. It will be a conflict that progressively involves more and more nations until the military forces of all the nations of the world come together in a triangular valley called Jezreel, in modern day Israel, near the ancient place called Megiddo.
The worry among many who watch troubles in the Middle East is always that the next military conflict might ignite Armageddon, mankind’s final war, according to how most view Bible prophecy. Major wars in that region will, many mistakenly believe, mean the end of the world.
To begin examining the facts and possibilities, we must start with the nation of Israel. Modern Israel, as much as ancient Israel, is the key to understanding the Middle East’s inevitable part in the wrap-up to human history. Because it is how nations treat Israel, God’s chosen people, that determines how God will judge them and what their ultimate outcome will be.
B. Obstacle to World Peace
All prophecy yet to be fulfilled must be considered in light of this one fact: God’s chosen nation is now back in the land of promise. Understanding that country’s position in the arena of the Middle East and world affairs is critical to understanding all other geopolitical realities. In order to know where all the dramatic changes occurring in that area are leading, one must carefully study that tiny, though militarily powerful state called Israel.
Israel is prophesied to become an intolerable problem that world leaders think must be eliminated before there can be peace in the Middle East and in the world. God, himself, will see to it that Israel will be a major obstacle to sin-flawed, man-made peace. This is because only God’s Son – Jesus, the Prince of Peace – can establish true peace on Planet Earth.
Zechariah 12:2-3: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling (poison) unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 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.