Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in America. He is also the featured speaker for Harvest Crusades, large-scale evangelistic outreaches that have been attended by more than 4 million people around the world since 1990. Greg is heard internationally on the daily radio broadcast, "A New Beginning." To learn more about Greg Laurie go to www.greglaurie.com.More ↓Less ↑
What on earth is happening in the Middle East? It seems that all we hear about in the news from this region is another outburst of violence – or a threat of one.
In his address at the U.N. last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened once again to eliminate Israel. Also in a recent speech, he spoke of some Islamic “messiah,” as well as a new world order.
As we look at the attacks on our embassies around the world, and specifically the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, it is now clear that the war on terror has not been won.
When Osama bin Laden was killed, we hoped that might be the end of it. But after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were murdered in Libya, there were people rioting in the streets and burning American flags. As they waited for their close-ups from the American media, they chanted together to the cameras, “Take a picture, Obama! We are all Osama!” That pretty much says it all. The message of Osama bin Laden and the terrorists appears to be alive and well.
And what about the so-called Arab Spring? What some thought might be a hopeful sign, perhaps a surge of democracy in the Middle East, has not turned out so well. So what is the explanation of all of this chaos and confusion? What in the world is happening?
The short answer is that Bible prophecy is being lived out in real time before our very eyes. The Bible has predicted the things that are happening in this part of the world. Scripture is very clear in pointing out that the end of the world will be centered in the Middle East. And it has all been foretold in the only book that accurately predicts the future: the Bible.
Thousands of years ago, Hebrew prophets predicted the Jewish people would be scattered across the earth and then later regathered. Jesus, in fact, gave a very specific prediction when he said the temple in Jerusalem that was being rebuilt by Herod at the time would not only be destroyed, but also would be dismantled, stone by stone (see Matthew 24:1).
Did that prediction reach fulfillment? Yes, it did. Because all historians agree that in A.D. 70, Titus and the Roman legions marched into Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of Jews and dismantled the temple. Why did they dismantle it? Because there was gold in the temple, which had been burned, and they had to dismantle it to extract the melted gold. This fulfilled, to the letter, the prophecy of Christ. Also at this time, the Jews were scattered.
Fast-forward many years to the Holocaust, when Hitler sought to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth. Thankfully, the United States, Great Britain and their allies stopped the Nazi war machine. And what happened in the aftermath of the Holocaust was nothing short of amazing. The Jewish people began to return to their homeland. And on May 14, 1948, a modern miracle happened. The state of Israel was officially declared.
Here was a nation that had been dispersed for centuries, and then it was regathered. This has never happened again in history. And this was a super-sign that started the prophetic clock ticking. The people of Israel were back in their homeland again.
But there was still a problem. Israel did not have control of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem plays a key role in the end-times scenario. Although they had declared their statehood, Jordan was still controlling the old city of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and most of the historic sites. Then the Six Day War broke out in 1967, in which Israel was attacked. No one expected her to survive. Not only did Israel survive the attack, but she won the war and gained back a lot of the things she had lost, including the old city. And for the first time in more than 2,000 years, the city of Jerusalem was under Jewish control.
Yet to this present day, Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Arab leaders worldwide insisting that Jerusalem and the entire West Bank are rightfully Palestinian territory and ultimately must be given back as a condition of peace.
Of course, I am going to side with God on this issue. God gave Jerusalem to Israel. He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:18, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates. …” (NKJV). He gave that land to Israel, and the Israelis are not going to give up the city of Jerusalem.
The Bible predicts that the city of Jerusalem will be at the epicenter of it all, and the attention of the planet will be directed toward Israel and toward the city of Jerusalem.
Is this happening now? Yes, it is. All of this is happening just as the Bible predicted it would.
So let’s go over the chronology of events the Bible has predicted: Israel will be scattered. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be regathered after her people are scattered. Has this happened? Again, yes. Israel will regain the city of Jerusalem. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be isolated from the other nations of the world and basically will stand alone. Has that happened? Not quite, but it appears to be moving in that direction. Lastly, Israel will be attacked. Has that happened? Not yet, and not on the scale the Bible predicts. This is still in the future, but perhaps the near future.
Scripture specifically tells us that world history, as we know it, will culminate in this part of the world. Some people would assert that it is not important to study Bible prophecy, but I beg to differ. We must study Bible prophecy. The reason we should want to learn about the future is so we will be motivated to live rightly in the present.