Understanding the times

The Jewish tribe of Issachar was given a special gift by the God of Jacob:  “The sons of Issachar [were] men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). The tribe of Issachar was given unusual discernment so that they could guide the Jewish people in the military, governmental and spiritual challenges they faced.

Today a similar gift is urgently needed: believers in Messiah Yeshua need deeper understanding regarding God’s heart for the Jewish people, and how we need to be prepared for what’s coming down the pike in light of Israel’s prophesied return to their Promised Land.

  • What are the ramifications of the Jewish people’s return to their Promised Land? Most top theologians and Christian leaders are deaf and blind to these issues – to what is currently happening and to where this all is heading. Hamas’ jihadi terror attacks of October 7, 2023 have served to expose a staggering unpreparedness, a spiritual stupor, a poverty of understanding – a deafness and blindness among many Christian streams on these matters.

Various worldly perspectives have blurred the vision of many – the influences of political correctness, wokeness and what is inaccurately called ‘the social justice movement.’ Some followers of Yeshua have been swept along by strident demonstrations of rowdy youth on the march – those who have taken to the streets championing the jihadi savagery of Hamas, the al-Aqsa Brigades of the Palestinian Authority, and Hezbollah. This new resurgence of hatred is built on ancient foundations – the primeval storehouses of anti-Semitism. These gnarled roots of Jew-hatred are wrapped around the early historical worldviews of Christianity, Islam and communism.

Political wisdom and foolishness

Solomon the wise tells us that “the fear of YHVH is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). But world leaders who do not walk with God or know His word will end up fleshing out King David’s observation: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice. There is no one who does good” (Psalm 53:1).

The Apostle Paul repeats this truth in the New Covenant: “But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Getting to be a world leader does not guarantee wisdom or godly policies, for “foolishness is set in many exalted places” (Ecclesiastes 10:6).  Political strategies fashioned by godless leaders usually bring destructive results: “YHVH knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are useless” (1 Corinthians 3:19-20).

When a God-based and Biblical foundation is lacking, geopolitics end up being a political exercise in futility: “Dead flies turn a perfumer’s oil rancid, so a little foolishness is more potent than wisdom and honor” (Ecclesiastes 10:1).

  • No superpower political strategy regarding the Jewish people and their Land will bring peace and blessing – unless it is based solidly on the word of God and founded upon His prophetic perspective. This is the only key which can solve the current crisis.

Anyone who tries to ‘lift up the Jerusalem stone’ without God’s wisdom and without a heart for the people of Jacob, will suffer political hernia and spiritual shipwreck: “It will come about on that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will injure themselves severely!” (Zechariah 12:3).

Returning to the Land of Israel – what about the neighbors?

Isaiah prophesies that the Jewish people would return a second time to the Land of Israel. The first return occurred the period during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (sixth century B.C.) and lasted until the destruction of Herod’s Temple (70 A.D.). Today we are living in the times of the Second Return:

  • Then it will happen on that day that Adonai will again recover with His hand the second time the remnant of His people who will remain – from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a flag for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth . . . They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west. Together they will plunder the people of the east. They will possess Edom and Moab, and the sons of Ammon will be subject to them. (Isaiah 11:11-12,14)

The Second Return is a developing process – just like the First Return was a process in the period between Ezra and Nehemiah. This Second Return will hit its zenith when all the Jewish people still remaining in the Exile come back to Zion:

  • When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall show Myself holy through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am YHVH their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then I gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the House of Israel,” declares Adonai YHVH (Ezekiel 39:27-29)

Two things will characterize the fullness of this Return (according to these scripture passages): one, Israel will reconquer Gaza as well as southern and central Jordan; two, the entire Jewish nation will follow Yeshua and will be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is worth noting that Israel’s conquering of Gaza and Jordan is described as happening during the same time period as Israel’s being filled with the Spirit. From a biblical and prophetic perspective, these two events are not in opposition. The current clashes in Gaza are a pre-figuring of this prophetic fulfilment, and our prayers at this time need to be illumined and guided by God’s prophetic word.

Returning to the Land of Israel – cold eyes and even colder hearts?

Some Christians look upon the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel as spiritually suspect. They feel that since modern Israel is a mostly secular entity, it is simply not the same people as Biblical Israel. According to this view, all the prophecies about Israel in the Bible are on hold for now, and do not apply to the amazing Return of the sons and daughters of Jacob to their Promised Land in our day. This cold-eyed and cold-hearted attitude was crystallized over a hundred years ago in the fascinating historical encounter between the father of secular Zionism, Theodor Herzl, and Pope Pius X. Their conversation on January 26, 1904 was recorded in Herzl’s diaries (Raphael Patai, The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl; New York/London: Herzl Press, Thomas Yoseloff, 1960; pp. 1601-1605). Herzl had come to ask for the Vatican’s support in the creation of a homeland for his persecuted Jewish people. Here are some excerpts from the Pope’s statements during that dialogue:

  • “We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem – but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church, I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people”
  • “There are two possibilities. Either the Jews will cling to their faith and continue to await the Messiah who, for us, has already appeared. In that case they will be denying the divinity of Jesus and we cannot help them. Or else they will go there without any religion, and then we can be even less favorable to them… The Jewish religion was the foundation of our own; but it was superseded by the teachings of Christ, and we cannot concede it any further validity. The Jews, who ought to have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ, have not done so to this day”
  • “And so, if you come to Palestine and settle your people there, we shall have churches and priests ready to baptize all of you”

These quotes reveal an attitude that leaves no room for a warm-hearted God to restore His Jewish people back to their Promised Land in covenant love. Such an attitude demonstrates a stark refusal to recognize God’s restoration-love for Jacob’s sons and daughters. Sad to say, some spiritually stony hearts find cold refuge in these dark anti-Semitic caves.

From their point of view, the Jewish people can’t win on the world’s stage. According to this viewpoint, Jewish people are suspended between heaven and earth, not allowed to return to their homeland without Christian theological permission. According to this judgmental viewpoint, the Jews may have a past and a future – but they certainly do not have any hope in the present. For such frozen theologians, all that the Jewish people can look forward to is to “this present darkness.” From this point of view, Israel’s defense of its citizenry and elimination of its jihadi enemies are simply a case of ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ The world-renowned historian Dr. Jules Isaac called such an attitude ‘the teaching of contempt’ in his book of the same name.

Returning to the Land of Israel – adulterating and impeding the process

To adulterate something means ‘to corrupt, debase or make something impure, by adding a foreign or inferior substance to the mix.’ The goal of all superpowers today (and nearly all member countries of the United Nations) is to adulterate the Jewish people and their homeland by:

*    shrinking its God-given, biblically defined, militarily achieved borders, as per Henry Kissinger’s declaration to Iraq’s Foreign Minister:

  • “Israel does us more harm than good in the Arab world . . . We can’t negotiate about the existence of Israel but we can reduce its size to historical proportions . . . I think in ten to fifteen years Israel will be like Lebanon – struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world . . . If the issue is the existence of Israel, we can’t cooperate. But if the issue is more normal borders, we can cooperate . . . I think the Palestinian identity has to be recognized in some form … (It) will be a tremendous fight … (but) no solution is possible without it”

*   dividing its geographical and biblical integrity into two sections (or even three sections, if Gaza is joined to the West Bank as per recent American and Security Council declarations):

  • Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made it crystal clear that Israel’s borders must shrink – beginning with Gaza. “Because the real point about Gaza is not to stop with Gaza. The President has been clear, we’ve been clear with the Israelis that it cannot be Gaza only” (Shannon, Ireland, June 17, 2005) “We must all focus on the disengagement as our best chance to reenergize the roadmap . . . Because we’ve said many times that this is not Gaza only; this is the first step on a process that is outlined.  The roadmap says how we get to final status, it says how we get to a Palestinian state” (Ramallah, West Bank, June 18, 2005). Speaking in Ramallah on October 15, 2007 Secretary of State Rice said: “Frankly, it’s time for the establishment of a Palestinian state” . . .  “A two-state solution is “absolutely essential for the future, not just of Palestinians and Israelis but also for the Middle East and indeed for American interests.” One day before Rice’s statement, on October 14 2007 Israeli Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai had met with the Secretary of State in Jerusalem. He told her that the status of Jerusalem must be taken off the agenda of the Annapolis conference. According to Yishai’s office, Rice responded that “the time has come to deal with issues that we were afraid to touch for many years.” (JP Oct 15 2007 p.9 “As Rice arrives …”).
  • In a November 18, 2023 Washington Post op-ed, President Biden stated: “As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution”

*  establishing and guaranteeing international security to governmentally corrupt (the Palestinian Authority) and spiritually impure jihadi terrorist forces (PA-Hamas future cooperation)

For a good background in the areas of Islamist terror, Nazi influence, Western support of these movements, etc., see the following articles:

A recent example of this would be Nihad Awad, the executive director of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) who spoke at the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) convention in Chicago on November 24, 2023: “The people of Gaza only decided to break the siege, the walls of the concentration camp, on October 7. And yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land, and walk free into their land, which they were not allowed to walk in. And yes, the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, have the right to defend themselves, and yes, Israel, as an occupying power, does not have that right to self-defense.”

Returning to the Land of Israel – opposing the process

The vast majority of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank are in favor of Hamas’ murder, torture, mass rape and kidnapping of Israelis on October 7, 2023 (see the recent Palestinian polls in my November 24, 2023 newsletter; https://davidstent.org/in-order-that-secrets-of-many-hearts-be-revealed/).

The Palestinian Authority is an active supporter of jihadi terrorism, both financially and through its two jihadi terrorist organizations Fatah-Tanzim and al-Aqsa Brigades.

The United Nations and its subsidiary UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) have set up a framework to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem, insisting that it cannot be solved in the same way as every other refugee problem has been solved in other countries like Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, Libya, Jordan, etc. UNRWA is the only organization that exists to serve only one group, the Palestinians. Their mandate allows for no resettlement of refugees in any other country except in Israel – which is another way of saying ‘over Israel’s dead body.’ An excellent 38-minute video of Caroline Glick throws much light on the history and strategies involved here. Also, five links are below, explaining the anti-Israel strategies behind UN and UNRWA activities, which by and large are reflected in all Western countries’ policies and strategies vis-à-vis Israel, including that of the US:

Back in 1960 the Soviet Union was able to pass a UN Resolution supporting anti-Western guerilla warfare and terrorism  (www.un.org/en/decolonization/declaration.shtml). Within a few years the word ‘terrorism’ was redefined: Israeli self-defense and counterterrorism operations were now defined as terrorism, while PLO violence against Jewish civilians was defined as a national liberation movement combatting colonialism.

Since the combined military forces of the Arab world were not able to crush Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, a strategic decision was taken to move the struggle to the UN. It has been said that diplomacy is war by other means. The Arab world concluded that perhaps Israel could be defeated at the UN through ‘collective delegitimization’ and lawfare. The Arab refugees would be labeled by the United Nations as an indigenous native people who were victims of colonialism – ‘the Palestinian people’ – while Israel was transformed into a ‘colonialist, imperialist and racist state which occupies another people’s land.’

Lately, it seems that diplomatic winter is upon us. A flurry of declarations has blown out of the White House like a sudden snowstorm, with US Vice-President Kamala Harris racing through the Middle East ‘on a one-horse open sleigh,’ declaring to all and sundry (Egypt, Jordan and Dubai) the five new talking points of the Biden Administration regarding Gaza-Israel realpolitik. The first four points in her quote are in line with the strategies and declarations of the PLO Covenant and the Hamas Charter:

  • Five principles guide our approach for post-conflict Gaza: no forcible displacement, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, no reduction in territory, and no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism . . . We want to see a unified Gaza and West Bank under the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian voices and aspirations must be at the center of this work.”

The official US position is that Gaza, an integral part of the territory which God promised to Judah in Joshua 15:47, shall not belong to the Jewish people, but to avowed enemies of the Jews. Gaza is bounded on its west side by Egypt, but Egypt does not permit Egyptians free access to Hamas-controlled Gaza, nor does it allow Gazans to freely travel to Egypt. The first four points of this latest US declaration seek to preserve the status of Gaza as a jihadi ‘aircraft carrier’ aimed at destroying Israel. The fifth and last point comes off nearly as an afterthought, mentioning Gaza as a platform for terrorism – the real cause of this latest war. Yet this terrorist role for Gaza has a venerable history: Egypt established Gaza as a fedayun terror nest between 1948 and 1967; the PLO carried out attacks in Gaza against Israel between 1968 and 2005; Hamas began to attack Israelis in 1989 and intensified their terror up to the present. The first four US points stressed by VP Harris ensure that the last point (Islamist terrorism) will never disappear from Gaza – unless Israel refuses to cooperate in its own destruction.

Returning to the Land of Israel – encouraging the process

The nations of this world have placed themselves on record as adversaries of God’s restoration of Zion. They oppose the Jewish people living in the Biblical Land; they oppose the biblical borders of the Jewish homeland; they oppose the Jewish people decisively defeating their sworn enemies; they oppose the Jewish nature of Jerusalem; etc.

What would it look like if the nations did an about-face, and encouraged the process of the Restoration of Zion? Here are four passages from the Hebrew Scriptures which can help to expand our vision regarding what that process will look like. Let us pray to understand the times we are living in, and to be ready for the Day of Zion’s Visitation!

  • For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning . . . On your walls, Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen! All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who profess YHVH, take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem an object of praise on the earth! (Isaiah 62:1,6-7)
  • Pray for Jerusalem’s wholeness (or peace)! May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces. (Psalm 122:6-7)
  • Many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek YHVH of armies in Jerusalem, and to plead for the favor of YHVH. (Zechariah 8:22)
  • May YHVH bless you from Zion, and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. (Psalm 128:5)

How should we then pray?

  • Pray for the physical rescue of the approximately 137 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP/PLO.  Some hostages are being tortured, raped and starved (this based on testimonies of recently released hostages). Hamas is holding onto many corpses as well for bargaining power. 
  • Pray for Hamas’ cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza to be finally shattered and all chains broken off the Palestinians living there
  • Pray for jihadi deception, dissimulation and anti-Semitism to be uncovered and rejected by world leaders
  • Pray for justice, clarity, moral courage, discernment and divine strategies for Israel’s leadership in utterly destroying the jihadi threat in all of its aspects
  • Pray for minimal loss of life on Israel’s side and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
  • Pray that the outstretched arm of YHVH will not return before it brings justice to God’s enemies
  • Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth