I have been watching with great interest the happenings in the Middle East. The reason being is three-fold: First, these nations are predominantly Muslim; Secondly, although Egypt has been non aggressive towards Israel since Anwar Sadat signed the 70’s peace treaty with them, the inhabitants of these nations share a hatred for the state of Israel and the United States; Third, the leadership vacuum left after the fall of the governments of these nations will most assuredly be filled with those holding the most radical sentiments listed in the first two reasons.
Seeing that I hold to the belief that Israel is still the chosen people of God, and that Israel as a nation is distinct from the Church, of necessity I also believe that there are many prophecies concerning Israel that are yet to be fulfilled. Some of those prophecies are promises of continued separation and punishment for disobedience to God while others are prophecies and promises concerning restoration and blessings. Many of the promises of punishment include oppression and devastation brought on by the nations surrounding Israel. So when those nations surrounding Israel begin to make noise, as is the case of Lebanon (and Turkey‘s shift towards more fundamental Islamic beliefs), I tend to take notice and wonder how the current situation is working in God’s plan to set the stage for what is to come. I believe that the Dispensational system of theology is the only theological system capable of doing this with any degree of accuracy.
For instance, I recently asked a Covenant Reformed brother in Christ if he could shed any light on the subject of the current state of the Middle East. His response was that it was part of God’s sovereign plan, but had nothing to do with end-time prophecies concerning the nation of Israel. Suffice it to say that, at least for me, his answer simply raises more questions and does not satisfy my desire to understand what is going on.
Yes indeed it is part of God’s sovereign plan. But does Scripture not say more concerning the current situation than that it somehow fits into God’s plan? I don’t mean to say that Scripture directly speaks of the uprising in Egypt, per se. But Scripture does give us a framework by which we can at least gain some understanding of how the current situation fits into God’s sovereign plan. For instance, in Zechariah 12:2-3 God declares, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around: and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” These verses deal specifically with the second half of the Tribulation period and do not directly speak to what is going on in the Middle East today. However, it is conceivable that what we are seeing today can be viewed as God maneuvering the pieces on the chess board of His divine plan into position for His final moves. Look at it this way, God did not predict that a census at the time of Jesus’ birth was going to be the instrument He used to get Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Yet before the birth of the Savior, in order that prophecy might be fulfilled, God ordained that Caesar would decree that a census be taken, which would force Joseph to travel to Bethlehem thereby insuring that Messiah Jesus would be born there. Similarly, if we hold to the belief that Israel will be a “cup of reeling” to the nations around her, and we believe that a great deal of prophecy concerning Israel in the end times is yet to be fulfilled, is it too much of a stretch to believe that the happenings that we see taking place in the Middle East (the transfer of power into the hands of individuals and organizations whose sole purpose is to “wipe Israel off the map”) are God’s way of setting the stage to fulfill the unfulfilled prophecies?
It seems to me that this is a somewhat more satisfying answer to the question of the significance of current issues than simply stating that somehow they fit into God’s overall plan.
Of course I realize that not all of us believe that Israel will yet be “heavy stone for all the peoples.” I also understand that there are many who do not believe that there are any (or at least are very few) end-time prophecies yet to be fulfilled toward Israel. Therefore, my questions for you remain the same; How do the current uprisings in the Middle East fit into God’s plan? Can you shed some light on the situation? Does Scripture have anything to say?
Just some thoughts. I pray that they help.